Harper cabinet unleashes patronage

Weeks before Stephen Harper named some of his closest Tory friends to the Senate, his cabinet quietly approved a flood of appointments to federal boards that also rewarded party faithful.

OTTAWA — Weeks before Stephen Harper named some of his closest Tory friends to the Senate, his cabinet quietly approved a flood of appointments to federal boards that also rewarded party faithful.

At least 20 of the 111 appointments made Aug. 4 went to identifiable federal and provincial Conservative donors and supporters.

That includes a failed candidate in Vancouver, a top organizer with the Nova Scotia party, and a would-be Senate nominee from Alberta.

The postings come with per diems of up to $450 for part-time positions and salaries of up to $118,000 a year for full-time posts.

Some of the bodies involved were: the Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada Pension Plan review tribunals, employment insurance referee boards, the parole board, coastal pilotage authorities, port authorities and museum boards.

Nearly a third of the posts were first-time assignments and the remainder were renewals of three-year terms set to expire in late October or November.

The rush of appointments followed a little-noticed series of judicial appointments to superior courts across the country in July.

That round brought the total number of superior court judges appointed by the Harper government to 201 since 2006.

It also further fuelled opposition claims that the prime minister has abandoned election promises of transparency and merit-based public-service and judicial appointments.

Conservative appointments to courts, boards, quasi-judicial tribunals and Crown corporations now total an estimated 3,000 since Harper became prime minister.

The Tories are also closing in on the Liberals in the Senate after Harper’s appointment of nine senators Thursday, including at least two close advisers.

Several of the earlier judicial posts went to lawyers with Tory connections.

Harper has yet to establish his promised Public Appointments Commission to set standards and criteria for cabinet nominations to federal posts.

That despite the fact that Treasury Board documents show a four-person secretariat set up to support the commission has cost taxpayers a total of $3.6 million since 2006.

A spokesman defended the prime minister’s approach, noting Harper shelved the Public Appointments Commission after the opposition parties opposed his nomination to lead the new agency — former Calgary energy executive Gwyn Morgan.

“The opposition decided to play partisan political games with that nomination and, as such, our government was unable to fill the position,” said Dimitri Soudas.

Just Posted

Open house on proposed addictions treatment centre to be held at former Red Deer nightclub

Community is invited to learn more about the $2-million project on May 2

Sri Lanka expats wait to reconnect amid social media block

NEW YORK — Viji Devadas hasn’t heard from her nephew in Sri… Continue reading

US expands probe into air bag failures to 12.3M vehicles

DETROIT — U.S. auto safety regulators have expanded an investigation into malfunctioning… Continue reading

New study suggests oilsands greenhouse gas emissions underestimated

New federal research suggests greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta’s oilsands may be… Continue reading

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

TORONTO — The Royal Canadian Mint is unveiling a new commemorative loonie… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Family: A potpourri of Easter egg hunts, music and politics

The election is a thing of the past. Albertans have spoken. They… Continue reading

Sri Lankan-Canadians mourn victims of terrorist attack in their homeland

Sri Lankan-Canadians were gathering Monday to mourn those killed in a massive… Continue reading

Residents along Saint John River told to remain on alert as floodwaters rise

FREDERICTON — People who live along New Brunswick’s Saint John River are… Continue reading

Prince Edward Island voters to cast verdict on new electoral system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are expected to learn late Tuesday whether the cradle… Continue reading

Most Read