If you're lying, will you resign?

OTTAWA--Democracy Watch has challenged political party leaders and candidates in the Liberal leadership race, and the Ontario and P.E.I. elections, to pledge to resign if they do not keep their campaign promises, and to promise to pass a law that will make it illegal for politicians and other public officials to lie, give citizens an easy way to file a complaint about lying to independent ethics watchdog agency, and give the agency the power to impose very high fines for lying.

With Paul Martin making many promises about what he will do as prime minister, and party leaders in Ontario and PEI baiting voters with promises leading up to their imminent election days, Democracy Watch called on the media and the public September 23 to ask these politicians whether they will resign if they don't keep their promises.

"Any politician who refuses to pledge to resign if they break their promises, and refuses to make it easy for voters to challenge their lies, should not be trusted by voters," says Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and chairperson of the nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition.

"Canadians are sick of politicians baiting voters with promises, and then switching direction when they win power," said Conacher. "The undemocratic and cynicism-breeding habit of politicians and public officials lying will only be stopped if Canadians have an easy way to challenge lies, and have the liar punished, similar to the relatively easy way that exists to challenge corporations and corporate executives who lie."

If any Canadian corporation lies in its advertising, only six Canadians need to sign and send a letter to the Competition Bureau and the Bureau will investigate and determine whether the corporation lied, and what corrective measures are required. If any corporation or corporate executive lies to their shareholders, the shareholders have the right to go to court and seek compensation for the damage done by the lies.

During federal election campaigns, and during elections in every province and territory except Quebec and New Brunswick, it is illegal for anyone to lie about a candidate, but it is only illegal in B.C. for a candidate to lie about what they promise to do or what they have done.

Democracy Watch issued its challenge as part of its ongoing Voter Rights Campaign. The call for an "honesty in politics" law in every jurisdiction in Canada is supported by the 31 member groups of the nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition whose total membership is more than 2.5 million Canadians.

For more information about the Voter Rights Campaign, visit http://www.dwatch.ca/voterdir.html
or for the Government Ethics Coalition, visit http://www.dwatch.ca/ethicscoal.html