6.2 Increasing government accountability and ethical conduct

On Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 in Vision Green

 The Conservative government has been the most centralized and secretive government in Canadian history. It brought in legislation to ostensibly clean up ‘Liberal corruption.’ Remarkably, it has actually made things worse, as it abandoned numerous promises it made while in opposition regarding transparency and accountability. Its ironically named Accountability Act has twelve new blanket exemptions and exclusions preventing certain kinds of government documents from being released, and provides for the possibility that wrongdoing exposed by whistle-blowers could be sealed for up to fifteen years. The Conservative government ‘reform’ has removed the ‘duty to act honestly’ from the code of ethics governing the cabinet and senior civil service.

The Green Party believes in the decentralization of decision making powers and in open, honest government.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Amend the Accountability Act to ensure that all those who monitor government are selected at arm’s length from those they monitor, to eliminate the blanket exemptions on public release of government documents, and to guarantee transparency and openness for all government activities;

  • Update the Access to Information Act to permit greater transparency of government activities;

  • Restore Parliamentary Committees as a vehicle for non-partisan, constructive improvement of legislation and require that the improved version of such legislation be the version put to parliament for vote;

  • Enact effective whistle-blower protection for public and private sector employees;

  • Institute a Code of Conduct and an independent complaints process to ensure that public funds are not used for pre-election partisan purposes;

  • Institute mandatory training in ethics for MPs and their staff, requiring all MPs and staff to take in-house training on the basics of good management and ethics in Parliament;

  • Reform the appointments system to discourage patronage by establishing an independent agency for ensuring that appointments to government tribunals, boards, and senior positions are done through a qualification-based process and are not politically motivated patronage appointments;

  • Strengthen the mandates of Independent Officers of Parliament, including the Auditor General and the Information Commissioner;

  • Implement stand-alone legislation to create an independent Commissioner on the Environment and Sustainable Development, removing the office from that of subservience to the Auditor General;

  • Replace the current Ethics Commissioner, who reports privately to the Prime Minister, with an independent Ethics Commission reporting to Parliament and appointed through a merit-based process with strong powers to investigate government officials and lobbyists;

  • Provide Parliamentarians with independent regulatory audits through the Auditor General’s office on the effectiveness of government regulations in meeting their stated public purposes;

  • Make service improvements a higher priority for all agencies and departments, with systematic citizen feedback and a schedule for periodic program review;

  • Require the independence of public sector employees who oversee industry (such as those responsible for such areas as fisheries, science, and drug licensing) from those industries;

  • Require long-term public departmental service plans to report on government program purposes, costs, reforms, and performance;

  • Strengthen the rules of conduct for lobbying. All lobbyists’ contacts with politicians and government bureaucrats, both formal and informal, must be reported and made public.

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