Last week, the Harper government announced that it was going to tighten the rules on the transportation of petroleum by rail. But, for this government, the proclamation of the rules and the enforcement of them are mutually exclusive propositions. Cutbacks cripple enforcement. David McGuinty says:
“My first concern is the cuts (are) beginning to take effect on the good people at Transport Canada,” he says. “There’s a serious capacity crisis.”
Phil Gibson writes that the Harper government doesn't take the Ministry of Transportation seriously:
Transport Canada has been “victimized” by budget cuts since the current government assumed office, McGuinty says. “In seven and a half years we’ve had five ministers. The department isn’t being taken seriously with a series of junior ministers (who are) going nowhere.” Frequent ministerial switching blurs accountability.
So who’s to blame for the rail safety budget being cut by 19 per cent between 2010 and 2014? Or the $14-million budget for transportation of dangerous goods being reduced by a million dollars over the same time frame?
Accountability mechanisms are so weakened by cutbacks that staff can’t meet their own targets. A plan to analyse the performance of all federally-regulated railways operating in Canada by March 31, 2012 wasn’t half-completed by the department’s own deadline, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson warned last month.
It's become a well established pattern. The government says it supports a policy and then cuts the money needed to support it.
They call that accountability.