Friday, March 13, 2009

"Sacrosanct"

A development that didn't get much attention yesterday but that's worthy of a look, the testimony of a deputy minister before the Heritage Committee on Wednesday that reinforces the Conservative government's penchant for secrecy and intense disdain for the work of Commons committees. At issue, the rationale behind the Conservative cuts to arts programmes in the fall that has been deemed super top-secret and not to be disclosed to we Canadians:
Deputy Canadian Heritage Minister Judith LaRocque refused yesterday to give a parliamentary committee any details about how the Conservative government chose $44.8-million in arts and culture programs to be cut last fall.

Ms. LaRocque was summoned to the witness chair of the committee on Canadian heritage to testify about statements Heritage Minister James Moore made to the committee on Feb. 9 that the programs had been dogged by wastefulness and inefficiency.

But the Heritage Department refused to provide the evaluations of each program it said informed the government's decisions. Ms. LaRocque said all such documents and discussions with the minister are "sacrosanct" and she would never discuss them publicly, rebuffing pleas for greater openness from the Opposition and a slew of arts leaders who testified at three earlier committee hearings.

"Those documents are classified cabinet secrets, and that's a tradition that we've seen forever in Canada," Ms. LaRocque said.
(emphasis added)
Like, forever.

Well, this is surely the way to repair the damage caused by the government's actions in the fall. The Minister gets to assert, and provide no evidence to back up his statements. If the programmes were so clearly wasteful, the Minister ought to be able to easily support his position. In the absence of evidence, we're left to fairly infer that he has none.

It's quite the version of democracy they're offering these days...