The concept of ministerial accountability was born on the morning of May 25, 2010, invoked so as to protect ministerial staff from having to testify before parliamentary committees. It lived a short, but fitful life.
The concept was injured slightly in October when a member of Christian Paradis’ staff resigned after meddling in access to information requests, but Minister Paradis himself went unpunished. It was wounded again days later when Mr. Paradis did not answer questions on the matter in the House. The concept was emboldened somewhat when the official opposition declined a confrontation on the matter, but, sadly, it sustained serious injuries weeks later when Rona Ambrose, rising to answer about events involving Mr. Paradis, explicitly directed questions to the public service.
Undaunted, but now doomed, ministerial accountability clung to some semblance of hypothetical existence until last night when a member of the Prime Minister’s Office, an individual who had steadfastly avoided a summons to appear before a parliamentary committee, turned up on the evening chat shows to explain the government’s thoughts on the future of this nation’s military mission in Afghanistan.
Though only briefly in existence, the concept of ministerial accountability will be remembered for the accountability it theoretically conceptualized and for the heightened discourse it so fleetingly visited upon Parliament Hill.