The new ministerial responsibility: punish the underlings
Near the end of the fall sitting of Parliament, Tom Mulcair had a little bee in his bonnet over the lost, then found, emails of Ben Perrin, the prime minister's former legal counsel at the centre of the Duffy-Wright affair.
During question period in the Commons Dec. 3, Mulcair pummelled Harper's stand-in, Industry Minister James Moore, with questions about transparency.
After a bit of back and forth, Moore offered that "the Privy Council Office has taken responsibility for the mistake that it made in not handing over the information to the RCMP."
To which Mulcair replied, "apparently the only person who has not assumed responsibility is the person who is responsible. The Privy Council Office is the ministry of the prime minister and ministerial responsibility should apply first and foremost to the prime minister."
Well, not so much. And here's why the Leader of the Official Opposition should remember that when Parliament resumes sitting Monday.
Somewhere between the first Conservative election victory and the last election, the rules on ministerial responsibility changed without any fanfare or public discussion.
The 2007 guide for ministers, written by the PCO, explained ministerial responsibility this way: "Ministers are individually responsible to Parliament and the prime minister for their own actions and those of their department, including the actions of all officials under their management and direction, whether or not the Ministers had prior knowledge."
By 2011, there had been a shift in thinking.
"Ministerial accountability to Parliament does not mean that a minister is presumed to have knowledge of every matter that occurs within his or her department or portfolio, nor that the minister is necessarily required to accept blame for every matter," wrote PCO in an updated version of the pamphlet.
They can change the rules but they cannot abdicate responsibility in the eyes of the voter. They can change the rules but they cannot hide their incompetence. They can change the rules but the cannot hide their corruptness.
It was the position of the Harper government that ministers were responsible for their staff and John Baird sat in committee and screamed like a woman hating abuser at Siobhan Coady insisting that Ministers were responsible for their underlings.
Harpers governing policies..... "since we are a party of phuk ups.... sacrifice the peons."