I was scheduled to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Wednesday to discuss Bill C-27, the much-needed identity theft bill. The witness list was packed – the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the RCMP, Canadian Police Chiefs, CIPPIC, and ITAC were also on hand. Yet the hearings did not happen. For the third consecutive meeting, Conservative Committee chair Art Hanger walked out of the committee to ensure that there would be no vote on whether to conduct future hearings into the Cadman affair. At the time, no one seemed particularly upset (or surprised) – the witnesses chatted with each other and with some of the MPs and then left early into a sunny spring-like Ottawa day.
However, when I mentioned this incident to several friends, they looked at me in total disbelief wondering whether our elected officials understood that these antics represented a complete waste of time and tax dollars. Moreover, the delayed hearings placed an important piece of legislation at risk and left a professed "tough on crime" MP (Hanger) to walk out on police officers who literally flew across the country to explain why they need this law. While I am no so politically naive as to not understand what was at work, this should be utterly embarrassing for both the government and the opposition and provides a powerful reminder about why none of the political parties have succeeded in convincing a majority of the Canadian public that they are fit to lead.