A plea for transparency in Canada's “new government”


On Dec. 21, 2006, Health Minister Tony Clement announced the appointments of a chair, a president and 8 board members for Assisted Human Reproduction Canada.1 This new federal agency is charged with regulating fertility clinics, making decisions about research that uses human embryonic stem cells and advising Mr. Clement about assisted human reproduction.

But for an agency entrusted with Canadians' reproductive well-being, it has had a protracted and problematic birth. The end result is that only 2 of that total of 10 board members were among the 25 people recommended by an expert selection committee, one convened by Health Canada under the previous Liberal government.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper attempts to muzzle the press

Canada’s new Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is refusing to meet the country’s national press. Harper announced Wednesday that he will no longer give press conferences for the parliamentary press gallery, after journalists balked at the attempts by the prime minister’s office to dictate who can and cannot ask him questions. On Tuesday many reporters walked out of a Harper press conference to protest his handlers’ demands that prior to such conferences they be given lists of who wants to question the prime minister so that they and Harper can choose journalists to be called upon for questions. [...]

INDEPTH: Jean Chrétien; L'Affair Grand-Mere

The controversy surrounding former prime minister Jean Chrétien's involvement in two properties in his riding is rooted in events that are more than a decade old. But the details were only made public after a series of media reports, a lawsuit and a barrage of questions raised by a united opposition in the House of Commons. Chrétien sold his stake in the Auberge Grand-Mère resort just before becoming prime minister and sold his shares in the Grand-Mère Golf Course shortly after that. But he wasn't paid for the golf course shares until 1999. The issue at the heart of the debate was, when exactly did Chrétien stop having an "interest" in the properties?

How Transparent are our Courts?

The story of Harriet Miers' withdrawal of her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court contains important lessons not just for Americans, but for our country as well. It is a poignant reminder of the value of a transparent and democratic appointments process, and of the impressive results that can result from giving interest groups ample opportunities to make their views known.
The Canadian appointments system is the exact opposite, continuing to be shrouded in secrecy and treating Canadians as dependents who need the superior guidance of an all-wise federal government. [...]

Gomery Report details 4 chances to stop Abuse

Concerns about the sponsorship program surfaced within the federal government at least four times before Auditor-General Sheila Fraser was asked to investigate allegations of mismanagement, Justice John Gomery's first report said Tuesday. Little was done to address those concerns, however. In some cases, brief investigations led to even less control being exercised over taxpayers' money. The first opportunity for correction came in 1995, when Public Works and Government Services Canada employee Allan Cutler became concerned over the actions of Chuck Guité.

Whistleblowers deserve better than Bill C-25

A mild-mannered public servant is repeatedly asked by senior bureaucrats to approve mis-appropriations of taxpayer dollars and cover up government wrong-doing. The public servant refuses, documents the malfeasance, and complains to senior departmental officials.

Some A, B, Cs of federal government waste

Governments are famously wasteful. Huge cost over-runs are routine. One of the most spectacular is the federal gun registry program which was to have a net cost over the first four years of some $2-million. Over the first six years, the officially-stated net cost will be over $1-billion. And now we find that the $250-million sponsorship program officially aimed at fighting separatists in Quebec involved waste of some $100-million according to the Auditor General's Feb. 10 report.