Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today that a government led by him would introduce penalties for politicians found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act.
“For breaking the Conflict of Interest Act not only once, but twice, Justin Trudeau faced absolutely no consequences. That’s because there are no consequences attached under the law,” Scheer said at a campaign event in Essex, Ontario.
Scheer said he would introduce penalties for politicians who violate the act that would be “proportional to the severity of the violation and the seniority of the offender.”
“A new Conservative government will introduce legislation for stiff penalties of up to $20,000 for violating the Conflict of Interest Act,” he said.
The measure is one of several Scheer announced Wednesday that he said would increase transparency in government and do a better job of holding politicians to account, including:
- Implementing legislative reforms to protect whistle blowers from retaliation.
- Passing legislation to prevent ministers from holding shares in companies that could be affected by changes to government legislation.
- Strengthening lobbying restrictions.
Scheer also announced his intention to pass legislation that would prevent individuals and companies from lobbying for changes in laws that could affect the legal cases against them.
“We will prohibit those charged with a criminal offence for lobbying for changes to laws that would impact their criminal proceeding,” Scheer said.
SNC-Lavalin lobbied the federal government to create a deferred prosecution agreement regime that could have allowed the company to avoid a criminal trial by meeting a series of conditions.
“It’s all part of our 100 day action plan to show Canadians exactly how a new Conservative majority government will get to work right away to help them get ahead,” Scheer said.
Violating ethics laws
Scheer also repeated his claim that the alternative to a majority Conservative government is a Liberal/NDP coalition.
“Justin Trudeau’s now desperately trying to salvage his job by doing a coalition deal with the NDP, a coalition Canadians can’t afford — higher taxes, more deficits, fewer jobs and less money in your pockets,” he said.
Trudeau was found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act twice over the last four years — first by accepting a free family vacation at the private Bahamian island of the Aga Khan, and then by trying to influence his former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule a decision by the public prosecutor in the criminal case against SNC-Lavalin.
The Quebec engineering giant is accused of fraud and bribery related to some of its overseas operations.
In neither case did the act provide for any sanction against Trudeau beyond the public embarrassment of the findings.
The Conflict of Interest Act allows for a fine of up to $500, but only if public office holders fail to report conflicts of interest within a specific period of time.