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Freeland: Raising questions is "not responsible behaviour"

Prime Minister Trudeau ran on a campaign alleging 'openness and transparency' as the lynchpin of their governance model.

Indeed, shortly after coming to power, the Trudeau government emphasized these virtues in both his immediate 2015 Speech from the Throne and the federal budget of March 2016.

And yet, from the SNC-Lavalin affair to the WE Charity scandal, it is clear that his government has embarked in the opposite direction.

Corruption is now a worsening problem in Canada, when it was not so just a short time ago in our country.

Once among the top ten least corrupt countries according to Transparency International’s “Corruption Perception Index.” Canada slipped four points in one year to the number 12 position - gaining pace in 2019.

Indeed, the bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin were perhaps the biggest blow.

Culminating in the resignation of the Attorney General, a cabinet minister, and an Ethics Commissioner report citing violations by the Prime Minister, Transparency International remarked how 2019 "rattled the image of Canada as a squeaky-clean country."

Did 2020 serve as a wake-up call for the Liberal government to correct their errors? Certainly not. For example, see this exchange that took place between Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and finance critic Pierre Poilievre and Liberal Finance Minister during the “Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the 2021 Budget” that took place in early December.

Poilievre: “The bank has bought $180 million of corporate bonds. To be accountable to the people, it has to tell people where their money went. So, will the minister commit that the bank will reveal which corporations got that money?”

Freeland: “Mister Chair, as I said earlier, I am a very strong believer in the importance that the independence of the Bank of Canada plays in our economy … and in our financial system … and I would urge members to ask questions … pertaining to the Bank of Canada, of the Bank of Canada.”

Poilievre: “Well, the minister says that the bank is accountable to the people. We are the people’s representatives. Surely, we should know. So, where did the $180 million go?”

Freeland: “Mister Chair, I want to be very clear that it is undermining of our economy … to be … raising questions in the minds of Canadians about the independence of the Bank of Canada. That is not responsible behaviour.”

As the Hamilton Spectator so aptly notes, "questions are now irresponsible [...] how Orwellian." Let us hope for some modicum of change in 2021 - but we're not holding our breath.

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