Inside Politics

Tory MP wants election bill witnesses to disclose financial ties to Elections Canada

The senior Conservative member of the committee charged with reviewing the government's controversial proposal to rewrite Canada's election laws has taken the rare step of asking that future witnesses "voluntarily disclose" any and all past, current or potential future work for the country's independent, arms' length electoral agency. 

In a letter sent to the committee chair (PDF) on Friday, Tom Lukiwski, who also serves as parliamentary secretary to Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, avers that Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand "has made a practice of hiring academics, former politicians and public servants through discretionary contracts," some of whom, he notes, "have appeared before our committee during its hearings on the Fair Elections Act." 

"In the interests of transparency," he argues, "the public should know the terms of this remuneration." 

Although Lukiwksi doesn't mention any names, it's likely that he's thinking of one particular upcoming witness: former auditor general Sheila Fraser, whose blistering critique of the embattled bill has put the government doubly on the defensive, and who is expected to share her concerns in still more detail -- and on the public record -- with committee members next week.

As a member of the electoral advisory board set up by Mayrand last year, Fraser does, in fact, have a contractual relationship with the agency, albeit one that, by her recently tweeted reckoning, has netted her a grand total of $2,450 to date. 

(Although the position itself is not salaried, Elections Canada does offer a $1,750 per diem, and reimburses for 'reasonable expenses' related to the work.)  

Will her preemptive proactive disclosure be sufficient to meet Lukiwksi's threshold for witness transparency? 

We'll have to wait until next week to find out. 

UPDATE: The complete letter, as posted on Lukiwski's website:

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