TORONTO – Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader says passing ethics and accountability legislation will be one of the first things his government will do if his party wins the 2018 election.
Patrick Brown announced an eight-point plan Tuesday that takes direct aim at some of the Liberals’ scandals from their 14 years in government.
His plan would make it illegal for cabinet ministers to have targets for how much money they are expected to raise for their party, and would prevent them from calling stakeholders who do business with the government to solicit donations.
Both of those issues were at play in the Liberals’ so-called cash-for-access fundraising scandal last year, in which government ministers were accused of holding private events with stakeholders to raise money for their party.
The PCs would also put a freeze on government advertising for 90 days prior to an election and restore the auditor general’s power to prevent government ads she deems partisan from going to air — a power that the Liberals gave the auditor when the party first won government, but then watered down in 2015.
The PCs are also pledging to strengthen government document retention policies, would also ban former ministerial staffers from becoming lobbyists for companies they’d dealt with while in government for one year and would require the results of Integrity Commissioner investigations of ministerial staff to be public.
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews says the Liberal government doesn’t intend to adopt any of Brown’s recommendations and she criticized him for having no plan for other issues.
“This is a clearly a diversionary tactic, he doesn’t want to talk about the budget, he doesn’t want to talk about fiscal issues,” Matthews said. “He doesn’t know if he wants us to spend more or pay down the debt, so he’s just going back to these old issues from the past.”
But Brown said the Liberal government’s issues aren’t all in the past.
“This government has two court trials beginning in four months,” he said. “The Liberals continue to prioritize Liberal friends over hardworking Ontario families.”
This fall, two of former premier Dalton McGuinty’s top staffers are set to go on trial for breach of trust and mischief in relation to deleted emails concerning the relocation of two gas plants.
Additionally, two Ontario Liberals are facing Election Act bribery charges in relation to the 2015 byelection in Sudbury, and are set to face trial this fall.
© 2017 The Canadian Press