Newsflash: I don’t disagree with everything Stephen Harper says. For example, in 2002 Harper wrote that “standing committees of the House should not simply be extensions of the Prime Minister’s Office, and members of Parliament should choose their committee chairs by secret ballot and set their own agenda.”
Bang on! I couldn’t agree more. The centralization of power only leads to corruption and opacity. Harper was ahead of his time, actually. The Gomery report would later note that “there has been an increasing concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office,” and that many Canadians believe that the structures of power should ensure that “no one single individual, such as the Prime Minister, can influence by appointment the decisions of others.” Go Harper go!
Except that now that he’s the PM, he’s changed his mind. The Globe and Mail reports that Harper is, “choosing which Conservative MPs will become chairs of Commons committees, reversing a parliamentary reform that he championed while leader of the Official Opposition.” Oh well, so much for priority number one.
And who gets to benefit from the Prime Minister’s first committee chair appointment? Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, who the Globe notes is best known for frequently issuing anti-abortion press releases.