The extravagantly titled Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister John Baird recently yapped excitedly about his expectation that federal infrastructure funds will flow "ten times faster than anything in the modern era". That's a relief, because the Building Canada Fund his government created in 2007 to dole out infrastructure money to municipalities has, so far, transferred precisely nothing: breaking its funds-disbursement speed record might just be something this government can do.
I was amused to hear Baird explain why he sees no need to conduct strict oversight of the way infrastructure funds are spent: he's not worried, he says, because provinces and municipalities must provide matching funds for their federal money--an obligation which apparently provides "the biggest form of accountability" conceivable. Thus, a senior member of Canada's ostensibly "fiscally conservative" party maintains that the optimal agent of governmental accountability is another level of government and that governments become reliably self-policing whenever they are forced to spend money in order to get more money.
I wonder--is the term "fiscally conservative" really something that this party believes it can claim unironically, or are they aware that it's become merely the punch-line of a sick joke?
The West Wants In (To The Trough):
Just because you allow a barely-staffed "commission" to sit idle whilst funnelling a million tax-payer dollars into its inertia does not mean you can't violate the principles on which it was established in order to toss out partisan pork to under-qualified courtiers.
Only a few years after elevating himself to Canada's pontificate of political moral supremacy and waging an electoral campaign full of ad urbis et orbi fulminations against government waste and arrogance, Stephen Harper invited a lorry-load of his ideological confederates to dip their biscuit faces into rich, thick tax-funded gravy. None declined the honour, though I am sure they all retain their commitment to their libertarian, anti-government ideals.
I love the statement from the PMO on the matter:
"...a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office says the posts went to qualified candidates, and that their partisan activities and friendships with Harper should not exclude them from the jobs".One is struck by how radically different this exculpatory whine is from the rote statements issued by Liberal PMO's down through the decades; for instance, it contains the word "Harper" rather than "Trudeau", "Turner", "Chrétien" or "Martin". If you don't think that's a huge difference, you're clearly with the terrorists. And you're probably gay. You no doubt also speak passable French.
“Just Because I'm The Minister Doesn't Mean I Have To Do Stuff”:
Minister of Defence Peter Mackay assures us that "the federal government is constantly looking at[sic] ways to improve search and rescue response", except where the need for improvement is obvious and pressing.
Should a transit point for hundreds of heliborne offshore oil-rig workers--a place that witnessed the deaths of seventeen men in a tragic crash a few months ago--be given a dedicated search-and-rescue helicopter? Maybe. Minister Mackay doesn't know. Moreover, he says, it's not his problem: it's the Armed Forces' decision to make. "I guess that's a judgment call that the military make based on the information that they have," he bleated.
Astonishing. Harper's tin soldiers are proudly political about sending young men and women to Afghanistan to die defending a corrupt Islamist narco-state; it's personal to them--a crusade, a vendetta. When it comes to their sedulous patronage of warlords and Talib fellow travelers, offered with a smile from the ivied ignorance of the Centre Block, they show fearless leadership indeed.
When it comes to providing security to their own citizens, to hard-working tax-payers doing some of the world's most dangerous jobs on Hibernia's oil rigs, Harperoids will let faceless, irresponsible, non-executive bureaucrats make the key decisions. After all, the Canadian military cannot be expected to do everything: it can't prop up Hamid Karzai's rule over Kabul's suburbs and prevent needless catastrophes by providing a minimum standard of search-and-rescue capability to its own people. Let's keep our priorities straight: warlords first; Canadians second.