Like Junior, Red Skelton's mean little kid, Stephen Harper's avowed purpose in life has been to throw a wrench into the workings of government. He remained true to form -- even as he was leaving -- making 49 re-appointments and future appointments, whose purpose was to hamstring the incoming government. Alan Freeman writes:
The 49 appointments, including renewals and new appointments, have effectively blocked the newly-elected government from determining the future course of key agencies like the National Energy Board. In one remarkable case of chutzpah, the government renewed in advance the term of Canada Post’s CEO, Deepak Chopra, until 2021 — even though Chopra was the architect of the Crown corporation’s decision to kill door-to-door mail delivery, a policy opposed by both the Liberals and the NDP. (In this case, the Liberals may be able to undo the appointment because it was made “at pleasure”. Others won’t be so easy.)
Several of the future appointments were made just before the government's mandate ended:
What’s particularly curious about the future appointments is that several of them came down just days before Harper called the federal election in early August, at which point the so-called “caretaker convention” came into effect. That convention calls on the outgoing government to show restraint in its exercise of power during an election campaign, and to not do anything controversial. Knowing that the convention was about to come into effect, the government rushed ahead regardless with its future appointments — surely knowing that it could do it with a wink and a nod from its top bureaucrats.
Harper showed no respect whatever for parliamentary conventions. But he couldn't have accomplished what he did without the clear collaboration of senior public servants:
It’s clear that many deputy ministers, each holding their jobs at the pleasure of the PM and reporting to a Privy Council clerk equally beholden to Harper, have spent a decade conveniently ignoring their duty to serve the government and people of Canada. Many have known no other government and may now suddenly find themselves a loss when actually asked for real advice, let alone being forced to speak “truth to power”.
Harper's parting appointments are a reminder of how thoroughly he corrupted the civil service.