Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Harper Laughs In The Face Of Accountability

Ralph Goodale’s Report

A weekly commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

For the week beginning May 11th, 2009


Stephen Harper is a great advocate for accountability – for everybody but himself!

He used to give long speeches on the topic. He made a big deal of his so-called “Federal Accountability Act”, claiming it as his most important accomplishment.

But Mr. Harper doesn’t walk the talk.

In reality, his government is the most secretive in history. More unaccountable power is now concentrated in his hands than ever before.

To protect the public interest, Parliament has established a number of “watchdog” institutions over the years to act as a check on unbridled prime ministerial power. Stephen Harper has been in fights with all of them.

For example, the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for ensuring fair and honest elections in Canada. The Conservatives didn’t like the previous incumbent in that post (a 30-year veteran public servant), so they replaced him, and now they’re in court attacking the new guy.

The Access to Information Commissioner says this government delays, manipulates and denies answers to questions which the public has every right to know.

To deflect attention from his own mismanagement, Mr. Harper concocted a political showdown with the President of Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission, which even his department of Natural Resources described as improper.

When the new Parliamentary Budget Officer told the Conservatives that their financial projections were wrong, Mr. Harper immediately chopped his budget – to cripple his operation and shut him up.

But probably the most dangerous abuse of power is about food safety.

Since the listeriosis tragedy last summer, which claimed more than 20 lives – while the Conservative Agriculture Minister cracked jokes – dozens of serious questions about Canada’s food inspection system have gone unanswered.

Why will Mr. Harper not allow a full, independent public inquiry into what went so terribly wrong? What is he trying to hide?

(Edit: Add to this his "non-declaration" of gifts received from various sources - we have more gifts on record/film)

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The Mound of Sound said...

Rigid, top down rule seems to be the norm these days. Admittedly Harper takes it to an extreme but the Tories don't have exclusive rights to authoritarianism. Harper, however, has extended it beyond his caucus ranks straight into the armed and civil services. He plainly sees himself as vested with presidential powers and above parliamentary restraint. I'm convinced the only limits on his power Harper will ever recognize are those imposed by the electorate. Unfortunately he's still managed, with considerable help from the Off Opposition, to move Canada's political centre well to the right. That, I fear, is something Canadians will come to regret over the next two decades.

Anonymous said...

They ALL laugh with accountability. Until the Liberals 'give up' what the Cadman deal was, I have no time for any of them.