Does Independence Matter?
From Elections Canada to the nuclear watchdog, the Harper government seems to disagree.
The old saw is that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. For Canada’s federal government, the hammer is partisanship and, of late, the unlucky nails have been a disparate set of independent public agencies, from Elections Canada to the Canadian Military Complaints Commission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Whether it is the nature of the Conservative Party, the nature of Prime Minister Stephen Harper or the nature of trying to govern in a minority Parliament where an election is always on the horizon, the government seems unable to distinguish between campaigning and governing.• • • •It is ultimately self-defeating for government
to attack independent agencies, or to attack the people appointed by government (or a former government) to run them. Partisanship begets more partisanship. The result is public cynicism, a corrosive Parliament and the undermining of the policy goals that led to setting up those agencies in the first place.