The Conservatives are creating something called the Public Appointments Commission, and yesterday Stephen Harper "nominated" a fellow Calgarian, ex-EnCana president and CEO Gwyn Morgan, as its chairperson.
Putting aside for a moment the irony of a Conservative government creating a new bureaucracy to oversee appointments to the bureaucracy (aren’t conservatives all about smaller government?), I think if we can get the appearance of political bias out of the appointments process that's a good thing.
With a non-partisan person at the helm judging appointments on their merits, not their party loyalty, we’ll get better people in these positions that have the confidence of everyone. I don’t necessarily think all the appointments made through the old PMO process were unqualified, far from it, but it’s the old appearance of bias thing.
Which brings us to our new appointments Czar, Gwyn Morgan. At first glance he looks good. Respected former CEO. Doing the job for $1 year, so it’s not about the Benjamins for him. Named Canada’s most respected CEO in 2005, nice.
- First appearance of possible trouble comes in his PMO provided bio. A director of the Fraser Institute? We can forgive him that though, nobody’s perfect after all.
- Where have we heard his name before though? Oh, that’s right. He was up for the Ambassador to the U.S. job a few months back, along with Reform Party founder Preston Manning.
- The people at Calgary’s alt-mag FastForward don’t seem to be Gwyn fans, something about EnCana leaving behind an “environmental disaster” in Ecuador during his time with the company. Media bias though, I’m sure.
- Alberta Venture magazine wanted Morgan to run for the Alberta Conservative leadership, and replace Ralph Klien. Said the mag: “He's a genuine small-c conservative, fearlessly opinionated and a proven leader.”
- I guess you can call Ezra Lavant a Gwyn-a-holic. Sorry Stock. In a Calgary Sun column on Morgan called “Conservative star rises” Levant practically gushes, lauding him for fighting tooth and nail against Kyoto, and prays he’ll jump into politics. There’s some good quotes, including the one at the top of this post. Here’s another, from a speech Morgan had recently made at the Fraser Institute:
“In a speech subtitled "what politicians are afraid to say," Morgan took on every sacred cow in modern politics. From government intervention in the economy, to the attempt to de-Christianize Christmas, to the stifling effect of overweening labour unions, to government-run health care, to the failure to acculturate foreign immigrants, no stone was left unturned.”
- CP reported on his recent speech to the Empire Club today, and here’s the text of the speech. It’s all about “Canadian values” and no; things like SSM aren’t a value. But freedom from corruption is. Liberal corruption, of course. Here’s an excerpt where he discusses the Liberal Party, members of which I’m sure will get a fair shake from him. He also tows the party line on David Emerson and Michael Fortier…"Stephen Harper acted as a statesman."
We have witnessed the party that governed our country over most of its history, embroiled in behaviour that is comparable to that of countries at the bottom of the world corruption index.
And if that wasn't enough, the same party ran attack ads which took the Canadian political process to unprecedented lows in civility, respect, and honesty.
We saw an orchestrated attempt to impugn a Canadian political leader whose integrity is beyond reproach and a person who openly honours Christian values, but respects all religions. A person whose modest home, wife from small town Canada, two much-loved kids (and cats) place him solidly in the middle class mainstream of Canadian values.
We saw a governing party torn apart by dissention and corruption, a party which alienated the West and fanned the flames of separation in Quebec, actually base its election campaign on convincing Canadians that it best represented "Canadian values" and that it could best preserve national unity. Well, at least a plurality of Canadians saw through the charade.
This was also an election where the leaders of two national parties seemed to adopt as their principal definition of Canadian values "we're not American."
How sad. How counterproductive. Canada has so much to be proud of, and I for one, want the leaders of our country to champion the best of what we are, not what we are not.
- Remember when Stockwell Day was being sued for defamation, and there was a stink about paying his legal fees? It seems “Alliance fundraiser” Gwyn Morgan was involved. Interesting reading.
- In the Calgary Sun again, in a piece called "Waay right!", columnist Rick Bell says Morgan, “a strong backer and fundraiser for the federal Conservatives”, says the things Harper can’t say. Things like unions bad, gun registry bad, equalization bad, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Maritimes all bad. I’ll let this section go without comment. The “he” is Morgan.
With child care, he gives a nod to Harper without naming him. He attacks those who defend the present health-care system and takes a poke at the PM.
"Why do we expect different behaviour in Toronto, Ontario, than in Kingston, Jamaica," he asks, also singling out "a portion of our Indo-Chinese immigrants," maintaining most immigrants abusing our society are refugees.
So, what does it all mean? Merely that Morgan is a long-time Conservative loyalist and party bagman that shares Mr. Harper’s Conservative views. It’s not surprising that he’s taking a job with the Conservative government, and I’m sure he’ll fit right in.
But is he the person to de-politicize the appointments process? Is he the non-partisan person to take the partisanship out of the appointments process in the way the Conservatives promised with their accountability initiative? Not by a long shot.
You can give someone a fancy title, but this is just business as usual: a party loyalist in charge of doling out patronage. Which is fine, but let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we?Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers