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PC Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie said he’s heard nothing from the Ball Liberal government about when they plan to launch their long-delayed committee on democratic reform...
Monday, January 28, 2019

St. John’s, NL (January 28, 2019) – PC Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie said he’s heard nothing from the Ball Liberal government about when they plan to launch their long-delayed committee on democratic reform that the House approved last fall.  In December, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons promised to get his committee rolling early in the new year.

“The Liberal plan is to render the committee impotent,” said Crosbie. “We are squandering a chance to be a world leader in democratic practice.”

Crosbie said the Canadian activist group Democracy Watch has put forward a list of issues they believe any jurisdiction that’s serious about democratic reform should address – issues such as honesty in politics, oversight, government hiring, public consultation, political donations, conflict of interest, lobbying, electoral reform, access to information and fiscal management. 

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher has said publicly, "If these changes were made by any government in any jurisdiction, it would become the world’s leading democratic jurisdiction."

Crosbie said, “Our Party already committed to some of the Democracy Watch reforms, such as an Honesty in Politics Act.  We believe the Democracy Watch topics are an excellent starting point for further consultation with voters.”

Crosbie is urging the government to get the committee moving, saying, “The Liberals waited three years to bring forward a motion to launch their committee, and then another six months before calling a vote so the committee could start – and two more months later, there’s still no sign of action.”

Attached (unedited) is the May 2017 document in which Democracy Watch advised British Columbia of the top ten most important changes it believes every jurisdiction in the country should consider making to become a leading democratic jurisdiction.

 

Contacts:

Bradley Russell
Director of Policy and Research 
(p) 1.709.729.3668 
(c) 1.709.685.3161 
BradleyRussell@gov.nl.ca

 

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Backgrounder:

Democracy Watch’s Top Ten Democratic Reforms

(from their website, unedited)

 

Source: https://democracywatch.ca/b-c-may-have-a-new-government-will-it-be-democratic/

 

1. Enact an honesty-in-politics law that allows for complaints to the provincial Ethics Commissioner about broken promises, and about dishonest statements made anywhere (including in the legislature) by anyone involved in politics, with mandatory high fines as the penalty;

2. Require all provincially regulated industry and service sectors (property and auto insurance, financial and investment services, health care institutions, energy and water) to include a notice in their mailings and emails to customers inviting them to join and fund citizen watchdog groups for each industry and sector, and increase royalties for all resource development sectors and put part of the increase into a fund that citizen watchdog groups jointly oversee and use for jointly decided initiatives;

3. Establish a Public Appointments Commission whose members are approved of by the leaders of parties that receive more than 5 percent of the popular vote in the election, and require the Commission to conduct public, merit-based searches and choose a short list of a maximum of 3 candidates for all Cabinet appointments, with the Cabinet required to choose from the short list;

4. Enact a meaningful public consultation law that requires broad, in-depth public consultation with voters (including legislature committee hearings) before any government or government institution makes a significant decision, and free and empower MLAs to represent voters and hold the government accountable by restricting the powers of the Premier and party leaders;

5. Ban political donations and gifts from businesses, unions and other organizations, and (as in Quebec) limit individual donations to $100 annually and establish per-vote and donation-matching public funding, and limit election spending by parties and candidates to about $1 per voter, and advertising spending by third parties to $50,000;

6. Prohibit everyone in politics from participating in any way in any decision-making process if they have even the appearance of a conflict of interest (even if the decision applies generally), including banning anyone who leaves politics from communicating with anyone involved in politics about their decisions for 3-5 years;

7. Require everyone in politics to disclose through an online registry any communication they have with anyone with regard to decisions they are making (to close the secret lobbying loopholes that now exist) and prohibit lobbyists from helping with political campaigns or fundraising;

8. Change the voting system to ensure a more accurate representation of the popular vote results of each election in the seats held by each party in the legislature (and in city councilors elected) while ensuring that all elected officials are supported by, and are accountable to, voters in each riding/constituency (with a safeguard to ensure that a party with a low-level, narrow-base of support does not have a disproportionately high level of power in the legislature) – and actually fix election dates (as Britain has);

9. Strengthen the access-to-information law by reducing loopholes, applying it to all government and government-funded institutions, requiring that records of all decisions and actions be disclosed regularly, and giving the Information Commissioner the power and mandate to order disclosure (as in B.C., Ontario and Quebec) and changes to government institutions’ information systems (as in Britain), and to penalize violators, and ensure whistleblower protection by strengthening the rules and empowering the Public Interest Commissioner to protect all whistleblowers in the public and private sectors; and

10. Reduce waste by prohibiting omnibus budget bills, and empowering the Auditor General to: audit all government and government-funded institutions; audit projected spending to ensure truth-in-budgetting; prohibit government advertising if it is misleading or partisan; order changes to clean up the financial management of any institution, and; penalize violators of spending or procurement rules.

 

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