BTW....the Auditor General isn’t going to investigate the Finance Minister's unproven allegation of tax leakage from income trusts that she was asked to investigate by the 4 Liberal Members of the Finance Committee, which begs the question: Oh, where to turn for an honest answer?
So much for Sheila Fraser's empty promise that "Parliamentarians need objective fact based information on how well the government raises its funds (taxes)". Turns out, that mantra is nothing more than a PR statement of no real world substance.
I have requested of these Liberal Members that the matter be referred to the new Parliamentary Budget Officer, in our never ending quest for proof of alleged tax leakage for the 2.5 million Canadians who lost $35 billion of their hard earned life savings.
Pox on Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Convenience. Let me guess, she has a government pension and doesn't have to worry about mundane things like saving for retirement?
Oh, where to turn for an honest answer?
April 08, 2008
OTTAWA — Jean Chrétien found a solution to some of his most troubling problems. Having been taught a difficult lesson by public inquiries that were too inquisitive, the former prime minister happily left it to the RCMP to investigate those smells that failed the critical sniff test.
As a political tactic, the Chrétien method offers obvious advantages. Focused on criminal activity, RCMP probes leave ethical judgments to others and have the added benefit of often taking what seems forever to reach unconvincing conclusions.
Sadly for those in power, all good things come to an end. An ever-lengthening list of Keystone Kops pratfalls from the Maher Arar affair to the internal pension scandal is finally forcing Canadians to accept that a national icon is broken. Worse still for ruling elites, former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli's pivotal and unexplained intervention in the last election means an RCMP investigation no longer provides political cover.
That new reality casts some light on why Stephen Harper, who once stressed the importance of taking a political punch without complaint, is now suing Liberals for their Chuck Cadman accusations. Even if Conservatives hadn't appointed a new commissioner with old Tory ties, an RCMP probe alone won't clear the air around what was or wasn't offered to a dying man to decide the Martin government's fate.
One alternative is Parliament's committees. But their investigative worth plummeted after failures to pick apart the sponsorship scheme and Brian Mulroney's curious dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber. In any case, Conservatives are now stonewalling justice committee attempts to measure efforts to change Cadman's mind and vote.
Worrying as it is, the Cadman question is a small part of the capital's bigger conundrum. If not the RCMP or MPs, then who can be trusted for honest answers?
It's such a short list that Harper is now relying on Kevin Lynch, the country's top civil servant, to plumb the NAFTA leak that embarrassed Canada and Barack Obama in the Ohio presidential primaries. What makes Lynch a good choice is that he's highly respected and is, by definition, non-partisan. What makes it bad is that he both serves as the Prime Minister's deputy and works closely with Ian Brodie, Harper's very partisan chief of staff who reportedly dripped to reporters the first small NAFTA drop.
That puts Lynch in an impossible position. No matter what the truth or how thorough the investigation, any report minimizing Brodie's role will be met with skepticism.
As always, it's even more complicated. There's deep suspicion here that Conservatives hope to scapegoat foreign affairs bureaucrats they neither like nor trust. But as clerk of the Privy Council, Lynch is also responsible for the civil service and for managing its increasingly strained relations with a Harper administration more interested in aye-aye policy implementation than listening when mandarins speak truth to power.
While there's no quick fix, there is a starting point. A precondition for restoring public trust in the RCMP and its investigations is to pull back the covers on its politicization. That means full examination before the next election of Zaccardelli's motivation in effectively, if not necessarily intentionally, throwing the last one to Conservatives.
Politicians must always be held to a higher moral standard than the criminal law. But every citizen has every right to demand proof that the federal force will conduct its most sensitive investigations without political fear or favour.
James Travers' national affairs column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 12:56 PM