"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting our money's worth

I mentioned in an earlier post that for the amount of money being spent on the G8/G20 meetings just for security, the government could build a money wall around the main venue for the G8 summit. I ran a few more numbers.
$1.1 billion dollars would allow the government to pay 150,000 security officers $100 per hour for the entire 72 hours and still have $20 million left to buy crullers and large double-doubles from Tim Horton's for the massive security detail.
It would take a better mathematician than I am to figure out the all the numbers, but I'm also confident that for $1.1 billion they could hold both conferences in a giant hollow sphere made of 18 carat gold floating off shore in Lake Ontario. $1.1 billion dollars would buy you nearly 36,000 kilograms of 18k gold. Maybe we could just have Stephen Harper and his Cabinet covered in gold leaf -- that would be sure to impress the visiting dignitaries!

This money is getting spent somewhere, and I suspect that a lot of it is going for fat "consulting fees" and no-bid contracts to Conservative Party of Canada backers. I expect the eventual auditor's report will have more pages discussing pork than the annual report of the Canadian Hog Farmers Association.

Leave your suggestions on how the money could be spent in the comments.

vive la revolution de sirop d'erable!

The latest edition of the Maple Syrup Revolution - in which Canadian Cynic's Lindsay Stewart returns to discuss copyright, lying Conservative Party of Canada MPs, the Harper government's fear of open government and the insane amount of money being spent on security for the G8 and G20 summits -- is ready for your listening pleasure.

Just for fun, I ran some numbers and the 1.1 billion dollars the Canadian government is spending on security for the G8 and G20 summits would build a wall of $10 bills about 3 meters high, 10 centimeters thick and 767 meters long--probably long enough to surround the Deerhurst resort--with enough left over to buy everyone within 100 km of Huntsville, Ontario, a beer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jason Kenney: Liar or just absentminded?

I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt. We all forget things we've said or done once in a while, and hey, maybe Jason Kenney has suffered some sort of head injury that has left him unable to remember anything that happened more than a few minutes ago, like that guy in that movie. Or maybe he's been brainwashed into remembering things differently from the way they really happened, like that guy in that other movie. Or maybe, just maybe, he's a dishonest hack who suffers from incendiary trouser syndrome.  Given the frequency with which the Conservative Party of Canada likes to quote chapter and verse from the Adscam scandal, I'm guessing Kenney needs a fireproof chair. From now on we ought to call him "Lilac" Kenney, because he can lie like nobody else.
"But Rev. P," you say, "You can't just go around accusing members of Parliament of being liars! That's terrible! It's libelous!"
Yes, it is true that calling someone a liar, especially a politician, especially one as notoriously thin-skinned as Jason Kenney, is a risky business. One could very well be sued for libel. But you know what buckaroos? This ain't my first rodeo.
The best, indeed just about the only defence to a charge of libel is that the allegedly libelous comment is the truth and can be proved to be so. The truth really will set you free.

Jason "Lilac" Kenny, while being--as this clip shows--a lying douche bag, is correct about one thing: It is the Cabinet member who is ultimately responsible to Parliament for what happens in his ministry and therefore it is essential that his underlings never ever get a chance to tell Parliament just how badly the ministry and by extension the minister, has screwed up a particular issue. Twentysomething senior aides just can't be counted on to lie as effectively as a Cabinet minister and therefore must be kept away from testifying before Parliamentary committees where the Conservative Party can't control the questions they could be asked.
Imagine the disaster that could ensue if one of these young "inexperienced" aides who are paid about 100 grand a year to essentially run the ministries for their elected bosses were ever put in a position by a Parliamentary committee where they would have to tell the truth about the shit their boss was trying to pull in order to salvage whatever future career they might have. Cabinet ministers on the other hand, in addition to generally being accomplished bullshit artists, have already peaked careerwise and have the added option of blaming their staff for doing things the minister -- who is far too busy to deal with the day to day details dotcha know -- could not possibly have known about!
Just what is it that the Stephen Harper Conservatives are so desperate to hide?

(hat tip to Stageleft for the video)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Questions are a burden to others, answers are a burden to oneself.

For years, we've known that Stephen Harper is a control freak who insists that every utterance of everyone speaking for the government be vetted through the PMO, but methinks he has now gone a bit too far
 First, it was gagging backbenchers so that the ignorant, knuckledragging rednecks let's be kind and say the "less sophisticated, less media-savy" among his Reform Alliance colleagues didn't start ranting about racial minorities and commies under the bed "get off message" and embarass  the "New Government of Canada." Then, after he realized he a had a few of these loose cannons in the Cabinet, ministers were told to zip it, that anything that had to be said would be said by the PMO. After all the press were hostile and prone to asking "gotcha" questions and-- let's face it-- your average Parliament Hill journalist engaging a Reform-Tory Cabinet Minister in a battle of wits is pretty much attacking an unarmed target.
Having shut out the press to the degree possible, Harper then decided that even Parliamentary committees should be served a nice big mug of STFU, and the party put out a manual for Conservative members that explained how to block committee business, even completely shut things down by being obstructionist arseholes if things weren't going their way. When that didn't work well enough to keep 
a committee from demanding information about the way Afghan detainees were being dealt with and whether Canadian troops could face accusations of war crimes for the negligent way their superiors had decided to organize things, Harper shut down Parliament and hoped the whole thing would blow over.
It didn't.
Next he tried the classic American conservative argument -- that everything was a matter of national security and  tippy-top secret to protect our wonderful troops and if you wanted to violate that sacred trust and find out what the elected government had ordered the troops to do on the nation's behalf,  well clearly you were a troop-hating pinko bastard who hated freedom -- Wolverines!!!
Then the Speaker of the House stuck a pin in that particular trial balloon.
Now, Harper has decided that ministerial aides and other senior staff answer to no one but the PMO and the Minister and couldn't possibly be called upon to answer questions by Parliamentary committees. The spin he is trying to put on this is both hilarious and ironically true. The justification for this notion that just because they draw a government salary, civil servants shouldn't ever have to explain their actions to Parliament is that the Ministers are ultimately responsible for what is done in their ministry. This is true -- and just you wait and see how responsible some of these schmucks are going to be held if their underlings are ever made to testify under oath about the crap that goes on at the behest of their bosses.

So if Dmitiri Soudas is able enough to command a handsome taxpayer-funded salary as the director of communications for the Prime Minister of Canada, he can damn well answer a few questions about his job from the House of Commons Ethics Committee. Parliament is supreme and if it summons him, he better show up, otherwise he will be guilty of Contempt of Parliament. And if Michael Ignatieff , Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton won't  go to the mat on this, then they won't go to the mat on anything and we might just as well let Harper appoint himself dictator-for-life and be done with it.

Also, what Dave said -- that goes double for me.

Monday, May 24, 2010