Sunday, January 06, 2008

Broken Promises and Hypocrisy

I don't know if the PM sits around like this, daydreaming about what promise to break next, but it's beginning to look like it. In fact, perhaps he's thinking of how to break his promise while simultaneously telling Canadians he's kept his word. Yes, that sounds more likely to me.

Think back to the Atlantic Accord. He and Flaherty insisted that nothing had changed, when clearly it had. To be frank I still do not know where this stands. It appears that they backed down somewhat, as they have so many times when staring solid resistance in the face, but I've yet to read a new agreement.

At every opportunity the Con's tell Canadians that they have enacted the toughest Accountability Act in history. They insist that they are the accountable government in contrast with those nasty Liberals. They of course fail to mention portions of the Act that have not been implemented. Specifically those portions dealing with lobbying and appointments.

So now we learn that the rules that they have announced to handle lobbyists have huge loopholes:

The federal Tories have proposed new rules for lobbyists that they say will help end secretive wheeling and dealing in Ottawa.
Critics swiftly denounced the draft regulations as a loophole-ridden ticket to more of the same. The rules, proposed more than a year after the Tories passed their flagship Federal Accountability Act, were issued with little fanfare late Friday.

You just know the rules are weak when they announce them late on a Friday when the House is not sitting.

Lawyer Guy Giorno, a leading expert on lobbying law, said the wording could be an invitation to lobby over casual meetings at watering holes and restaurants, since such contacts are not arranged in advance.
"I personally think it weakens the act. I think it sort of goes back on what Parliament expected. I would hope that they close that loophole," he said.

Is this the same Guy Giorno that is suppose to be scripting the next Con election platform? Hmmm, that could prove awkward.

Conacher goes on to state the obvious:

A five-year cooling off period for those who want to lobby is already in force under federal conflict-of-interest rules but exemptions abound, Conacher says.
A parade of well-connected Tories continues to join various lobbying and government relations firms - including some who made the leap directly from senior positions in ministers' offices.
"It just shows the depth of dishonesty, hypocrisy and obsessive secrecy of this Conservative government," Conacher says.

Also included in the Accountability Act was a promise to name an independent appointment commission. Has this been done? No.

"To lie to the voters, to mislead the voters during the last election on this issue of government accountability shows a very high level of hypocrisy and dishonesty," Conacher said.

It sure does and it must be spoken about much more often. For some reason we tend to get too caught up in the present at the expense of this governments record.

A couple of his appointed friends? Gun fans, and Taser promoters . In fact Harper has made 1,132 appointments since taking office.

And yet one more broken promise that has to do with accountability? The much vaunted claim of transparency, (cough).

It's taking in excess of a year for some Canadians to obtain government documents because the federal information commissioner isn't demanding swift action from departments that are bogged down in increasingly lengthy reviews, say critics.
Several recent requests under the Access to Information Act have been returned to applicants with a notice that they require a 240-day extension - a delay three times the previous average, making data outdated and often useless when it is released.

That's convenient isn't it? Make the information that Canadians are seeking stale dated so it just doesn't play to any contemporary theme.

Some departments, like Defence and Foreign Affairs, are so backlogged they're automatically tacking on extensions of more than 100 days to most, if not all, requests. Further extensions can be applied, pushing some requests beyond a year.
And critics have charged that in many cases, particularly those involving Canada's mission in Afghanistan, the material is withheld entirely or expunged so as to make it meaningless.
A recent report revealed the existence of a special team of military officers that looks at almost every public request linked to the Afghan deployment, limiting what is released and causing further delays.

The only transparency in the current government, is how easy they have made it for those who care to see their hypocrisy.

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