During his last months in office as the first Ombudsman for Victims' of Crime, Steve Sullivan began to speak out against the Conservative punishment agenda that was leading to a drastic increase in the expenditures of the Correctional Service of Canada (see 6 April 2010 post). In the months since, the exit of other ombudsmen and heads of federal government departments who have not parroted the federal government's talking points has been widely reported.
Last week, Evan Solomon from CBC's Power & Politics invited Paul Kennedy (former head of the RCMP's Public Complaints Commission), Linda Keen (former President of Nuclear Safety Commission) and Steve Sullivan to discuss their views regarding this trend (watch here). For his part, Sullivan responded:
I think for my particular case, we were not overly critical of the government, but we weren't part of their narrative. Their narrative for understanding victims of crime is that the way to serve victims of crime is to punish offenders. We weren't a part of that narrative. We were bringing forward other issues that we were hearing from victims and it wasn't part of what the government believed. I think that's part of it. If we had been a cheerleader for the government's agenda, we might have a different situation.
Later in the segment, the panellists were asked by Solomon to discuss their take on the war the minority Conservative Government of Canada is waging on expertise:
It's their overall approach to people who have expertise. I think we were all appointed because the government felt, at the time anyways, that we had expertise. You look at the Minister's response to the gun registry report... it doesn't matter what it says. It doesn't matter what his own police service says about how effective the registry is... it doesn't matter because they've made up their mind and that's the problem. You bring experts because they have expertise. We know more about these topics than our ministers do. But it doesn't matter what we say if it's not part of their narrative.
In other words: if your narrative does not fit, you must exit.
This is government 'accountability' in action.