Sunday, February 04, 2007

Accountability delayed

Interesting piece today in the Edmonton Sun of all places. While the Conservatives made great hay whining falsely that the Liberals in the Senate were unfairly delaying their “Accountability” Act, apparently while the act was passed and received royal assent before Christmas, it seems Steve Harper is delaying the implementation of much of the act, from protection for whistle blowers to an independent ethics commissioner, for political reasons...

As Stephen Harper crowed the day Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean gave her official rubber stamp to the new laws just before Christmas: "We promised to stand up for accountability and to change the way government works. Canadians elected this government to deliver on that commitment, and today the federal Accountability Act ... delivers on the government's promise."

Well, not exactly.

T
urns out many of the most important areas of accountability reform - including those opening Canada Post and other federal agencies to public scrutiny - didn't become law in the Senate chamber that day at all, and may well be sitting in Harper's in-basket for quite some time to come.

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19 comments:

Olaf said...

Jeff,

it seems Steve Harper is delaying the implementation of much of the act, from protection for whistle blowers to an independent ethics commissioner, for political reasons...


What are the political reasons?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Olaf,

What are the political reasons?

The columnist lays out a number of interesting theories in the article.

Anonymous said...

"Officials at Treasury Board, the department responsible for the legislation, point out the act amends almost 150 federal statutes, changes that can't happen overnight"

Seems reasonable.

"The columnist lays out a number of interesting theories in the article."

Hmmm, theories.Call Greg Weston and ask him how he enjoyed the Prime Ministers party with the media.Then do some research about Weston's hissy fit over not getting invited and how this would work against Harper in editorials.

Bud said...

Read Weston's articles of 2 years ago and his articles today. I have been an avid reader of his and he has done a complete about face in his writings. I still read his articles because I believe in getting both sides to every story. But I have not agreed with very many articles while I used to agree to most. And you conveniently left out what the Senate did to the bill initially. They gutted the Act so it has little teeth left to make a huge difference.

burlivespipe said...

Oh those dastardly senators, thrusting their 'sober thought' into the gov't's vegeance machinery! How cruel, even, that some of the 'soberest' were of blue stripes... Certainly the senate did a deconstructive hold-up to Harpor's intention to rack havoc on the Liberal leadership convention, which was essentially a brutish bit of Shakespeare on his part. Not terribly upsetting that he missed out on his 'Out damn spot' silliloquee (sic).
Making full use of this bulky bag of bones makes sense in a political way, however as mentioned with the whistleblowers issue, it could also be the gift that gives to both sides.
In my opinion, the Senate should remain the same but with six year sentences, er terms. And members should be selected with provinical consent, from the pool that is Order of Canada recipients. Lets say the province and feds each get to pick four names, put them in a hat and draw... the OoC could refuse such patronage. Of course the key would be to ensure the appointment of OoC remains or is more depoliticized. But a majority of OoCs go to regular Junes and Johns who make a quiet contribution.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Anon,

Seems reasonable.

This act didn't materialize out of thin air, it was known to be coming. One wonders though, if it was going to take months to implement anyway, why Harper was making such a stink about speedy passage.

Bud,
I have been an avid reader of his and he has done a complete about face in his writings.

Do you mean he's no longer attacking the Liberals? I must confess I'm not a regular Weston reader, being no fan of the Sun, but the picture you paint seems to be of a columnist that believes in holding the government to account, no matter whom that may be.

And you conveniently left out what the Senate did to the bill initially. They gutted...

I didn't mention that because it had nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is Harper's delay in implementing his much ballyhooed accountability act. One which, btw, had much less teeth in its initial form that what the Cons campaigned on, before your dastardly senators, many of them Conservative btw, got involved.

Curious though, what specific measures excised from the legislation by the Senate do you object to?

Anonymous said...

Not rocket science - Harper's delaying implementation so that he can carry on with his zillions of patronage appointments, etc.

Boy was NDP's Pat Martin mad and was he ever manipulated.

Actually, Harper is manipulating Layton as we speak.

canuckistanian said...

bud,

your attack on weston is the same wells has been receiving by conservative partisans for months. journalists are supposed to hold gov'ts to account, not be partisan attack dogs. one of the (few) reasons i was sad to see the libs lose power is that my own criticisms of gov't policy (being a card-carrying liberal) may be perceived as partisan with the cons in power.

