Just as we promised, the new Conservative government tabled the Federal Accountability Act this week, following up on a pledge made by Stephen Harper before the federal election campaign even began.
Yes, Bill C-2 is lengthy at 199 pages, but I would like to provide the following overview to help you understand exactly how it will strengthen accountability and increase transparency in your federal government.
The Federal Accountability Act is part of a comprehensive ?Action Plan? through which the Conservative government will:
· Reform financing of political parties by reducing large donations to political parties and candidates;
· Ban secret donations to political candidates by prohibiting electoral district associations and parties from transferring money to their candidates from trust funds;
· Strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner by introducing a new Conflict of Interest Act and establishing a new Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to enforce it;
· Toughen the Lobbyists Registration Act by introducing stricter rules for lobbyist activity and creating a new Commissioner of Lobbying to enforce them;
· Ensure truth in budgeting with a Parliamentary Budget Authority by creating the position of Parliamentary Budget Officer to provide objective analysis to MPs and parliamentary committees concerning the nation’s finances, the national economy, and the financial cost of proposals under consideration by either House;
· Make qualified government appointments by introducing a uniform process for appointing Agents and Officers of Parliament and ensuring that public appointments are based on merit;
· Clean up the procurement of government contracts by enshrining in law a commitment to fairness, transparency, and openness in the procurement process, and by appointing an independent Procurement Auditor to provide additional oversight;
· Clean up government polling and advertising by preventing public opinion research and advertising contracts from being used for partisan or personal benefit, and by appointing an Independent Advisor to conduct a full review of public opinion research practices;
· Provide real protection to whistleblowers who disclose government wrongdoing by introducing specific penalties for offences, granting powers to the new Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, creating the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal, providing public-sector employees with legal support and rewards for those who have the courage to expose wrongdoing in the workplace;
· Strengthen access to information legislation by extending its reach and scope, and by tabling a draft bill to further amend the Access to Information Act;
· Strengthen the power of the Auditor General by expanding the reach and scope of the Auditor General’s investigative powers to help Parliament hold the government to account;
· Strengthen auditing and accountability within departments by clarifying the managerial responsibilities of deputy heads, and by bolstering the internal audit function within departments and Crown corporations; and
· Create a Director of Public Prosecutions, outside the Department of Justice, with the authority to conduct criminal prosecutions under federal law.
These steps will help to restore your faith in your government and put Liberal scandals in the past.
However, as always, the single most important way to earn your confidence in this new government is for me to continue to represent you with integrity, honesty and fairness.