A pain in the butt - Macleans.ca
 

A pain in the butt


 

Gerard Kennedy may be the first Liberal to figure out what it is to be an opposition backbencher.

The Liberals are rejecting claims by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that 80 per cent of the $4-billion set aside for immediate job-creating infrastructure projects are underway. Instead, the Liberals say, their research shows only 12 per cent of the projects were underway and generating jobs … Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal critic for infrastructure and communities, said he conducted an analysis of 946 infrastructure stimulus projects out of a total of 1,697 announced. He said his research also indicates Conservatives are directing projects to Tory ridings

For example, Kennedy said, in British Columbia, Conservative ridings had been allocated 13 times as much money as opposition ridings. In Quebec, 2.7 times as much money went to Tory ridings, he claimed. In Ontario, Conservative ridings got 11 per cent more than opposition ridings, he said. He said 14 of the 16 announcements the prime minister has made were about infrastructure projects previously planned or won’t be built for years.


 

A pain in the butt

  1. Yes today was an effective day for the opposition…we will see how the government responds, there are potentially reasonable responses but lets see if the government can use any of them.

    But this is how you build a case for the voter not the way they have been doing it. Now lets see if they can stay on message for more than one day.

  2. If his claims about stimulus spending are true then that's a serious problem. It would lower the Conservatives nearly to the level of Jean Chretien. They'll face outrage, and rightly so.

    However, I think Kennedy needs to be a little more specific. There aren't very many Liberal ridings out west to receive money, and the ones in Ontario are almost all in Toronto so it's not surprising that the spending was slightly uneven. If he wants to make his case he needs to focus on the Quebec numbers. Those may be suspicious.

  3. If his claims about stimulus spending are true then that's a serious problem. It would lower the Conservatives nearly to the level of Jean Chretien. They'll face outrage, and rightly so.

    However, I think Kennedy needs to be a little more specific. There aren't very many Liberal ridings out west to receive money, and the ones in Ontario are almost all in Toronto so it's not surprising that the spending, distributed throughout the province, ended up being slightly uneven. If he wants to make his case he needs to focus on the Quebec numbers. Those may be suspicious.

    • Your point about a significant part of the Liberal caucus being from toronto is a fair point…..Miller's fooling around with the criteria meant all of toronto's projects got submitted after everybody else….so point 1

      Point 2…its disingenuous anyway since the feds approve the projects and then pay the bills when an invoice is submittted. So if they have approved the park in Burlington, one might ask why hasnt the park started to be built. Could it be there were surveys being done, contracts being let etc etc……

      But for political purposes the message the Liberals are sending is more concise and easier to understand than the governments potential repsonses…..so back to Flanagan's law, which is a riff on Kinsella whichis a derivative of any of a numbe rof other political guys….it doenst need to be strictly true, just plausible.

      • Actually, in War Room, Kinsella makes the important point about negative ads that they in fact NEED to be true, need to be about something of public interest and on the public record.

        It is only the Conservative version of this that says it doesn't need to be true.

        • Negative ads need to be true?

          You mean we really did get guns in our street?

          Other than among the gangs that the new tough on crime legislation is fighting, precisely where are those guns?

        • Negative ads need to be true?

          You mean we really did get guns in our streets?

          Other than among the gangs that the new tough on crime legislation is fighting, precisely where are those guns?

          • TwoYen: Please do try to keep up.

            The response was to Vince claiming Kinsella said they just need to be plausible. Kinsella did not say that in his book and, in fact, has been quite clear that a negative ad should be based on a truth.

            If anything, the "guns in our streets" ads prove the point: no one believed them because they weren't even plausible and they cost the Liberals dearly.

          • Is still think they were plausible. I'm sure Herr Harper hasn't taken any options off the table.

          • Perfect example…..it was stretch that people simply couldnt believe. In the example, the "truth" was the cons talked about reopening some urban military bases. Now if this was Argentina, ie a history of ilitary coups, then perhaps it would fly. But the point was to make it sound like dictatrship, which was beyond the experience of Canadians with the Conservatives….it backfired.

            So perfect example of there being a documentary "truth", the con policy of miltary bases, but the spin wasnt true/plausible, Cons wanted to have military patrols enforcing their will in Canada.

            I think both Kinsella and Flanagan would rate the ad as a failure, and would have done so before it was filmed. The language might be differen t but I believe they mean the same thing.

