Take "Watchdog" Appointments away from Politicians

We can't hire and fire the HR Director who evaluates our performance; why can politicians?

Auditors General, Ombudsmen, Complaints Commissioners; anyone whose job it is to evaluate complaints against government or the performance of government (Municipal, Provincial or Federal) should be appointed and/or re-appointed by an arms-length process not involving the politicians themselves.  All-party committees are simply not good enough.

Some suggestions:

1) Legislative bodies should create Watchdog Positions and define their mandate, but not do the actual vetting and appointment.  The politicians can appoint a third party, arms-length professional HR firm on a payment for service basis, give it the candidate qualification requirements and thereafter be forbidden from participating in the hiring process.  Interfering with the appointment process of a Watchdog Position after it has been let to the HR process should be a criminal offence.  The offence has to apply to elected and non-elected political operatives alike.

2) Once a mandate is created, it should be easy to expand, but difficult to narrow.  One possibility: where a change of mandate is objected to by the appointed Watchdog, a super-majority is required to enact the change.  If the current Watchdog's term expires before the issue is resolved, the objection stands.

3) If a replacement is not appointed when a Watchdog's term expires, the current occupant of the position is deemed extended for an interim period until a replacement is appointed.  If a Watchdog dies or retires and no action is taken to fill the position, his or her deputy (appointed by the Watchdog upon his or her appointment) is deemed appointed for an interim period until a replacement is appointed.

4) Preferrably, the Watchdog Position is for a single term of significant duration, rather than subject to re-appointment, so that a Watchdog can perform his or her duties without fear or favour.  Where re-appointment is a possibility, the mandate creating the position should set out the criteria for renewal clearly, and re-appointment should be the default position.

5) Watchdogs should be prohibited from running for political office for a term of years after, and former politicians should not be appointed to Watchdog Positions for a similar amount of time after stepping down from their respective offices.  Political partisanship should be either a disqualifying factor, or deemed to be a minus when evaluating two candidates of similar qualifications.  For the proscribed period, former Watchdogs should also be banned from taking any position whose appointment is in the hands of politicians (ambassadorships, etc.).  Watchdog positions should not be seen as a way to jump into politics or vice versa.



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  • published this page in Remedies • Canada 2015-06-01 11:15:14 -0400

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