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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 2, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta 28 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Wednesday, December 2, 1970------------------- watchdog protests downgrading of staff whose federal watchdog duties are a hot political issue in Ot- tawa, protested Tuesday that the govern m e n t has down- graded all the senior staff in his causing of salary and threatening efficiency. He told the Commons public accounts committee that he be- lieves actions of the federal treasury board in reducing the staff numbers 2-H) at present, (lie office lias authority to hire up to 256, but counterpart off- ices liave about 540 in Australia and more than 000 in Britain. But lie added that while num- bers remain a problem, his prime concern at present is staff classification for salary purposes. Asked to elaborate, Mr. Hen- derson at first expressed rehict- public service grading of "theiance to do so while legislation core of my guts of my 1 about his office is pending. But office" constitutes an attempt to impair its effectiveness. Asked outside the committee he gave way to relate a history of a struggle between his office and the treasury whether he regarded the move I government as part cf a government cam- presented the committee with a paign to limit the investigative series of letters and hithert power of his office, Mr. Hender- son replied: "Well, I don't know what you would call it, but it certainly looks that way." CHECKS SPENDING The auditor-general, responsi- ble to Parliament rather than the government, has the job of investigating the accounts and operations of federal depart- ments and reporting annually on any cases of waste, ineffi- ciency or malfeasance. His latest, bulky annual re- port, published last spring for the 1969 financial year, drew un- usual public criticism from gov- ernment ministers on the ground that Mr. Henderson had exceeded his authority by criti- cizing what the ministers said were policy decisions approved by Parliament. He has been critical of such alleged extravagances as a hefty repair bill for the aircraft carrier Bonaventure, since sold as scrap, and funds spent on abortive planning for a cause- way to Prince Edward Island, a Liberal election campaign promise. Proposed government legisla- tion under fire by opposition MPs would tend to limit the scope of the auditor-general's investigative authority. As the committee opened con- sideration of his 1969 report, dis- cussion quickly tc per- ennial complaints about staffing the auditor-general's office. These are raised in the report's first chapter. terms" mid tell him that "ours was the only office thus treated." Treasury Board President C. M. Drury, one of the ministers who publicly criticized Mr. Hen- derson last spring, agreed that a special committee should re- view the situation. The committee consisted of tlrree auditors representing the Canadian International Develop- ment Agency, the customs and excise of the departments w e one outsider, chartered account- ant James Duncan of Toronto. The committee, which Mr. Henderson said never visited him, confirmed the downgrad- ing in a report a year ago. Mr. Henderson went to Mr. Drury and Mr. Reisman and said the decision was unjusti- fied, asking why the questions in the 21-page letter had not been answered. Mr. Drury instructed the com- mittee to tliink again. The com- mittee again confirmed the job decision last August. But, said Mr. Henderson, its terms of ref- erence were such that it was unable to do otherwise, although the members sympathized with his arguments, Mr. Henderson said he then requested that a new job cate- goiy altogether be established for his office, but Treasury Sec- retary A. W. Johnson denied the request Nov. 9. j Mr. Henderson said the board had wrongly equated his ac- countants, who arc required to know the laws and regulations affecting all government opera- tions, with accountants in indi- vidual government depart- ments, who generally have to apply only one set of laws. Further, Ira said, his office had suffered because unlike government departments there had been no empire building and development of supervisory hierarchies. One reason given for downgrading his account- ants, he said, was that they had smaller staffs to supervise than comparable officials in depart- ments. The auditor-general appealed to live committee to investigate the situation, call treasury board officials ami "perhaps recommend a new classifica- tion" for staff in his office. He said reduction of liis office's ef- ficiency reduces that of the committee and Parliament. The committee, which con- sists of 10 government and 10 opposition MPs with Conserva- tive Alfred D. Hales (Welling- ton) as