As you may have heard by now, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is in a bit of trouble after attempting to intervene before the CRTC on behalf of a radio station based in his riding. Such interventions violate the rules laid down for ministerial activity under the Harper government. There is no particular ambiguity on this. Once again a Conservative Cabinet minister stands in open violation of the rules with no apparent consequences whatsoever. One wonders what the rules are there for, if they do not have to be followed.
A particular irony in this case, though, is the parallel it bears to a case which occurred in 1994. On that occasion the letter-writer was Liberal minister Michel Dupuy, and the Opposition critics included, among others, a populist Reform MP by the name of Stephen Harper. In Parliament, Harper brandished a copy of the ministerial guidelines as they existed at the time and denounced Dupuy’s actions. His leader, Preston Manning, agreed, saying: “this whole affair, from the letter writing to the prime minister’s comments, is either an example of gross stupidity or unethical conduct, or both.”
Chretien responded that the whole matter had been referred to the Ethics Commissioner, a statement which was at best, shall we say, flexible with regard to the truth. Harper leaped on this as evidence that the government was “lying” to Canadians. The Parliament echoed with Opposition demands for Dupuy’s resignation.
Well, once again we have a Cabinet minister attempting to intervene with the CRTC on behalf of a broadcast station.
Just for the sake of clarity, I think the government should outline for Canadians which of the “rules for Cabinet ministers” ministers are actually required to follow. Obviously some of them are optional.Tweet