Sunday, February 03, 2008

You Promised

If you listen to a Harper speech, his central thesis revolves around the idea that the government has kept its promises, his pledge to Canadians met. If the opposition is looking for an effective retort to this looming election frame, there is one area where the Conservatives are especially vulnerable. The Conservative pledge of open and transparent government becomes more of a farce with each passing day. The idea of a controlling, stifling, secretive, regressive, censoring government finds numerous examples, easily woven into a coherent theme. A National Post article asks the experts to weigh in:
Robert Marleau, the information commissioner of Canada, says that contrary to Mr. Harper's election pledge to make transparency a hallmark of his administration, a "fog over information" has crept across the government's activities.

Marleau said complaints to the commissioner's office about lack of access to government information have doubled in the past year...

Mel Cappe, a former clerk of the Privy Council, says the Mr. Harper government's approach to communications is counterproductive because it forces journalists to fill in the gaps on their own.

"It's in the government's interests to make sure the people in the know, who have actually thought about the public policy implications of an issue, are available to actually give background," he said.

I doubt Canadians will respond well to Orwellian characterizations. In fact the notion of a secretive government, that attempts to hide information from the public, is a powerful message for the opposition. The reason why the talking point could work, there are so many examples in play, in almost every department. Whether it be Afghanistan, the environment, access to information...plenty of fodder to make a strong case. The Conservative will come with "promise made, promise kept", to which the opposition needs to respond "what are you trying to hide?".

1 comment:

burlivespipe said...

He can also be hit on other promises not kept, like health care waiting list, promise to protect income trusts, promises to make parliament work, promise to make non-partisan appointments to gov't agencies (and you throw in a picture of all the CON unqualified bagmen who've hit it rich, starting with Fortier). I think there may just be too many things to kick around...