House to debate ‘culture of corruption’

Bill Curry
National Post
February 17, 2004

Ottawa: Describing the Liberals as “corrupt” has caused several days of hand-wringing and backroom debate among senators in the Upper Chamber, but the term will be front and centre for a full day of debate today in the House of Commons.

In the first opposition day since the Auditor-General released her report on the sponsorship program, Conservative MPs intend to spend the day debating a motion stating “the Liberal government has and continues to nurture a culture of corruption through the abuse of its influence and the use of public funds for personal benefit and to benefit friends, family and the Liberal Party of Canada.”

The motion will be put to a vote and the government announced late yesterday that backbench Liberal MPs will be free to vote as they wish. A parliamentary rule book lists “corrupt” as one of dozens of words that have been banned as “unparliamentary” over the years, but opposition MPs have been tossing it around without consequence since the Auditor-General reported last week.

Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton is proposing a similar debate in the Upper Chamber, but Liberal senators have asked the Speaker to rule it out of order.

Conservative MP Monte Solberg said his party has no problem accusing the Liberals of corruption, arguing the claim is supported by the Auditor-General. “They don’t deny that their party is up to their ears in this whole mess,” he said.

[Editor’s note: The motion was defeated 143-88]

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