The liberals are accused of undermining the independence of commissioners

News 11 July, 2017
    Mary Dawson

    Guillaume St-Pierre

    Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:21

    Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:29

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    OTTAWA, The Trudeau government undermines the independence of the commissioners to the ethics and lobbying, according to the group Democracy Watch, which denies to a court the extension of their mandate by acting.

    The liberals were unable to find a replacement for the commissioners, Mary Dawson (ethics), and Karen Shepherd (lobbyist), whose mandate will expire in July 2016.

    They have since seen their mission extended three times for a period of six months.

    The last of these extensions announced in June took effect in the last days, and this, until the end of the year.

    But according to Democracy Watch, the law is clear : these two positions can only be occupied in acting for more than six months.

    “The federal laws stipulate clearly that the commissioners are appointed for seven-year terms to ensure their independence as guard dogs,” said the group’s founder, Duff Conacher.

    In the act, it is actually written that the government “may entrust the interim to any competent person for a term not exceeding six months”.

    The government explains that a new appointment process “more stringent” has been put in place.

    “These appointments are interim, to ensure continuity of the leadership of these organizations [and] to let the time to proceed with the selection process,” commented a spokesperson for the Office of the privy council, Stéphane Shank.

    Recall that Justin Trudeau himself is the subject of an investigation by the commissioner, Mary Dawson.

    The latter must determine whether the first minister breached the act by agreeing to stay in the private domain of the Aga Khan and to be mounted aboard his private helicopter during the Christmas holidays last winter.

    But for Mr. Conacher, Mrs. Dawson does not have the distance required to make a judgment on the question, since the liberals do not cease to extend the mandate of the latter in increments of six months.

    Mr. Conacher has also demanded that Ms. Dawson was extracting all investigations related to the prime minister, she refused to do.

    She is also in post on an interim basis, the information commissioner Suzanne Legault worried recently that the government does not seem in a hurry to find a successor.

    “It is certain that I am in a position more precarious. Over time, it might develop a perception that I am less solid in my position. This is damaging to the credibility of the organization in the long term. This is my main concern”, she told the Newspaper.