John Gomery: How do we make our politicians more responsible?
On Monday, John H. Gomery, a former judge in the Superior Court of Quebec and public inquiry commissioner, spoke about improving accountability in Canadian politics. "Commissions of Inquiry may cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but that’s the price of having responsible government,” he says. “Plus, they make everyone more accountable."
“Public inquiries act as a powerful deterrent because of the embarrassment factor,” notes Gomery, adding that shaming someone on Parliament Hill may be as powerful a disincentive as criminal prosecution.
Gomery’s workshop also addressed his concern that too much power has become concentrated in the prime minister’s office — an issue he flagged as early as 2006 in his report for the Gomery Commission, formally the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities.
“We’re moving away from being a representative democracy with responsible government to the sort of government that is much more autocratic than is compatible with our notions of democratic government,” says Gomery.
If this is the kind of straight talk you appreciate, don’t miss the other lively WSSR workshops. Here’s a preview from two esteemed speakers: Stéphane Dion, current member of parliament (acting as Liberal critic for Intergovernmental Affairs, the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada, Canadian Heritage and Official Languages), former minister of the environment and former minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Kevin Page, former parliamentary budget officer and current Jean-Luc Pepin research chair at the University of Ottawa.