2 min

Just create another ombudsperson

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar made a pre-emptive strike before the emergency meeting of the Foreign Affairs committee yesterday, proposing legislation that would “ensure cabinet and ministerial accountability” for consular services for Canadians stranded abroad, and lay out their responsibilities in law – and of course, the NDP’s answer to everything, which is to create another ombudsperson position to oversee the whole thing. (Seriously – I don’t think one of their proposed solutions doesn’t involve the creation of an ombudsperson). And it’s nice to see Dewar actually doing his job as a critic, rather than meddling in municipal affairs.

But the Liberal consular affairs critic, Dan McTeague, raised a very good point. While he’s not opposed to Dewar’s plans for the legislation, McTeague quite rightly points out that it doesn’t matter how many laws you create – the government actually has to follow them. And we’ve seen time and again that this particular government has a problem following the rule of law. It doesn’t matter that the law is on the books, or even not – as we are seeing by way of the Federal Court rulings that consistently come down against the government in their behaviour in abandoning these Canadians abroad. This government seems hell-bent on ignoring their responsibilities (and the rule of law) in their apparent desire to create separate tiers of Canadian citizenship, be it for ideological or racially motivated (as has been suggested) reasons. And a new ombudsperson isn’t going to do much about that – I mean, it’s not like this government really pays any attention to the Information Commissioner. Why would they pay any more attention to this? So while Dewar’s effort is commendable, it might as well be for the sake of symbolism in the end.

(And by the way, thanks Paul Dewar for having a linkable version of the press release on either your website or the party’s. It’s really helpful! What’s that? Oh, right, you didn’t put it up anywhere. I realise it’s still summer, but someone should have been on that ball).

The other emergency committee meeting yesterday – agriculture – was a disappointment for the opposition, who couldn’t get their motion for further investigation on the listeriosis outbreak to pass. It seems that the Conservative committee chair couldn’t make it back to Ottawa, so the Liberal vice-chair had to fill in, thus ensuring that the Conservatives had the majority of the votes on the committee, and oh, look – they passed a motion that said that the recent investigation was enough. Ladies and flamboyant gentlemen – the government of “openness” and “accountability.”

Liberal finance critic John McCallum went to Burlington for what I suspect to be the first of many visits to sites where the government announced a project with stimulus money only to find that gee – no work has been done. I’m curious to see how far they’ll take this, and how many projects they can tally up in the next two weeks. As a bonus, they’ll have to get out of the GTA to do it, because Toronto got no stimulus funds at all.

It looks like Harper is poised to make eight new Senate appointments, including his current political master strategist, party president, and his former communications director. And I’m sure that all of these appointees will totally promise to only sit for eight years, and will totally run for a “senate election” if their province allows one. Totally.

And finally, it looks like Facebook’s plans to comply with the ruling by our Privacy Commissioner could make international breakthroughs, and have ripple effects through the entire social networking industry. But then again, Canada’s Back™, in case you hadn’t heard.