Category Archives: Peter Mackay

Conservative Transparancy Now Scientifically Proven to be a Joke

51st place isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. The 51st wealthiest person in the world, or the 51st smartest are blessed to be so lucky. It’s a placement they can be proud of.

When your country is ranked 51st on any list, it is unlikely to be a source of such national pride, especially when the ranking deals with freedom of information. Yet, that is where Canada stands, behind traditional openness powerhouses like Colombia and Niger.

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Bev Oda Waves to Responsible Government | iPOLITICS/Kyle Hamilton

 

The Canadian government, its departments and agencies are given requests for information, which cost $5, and are supposed to respond within 30 days. Unfortunately if the information is ever released by said departments, it is typically done after several months.

While other countries have updated their access to information procedures, Canadian Government acts, predictably, in a shroud of opaqueness. Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have made no effort to adopt transparency in their Government. From countless muzzled scientists and environmentalists, the stifled debate in the House of Commons, the secrecy behind the F-35 transfers, the 400-page omnibus bills, cutting Elections Canada’s budget during the robocall scandal, there is a litany of abuses to Canadian trust by the current Government.

Canadians not simply in virtue of the fact that they pay high salaries and expenses to their elected officials, but intrinsically because they are citizens of the best country in the world ought to expect, and receive, better from their Government then $16 glasses of orange juice and helicopter rides. For every one policy the Conservatives have put out that I found myself in agreement with (Employment Insurance Reform, elimination of “Second Chance” Deportation for convicted criminals) there are endless abuses on the trust of the country that turn any commendation I was willing to heap on our Prime Minister into condemnation.

I am proud to be a Canadian, but this ranking fills my being with shame. Mostly it is shame for the apathetic Canadians that couldn’t be bothered to care about such a monstrous atrocity in our politics. These are the Canadians we are friends with, the ones we work with, study with and perhaps even live with.

Michael Ignatieff (quoting Bruce Springsteen) told Canadians that after suffering through Mr. Harper’s constant attacks on democracy, and his brutal insincere brand of politics it was high time for the country to “Rise up”. I care exactly enough to do so.

I desire transparency in government, and 51st is not good enough for me. I think Canadians deserve more out of our government, one that is accountable and open at the very least. If we ask for change then we ought to put forward new ideas, rather than simple condemnation of the other side. For starters, a much needed update to the access-to-information process currently in place would be a welcome start to an era of Canadian Governmental transparency. Letting your citizens know where their tax dollars seems like a good place to start.

So, as it turns out placing in 51st  for national transparency isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s a call to action.

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Why the F-35 Scandal Matters

If the 65 F-35 fighter jets are purchased by the Canadian Government, they will cost Canadians $25 billion dollars over a span of 20 years. Minister of Defense Peter Mackay has argued the jets price tag is closer to $9 billion, contrary to the findings of government watchdogs. What he has apparently forgotten, whether purposely or not, is that $16 billion is required for fuel, maintenance, and the overall operations of the jets. Those are funds provided by the taxpayer for a contract that did not seem to follow any established policy, but was streamlined by officials with vested interests in the F-35’s purchase.

$25 billion dollars over 20 years is a hefty fee; however, as Andrew Coyne points out, that assumed sum of money is actually on the low end of the spectrum. The projected life of the F-35 is 36 years. Even if it was only in operation for 33 years, the total cost to the tax payer would be $40 billion. As a frame of reference, the Conservatives accounted for $40 billion for all Canadian healthcare and social programs in their budget, while the Nation’s overall deficit stands at $21.1 billion.

A Rough Outline of the 2012 Budget | Graphic From http://www.theglobeandmail.com

When you spend billions of taxpayer dollars, you need to do the deal right. The Conservatives have hacked and slashed social programs in Canada, and as I’ve stated before, I would be more sympathetic to cutting programs, like one that provides internet access to libraries and community centers costing $15 million. By abusing the trust of Canadians, the Conservatives have taken that benefit of the doubt away. There can be no streamlining contracts, no hiding $10 billion in accounting measures, and no hiding from the public when you decide to undertake a project as colossal as these 65 jets.

This Government proceeded with acquiring these jets haphazardly, either arrogantly or ignorantly. While Mr. Mackay backtracks and claims the $10 billion disparagement is the result of different accounting procedures Canadians ought to demand more of the Government. If our country considers this contract a theft or fraud, and we don’t want to see it happen again, then as Canadians, we ought to do something about it. We need to put Governments on notice that this kind of abuse will cost them more than their jobs, but their integrity and public image. Canadians need to pay attention, and voice their displeasure at the ballot box. If we want Ottawa to treat Canadians differently, then we need to notice.

To put it simply, if someone took your money under false pretenses, you would seek punishment. Why should a government that does the same be treated any differently? This Government is prepared to spend $40 billion without proper procedure. Are you comfortable with that?

Getting Robbed Can be This Comfortable


Fergueson Names, Doesn’t Blame

I asserted in my post yesterday that Auditor General Michael Fergueson had stopped short of publicly shaming those responsible for the stupidity behind the F-35 controversy. While this is technically true, what I did not know is that Mr. Fergueson had named senior bureaucrats and ministers involved with the ill-fated pursuit of the fighter jets.

Bureaucrats involved include:

  • Dan Ross, assistant deputy minister of materiel at the Department of National Defense
  • Michael Slack, F-35 project manager and director of continental materiel co-operation at the Department of National Defense
  • Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Col. Dave Burt, director of the Next Generation Fighter Capability Office, Department of National Defense
  • Tom Ring, assistant deputy minister of acquisitions, Public Works and Government Services Canada

Responsible ministers include:

  • Defense Minister Peter MacKay
  • Associate Defense Minister Julian Fantino
  • Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose

For in depth information on these officials and their relation to the F-35s, you can read the Vancouver Sun article on the subject by Lee Berthiaume.