One of the items in my Mirth and Meditation Archive is this:
Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Chesterton’s expression is wonderfully concise but, in the real world, determining where lines should be drawn frequently results in moral dilemmas that are anything but simple. Modern business struggles with related issues.
In practice, Canadian governments have given only lip service to enforcement of laws against Canadian involvement in white collar crime occurring in foreign jurisdictions. However, international pressure is being applied to Ottawa and ROB Magazine believes that charges against a Calgary based natural gas company are an indication the Harper Government has extended its moral commitment.
“In June 2011, Niko Resources, a natural gas company based in Calgary pleaded guilty to bribing A.K.M. Mosharraf Hossain, then Bangladesh’s state minister for energy and mineral resources.
“The $9.5-million fine Niko agreed to pay was heralded as the arrival of a new era in white-collar law enforcement. The RCMP had officially waded into the shadowy intersection of big business and foreign powers, and enforced the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, enacted in 1998.
“…It took the Justice Department and the Mounties a long time to start seriously enforcing Canada’s foreign bribery laws, but once they started digging, it took them to some surprising places—including Parliament Hill.”
The ROB report is worth reading. It suggests there may soon be more shoes to drop in matters of corruption related to international commerce. Another possibility has the federal government responding to the push back of influential groups by dropping the foreign crime investigations.
I know otherwise respectable people who believe that business people from the developed world should be allowed to discard ethics used at home when doing business overseas. This week, Koch Industries, America’s largest private corporation, was accused of paying foreign bribes and doing business with Iran, contrary to U.S. foreign policy. The Koch Brothers exercise so much political influence, the company is unlikely to be penalized, but, even companies without Koch’s clout typically avoid repercussions for overseas crime.
However, people willing to ignore rules of conduct in a foreign theatre probably make compromises at home as well. Ethics that become flexible no longer provide restraints.
The greatest protection of citizens comes through transparent conduct of both public and private business. Beside strengthening of FOI, one vital step to improving standards of political conduct is reform of party and election funding. Just as we have been encouraged to tolerate foreign bribe making as acceptable practice, we are told there is nothing wrong with governing parties accepting large amounts from contributors affected by policies of the administration.
One of the largest burdens facing healthcare is the cost of prescription medicines. Recently we’ve noted that British Columbia pays higher drug prices than other jurisdictions and the Liberal Government has been less than diligent in seeking improvement. Do financial inducements paid to the BC Liberal Party play any role in the province’s reluctance to take aggressive action?
I don’t pretend this is a comprehensive report of money that has flowed from the prescription drug industry to provincial politicians but the screen captures below show indicators. Reality will be far worse because contributions can be routed through so many paths. I simply searched the term “Pharma” in Elections BC Financial Reports and Political Contributions System:
Categories: Political Financing