12 Legal Initiatives Launched

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12 legal initiatives launched about David Emerson’s switch of parties

Twelve legal initiatives were launched during February–June 2006. These initiatives were of five types, presented below.

(L-11-8)   Eight inquiries:   Did Stephen Harper and David Emerson violate sections and principles of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons?

    (L-11-3)   Three inquiries:   On 10 and 13 February 2006, MPs Peter Julian (NDP), Wayne Easter (Liberal), and Bryon Wilfert (Liberal) inquired whether Stephen Harper violated Sections 8-10 of the House of Commons Code. Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro responded to the queries with a report released 20 March.

    (L-14-7)   Four inquiries:   The Ethics Commissioner presented these additional inquiries in his 20 March 2006 report. He conducted these extra inquiries on his own initiative, in response to queries from the public about whether David Emerson had violated Sections 8-9 and Principles 2(b) and 2(e) of the House of Commons Code. The report did not find that either Stephen Harper or David Emerson had violated anything in the House of Commons Code.

    (L-18)   One inquiry:   On 14 March 2006, NGO Democracy Watch asked Mr. Shapiro whether David Emerson had violated Principle 2(c) of the House of Commons Code, and also Principle 2(b). The Ethics Commissioner never seems to have replied to Democracy Watch’s request.

    More on these inquiries.

(L-2)   Did David Emerson violate Subsection 482(b) of the Canada Elections Act?

    A request for an opinion was filed by Vancouver citizen Dan Fass on 12 February 2006. Senior Counsel to the Commissioner of Canada Elections said in a 15 March letter that David Emerson did not violate the Subsection.

    More on this request for an opinion.

(L-3)   Did David Emerson violate Subsections 3(1)-3(2) of the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders?

    A request for an investigation was filed by Democracy Watch with Bernard Shapiro on 14 March 2006.

    More on this request for an investigation into the Public Office Holders Code.

(L-4)   Did David Emerson engage in misleading and/or false advertising according to Industry Canada?

    In early April 2006, Vancouver citizen Alex Boivin sent 42 copies of a letter to Industry Canada he had prepared, each signed by a different citizen. The letter asked whether David Emerson engaged in “false & misleading advertising” when he ran as a Liberal Party candidate in the 23 January 2006 Federal Election, but then announced he was switching parties. Mr. Boivin noted in his letter that Industry Canada is engaged in protecting consumers from false and misleading advertising of commercial products and services rather than political candidates, but argued that “a citizen’s vote is the ultimate consumer purchase” and thus urged Industry Canada to act on his query.

    See also the proposal to compare Mr. Emerson’s actions with Sections 52 and 74.01 of the Competition Act on “False or misleading representations” and “Misrepresentations to the public.”

(L-5)   Amendment of the Federal Accountability Act to address floor-crossing by MPs

    The Federal Accountability Act contains nothing about MPs crossing the floor of the House of Commons. This lack was the subject of comments in the House of Commons on, for example the 25th and 26th of April 2006, soon after the Act was tabled.

    Also, an attempt was made by the Liberals and NDP to address floor-crossing in the Act in early June 2006, shortly before the Act was passed by the House of Commons. The Liberals proposed an amendment that called for a byelection if a simple majority of constituents in an MP’s riding signed a petition within 60 days of an MP switching parties. The amendment was not to be retroactive, so it wouldn’t have affected David Emerson. Not enough MPs could be found to support the amendment.

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