Saturday, March 01, 2014

Me And Thee

This week, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation handed out its Golden Pig Awards for profligate public spending. And -- world of  wonders -- Jason Kenney's ministry, Employment and Social Development Canada, copped a pig.

How was that possible? After all, Michael Harris writes, Stephen Harper has a long and distinguished record of railing against pigs at the public trough:

Don’t they know how much Steve hates pigs in public life? Back in 1997, when he was president of the National Citizen’s Coalition, Steve outed lots of pigs during the election campaign of that year. In fact, he actually put the heads of two Liberal MPs, Anne McLellan and Judy Bethel, on the bodies of pigs for a newspaper ad campaign against “pension porkers”. I ask you, would a man with swinish leanings do something like that?

And let’s not forget how he outed his own leader in 1994. Steve revealed that Preston Manning had a secret party slush fund of $31,000 that he used to enhance his appearance with a new hair-do and some decent suits. Steve knew that was unacceptable extravagance. Not having a bus in those days, he went public and threw his own leader to the media wolves. Doesn’t that tell you what kind of man he is?

And, to make matters worse, we also discovered that the PMO -- which keeps Mr. Harper in the dark -- put $66,000 in staff breakfasts on the public tab. However, Tony Clement -- that ever watchful guardian of the public purse -- said that the breakfasts were within government guidelines: 

The ever-reliable Tony Clement reminded everyone of the essential facts here: that there are no facts. The president of Treasury Board stated plainly and simply that the lunches fell within his department’s guidelines — end of story. It was Tony’s riff on the Nixonian tradition: If your Treasury Board president says it, it must be so, especially in the decree democracy of Steve.

And that's the point, isn't it? They get to say what is wasteful spending and what is not. There is one rule for thee and another rule for me.


Toby said...

Canadian Taxpayers Federation does a reasonably good job of exposing relatively small waste but never goes after the big stuff. We never hear the CTF complain about subsidies to the oil industry, for example. We never hear the CTF suggest that corporate behemoths don't need taxpayer bailouts, government roads into mines, or embassy lobbying of foreign governments. Etc. Until it shucks its pro corporate bias I will believe that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is just a shill for very large corporations.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Toby. The CTF is on the side of Big Money. That's what's so interesting about its award to Kenny's ministry and its attack on Mike Duffy.

The Conservative Party of Canada and the CTF seem to be parting ways.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't want to be indelicate here, Owen, but I do recall the $50-million Tony lavished on spruce up projects in his riding supposedly for the G20. And we can't forget the never-ending TV spots for a jobs programme that doesn't exist.

Owen Gray said...

It really is the height of Harperian hypocrisy to have Tony Clement act as a national scold, Mound.

He's the man who judges what is and is not wasteful spending?