chairman, decided subcommittee should what witnesses to call from government in an investigation. Outside the committee, Lib- eral MPs said they were reserv- ing judgment until they heard the other side of the argument. But one said previous studies lad brought out that staff of tho auditor-general's office want to retain its inclusion in govern- ment-wide job classification so they have the opportunity to switch into other federal jobs. confidential reports about the dispute. JOBS PINPOINTED Under a program of job re- classification conducted throughout the federal public sendee in connection with the introduction three years ago of collective bargaining for sala- ries, Mi1. Henderson said he re- ceived notice two years ago that a number of Ms senior staff pos- itions had been "red-circled" for downgrading. All senior positions in lus off- ice were downgraded formally Feb. 14, 1969. Twenty-eight directors, assistant directors and regional directors were dropped one salary grade. The effect was that each of the 28 has lost in salary since raises for their former grades were retroactive the morale and effective- ness of his staff has been suf- fered, he said. "Nowhere else, including the treasury board, has there been such a wholesale Mr. Henderson said. Mr. Henderson said George Long, his deputy, WTote a 21- page letter June 6, 1969, to the treasury board raising a series of questions about the job re-1 classifications. Tabling the text, he said it has never been an- swered. PROTESTED ACTION Meantime, the auditor-general "aid he wont to Simon Reisman, j then treasury board secretary I j and at present deputy finance minister, "to protest this arbi- j I trary action in the strongest I Supervised vole wanted by V. PARIS (Router) North Vietnam and the Viet Cong held out the possibility yesterday of international supervision of cew elections in South Vietnam after the present Saigon leader- ship is replaced. The clarification of their posi- tions came during an unusual television program filmed for showing in the United States. It also included an interview in which South Vietnamese Presi- dent Nguyen Van Thieu ex- plained his election proposals. Thieu stressed the Viet Cong would be able to stand for office tinder his plan. "If the Vietnamese people like communism, let's try it through Thieu said in an in- terview filmed in Saigon. The program will be shown hi two parts during the next two weeks in the U.S. ALL AT RECEPTION The unusual character of the program was underlined when irembers of the Saigon govern- ment, Viet Cong, Hanoi and U.S. delegations to the Paris peace talks all attended a re- ception after the filming of parts of the program here. But the opposing delegates stayed on opposite sides of the room in a suburban hotel. The program, on the subject of whether the United States should accept the Viet Cong pro- posal for a coalition.government in Saigon, also failed to narrow the gap between the two sides. Hanoi ancl Viet Cong negotia- tors again stressed that new elections should be prepared by a coalition government which would exclude the top three present Saigon dent Thieu, Vice-President Ngu- yen Cao Ky and Premier Tran Than Khiem. But. Chief North Vietnamese j negotiator Xnan Tluiy. asked j why he rejected Saigon's pro- posals, which include interna- tional supervision of elections, said: "We have never stated that we oppose or accept inter- national supervision of elec- tions. We have only opposed the maintenance by the United States administration of the Thieu-Ky-Khiem administration and the United States' demand that this administration be al- lowed to organize general elec- tions in South Vietnam." Business philosophy obsolete BANFF (CP) A world I threatened by pollution may i cause the "bigger and better" j business philosophy to become j obsolete, Senator Norman Mac- Kenzie said here. Speaking to business execu- tives attending classes at the Banff School of Advanced Man- agement, the former Univer- sity of British Columbia presi- dent said businessmen of the [uture will have to solve the problem of maintaining produc- tion, employment and profits in a static society with urban con- centrations of' population. j "It is no longer enough to] produce more and bigger and I shinier cars nor is it sensible or permissible to courage the practise of obsolr -'ence as has been done in th- past." School patrols should, he elinmialed United Appeal gpul reached MOOS1-; JAW (CP) This soul h v.cstern Saskatchewan connnuniSy hns become (lie sixth city in Canada a pop- ulation of than to reach it.-; 1070 I'm ted Apt ion I objective. Receipts on the Mnai day of the or iwi.7 of lim of f.'.iu-r ci'lc.-, ilirit Iiavc reached liinr objective arc fCc- gina. Mflinoiitf-n. and UuH, PSONS-SEARS Sq. Yd. 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