Anonymous said...

"This act didn't materialize out of thin air, it was known to be coming. One wonders though, if it was going to take months to implement anyway, why Harper was making such a stink about speedy passage"

Hmmm, interesting. Why don't you apply that same sentence to the Liberal record on Kyoto? Signed in 1998 right? But they couldn't meet targets because of an election in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Boy some people are very limited aren't they? Liberals in 13 years, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah.

The broken record of these limited people is pathetic.

Gee, a new thought now and then is not in their intellectual capacity.

I suppose if we went over and over and over the firewall letter, the Kyoto letter, the demeaning of his (Harper) own country to American think tanks, etc., etc. wouldn't be acceptable to these clowns.

Anonymous said...

"Boy some people are very limited aren't they? Liberals in 13 years, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah."

Your record is what defines you, its what you stand on.Suck it up.

Liberals record sucks!!!

And i'm sure Liberals will be pointing out the Conservatives negatives.That's politics.

And my previous point was zbcer's statement is the Libs knew kyoto was coming since 1998.And they failed at kyoto because of an election in 2006?Think about it.

Scotian said...

While we think on that Anonymous we should also think about all the political roadblocks Harper and the PCPC and CA/CPC were putting in its place whenever the Libs tried to move on Kyoto, hmmm? This is the problem with the CPC approach on this issue, it is not just that the Libs did too little; it was what the CPC and its predecessor parties were doing to make it that much harder to try and move on Kyoto. How many times for example did Harper cite in that period that to try and enact Kyoto would be NEP 2, would destroy the economy, and in general did everything possible to make it harder for any government to act, especially Martin's minority when Dion was actually Environment Minister?

I will keep the Liberal record of failure in mind all right, but I will not do so without the full context in which it occurred. In that context we have Harper in particular screaming about it was a socialist plot, it was easterners trying to destroy Alberta's wealth, it was all about how the big bad Liberal boogeyman was trying to beat up on Canadians, especially western Canadians, etc. So don't try to pass off Harper and the CPC as any better on this than the Libs, the Libs for all their shortcomings are not just somewhat better on this file but a whole lot better even given their very limited actual actions.

This is the problem with what the CPC and Harper are going to try to do here, they are trying to pass him off as the new convert suddenly understanding the true nature of the issue, but given that he was the lead denier in Canadian political circles until only a matter of weeks ago this is patently absurd. Whenever Harper and the CPC try to claim that they are serious about this while the Libs never were only shows just how much history is being massively rewritten and how all the impediments Harper and Cons put in place of Kyoto to this point are being airbrushed out while the resulting Liberal inaction is left in. After all, if it had been less politically divisive for there to have been movement there almost certainly would have been since there was some even despite that massive resistance.

I give all parties the credit they deserve positive and negative and most importantly I pay attention to context at all times. I know that without context it is far too easy to be sold nonsense/truthiness and to be propagandized instead of being an informed voter, and I was raised to take my franchise seriously and to be informed on not just what mattered to me but to all parties and how well they stacked up in their actions. On those grounds I find of the three major national parties ironically enough the Libs have the most credibility on this issue with me. Layton has blown too much of his and his party's with me in the past two years for me to trust him enough if ever given the power to actually govern, Harper I don't trust at all and I am in direct opposition to, and Dion strikes me as someone that actually is serious on this issue and will actually move and is smart enough and experienced enough with federal government to be able to get significant results. For all those that say he is unfit/inexperienced as a leader and is unable to do the job, when this was said of Harper before he became PM his supporters thought otherwise and have been proven correct (just because I say he is competent as an executive does not mean I agree with his policies nor his preferred tools of operation) so too the same will happen with Dion assuming he becomes PM, something few Liberal leaders have not become in the last century.

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I don't want to read it though... can't you just sum it up?

Anonymous said...

Olaf, read it yourself, for God's sakes.

Now we know where the Harpies get 13 years of obstructionism. They're simply playing to their base who, like the Conservatives in Liberal discussions, are more interested in distracting everyone and getting them to do more work than actually contributing.

