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Duff Conacher

Co-founder of Democracy Watch and director of Consulting

Duff Conacher is an internationally recognized leader in the area of democratic reform and government accountability, and is director of Consulting. He is a former Ralph Nader's Raider, co-author of Canada Firsts and author of More Canada Firsts (both best-sellers), and has worked as a researcher, community organizer and educator, legal intern and consultant.  A graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, he has a
long-standing interest in democratic process and corporate
responsibility issues and is the co-founder of Democracy Watch and its spokesperson. He has led Democracy Watch and its four nationwide coalitions to win more changes to laws, regulations and government policies than any other citizen advocacy group in Canada since 1993 — more than 150 changes in total, many of them world-leading.  He has also led Democracy Watch to win precedent-setting good government court cases, and regular national media coverage.  He is the author of
three annual good government reports on Canada for Global Integrity.  Duff has also designed and delivered dozens of civics education and organizational development workshops since 1993 as Assistant Coordinator of Democracy Education Network.

Will MPs Empower Themselves and Restrict Their Powers?

A committee of MPs is considering important and unprecedented changes that will either restrict the power of federal party leaders and empower MPs to represent voters, or not, and will also either make MPs much more accountable for their conduct, or not. What the committee decides will reveal a lot about the state of democracy in Canada.
12/07/2014 10:49 EST

'Fair' Elections Act Changes Don't Go Far Enough

The federal Conservatives are finally backing off on some of the measures in their proposed so-called "Fair Elections Act" (Bill C-23). Minister for Democratic Reform Poilievre is trying to claim he has listened with an open mind, but this is yet another misleading spin statement from him about the bill. The truth is much more that playing games with democratic voting issues was hurting the Conservatives with their soft supporters, and with swing voters, and they realized they would only recover by compromising.
04/28/2014 05:46 EDT

Trudeau's Next Smart Moves on Senate Reform Should Include House Reform

If Trudeau wants to avoid allowing obvious, pointed questions to fester and undermine the momentum he has captured on Senate reform, he should now do four things to clarify the decidedly vague promises he has made to establish a new appointment process, and to make at least some of the other Senate changes that the Supreme Court of Canada rules Parliament can do alone.
02/17/2014 10:31 EST

How To Ensure the Senate Scandal Mess Doesn't Happen Again

A fair compromise concerning pay for suspended senators and other politicians would be to establish a rule that if a politician is found guilty of the alleged violation, they would be required to return any pay received after the allegation was first made.
11/01/2013 04:12 EDT

For Canada's Birthday, Give it a New Constitution

As Canada turns 146, many recent surveys show that most Canadians are hankering for a new constitution. So is Canada's Constitution a completed document? Some commentators have claimed since 1995 that Canadians are tired of constitutional talks, and while this was likely true back then there is no evidence that the fatigue continues. As Canada moves toward its 150th birthday in 2017, what more appropriate national discussion could take place than about the document that founded both our country and our governments, and about the changes Canadians want in a new constitution?
06/28/2013 08:22 EDT

No Party Leader Should Have All That Power

The results of a national education survey show that a large majority of Canadians want legal restrictions on party leader powers to give more freedom and power to politicians in each party, while only 20 per cent do not want these legal restrictions. So how could these powers be restricted?
06/12/2013 12:26 EDT

To Stop Secret Lobbying, Close This Policy Loophole

Bruce Carson, former senior advisor to Prime Minister Harper, is in court charged with the crime of taking payment from a client while promising he could win a decision from the federal government (known as influence peddling). So why did prosecutors decide not to prosecute Carson for failing to register and disclose his lobbying activities under the federal Lobbying Act?
10/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Did the AG Break the Law With Bad Auditing?

The federal Auditor General's report on House of Commons and Senate spending is disappointing. Not only does the AG have the clear legal power to audit the expenses of MPs and senators whether or not they invite the AG to do so, a strong argument can be made that the AG is legally required to do this audit at least every few years.
06/15/2012 05:32 EDT

Time to Sick the Watchdogs on the AG

The F-35 scandal has shown how the Prime Minister and senior government officials are very reluctant to penalize anyone, especially themselves. The good government watchdog agencies must all be given the power to penalize wrongdoers with high fines -- to bite not just bark.
04/04/2012 04:29 EDT

15 Things to Demand at the Occupy Toronto Protest

The window of opportunity to ensure a corporate responsibility system in Canada is open now. So, as many commentators have pointed out, while the planned demonstrations don't have specific proposals for change, demonstrators can easily join with the coalitions in supporting the push for these key changes.
10/13/2011 04:21 EDT

Leadership Election Rules in Desperate Need of Reform

Ideally, given that two federal parties currently do not have leaders, all parties should work together and pass a bill that democratizes party leadership and nomination races and uphold the democratic principles of one person, one vote, and of honesty, openness, ethics and fair and accurate representation.
09/14/2011 11:15 EDT