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The Conservative government continues to maintain that it didn’t know it was supposed to tell the public the full costs of the F-35 purchase: that the $10-billion it left out of the total was not a lie or even a mistake, but simply reflected its honest belief about how these things should be accounted, or at any rate always have been.
While various ministers, including the Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, have said they accept the Auditor-General’s directive that all costs should be included, they have also derided it as at best a wholly “new way of doing business,” and a strange one at that. The same homely analogy to buying a car has been raised, repeatedly, as if to suggest how ridiculous it would be to add up all the costs of a car over its expected life beforehand. Andrew Coyne/ National Post
By Terrance Gavan – Highland News Politics
If not here? Where?
Where does the buck stop?
We know where it used to stop. We have been schooled in political science – Canadian policy intensive. It used to stop on the desk of the minister in charge.
So we know that the definition of ministerial responsibility has come to include the notion that if one is going to accept the position of Minister to the Crown? One better be prepared to adopt all of the inherent responsibilities.
In the wake of the F-35 acquisitions scandal we have a minister, Peter MacKay, who refuses to take responsibility for misleading Canadians.
We wonder what happened to ministerial responsibility. More. We demand that at least some accountability be invested in a position and a man who de facto watches overCanada’s defense budget. Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay is the keeper of Canada’s war chest. And Canadian people – who were not told about a missing $10 billion dollar boondoggle just prior to the last election which resulted in a PC majority – should be frantically demanding MacKay’s head on a platter. Or a pike.
The government – and we know this piece of crap and shinola goes all the way up the chain to the PMO, and finally to Prime Minister Stephen Harper – knew all about the discrepancy between the advertised costs, $15 billion, and real costs, $25 billion, long before the election. An election that ironically was caused in part by opposition’s scrutiny of the F-35 fighter deal. They chose to mislead Canadians. And were repaid with a majority government.
The simple optics of this case is shameful and damning. There were two sets of books. We dare any Canadian to apply the same logic to his/her income tax return. Go ahead. Try it on. See if your friendly RevenueCanadaauditor would be amenable to a bait and switch.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to stonewall, obfuscating truth by telling Canadians that this $10 billion discrepancy is all a matter of interpretation. MacKay, already under scrutiny for some wiseguy whirlybird wheelings, has decided to further muddy his biography by telling Canadians and the opposition parties that possessing two separate versions of a pretty hefty accounting file is part of any government’s agenda. “It’s how we do things.” Not in my neighborhood Peter.
Scholar David Smith says entrenched power in the PMO, and the centralizing of the parliamentary process – which started with Pierre Elliott Trudeau – has clouded the burden of responsibility.
“It is no coincidence that debate today over ministerial responsibility is taking place at a time when there is strong criticism of prime ministerial power and of the rigid party discipline that makes it possible,” wrote Smith. “Much is said about the failure of the House and its members to speak for or be responsive to public and constituency opinion. The implications for cabinet, individual ministers, members of Parliament on both sides of the House and for the public are profound. Thomas Axworthy goes so far as to say that ‘lack of attention to accountability as an overriding goal of our political system has resulted in many citizens choosing to opt out of the political process’.”
Apathy. In a nutshell. That’s the real bottom line engendered by ludicrous shenanigans from sappy and weak-in-the-knees, obtuse and elusive elected representatives. Like Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay. And it’s shameful.
Unfortunately, instead of getting angry? Canadians are laughing. Because they are grown weary and terribly, terribly disappointed in their leadership paradigm.
We are so goddamned sick and tired of it all that we have become that lost entity. A moribund and uninspired crowd with memories of a movable feast. The days when politicians could be held to their word. And responsibility was taken seriously.
When a minister, the PMO and the Prime Minister all conspire to obfuscate hidebound facts espoused by the Auditor General of Canada? Calling it a clerical misunderstanding?
How can ordinary Canadians be expected to digest it?
How can we, in good faith, be expected to turn up at polls to give our tacit approval of a system that lacks any clear commitment to the truth?
Get Terrance Gavan at firstname.lastname@example.org