December 19, 2014 is a sad day for good governance in Ontario. On that very day, the Toronto Star reported that the Ontario Liberals paid $10, 000 to wipe computers, according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). The Toronto Star article reported that the Liberal spent $10, 000 of tax payers money to have the spouse of Dalton McGuinty’s (Former Primier) Deputy Chief of Staff erase personal data from approximately 20 government computers in the former Premier’s office. The erasures are related to the $11 Billion gas plant scandal that rocked the McGuinty govern prior to the last election. According to the Star report the money was paid to a private contractor, not a government employee and the Liberal Caucus Service Bureau openly denied that the services for which it paid the invoices were related to the ongoing investigation.
Increasingly, politicians are forgetting that they are office holders. They are elected by the people to carry out a job. Politicians are not employees, per se, although staffs in a politician’s office are employees. These questions come to mind: are politicians held to the same standard as other office holders and employees? What would happen to a regular employee who decided to erase employer information in the wake of a police probe? Are the Liberals setting a good example of what good governance in an organization looks like? How can these folks enact legislation on insider trading etc in any good conscience, when their own conduct falls well below what is expected of a person with integrity holding political office.
Every employer has a right to absolute honesty from its employees. That is a fundamental principle that guides virtually all aspects of employment law throughout the common law world. It is because of this principle that an employer can terminate the employment of an employee found to have lied on its application for employment. The duty of honesty owed by employees to its employers take a=on many nuanced legal principles, including the doctrine of revelation of character.
Ok. Admittedly, in the public sector political consideration envelope virtually every decision. That being said, no right minded employer would stand for one of its employees shredding information relevant to a police investigation. That the liberal erased the data is bad. It is completely another thing to use an outside contractor to do so in spite of an OPP investigation. That a private contractor would knowingly take such a job is another issue. Ontario is recovering from one of the worst recessions since the great depression. At the time of the happening of these events, Ontario’s long term economic forecast was projected to be gloomy. The unemployment rate stood upward of 7%, productivity and trade were both down.
\Ontario’s long-term economic outlook was the focus of a recent report. Said the report: “[a]n aging population and slower labour-force growth will contribute to sluggish economic growth in Ontario over the next two decades, the province predicts in its long-term economic report. Both “may restrain future economic growth in the absence of significant productivity improvements,” the report released Wednesday cautions. “The report indicates the need for consistency, predictability and steady hands,” said Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who is to table a budget in May that could trigger a June election. The economic outlook calls for an average of 2.1 per cent annual growth in real GDP through 2035. Unless Canada’s relatively low productivity rate increases, the exodus of older workers will take $11,500 per person out of the economy by 2032, RBC economist Laura Cooper wrote in a report called “Growth in our Backyard.”
At a time when millions of Ontarians were likely unemployed, unable to find a job, some even desperate the ,Liberal government was busy approving $10, 000 in expenditure to circumvent a police investigation. The Liberals, instead of focusing its attention on the plight of Ontarians opted to give its cronies work the purpose of which was and continues to be to circumvent a police investigation.
What these examples show is that our political leaders often set a bad example for good governance, even as they craft legislation to ensure integrity in board room in the private sector. Politicians tend to forget the they are employed when they hold office. They forget that as an office holder/employee they ought to be subject to some of the same principles as any other employee within reason. How do we in the electorate ensure that the work of ou r politicians are subject to scrutiny and supervision? It seems that we need now to take a hard look at making changes to a broken system and create structures and oversight procedures to minimize political scandals that undermine good governance.
Do do as I do, just do as I say.