Political Scandals in Canada a Political Scandal Essay

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Political Scandals in Canada

A Political Scandal Involving Fraud

During the federal election in Canada in 2011 there was an electoral fraud issue that became known as the "Robocalls Scandal." This fraudulent activity took place in Ontario, in a town called Guelph.

Robocalls are previously recorded and automated phone calls to people from a computer that is programmed to call all phone numbers in a given area; usually robocalls carry a political message asking voters to behave a certain way.

In this case in Canada, the fraud took place because the robocalls were not from the organization they claimed to be from. People receiving the phone calls believed the calls were from the official group, "Elections Canada" but they were not from Elections Canada. The robocalls told voters their polling location had changed, and urged them to go to another place to vote that turned out to be a fraud.

Liberals are accusing conservatives for being behind the calls. "Under the Elections Act, it is illegal to tell voters to go to a wrong or non-existent polling station" (Stechyson, 2012).

The person who made the calls used a "disposable cellphone" registered to a "Pierre Poutine," and he used the group RackNine to mass-produce the calls.

A Political Scandal Involving Bribery

In Montreal there was a scandal involving bribery with three former Canada Revenue Agency employees, Francesco Fazio, Elias Kawkab, and Luigi Falcone. The allegations against the three is that while working for the Canada Revenue Agency they took bribes to help individuals pay overdue tax bills, according to Brian Daley writing for the QMI Agency.

Reportedly, a Montreal restaurant owner was offered a deal in 2005; if he gave an agency worker $90,000 his tax bill would be dramatically reduced (a bribe). Another restaurant owner in Montreal gave $100,000 in bribe money to a Canada Revenue Agency employee in turn for the agency hiding this restaurant owner's "…black market income" (Daly, 2012).

One of the reasons this is political in substance is that the Canada Revenue Agency "…admitted it fired six employees and suspended three others without pay for misconduct," however these employees should have been charged with crimes and prosecuted under Canadian law, not just fired or suspended.

A Political Scandal Involving Perjury

The Boots and Breeches scandal in 1942 was a case that involved perjury. The government had paid for 4,905 pair of boots for Canadian soldiers in WWII; those boots were paid for between March 1, 1938, and December 15, 1941. However the quartermaster's book showed just 3,710 pairs (Rayner, 2001, pp. 162-63). There were fake invoices to cover the tracks of the guilty persons, and a "full-fledged political scandal erupted over the 'slush fund' testimony," Rayner writes. The key individual in the middle of the scandal, Constable Leonard said he was asked by the auditor, George Marshall, to type a letter "…purporting to explain why stock book entries and statements in the public accounts did not match" (Rayner). That is perjury, and the two men responsible were sentences to prison sentences.

A Political Scandal Involving Patronage

The Pacific Scandal in 1873 actually caused the collapse of the Conservative government of Sir. John A. Macdonald. The issue revolved around Macdonald and the conservatives accepting $350,000 from Sir. Hugh Allan during the election in 1872. Why accept that money? It was in turn for a promise of patronage -- that is, Macdonald's government would give Allan the opportunity to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. This was not a bribe, but rather it was based on political patronage.

A Political Scandal Involving Nepotism

Actually the scandal involving RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was not based specifically on nepotism; it was based on abuses "…of pension and insurance plans" but it was also based on "nepotism, waste and bypassing of controls by management" (Styky, 2007). The commissioner was accused of a cover-up of a scandal involving the mismanagement of funds, which was a serious embarrassment for the top cop of Canada, and for the nation itself.

A Political Scandal Involving Influence Peddling

Former senior aide to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper was charged earlier in 2012 with "influence peddling" by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Radia, 2012). It has been charged that Bruce Carson attempted to get his fiancee (reportedly a former "escort") a job selling water purifications products to Native Canadians. The law prohibits a former political staff person to refrain from lobbying the government for five years once having left the position. Apparently Carson also lobbied the Natural Resources department for funding for a client.

PART TWO: Does the personal sexual behavior of public persons really matter?

What an elected official does in his or her own bedroom should be none of the public's business. Most people would agree to that statement. They would agree unless, that is, there is more than a hint of political skullduggery or improper behavior between the two consenting adults. Or if the person involved in the sexual activity is married and his sexual trysts are with an expensive hooker; in the matter of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, his lies to his wife and the specter of him spending thousands on a one-night stand with an expensive prostitute led him to immediately step down from his elected position.

Another example U.S. President Bill Clinton having sexual relations (of one kind or the other) with an intern in the White House Oval Office. That was clearly improper and it presented a wildly over-blown response from the media. It even ended up with an attempt to impeach Clinton. What Clinton was accused of offered the conservatives in Congress with an ideal opportunity to attack Clinton and attempt to have him removed from office.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR News) asked the pertinent question: "Why should the public care about a politician's private life?" And the result was a number of responses on their website that are worth noting in this paper.

Debra Hannu of Duluth, MN, wrote that "…You could have the world's greatest leader with marital issues, or you could have a dangerous fascist with the perfect family -- which would YOU want as leader?" (MPR News). That is a very good point; no one is perfect and if the elected leader has otherwise provide good behavior and has acted in the public's best interest, his private life should not matter.

Michael Miles of Victoria, MN wrote: "Unless they are taking money from somebody who will be affected by their decisions I couldn't care less."

Jerry Ewing of Apple Valley MN explained: "The public should not care at all, except as it affects the politician's public life. Paying a prostitute with taxpayer money, leaving one's office unmanaged, or contracting a venereal disease are all detriments to the job the taxpayers hired you to do."

Rae Mathias of Heron Lake, MN wrote: "Knowing things about a politician's private life often shows blazing hypocrisy. An anti-gay rights politician who is a closet gay. A moral, religious, self-righteous politician who takes money under the table or cheats on his wife. Doesn't that reflect on his public responsibilities as well?"

Doug Campbell in Bloomington, MN, explained his feelings on the subject: "We are who we are. If we are a liar and a cheat in our 'private life' why should anyone expect us to behave differently in our public lives? The public needs to be able to trust their elected representatives, and actions do matter."

The bizarre, incredibly complicated case of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglass is a case in which the public has every right to know what happened. When a high-ranking judge has sexually explicit photos on the Internet, no matter how they got there or why, that is a major deviation from the public trust that the public has a right to expect. Did Douglass sexually harass Alexander Chapman in 2003? Did Douglass' husband Jack King give naked photos to Chapman (which would have been brutally damaging to the reputation of an associate chief justice) and moreover, what happened in march of 2009 when King allegedly arrange to have Chapman and King's wife, the justice, get together for some sex?

In any event, these activities are clearly immoral and for Douglass to be part of this corrupt charade -- whatever her involvement -- is not just a public relations disaster for the system of justice in Canada. It is a horrendous violation of the public trust.

In a peer-reviewed article in the journal Public, Private and the Media, journalist Jean Seaton asks a number of questions relevant to this issue. For example, on page 174 Seaton asks, "…to what extent is the public appetite for the destruction of reputation (of individuals but also of institutions) led, or merely fed by the media?" She also asks, "…is it possible to sustain any notion of intimacy in which the precious diversity of individuals is treasured in the light of brutal media exposure and authoritarian regimentation of private lives?"

Seaton comes to the defense of the media by…

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