Recent spending scandals involve politicians from various parties and levels of government including federal Conservative Cabinet ministers Bev Oda and Jason Kenney, former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, Liberal MPs Judy Sgro, Wayne Easter, John Cannis and Andrew Telegdi. As well, London, Ontario mayor Joe Fontana was recently charged with fraud, breach of trust, and uttering forged documents following an investigation into money spent in 2005 when he was a Liberal Cabinet minister and federal MP.
These federal politicians were caught by chance. In contrast, many politicians from many political parties were caught misspending or stealing public funds through comprehensive audits by the auditor generals in England, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia leading to politicians being forced to resign, charged, and found guilty of abusing their access to taxpayers’ money.
The spending scandals involving federal politicians have revealed loopholes and shown clearly that the current system is not preventing misspending, and past audits of politicians in some provinces have shown clearly that audits catch wrongdoers.
The enforcement of spending rules is also far from transparent in some jurisdictions, such as federally where cases are examined in secret, behind closed doors, by the Board of Internal Economy which is made up of politicians from all parties who protect themselves and their party members instead of enforcing the rules and ensuring that taxpayer money is not spent inappropriately.
The spending loopholes must be closed, and auditor generals across Canada required to audit all politician spending regularly and penalize violators, to prevent politicians from using taxpayers’ money to pay their personal or political party costs.