How Harper controls the spin

Throughout the government, it's known simply as "downtown", the place where decisions are made on who speaks on issues and what they say. In the Conservative government's clampdown on communications, this is Ground Zero.

Harper defends database shutdown

Mr. Harper was forced to explain in the House of Commons Monday why his government quietly killed off a database called the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests System.
Created in 1989 and revamped in 2001, the CAIRS database is a monthly compilation of all Access requests received by federal agencies.
Canadians could use it to see the information that had already been made public or was in the process of being released, and could then make a request to see the documents themselves.

Supreme Court strikes down security certificates

The country’s top court has declared unconstitutional the overly-secretive “security certificate” system used to deport non-citizens suspected of terrorism ties. But in a unanimous 9-0 ruling released this morning, the Supreme Court of Canada pointed to different ways the law might be re-written to comply with the Charter of Rights’ guarantees of fundamental justice, and given the federal government 12 months to do so. Until then, the now-tainted provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act remain valid. [...]

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.