Thursday, May 24, 2007

On collaborative law-making

The Star reports that the NDP (perhaps alone among the federal parties) is still working to improve Canada's public policy rather than planning for an early summer break. And Judy Wasylycia-Leis' plan to deal with corporate crime looks like a winner both on policy grounds, and in its chances of building enough support to pass:
The NDP will call today for all federal parties to draft a joint bill to crack down on corporate crime in Canada.

NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis wants rules to force the disclosure of corporate perks for chief executives and prevent non-compete payments to individuals, two issues at the heart of Conrad Black's Chicago fraud trial. The proposed bill would also better protect Canadian investors through independent audits and oversight...

Wasylycia-Leis will ask for the co-operation of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the two other opposition parties to work together to draft a bill.

Normally, proposed legislation is drafted by either the government or an individual member of Parliament but procedural rules permit a House of Commons committee with members of all political parties to prepare a bill that would later be introduced for a vote in the Commons.

In an era of corporate crime, Canada is the only G8 country that has not toughened its laws on financial breaches, Wasylycia-Leis said.
From a policy standpoint, there's naturally a need to make sure that any added standards and rules serve a concrete purpose. But it should be beyond doubt that additional disclosure and transparency should lead to better results both for investors and for corporations who play by the rules.

As for the political strategy, the call for all-party participation figures first to highlight the potential for cooperation on both sides of the floor - to hopefully turn the current discussion away from a "can't get anything done" narrative. And it should also put significant pressure on all other parties to agree to quick action.

In particular, the Cons presumably won't want the opposition parties to be able to criticize a commitment to law and order that stops short of the boardroom. And if the Cons do go on record in support of the idea, the Libs in turn likely won't see this as an area where there's much to be won by arguing for weaker laws.

Of course, the plan itself is only in relatively early stages. And with Wasylycia-Leis calling for all parties to contribute to drafting the bill initially rather than merely asking for support for a fleshed-out plan, each party then figures to have some stake in making sure that any agreed bill gets passed.

Mind you, it doesn't seem unlikely that the Cons and/or Libs could make a public declaration of support for Wasylycia-Leis' plan and participate in some drafting, while gumming up the works just enough to make sure that nothing passes into law. But enough public attention could force either to at least get out of the way - and help make sure that at least one more positive measure comes out of the current Parliament.

No comments:

Post a Comment