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Document #4388830_1.PPT Accountability and Political Decision-Making Timothy Murphy January 27, 2009 Yale University.

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Presentation on theme: "Document #4388830_1.PPT Accountability and Political Decision-Making Timothy Murphy January 27, 2009 Yale University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Document #4388830_1.PPT Accountability and Political Decision-Making Timothy Murphy January 27, 2009 Yale University

2 2 Document #4388830_1.PPT –Personal –Voters –Rules –History –Each is required. –Each in excess can produce bad results. 4 sources of accountability:

3 3 Document #4388830_1.PPT Does accountability matter? –It doesn’t necessarily enhance legitimacy. –It doesn’t necessarily improve decision-making. –The best arguments for it are: –it operates as a conceptual brake on self- aggrandizing decision-making AND –it is important to the theoretical legitimacy of a democratic process.

4 4 Document #4388830_1.PPT (1)Personal: –By this is meant, being true to your own values, ideas and experience. –Virtues: A personal moral compass is part of the package we elect, that we value when we choose a leader: –Judgment –Wisdom –Values-based ideals –Grounded in trust

5 5 Document #4388830_1.PPT Concerns: –The temptations of self-dealing are high. –What’s good for a politician can fast become what is “right”. –It is often not any one decision – it is the many small compromises of politics that add up: –Driven by party discipline –Electoral calculus –Personal advancement

6 6 Document #4388830_1.PPT (2)Voters –By this I mean, citizens – those for whom the system is supposed to work –Virtues: Ultimately a system that is accountable to its citizens is what we want –Challenges: How measure? »Fickle daily moods – measured by polls »“best interest” of whom? »Leading vs following –The role of the electoral platform.

7 7 Document #4388830_1.PPT Concerns: –Public-opinion driven decision-making. –Do a poll, make a decision. –Not necessarily bad BUT Can lead to ignoring longer term interests Role of push polls Turnout and voters – the Rove effect –targeting voter market segments –Expertise vs “feelings” or unfounded opinion.

8 8 Document #4388830_1.PPT (3)Rules –Virtues: –Provides a baseline for accountability A wide array of sources: –Written –Administrative –traditional –They can be a “short cut” to what we view as good and provide ‘fencing’ around accountability: allows us to know beforehand what is allowed.

9 9 Document #4388830_1.PPT Concerns: –Inflexible. –Stifles creativity. –Limits policy choices without real reflection. –Can create a perception of a problem where no real one exists.

10 10 Document #4388830_1.PPT (4)History/Long term interest –Virtues: –Allows a broader sense of the public good. –Decisions can be made with the long term in mind – not political gain.

11 11 Document #4388830_1.PPT Concerns: –At its worst, it can lead to a practical dictatorship. –It can mean legacy-focused not public interest focused decisions. –It can ignore what voters want.

12 12 Document #4388830_1.PPT Conclusion: –All of these factors weigh in most decisions and SHOULD. –The one to be feared the most in democratic societies is purely rules-based accountability. –Why? –Stifling –Bureaucratic decision-making –Linear lines of authority focus decisions and options not outward looking and creative Example: International Policy Statement (cross- departmental) Example:Duff Conacher – Democracy Watch –We don’t elect rules, we elect people!

13 13 Document #4388830_1.PPT What really works? –Elections matter. –They are real tests. –Lack of participation does not equal dissatisfaction necessarily. –They truly force politicians to focus on what the public needs/wants. –They obviously are not perfect.

14 14 Document #4388830_1.PPT –Transparency above all is the key. –BUT ONLY AS TO: –Information –Result –NOT the process of decision-making –Allows those assessing the decision to analyze whether the conclusion is a reasonable one based on shared information. –Forces decision-makers to think through how and why.

15 15 Document #4388830_1.PPT – Excluding Transparency of process: –Revealing process can suggest decisions are made, when they are not. –People who voice opinions as part of the process of deciding can be trapped into those positions. –Exclude Transparency of motive –Impossible to achieve. –Why does it matter?

16 16 Document #4388830_1.PPT –THE BIGGEST PROBLEM: –The vehicle of its implementation: MEDIA. –Media are crucial to transparency as the solution BUT –They are no longer conveyors of information.

