The Prime Minister and provincial premiers have the power to give jobs to whomever they want to run government agencies that enforce laws (including the courts), and run government programs.
Thousands of people are hand-picked by the PM and premiers in secret, without any review or checks on their power – they even get to choose the people who enforce the laws that require themselves, and their Cabinet ministers, to be honest, ethical, open and waste-preventing!
Politicians in cities and towns across Canada also get to choose their own watchdogs.
This has to stop – unchecked patronage appointments and cronyism that often puts unqualified people into powerful, important government jobs hurts our democracy and wastes our money.
And it can be stopped – 20 years ago the Ontario government set up a mostly independent committee to find qualified people to serve as judges (although even Ontario’s committee can be improved because a majority of members are still selected by the government). Every other government in Canada – federal, provincial, territorial and municipal – should follow Ontario’s lead and set up their own fully independent, merit-based appointments committee.
Please make the following key changes as soon as possible to stop bad appointments that hurt our democracy:
- Pass a law that sets up an independent appointments committee for all government appointments (including the Senate and Deputy Ministers, but not including law enforcement positions) with the committee members approved by at least a majority of leaders whose political party won 10% or more of the vote in the last election;
- Pass a law that sets up another independent appointments committee for all appointments to law enforcement positions (including all government watchdogs) with the committee members approved by at least a majority of leaders whose political party won 10% or more of the vote in the last election, and with the committee members required to have knowledge of law enforcement (and require municipalities in every province and territory to use this committee to choose their watchdogs);
- Require both committees to advertise publicly and widely on a website and through the print media all appointment jobs, including a list of merit-based criteria for each job;
- Require both committees to review applications, conduct interviews, and choose a ranked list of 3 very qualified people for each position and send the list to the government (or city council);
- Require the government (or city council) to choose whom they appoint to the job from the list of 3 people.
- Prohibit by law anyone serving in any government or democracy watchdog position (especially every Officer of Parliament) from serving more than one term – to ensure they don’t try to please the government/ruling party in order to keep their job.
Patronage and cronyism that is damaging democracy and law enforcement across Canada will only be stopped by setting up fully independent appointment committees that choose, through a public, merit-based process, a short list of the most qualified people for each government job, and by requiring governments to give one of the people from the short list the job.
Please let me know what you will do to ensure that these changes are made as soon as possible. I will be deciding which political party to vote for in the next election based on the responses I receive from representatives in each party. I look forward to hearing from you.