However, the one piece of policy the Conservatives are proposing that I really like is the Federal Accountability Act. Harper elaborated on the Act today and has decided to tackle polling.
Don't get me wrong, I'm as addicted to SES as the next blogger (Tories are up 1 point today OMG OMG!!!), but government dollars being used for partisan polling is a major problem, even if no one ever really talks about it. I, in jest, asked for an inquiry into Earnscliffe back in November and now Harper has echoed that, asking for an inquiry, or review into government polling. (Although it is kind of funny for Harper to say "I'm suggesting it's always been awfully convenient for Mr. Martin to set up a commission to investigate his political opponents in the Liberal party but not necessarily his own actions, which may have been dubious" as he's suggesting an inquiry into the actions of his political enemy. But I digress.)
More importantly, Harper has promised to publish all polls conducted with government dollars within six months, presumably to embarrass any government using them for partisan purposes. He's also promising open bidding, to prevent the Earnscliffe wiring we've seen in years past. I have no problem with tax dollars being spent on government polling (if contracts are fairly tendered), but when it's done for partisan purposes, the party itself should pay.
And, I must say, I do like the rest of the Act too:
Banning corporate and union donations, while limiting personal donations to $1,000;
Overhauling lobbying laws and banning all ministers, ministerial staffers or senior public officials from lobbying
government for five years after leaving their post;
Give more power to the Lobbyists Registrar, Ethics Commissioner, Information Commissioner and the Auditor General, and;
Give the Auditor General a mandate to conduct a complete review of the more than $30 billion in annual federal grants, contributions and contracts.
Banning corporate donations and limiting individual donations to $1,000 finishes what Jean Chretien's campaign finance legislation began. Cutting down on the incestuous lobbyist/government relationship is another step in the right direction. While I'm not sure the Auditor General needs more power, giving the AG that power could actually come back to hurt Harper if he ever forms government so I'll give him marks for guts on that one.
All in all, this is smart policy and popular policy. It's also policy the NDP (and maybe the BQ and Grits) would support in the event of a Tory minority government so there's chance it will see the light of day.