On the At Issue Panel for December 10th, Andrew Coyne and Chantal Hebert were not concerned about the 49 future appointments Stephen Harper made to government agencies just before the election. Hebert and Coyne said all the appointees appeared competent and that should be the only requirement for the job. Maryantonett Flumian begs to differ. She writes:
The real issue here has nothing to do with the incumbents’ qualifications, their partisan affiliation or lack thereof. It has to do with the legitimacy of the outgoing prime minister exercising his appointment authority for future appointments — reappointing people, in the last days of his power, whose term of appointment would be coming to an end after the general election.
The appointment authority of the prime minister and his government is an important lever to achieve the government’s agenda. In acting the way it did, the Harper government usurped part of that authority in order to continue to influence public governance after it had lost power. This is why those appointments are illegitimate and objectionable, irrespective of the objective competence (or incompetence) of the appointees.
A number of the appointees still had time to run on their tenures:
The appointees would continue in office until their current terms are completed, period. For good behaviour appointments already in effect, cause for removal would be required — including an address of both Houses in the case of NEB appointments. (It should be noted that the government won’t have a majority in the Senate until all vacancies are filled, and might need to appoint additional senators against the possibility of the eight independent senators voting with the Conservatives.)
Flumian writes that what Harper did is called "stocking the fridge." Given the former prime minister's contempt for parliament, for the courts, for the press, and voters in general, there is nothing surprising in what he did. During his years in power, contempt became the new normal.
But there was nothing normal about Stephen Harper.