Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-49, the administrative tribunals act. Bill C-49 seeks to make administrative changes to boards, agencies and tribunals. I join my colleagues in opposing this bill. It should be scrapped and rewritten with meaningful changes to patronage and improved accountability.
Bill C-49 does not make substantive changes to public accountability. It does not go far enough to eliminate or reduce patronage. In fact Bill C-49 does practically nothing to change what is already going on today.
Many Canadians will disagree with Bill C-49's proposal to eliminate the Canadian citizenship requirement for appointments to nine organizations which include CMHC, Canada Labour Relations Board, CRTC and the CBC. Bill C-49 also proposes to make changes to the Immigration and Refugee Board to allow for a one-person panel. It is doubtful whether this will make the board more accountable and in fact it may do the reverse.
Bill C-49 proposes to increase, not decrease, the role of the governor in council and ministers in a number of appointments. This Liberal government can continue to appoint all its friends to high places with no regard to accountability, competence or quality in the appointees.
When the Liberals were in opposition they were very vocal in criticizing patronage appointments made during the Mulroney government. At that time they completely forgot their own party's overwhelming use of this political tool during the Trudeau administration.
Page 92 of the Liberal red book says: "The Conservatives made a practice of choosing political friends when making thousands of appointments to boards, commissions and agencies. A Liberal government will," take note across the way, "take a series of initiatives to restore confidence in the institutions of government and make competence and diversity the criteria for federal appointments. Open government will be the watchword of the Liberal program". I suggest that will be just after pigs start to fly.
The list of patronage appointments is so large I could not read all the names of appointments during the limited time I have today but it is important that some of these appointments be read into the record, the Liberal record of shame.
Patronage appointments go right to the very top with the appointment of Romeo LeBlanc, a lifetime servant of the Liberal Party to be Governor General of Canada. LeBlanc was a press secretary, speech writer, organizer, member of Parliament and senator for the federal Liberals.
This summer the National Transportation Agency was reorganized to make room for several well-connected Liberals such as the former member of Parliament for St. John's, Newfoundland, Richard Cashin and the former member of Parliament for Kapuskasing, Ontario, Keith Penner.
Recently the Liberal cabinet appointed Roger Legare, the former director general of the Liberal Party of Canada and defeated 1993 candidate to the most senior management position at the National Capital Commission.
The list of patronage appointments to the bench, paying about $140,000 a year, is long. Some of the recent appointments include the new minister of defence's sister, former Liberal Party president Michael Robert; ex-Ontario MPP Albert Roy; Thomas Lofchik, a Liberal organizer in Hamilton was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Ontario; John Richard, the former partner of the Prime Minister and son of the former Liberal MP Jean T. Richard was appointed to the bench; Bryan Williams, a long time Liberal supporter courted as a possible Liberal candidate appointed as judge to the B.C. Supreme Court; and Gerald Albright, another well know Liberal supporter was appointed judge to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench.
A few of the patronage appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board include Gary McCauley, the defeated Liberal member of Parliament and Pierre Trudeau's former executive assistant; Dorothy Davey, the wife of former senator Keith Davey; Elke Homsi, a campaign worker for the Minister of the Environment and long time aid to Ontario MPP Tony Ruprecht and assistant to various Ontario Liberal MPs.
The list of patronage appoints to crown corporations such as Canada Post is also long. Patronage appointments to Canada Post have been so political that the recent Canada Post mandate review recommended that Canada Post board of directors be composed solely of individuals with expertise and ability to effectively make an optimal contribution to the governance of a corporation of that size. What does this say about the quality of appointments? Surely, competence should be a factor when making appointments, yet the Liberals do not seem to see that.
Ironically, George Radwanski who was appointed to chair the Canada Post review himself was a former speech writer for the Prime Minister and an active participant in the 1990 Liberal leadership campaign. He obtained his position clearly through patronage.
Former Minister Andre Ouellet was appointed chairman of Canada Post, to receive an additional $160,000 a year in addition to his already lucrative MP pension.
More recently Gilles Champagne, a long term Liberal fundraiser for the Prime Minister, was appointed to the Canada Post Corporation board of directors.
These kinds of patronage appointments have very negative implications regarding the ability of government to have the highest quality people serving it. Unfortunately, this is only the very tip of the patronage list.
Lawrence Freeman, a well-known Liberal and friend of the Minister of Health, was appointed to the Canada Communication Group advisory committee.
Roy MacLaren, the former Liberal Minister for International Trade, stepped down from his seat in the House and took the cushy position of high commissioner in Britain.
Some of the appointments to the Senate chosen by the Prime Minister include: Lorna Milne, a Liberal organizer in Ontario; Leonice Mercier, a longtime Quebec Liberal strategist and organizer; Celine Hervieux-Payette, a former junior minister in the Trudeau government; John Bryden, a former New Brunswick Liberal leader and New Brunswick campaign manager for the Prime Minister's 1990 leadership campaign; Sharon Carstairs, former provincial leader and MLA of the Manitoba Liberals and daughter of a former Liberal senator; and Landon Pearson, the daughter-in-law of Lester B. Pearson. William Rompkey, a former Liberal MP; Jean-Robert Gauthier, the former Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier; and Shirley Maheu, a Liberal MP, all resigned their seats in the House to take their turn at the trough. Nick Taylor, a Liberal who was elected to the Alberta legislature and who ran for the provincial Liberal leadership also found his reward in Senate heaven.
The patronage list seems to be endless. This does not sound like the government which pledged in the red book that it would do things differently. The Liberals have favoured their friends when making appointments to the courts, to the Immigration and Refugee Board, to corporations, to the Bank of Canada's board of directors, from one end to the other, large and small. And the media has allowed most of these appointments to go by without so much as raising an eyebrow. Perhaps they are a bit tainted as well.
The government defends its record saying that everyone appointed is qualified. What does that mean, given the fact that there are no qualifications for these positions other than of course being a member of the Liberal Party?
Before the last election the Liberal member for Scarborough-Rouge River told Canadians that there are two bottom lines in the way appointments should be made. The first is that we demand quality; the second is that we require accountability in the appointment process. We need to ensure that when appointments are made, they are reviewed by the House of Commons or a House of Commons committee, or some other mechanism.
What happened to that promise? Who reviews Liberal appointments? Not a committee, as suggested by the Liberals before the election, but the wife of the former minister of defence, Penny Collenette, a patronage appointment herself. This speaks volumes for the Liberal act of accountability.
The patronage list speaks for itself. The Liberals have demonstrated their flagrant lack of accountability to Canadians by bringing all their friends to the trough once again. Canadians deserve more than what they are getting. It is time for Canadians to get what they deserve: competence and quality in these appointments. The government for the first time must become a leader, one that can set an example with its appointments to these very important posts. The faith of Canadians in our government and the integrity of our institutions clearly must be restored.
The Reform Party supports restrictions and limitations on the number and types of order in council appointments permitted by a government during its term of office. Individuals should be appointed on the basis of their qualifications. We must have strong, independent and effective people in these positions of leadership and influence, not political hacks tied to the purse strings of the governing party.
Rather than giving ministers more discretion and more power, it is time to make appointments accountable not to the governing party but to the people of Canada. If the government is not willing to make the necessary changes, a Reform government will.