The inaccessibility of politicians

Allan Cutler

I have a problem. No, I am mistaken, I have two problems. The first problem is an awareness of potential corruption and fraud on Ontarians at the federal level. The second problem is the difficulty of discussing what appears to be a bureaucratic cover-up with federal politicians.

When you are trying to expose what appears to be a serious, multi-million-dollar problem that Ontarians have been made to pay for, you cannot afford to limit yourself to one party. You have to approach all of them in the hope that one will take action. Without going into details regarding what I view as a serious case of potential corruption or fraud, let me explain my actions with regard to each of the four parties represented in the House of Commons.

First, there is the Green Party. Originally I sent an email to Elizabeth May on July 8, 2013. The result: nothing, not even an acknowledgement. When May was at meeting in Winnipeg, Cecilia Basic, the western regional director for Canadians for Accountability, attended the meeting. According to Cecilia, May expressed an interest in meeting with us. Based on that, I sent another email on Oct. 16, 2013. The result: exactly the same, nothing, not even an acknowledgement. On Dec. 17, 2013, a third email was sent. The result—exactly the same—three strikes and we were out.

None of these emails had to do with the corruption that I am now trying to expose. My original request was to meet and discuss ways in which we can promote integrity and transparency in government and in Canadian business. May, as the leader of the Green Party, sets the standard.

We move on to the Liberal Party. I sent an email to Sean Casey, the appropriate shadow Cabinet critic. The result: I am acknowledged and we meet. He is given almost 200 pages of documents supporting what has been uncovered. It was a good, but brief discussion. I depart hopeful that he will look into this further. Since that meeting, there has been an ocean of silence. I have heard nothing, nor seen any interest by the Liberal Party in exposing corruption. Is this the member or the party stance?

Then there is the third opposition party, the New Democratic Party. Françoise Boivin is the shadow Cabinet critic who I have to talk to. As with the others, I send an email. The result: I am acknowledged and a meeting is scheduled. The meeting with Boivin is brief but very positive since she has another pressing commitment. This is not unusual when dealing with politicians. The events of the day have a habit of overtaking other commitments. As an aside, it is interesting that she offers to introduce me to Thomas Mulcair.

To ensure that my information is properly vetted, she brings in her executive assistant, Alexandre Gingras. He spends considerable time going through the documents that I have provided to understand the seriousness of the issue. Gingras commits to having it referred for further research.

Based on the evidence, the NDP did ask a question in the House. Justice Minister Peter MacKay replied that it was “before the courts.” Knowing the details as well as I do, this is anything but accurate. In any event since then, the NDP have done me the courtesy of letting me know that this issue is not “dead” with them. It is a matter of priorities choosing what to work on first. This is understandable.

Finally, we turn to the governing party, the Conservatives. This is the party that can investigate and solve the problem since they are the party in power. As with the other parties, I attempt to meet with the minister concerned, Peter MacKay. My expectation is that I will probably spend my time with his staff.

Once again, I sent an email. In fact, this was done weeks before I contacted either the Liberal or NDP parties. In my view, it is only fair to give the governing party, the party in charge of the bureaucracy, a chance to clean up the corruption. The result: I am acknowledged and even phoned by an executive assistant in the minister’s office. A meeting is arranged. This is very promising.

I receive a second phone call cancelling the meeting. MacKay does not want to hear about potential corruption in the federal bureaucracy. The Conservatives do not appear interested in protecting Ontarians from government mismanagement. Since then I have followed up with a second and third request. The result: absolute silence, not even an acknowledgement.

The Conservatives are trying to set themselves up with plausible deniability. “If we didn’t know about it, we can deny any accountability, whether or not we should have known.” Unfortunately in this case, it won’t work. By their actions, they have deliberately avoided obtaining the documents in order to verify the truth of the situation.

In case you, as the reader, missed it I will repeat it more clearly. Both the Liberals and NDP met with me and were presented with close to 200 pages of documents validating my statements. They can research and verify the truth for themselves. The Conservatives have chosen not even see the documents to formulate an opinion. Where does that leave me? I fi ght corruption with anyone interested in integrity and accountability. The Green Party appears to lack any interest in either of these. The Liberal Party may be interested. Since they have not contacted me further, the indications are that this is a passive interest in promoting integrity and accountability. The NDP, the offi cial opposition, appear to be the only responsive party interested in championing integrity and accountability. The optics are the Conservatives, elected as the party of integrity and accountability, are not interested in addressing corruption or mismanagement in the federal bureaucracy. They seem content to let it thrive.

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on May 26, 2014.

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