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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Anarchy in the public service

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:10 p.m. May 11, 2007]

 

OTTAWA —  In the final days of last year's election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was running out of prepared script and policy announcements.  

During one campaign stop, Harper openly tried to downplay concerns about the Conservatives winning a majority and suggested that the Ottawa culture would prevent the Tories from having complete power. 

“I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a true Conservative majority," he said. "The reality is we will have, for some time to come, a Liberal Senate, a Liberal civil service — at least the senior levels have been appointed by the Liberals — and the courts that have been appointed by the Liberals. 

Harper's comments drew the ire of many pundits and then prime minister Paul Martin, who accused Harper of questioning the impartiality of the civil service. 

Sun columnist Greg Weston was shocked and outraged by Harper's accusation, saying it sounded like something from one of Harper's  "right-wingnuts."  

"Are you saying the public service has been irreparably politicized, and if so, are you planning to fire all deputy ministers hired over the past 13 years?" Weston asked. 

This week, reporters on Parliament Hill were introduced to 27-year-old Jeffrey Monaghan, who the media had dubbed a self-proclaimed anarchist. 

Monaghan says he is the former Environment Canada employee who had his cubicle raided on Wednesday morning by the RCMP and was cuffed and taken for questioning but never charged for the alleged leak of the government's green plan. 

It's not certain whether Monaghan, a former low-level, contract employee who worked in media monitoring, actually is the leaker. He won't say. 

But what is certain is Monaghan's anarchist credentials are overblown. 

First off, Monaghan works for a government department but his job is facilitated through an employment agency, which takes a cut of his weekly pay. Monaghan is simultaneously working for the state and big business -- some anarchist. 

A newspaper photo taken just eight days ago at the opening of the anarchist bookstore owned by a collective involving Monaghan shows him bearded and dressed like he just came from a Grateful Dead show. 

But fast forward to the Charles Lynch Press Theatre on Parliament Hill Thursday where a clean-shaven Monaghan arrived wearing a white shirt and a too short tie. 

It looks like the anarchist's image consultants had him transformed into Dilbert to look presentable to the corporate media. Talk about selling out, dude. 

Monaghan's rhetoric was a little overblown and hypocritical.  
 
He accused the Conservative government of having a "paranoid fit"  because they believed that public servants are "partisan and embittered." 

That was shortly before he used something sounding like environmentalist talking points and said, "Our society knows the threat presented by the changing climate, global warming, and the rapidly increasing growth of industrial emissions. We deserve real action, not cynically calculated PR campaigns and witch-hunts on public servants."

He said his arrest was "an extension of a government-wide communications strategy pinned on secrecy, intimidation and centralization."
 
This, of course, was minutes before he stopped reading from a prepared text and left the press conference without taking questions from a room full of reporters. Monaghan could have at least had reporters put their names on a list before they asked questions before he criticized Canada's New Government's communications strategy.

He stormed out of the press conference room and off Parliament Hill in a hurry with a parade of reporters and camera technicians chasing him -- an embarrassing spectacle that resembles something more from Benny Hill than All the President's Men. 

Why was Monaghan in such a hurry to get out of the Centre Block? Was it a fear of answering questions? 

Or was he worried about that cartoon airplane?

The same cartoon airplane depicted in his band's -- The Suicide Pilots -- website that is flying 9-11 style towards the Peace Tower. The same band that the not embittered, not partisan former public servant plays drums in which performs songs such as Harper Youth -- a play on the name of another youth group from the 1930s. 

Monaghan may not be a member of the Liberal party that Harper said were dominating the public service, but nonetheless he has the support of Liberals. 

Appearing on CTV's Mike Duffy Live on Friday, Liberal strategist Scott Reid said this story is all about "someone who worked at Environment Canada who believed we ought to be meeting our international obligations under Kyoto."

Then, in what could only be described as something that could be a lyric on the next Suicide Pilots CD, Reid later said that Harper's government follows the orders of the Bush White House and behaves in draconian ways like the Nixon White House. 

Still there are many questions that go unanswered as the week comes to an end. 

The biggest ones being if Monaghan is the leaker, then exactly how was someone who describes himself as being the lowest-level public servant have access to a secret document and if he did have some level of security clearance did the public service do a proper background check? Or did they even try a Google search? 

Currently, the Public Service Commissioner, who is tasked with trying to maintain merit and non-partisanship in the public service, is conducting a review of approximately 100 former public servants who moved to work for cabinet ministers and then moved back into the public service. 

But this latest affair shows that there may be more pressing problems in the public service than public servants potentially being tainted by working for a cabinet minister.  

How many more non-partisan public servants are there who spend their weekends performing songs comparing the prime minister to Adolph Hitler? Are there other public servants who have their own political agenda and believe theirs overrides the wishes of their political masters and is in the "public interest?"

The Legislative Update is posted every Friday afternoon when the House is sitting. To stay informed on all the political events read PoliticsWatch's  Morning Briefing updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday to Friday and the Daily Agenda updated at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.
  
______________


The House will deal with the following next week

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan has called this week "strengthening the economy week."

Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill; 
Bill C-33 to improve our income tax system; 
Bill C-40, to improve the sales tax system; 
Bill C-53, relating to investment disputes; 
Bill C-47, the Olympics bill, 
Bill C-41, the Competition Act.
Bill C-10, the minimum mandatory sentencing bill (third reading)


Thursday

Opposition Day


____________________

Committee Highlights

Monday

> More RCMP officials testify at the public accounts committee's study of the RCMP pension scandal.  


