Making Our Elected Representatives More Accountable to You
May 25, 2021

Ottawa Journal (May 25 – May 29, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P.

Law-abiding Canadians believe in the rules of fair play. Part of that fair play means being accountable for our actions. Politicians have to play by the rules like everyone else. In fact, it’s even more important that their actions be responsible, transparent and above all, legal.

When our Government was first elected in 2006, many Canadians were angered by the Sponsorship Scandal, where millions of Canadians’ tax dollars were funneled into the pockets of Liberal party friends and supporters. We responded to the demand for change by pledging to clean up government in Ottawa. The first piece of legislation introduced by our Government was the Federal Accountability Act, which set out to make Canadian politics more transparent and open, helping to repair the damage and mistrust that developed as a result of the Sponsorship Scandal. I had the privilege of being Chair of the Legislative Committee for this Act. During my time as Chair, I presided over 65 hours of debates, which ran from May 03 to June 14, 2006.

Our Government cracked down on the way that lobbying happens in government. Now, not only must lobbyists register on the public record so everyone can see what they do and who they represent; they must also keep detailed information about what meetings they have with members of the government. Furthermore, we ensured that senior government officials have to wait five years before they may become a lobbyist. It wasn’t right that people with access to confidential information could turn around and use it for private or corporate gain.

We also limited individual political contributions to $1,100 per year. Limiting political contributions made by powerful individuals ensured that having money didn’t mean you could also have more influence over the way business is run in Ottawa.

During the last three years we’ve made great strides in making government and elected representatives more accountable; however, we also recognize that more needs to be done as loopholes still remain in this system.

Political loans aren’t covered by the restrictions on political donations and can exceed the established limit. They can also come from corporations and unions. This means that influence can still be bought, which isn’t right. Our Government responded to this problem by recently introducing new legislation to close the loopholes surrounding political loans. This new legislation includes ensuring that political loans can be looked at under the same sort of microscope as political donations. Now, loans will be limited to $1,100 and they can’t be made by unions or big corporations. It means that political candidates can’t pull the wool over the public’s eyes by filling their coffers with big corporate loans, which would give them an unfair advantage over other candidates.

In addition, our Government is bringing Senators and Members of Parliament under the umbrella of the same Ethics Officer. It means that everyone in government, whether they are elected or appointed, will be held to the same rules and standards of ethics. This new action is just another measure we are taking to help ensure that everyone in government is accountable to the Canadians they represent.

Our Government represents hardworking Canadian families who play by the rules. We don’t believe that having more money or more power should entitle anyone in this country to have more influence over a politician or a political party. By making the system more accountable, we are helping all Canadians know that their elected officials are acting for all Canadians, not just themselves or the highest bidder.