The problem is who would oversee this anti-corruption, the OPP is in the back pocket of the liberals and the liberals would just buy off everyone else, which is how this corruption starts in the first place.
Wynne speaks at press conference
According to a recent Globe and Mail report, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal Party held over 150 intimate cash-for-access fundraisers in her first three years in power, at times raising millions per event.
Who would pay up to $10,000 to have exclusive access to Wynne and her most powerful ministers? It’s not like you’d be hanging out with real stars like Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez or George Clooney. What would command anyone to spend that kind of dough for drinks and pretzels with the premier?
If you’re thinking politicians mingling with the construction industry, electrical companies, big pharma and banks, according to the Globe, you’re right.
If, like me, you think this whole fundraising smells fishy, Wynne’s spokesperson would like to remind you that your Spidey sense is off. “We have been clear that donations do not influence policy decisions; any suggestion otherwise is completely false. The premier has always been clear that decisions are always made with the best interests of Ontarians in mind,” says her spokeswoman. Feel better now?
Former Liberal finance minister Dwight Duncan doesn’t buy it. He said he quit politics because of being forced to collect a quota of corporate and union contributions. “I was so sick of it…as minister of finance you are in a portfolio where people want to see you, and they’ll pay for it. It is the wrong system,” he told the Toronto Star.
Former attorney general John Gerretsen was equally nauseated by the system and troubled by the undeniable conflict of interest. He told the Star: “I hated the whole aspect of fundraising. If a major issue comes up, and you have been funded by lobbyists on behalf of any kind of industry, you’re going to be affected by that … it’s human nature.”
After defending the fundraising system for months, Wynne justifiably blinked in the face of public outcry. When I was the military ombudsman, the ethical line for generals was drawn by NDHQ as the Globe and Mail Test. “Could you live with yourself if the story was on the front page of the Globe?” was the acid test for ethical behaviour, and it seems the Ontario Liberals have the same test.
Enter the Quebec solution. The distinct province has, for the last five years, been under the oversight of a criminal investigations body called UPAC, or the Unite permanente anticorruption, which translates loosely as the Anti-Corruption Permanent Unit.
Imagine the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU), but with a distinctly different mandate. It was created to prevent, audit and investigate corruption involving Quebec public bodies and the private sector. Interestingly, the model is based on the New York City Department of Investigation, one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country. It conducts criminal investigations, it runs preventative internal controls and recommends operational reforms to keep the City of New York squeaky clean. Last year it made 560 corruption-related arrests and recommended 400 reforms.
UPAC is made up of more than 350 employees, many seconded from other police services, and has a budget of over $30 million. Nathalie Normandeau, deputy premier in the Quebec government of Jean Charest, felt the long arm of the law when she was arrested by UPAC at 6 a.m. at her home a few months ago, along with six other members of both the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Quebecois.
They were charged with conspiracy, corruption and breach of truth in relation to the awarding of a contract to build a water-treatment plant and illegal campaign financing. Not only has UPAC not been shy to aggressively target corruption in the private and public sectors, its powers are set to be expanded by Bill 7, tabled last month in the National Assembly.
Instead of bland, self-serving statements by the Ontario government to move along, nothing to see here, whenever the ethics of government are raised, is it not time our premier puts money where her mouth is and creates our very own version of UPAC?
Andre Marin of the Toronto Sun July 16th 2016