Payment systems
2 min

Novelty cheque madness

The Liberals clearly aren’t going to let this issue with the partisan Conservative giant novelty cheques go, and they’ve now filed formal complaints with the Ethics Commissioner on all 48 documented cases, and they’re also in the process with the Public Service Commission of Canada, Elections Canada, and even the Auditor General. Covering their bases, in other words.

And the photographic evidence is mounting (including a pretty clever photomontage used during the latest Liberal press conference). But as some journalists will pull up old photos of Liberals handing out giant novelty cheques when they were in government, you will note that a) those cheques at most had a Canadian Flag on them, or a similar Government of Canada logo and not a Liberal Party logo, and b) it wasn’t all done up in party colours, or contained party slogans, up to and including the equivalent of the “Economic Action Plan™” that the Conservatives have pasted on their cheques (in Conservative Blue, which it bears reminding is not an official Canadian colour).

And while the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt ponders since when does this government allow their MPs to act independently enough for these incidents of clearly inappropriate novelty cheques to be just a series of “mistakes,” Maclean’s Aaron Wherry points us in the direction of something Delacourt wrote back in July about those novelty cheques – that they can be treated as a legal promissory note. I’ll echo Gerard Kennedy’s suggestion at the time – the recipients of these inappropriate novelty cheques should try cashing them, and hope that it’ll actually come from the accounts of those self-aggrandising MPs or the Conservative Party whose logo is so prominent on them.

Meanwhile, the NDP want strict guidelines on these kinds of presentations. Which is all well and good, but we already have Treasury Board guidelines that clearly aren’t being enforced. But this is what you get when you have a government that clearly thinks the rule don’t apply to them, and they’ve proven they’re willing to ignore the rule of law when it suits them, so one has to wonder what will more rules really do unless we attach some significant and enforceable penalties to them? (Like forcing them to pay out the amounts of those cheques out of their personal accounts?)

Elsewhere, the Justice Minister said that he has no intention of following the recommendations to strengthen our Access to Information or Privacy laws in this country, saying the existing laws are good enough. Does anyone else remember when the Conservatives were the champions of increased transparency and stronger ATI laws?

Peter MacKay now denies seeing the warnings on the abuses against Afghan detainees – you know, the ones he's totally not muzzling – and apparently his predecessor Gordon O’Connor has denied seeing them as well. So if you’ll allow me to pre-emptively write either Bob Rae or Ujjal Dosanjh’s lines for Monday’s Question Period – you’re the minister, and should know about these kinds of things. What else don’t you know about?

And finally, Her Excellency has presided over the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, pointing out that we cannot ignore historical wrongs.

This weekend – it’s the Press Gallery Dinner on Saturday, and I’ll be attending with MP Rob Oliphant and his very lovely husband.
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