1 Response to Not Many is Not Enough: Professional Accountants and Elected Office

  1. From CGA – Canada, January 14, 2011 (reproduced with permission):

    Dear Mr. La Rochelle:

    Thank you for your email and for your interesting article about the lack of professional accountants in elected office. We wholeheartedly agree with your premise that the House of Commons would benefit from greater representation from the accounting profession and we actively encourage our members to consider public service, both by seeking public office and by supporting others through campaign involvement. We also encourage our members to use their designation at every opportunity. However, as you point out in your article, our elected representatives tend to self-identify their occupations in different ways.

    The problem may be both better and worse than you indicate. To our knowledge, there are at least six professional accountants currently serving in the House of Commons, however the only way to know for certain is through personal contact with each of them. Most tend to list job titles or job roles under the occupation category and even when they proudly attach their credential behind their name, they forget to include it under occupation. This problem is magnified in the case of accountants because the roles and duties that accountants perform in the workplace are so varied and diverse. Titles such as entrepreneur, businessperson, manager, financial advisor, and so on are commonly used by politicians – or their staff – when providing biographical data, masking the fact that they may also hold a professional accounting designation.

    The six currently serving accountant/MPs include four Certified General Accountants: Mike Allen (Conservative, Tobique—Mactaquac, NB), Massimo Pacetti (Liberal, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC), Yasmin Ratansi (Liberal, Don Valley East, ON), and despite the information on his English web page, Serge Cardin (BQ, Sherbrooke, QC) who is a CGA, not a CA. (There were also two other CGAs who ran unsuccessfully in the last election.) Paul Szabo, as you identified in your article, is a CA and Navdeep Singh Bains is the only CMA that we are aware of. In the Red Chamber, Senator Elizabeth Marshall is a CA, as is Senator Paul Massicotte, who identifies his occupation as businessman.

    It is quite likely that many more accountants have passed through the House of Commons over the years, but are unknown to us due to the way they chose to identify their occupation. However, due to the complexity and magnitude of the financial challenges our elected representatives will deal with in the coming years, we could certainly benefit by having more professional accountants in the House and in all party caucuses. We will continue to encourage our members to consider serving in this way.

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