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February 28, 2019 | Rising from the Swamp

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel ( Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog:

Public hearings into political scandal in Canada and the US this week shine light on our common disease: The sponsorship and influence of governments and regulators by self-serving interests have become defeating of fundamental tenets like democracy, the rule of law, ethics, fairness, free markets, competition and even capitalism. No political party is superior to another in this, because the lobby-captured, revolving door, campaign finance foundation upon which the present system functions, is the swamp within which we are all now working.

Sustainable systems–whether they be families, social fabrics, businesses, economies or the natural world–all require strong, independent, counter-veiling interests to maintain a productive equilibrium. Allowing any one entity, sector or interest to dominate and dictate terms according to their personal agenda serves to undermine strength and stability of the whole.

There’s not much new here. Humans have been through centuries of similar epiphanies. In the end, rebuilding and rebooting has always required a return to fundamental principles like full disclosure, public transparency, intolerance for conflicts of interest, intolerance for the appearance of bias, equal treatment under the law, due process, prosecution of offenders without exception, holding individuals accountable, letting criminal and negligent actors fail, and clawing back ill-gotten profits and incomes paid.

When bad actors are allowed to fail, good actors are given a level playing field and ethical people, companies and interests have a deserved chance to compete fairly. Business, jobs and creative minds then flow from destructive actors and sectors to constructive ones.

Letting criminal companies and actors negotiate cost-of-business-fines without suffering personal prosecution and penalties is why we have so much corruption and widespread malfeasance today. It’s also why economies, opportunity and upward mobility are stagnating.

Cleaning house from the top down demands uncompromised leadership if we are to rise from the swamp. Canada’s Attorney General should be lauded for her insistence on the rule of law in the SNC Lavalin case. Her observation that the political office of Minister of Justice should be separated from the person entrusted as top prosecutor for the nation is an obvious step needed.

Ex-Trump lawyer Micheal Cohen is unscrupulous and criminal and has deservedly received public reprisal, disbarment, fines and incarceration for his actions. The fact that the current President and so-called leader of the free world retained and praised Cohen (along with many other convicted felons) as his personal representative for 10 long years should also not be overlooked or tolerated; neither should a system that has enabled and allowed public representatives to hold office with glaring conflicts of interest and lack of full financial transparency.

Centuries of legal precedent have given us the best practice rules to follow, we the people must insist on their universal adherence.

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February 28th, 2019

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite

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