17 17 Document #4388830_1.PPT Media are Conveyors of Entertainment. –Driven by internal dynamics that lead them away from truth being the lodestone. –24 hour news cycle. –Completion among sources of information. –Race to the story not to perspective or analysis. –The perils of the anonymous source.

18 18 Document #4388830_1.PPT Solution in part? –Internet. –Obama’s experiment. –Examples of these factors in real life: –Health care funding –Foreign policy –Sponsorship Program and the Gomery Inquiry

19 19 Document #4388830_1.PPT 1.Health Care Funding –Why did the Martin Grovernment pick it as a key thing to do? –Personal: Role of the person – Paul Martin’s desire to achieve socially what he achieved fiscally. –Voters: Voters clearly identified health care as an issue – time and time again. –Rules: Constrained the choices: –Canada Health Act

20 20 Document #4388830_1.PPT Health Care Funding – Cont’d –History/Long Term –A key underpinning to the Canadian polity and to a longer term thesis of competitiveness.

21 21 Document #4388830_1.PPT Why did we pick the solution we did? –Accountability was one reason: –We ran on it; we promised it. –Also spoke to other accountability sources: –Accountability for the money measured through the CHA Rules. –Provinces were a challenge to accountability: Money was needed but they were not answerable to Feds.

22 22 Document #4388830_1.PPT –Quebec was its own challenge. –We used transparency on wait times as the key accountability mechanism. We were limited to what steps we could force the provinces to respond to so we used publication of results. –Secondly, we used an escalator but one we deliberately thought would understate growth to force change and adaptation on the provinces.

23 23 Document #4388830_1.PPT Media coverage as a problem: –The old way was seen as “powerful”: come with a final position and stick to it. Back in 18 months. –We negotiated the sum and the criteria. Tried it in public. Seen as weak by media because we got moved off our opening position!!

24 24 Document #4388830_1.PPT 2.Foreign Policy –Sending troops to Afghanistan. –No rules can really cover this kind of decision. –Voters can frame the possible – Iraq vs Afghanistan. –It’s highly personal and you hope that history and the long term drive the answer. –Of course, you can be horribly wrong.

25 25 Document #4388830_1.PPT –Canada US relations –Security and Prosperity Partnership. achieving results.

26 26 Document #4388830_1.PPT 3.Sponsorship Enquiry –What happened? –Small decisions and big outcomes (using the advertising model and hiding from the separatists).

27 27 Document #4388830_1.PPT Accountability and what we decided to do in response to the actions and the report: –The role of institutions of accountability: –Auditor General –Comptroller General –Faced with the dilemma of a report that was going to say that there were millions of public dollars spent without supervision, without result, and in some cases recycled to members of your own party, what do the sources of accountability say you should do:

28 28 Document #4388830_1.PPT Public Opinion/Voters –They wanted: –The mess cleaned up –Someone to pay –Changes to fix it going forward –Largest single night drop in Liberal support ever when Fraser report revealed. –Driving force: The role of change and more of the same. –Who was going to capture change in the next election.

29 29 Document #4388830_1.PPT Rules –The existence of rules and accountability hadn’t prevented the mess. –Legitimacy not enhanced by the enquiry decision. –The role of those charged with accountability –Excessive role of the AG – language –Transparency worked!

30 30 Document #4388830_1.PPT Personal: –Personal preferences – Paul Martin, Anne McLellan, Goodale. –Political overlay of what Paul Martin able to defend.

31 31 Document #4388830_1.PPT History –The right thing to do. –The political hacks say it was naïve. –But it was honest. –It likely means that it will never happen again. –Paul Martin survived the next election. –It cost Liberals dearly in Quebec and within its own party. –Doing the right thing may be the toughest thing of all to judge.

32 32 Document #4388830_1.PPT Tim Murphy Partner d 416.865.7908 | f 416.865.7048 tim.murphy@mcmillan.ca McMillan LLP Lawyers Brookfield Place, 181 Bay Street, Suite 4400 Toronto, Ontario M5J 2T3


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