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Reader feedback: Blushes not spared

Re: Politicians reveal assets, Volume 11, Number 30, August 8 - 14, 2005

Democracy is best exercised when done transparently. In Canada, the prime minister and cabinet members are required to place all assets in a "blind trust," administered by a third party. They are not allowed to know what is happening to their assets while they hold power.

This prevents them from making decisions that could benefit their own portfolios.

So goes the theory. And good luck with it.

In Prime Minister Paul Martin's case, he simply transferred ownership of his major asset - Canada Steamship Lines - to his three sons before assuming power. CSL ships sail under Panamanian flags (to avoid paying sailors Canadian minimum wages) and its assets are held offshore (to avoid paying Canadian taxes). In politics, it's amazing what a little planning can accomplish.

I wish all Slovaks good luck as they take their first baby steps toward financial transparency in federal politics. Two rules: Smile broadly and try not to laugh out loud.

And remember the words of Mark Twain: "Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to."

John Belanger,
Toronto, Canada

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