Ottawa Citizen

TRUDEAU LIB­ER­ALS EAT THE CAKE WHILE WE GET THE CRUMBS

Ex-fi­nance min­is­ter Morneau is caught in an­other scandal, Diane Fran­cis writes.

-

What CEO pushes out his chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer dur­ing a scandal, then spends share­holder money to lobby for him to land a cushy job with a lav­ish ex­pense ac­count?

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau does. Last week, the CBC broke the story that 19 fed­eral pub­lic ser­vants have been work­ing part time ad­vis­ing for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Bill Morneau on how to be­come sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co-Oper­a­tion and Devel­op­ment (OECD).

This is the Morneau who quit un­der a cloud in the mid­dle of a pan­demic, but the Lib­eral elite looks af­ter its own. The OECD po­si­tion is a great gig and comes with an as­tro­nom­i­cal ex­pense ac­count to live and en­ter­tain in Paris, as well as to hob­nob glob­ally with other rich and pow­er­ful elit­ists. It's Davos and a Grand Tour on steroids.

The OECD is de­scribed as a “club of rich coun­tries” and is a talk­ing shop with 37 mem­bers aimed at stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic progress and trade. It stages con­fer­ences, cock­tail par­ties, col­lects com­par­a­tive sta­tis­tics on tax­a­tion and health care and cham­pi­ons pol­icy ini­tia­tives to halt cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, since 2015, Canada's Lib­eral govern­ment and Morneau have done lit­tle to crack down on money laun­der­ing, de­spite crit­i­cism at home and abroad con­cern­ing se­crecy and neg­a­tive ef­fects like soar­ing real es­tate prices. In fact, global watch­dogs have coined the term “snow wash­ing” to de­scribe how tens of bil­lions of dol­lars of dirty money a year can be eas­ily washed clean, like the snow, in Cana­dian real es­tate. There's also the is­sue of Canada's gap­ing tax loop­holes for off­shore cor­po­ra­tions.

Morneau has also had a few dust-ups. He was fined for fail­ing to re­port the value of the French cor­po­ra­tion that owned his French villa to the ethics com­mis­sioner. He was ac­cused of con­flict of in­ter­est for hold­ing shares in Morneau She­p­ell, the com­pany he ran that his fa­ther founded, be­fore tak­ing of­fice.

In Au­gust, he sud­denly re­signed as fi­nance min­is­ter and as a Lib­eral MP af­ter he and his fam­ily were im­pli­cated, along with the prime min­is­ter, in the WE Char­ity scandal. He apol­o­gized about the WE sit­u­a­tion, say­ing he mis­tak­enly thought he'd paid for trips he and his fam­ily took. He later said he left be­cause he al­ready had his eye on the OECD job, that he wasn't go­ing to seek re-elec­tion and that Canada needed a fi­nance min­is­ter who would be there to see the coun­try through the eco­nomic re­cov­ery, which is likely to take years.

Last month, the ethics com­mis­sioner dropped the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Morneau over the WE

Char­ity scandal. “I ac­cept that you gen­uinely be­lieved you had paid for the en­tire cost of both trips,” said Ethics Com­mis­sioner Mario Dion.

Now, Morneau faces 11 rivals for the OECD gig, and 19 pub­lic ser­vants are help­ing him snag it. So far, $6,265.76 has been spent on hos­pi­tal­ity in Paris, but Global Af­fairs Canada said it had no pro­jec­tion for the fi­nal price tag, adding that the pan­demic could drive costs higher. By the way, that to­tal cov­ers one fancy din­ner in Paris for four.

Clearly, Cana­di­ans are cap­tive

to an elite group of peo­ple who look af­ter their own. We'll likely never know how much Morneau's bid for sec­re­tary gen­eral will end up cost­ing tax­pay­ers, or how him get­ting the job ben­e­fits the coun­try. We still have no idea how many mil­lions the prime min­is­ter blew on his road show last year woo­ing tin pot despots to back his failed at­tempt for a use­less Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat at the United Na­tions.

This is Lib­eral Canada: they eat the cake; we get the crumbs.

Clearly, Cana­di­ans are cap­tive to an elite group of peo­ple who look af­ter their own.

 ?? DAVID KaWAI/BLOOMBERG FILES ?? For­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Bill Morneau faces 11 com­peti­tors for the cushy OECD gig, and 19 pub­lic ser­vants are help­ing him, news that the CBC broke last week, says Diane Fran­cis.
DAVID KaWAI/BLOOMBERG FILES For­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Bill Morneau faces 11 com­peti­tors for the cushy OECD gig, and 19 pub­lic ser­vants are help­ing him, news that the CBC broke last week, says Diane Fran­cis.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada