Set out below is a letter to the editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher which was published in edited form in the December 23, 2008 issues of the National Post and the Moncton Times and Transcript, and also quoted in articles that same day in the Toronto Star, Sault Star and Timmins Daily Press, and published in the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen and Sudbury Star on December 28, 2008, and the subject of nine radio interviews with stations across Canada
With his appointment of 18 Senators, most of whom are Conservative party cronies, and with his appointment of a new Supreme Court of Canada Justice before the completion of a parliamentary review, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has added two more broken promises to the 27 democratic reform and government accountability promises the Conservatives have already broken since they were elected in January 2006. (To see Democracy Watch's December 2008 Report Card on the Conservatives' 29 broken promises, click here)
The Senate and Supreme Court appointments are two of four ways in which Prime Minister Harper continues to practise patronage politics as usual, in violation of his promises not to do so.
In their 2006 election platform, the Conservatives promised to establish an independent Public Appointments Commission to ensure fair, merit-based and widely publicized searches for qualified candidates for the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to appoint to government agencies, boards and commissions.
Prime Minister Harper broke this promise after opposition parties changed the Federal Accountability Act to ensure the Commission would be non-partisan and operate independently of Cabinet, and be accountable to Parliament if it did not ensure fair appointments. The Conservative Cabinet has gone on to appoint more than 1,000 people to key government positions, many with ties to the Conservatives.
The Conservatives also broke their promise to "Prevent party leaders from appointing candidates without the democratic consent of local electoral district associations" and Prime Minister Harper showed his dishonesty even further by appointing several Conservative candidates for the most recent election.
Prime Minister Harper has also made false claims about why he has broken these promises, as usual blaming opposition parties, provincial premiers, constitutional experts etc. for his own failures.
No one will be surprised to learn that the Prime Minister also used his so-called "Accountability Act" to cut the ethics rule that requires him and his Cabinet and senior government officials to be honest -- given his many broken promises and deep dishonesty the Prime Minister obviously wanted to protect himself from being found guilty of breaking the honesty rule.
Canadians deserve better, but clearly will not get good government from the Conservatives as they are practising dishonest, unethical, secretive, un-representative and wasteful federal politics as usual.
The key question is, will the opposition parties offer good government to voters?
Duff Conacher, Coordinator