Sheila Fraser was once one of Stephen Harper's favourite people. When she, in her capacity of auditor-general, exposed the Chretien government's sponsorship scandal, sewing the seeds that would bring down the Liberals, Mr. Harper praised her handsomely as the "mother of all accountants" and in a neat turn of phrase remarked she "did not say that she thought that something smelled fishy. She identified the fish."
Well Ms. Fraser has now identified a new fish and it's Bill C-23, the inappropriately-named Fair Elections Act. According to The Canadian Press, she claims that the proposed legislation would, among other things, "disenfranchise thousands of voters, undercut the independence of the chief electoral watchdog, impede investigations into wrongdoing, give a financial advantage to rich, established parties and undermine Canadians' faith in the electoral system."
I have heard many criticisms of the Bill, but I take none more seriously than Ms. Fraser's. She is perhaps the best auditor-general we ever had and currently co-chairs an advisory board to Elections Canada. The latter adds considerably to my trust in our electoral system.
I don't agree with Stephen Harper on many things, but I agree with him unreservedly that Sheila Fraser is a lady of competence and courage. He has shown no inclination to bow to the widespread criticism of his government's Bill, but perhaps he will heed the esteemed public servant he once acclaimed as the mother of all accountants.