Tony Clement was grilled yesterday by a parliamentary committee reviewing spending for "border security" in his riding. But, as Lawrence Martin writes this morning, "It's John Baird who is on the hook for G-8 money games." The trouble is that Baird sees only a picayune bureaucratic transgression:
It should be noted that the $50-million was more than just a top-up. It was the bulk. The border fund was only $33-million. Baird’s add-on made it $83-million.
Baird explained that the border fund was used as a way of trying to expedite things. He wanted the legacy fund projects – which included things like new sidewalks, outdoor furniture and landscaping, some of which was far away from the Huntsville summit site – to get rolling quickly. But what kind of morality is at play when a senior minister of the Crown feels it’s justifiable to camouflage a major expenditure under a different budgetary category for the sake of hurrying things along?
Remember, these were the folks who were apoplectic about the Sponsorship Scandal. They howled about the rot which had engulfed the Chretien government. But this, says Mr. Baird, is small potatoes. The two transgressions -- both uncovered by the auditor general -- were not of the same order of magnitude.
Baird is effective at disarming critics and was so again at the hearings. It was like, ‘Ah well, we made some mistakes, we agree with the Auditor-General, we’ll do better next time, let’s move on.’
Baird's hypocrisy is extraordinary. It's so egregious it deserves a name of its own. Call it "Harpocrisy."