After reading a lot of postings, newspapers articles, and other pieces on last week's preliminary report by Judge Gomery on adscam, there are the observations that I think are most relevant.
- The limited scope of the report means was set up to limit damage to the Liberals. Adscam is representative of the activities across the government, most notably HRDC and Indian Affairs. The scope was limited to Adscam in order to hide even more damming allegations of impropriety. See Angry in the Great White North's summation of the underreported scandal of Abotech and Liberal MP David Smith.
- There is a hint of bias in the report. Gomery's report looks like it clears Mr. Dithers, it really doesn't it. I think that there was not enough evidence to blame Martin, and Gomery tries to please his current master by absolving him. However, in the U.S., Martin would be called an "unindicted co-conspirator" - meaning he knows what is going on, but there is not a strong enough case to go to trial. Based on Martin's position as the #2 guy in Chretien's cabinet, the senior minister of Quebec, vice-chair of the Treasury board, and a Montreal area MP, the more appropriate question is how could he NOT know. So Gomery did Martin a favour and exonerated him while piling on Chretien. I think Chretien might have a case in suing to discredit the report.
- The "culture of entitlement" described in the report really described the rot of the civil service. The senior levels of the civil service is full of liberal hacks with their own agendas, as well as little accountability. This clearly means that a combination of the following needs to be done: (1) Purge the civil service. Canada has traditionally followed the notion of having a non-partisan professional civil service that serves cabinet regardless of party. Let's not kid ourselves - Mulroney's government had a ton of resistance from Trudeau's dead wood at the top of the bureaucracy. It is time to seriously consider following the U.S. example - when an administration changes, the new one can basically fill those positions with their hacks and lackeys. It might not solve all the problems, but at least it is more transparent and that there is actually some turnover when a government changes. (2) Tighten up oversight, conflict of interest rules, tendering of contracts, and ministerial responsibility. Expand it to cover all crown corporations and anything that the Federal government has its fingers in.
- The Federal government is too big and it's time to scale down. The fact that such huge amounts of money are getting sloshed around without anybody noticing means that the government is too big. Start scaling back the functions of Ottawa, and slashing budgets or eliminating departments.
- Election spending limits also drove this. Adscam was also a way to get around election spending caps. Get rid of personal contribution limits, and limits by campaigns and open it up. My solution - if you can vote (i.e. Canadian citizens only - no corps, no unions), you can give as much money as you want to a political party or campaign, but every dollar will be disclosed within two business days of receipt. This eliminates a lot of the skullduggery with the bags of cash and paid workers being used to circumvent spending caps. It also brings a greater degree of transparency to election spending.
- If the Liberals get re-elected after this, this confirms by suspicions of the moral rot that is setting in Canada. If the people do not demand accountability for this malfeasance, then as David Warren pointed out in his great column, we are slaves to the state.
- If the Liberals get re-elected after this, Quebec and Alberta separatists are the biggest winners. Both parties will see themselves as victims of Liberal corruption, and the re-election of the Liberals will only reinforce their notion that the only solution will be out. Quebec's reason because the separatists will argue that it is an insult that they must be bribed with their own money, while Alberta will argue that Ontario enables the theft of Alberta's wealth to a corrupt Ottawa. Both factions will have a huge boost in support if Ontario allows this to happen.