Independent special prosecutors have kept the executive branch in the United States much more open and transparent than the strict interpretation of the Constitution and general practice would otherwise allow. They helped bring down Richard Nixon and nearly brought down Bill Clinton for abuse of office. They have also exposed wrongdoing by Cabinet secretaries and other administration officials that might otherwise have remained hidden behind the White House door.
Our own executive branch, with powers vested in the PMO beyond the dreams of even the most ambitious U.S. President, or of any other Western head of government, needs no less scrutiny.
Which is why Stephen Harper's announcement of a proposed independent office of public prosecutions is especially timely and necessary.
The Minister of Justice, as Attorney General for Canada, no longer enjoys the necessary political independence, or at least scrupulous non-interference with his non-political duties, that the position once had.
An independent prosecutor, responsible to Parliament and not to Cabinet (or the PMO, in effect), will be freed from the arm-twisting that has stifled many an investigation. Think of how the Auditor General's independence has emboldened that office to investigate and reveal financial mismanagement in government without fear of reprisal. Without that independence, Adscam would have been buried forever as an issue.
The fox will no longer be in charge of the henhouse under a Tory government!