By Rupinder Kaur
I’m sure there is an old saying somewhere about how great it is to have friends in high places. Well, it appears that if you’re a failed candidate or old political friend of the Conservatives, you get special treatment under the Harper government.
Clearly there is a troubling pattern of Conservative patronage in the recent federal appointments to different government agencies, boards and commissions. For example, the Immigration Refugee Board, Provincial Judicial Advisory Committees, and the Quebec Employment Insurance Board had seen connections between appointees and the Conservative Party.
If you look at some of the failed Conservative candidates from the last election, many have been secured in new jobs with little to no proper qualifications.
The irony is that the Conservatives had spent years criticizing the Liberals when they were the government for doing just that – planting their friends in jobs where the only requirement is that you’re buddies with someone important. Now that the Conservatives are in power, they’re continuing that Liberal legacy.
Appointments used to be a sign of respect and recognition – that you’re someone with the right credentials and reputation to take on the position and serve the Canadian public. The way things are done now lacks both transparency and decisions based on merit.
Recently, fortune smiled on Public Safety Minister Vic Toews who appointed more Conservatives to the Parole Board of Canada and his pals into high places.
Examples include Francois Barron, the spouse of a 2011 Saint-Bruno-Saint-Hubert Conservative candidate; or how about Michel Lalonde, a policy advisor on Quebec to Stephen Harper from 2004-2006 and then Chief of Staff of the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn (2006-2010). Then there is Marni Larkin, both a provincial Conservative candidate (1995) then a federal canadidate (1997). Larkin is also the owner of Boom Done Next, which did $9,450 worth of business for Vic Toews’ 2011 election campaign.
When the Conservatives give preferential treatment to their friends and choose to live by a different set of rules from those that everyday Canadians follow, it’s one more broken promise of accountability by this Prime Minster.
RupinderKaur is press secretary to New Democratic Party of Canada.