National Post

July 19, 2001

Who's in charge?

National Post

Canada's one-party state has new political recruits -- civil servants. That is the conclusion that must be drawn from the Department of Justice and its family law committee, which recently completed cross-country public hearings on changes to divorce laws. The hearings did not please some women's group members who, as reported in the National Post on July 5, demanded separate meetings because they refused to sit at the same table as men. The absurdity of their request is surpassed only by the committee itself, which amounts to yet another example of Liberal arrogance and an affront to parliamentary democracy.

The process was a sham from the start. Members of the public could not consult with Anne McLellan, the Minister of Justice, because Ms. McLellan never condescended to attend. Nor did any other elected officials. Canadians who gave presentations made their case to a committee of unelected civil servants, who happily spent $1.5-million travelling across the country doing what is supposed to be the job of their political masters -- listening to the public and making policy decisions. One of those decisions was to turn down the call for separate hearings. But it was not the Minister who made this plain in a letter to the editor -- it was the committee co-chair, a civil servant.

All this proved too much for even some Liberals. Anne Cools, a Liberal Senator, and Roger Gallaway, a Liberal MP, rejoined the committee co-chair in our letters column of July 10, saying "the consultations are mimics of Parliament [and that] a politically active civil service is contrary to our system of governance."

Both have served proper notice to Prime Minister Jean ChrČtien's Liberal government. The civil service is not supposed to do your job.

Copyright © 2001 National Post Online