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Liberals question Tory ethics 

[PoliticsWatch updated 6:05 p.m. October 2, 2006]

OTTAWA  — The Conservative government came under attack in question period on Monday for a number of recent appointments that the Liberals are describing as patronage.  
  
"This government is clearly practising a double standard," Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale told reporters after question period. 

"They were elected on the theory that they were purer than the driven snow and I guess now . . .  it's becoming clear to Canadians that they have vastly overstated their ethical virtue." 

After spending the last few years in government and the last two elections under attack for their ethics from the Conservatives, Goodale and the Liberals are more than happy to return the favour.  

In question period, Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham raised the issue of Tories appointing Conservative supporters to the bench. 

The Liberals say Justice J. D. Bruce McDonald was appointed to the superior trial court in Alberta because he was a long-time Conservative supporter. 

"While the Conservatives destroy the rights of individual Canadians before the courts they are naming their partisan supporters to high judicial office," Graham alleged in question period. 

Justice Minister Vic Toews defended his latest appointment.

"Mr. Justice MacDonald was first appointed to the bench by another government," Toews noted. "He distinguished himself on the provincial court and the government appointed him to the Queen's Bench on the basis of his demonstrable legal abilities. 

"If the member goes through the entire list he will find that there are actually some Liberals on the list who had been appointed."

Liberal MP David McGuinty said in the House that the judge was "a well known Conservative fundraiser" who donated over $11,000 to the Reform, Alliance and Conservative parties over the past 12 years. 

McGuinty said Toews promise as an opposition critic to end judicial patronage is "nothing but Conservative hypocrisy."

MacDonald is the latest Tory judicial appointment to receive scrutiny. 

In June, the Tories appointed Richard Bell to Court of Queen's Bench in New Brunswick. 

Bell was a New Brunswick campaign co-chair for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2004 Conservative party leadership race and was a co-chair in New Brunswick for Conservatives in the 2004 and 2006 federal election campaigns.
 
The Liberals also accused Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay of using  ACOA as his "own personal fiefdom." 

"The new vice-president of ACOA in New Brunswick is the former chief of staff to Elmer MacKay and communications chief to Bernard Lord," said Liberal MP Geoff Regan. "What a coincidence.

"How can the minister explain to Canadians that Canada's minority Conservative government is appointing a friend to a senior position at ACOA?"

MacKay defended the appointment, saying the new vice president was 
"a very competent, bilingual public servant who has done incredible work throughout his career." 

The Liberals also criticized the appointment of former Mulroney cabinet Harvie Andre as a land claims negotiator. 

"Was it because of his deep ties to the north or his extensive land claims experience?" asked Liberal MP Tina Keeper. "No, because he has none. This sole sourced $300,000 contract was given because Mr. Andre is a former Conservative cabinet minister."

Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice said Andre was doing his work at a "fraction of the cost" of the man he replaced -- former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson. 

He said he replaced Peterson because "his fees were excessive and his outcomes were non-performing."

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