OTTAWA - Michael Ignatieff is promising to strengthen and respect the independence of federal agencies that protect the health and safety of Canadians and hold government to account.
The Liberal leader says his willingness to give real teeth to the watchdogs shows he's prepared to put limits on prime ministerial power.
Among other things, he says a Liberal government would "seriously consider" creating a public-appointments commission to ensure those chosen to sit on various tribunals are qualified and independent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper once promised such a commission but it has never materialized.
Liberals heard today from three watchdogs muzzled by the Harper government - Linda Keen, former head of the nuclear safety commission; Paul Kennedy, former head of the RCMP's public complaints commission; and Peter Tinsley, former military police complaints commissioner.
Keen, who was fired by the Tories, told Liberals that federal watchdogs are "under attack" by the government and that supposedly independent commissioners are afraid they'll lose their jobs if they take tough stands.