Friday, November 29, 2013

Steve - the Accountability Firewall Guy

2006 Conservative Party Campaign Ad on Accountability
Interviewer : How is it that hundreds of millions of dollars go missing and no one's in jail?
Harper : Well, look who's in charge. I mean these guys can't even tell the difference between Wright and wrong. 
Interviewer : Ok, we've got a question ... "It's like you get to Ottawa and no one can touch you. How will you change that?"
Harper : You change the people in charge but you also have to change the system. The first thing I'll do is pass the Federal Accountability Act. It's a real plan to clean up government.
Now : Tory changes to accountability rules leave Harper blameless in Duffy affair
When the Conservatives first took power in 2006, Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Secretaries of State said that ministers were responsible for “the actions of all officials under their management and direction, whether or not the ministers had prior knowledge.” ***
But a version of the guidelines from 2011 says: “Ministerial accountability to Parliament does not mean that a minister is presumed to have knowledge of every matter that occurs within his or her department or portfolio, nor that the minister is necessarily required to accept blame for every matter.”
Whew - lucky for Steve, huh? 
Six of his own closest staffers he hired himself - staffers we did not elect and who are not answerable to us - variously colluded in a plot the RCMP allege involved bribery, fraud, and breach of public trust, all while supposedly managing to keep Steve completely out of the loop about it. And according to the revised Accountability Act rules, that isn't his responsibility! 

Presumably this also explains Steve's new mantra in the House of Commons when questioned about the actions of any of those staffers : "There are only two people under investigation."

"Not actually a convicted felon" - it's the new standard for the Federal Accountability Act.

*** The Cons worked this first version to avoid accountability also.
In 2010 - back when parliamentary committees actually worked - the Ethics Committee was investigating  "allegations of systematic political interference by ministers' offices to block, delay, or obstruct the release of information to the public" by political staffers. 
[In those days it was still considered an anomaly to have hired shortpantsers running the government.]
i.e. A gov dept would authorize the release of a document to the public and a Con political staffer would be sent down to retrieve it before it could be released. 
When said staffers were summoned before committees as witnesses to be questioned about it, John Baird or Pierre Poilievre would show up in their place under the guise of "ministerial responsibility for staffers" and run interference on the staffer's behalf.


Anonymous said...

Senators block key Deloitte witness on Mike Duffy audit call

Owen Gray said...

For these folks the end justifies the means. The end has never changes. But the means change daily.

Alison said...

Anon@6:28 : Yeah, working on transcript. Did you see Coyne address it on the At Issue panel last night? I thought he was going to swallow his face.

Owen : The peculiar thing about it is that it's the means that keep tripping them up. Alternate means that weren't as ethically bankrupt could have almost entirely avoided this whole shitshow with Duffy.
Selley wrote a good column on it.
My only quibble is that Selley doesn't take into account whatever it is that Duffy knows and the Cons fear he will blab about.
Leaving aside ethics and going for optics instead, they should have promised Duffy some creds -a worthless vainglorious bullshit medal being named after him and/or a chair at the McDonald Laurier Institute alongside Perrin's instead - that would have done it.

scotty on denman said...

Harper said he wanted to "change the system". The "system" would work just fine if it was populated with people who knew right from wrong.

Gosh, I'm getting tired of hearing "government's broken" and "change the system". Tired and wary cuzz it usually doesn't turn out well. I mean, just look at Harper.

But it goes farther than that: Adrian Dix thought it would be a good time to "change the system" by running a "positive" campaign, the "system" being negative campaigning that politicians have been resorting to since democracy was invented.

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