OTTAWA - (Web posted April 18, 2002 @ 1:30
p.m.) - Liberal cabinet ministers who have accepted donations directly or
indirectly above $200 for their unofficial leadership campaigns, and who have failed to declare that money publicly, may be in violation
of Ottawa's existing conflict of interest code for public office holders.
It has been widely reported that in the
underground Liberal leadership campaign to eventually replace Prime Minister
Jean Chretien that high-profile ministers, such as Paul Martin, Allan Rock, and
have been gearing up their leadership campaign teams for the day the PM retires.
A big chunk of that pre-leadership campaign
work involves collecting cash donations which can climb to the tens of thousands
of dollars, as was the recent case of the TransAlta donation of $25,000 to
That donation was later returned after it
was discovered the money was raised by Calgary lawyer Jim Palmer, who was
working for the Department of Finance at the same time.
The Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code,
which was established by the Chretien government in 1994, sets out guidelines
for several categories of public
office holders, including cabinet ministers, to follow in their day-to-day
22(1) of the code, public officer holders must
notify the Ethics Counsellor and make a public declaration when they receive,
directly or indirectly any gift, hospitality or other benefit that has a value
of $200 or more.
During an interview with PoliticsWatch.com
this week Deputy
Ethics Commissioner Robert Benson acknowledged that cash could be considered a benefit.
Duff Conacher is a director with the Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy
He believes the current code could compel federal cabinet ministers, who are
campaigning to be Chretien's successor, to disclose their campaign donations
under the public declaration provisions to the
"Very clearly, the gift rule in the
code prohibit actually donating to a leadership campaign," he said.
"They're not gifts within the bounds of propriety and normal expression of
But getting those rules interpreted in that
manner is another
"You have to look into the
circumstances (of each situation)," said Benson. "The
benefit may not being going directly to the public office holder."
review of the Officer of
the Ethics Counsellor Conflict of Interest Code- Public Registry details
ministers declarations of gifts such as watches, carvings and tickets to
There's nothing about leadership campaign
contributions or any direct or indirect cash gifts.
us an e-mail
and let us
know if cash should be considered a gift under the conflict code. Do you
think the code should compel cabinet ministers, who are running
unofficial leadership campaigns, to declare the details of their
We would love to
hear what you think.