Saturday, January 30, 2010

Harper is Requesting More Money For an Office that Doesn't Exist

Back in July, I reported on a story I'd been tracking about Harper's creation of a phantom appointments commission, to make sure that government jobs would go to those most qualified, and not just to party faithfuls.

Obviously he had no intention of creating such an office because he presented party faithful and long time fundraiser, oil baron Gwyn Morgan in to head up the office.

He had to know that his name would be rejected, and then he could blame others for killing the office. In fact he did.

Harper signalled that the move effectively kills the commission, a key part of his accountability and ethics package.

By abandoning his proposed Public Appointments Commission, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is providing fodder for those who argue his accountability agenda is little more than a public relations ploy. Harper's choice for heading the commission, former EnCana chief executive officer Gwyn Morgan, was rejected by a Parliamentary committee. In an ensuing temper tantrum, the Prime Minister swiftly announced the commission would be shelved.

And yet we learned in June of this year, that although the office was scrapped, taxpayers are still funding it.

Secretariat, created by an order in council on April 21, 2006, to "lay the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the commission," is still operating. The secretariat has cost taxpayers more than $1-million over the last three years, including $633,000 spent in 2006-2007—most of which went to salaries and $82,000 in severance payment for layoffs. It has a yearly budget that's just more than $1-million, though for 2007-2008 (the last year that is posted) it lapsed most of it, using only $113,000.

But if you think that's nuts, would it surprise you to learn that Harper has now put in a request for more money, to fund a phantom office, that exists only on paper? What's the money really for? Do both of his faces need lifting?

As Greg Weston says: Taxpayers funding 'ghost' commission

Canadian taxpayers have shelled out more than $1 million for a federal appointments commission that has no commissioners and hasn’t overseen a single appointment in four years.

In fact, it isn’t even supposed to exist.

Stephen Harper created the commission in 2006, and promptly scrapped it in a huff. Yet the spending continues, and indeed the commission lives on, despite serving no apparent use.


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