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Is Scott Brison in contempt?

Well, more audit talk in the house today. It looks like I may have started a firestorm with my research last week. Since I just watched this on CPAC I can't give an exact transcript but I will attempt to (very loosely) paraphrase from a non-partisan perspective (like usual).

In Question Period today Conservative finance critic Monte Solberg questioned the Liberals on accountability. Solberg questioned the obvious conflict of interest between Deloitte and Touche and the Liberals by mentioning that the Firm has donated over $400,000 to the Liberals since 1993. MP Scott Brison then replied that the Tories are so desperate now they are questioning the validity of a international firm's work and how they are losing their credibility in doing so, then he awkwardly some how intertwined national unity, accountability and Justice Gomery into his closing. In reply Mr. Solberg said he was not questioning the validity of the firm just the Liberal party and its accountability. Solberg is right; this is a conflict of interest – ask any accountant. Brison then made a comment that an audit or review is the same thing and the Tories are making a big deal out of nothing.

However, Brison does not understand the legal definition an audit and the immense amount of liability that accountants assume as compared to a review. The word audit should not be used loosely because of the liability and the credibility involved. Also Brison mentioned that the Auditor General didn’t audit all of the government’s books when the AG was auditing the sponsorship program but only some parts of it and it was still called an audit. Scott, Scott, you keep digging and I keep burying you! Yes the AG didn’t audit the whole government, but they did FULL AUDITS on an individual departments and an opinion was expressed.

Brison quickly shot back and said that, and this caused laughter to not only me but to the house, "sometimes reviews are even more thorough than audits because they are more focused on specific parts of the finances." Well, here are three contradictions to that claim: first he just admitted that the Liberals had commissioned the accountants to only review specific parts of the books; secondly, reviews are not as thorough as an audit; thirdly, audits or reviews are not specifically designed to detect fraudulent activity; although they sometimes do.

Then, in a special question period after, Jason Kenny, Conservative MP, raised a motion to put Scott Brison in contempt because last week Brison said they audited the books to assure Canadians no dirty money was received. Furthermore he mentioned that the Liberals exlcluded the ridings from being reviewed-- the areas where the money was funelled. To back up his point he mentioned that the respected Dr. Al Rosen, one of Canada's most respected forensic accountants, discredited Brison’s attempt to pull "wool over taxpayers' eyes". To prove his motion of contempt Kenny quoted Brison last Tuesday saying that the government had a 'full review' on the books. Brison answered back in the form of “national unity, Justice Gomery, and Paul Martin and accountability, Justice Gomery, and Gomery, and Justice…”

Another MP from the Tories then correctly stated that an audit is treated a lot different in the court of law (and parliament) then a simple review. He correctly mentioned that an audit expresses an opinion and the accountants assume immense liability when doing so. Furthermore he questioned why Brison did not notice this since he has a business background. In return a Liberal MP who is a Chartered Accountant said correctly said that the reviews are done according to the CICA professional guidelines and the accountants signed the letter stating that in their judgement the work that they were commissioned to do was done according to ethical accounting. Well yes, of course it was conducted according to the CICA handbook guidelines and also was done with professional judgement. But he incorrectly inferred that because they signed the engagement letter that they were endorsing the fairness of the finances as they would in an audit; whereas they were just endorsing the work that they had done.

However, he was distracting from the obvious question; the question is the fact that Brison mislead the public regarding the review and in doing so grossly misrepresented the reputation of Chartered Accountants. In light of Enron et al, accountants don’t need the government tarnishing their reputation by they Liberals directly misleading the public regarding their opinion of the Liberal’s finances. Finally another Conservative MP stated that there is a implicit difference between an audit and a review in not only its cost, but also its scope. He also mentioned that the scope on an audit is not restrained such as the review that the Liberals had commissioned was .

People must understand that and audit is an audit not just when the accountant signs the ‘engagement letter’ but also expresses an opinion on the validly and fairness of the books. At this point the accountant is personally liable for the legal and financial implications of his opinion. Scott this is the reason why the fine line between audits and reviews is such a big deal.
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4/14/2005 03:10:00 PM

Okay, now that Adscam is solved, let's examine the gun registry, the Kyoto scheme, the Daycare plan as well as EI - whatever happened to EI? That was Pettigrew's brainchild, was it not?    



4/14/2005 07:37:00 PM

I agree he is in contempt . . . the question is . . is he "in stupidity"    



4/15/2005 09:09:00 PM

whether you canadians agree whether an election should be called or not, here is my two cents worth from down under. It is not the Bloc, the Conservatives or your NDP party who should be forcing your government into a non confidence vote. Your PM, MR. Martin, who states he has the MORAL authority to govern, should in all essence, go to the Canadian people to be judged at the polls, if he has nothing to fear. From what i see and read, he hasn't the 'balls' to do so, because he knows he will be tossed onto the scrap heap of history. True Liberal at all costs, hang on, lie, cheat, promise the moon and deliver the moon dust.    



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