Monday, April 27, 2009

Ethics rules not worth the paper they're written on

Looks like Stephen Haper and Brian Mulroney have more in common than the former would care to admit these days: both had toothless ethics rules:

There's evidence that Fred Doucet, a former senior aide to Brian Mulroney, went to work as a lobbyist for the Bear Head armoured vehicle project practically as soon as he left the Prime Minister's Office.

Documents tabled at a public inquiry show Doucet was discussing the project within three days of departing from Mulroney's staff in August 1988.

He would normally have been subject to a one-year cooling off period before being allowed to lobby any departments he had dealings with while in government.

But Doucet had obtained an unusual waiver of the cooling-off provision in the federal ethics code at the time.
Sound familiar?

Look, here's my feeling on this: either have a cooling-off period, or don't. I'm less bothered by the fact people jump quickly from government to lobbying then I am by the fact the Conservatives made a big deal about closing the "revolving door" but routinenly grant exemptions to the rule. Pick one side, and stick with it.

It makes it clear it was more about politics than ethics, and the people that get hurt are the junior people that don't have the pull to secure the exemptions the senior people are getting. That leads to good people not taking the jobs, which isn't helpful for their party or, frankly, the country.

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