In politics sometimes there are stories that happen that you can’t help but follow. For me one such story has been the case of now-former Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while have likely read about his case, as I’ve written about the story, the lack of reaction from his party to it and the eventual investigation from the Ethics Commissioner. Peschisolido and his suddenly closed law firm faced allegations regarding money laundering, organized crime and the fact that during all this he saw himself no longer become a member of the BC Law Society.
Through out all of this Peschisolido remained a member of the Liberal caucus and was even allowed to run as the Liberal candidate in the BC riding of Steveston – Richmond East, which is amazing when you consider the allegations that were out there against him. You had to wonder what mind of hold or what reasons the Liberals would have had to keep this guy in their caucus, especially after they tossed Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. It all looked very bad and raised a lot of questions of its own. Eventually that lead to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner to investigate, which was bound to have happened. Well yesterday we found out the results of that investigation and really the findings weren’t shocking at all:
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion didn’t spare Peschisolido in his report, stating that he contravened the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons by “chronically failing to disclose his private interests to the Office”. Chronically… think about that use of language. Dion basically said that this wasn’t a one-time oopsie of a situation. He’s saying that this was something that kept happening, apparently implying that it wasn’t accidental or an oversight. Dion pointed out that if Mr. Peschisolido had actually managed to get re-elected in the Fall that he “would have recommended that Parliament impose appropriate sanctions” but because he lost he is “no longer subject to the rules governing Members of the House of Commons.”
Yeah, that’s very unsatisfying, it’s it? It surely doesn’t speak well to the ethics of the Liberals that they not only never punished this person, they never suspended him, they allowed him to run under their banner and that because he lots he’ll never face any punishment for that “chronic failing” that Mr. Dion pointed to. To be clear, Mr. Dion found evidence that showed that Mr. Peschisolido “contravened the Code’s disclosure obligations when he failed to report to the Commissioner:
- an asset well in excess of $10,000, in the form of a shareholder’s loan;
- a liability well in excess of $10,000, in the form of a personal guarantee of debt;
- a change in his marital status and a statement of the private interests of his family member; and
- a change of status in his corporation, the Peschisolido Law Corporation.
Despite that, thanks to the lack of punishment from the Liberals internally, he won’t even get a slap on the wrist. Some will say that losing his seat is plenty of punishment but I would argue that getting to have kept his $160,000 salary for four years, then getting a severance payment of about half of that after the loss it’s much of a punishment at all. I guess all that remains to be seen is what the RCMP might to, if ever.
In the meantime, this story seems to have arrived at some kind of conclusion, albeit a very empty one. In the end this story doesn’t speak well to how ethics are applied by some in select situations. To this day, you can’t help but wonder what exactly Mr. Peschisolido meant to the Liberal Party to allow him to stay in their caucus, run for them and do all this while the Ethics Commissioner found that this was the case. It’s a very bad look on the Liberals and the Prime Minister, and they honestly have a lot of questions to answer for what they knew and why they refused to act. I do hope that someone in the Green Chamber does ask those questions because the idea that this could happen with no consequence just flies in the face of natural justice and just makes our politics look that much worse and somewhat sordid. Those MPs who act right in all parties deserve better than to be associated with that but if the Liberals won’t do that for themselves, they wear the blame for how it looks.