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Federal Conservatives end their five-year sham by cutting funding to secretariat of non-existent Public Appointments Commission

Will the Conservatives uphold good government principles by finally establishing the PAC, or will they continue their undemocratic, unethical bad government patronage and cronyism?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

OTTAWA — Today, Democracy Watch called on the federal Conservatives to finally keep their 2006 and 2008 election promises to: “Establish a Public Appointments Commission to set merit-based requirements for appointments to government boards, commissions, and agencies, to ensure that competitions for posts are widely publicized and fairly conducted.”

In the recent federal budget, the federal Conservatives finally ended the sham they have maintained for the past five years by cutting the $1 million annually that was supposedly being used by a secretariat of the non-existent Commission.

The Conservatives also made the false claim in the budget that their government ” has significantly strengthened the rigour and accessibility of the public appointments system over the past five years.”  This is not surprising, as the Conservatives have been consistently misleading about the Commission, including when they claimed (archive website) in April 2006 that the opposition parties opposed the creation of the Commission.  In fact, the opposition parties opposed the creation of a lapdog commission (the Conservatives’ did not initially propose an independent commission with power to end patronage and cronyism) and a lapdog head commissioner (the Conservatives initially proposed Conservative donor and Harper leadership supporter Gwyn Morgan as the first head commissioner, and he would have likely done very little to challenge any Harper Cabinet appointment).

“The federal Conservatives have lied again and again about establishing an independent public appointments commission to help end patronage, and have proven themselves to be just as bad as past political parties at rewarding friends and cronies with appointments, and at appointing lapdogs, to key good government and law enforcement agencies,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.  “By continuing to practise undemocratic, unethical politics as usual, the Conservatives continue to damage Canada’s democracy in dangerous ways.”

The Conservatives have appointed hundreds of their friends and supporters to agencies, boards, commissions, tribunals (many of them key law enforcement agencies), as well as the Senate, just like the Liberals did in the past and other parties have in various provinces (because patronage and cronyism is a problem across Canada).

The Conservatives have also failed to appoint anyone from outside the federal government to head up any good government watchdog agency, and three of their appointments (former disgraced Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet (archive webiste), Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson (archive webiste), and Commissioner of Lobbying Karen Shepherd (archive website)) have all failed in more than 100 cases to enforce key good government and ethics laws and rules effectively.

Until a fully independent, fully empowered Public Appointments Commission is established for the federal government, and in every jurisdiction in Canada, the unethical, undemocratic and bad government practice of appointing ruling party supporters will continue.

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Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

Democracy Watch’s Voter Rights Campaign