By Lawrence Martin , Globe and Mail, March 8, 2011
Just recently, four senior Conservatives (including two senators) were charged with willfully exceeding spending limits in the 2006 campaign that brought the Tories to power. The “in and out” financing scheme came at the same time that Stephen Harper was promising a new era of transparency and accountability.
Just recently, we had the document-altering scandal featuring International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who appears in the House of Commons for Question Period but refuses to answer questions on the matter.
Just recently, we had new revelations in regard to the government’s so-called integrity commissioner, the one who received 228 whistleblowing complaints and upheld not a single one. She left with a half-a-million-dollar severance package – and a gag order to go with it.
Just recently, we learned that the office of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney used ministerial letterhead to raise money for the Conservative Party. We’ve also seen a contempt of Parliament motion brought against the government for its refusal to disclose basic information on the costs of crime bills and on corporate profits. And we’ve seen the Conservatives release attack ads of such questionable quality that they were withdrawn.
Just recently, The Canadian Press reported that, in the tradition of l’état, c’est moi, the Prime Minister is insisting that “Government of Canada” nomenclature be changed to “the Harper government.” Some wag suggested the PM might want to change his own name – to Stephen Hubris.
And Mr. Martin has not even mentioned the 65 F-35 Fighter Jets at a cost of $20 billion.
And Mr. Martin has not even mentioned the $6 billion in corporate tax breaks.
And Mr. Martin has not even mentioned the $50 million in self-advertising through the Action Canada recovery plan, nor the "safe children" self promotion, nor the 'proper protocol' for how to become an immigrant, another thinly veiled self-promotion, once again using public funds for the purpose...
And then there is also this from Mr. Martin, Globe and Mail, March 1, 2011
The Liberal Leader (Michael Ignatieff) contests the notion that he has failed to produce a vision. His vision for Canada, he says, is in the phrase “equality of opportunity.” That’s what the country is about, he argues, and that’s what’s being lost as our system of open democracy is being trampled over.
The PM, he charges, regards institutions that keep Canadians free as obstacles. “He thinks of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as an obstacle. He thinks of the judges as an obstacle. He thinks of whistleblowers as an obstacle to be silenced. He thinks of Parliament as kind of a pesky irrelevance. I just have a different view of this.” The Ignatieff view is that they are what democracy is all about.
He talks up his plan for democracy’s restoration. He promises to introduce a “People’s Question Period” wherein he and his cabinet ministers would submit to online, unfiltered questions from Canadians on a weekly basis. He talks about a reduction in the size of the Prime Minister’s Office, an overhaul of the malfunctioning access-to-information system and many other reforms.
Openness, democratic reform, equality of opportunity. In the Ignatieff view, it’s bold stuff. Others, pollsters included, don’t find it striking enough to change an image that needs changing.
When I raised the comparison with the Americans, he jumped in. “I’m not John Kerry. I’m not Michael Dukakis. I’m prepared to fight. The idea that I’m going to go through an election campaign as some kind of Boy Scout is a serious underestimation of who you are looking at.”
He said it with some anger. It was a good sign
One cannot help but notice the quality of the "abstract" or the "process" about Mr. Ignatieff's vision, as compared, say with the way dollars are spent by Harper. However, if the feisty, combative and calm Mr. Ignatieff is about to find his way, with the help of the other opposition parties, to bring the government down, there are some early signs of political life in his gut, and the country will need every ounce of muscle, and courage and tenacity from him, and from all the members of his Liberal team, to form a new government.
It has often been said, "governments defeat themselves" and certainly the number of self-inflicted blows that Harper and his cronies have inflicted is high...but have Canadians been counting and do they care?
It is one thing to restore respect for the institutions of government, but Ignatieff has to restore Canadians confidence in the future of the country, and that includes their own family and community's future...and institutions alone are not enough.
We need an environment strategy; a First Nations inclusion and respect strategy; a tax policy that supports ordinary families; an education policy, funded for all, to grow the next generations; and we need a foreign policy that, once again, earns the respect of the global community...not a faux lake for another photo op.
For Ignatieff, the table is set, and many of the pieces in the setting have been placed there by the current government's underlying attitude of contempt for the governed...and that can only be stopped by a change in government.