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The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday April 19, 2006
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is choosing which Conservative MPs will become chairs of Commons committees, reversing a parliamentary reform that he championed while leader of the Official Opposition.

Opposition members are concerned that the role of MPs will be significantly weakened as a result, because the chairpersons' loyalties will be to the Prime Minister rather than the MPs on the committees, who may at times wish to publish reports critical of government policy.

The new selection process is expected to be used next week, according to Saskatoon-Wanuskewin Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, who issued a press release titled "Vellacott accepts Prime Minister's Nomination as Committee Chair."

Mr. Vellacott is one of the more controversial MPs in the Conservative caucus, an evangelical pastor who frequently issues anti-abortion press releases.

Mr. Vellacott told The Globe and Mail he has been told he is the Prime Minister's choice to chair the Commons aboriginal affairs committee and is therefore unlikely to be challenged when chairs are selected next week.

Mr. Harper was a vocal critic of appointing chairs when he was leader of the Official Opposition. In 2002, he co-wrote a letter to The Globe with Chuck Strahl, now the Minister of Agriculture, accusing the Liberals of "posturing" on parliamentary reform. (source)

Harper changes tune on appointments