My analysis of Harper’s call to appoint an independent prosecutor

Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper announced in Quebec city today that if his party is elected to government it will create an independent office of public prosecutions to ensure that if a scandal such as Adscam ever happened again, people who were involved politically would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

News of this move by Mr. Harper drew criticism from CBC political analyst Carolyn Dunn who only managed to qualify her disdain with the classic “but it’s an American style approach” excuse. Mr. Harper noted that similar offices exist within other countries such as Australia at the federal level and even within Canada at the provincial level in Nova Scotia. Dunn continued to draw parallels to independent prosecutor Ken Starr who investigated former US President Bill Clinton before the 42nd president was impeached. However, Dunn could have qualified the independent office of public prosecutions (and thus Mr. Harper’s announcement) by noting that the current US prosecutor is now chasing right-wing bogeymen of the CBC such as Conrad Black and Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Mr. Harper’s idea to create such an office is welcome, even in the face of the criticism that by doing so would imply that the RCMP isn’t doing its job. Under political direction by Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney faced about a decade of uncertainty as the Liberals tried to look under every rock and into every dark corner of the Conservative PM’s life. In the past couple of weeks, Mr. Mulroney has finally been cleared of any wrong doing alleged by the Liberal party.

Cases of the Liberal party using the RCMP to investigate political foes aside, the current crop of Liberals are alleged to have corrupted elements of the RCMP during the Sponsorship scandal.

An independent (of political interference) office of public prosecutions is certainly needed in a country that has faced the worst political directed scandal in Canadian history. If there is any element of Stephen Harper’s plan that is “American like”, this is merely left-wing commentators using the United States as a qualifier for their bias against centre-right politicians. In America, and quite frankly, in most industrialized nations, people that break the law sit in small cold cells for extended periods of time. While in Canada, people that break the law get to appoint their own inquiry of investigation, set its mandate and if found guilty, get to lecture ethics at McGill.

“It was this Prime Minister who determined that all Canadians had the right to know what happened in relationship to the sponsorship program. It was this Prime Minister who put Mr. Justice Gomery in place.” — Anne McLellan, deputy Liberal Prime Minister (Hansard)

Liberals broke the trust of Canadians. An independent office of public prosecutions that is impervious to political interference is what this country desperately needs.