Friday, December 09, 2011

Abuse of Power

 Jennifer Ditchburn reports this morning that, having installed a new unilingual auditor general, the Conservatives would rather not hear from him:

Five different individuals – inside and outside Auditor-General Michael Ferguson's office – told The Canadian Press this week that officials there expect the opportunities for him to testify on his quarterly reports will be reduced. 

This from the government which came to power touting its Accountability Act. But after two prorogations of Parliament, limiting debate on government legislation and ignoring a court decision that the government's plan to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board is illegal  -- because there was no vote from the farmers who supply it with product -- this government's character has been firmly established.

All input from opposition parties is rejected. Ditchburn writes:

This week, Conservatives on the public accounts committee rejected a Liberal motion to call the newly appointed Mr. Ferguson to testify about the controversial G8 legacy infrastructure fund. The committee is actively studying the fund, and has heard from ministers with responsibility for the file.

Mr. Kramp said interim auditor-general John Wiersema had already answered more than 50 questions about the G8 legacy fund over the course of various appearances, the last on Oct. 5.

But it has been long-standing practice for the Auditor-General to testify at committees on the general content of reports, as Mr. Wiersema has done, and then to return later to comment on specific aspects. On those occasions, government officials from relevant departments are also called in so they can respond to recommendations and criticisms.

The Harperites threw out longstanding practices long ago. They have interpreted the election results as a mandate to do as they choose. But Ed Broadbent, a member of the advisory committee for the auditor general's office, speaks truth to power. “It goes to the heart of the accountability of spending that is so crucial to a parliamentary democracy, so ... if it proceeds, [this] is an outrageous act.”

There have been all kinds of outrageous acts since Stephen Harper became prime minister. Abuse of Power -- it's become this government's nom de plume.

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