“If experience tells us anything, it’s that accountability measures are only attractive to parties in opposition.” —former whistleblowers Ian Bron and Allan Cutler, in the Ottawa Citizen
Good ideas are barely worth cheering for in Ottawa, some days. Allan Cutler, a former Conservative candidate who was famous for whistleblowing during the Sponsorship Scandal, has lost faith in his former tribe’s commitment to government accountability. Cutler is the president of Canadians for Accountability—C4A, for short—where he spends his time giving tips to whistleblowers who intend to speak truth to power. This morning, the Ottawa Citizen gives Cutler a renewed voice. He teams up with former whistleblower Ian Bron—a C4A director—to talk about all the loopholes the government could close, and mechanisms the government could strengthen, and people the government could empower in tomorrow’s Throne Speech. There are five ideas, each probably worth at least a debate.
Cutler and Bron’s prognosis before the big day: “We won’t hold our breath.”
The whistleblowers wish the government would act on five measures: strengthening federal whistleblower legislation; extending access-to-information legislation to all federal bodies; relaunching the Public Appointments Commission; closing lobbying loopholes in federal accountability legislation; and strengthening ethics rules. Cutler and Bron will find allies on all fronts. The NDP, for example, wants a robust public appointments commission. Democracy Watch wants lobbying loopholes snuffed out and ethics reform taken seriously. Everyone and their dog wants access to information laws to cover Parliament.
A former candidate for the governing party who helped bring down the last government now agrees in part with social democrats who form the Official Opposition, an ethics watchdog that’s critical of any government worth barking about, and a wide range of groups—journalists, librarians, and even normal people—who think access to information ought to apply to elected officials. That’s not a consensus, but it’s strange bedfellows, and that’s surely worth more than an op-ed on the eve of a Throne Speech.
But it probably won’t be worth more than an op-ed, because the government’s not concerned about accountability. The government fixed accountability in 2006, and only tinkers when ideas come from within. Unless consumers are the target audience, which they apparently are in tomorrow’s speech. Then, the team in charge doesn’t mind borrowing from its enemies.
What’s above the fold
|The Globe and Mail
|The U.S. Senate has nearly agreed to a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
|The deal funds government and suspend the debt ceiling until early 2014.
|The feds have spent $17.5 billion on a childcare tax benefit since 2006.
|Sick leave will be a sticking point in negotiations with federal unions.
|A Pembroke man has fought a Rogers bill he never owed for three years.
|An earthquake in the Philippines has killed at least 93 people.
|This week’s Speech from the Throne might not be very surprising.
What you might have missed
|Laos. Canada will provide $1 million to a pair of firms who clear unexploded cluster munitions from the Laotian landscape. The dangerous ordinance, two-million tonnes of which were dropped by American bombers for nine years, has victimized about 12,000 families in the country. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will announce the funding on a visit.
|Somali pirate. Mohamed Abdi Hassan, an alleged pirate accused of playing a role in the hijacking of a Belgian dredging ship in 2009, was arrested at Brussels’ airport over the weekend. In order to lure Hassan to the country, undercover Belgian authorities, through an associate, sought Hassan’s advice as a technical advisor for a documentary about piracy.
|Bear attack. Gilles Cyr, a New Brunswick man who lives near Grand Falls, survived a bear attack on his woodlot a couple of weeks ago. Cyr said when the bear was on top of him and growling ferociously, mouth wide open, he grabbed the animal’s tongue and wouldn’t let go. “So I says, ‘If you’re going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt you too,'” he said. Cyr escaped.