Patronage Disappointments

From Mr. Harper’s flurry of appointments of Senators and Judges, to an abundant miscellany of lesser appointments to plush jobs in a wide array of government-related agencies, boards, and crown corporations, it’s business as usual in Ottawa.

Inevitably, offended cries of “political patronage!” erupt — with some justification.  These appointments seem to bunch-up, in fact, to those times when the government appears on the brink of defeat (wouldn’t want to leave the plums for the next guys!)  Never mind that ending patronage appointments “once and for all,” was one of the key promises that delivered Mr. Harper into government.

“But wait,” some say, “they’re just playing by the existing rules — They, poor things, can’t fix it because those terrible Liberals won’t let them!”  (Fade-in a few bars of the “Liberal-Dominated-Senate Dirge”, or such.  The tears well up.)

The truth is that the Public Appointments Commission that’s supposed to de-patronage these things received all-party support in 2006, through Mr. Harper’s own much flawed Accountability Act.  One rather key flaw being that while proudly proclaiming the means for it, it doesn’t actually require that it be created.  So much for pushing things through without interference from those pesky Senators.  More than three years later, it still doesn’t exist.

For Mr. Harper, a “have your cake and eat it too” kind of guy, while vigourously patting himself on the back for it, won’t actually use it.  He objected to the House committee’s recommendations for Commissioners, and in a huff, has since left the whole thing to rot.  It’s clear he’s not going to mess with it, until he’s done.  Since 2006, the Conservatives have made at least 3,000 appointments without such scrutiny.

Mr. Harper won’t establish and use this Commission because he can’t have his own hand-picked puppet at its head.  “Politically independent”  is great, apparently, providing of course that he can still pull the strings.

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