Nicholson says amendments to sunshine list for high-paid CBC employees not damaging to bill

Federal Justice minister Rob Nicholson



OTTAWA - Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has brushed aside complaints from a caucus colleague about government amendments to his private member's bill on CBC and civil service accountability.

"I think the amendments are reasonable and the matter is going before a committee and I've got confidence that the committee will deal with it," said Nicholson.

Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber's bill would create a "sunshine list" to make public which civil servants and CBC employees make more than $188,000 annually, and would allow the information commissioner to investigate complaints that the CBC is too secretive in its responses to Access to Information requests.

Rathgeber fears Nicholson's amendments would shield the CBC from the information commissioner and raise the threshold for the sunshine list to those with annual salaries and bonuses worth around $444,000.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says the higher threshold would make the sunshine list almost useless.

"Even in an organization the size of the government of Canada we're talking about a few hundred people out of nearly 300,000 government employees," said CTF federal director Gregory Thomas.

Conservative MPs on the access to information and ethics committee could reject Nicholson's amendments since the government rarely imposes full party discipline on private member's bills, but Rathgeber isn't optimistic.

"As you know the powers that be can be quite persuasive," said Rathgeber. "Accordingly, I am worried that much needed legislation, popular with our base and taxpayers generally, will be eviscerated at committee."

Nicholson is expected to forward his amendments to the committee on Thursday, with MPs considering them on Monday.

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