Tuesday

> The Commons official languages committee is expected to vote no confidence in committee chair Guy Lauzon

> Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day appears before the Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee. 

> The Commons heritage committee continues its study of the role of the public broadcaster in the 21st century 

> The Commons finance committee continues its examination of tax havens. 

Wednesday

> Auditor General Sheila Fraser appears before the Commons public accounts committee.  


> Full Schedule


____________________

Bills the Tories have tabled in this Parliament 

C-2 An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability

Status: Royal Assent December 12

This is better known the Federal Accountability Act, which a number of new measures and a massive list of amendments to current laws aimed at cleaning up government. The bill is the government's No. 1 priority.

C-3 An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Royal Assent February 1, 2007

C-4 An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-5 An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts

Status: Royal Assent December 12

C-6 An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Referred to transport committee November 7

C-7 An Act to amend the National Defence Act

Status: Introduced April 27

C-8 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2007

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-9 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)

Status: Passed in the House November 3

C-10 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Report stage May 7, 2007

C-11 An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Passed in the House February 28, 2007

C-12 An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts

Status: Passed in the House December 11

C-13 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006

Status: Royal Assent June 22

This is the budget implementation bill. The bill was accidentally given unanimous consent in the House on third reading when none of the opposition parties objected after confusion over who would speak to the bill.

C-14 An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)

Status: Referred to citizenship and immigration committee June 13

This bill makes it easier for parents to obtain citizenship for children they adopt from overseas.

C-15 An Act to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act

Status: Royal Assent June 22

C-16 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act

Status: Royal Assent May 3, 2007

C-17 An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill sets salaries for federally-appointed judges at a lower rate than that recommended by an independent panel. The panel wanted 10.8 per cent increase plus cost of living. The government is offering 7.25 per cent in the bill plus cost of living.

C-18 An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification

Status: Passed in the House March 28, 2007

C-19 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens punitive measures against convicted street racers. 

C-20 An Act respecting airports, airport authorities and other airport operators and amending the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act

Status: Introduced June 15

C-21 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)

Status: Introduced June 19

This bill we effectively kill the long-arm registry.

C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act

Status: Passed in the House May 4, 2007

C-23 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments)

Status: Referred to the Justice committee October 16

C-24 An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This is the implementation legislation for the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. 

C-25 An Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Income Tax Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens money laundering and terror financing laws and would give the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada the power to monitor money wiring and travellers cheques services. 

C-26 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate)

Status:
Royal Assent, May 3, 2007


C-27 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace)

Status:
Sent to special legislative committee, May 4, 2007

This bill places the onus on three time sexual and violent offenders to prove to the Crown they are not deserving of dangerous offender status.

C-28 A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006 

Status:
Royal Assent February 21, 2007


C-29 An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act 

Status:
Referred to legislative committee May 4, 2007


C-30 An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act) 

Status:
Returned from the special legislative committee with amendments on March 30, 2007.


C-31 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act

Status:
Passed in the House February 20, 2007

This bill will require voters to present photo ID at polling stations. 

C-32 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status:
Referred to the justice committee February 6, 2007

This bill will impose penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of drugs 

C-33 An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act 

Status:
Second Reading March 29, 2007


C-34 An Act to provide for jurisdiction over education on First Nation lands in British Columbia

Status:
Royal Assent December 12


C-35 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences) 

Status:
Referred to special legislative committee, March 27, 2007

This bill requires those charged with gun crimes prove why they should be granted bail before trial.

C-36 An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act 

Status:
Royal Assent May 3, 2007


C-37 An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters

Status:
Royal Assent March 29, 2007

This bill, among other things, lowers the legal minimum mortgage downpayment consumers have to make on a home.

C-38 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 2, 2006-2007) 

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Main estimates

C-39 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 3, 2006-2007)

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Supplementary estimates

C-40 An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make related amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Third reading, April 25, 2007

C-41 An Act to amend the Competition Act 

Status:
Second Reading February 27

C-42 An Act to amend the Quarantine Act 

Status:
Referred to the Health committee March 29

C-43 An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate

Status:
Second reading May 7, 2007

This bill will allow for Elections Canada to hold votes to select candidates to fill Senate vacancies in province-wide races.

C-44 An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

Status:
Sent to aboriginal affairs committee February 21, 2007

This law will remove a controversial section of the act that provides an exemption for aboriginal Canadians. 

C-45 An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries

Status:
Second Reading February 23, 2007

C-46 — The Minister of Labour — An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations 

Status:
Royal Assent April 18, 2007

This bill was designed to end the labour dispute at CN Rail. 

C-47 The Minister of Industry — An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act 

Status:
Introduced March 2, 2007

C-48 — The Minister of Justice — An Act to amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption 

Passed in the House April 30, 2007 

C-49 — The President of the Treasury Board — An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 4, 2006-2007) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-50 — The President of the Treasury Board — An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2008 (Appropriation Act No. 1, 2007-2008) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-51 — The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development — An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act 

Introduced March 22, 2007 

C-52 — The Minister of Finance — An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 

Second Reading March 30, 2007 

This is the budget implementation bill. 

C-53 — The Minister of Foreign Affairs — An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention) 

Introduced March 30, 2007 

C-54 — The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform — An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans) 

Second reading May 11, 2007

C-55 -- The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform — An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (expanded voting opportunities) and to make a consequential amendment to the Referendum Act 

Introduced May 9, 2007


C-56 — The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform — An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation) 

Introduced May 11, 2007

: Related Links

> Check out last week's legislative update

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