Roundup: Some actual accountability

If there’s one committee of the House of Commons that I wish I could spend more time following, it’s the Public Accounts committee. It may not be one of the sexier committees tackling the hot issues of the day, but instead, it’s the heart and soul of what parliament is about – holding the government to account. Alas, my day-to-day work means that I don’t have the time to follow it like I did in years gone by, but I try to keep an eye on them when I can.

In the wake of the latest Auditor General’s report, the committee’s vice-chairs – NDP and Liberal, as the Conservatives chair this particular committee, as one might expect for a committee dedicated to holding the government accountable – are vowing that they will hold hearings on each chapter of the latest report (rather than just selected ones) because they are concerned about his level of frustration that departments aren’t keeping their focus on how services are delivered to citizens (rather than their own internal processes), and more than that, they plan to keep calling back senior civil servants to ensure that they’re shaping up. This can only be a good thing.

Over the past few years, that committee has been more stringent in ensuring that they get progress reports from departments on implementing recommendations from AG reports, but now it looks like they’re willing to go a bit further, which is encouraging. This is the kind of work that frankly, we don’t see enough of from MPs, so I’m glad it’s not only getting done, but getting a bit of attention. That can only bode well for parliamentary democracy.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau delivered an official apology to victims of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador, whom Stephen Harper left out of the previous apology.
  • Jason Markusoff notes Trudeau’s use of “colonialism” in his apology, which Harper never used, and what it means in the bigger picture.
  • Kirsty Duncan is calling out Andrew Scheer’s concern for free speech on campuses after a Catholic university cancelled a screening of an abortion access film.
  • The CRA told a Commons committee that they suspended their disability tax credit processing for a while to determine why there was a drop in approval levels.
  • So far in 2017, 29 members of the Canadian Forces have been kicked out for sexual misconduct.
  • The government’s new chief information officer says that too many IT contracts are going to international firms and not enough to Canadian ones.
  • Here’s a look at how some Canadians are anticipating Tuesday’s apology to LGBT Canadians persecuted by the government. A bill will also be tabled Tuesday.
  • The NDP, meanwhile, are offended that the government didn’t give enough warning or travel expenses to those who want to attend said apology.
  • Thanks to labour relations disputes, a number of security personnel on Parliament Hill haven’t undergone the necessary background checks.
  • PIPSC suddenly changed their tune and says that it’s offensive to say that too many pay rules helped to break the Phoenix pay system. Err, okay then.
  • Another Phoenix problem turns out to be that it’s supposed to track how many veterans are being hired, and well, it’s not.
  • John Geddes talks to professor Lorne Dawson about returning jihadis.
  • With Sheila Malcolmson getting her secret vote on whether to salvage her private member’s bill, here’s Kady O’Malley reminding us of this whole saga.
  • Martin Patriquin takes a longer view on how universities have been terrible at dealing with controversial ideas.
  • Andrew MacDougall talks about how and why talking points and pointless government slogans get created.
  • Andrew Coyne questions the federal role in the national housing strategy, no matter that they may have done many of the aspects right.
  • Susan Delacourt offers a curious look back to the advent of Sunday shopping on the quest to reviving the middle class.
  • Colby Cosh takes on the overreach at the Procedure and House Affairs committee in studying the issue of leadership debates, and its connection to fading broadcasters.
  • My weekend column looks at the proposal to change the debate procedure for the marijuana bill in the Senate, and why it’s overkill.

Odds and ends:

Here’s more background to why the leader of the Alberta Party resigned, and there are more machinations than you might think.

Vic Toews is dropping his court challenge against the Ethics Commissioner for her finding that he was in a conflict of interest.

2 thoughts on “Roundup: Some actual accountability

  1. Accountability from Federal Depts, LOL!!! What is going to happen because it is actually already happening, will be the creation of divisions within Depts to create answers and pretend that they are actually taking action. Nothing will change and the Parliamentary committee will think oh things are progressing. There is a huge disconnect between what a Dept does every day and what Parliament wants. Sir Humphfry Appleby explains well to his Minister.

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