Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Sun King And His Chief Courtier

Michael Harris writes that the Sun King is now ensconced on the shores of the Ottawa River. There he sits -- amid his munificence, surrounded by sycophants, who are eager to do his bidding. Not the least of these is Peter Kent. But, by far, the Prime Minister's most enthusiastic courtier is John Baird. He doles out the prime minister's largesse and punishes his enemies with gusto.

Take, for instance, the case of Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohm, who applied for a grant from Human Resources Minister Diane Finley’s department:

So did 355 other people who wanted to make their facilities more accessible to their community members. The officials responsible for administering the program by grading applicants against established criteria reduced that number to 25 – the ones who scored 82 out of 100 or higher. The Rabbi’s application was not remotely close, receiving a score of just 53 out of 100.

Then Versailles kicked in. Human Resources minister Diane Finley asked that the Rabbi’s application be re-assessed by an outside evaluator, even though that process was only supposed to apply to the top 25 proposals so that four winners could be chosen. The evaluation was undertaken using different criteria but it didn’t have the desired effect. The application from the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch went down, not up, getting 51 out of 100. After an intervention by Baird on behalf of his “dear friend”, Minister Finley decided to over-rule her departmental officials and approve an application knowing that it came “with a number of weaknesses.” And that’s how being the friend of a cabinet minister at Versailles can be worth a million dollars – and how one of the 82 or higher scores was cheated out of a fair selection process.

Baird recently shut down two institutions from the Mulroney era -- Rights and Democracy and The National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment. In the case of the NRTEE, he was blunt about why the organization needed to be shuttered:

“Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something that the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected?”

That's our John Baird. That's Ottawa under Stephen Harper.The French eventually had a revolution over this kind of behaviour.

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