The events of recent weeks again have confirmed Prime Minister Harper’s neglect of his promise to improve the accountability of government.
The decision to scrap the Co-ordination of Access to Information Requests (CAIRS), a registry of information requests, is further proof the Conservative government is more interested in secrecy than accountability.
CAIRS was used by journalists, democracy watchdog groups, lawyers, and ordinary citizens as a portal to keep government accountable.
It maintained a registry of the results of submitted information requests that could be accessed by the public in researching government activities and initiatives.
In its trademark secretive fashion, the Harper government quietly eliminated the electronic list containing every request filed to government departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act.
This is yet another shocking strike against accountability from the same government that has overseen unprecedented delays in meeting Access to Information requests and blacks-out much of the most pertinent information once, and if, the documents are released.
Regrettably, it is an unsurprising addition to Harper’s marathon of attacks against the transparency of government.
Recently, Conservatives voted “no confidence” in Elections Canada—the agency conducting legitimate investigations into the alleged in-and-out elections spending scheme.
Ironically, even the Bloc Quebecois, a party wishing to separate from Canada, indicated their full trust in Elections Canada. It is disheartening to see the Conservatives, who were elected on their promise of accountability, show such distrust for the democratic process.
Conservatives continue to use their influence in Parliament to stonewall committee proceedings and prevent opposition MPs from getting answers from government about the various accountability issues which have surfaced.
On the Justice committee, in particular, the Conservative chair has walked out of committee meetings in order to stall a vote which would launch a study into the allegations regarding the prime minister’s knowledge of the financial considerations offered to former independent MP Chuck Cadman.
Canadians deserve better from their government, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House of Commons to demand accountability from the Harper Conservatives.