Monday, October 19, 2009

Because Government Transparency is SO 2006

Stephen Maher sounds a bit frustrated:

Last month in Oakville, when asked about the allegation — made by a Tory candidate — that one project was killed because the riding was Liberal, the prime minister said don’t worry: "We can give you a list of announcements made across the country."

Three weeks later, after repeated requests for that list, his office told me this week to stop bothering them. Turns out the prime minister was joking, or lying. They are not going to cough up a list. Instead, they directed me to the useless site, and suggested I click on 6,000 individual links and draw up my own list.


These people are either cynically withholding information that would allow voters to see where their tax dollars are beings spent, or they are idiots, or maybe both.

They think they are smart to hide this information — perhaps because it could be politically damaging if they are shown to be shovelling pork into Tory ridings nationwide — but they are not smart.

I'm willing to cut Harper a certain amount of slack on this - after all, not all ridings are the same so not all ridings will get the exact same amount of stimulus money. And governments who don't try to hype themselves for partisan gain don't exist outside of idealized fantasy lands.

But there's a lot of smoke and the Tory response to quantitative evidence that significantly more money is going to Conservative ridings has amounted to the political equivalent of "nu-uh". Harper points to one or two Liberal ridings that got cash, says the studies are bogus, but won't provide any alternative numbers when asked for them.

This, from a government, who came to power on a platform of more transparency and accountability.


  • " but won't provide any alternative numbers when asked for them"

    Worse: he won't provide any numbers when asked for them. Kevin Page and the PBO have been asking for ages for more more money and have been highly critical of the little information that has been provided. The Information Commissioner, sorry, former Information Commissioner resigned because the Harper Conservatives continued to break the information disclosure laws and no one would do anything about it. As a final rebuke, Harper threw all of his recommendations for improvement into the garbage.

    As for cutting slack on reporting, I suppose. That is certainly what they claim they are entitled to.

    But I note that the US, with just a few more dollars at stake and a few more districts/jurisdictions and a few more people, have managed to put together a webiste that discloses not just the cost of each and every project and the amount of stimulus dedicated to that project, but the status of the construction, the amount committed and actually spent, etc.

    If Obama can do it, so can we.

    Yes we can.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 9:14 p.m.  

  • I don’t know who disgusts me more: Two-faced Harper, or the scores of otherwise honourable Conservative MPs who, unlike Bill Casey, are too cowardly to stand up for Canada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 p.m.  

  • I'm really of two opinions on this. The first is that the Liberals are incredibly hypocritical on this, given Chretien's pork barreling. (And of course, the comparisons between this and adscam are utterly fallacious in that the Conservatives haven;t stolen any money and stuffed it into brown envelopes for unnamed candidates in Quebec).

    And the second opinion is I honestly expected better than this from Harper. This kind of politics is exactly why I could can't vote Liberal (along with their incredible arrogance and anti-Western biases), and why I ditched the Progressive Conservatives of Mulroney's ilk. The Reform party was born out of disgust with this kind of taxpayer-funded crap.

    By Blogger The Rat, at 9:48 p.m.  

  • I don't have the link at the moment, but the Herald published a few articles last week showing that more "stimulus" spending in NS has gone to the three CPC-held ridings than all the others combined. Notably, this excludes all of Metro Halifax, Cape Breton, and much of the Annapolis Valley.

    By Blogger JG, at 11:04 p.m.  

  • Why would Harper give money to a Conservative riding? They're already voting for him. Stands to reason that the money will go to ridings where the Liberals won, by a small margin.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 12:07 a.m.  

  • So let me see if I understand this: if money goes to, say, the Greater Toronto Area, and is announced in a Tory riding, do you attribute it to the NDP MPs whose ridings the money is mostly spend in? Or to the Liberals who dominate the GTA? Or to the few Conservatives because they happen to also be from the region?

    And do you re-balance it because the Provincial Government had to also play for the money to flow? So the fact that the Provincial Government is Liberal, do you divide the number of Liberal MPs by the number of Liberal MPPs or what?

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:02 a.m.  

  • Paul - I think all these calculations are based on the riding where the money is spent. ie. if it's for a hockey arena, the riding the arena is in.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:10 a.m.  

  • I think the best way for the Liberals to take the high road on this is to come up with a list of the monies they spent in Reform ridings in Alberta after 1993, compared to the amount spent on things like fountains and hotels in Chretien's riding.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 12:47 p.m.  

  • The Rat puts it well. I would take the Liberal complaints more seriously if they acknowledged the wrongness of their own bad habits on this front while in government, at a minimum.

    That said, I'm twice as disgusted by this, and related examples, because I foolishly expected the Tories would at least be a tiny bit better instead of constantly rationalizing their mistakes based on what happened in prior governments. I don't care what the Liberals did; the Tories set a higher standard FOR THEMSELVES, and now they aren't even pretending to care.

    By Anonymous Brian, at 1:17 p.m.  

  • CG, many projects cross riding boundaries and my question is how *they* are being accounted.

    Further, because most projects require Provincial co-operation, the question further asks whether you are suggesting collusion from, say, the Ontario Liberal Government in your accusations?

    I have no doubt that there is a strong need for infrastructure projects to be undertaken in many ridings which were cut off from Government funding under the federal Liberals in the past.

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:54 p.m.  

  • 'I would take the Liberal complaints more seriously if they acknowledged the wrongness of their own bad habits on this front while in government, at a minimum.'

    Paul, the Liberals did that. They called an inquiry to investigate and did pay back a large amount of the money in question in adscam.

    The Tories by contrast 'duck and cover', and sue their opponents when accused of wrong doing.

    I agree completely with your second point. Canadians threw out the Liberals and elected the Tories on the issue of accountability. I don't think this was the level of accountability we were looking for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 p.m.  

  • Quite effective info, thank you for the post.

    By Anonymous, at 2:48 a.m.  

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