Friday, April 21, 2006

Thought on Renewal

There's a bit of a parallel between the Liberal party renewal effort and some changes that have happened in the business community over the last half decade or so.

With the increased vigilance against corporate corruption, companies have adopted strict codes of conduct to help protect them from unscrupulous behavior on the part of employees and officers. These codes will usually outline key policies surrounding what constitutes a conflict of interest, expenses, travel, penalties for breaching the code and guidelines for reporting and responding to breaches of the code. For the government of Canada, the Accountability Act will be meant to serve a similar function.

As a suggestion, the Liberal Party might want to consider adopting it's own formal code of conduct. Some might argue that this would be a redundant effort and that it isn't required, but I think it's necessary for proving to Canadians that the Liberal party is going to build a culture of integrity, and that all members of the party take this very seriously.

Another useful aspect is that it would provide explicit guidelines for dealing with adverse events. For example, when the IT scandal investigation began there was some debate over whether or not Ralph Goodale should resign; precedents had been set for and against doing so. A code of conduct could provide guidelines for when a party member should resign, and under what conditions.

The Liberal party, and all members were just as much victims of the actions of a handful of individuals who perpetrated the sponsorship scandal, except that they all shared in the tarnishing that resulted. A code of conduct for the party could allow us collectively to share in the effort of removing that stain.

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