Saturday, June 04, 2005

 

What the Ethics Commissioner Isn't

I was curious about the mandate of the Ethics Commissioner; what he is supposed to do and more importantly, what he's not supposed to do. Maybe it would have been better not to be curious.

Here is a document from the Government of Canada's own website which seems to answer my question and which I've reproduced here. (Emphasis is mine.)

Agents of Parliament
(Governor in Council Appointees Reporting Directly to Parliament)
Current List
"Federally, there is no statutory definition of what constitutes a Parliamentary Officer; however, the role and function of these five Parliamentary Officers should not be confused with other positions such as the Clerk of either House, the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, the Parliamentary Librarian or the Ethics Commissioner.

These latter officials assist Parliament in procedural and administrative matters
,
whereas Parliamentary Officers, often called “watchdogs,” support Parliament in its accountability and scrutiny function. The Privy Council Office makes a distinction by referring to the five Parliamentary Officers as Agents of Parliament and the others as Officers of Parliament. Other bodies, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Commission, are occasionally considered in the same category as the Agents of Parliament because they have a degree of independence and perform a similar “watchdog” function, and, in some cases, their members are appointed or ratified by the House of Commons or Parliament."


Therefore the Ethics commisioner is an 'adminstrative assistant' only. He most explicitly has no role to play in matters of accountability and scrutiny. He is NOT a 'Watchdog'.



I'm almost afraid to check the mandate of the RCMP.

As a sidenote, this wonderful example of doublespeak is not a typo. It's the same in the French version too.
"The Privy Council Office makes a distinction by referring to the five Parliamentary Officers as Agents of Parliament and the others as Officers of Parliament".


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