Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

Salary of MPs ;s : an appearance of conflict of interest

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The Ethics Commissioner maintains that It would have been preferable for an independent committee to set the remuneration of elected officials. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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Quebec elected officials placed themselves in an apparent conflict of interest by voting for their own salary increase, says the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet.

She believes that it would have been preferable for an independent binding committee to be responsible for setting the remuneration of elected officials.

Members of the National Assembly voted for a $30,000 salary increase last June. Asked whether this could have generated the appearance of a conflict of interest, Ariane Mignolet responded in the affirmative.

The commissioner maintains that elected officials could have minimally postponed the increase until after the next elections.

My first recommendation is that it is not the deputies who vote their salaries, she explains.

But, as long as we have done so, it is certain that by adopting a measure which becomes enforceable in a future legislature, we remove a good part of the perception of conflict from ;interests. When we talk about a next legislature, none of them are sure to return. There are some who will not show up again. There are some who will not be re-elected, declared Ms. Mignolet on Tuesday, on the sidelines of special consultations on her report which aims to tighten the criteria for conflicts of interest.

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Ariane Mignolet considers that elected officials could have at least postponed the increase until after the next elections. (Archive photo)

This report also recommends the establishment of an independent mechanism which would have the function of determine the working conditions of deputies. The commissioner had to wait four years after tabling the document to be heard by parliamentarians in the National Assembly.

The commissioner had already raised reservations about the fact that parliamentarians debated their salaries last June. Solidarity deputy Vincent Marissal then asked Ms. Mignolet if this situation placed elected officials in a conflict of interest. At that time, the commissioner indicated that she could not give an opinion on this specific question, because it concerned the 125 deputies of the National Assembly.

During the special consultations on Tuesday, Ariane Mignolet returned to this point by explaining that the code of ethics is not made for [that x27;she] places the entire deputation in breach.

Ms. Mignolet also indicated that she wanted to look into the #x27;use of social networks by MPs.

The code of ethics applies in the exercise of your office and allows the use of State goods and services for the exercise of your office, which excludes activities partisan, she explained Tuesday in front of elected officials.

Note that the document she presented does not specifically address social networks. Mignolet indicated that they could be the subject of recommendations in her next report, which will be tabled in about a year. It's a subject I'm looking into, but I'm not ready to draw conclusions, she said.

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The Prime Minister of Quebec regularly uses social networks to broadcast messages. (Archive photo)

We see that the closer we get to an election period, the more the content mixes and it& #x27;it's difficult to sort things out, says the commissioner.

According to her, a citizen who follows an elected official on Facebook, for example, may have difficulty knowing whether he is speaking as a representative of a constituency, a minister or even the head of a government. ;a political party.

The code does not currently make specific provisions for social media, but it applies to all communications made in the exercise of the office of the MP, including online communications, specifies the communications advisor at the office of the Ethics Commissioner, Anne-Sophie St-Gelais.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The commissioner also reiterated that she wants ethics training to become compulsory for elected officials. Ariane Mignolet deplores that the deputies of the National Assembly are not sufficiently aware and informed about the ethical issues concerning them.

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