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Accountability & Democratic Renewal

Just the Facts: Who else have the Conservatives told to “shut the f— up?”

Posted on May 5, 2010

In a free and open democracy, transparency and accountability should be the hallmarks of government.  Yet in the Conservative culture of intimidation and deceit, anyone with damaging information or a contrary opinion to the Harper Conservatives is told to “shut the f— up” if they don’t want to suffer the consequences.  Here are just some examples:

1.    Lisa Raitt and Christian Paradis.  The former and current Ministers of Natural Resources –responsible for the majority of government’s green energy funding – will not testify before a House of Commons committee regarding their involvement in the Jaffer affair.  Mr. Jaffer’s associate, Patrick Glemaud, worked closely with Natural Resources as a civil servant before he took up a career as a green energy funding lobbyist.  Did the Prime Minister’s Office tell them not to testify?  What do Ministers Raitt and Paradis have to hide?

2.    Women’s groups and KAIROS.  Over a dozen women’s groups, with a long history of providing aid to women in Canada and the developing world, have had their funding cut.  This comes right after they were told to “shut the f— up” by a Conservative Senator if they wanted to keep their funding by not protesting Stephen Harper’s decision to change Canada’s reproductive maternal health policy.  Likewise, the Conservatives cut funding to the church-run charity KAIROS for speaking out against Conservative polices on climate change.

3.    Police.  The Conservatives tried to block police associations who support the gun registry from testifying at committee hearings regarding the Hoeppner bill.  Meanwhile, Garry Breitkreuz, the Conservative MP who chairs the House of Commons Public Safety Committee, tried to intimidate police chiefs by accusing them of corruption and calling them “a cult” after they announced their decision to support the gun registry that they access 11,000 times a day to protect officer safety.

4.    Communications and Access to Information officials.  Minister Diane Finley testified yesterday that her staff reviews all media responses from her ministry, and admitted that they changed responses on 51 occasions in the last 6 months. She was called to committee after one of her aides, Ryan Sparrow, ordered communications officials to tell media that they did not know the cost of a $5 million Olympic TV ad campaign – when they in fact did know that information.  Meanwhile, Conservative MPs voted to prevent Conservative staffer Sebastien Togneri from testifying at the Ethics Committee.  As an aide to Public Works Minister Christian Paradis, Mr. Togneri ordered ATIP officials to “unrelease” a report that documented wasteful real estate spending.

5.    The Parliamentary Budget Office.  The Conservatives continue to starve the PBO of the information needed to do its job in the wake of studies showing consistently unreliable government deficit and growth projections that mask gross mismanagement of public finances.  Canadians anxiously awaits their study on the costs of the Conservative crime strategy, with unconfirmed reports pegging it in the neighbourhood of $10 billion annually.

6.    The Military Police Complaints Commission.  In response to the MPCC’s request for document disclosure, a justice department lawyer said they’d get the documents “when they are good and ready,” and refused to even give a date for when specific documents would be provided regarding the government’s role in the torture of Afghan detainees.

7.    Scientists.  In keeping with the Harper government’s policy of climate change denial, the Conservatives recently cut funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.  In 2006, Dr. Mark Tushingham, an Environment Canada scientist, was told by the office of then-Environment Minister’s Rona Ambrose not to give a speech in Ottawa about his book, “Hotter than Hell” — a futuristic account of Canada and the U.S. at war over water resources in a world of global warming.  In 2007, Environment Canada created rules to require department scientists to get government permission and approval on responses to news media questions about climate change.

8.    Watchdogs Peter Tinsley, Linda Keen and Paul Kennedy.  The former heads of the Military Police Complaints Commission, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Commission of Public Complaints Against the RCMP, respectively, were all fired for doing their job: speaking out against government abuses.

9.    Rights and Democracy and the Canadian Wheat Board.  Staff and board members of both organizations who objected to Conservative interventions were slapped with gag orders and then fired.

10.    Parliament.  When the questions got too tough for Stephen Harper, he told Canada’s elected representatives to “shut the f— up” by proroguing Parliament so he wouldn’t have to account for his government’s role in the Afghan detainee torture scandal.

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