Politics

Liberals slam Tories on patronage hires

The Liberals have accused the Conservatives of hiring more than 200 party insiders over the past year, saying it's proof Prime Minister Stephen Harper has failed to live up to his promise to end the practice of partisan appointments.

The Liberals have accused the Conservatives of hiring more than 200 party insiders over the past year, saying it's proof Prime Minister Stephen Harper has failed to live up to his promise to end the practice of partisan appointments.

Liberal MPs Wayne Easter and Marcel Proulx unveiled a list of 233 names they say are former Tory MPs, cabinet ministers, campaign workers, past candidates and top donors who have been appointed to the Senate, courts and government boards and agencies since the last election.

"It was the Conservatives in 2006 who put in their campaign platform that they were going to create a public appointments commission in order to avoid partisan appointments," Proulx said in Ottawa on Thursday. "They’re the ones who didn’t respect their own campaign platform, their own electoral commitment."

Proulx said that since 2006, nothing has been done  — no actual commission has been created although the Tories have already spent $1.4 million on it.

Easter also attacked Harper — a strong advocate of an elected Senate — for setting the record for Senate appointments by a prime minister in a single year at 27.

"For a leader who said he wouldn’t make Senate appointments to now holding the record of any prime minister in Canadian history for appointments in one year is a pretty substantive broken promise," Easter said.

But a senior Conservative official speaking to the CBC accused the Liberals of hypocrisy.

"It's a little rich to be lectured by Wayne Easter and the Liberals on patronage," the official said. "After all, this week, they just appointed three loyal Liberals who were recipients of big plum patronage appointments in the past: Peter Donolo, Mario Lague and Heather Chiasson. 

"This is just another smear by Wayne Easter and the Liberals."

The official was referring to the appointment of three former staffers from Jean Chrétien's government to the current Opposition Leader's Office of Michael Ignatieff.