Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Still hanging themselves

You've got to be kidding me. Not exactly good timing on this move: "Tories float plan to de-fang parliamentary watchdogs." The unbridled enthusiasm of the Harper Conservatives for muzzling and suppressing democratic checks apparently knows no bounds. They're about to take on...wait for it...the Auditor General:
There's word the Harper government wants to require Parliament's independent watchdogs to get permission before barking.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser says a draft proposal is being floated that could require officers of Parliament to have their communications vetted by the Privy Council Office - the bureaucratic wing of the prime minister's office.

That would mean Fraser - along with the head of Elections Canada, and the privacy, information and ethics commissioners - would all need to get approval to speak publicly.

Fraser, who smashed open the sponsorship scandal, says there's no way she would agree to such a restriction.

Such a change would represent a drastic departure from tradition and mark a new milestone for government whose strict control over messaging is already legendary.
Well, we've all been wondering who's next...

Update (11:00 p.m.): They're denying it, but a draft proposal to the effect of that outlined above has been circulated. Bonus quote from Gilles Duceppe in the updated story:
"It's not normal," said Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

"I told you he's a control freak. This man wants to control everything."

"Now we're seeing who he is, what he's really like. This is the ideological, closed-minded, dogmatic Harper from the National Citizens Coalition, from the Canada West Foundation."

"That's the Harper we know, who's given himself a new profile and now he's very arrogant and thinks he can get a majority government."

"Now he's saying: 'This is how it's going to work.' And I find it very dangerous for democracy."
And more from Fraser:
Fraser told a parliamentary committee this week there are about 25 similarly problematic policies where the government wants to play a greater role in how officers of Parliament run their affairs.

She called communications changes a non-starter.

"I can tell you there is no way that my press releases...are going to be vetted by Privy Council Office," she told the committee Tuesday.