Thursday, December 13, 2007

Federal Accountability Act: D grade.

A requirement that officials act with honesty is gone! I guess they must now act with a view to what they think the Harper government wants! As with the new environmental concern the concern about accountability is mostly rhetoric with little substance. Of course the Liberal environmental policy was not exactly a model to be emulated! However, it provides the Conservatives a great opportunity to blame Liberals for everything.

1 year later, Tory-touted accountability act scores 'D' grade: watchdog
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | 8:23 PM ET
CBC News
Loopholes in the Federal Accountability Act have actually weakened government accountability, a citizen advocacy group said Wednesday.

'The Conservatives talked the talk during the last election but they did not walk the walk.'
— Democracy Watch co-ordinator Duff ConacherSlamming the Conservatives on the one-year anniversary of the act, the non-profit, non-partisan organization Democracy Watch gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government an overall "D" grade for accountability.

Democracy Watch co-ordinator Duff Conacher told CBC News on Wednesday the most severe misstep in the 2006 Federal Accountability Act was the deletion of a key rule requiring staff and senior officials to "act with honesty."

"They deleted that ethics rule and that's not a small step backwards; that's a huge step backwards," Conacher said.

He noted that in the lead-up to the 2006 federal election, Democracy Watch actually ranked the Conservatives No. 1 in terms of accountability, beating out the NDP, Bloc Québécois, the Green party and the Liberals in last place.

The government has so far implemented or attempted to implement 26 measures to increase accountability in the federal government, Democracy Watch said in a statement released Wednesday.

"The problem is [the Conservatives] promised to make 54 changes," Conacher explained. "If they'd done all 54, they would have closed about two-thirds of the loopholes and flaws in the accountability system and that would have merited a B minus."

"The Conservatives talked the talk during the last election but they did not walk the walk," he added.

Conacher said the most serious areas of concern are with the lack of whistleblower protection, no audits on staff spending, and a dire need for independent public prosecutors to prevent conflicts of interest that may arise if a minister of justice prosecutes another cabinet minister.

"I hope, but I don't expect the Conservatives are going to admit that they only have done half of what they promised and a third of what's needed," he said.

"Hopefully the Liberals, NDP and Bloc will very much highlight that

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