Thursday, May 01, 2008

A big shout out to Sheila Fraser and other independent officers of Parliament today

For spilling the beans on that draft communications plan making the rounds up there in Ottawa that would see the independent officers of Parliament having their public communications reviewed by the PM's Privy Council Office. Not exactly the stuff of independence and arms length operation. And so, Mr. Harper wants to put an end to inconvenient truths being spoken.

And hats off to Vic Toews for a valiant but comical effort in spin yesterday:
"I can assure you that we respect the independence of the officers of Parliament and this government would not do anything inconsistent with the independent role of those officers," Treasury Board President Vic Toews told the Commons yesterday.
Vic, you kill me with these one-liners, I'm tellin' ya...:)

Ask Linda Keen, the fired chief nuclear regulator, what she thinks of such assurances.

Or Marc Mayrand, the Chief Electoral Officer, whose agency is in the midst of one of the most historic and shameful efforts by a governing party to rip the electoral agency's credibility to shreds (see Globe editorial today, "Canada's political maturity put at risk.")

Or Graham Fraser, the Official Languages Commissioner, who had the temerity to report that the cancellation of the Court Challenges Programme had cut off vital funds for minority groups seeking to enforce their language rights in court and who then saw his job contracted out to Bernard Lord, a friendly Conservative.

Or ask the Information Commissioner, Robert Marleau, who wrote an op-ed in the Globe appealing for the government to be more open on Afghanistan detainee and other matters whether he thinks such pieces might be approved in the future should such a PCO-first communications policy be adopted.

This is something sinister now coming to the fore in the Harper controlled Conservative party. It's qualitatively different from the uber partisanship and bullying. Efforts to silence independent officers of Parliament are not something our democracy should be tolerating. This is third world crackpot dictator shtick.