Sunday, February 05, 2006

Conservative Ethics Rules Scaring Potential Staffers

New ethics rules proposed by the Conservative not-quite-government and a lack of skills are having a negative effect on the hiring of everything from chiefs-of-staff to legislative assistants.

There are indications the party has had to look a little farther afield than it had originally expected not because it is short of resum├ęs, of which there has been an avalanche, but because experienced political hands, especially bilingual ones, are in short supply.

Then there's the question of the Tory ethics package, which has caused reticence among some likely candidates for senior jobs because of the provision that will prevent ministerial staff from lobbying the government for five years after they leave.
Many who might consider a jump to the federal Conservative government as senior officials are hesitating since the rules aren't in place yet.

"It's a problem for someone like me. I can't commit to this without knowing how it's going to affect me two, three years down the road," said the Tory, who is leaning toward saying no.

"There will always be plenty of folks who are excited at the idea of serving in government, not everybody who gets into politics wants to go in to lobbying or government relations, if that was true there would be many thousands of lobbyists in Ottawa," said Goldy Hyder, a lobbyist and one-time chief-of-staff to former Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark.
Yes, but that is called, "closing the door on options."

Conservative supporters seem to be worried that they will have a very short career in government or influencing government. If the Conservative ethics rules are passed into law and the Harper government actually ever enforces them it will prohibit any of the political appointees from working anywhere near government for five years. That wouldn't be a problem if the Conservatives were viewed as having a long life-expectancy.

Given the weakness of Harper's minority, the certainty of another election within about two years and no guarantee that Canadian voters will return them to power, taking a job with the Conservatives may be good for the resume but won't make for a long career.

There are whispers the Tories won't object if a parliamentary committee waters down some of the tough new rules, which only adds confusion to the party's official stance that the rules will stay as they were drafted.
Let's eliminate the confusion, shall we. Harper brought down the Liberal government on one issue - ethics. He presented his plan to provide a set of comprehensive rules. Gomery has presented his recommendations, which go beyond Harper's ideas.

Harper has a choice. He either implements the rules the CPC ran on, with no significant changes, or he can implement all of Gomery's recommendations. If a parliamentary committee attempts to water them down, they should be rejected, and if they're not, it makes Harper and his gang liars.

Is that clear enough?

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