Friday, June 01, 2007

RCMP asked to investigate yet more Conservative style “accountability”

We heard more from the Harper Conservatives today on their Do as I Say, Not as I Do ways, or Our Principles Apply to Everyone But Us, Volume 235…

As a refresher, this is what the last Conservative election platform (get the PDF here and count the broken promises) had to say about the topic of access to information, a key part of that whole accountability theme they used to be quite keen on, back when they were running for office:

Strengthen Access to Information legislation

The Liberal government has consistently rejected attempts to provide Canadians with better access to government information. The present Information Commissioner has gone to court several times to force the government to open its windows.

The plan

A Conservative government will:

• Implement the Information Commissioner’s recommendations for reform of the Access to Information Act.

• Give the Information Commissioner the power to order the release of information.

• Expand the coverage of the act to all Crown corporations, Officers of Parliament, foundations, and organizations that spend taxpayers’ money or perform public functions.

• Subject the exclusion of Cabinet confidences to review by the Information Commissioner.

• Oblige public officials to create the records necessary to document their actions and decisions.

• Provide a general public interest override for all exemptions, so that the public interest is put before the secrecy of the government.

• Ensure that all exemptions from the disclosure of government information are justified only on the basis of the harm or injury that would result from disclosure, not blanket exemption rules.

• Ensure that the disclosure requirements of the Access to Information Act cannot be circumvented by secrecy provisions in other federal acts, while respecting the confidentiality of national security and the privacy of personal information.
Sounds all well and good doesn’t it? But once again, as has so often been the case with the Harper Conservatives, there’s a big, big difference between the Harper rhetoric and the Harper action:
The RCMP have been asked to investigate whether the Department of Foreign Affairs broke the law when it denied the existence of documents related to the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan.

New Democrat MP Pat Martin wrote a letter to interim RCMP Commissioner Bev Busson yesterday pointing out that, under the federal Access to Information Act, it is an offence to suppress government records that should be released.
Opps, how’d that happen? Surely the Harper Conservatives would want to get to the bottom of this right? Wrong…
Conservative MPs, who are in a minority on the committee, initially tried to stall the investigation with filibusters but they have since abandoned that effort. So the politicians are now hearing from the bureaucrats involved.
Filibusters must equal accountability in Harper-land somehow. No wonder Ted calls him the Right Honourable Lyin’ Brian Harper this morning, while Scott weighs-in with some thoughts on Deceivin’ Stephen.

Competing nicknames, maybe we need a poll…

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Ted Betts said...

"No wonder Ted calls him the Right Honourable Lyin’ Brian Harper this morning, while Scott weighs-in with some thoughts on Deceivin’ Stephen.

Competing nicknames, maybe we need a poll…"

A reader on Cerberus suggested Slitherin' Stephen and another followed-up with Mr. Slithers.

Oxford County Liberals said...

A poll eh?

I think I can accomodate you with that.