Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Gomery madly off in all directions

I'll admit this evaded my notice when the second report was initially issued. I attribute that, in part, to the fact that most news media gave up on Gomery ages ago. It was only interesting when it was unsubtantiated and laden with conspiratory whispers - but that is a gripe for another time.

Most criticism of Gomery has been tossed out - and in many cases that is fair enough. Some has been nothing beyond slighted partisan grumbling. We owe it to the process to resist cynicism at least a little bit. But the issues raised here cannot be dismissed so easily.

It seems that Justice Gomery may have misinterpreted his purpose, to some extent. Or maybe he doesn't. He does open with: “It is not theCommission’s intention to recommend radical solutions, a transformation ofour parliamentary system, or a complete overhaul of the doctrine ofministerial responsibility.” That's encouraging.

But then he heads off in exactly that direction. This proposal is as radical an operative restructuring of our liberal democratic system as we have seen, at least since the Trudeauvian reforms. I don't think, frankly, that that was his mandate.

There is an oddly bureaucratic authoritarian element - one that is difficult to account for in a document dedicated to improving accountability. Gomery would free civil servants from their fiduciary relationship with ministers. This depoliticizes the position, yes. But it also severs these bureaucrats from any sort of accountability. This sort of "let the experts run the show" hardly aligns itself with what was asked of Gomery. He asserts that "we should not equate accountability with increased controls and oversight." Instead, he offers the unelected more decision-making autonomy and a greater ability to evade blame. I fail to see the logic.

Secondly, Gomery has the executive branch trained in his cross hairs. Power is to be devolved. Traditional sources of executive mandating power are revoked. I suppose one can chock this up to Ottawa’s single-minded determination to erase any remaining element of Trudeau’s legacy. Regardless, it’s not great policy.

I don’t want to be the Liberal that discredits Gomery. I have refused throughout to partake in the pot shots. It was an important process, and it amounted – mostly - to what it was supposed to. I’m happy just as long as this off-topic stuff is met with the indifference it deserves.


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