Monday, December 24, 2007

Accountable Government: Harper Style

I've criticized Harper repeatedly for being even less accountable to the public than his predecessor, and it seems that the PMO is getting in the way even more than we initially thought.

While Stephen Harper's Conservatives campaigned on opening up the access-to-information system, Information Commissioner Robert Marleau said the government's own statistics show that responses to the public's requests for information are slowing down “across the board.”

Access-to-Information and Privacy co-ordinators in federal departments are grumbling that efforts to answer requests are being delayed by lengthy consultations with other departments, and especially the Privy Council Office, which serves the prime minister.

It gets better, though:

Mr. Harper's Conservatives made accountability a central plank of the campaign that brought them to power in January of 2006, and improving the public's access to government information was key to that platform.

Almost two years later, however, the Conservative government has failed to table the bill they promised to reform the access system.

And the Conservatives are now using the same excuse for refusing to release documents that they railed against in opposition: the assertion that a minister's office, including the Prime Minister's Office, is not covered by the access law. Mr. Marleau's predecessor, John Reid, took the previous Liberal government to court to contest that claim, and Mr. Marleau is continuing the case.

“If you exclude that range of activity and documentation and information, it's one giant loophole,” Mr. Marleau said.

Basically, what the HarperCon$ are doing is routing things through the PMO and Privy Council offices and then hanging the entire process up. I didn't support this kind of crap under the Liberal governments past, and Harper sure as hell doesn't have any business standing on that bit of sophistry. Especially when he ran on a platform that promised Canadians better accountability.

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