Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gomery to Tories: Money. Mouth.

J-Gom's recommendations still not in place

When John Gomery drafted and released his report on the federal sponsorship scandal, he was perfectly entitled to expect that it would be given some consideration when it came time to finally tackle the corruption that had crept into the Canadian government under Jean Chretien's Liberal government.

Sadly, that isn't what has happened.

"I was expecting the report would be given more consideration and would be to some degree at least followed, and it really hasn't," Gomery said during a recent interview. "It's been put on the shelf."

Gomery notes that while the Conservatives tabled and passed their Accountability Act -- despite predictable opposition from the Liberal party -- it was largely drafted before he tabled his report, and contains very few of his recommendations.

Furthermore, Gomery is concerned about the continuing centralization of power in the Prime Minister's office.

"I don't think Canadians elect only a prime minister," he said. "They elect a House of Parliament which is there to deal with government policy. I don't think government policy should arrive only out of the prime minister's office -- that's sort of an anti-democratic kind of government."

Meanwhile, Tom Flanagan, one of Canada's leading conservative thinkers, recently noted that Harper is "turning the screws on the government" by implementing fiscal policy that will reduce the government's ability to develop new programming.

"They've gradually re-engineered the system. I'm quite impressed with it," Flanagan announced.

"They're boxing in the ability of the federal government to come up with new program ideas. ... The federal government is now more constrained, the provinces have more revenue, and conservatives should be happy."

And while putting more money -- and power -- into the hands of the Provinces certainly only helps decentralize the government, there is still a long way to go. And Gomery is entirely right to be concerned about the lack of action on his recommendations -- let alone dragging its feet on its own Accountability Act.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative party won power by promising to clean up the government and decentralize power.

It's time for Stephen Harper to put his money where his mouth is.

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