June 14th, 2017

Liberals reject reasonable reform to prevent appointment of partisan watchdogs

OTTAWA – The Liberal government squashed an NDP motion on Wednesday that would have ensured only non-partisan individuals are appointed to be independent federal watchdogs. This follows a month of scandal involving the nomination of a life-long Liberal even though she admitted that, due to her conflict of interest, she would be unable to investigate the Prime Minister.

“This was a reasonable measure that would have restored trust in who is chosen to scrutinize how elections are run, how tax dollars are spent, and investigate ethical violations of elected officials,” said Nathan Cullen, the NDP’s Critic for Democratic Reform. “These watchdogs are in place to give Canadians some insight into how our government is being run, and by definition they must be independent and non-partisan.”

The proposal would have set up an all-party vetting committee for nominations and was widely seen as a balanced and sensible solution. The NDP even amended their own motion to address procedural concerns raised by Liberal MPs but in the end, the government was unwilling to place any limits whatsoever on who they are able to appoint to these high ranking positions.

“The Liberals are sending a clear signal; they believe they can appoint whoever they like to these important positions no matter how close to the Prime Minister or how partisan they might be,” said Alexandre Boulerice, the NDP’s Finance Critic. “This stinks and makes me very concerned for who they’ll try to appoint next.”

In the coming months the Liberals will need to fill the positions of several other watchdogs and Officers of Parliament, including the Chief Electoral Officer, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Lobbying Commissioner, Information Commissioner, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Clerk of the House.