Liberal Party Finance Critic John McCallum today submitted a motion that would deliver openness and accountability in the way of the government’s unprecedented request for Parliament to approve $3 billion in spending without a defined plan.
“This is an extraordinary request by a government at a time when extraordinary action is needed. Considering this government’s track record on accountability, such as last week’s damning report from the information commissioner, we simply can’t trust them to spend this money effectively without proper oversight,” said Mr. McCallum. “I don’t know why this government never seems able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but I really don’t see a reason why we should be asked to sacrifice accountability for swiftness of action.”
Liberal Treasury Board Critic Dan McTeague, who will second Mr. McCallum’s motion, said that if Parliament approves the funding, he will be watching the disbursement of funds like a hawk on behalf of taxpayers and that the Liberal motion would provide him with the information needed to identify wasteful or partisan spending before it happens rather than after.
THAT, due to the extraordinary nature of the spending authority being proposed in Treasury Board Vote 35 as set forth in the Main Estimates for 2009-2010, the government shall, before approval of those Estimates, table in the House of Commons a comprehensive list of all the departments and programs which will have access to this extraordinary authority; and
on each occasion that the government uses Vote 35, the President of the Treasury Board shall cause to be tabled in the House, within one sitting day of each use, a report disclosing the name of the project to which the funding is being provided, the nature of the project and what it is intended to achieve in fighting the recession, its location (including the federal electoral district in which it is located), the amount of federal funding involved, any other funding partners and the amounts of their contributions, the department and program under which the federal funding is being provided, and an explanation of why the project is urgent and requires the use of Vote 35 rather than any other source of funds; and
THAT each such report shall automatically and immediately be posted on an accessible and interactive government website, and be referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and to the Auditor General.
Remove the parliamentary language and it boils down to:
* A list of which departments will be able to access the funding must be tabled before the fund is approved.
* Within one sitting day of any of the funding being allocated, the government needs to inform the House of all the details: where it's going, how much, what for, just how this will help fight the recession, and why it's urgent.
* The report must also be posted on the Web immediately to allow public scrutiny.
I like it. Its a response that's most reasonable and forceful. It keeps in line with the need for accountability, as well as getting the money flowing for Canadians. And it ensures that if the Conservatives try to use this as a slush fund, or overly favour Conservative ridings, it will be immediately apparent and they'll get smacked for it.
The ball is now in the Conservatives' court. Accountability, yes or no?
UPDATE: Conservatives say no to accountability. Just how politically tone-deaf are these guys? From the CP wire:
Tories, Liberals escalate standoff over $3 billion stimulus fundKory is engaging in a pathetic bit of misdirection here, actually. Scroll back up to the Liberal motion text, and see what they asked for in advance. "A comprehensive list of all the departments and programs which will have access to this extraordinary authority" is what the motion requires. I suppose one could consider that an itemized list. When he says itemized list though, my mind cost to a list of projects, which isn't at all what the Liberals are asking for.
Source: The Canadian Press - Broadcast wire
Mar 4, 2009 13:02
OTTAWA - Disagreement over a $3-billion fund to quickly stimulate Canada's sputtering economy is escalating into a standoff between Conservatives and Liberals that could force an election.
Liberal finance critic John McCallum says his party will propose a motion next week requiring the government to itemize precisely how the $3 billion will be spent.
But a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Liberals are simply playing politics with the economic crisis.
Kory Teneycke says the Tory government has no problem detailing after the fact how the money is spent but it does not intend to produce an itemized list in advance.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said he will not approve the fund without details on how it'll be spent.
Harper has said the issue is a matter of confidence in his minority government and has warned that opposition parties could face an election if they refuse to approve the fund.
(The Canadian Press)
Rather, they're asking for a list of eligible government departments and programs. Which is hardly an onerous or unreasonable request. Just who is really playing politics here, Kory? I thought you guys were all about accountability? Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers