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News Release

Who Will Guard the Guard?
Fully Independent and Empowered Inquiry Needed Into Many RCMP Actions -- Public Appointments Commission and Other Changes Needed Before Appointment of Commissioner or Any Other Government Accountability Watchdogs

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on the federal Conservatives and all federal political parties to approve a formal public inquiry into many RCMP actions over the past 15 years, especially the RCMP’s pension fund operations and investigations of politicians, political staff, Cabinet appointees, lobbyists, public servants and political parties.

Democracy Watch also called on the federal Conservatives to stop delaying and immediately keep their election promise to “Establish a Public Appointments Commission to set merit-based requirements for appointments to government boards, commissions and agencies, to ensure that competitions to posts are widely publicized and fairly conducted.”  The Conservatives included measures about the Commission in the so-called “Federal Accountability Act” but Cabinet is not required to set it up or maintain it. (To see the details about the ethics complaint Democracy Watch has filed about the Conservatives' breaking their election promises concerning Bill C-2, click here).

All federal political parties should also approve strengthening the appointment system further by requiring opposition party leader approval for the 2,000 or so appointments to federal government agencies, boards, commissions, tribunals and courts that play a role in government accountability or law enforcement.

In the past 15 years, serious problems with the RCMP and federal ethics and lobbying regulation officers (all chosen by the Cabinet) have significantly reduced enforcement of key laws and codes applying to federal politicians, political staff, Cabinet appointees, public servants and lobbyists.  As a result, more than two dozen Cabinet ministers, a dozen Cabinet staff, a few Cabinet appointees, dozens of lobbyists and an unknown number of public servants have been let off the hook for dishonest, unethical and wasteful actions. (To see a summary of the Cabinet's investigator's report into the RCMP pension scandal (NOTE: the investigator, David Brown, was handpicked by Cabinet and so was not fully independent, nor did he have full investigative powers), click here -- To see a summary of Howard Wilson's (former Ethics Counsellor and Registrar of Lobbyists) negligent and ineffective term in office, click here -- To see a summary of former Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro's negligent and ineffective term in office, click here -- To see a summary of current Registrar of Lobbyists Michael Nelson's negligent and ineffective term in office, click here)

“Canadians cannot afford to have any more lapdogs appointed by the ruling party to government watchdog and law enforcement positions, as it leads directly to powerful people who do wrong being let off the hook, and to the abuse of vulnerable citizens,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.  Changes to the appointment process are needed immediately as ethics, lobbying, public service, and RCMP commissioners are currently all being appointed to multi-year terms.

While the RCMP has recently, for very good reasons, faced public inquiries or court cases concerning its role in various scandalous situations, serious questions remain about its pension fund scandal and other RCMP activities and investigations concerning lobbyists, politicians and political parties involved in the sponsorship scandal, and other federal government spending, grants and loans programs.  A fully independent, fully empowered public inquiry is needed to examine all of these files.

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Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

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