Anonymous said...

"While we think on that Anonymous we should also think about all the political roadblocks Harper and the PCPC and CA/CPC were putting in its place whenever the Libs tried to move on Kyoto, hmmm? This is the problem with the CPC approach on this issue, it is not just that the Libs did too little; it was what the CPC and its predecessor parties were doing to make it that much harder to try and move on Kyoto"

Ah, another Liberal who can't do math.

Try this.1993-2004 Liberal majority, meaning they could pass any bill they wanted regardless of any other party. 2004-2006 Liberal minority, with Liberals needing only the Bloc to pass any Kyoto bill, and either the Bloc or NDP after Stronachs defection.Harper can't block anything without Bloc and NDP support.

So tell me Scotian, how did Harper block anything either under the Liberal majority or minority governments.

And page 299 of Paul Wells book, Right Side Up, Dion admits if the Liberals had won the 2006 election he would have had to tell Canadians he could not meet Kyoto.His words.

Anonymous said...

"Try this.1993-2004 Liberal majority, meaning they could pass any bill they wanted regardless of any other party. 2004-2006 Liberal minority, with Liberals needing only the Bloc to pass any Kyoto bill, and either the Bloc or NDP after Stronachs defection.Harper can't block anything without Bloc and NDP support."


One of the jobs of the opposition is to raise issues they believe will affect the best interests of Canadians. For example, if there is a majority government, and that government tried to quietly pass legislation to sell all Canada's water rights to the US, it would be the opposition's job to raise this issue in Parliament and bring it to the attention of the Canadian public.

With Kyoto, Harper and co not only opposed it in the HofC, but, as we have all seen, sent letters out to their membership and spoke publicly about how Kyoto was going to destroy our economy - in particular Alberta's economy.

These types of comments raise public interest, and affect public opinion. By affecting public opinion, one affects the ability of the governing party to act - lest they lose public support.

So, you see, the opposition does not necessarily require the votes to defeat legislation - they can do so by informing (or, in this case, misinforming) the public. That the liberals caved to this pressure is no credit to them, but given the political climate at the time (economy, employment rate etc being more important to Canadians than dealing with the environment), their inaction is understandable. Which is not to say I think it is OK to let the liberals off the hook for their inaction - just that the conservatives should also be held accountable for their position at the time.

Gayle

Anonymous said...

Nice try Gayle.You guys keep saying Harper obstructed legislation.Stating your objection to something is normal for the opposition,but in no way precluded the Libs from enacting legislation.

Liberals could have passed any kyoto legislation between 1993 and 2006 regardless of Harper.

Spin all you want.Liberals could have put bills through easily but did not.Then blame their poor record on the 2006 election.

Once again Gayle, answer this.Dion stated on page 299 of Wells book if Liberals won the 2006 election he would have told Canadians he could not meet Kyoto.So why all the bravado about Harper not meeting those same targets?

Anonymous said...

Stephen Harper in his own words:

"As economic policy the Kyoto Accord is a disaster. As environmental policy it is a fraud." (Stephen Harper, Address at the Ottawa Leader's Dinner, November 20, 2002)

"No, what I am supportive of is, frankly, not ratifying the Kyoto agreement and not implementing it." (Stephen Harper, CTV News, September 6, 2002)

"[Kyoto] is designed to address the so-called 'greenhouse gas' phenomenon, the hypothesis that the increase of certain gases - not necessarily pollutants - contribute to a long-term global warming trend." (Stephen Harper, Address at the Ottawa Leader's Dinner, November 20, 2002)

"The accord does negatively impact every region of the country. So rather than talk up separation, it is important to build a coalition across the country to defeat Kyoto." (Stephen Harper, Report Newsmagazine, December 16, 2002)

"This is just the beginning of the biggest black-hole boondoggle in Canadian history." (Stephen Harper, National Post, August 13, 2003)

"We think the deal itself [Kyoto] is simply bogus." (Transcript of Stephen Harper interview on the Rafe Mair Show, CKNW Radio Vancouver, November 29, 2002)

