PHOTOS: The Jason Kenney shotgun-marriage campaign’s convenient and colourful motorhome, with Mr. Kenney, exiting, in the foreground. Who owns it? Who is paying for it? Below: A billboard advertising Mr. Kenney’s campaign near Grande Prairie. Same question. Photos grabbed from Mr. Kenney’s supporters’ social media sites.
Go away. Don’t bother us.
That was the message from officials in the office of Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to folks who wrote to complain that Calgary Midnapore MP Jason Kenney is campaigning for another job in another jurisdiction on their dime.
Annoying as Mr. Kenney’s conduct is in this regard, it’s not really the problem at the heart of this issue. The money question is about gifts and services.
Yes, Mr. Kenney’s acceptance of his MP’s salary while campaigning for another job certainly raises ethical issues. It would be fair to argue it’s an example of what employers sometimes call “time theft” – that is, when an employee accepts pay for work that wasn’t done. Such as, for example, being paid to represent the electors of the Calgary Midnapore riding.
What’s more, not many of us get to tour Alberta on the federal dime, campaigning to organize a shotgun wedding of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party or whatever we’re up to, even if we’re supposedly couch surfing, as former PC deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk observed tartly in a recent Tweet.
Still, this is not, it is acknowledged, the particular variety of ethical question that Parliament’s Ethics Commissioner is permitted to ponder.
The problem for Mr. Kenney lies nearby, though, or at least it should. To wit, his acceptance of gifts, often from corporate sources, whatever the purpose of those gifts may be, while he is a serving Member of Parliament, without proper accounting to Parliament of what he has received.
The ethical issue that has the potential to ensnare a sitting MP, or ought to, is that Mr. Kenney is using services and materials donated by corporations and individuals to so-called Political Action Committees – set up by his supporters to skirt Alberta’s election financing laws – and then passed on to him to finance his political campaign.
I’m sure those donors have what we would all consider legitimate political goals – they don’t like the present government and would like to see it changed, as is their right.
But they may also be influenced by what Mr. Kenney might be able to do for them in his current job, which is why Parliament has reporting rules and makes it its business to keep track of members’ conduct.
Consider the “Alberta Can’t Wait” PAC motorhome in the photograph at the top of this page, from which Mr. Kenney can be seen exiting. Someone owns this vehicle. Someone is letting Mr. Kenney use it. Someone paid for the colourful “wrap” designed to advertise and promote Mr. Kenney’s cause, which by definition includes his political ambitions. These are gifts and they need to be reported.
If this is not an appropriate topic for the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner’s consideration, I’m not sure exactly what we’re paying her to do.
Or consider the semi-trailer billboard that appeared recently near Grande Prairie. Obviously, no one was being cute about whom this donation is designed to benefit. It has Mr. Kenney’s name right on it. So who is paying for it?
Mr. Kenney, meanwhile, also seems to have a role raising money for the people who are raising money for him.
So, nothing at all has changed. Mr. Kenney is an MP. Everything he does needs to be seen through that lens. And if he doesn’t like it, he should resign his MP’s job. Indeed, he should do that now, not when it suits him, even if it means he has to wait 11 and a half inconvenient years to collect his generous Parliamentary pension – you know, like the one he once argued with some success Alberta MLAs shouldn’t be allowed to have.
Since Mr. Kenney is already so generously supported, it’s not at all clear what’s stopping him.
It’s certainly not fear of his pals at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation – the so-called tax watchdogs who used to employ him. But for a few cranky Tweets, they appear to have been all but silent about Mr. Kenney’s abuse of taxpayers’ generosity for nearly a month. To give them their due, early in July one of the group’s many directors uttered a faint peep of protest on this topic, but it was atypically half-hearted stuff.
So where’s the CTF director in a pig costume when you really need him? Not a squeal! When it comes to Jason Kenney, “Porky the Waster Hater” is missing in action.
And where’s the angry press release on the CTF’s website about Mr. Kenney’s loose ways when the taxpayers’ money? You know, like the one that certainly would have been written and enthusiastically republished by the media echo chamber if a federal New Democrat or Liberal was running for an important provincial job with a dollop of double-dipped tax dollars.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.
Mary Dawson has had a questionable history of turning a blind eye to Tory mischief and misconduct over the years, particularly with regard to the Harper government and his minions. Michael Harris cites several examples of her questionable conduct over Tory investigations conducted by her department in his bestseller “Party of One”. So it’s no surprise that Dawson now turns a blind eye to a Harper sycophant whose crass and sneaky campaign is fraught with subterfuge and misinformation.
As a sidebar, Alberta needs to look seriously at third party advertising during and before leadership and election campaigns. The current laws are outdated and were adopted to benefit the “Tory Election Machine” during their halcyon days.
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, huh. Makes one wonder what that honourable civil servant does all day.
In addition to the Jason Kenney Alberta sightseeing tour, Porky the Waste Hater should point his fat snout Ms. Dawson’s way. Snuffle snuffle!
Having served since July 2007 Mary Dawson was given a 2 year term as Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in June 2014. Seems she should be on her way out.
Not sure if it was a single term from 2007 – 2014, or multiple terms. No news on who follows her after her term expires either.
One would think that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would examine the federal ethics commissioner for accepting a generous taxpayer funded salary for doing nothing. Another Harperite appointee feeding at the trough, protecting fellow Harperites? Canadians booted these people out the door months ago. Why are they still here?
And as far as Mr Kenney’s motor home goes, it is more than colourful. It is fabulous.
The “PAC” money being used is not a deductible political donation. However are the funders claiming them as business expenses? If so the payment has to be in reasonable expectation of making a profit. Is paying for MP Jason Kenney to campaign for PCAA leadership outside the party rules anything close to a legitimate business write off? What does it say about Mr. Kenney’s price?
I would hope CRA would look very carefully and swiftly into any such claims for business expenses if they are just paying for
Not enough “de-Harperfication” has happened yet in Ottawa or Edmonton. As we know ‘Liberal, Tory, same old story’ in Ottawa. Looks like it might apply just as well in Edmonton.
You just had to give it more time:
Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Calgary MP shouldn’t collect salary while seeking Alberta PC leadership (from)
On the other hand, Jason Kenney can always argue the gov’t in Ottawa is in such capable hands now and the problems of his constituents are so few, that he’s got plenty of time to do this
Suppose that, instead of the leader of a provincial party, Jason Kenney runs for a more “honourable” position, such as UN Secretary General. Would his candidacy be an issue if no government resource is used, and he doesn’t resign his seat?
Second, given that Parliament is in recess, I question how much the constituents of Calgary Midnapore are compromised. If he’s the member of the Canadian cabinet, I’d have an issue with what he’s doing right now.
“Porky the Waster Hater” is missing in action.
Nay, he’s gone corporate and is wearing a purple shirt.
Funny how Jagmeet Singh is an MPP for Ontario running around trying to be the national NDP leader..how come no cries from the left wing for him to quit Ontario first?
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