Tim Harper writes this morning that Gerry Ritz' handling of the tainted meat mess is part of an established pattern for the Conservative government:
Ritz initially denied there was a problem and fell to the usual Harper government fallback of defending industry when it should have been reassuring consumers.
When it became clear there was a problem, he disappeared.
He was not in the House of Commons to rebuild confidence in consumers, or take questions, he blithely defended meat quality at a Saskatchewan luncheon as the crisis grew, he cut short a briefing in which he referred to anything that knocked him off his talking points as a “technical question."
He returned to Ottawa only last Thursday — and did answer questions for two days — but then refused interview requests and ducked all the major political talk shows over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The way this government handles a problem is to retreat inside its bunker and simply refuse to answer questions. We saw it in the case of Afghan prisoners; we saw in the case of the F35 jets (in that case the information the government provided was -- according to the Auditor General -- false; we see it now in the government's refusal to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer details on the cuts it is making to government programs. Tony Clement justifies this stonewalling, saying that PBO Kevin Page is "operating outside his mandate."
To the Harper government, questions about its performance are out of bounds. They violate the basic principles of democracy -- every day.