Gwyn Morgan is hardly a champion of ethics, Former EnCana CEO not the right person to bring integrity to government by Jeremy Klazsuz, May 4, 2006, Fast Forward Vol 11, #21. NO LONGER ONLINE, THUS POSTED HERE.
Here’s something that should provoke protest across the country: Stephen Harper has nominated the rabidly anti-government Gwyn Morgan, executive vice-chairman and former CEO of EnCana Corporation, to chair the Conservative government’s proposed Public Appointments Commission.
It’s supposedly part of Harper’s stated goal to bring more integrity and accountability to government. He could have done a better job of it by choosing someone other than Morgan to lead the new commission – someone, for example, with a bit of human compassion and decency. **But Herr Harper is extremely lacking in human compassion and decency, Harper wouldn’t know where to begin to find such a human.**
The Public Appointments Commission will oversee federal ministers’ appointments to federal boards, agencies and Crown corporations. It’s supposed to be a non-partisan initiative, so that appointments aren’t handed out to ministers’ friends but to people who have proven themselves worthy of their posts.
The problem, of course, is that Morgan is one of the most partisan figures in the country. In a February speech, recalling the previous month’s federal election campaign, he spoke worshipfully of Harper and scornfully of the Liberals.
“We saw an orchestrated attempt to impugn a Canadian political leader whose integrity is beyond reproach and a person who openly honours Christian values, but respects all religions,” Morgan said.
Not only has Morgan supported the Conservatives financially in the past, but he is also a trustee of the Fraser Institute, a diehard right-wing “think” tank.
And let’s not forget the speech Morgan delivered to a Fraser Institute audience in December, wherein he shamelessly derided poor Canadians and immigrants. In that speech, he also spoke out against government “monopolies,” by which he meant public services that haven’t yet been privatized.
“Think about it: would you fly an airplane built and operated under the same model as our health care system – that is, by a government monopoly?” Morgan asked. “Well, when you enter the Canadian health care system with a life-threatening illness, try not to think about your answer to that question.”
But it wasn’t only public health care that Morgan attacked. He also railed against universal day care, describing it as a “unionized monopoly.” To Morgan, it seems any public service that isn’t sold to the highest private bidder is a “monopoly.” He is carrying into government the Fraser Institute’s goals to undermine government and privatize everything under the sun.
Harper was ecstatic about Morgan’s nomination. “Gwyn Morgan is an outstanding Canadian and, throughout his career, has been a champion of transparency and ethics in the private and public sectors,” said the prime minister.
To call Morgan a champion of ethics is dubious at best. He has yet to own up to EnCana’s environmentally destructive venture in Ecuador. In February, the oil pipeline that EnCana helped build through sensitive jungle ecosystems was shut down when protesters seized a pumping station and held the pipeline workers hostage. Clashes between protesters and police escalated, and President Alfredo Palacio declared a national state of emergency. (Of course, this was overlooked by Calgary’s media.)
When that pipeline was being built several years ago, Morgan had assured EnCana shareholders that 97 per cent of people along the pipeline route agreed to have it across their land. Strange, then, that there has been so much protest and pipeline sabotage since its construction.
Apparently, Harper had no problem with any of this. Or maybe he just ignored it. Regardless, thanks to Harper, Morgan is now better positioned to pursue his neo-conservative agenda – much to the detriment of Canadian society.
I go back to Morgan’s December speech, in which he said: “We need to be much more effective at exporting those who abuse our society.” He was talking about immigrants, but his words apply better to fat cat executives who seek to impose their economic fundamentalism on the rest of us.
Watch Dawg is a semi-regular column that puts media and corporate activity under the microscope.