Liberals ask 33 Stephen Harper appointments to step aside
OTTAWA – The Liberals say the Harper government was guilty of “abuse of process” when it went on a patronage binge on the eve of the election, making or renewing appointments for federal positions that didn’t need to be filled until weeks or even months after the Conservatives were defeated.
Dominic LeBlanc, the new Liberal government’s House leader, has sent letters to 33 people who received plum jobs in federal agencies or Crown corporations during the dying days of Stephen Harper’s Conservative regime.
He’s asking them to voluntarily resign.
LeBlanc says that’s not a judgment on any of the individuals who received appointments; it’s a judgment on what the new government considers the illegitimate manner in which the appointments were made.
He says the process was improper because it the appointments were not made transparently and were not subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
LeBlanc is confident that most, if not all of the 33, will voluntarily step aside.
He’s not saying whether the government will rescind the appointments of anyone who refuses to go quietly.
“We thought that those (appointments) constituted an abuse of process by a previous government and we’ve asked 33 individuals to consider doing the right thing in our judgment in declining to accept those appointments,” LeBlanc said Tuesday.
“If they want to submit their candidacies in a more open and transparent process, we would of course be happy to look at them.”
LeBlanc has given the appointees until Dec. 18 to respond.
Among those appointed were members of the Immigration and Refugee Board and the National Energy Board and top executives at Canada Post, Telefilm Canada and Via Rail.
The Harper government made the appointments last summer, just before the federal election was called. Some four dozen involved appointments to fill slots that would not become vacant until well after the election or renewals of appointments that weren’t due to expire for up to a year after the election.
Rona Ambrose, the interim Conservative leader, said the new government has “every right” to terminate the appointments. But she urged the Liberal regime to assess each individual “based on merit.”
© 2015 The Canadian Press