Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? An expression from ancient Rome meaning “Who will watch over the watchmen?”
The 2013 Conference of Mines and Energy Ministers was anything but dull. The conference agenda assured that everybody would have a good time during the four conference days. Recreational activities included a golf tournament, a pub night, an opening reception, and a Northern Dinner and dance.
In principle there is no reason not to combine business and pleasure. And we have no concern over the attendance of speakers from outside of government. Our objection is that an intergovernmental meeting is sponsored by industries subject to the regulatory oversight of the Ministers and their departments. The “proud sponsors” include:
- The oil and gas industry, represented by Encana, the Canadian Propane Association and Husky Energy;
- The mining industry represented by De Boers and Diavik Diamond Mine
- Professionals or businesses, represented by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.
These companies and associations would expect to be generous contributors, although there is no information on the Conference website as to what cash or in-kind contribution they made.
The Ministers Conference is part of our constitutional infrastructure. It must be and appear to be independent. It should not be compromised by support of any kind from business interests.
Otherwise the question arises: who will watch over custodians who watch over the public good?