Bill C-4: a potentially explosive problem for the Harper government

The Harper Government’s mantra seems to be more of “do as I say, not as I do” when it comes to transparency, how it informs the Canadian public and how it chooses to work with the federal public service unions. The latest case in point is the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-4. 

For a government that touts itself as being the most transparent, the reality is quite something else. Case in point: on October 24, Treasury Board President Tony Clement steadfastly refused to divulge any details on the bill, saying that these would be available once the legislation becomes law. The Harper government is also limiting debate on the bill, hoping to quickly ram it through to the Senate and then into law. As well, a recent report by the Information Commissioner’s Office indicates that this government’s secrecy shows no signs of slowing down, and “is putting Canadian democracy at risk.”

Transparency is used quite often by ministers as they crow about the ‘new’ methods they are implementing to run government ‘efficiently’. However transparency is only a buzzword to lull the Canadian public into thinking that the Harper government actually has their best interests at heart. This is more a case of “ignoring the man behind the curtain” and demanding that the public keep their eyes on the magic show in front of them. 

This is not the first time that the Harper government has used an omnibus budget bill to include measures that have little to do with the budget or the country’s finances. This is becoming the norm and, unfortunately, not the exception.

How can this government continue to claim it is the champion of transparency with its dealings with its employees, and the Canadian public, and do it with a straight face? The joke is actually on the employees who continue to strive to provide the best services to the Canadian public, while being whittled down to the bone by uncaring and, some may say, despotic government. Unfortunately, the Canadian public will be the one left picking up the pieces of a decimated and dismantled federal public.