Monday, February 27, 2006

Fight For The Power

One of the most common complaints about the current system of government is the increasing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's office. The Prime Minister's power to appoint hundreds of officers, including the Senate, the Supreme Court, and senior civil servants, combined with a convention of rigid party discipline, makes him a near-dictator while in office.

So you'd think that the Gomery inquiry's recommendations to diffuse some of that power would be welcomed in Ottawa.

You'd be wrong:

A national group of business and former government leaders has launched a campaign to oppose Justice John Gomery's proposals to dilute the "chief executive powers" of the prime minister, including the authority to appoint deputy ministers who run departments.

A petition is being circulated among leaders from Canada's private, public and voluntary sectors, including former senior bureaucrats in provincial and federal governments, and politicians of all political stripes, to voice concerns over Judge Gomery's drive to "rebalance" power in Ottawa and stop another sponsorship-like scandal. Dozens of letters requesting signatures to the petition, which will be sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have been sent over the past few days.

"In any organization, public or private, the chief executive must have chief executive powers," said the cover letter accompanying the petition.

"Diluting these will make it harder, not easier, to manage the nation's business effectively and deliver results which matter to citizens and taxpayers."


Overall, Judge Gomery's 19 recommendations are aimed making government more accountable by taking the politics out of decision-making. But the letter takes aim at four of those recommendations, which the group fears will "impair" management and even undermine accountability. They include:

- Giving the public service a separate constitutional identity from the elected government;

- Requiring ministers to issue written orders to overrule deputy ministers on management issues;

- Watering down the role of the clerk of the Privy Council;

- Transferring the prime minister's power to hire deputies to an independent committee.

The group argues Judge Gomery's plan to separate politics and management gives bureaucrats more power and a separate "constitutional identity" from politicians, which opens the door to government by the unelected.

This esteemed group of signatories' objections can be summed up thus: don't replace the tyranny of an elected prime minister with the tyranny of unelected public servants.

One wonders whether this letter would have been written had the January 23 election results been different. Too many people have a vested interest in the status quo.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

1 comment:

Alberta Girl said...

It's called looking out for job security (or in gov't terms - a place at the trough)