Thursday, March 09, 2006


Sandbox Spat

Is Bernard Shapiro wrong for wanting to investigate "The Emerson Affair?" Yes. Should Bernard Shapiro still have a job? No. Should Shapiro had the job in the first place? No - in fact he sounded almost hestitant to take it in the first place.

Is Stephan Harper wrong for offering the job to Ed Broadbent before firing Shapiro? Yes. Is the Prime Minister bound to comply by a rulings of an Agent of Parliament? Yes. This is a democracy not a dictatorship.

This is one of the classic examples of how not to handle human resources. Harper has shown an ability to mess up human resources in a big way in a short period of time. The rotating door in his Communications shop. The lack of staffed up offices in Ottawa. The Fortier appointment to cabinet.

It also is part of the larger ethics equation about ensuring qualified people with no partisan connections fill these roles in the future.

This is a page from the Harper Accountability Act. His act calls for a new way to have people like the ethics commissioner selected. I don't think he intended to give more powers to the existing Liberal appointee considering this guy is already being sued for $5 million and was in contempt of the house.

Let's get some real arms' length commissioners here.

Make qualified government appointments

The Liberals have repeatedly appointed insiders, in some cases completely unqualified, to important public

offices. Liberal insiders, candidates and MPs have received appointments as heads of Crown corporations,

board members, and ambassadors. Liberal staffers, including some of those responsible for the

sponsorship program, have worked their way into key positions in the public service.

A new government is needed to make sure that important public appointments are filled on the basis of

merit and not simply as favours to friends and political supporters.

The plan

Stephen Harper will:

• Ensure that all Officers of Parliament are appointed through consultation with all parties in the House

of Commons and confirmed through a secret ballot of all Members of Parliament, not just named by

the Prime Minister. This appointment process will include:

o The Ethics Commissioner

o The Auditor General

o The Chief Electoral Officer

o The Information Commissioner

o The Privacy Commissioner

o The Registrar of Lobbyists
Joe Harper.

Lots of comparisons between Joe Clark and Stephen Harper:

• both won narrow minority governments.
• both faced a former governing party in a temporary state of transition.
• both thought they were the first of a long-term wave of Conservatism to sweep over Canada and become the "natural governing party".
• both underestimated the real support for their party.
• both came into power due to voters wishing to spank the governing party and send them to the penalty box for a while.
• both acted as if they had a majority government.

But there are two major differences between Joe Clerk and Stephen Harper:

1. Joe Clark did not behave in ethically questionable ways from the get go.
2. Joe's arrogance was political, not personal.

Of course, what happened to Joe will now happen to Stephen: a footnote in Canada's decorous but tempestuous political history.
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