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Auditor General still isn’t convinced by Cons. public stance on preserving independence.

Yesterday I wrote that the Cons. seemed to have backed down, at least publicly, in Parliament by assuring the House that they would not try to muzzle independent officers of Parliament, such as the Auditor General, by putting forth a policy that would require all of their communications to be approved by the Privy Council Office.

Perhaps I was too quick in presuming that. Last night, the Cons. released a letter which Treasury Board president Vic Toews sent to the Auditor-General in March, which they claimed shows their desire to maintain the independence of those officials, but the Auditor General’s office publicly retorted she isn’t convinced:

“I believe the best approach to this issue is on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific institution and policy provisions in question,” wrote Toews in a letter copied to all independent officers of Parliament. Not good enough, Fraser responded through her office Thursday. “The auditor general’s point … stands: We want very specific clarity on specific policies and more work has to be done to ensure that that detail is there,” spokesperson Sophie Nadeau said in an interview. “And it’s not there right now.” Nadeau confirmed the letter was received by Fraser on March 18 but said there has been no negotiation on the issue since then. “The policy does apply to us as it’s written now,” said Nadeau.

I seriously can’t believe the Conservatives and Harper, even with their intense dislike of government institutions and their obsession for secrecy and controlling the message, would dare to try to muzzle these independent officers of Parliament – particularly when the Auditor-General Sheila Fraser is the one leading the public charge against this. If Elections Canada has a high amount of credibility with the public that I doubt will be eroded by the Cons. charging them with bias or unfairness, Sheila Fraser’s credibility is probably even higher (Ironically, Elections Canada would also be facing this edict if the Cons. implemented these proposed changes).

A Conservative government elected on the basis of promising greater accountability and openness to Parliament and government is showing the exact opposite trait. Trying to impose these rules on independent agencies and persons like the Auditor-General would be the final nail in the coffin, showing those promises were a complete sham.

2 comments to Auditor General still isn’t convinced by Cons. public stance on preserving independence.

  • tdwebste

    “impose these rules on independent agencies and persons like the Auditor-General would be the final nail in the coffin”

    I agree with this statement, but I disagree with your conclusion.

    In fact I would say, this final nail, will forever enable the crocked to deceive the public. And scams will no longer be exposed and instead hidden from the public eye. Unexposed scams festering into full blown corruption and crime. Scams won’t be exposed, even the scam of binding independent agencies will be hidden.

    By waiting until the final nail is driven into the coffin, it is too late. In fact that is the meaning of this wise but sad saying.

    Hello wakeup everyone, or wish you were dead.

  • While I agree with you I have to say that there appears, so far at least, to be a very limited appetite in the major national media to take this on as a defining issue.

    They have submerged themselves into the post-modernist “facts are equivalent to opinions” miasma so thoroughly that partisan spin is given equal weight to documented fact and little to no differentiation is offered.

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