Gag ordersPosted: December 13, 2013
Yesterday, on the CTV True North Political Panel, we were going to be chatting about this super stupid lifetime gag rule that Parliamentarians were trying to impose upon staffers. We didn’t have time to cover this topic (you can check of the clip here), but if we did, this is what I would’ve said:
- I’m not sure how you impose a lifetime non-disclosure agreement (or even if it’s legal). Do you create a whole new bureaucracy to police the thousands and thousands of former, current and future Hill employees? Does this bureaucracy scour the internet looking for any negative swipe at a former boss? Get real.
- Political staff are already second-class employees: Due to “Parliamentary privilege,” elected officials can get away with a lot more. If they go ahead with this, staff will have even less legal protection and more legal threats. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
- Political staff work long hours for, generally, lower pay. They do it because they believe in the party, or that Member. It’s not West Wing over on Parliament Hill. Sometimes it really sucks. On a good day, there’s no other feeling like it. (For me, two of those days were when Jean Chretien said that Canada would not go into Iraq and when same-sex marriage legislation finally passed).
- Sometimes Hill staff are whistleblowers. Like Senator Pam Wallin’s assistant who was concerned about her expenses. We need more staff like her.
- Here’s a thought: If you’re an MP or a senator who’s worried about what your staff may say about you one day, treat them better. And don’t do stupid shit.
- I spent many years on the Hill and, for the most part, Parliamentarians are good, honest people. But some of them aren’t. That’s why staff need to be protected, not threatened.
(And if you’re wondering if I have any really good stories, yes, yes I do.)