Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Harper has no Credibility on Ethics

The Toronto Star's Sean Gordon reports that Stephen Harper's government has introduced an ethics bill. There is mixed reaction to it, with Democracy Watch panning it, Liberals saying it has good bits and omits other bits, and the NDPers criticizing the fact the whistle-blowing part is not that different from the current siutation and the access-to-information part that was needed has been "hived off."

Since Harper seduced Emerson into dumping the Liberals and hooking up with the Conservatives barely 24 hours after voters elected him in as a Liberal and conspired with Fortier to become a Senator so that he could be an unelected member of Cabinet, he has lost all credibility on this issue. It really doesn't matter what he brings in, for his decisions with those two men speaks to his real ethics. It's telling that Democracy Watch can identify 35 "gaping loopholes,"; that the Conservatives took out better provisions for our right to access information, that the Conservatives are not applying lobbying rules to their own lobbyists, and that they are not honouring their pledge to allow citizens to lodge ethics complaints, the latter probably because they know the public's first application will be about Emerson and Fortier.

Harper is probably hoping that the feel-good ethics package will cover up the bad taste of the Emerson-Fortier debacle. It won't for me. When a man's very first act contradicts his stated stance, the taste it leaves is permanent.

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The Colour of the Turncoat Matters

2 comments:

SilverWinger said...

[There is mixed reaction to it, with Democracy Watch panning it,]

Hmmmm, did you actually read what they said. They actually liked the legislation and only had problems with a few parts, hardly panning it, I would think.

talk talk talk said...

Well...I was referring to what the Star said...so I went back to the source...as with all good constructive critics, Democracy Watch starts their media release with a compliment:

"Democracy Watch applauded most of the measures in the new “Federal Accountability Act” (Bill C-2 introduced today"

But in the very next sentence expresses concerns. They are concerned enough that they plan:

"to file an ethics complaint against Prime Minister Stephen Harper for breaking election promises because many promised measures are not included in the Act and some measures in the Act are steps backwards and were not promised. Democracy Watch believes the failure to include these promised measures violates the requirement in federal ethics rules to “act with honesty”. One of the worst aspects of the Act is that it proposes to remove the “act with honesty” requirement from the ethics rules for Cabinet ministers, their staff, Cabinet appointees and senior public servants."

They do acknowledge the good parts of the Act a couple of paragraphs later, but then go on to point out that "more than 30 key loopholes and flaws will remain in the government’s accountability system if the Act is not strengthened through the parliamentary review process." And they detail the Conservatives' promised measures not included in the Federal Accountability Act.

Democracy Watch is keeping the screws on, but like all good constructive critics, acknowledges the good stuff. Only by praising people when they make gains at the same time as pointing out the continuing deficiencies, and not just focussing on the latter, can one influence people towards positive change. It doesn't mean they like the Act. From what I can gather, the only Act they will like is the one with no loopholes and keeps all the promises made.

Thanks for challenging me! :)