In Canada, Harper and his merry-band of Ref-Cons, continue on their secret way, denying access to information, shielding ministerial aides and severely limiting parliamentary oversight and accountability. Parliament through its various committees, must be able, not only to summon ministers but their political staff to answer questions, explain actions and clarify issues. This is crucial, if government is to function democratically and not arbitrarily. Some secrecy is necessary for security reasons but more and more, more and more are given blanket protection.....this breeds incompetence and corruption and convey the very real impression that government are afraid of disclosure and thus hide from scrutiny. Parliament must have power of disclosure/accountability. Ministers are answerable to the prime minister, as the head of government who has charged them with their responsibilitioes, but ministers and, by extension, their staff(who are on the public payroll), have a primAry duty to parliament and the people of the country.There is a fine line between the interests of the state and of security and the interests of the people and good governance.
Democracy requires accountability and as such openness and accessibility are paramount. More and more political staff carry out the dictates of ministers. More and more they are responsible for important decisions and play an increasingly influential role, advising and executing policies. They are an extension of ministers and therefore they must be held responsible and thus accountable. Parliament and its committees must have access to them and must be able to summon them to appear and answer questions. To not do so is a serious threat to good governance and to democracy.