".there is no environmental benefit [to Kyoto] of any kind." (Transcript of Stephen Harper interview on the Rafe Mair Show, CKNW Radio Vancouver, November 29, 2002)

"Carbon dioxide which is a naturally occurring gas vital to the life cycles of this planet. Smog is an entirely different issue is not covered by this treaty." (Transcript of Stephen Harper interview on the Rafe Mair Show, CKNW Radio Vancouver, November 29, 2002)

"The Kyoto protocol does not deal with critical environmental issues." (Stephen Harper, Address on the Kyoto Accord, December 9, 2002)

"...Canada's implementation will not lead to global reductions of CO2. In fact the transfer of wealth, jobs and emissions to non-target countries virtually ensures that carbon dioxide emissions will increase under the Kyoto Protocol."
(Stephen Harper, Address at the Ottawa Leader's Dinner, November 20, 2002)

"I don't think we should consider signing on to a deal that makes us virtually the sole country in the world that is going to take any action." (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, September 5, 2002)

"Kyoto does virtually nothing to deal with pollution and to deal with the quality of the air that we breathe. Let's forget about this unworkable treaty.. Kyoto's never going to be passed." (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, September 5, 2002)

"Carbon dioxide does not cause or contribute to smog, and the Kyoto treaty would do nothing to reduce or prevent smog." (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, June 10, 2004)

"[The Kyoto Accord is] a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations... [The Accord is] based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends." (Stephen Harper, Canadian Alliance fundraising letter, Fall 2002)

"Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant." (Stephen Harper, Hansard, October 11, 2002)

"[Global warming is] a scientific hypothesis and a controversial one." (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, September 5, 2002)

"This may be a lot of fun for a few scientific and environmental elites in Ottawa," he said "But ordinary Canadians from coast to coast will not put up with what this will do to their economy and lifestyle." (Stephen Harper, Toronto Star, September 5, 2002)

"We can debate whether or not... CO2 does or does not contribute to global warming. I think the jury is out." (Stephen Harper interview on the Rafe Mair Show, CKNW Radio Vancouver, November 29, 2002)

"My party's position on the Kyoto Protocol is clear and has been for a long time. We will oppose ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and its targets. We will work with the provinces and others to discourage the implementation of those targets. And we will rescind the targets when we have the opportunity to do so." (Stephen Harper, Ottawa Citizen, November 22, 2002)

"Redirect federal spending aimed at fulfilling the terms of the increasingly irrelevant Kyoto Protocol." (Stephen Harper, Ottawa Citizen, June 8, 2005)

"We're gearing up now for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I'm talking about the "Battle of Kyoto"- our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord." (Stephen Harper, Canadian Alliance fundraising letter, Fall 2002)

"As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD." (Stephen Harper, Canadian Alliance fundraising letter, Fall 2002)

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Of course it in no way changes the fact that Harper could not prevent any legislation from voted in, right?

But lets look at the comments.

""This is just the beginning of the biggest black-hole boondoggle in Canadian history." (Stephen Harper, National Post, August 13, 2003"

Six billion spent and emmissions up over 30%

"".there is no environmental benefit [to Kyoto] of any kind." (Transcript of Stephen Harper interview on the Rafe Mair Show, CKNW Radio Vancouver, November 29, 2002) "

China and India are building 700+ coal-fired plants, more than offsetting anything under Kyoto.

""Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant." (Stephen Harper, Hansard, October 11, 2002)"

He's right, its produced naturally as well as by man.

""Redirect federal spending aimed at fulfilling the terms of the increasingly irrelevant Kyoto Protocol." (Stephen Harper, Ottawa Citizen, June 8, 2005"

Theres that 6 billion again.

""As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD." (Stephen Harper, Canadian Alliance fundraising letter, Fall 2002)"

Mark Holland, Liberal MP Pickering -Ajax, said on Adlers radio show last week there will be job losses because of Kyoto.

So you like quoting things, how about answering a question.

What will Kyoto do when China alone, signed onto Kyoto but with no targets, builds 562 coal-fired plants? These new plants will increase world ghg levels ten-fold even if every country met its targets.


And if you like, i'd be happy to list Dion's quotes about not meeting Kyoto.