What are people saying about Democracy Watch?
"Democracy Watch has done more than any other citizen group in Canada to fight corruption in the past decade."
From Transparency International's website
"Democracy Watch, the dogged independent group that monitors the inner workings of government . . ."
Toronto Star editorial
March 2, 2012
"The most effective advocacy group in Ottawa in the past few decades."
T. Murray Rankin, Q.C.
Panel moderator at conference organized by Registrar of Lobbyists for British Columbia
December 2, 2011
"The watchdog of watchdogs."
Evan Solomon, Host
CBC's Power and Politics show
February 17, 2011
"Democracy Watch . . . tenacious government-ethics advocacy group . . ."
November 15, 2010
"Democracy Watch, a persistent government-ethics advocacy group . . ."
December 23, 2009
"Democracy Watch is an energetic non-governmental organization that has laboured mightily for more open government . . ."
Michael Enright, Host
"Democracy Watch, a tenacious advocacy group for cleaner government . . ."
"The role of civil society . . . is crucial and it has made, in fact, the game a lot cleaner and a lot better, and to have a guy like [Democracy Watch Coordinator] Duff Conacher from outside look inside and see from an objective position how it could be made better I think is an invaluable asset for our country."
Gerry Caplan, panellist
"Mr. Conacher [Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher], all I can say is, ``Wow.'' We have had more than 45 witnesses appear before this committee in our study of Bill C-2 [the so-called "Federal Accountability Act"], and Bill C-2 is a big, complicated act. It has many sections, many statutes and many different areas — whistle-blowing, lobbying, conflict of interest — and you are the only witness before us who has commented on them all, so I say, ``Wow.''
Senator Donald H. Oliver, Chair
"Democracy Watch is a group that keeps watching government when no one else is watching, and we all should be thankful that they do the work they do."
"One organization has been relentless in its push to raise the standards of accountability in politics. It's called Democracy Watch."
Peter Van Dusen
Ravi Bachwal: "Mike, you have one great Canadian
there who talks a lot about the democratic deficit,
talks a lot about ethics in government. Duff
Conacher [Coordinator of Democracy Watch] is
along with you right now."
Ravi Bachwal and Mike Duffy
"We should all thank Democracy Watch for constantly and effectively pointing out how far we are from an actual democracy and how much corruption and unethical practice our system condones!"
From AlternativeVoices.ca website
"According to SES Research, half of [Canadians] polled have never signed a petition, and only 21 per cent have ever joined a political party. A stunning 24-per-cent claim they have never been politically active at all. No wonder some politicians think they can get creative with ethics, pork barrels and the public purse without anyone taking notice. All the more reason to celebrate someone like Duff Conacher, who, as head of the citizen advocacy group Democracy Watch, remains steadfastly engaged and passionately peeved."
"Ask Canadians about their biggest concern in relation to the federal government,and they're apt to cite corruption and ethical lapses. Enter Duff Conacher, founder and coordinator of Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based, non-partisan, non-profit group established in 1993. It prides itself on being a professional nuisance, watchdogging government behaviour. . . . Ottawa's current problems arising out of the sponsorship fiasco came as little surprise to Conacher, who for years has been railing against lax federal ethics enforcement and political donation rules riddled with loopholes. He has a must-do list at the ready, which he says are needed to clean up government processes. . . . He views the sponsorship scandal as a chance for Canadians to recognize at last that Ottawa's 'weak honesty, ethics, openness, political donations and waste prevention systems are the actual scandal.'"
"So it wasn't just habitual critics of Jean Chrétien who thought it suspicious that his ethics counsellor, a supposed watchdog for right over wrong, never barked to alert the former prime minister about any of his ministers. Federal judge Frederick Gibson, prompted by the scrappy crusaders at Democracy Watch, has found that Mr. Chrétien's counsellor Howard Wilson was in a constant conflict of interest when he pronounced on whether the private activities of cabinet ministers conflicted with their public duties. . ."
"Democracy Watch, the Ottawa-based advocacy group that focuses on ethics in public affairs, has been instrumental in exposing the inadequacies in Ottawa's conflict-of-interest guidelines. No one has done more to push for an independent ethics commissioner -- one who reports directly to Parliament -- to replace the current in-house, pet-poodle ethics counsellor who must vet all his work through the Prime Minister's Office in advance of releasing his analysis publicly. Through a court challenge to the current ethics law brought by Democracy Watch, Canadians have learned in just the past week that Jean Chrétien effectively acted as his own ethics umpire during his 10 years in office and that Howard Wilson, Mr. Chrétien's titular Ethics Counsellor, was paid handsomely -- as much as $212,000 annually -- to provide the appearance that an independent watchdog was on guard . . ."
"One of the most insightful critics of the government on democratic and accountability issues has been Duff Conacher. He is the head of the citizen group Democracy Watch."
"The ability of powerful corporations to influence politicians is one of the ongoing challenges to democracy. And organizations such as Democracy Watch play a critical role as monitors and whistle blowers, especially when all of the major Canadian media organizations are enmeshed with government . . ."
"A democracy movement should propose new civic structures that give citizens a voice in societal decision-making, mechanisms for citizens to hold people in positions of power accountable, and the means for citizens to band together to counter the power of large institutions. It should create "tools" of empowerment for citizens to use in all the principal social roles they play - as voters, citizens, taxpayers, consumers, and shareholders. It should re-work the institutions of the country to bring them in line with the realities of a modern, working democracy. And it should coordinate the efforts of people and groups who want to work together for common reforms.
Democracy Watch is Canada's best hope for democratic reform because it is taking up the challenges of re-working Canada's political and social institutions and creating a democracy "tool box" conveniently accessible to all Canadians, and it is committed to working with all interested Canadians on the issue of democratic process in Canada."
"For all the public interest groups that have exploded and all the public alienation from politics that has imploded over the last decade, I know only one person who's giving serious thought to practical ways of extending the reach of grassroots democracy. His name is Duff Conacher, and he has launched a fledgling Ottawa-based organization called Democracy Watch."
"Researchers and committee clerks would do well to consider including those who look at the problems from a different perspective . . . Groups like Democracy Watch, for example, shouldn't be stifled, but encouraged . . . The variety that they bring would add spice to the life of the proceedings and enrich the policy as well."
"In the turbulence of these times, Democracy Watch is necessary to enable us to see through the deeper currents which keep Canada true to the goals of equality and justice, carrying us as a nation."
"If our lost faith in government is ever to be restored, Canadians must believe in our democratic institutions. Democracy Watch will assist us to understand and reform those institutions, so that we can begin to feel governments reflect our needs and aspirations."
Democracy Watch homepage