The Liberals’ second day of roundtable workshops focused on democratic governance yesterday, and the focus was on independent watchdogs, and they heard from Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley and Paul Kennedy – all of whom were either fired or had their terms not renewed by the Conservatives for actually speaking truth to power. Plus, eminent political scientist Ned Franks also weighed in. The verdict? That Ignatieff pledges to strengthen these independent watchdogs as Prime Minister, as they’re “headaches” that he knows are necessary for good government.
Kennedy, however, is one of the most vocal critics of the danger to democracy that this government poses, and he has detailed just what happened with him – he was supposed to be an interim position to help set up an office for his successor. The Conservative government then ignored his recommendations, and when they didn’t renew his term, they didn’t use his work to set up his office and put in a clearly unqualified individual into the role. This is the RCMP Watchdog – and they’re ignoring and sabotaging it, if not deliberately then certainly through neglect, and this is a problem. Kennedy had a fantastic interview on Power & Politics last night, and I suggest you take the time to watch it.
As mentioned in my interview with Scott Brison on Monday, the Prime Minister is off to Davos for the World Economic Forum, where he will talk about maternal and infant morality – the G8/G20 issue he plans to highlight while hosting those meetings this summer – as well as banking regulation, and maybe have a few other meetings, though nothing is confirmed. That said, as Brison pointed out, Canada isn’t hosting a reception there, which speaks to the level of priority they place on these kinds of forums.
(Incidentally, Margaret Atwood will also be at Davos, likely because of her fantastic book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, which I highly recommend everyone read).
But more on the issues Harper plans to highlight at the G8 and G20. He laid them out in an editorial to the Toronto Star yesterday, and talked about the necessity for improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries. Great – what about the lives of women and girls in this country? You know, but properly funding Status of Women, or taking the file seriously and assigning it to someone who isn’t a total lightweight?
The NDP are raising the issue of secretive talks over copyright and piracy treaties. But isn’t this the government of openness and transparency?
The Liberals enumerate the questions on the Order Paper that they didn’t get answers to before Parliament prorogued.
Up today – the Liberals continue their round-tables, focusing on women’s issues, along with a keynote address by Flora MacDonald, former cabinet minister and one of the first female foreign ministers in the world. Too bad hers was a very different Conservative party.