Tasha Kheiridden used to be at the forefront of the Conservative Revolution in this country. She avidly supported Stephen Harper. She now has her doubts. Last week Kheiridden wrote that Bill C-27: An Act To Enhance the Financial Accountability and Transparency of First Nations was brought forward by a government which does not practice what it preaches:
Clearly, there exists a problem of financial accountability and transparency on First Nations reserves. Unfortunately, back in Ottawa, the federal government is also proving to be far more opaque than accountable.
She then went on to repeat what has surely become a tiresome tale -- the stonewalling of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page:
As reported by the National Post, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty “said the government only wants Page to follow his mandate, which he described as reporting to MPs on the budget process and spending measures” — a position which would effectively make a toothless tiger of Page, whose very office was created by the Tories to increase government accountability.
The truth is that it is government policy to stonewall -- not just Kevin Page, but anyone seeking information. Yesterday, Jeffrey Simpson listed the government's response to requests for information on one day:
Tuesday, a day in Harperland …
One day, three papers, five no comments, just another day at the ranch for the media operations of the Harper government and Conservative Party.
- “Mr. Kenney declined repeated requests for comment.” (The Globe and Mail)
- “The government did not respond Monday to questions about its position.” (The Globe and Mail)
- “La Presse posed the question to Mr. Flato [a public servant], but he was bound by strict rules about interviews with journalists so that he had to direct the question to the media relations service of Environment Canada. This service refused to respond to the question.” (La Presse)
- “Conservative campaign manager Guy Giorno and the party’s director of political operations, Jenni Byrne, did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment Monday.” (Ottawa Citizen)
- “The Defence Department could not comment.” (Ottawa Citizen)
Sadly, Simpson writes:
The public, it is clear, doesn’t give a hoot about this governmental attitude. And the government, quite obviously, is pleased with the systems it has put in place to handle information, and is not about to change them. The government has the media all figured out, and there’s nothing the media can apparently do about it but episodically grouse.
George Orwell understood the paradigm. The Inner Party -- the Prime Minister and the PMO -- make policy. The Outer Party -- the Conservative caucus and the 33% of voters who will reliably vote Conservative -- even if we are, in Prince Charles' words, "committing suicide on a grand scale"-- follow in lock step. The rest of us are proles.
Very rarely does a member of The Party -- like Ms. Kheiridden -- express her doubts.