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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Liberal appointments pork continues unchecked 
(en francais)

Many claim that Windsor is the last bastion of NDP/Union power. You would never know it from the Windsor Star's Editorial pages. Keep up the good work.

Citizenship judges: Merit should be the key

Windsor Star

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The position of "citizenship judge" has long been considered one of the better patronage appointments available from the federal government. If you have the right connections, you get a nice title, and a not-unsubstantial annual salary of about $91,000.

However, that's not to say the job of a citizenship judge isn't important. Each year, 20 full-time and part-time citizenship judges make decisions that lead to about 130,000 people officially becoming Canadians. This is a watershed in their lives, and citizenship judges play a significant role in introducing them to Canada. Ceremonies awarding citizenship can be highly emotional, and tend to remind all of us about the value of being a Canadian. It's a process that strengthens the country.

However, the position is predisposed to patronage. For example, despite his vow to get rid of cronyism, Prime Minister Paul Martin recently gave judgeships to two longtime Liberal activists who willingly agreed to give up their secured riding nominations so two of the PM's star recruits could run in last year's federal election. And, as the Vancouver Sun has reported, others who are ruling on citizenship applications include a former senior Liberal official's mother-in-law, a former Alberta Liberal of the Year, and former federal and provincial candidates, organizers and senior political aides.

Yet despite the ongoing criticism, it appears Ottawa has no intention to change the appointment process. In fact, Steven Heckbert, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, says political activism is a good trait for a citizenship judge.

Patronage, however, should have no place in the appointment of citizenship judges. And there is one straightforward way to ensure citizenship judgeships aren't merely sinecures for the party faithful. The nominees could be vetted and approved by an all-party committee of MPs. It would ensure politics don't supercede qualifications.

WE Speak at 5:58 a.m.    | en francais | Go to Top|

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