2013 12 24
Lowlight #8: Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty breaks the rules
COUNTDOWN OF CONSERVATIVE FAILURES FOR 2013

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had a very bad year. Plagued by an expense scandal and cover-up reaching right to the top of the prime minister’s office, Conservatives have shown they are a tired and out-of-gas government.

We are condensing a year’s worth of lowlights into a countdown of the top 15 examples of Conservative blunders, scandals and ineptitude.

LOWLIGHT #8:
CONSERVATIVE FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY BREAKS THE RULES

We all hope Finance Minister Jim Flaherty makes a quick recovery from his health problems, but it’s his problems as finance minister that are raising eyebrows across Canada and around the world. 

Influencing the CRTC

In January, Flaherty wrote a letter to the CRTC supporting a constituent’s application for a radio license.

Not only was his letter frowned on by the public, the Ethics Commissioner reprimanded him for breaking the Conflict of Interest Act. Despite this, he received no sanction from the prime minister.

Attacking former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page

Following a PBO report that concluded the existing OAS structures were in fact sustainable – contradicting to Conservative claims – Jim Flaherty launched an attack on then-PBO Kevin Page, accusing him of “wandering off”.

Instead of holding the government to account, the Conservative finance minister argued the PBO should be more of a “sounding board” for the government.

So much for fiscal accountability.

Quantitative Easing

During a private dinner with G20 officials, Flaherty declared that quantitative easing was “not good public policy”, and that he opposed “the printing of money”. In response, Flaherty was strongly criticized by the international business press.

After being questioned in the House about his apparent lack of understand of this monetary policy, he stood by his explanation.

This puts him at odds with the US Federal Reserve Chairmen Ben Bernanke, and most other economists, who do not agree that quantitative easing is ‘printing money’.

And we all learned that no one wins when your country’s finance minister oversimplifies monetary policy.

Altered Expense Reports

Instead of submitting receipts like other ministers, Flaherty redacted his own expense claims, blacking out certain hotel bill items and recalculating the total bills.

This is specifically not allowed under federal Access to Information laws.

But as is generally the case when Conservatives break the rules, the finance minister wasn’t held to account for this latest rule breaking.

Canadians deserve better.

While other leaders have been missing in action, Tom Mulcair has been showing up to work on behalf of Canadians – holding Stephen Harper accountable and putting forward practical solutions to help families make ends meet.

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