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Canadian Conservative government introduces sweeping anti-corruption bill

[JURIST] The new Canadian Conservative Party [party profile] government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website; JURIST news archive] tabled its Federal Accountability Act [C-2 bill summary; full bill text] in the House of Commons [official website] on Tuesday. The sweeping legislation [CBC report] and the accompanying action plan [text], promised by the Conservatives during the winter federal election campaign, aims for more government transparency, targets corruption, and seeks to end "undue influence" by big business, unions and industry lobbyists. It includes a provision banning ministers and public aides from becoming registered lobbyists for at least five years from the date they leave their positions, a limitation of individual party donations to $1,000 per person and the abolition of large corporate and union donations, and a condition permitting the federal auditor general to "follow the money to the end recipients" as he or she undertakes a review of federal grants, contributions and contracts.

The Accountability Act is most immediately a response to the federal sponsorship scandal [CBC news backgrounder; JURIST news archive] which first erupted in 2004, embroiling the Liberal Party [party website] and now-former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin [CBC backgrounder] in accusations of misuse and misdirection of public funds intended for government advertising in Quebec. Review additional government materials and read Harper's message to Canadians [text] on the introduction of the Act. Harper says he will go across Canada next week to introduce the legislation to voters; his party hopes to pass the Act by the summer recess of Parliament in June. Canadian Press has more.

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