'The king of patronage'
Seven years after vowing to review the appointment process, the Chretien
patronage machine is humming along, beating even Brian Mulroney at
the political 'game of friends.'
One sunny July day this past summer, Prime Minister Jean Chretien
cabinet to hand out millions of dollars worth of federal jobs, with
going to supporters of the Liberal party.
That job finished, Mr. Chretien hopped into a helicopter for a
raft ride on the Ottawa River.
Ten years ago, the Citizen examined a similar summer day's worth of
appointments made by then-Progressive Conservative Prime Minister
Mulroney and his cabinet.
The high rate of Liberal patronage on July 27 surpassed Mr.
one-in-three patronage ratio.
Mr. Chretien has said the upcoming election would be partly fought
protecting "Liberal values" -- the values espoused by the late
Trudeau. But the Citizen review may remind Canadians of the darker
Mr. Trudeau's legacy, including a particularly infamous spate of
appointments he made John Turner fulfil in 1984. That list helped
1984 election to Mr. Mulroney.
Mr. Chretien defended the appointments during the 1984 election,
that by naming so many sitting MPs to the patronage posts, Mr.
saved taxpayers money. Instead of drawing big pensions, Mr. Chretien
rationalized, the appointees would only earn their new salaries.
Later as Opposition leader, Mr. Chretien and his Liberals were
critical of Mr. Mulroney's appointments.
And in the 1993 Red Book of election promises, the Liberals vowed to
integrity to government and review the appointment process to ensure
were filled on the basis of competence. Seven years later, the famed
patronage machine is humming along, apparently cranking out Liberals
out of every two new appointments -- if July 27, 2000, is any
On that day, about 40 of the 80 appointments made by the cabinet
by Liberals who either contributed money to the party, ran as party
candidates in previous federal and provincial elections, or worked
Liberal election and leadership campaigns. The total annual salaries
80 jobs filled is more than $3.8 million.
The appointments included Chretien cronies, former Liberal MPs, some
defeated candidates, and in one case, the daughter of a Newfoundland
member of the provincial legislature.
There were a handful of noteworthy Liberal appointments including
Fung, the man who brought Mr. Chretien to a Bay Street brokerage
house as a
well-paid "special adviser" when Mr. Chretien left politics in the
Twenty-five of the Chretien appointments on July 27 were to
Human Resources Development Canada to either sit on one of its
boards of referees or one of its review tribunals for the Canada
The other government bodies involved in the appointments included
departments of Finance, Health, Natural Resources, Public Works,
Veteran Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, Transport, the Privy
Office and the Prime Minister's Office.
Liberal officials say they brought in some changes including more
advertising for positions in the Canada Gazette, followed by
a reduction in appointed positions.
What he never mentions is that making patronage appointments is a
traditional power historically coveted by prime ministers -- one Mr.
Chretien has shown no sign of giving up.
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