As It Happens

Harper made dozens of early patronage appointments in last days as PM

An iPolitics report has revealed that Stephen Harper quietly made dozens of “future” appointments and early contract renewals in his last days as prime minister. Now our guest has launched a petition calling for the appointments to be reversed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper. June 18, 2015. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
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Stephen Harper quietly made dozens of early patronage appointments in his last days as prime minister, as documented in a recent iPolitics report. Now, an advocacy group is pressing for those appointments to be reversed.

"The fact that the Conservatives were able to stack the deck on their way out is really concerning and disturbing for Canadians," Richie Assaly tells As it Happens host Carol Off. Assaly is an organizer with the advocacy group LeadNow.

If you look at the results on Oct. 19, Canadians overwhelmingly rejected Harper's vision,- Richard Assaly, LeadNow organizer

The iPolitics report, released earlier this week, found 49 instances when Harper made early appointments and renewals. Some won't go into effect for years.

Assaly has launched a petition calling for the appointments to be cancelled.

"People want to move on. They want to move forward. And that's why this petition is really taking off," says Assaly.

Assaly is especially concerned with members on the National Energy Board, citing Harper's appointment of Steven Kelly, a Kinder Morgan consultant.

"This is an agency that is tasked with reviewing the environmental impact of pipelines and the import of crude oil," says Assaly. "One of the [Harper government's] key tactics throughout their administration was to create an uninhibited pathway for industrial development."

Assaly acknowledges that the cancelling of these appointments would be costly and difficult. He thinks, however, that Canadians would still like to see the Liberals make new appointments.

"If you look at the [election] results on Oct. 19, Canadians overwhelmingly rejected Harper's vision," he says.

Some may remember a similar controversy that involved former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He made dozens of patronage appointments soon before his position was inherited by John Turner.

Assaly says he's "not worried about what skeletons the Liberals have in their closet.

"I think that young people and the people who recently voted in this last election aren't concerned about what happened a few decades ago," he says. 

For more on this, take a listen to our interview and read the iPolitics report here

From the CBC archives, Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney slams Turner about these appointments in a 1984 election debate.