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Democracy Watch responds to Conservative patronage appointments

In response to my blogpost criticizing Conservative patronage appointments, I received an email from Duff Conacher , the coordinator for Democracy Watch, who was trying to respond to my post but had a technical glitch leaving it. He asked me if I might consider re-posting his response/Democracy Watch’s reaction to what the Conservatives have been doing as described in the editorial. I was more then happy to do so.

Duff’s letter reads as follows:

Whether or not former Conservative PEI premier Pat Binns is qualified to be Ambassador to Ireland, if the federal Conservatives had kept their election promise Binns would have been required to respond to a public advertisement and apply to a fully independent Public Appointments Commission that would have screened all candidates and sent a short list of nominees to Cabinet. The so-called “Accountability Act”, passed more than eight months ago, sets out measures to establish the Commission but does not require Cabinet to set it up. It is clear that the Conservatives are deliberately delaying keeping their promise so they can reward as many of the party’s friends as possible while they cling to power…

While it is true that the federal Conservative’s Accountability Act is the strongest government accountability law ever passed in Canada, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighted in his speech in Victoriaville, Quebec recently, it is also true that the Act contained only 30 of the Conservatives promised 52 measures, and many of the 30 were weak. As a result, accountability is not the law in the federal government (as the Prime Minister claimed last December), and dozens of loopholes still need to be closed to ensure that federal politicians, political staff, appointees and government officials are all effectively required to act honestly, ethically, openly, representatively and to prevent waste — See a summary of 85 loopholes at:

Two of the key loopholes were actually created by the Accountability Act, as the Conservatives eliminated the ethics rules that require Cabinet ministers, their staff and most Cabinet appointees to be honest and avoid conflicts of interest. While the opposition parties are criticizing the Conservatives for the appointments and election financing scandals, they also did far too little during the review of the Accountability Act to try to close well-known loopholes and strengthen the Act. Overall, the Conservatives only deserve to hear one hand clapping for the Accountability Act, as the Act only delivers half of what they promised, and Canadians deserve better than yet another ruling party that is dishonestly, unethically and secretively practises politics as usual, and opposition parties that criticize but don’t propose or try to implement solutions to systemic problems with lack of government accountability.

Hopefully, Canadians will some day get what they deserve.

As for the recent controversy that has been in the news lately of the Conservatives being in a court fight with Elections Canada over how much money they really spent on the election campaign:

And whether or not local and regional federal Conservative Party advertisements were justifiably claimed as expenses by Conservative candidates during the last election, or were spending above the party’s national campaign limit, the elections law must be immediately changed to give Elections Canada not only the power, but also the mandate, to conduct annual audits of parties, riding associations, and of election candidates after elections. Until this change this made, secret donations and illegal election spending will be effectively legal, and federal elections open to being corrupted.


4 comments to Democracy Watch responds to Conservative patronage appointments

  • So you basically admit that the "Liberal partisan hack" charge is nothing more then an ad hominem attack on me.  You should try to frame your arguments against me as if I wasn't a Liberal supporter, pre-Dec 13th/06 – my writing on Prog Blog or BlogsCanada pre-Liberal  supporter days were just as forceful on the Cons. as they are now. 

     I find however since I've declared my support for Dion and the Libs, people on the other side have  resorted to nothing more then using that line of arguing.. which to me means they really dont have a good argument against if all they can do is point to my being a Liberal supporter.

  • ALW

    I'm not avoiding the issue at all. I specifically said that Democracy Watch's complaint is legitimate!  I am only talking about your "me too!"- ing from the sidelines. 

  • ALW:

    You're doing nothing to add to the conversation by dismissing it as coming from "a partisan Liberal". In fact,  that's just an avoidance of the issue. If I was still "non-partisan" as I was pre-December, I'd have made this same argument, and you would have to either address the fact the Tories have come up way short on this, and was just using the issue as an election ploy, not a genuine attempt to reform the system – or you’d have to find some other red herring to try and avoid this rather embarrassing issue you and your like-minded “Conservative hacks” don’t wish to talk about.

    The REAL issue is, the Conservatives were holier-then-thou on this, and they have been exposed for what they really are – which is being hypocrites and deceivers.

    Chalk up another one for Deceivin’ Stephen and his crew.

  • ALW

    "While it is true that the federal Conservative’s Accountability Act is the strongest government accountability law ever passed in Canada"

    Indeed.  This is why I am totally fine with Duff Conacher's organization making criticisms, but can't help but laugh out loud when the criticism comes from partisan Liberals like you Scott.  It's the same as Liberals complaining about the Harper government's failure to meet Kyoto targets: at least they're doing something, which is better than the preceding government's nothing.  If the Liberals were so concerned about transparency and accountability, why didn't they pass an act of their own?  Ah yes.  Because they were happy to feed from the trough when they were in the driver's seat.  Complaining that measures are "not good enough" glosses over the fact they're still better than nothing – and nothing is exactly what your party did for too long, on too many files.

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