When Stephen Harper was campaigning in 2006, he promised a federal accountability act. This was his chance to push the Conservatives into office by differentiating themselves from the Liberal Party, who were in the midst of the sponsorship scandal.
Upon taking office, the Harper minority did introduce a Federal Accountability Act. Unfortunately, since then they’ve taken every opportunity to ignore it. The act provides protection for whistleblowers, but when a public servant like Richard Colvin, actually does bring a problem forward, they are generally called a liar and they have their reputation ruined.
The act created a five year cooling off period for political staff before they could become lobbyists, but that rule has been broken.
Kevin Page has been trying to get specifics on the planned $5.2 billion in cuts the government is planning over the next three years since before Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, was introduced. Page has now hired a constitutional lawyer to find the numbers so that he can do his own analysis.
Page told The Hill Times: “Without this information there is no accountability whatsoever, because people don’t know what’s going on inside departments.”
He has also pointed out that without this information, MPs are being forced to vote on budget changes without being told what those changes really mean.
Page had been told by the Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, that the information could not be released to him because public service unions had to be informed first. Those same unions have since informed the government that they have no problem with the numbers being released to Page, so long as no personal information about employees is released.
More than 26,000 jobs are being cut throughout the public service, though the government claims most of these will be through attrition. Employees are being told whether they are ‘affected,’ meaning they will have to compete for their job against other affected workers, or simply laid off.
The Opposition has been fighting on Page’s behalf, calling for the government to be found in contempt of Parliament for not releasing the numbers. This is the same situation that caused the government to fall in 2011.
Photo Credit: Leadnow Canada
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