Even though two Trudeau fundraisers are being investigated by the interim lobbying commissioner, Justin Trudeau is refusing to recuse himself from the pick of a new permanent commissioner.
Current commissioner Karen Shepherd is investigating a fundraiser from 2015, and one from 2014, for possible violations of lobbying rules. However, Shepherd is only on the job in a temporary basis – meaning Trudeau can decide whether to reappoint her every six months – which many have pointed out reduces Shepherd’s independence and makes her overly dependent on doing Trudeau’s bidding.
Whenever Shepherd is replaced, Trudeau’s refusal to recuse himself from the pick means he will decide who investigates him and his government – an obvious conflict of interest.
This has taken on a new importance, after a new report by the National Post revealed ongoing investigations. Here’s part of what Zane Schwartz wrote in the report:
“On Thursday Postmedia confirmed that lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd is still investigating an August 2015 fundraiser held for Trudeau by billionaire Barry Sherman, the chairman of pharmaceutical giant Apotex. She is also still investigating an August 2014 fundraiser held for Trudeau by a co-founder of Clearwater Seafoods. Both Apotex and Clearwater are registered to lobby the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Schwartz also notes remarks by Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, who explained why Trudeau’s decision to keep re-appointing interim commissioners is such a big problem:
“By renewing their terms every six months, Trudeau has created a situation where government watchdogs currently investigating him are reliant on him for a renewal of their paycheques every six months. We think it’s clearly illegal under the act and also undermines their ability to independently investigate the prime minister.”
Democracy is not just voting every four years. It’s also about checks and balances on those in power, and it’s about accountability. The position of Prime Minister is already very powerful in our system – especially with a majority government. By weakening the parliamentary watchdogs, and refusing to recuse himself, Justin Trudeau is giving himself even more power and he is subverting the democratic system by blocking accountability. It’s the complete opposite of what he campaigned on, and it’s yet more evidence that he was elected on lies.
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