        • I understand your point Ted. Kinsella referred to the point that there must be a kernal of truth to an ad…I would say that there is wide interpretation to what Kinsella means as the truth. A truth can be a documented attitude, ie a perception….Not trying to split hairs here. I dont think Flanagan meant you can make stuff up completely, I think it was artlessly said, and I dont think that Kinsella meant you can only deal in hard facts (how else can you determine truth?)

          End of the day they are both trafficking in the same "medicines"…making stuff up completely doesnt work, you either find something that resonates or you dont. The reverse is, you cannot turn your candidate into something he/she authentically arent. You couldn't make Joe Clark a "jock", like Chretien water skiing….it just wasnt him…the Dion playing street hockey was another example of this reversal of plausibility, or truth.

          Its a fascinating area, very much Brand related, in marketing terms. No matter what you say, positive or negative, the voters own experience will ultimately win out…the best you can do is amplify or minimize.

          • I think you can manufacture an image entirely but it takes time.

            For example, Bush and his ranch, purchased just before he ran for the Republican nomination and sold immediately after he stepped down. The guy came from one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful families in American and he was from the US Northeast.

      • I may write a post – -or at least a postlette – -on this a bit later today, but I'm starting to think that the Liberals may have made a serious strategic error back in June when they agreed to have the House rise for a week to allow the PM to attend the G20. There's no real reason why that had to be done — the PM is perfectly able to attend international events while parliament is sitting, and has done so on several previous occasions — and it managed to stall the momentum that the Liberals were starting to generate during their first week back. Instead, they could have spent the week going after the government on this, and other issues; instead, they're forced to hold press conferences in a field.

    • Wrong on two counts:

      First of all, the report compares Conservative-held ridings to Opposition-held ridings, not Liberal ridings.

      Secondly, the discrepancies are between the average received by a Conservative riding in a province and the average an opposition riding in that same province received. Figures like the number of seats the Libs have in BC are irrelevant to the math.

      • Fair point re opposition ridings, although again most are concentrated in the large cities so if projects are distributed across the province then it's reasonable to expect some imbalance.

        It's not clear to me that your second point is correct. The way he states it sounds more like he's talking about absolute numbers rather than per-riding averages, although it is ambiguous. This being the CBC I automatically assume that where there is ambiguity, it's meant to favour the Liberal case.

      • Fair point re opposition ridings, although again most are concentrated in the large cities so if projects are distributed across the province then it's reasonable to expect some imbalance. They can't spend the lion's share on Vancouver.

        It's not clear to me that your second point is correct. The way he states it sounds more like he's talking about absolute numbers rather than per-riding averages (although it is ambiguous). This being the CBC I automatically assume that where there is ambiguity, it's meant to favour the Liberal case.

      • Fair point re opposition ridings, although again most are concentrated in the large cities so if projects are distributed across the province then it's reasonable to expect some imbalance. They can't spend the lion's share on Vancouver.

        It's not clear to me that your second point is correct. The way he states it sounds more like he's talking about absolute numbers rather than per-riding averages, although it is ambiguous. This being the CBC I automatically assume that where there is ambiguity, it's meant to favour the Liberal case.

        • Take a look at northern Ontario then:

          Kenora (Con) 35 projects
          Thunder Bay Superior North (NDP) – 15 projects

          • The Kapuskasing region were refused major 3 requests; 2 for co-generators and 1 for a wood-pellet plant. All three were backed by the recommendations of a 120k study. Instead, Johnston, in a Conservative riding, gets 117m for a single Ethanol plant.

            A bit of a note, Quebec decided not to allow any more Ethanol plants to be built after the one in Varennes because they deemed sugar ethanol to be unsustainable.

        • I watched the coverage on CPAC (they interrupted the Maclean's conversation for it) and I believe Tom A had it correctly. Kennedy was really great in that field. I also watched Baird's response. I truly hope he didn't fool anyone, because he didn't answer the charges Kennedy spoke about, he just mentioned infrastructure projects that were in opposition ridings. Kennedy never said opposition ridings didn't get a thing, so it had no real value.

  4. Which meme is your team touting today vice? Donuts, walking out at the UN, a novelty-cheque presentation somewhere for something, maybe even to a body-bag manufacturer? As an aside but related to the topic, my neighbouring riding is Tory-held; its 'biggest' infrastructure announcement is actually a bridge that Paul Martin signed the paperwork on.
    There is more grumbling at the municipalities that the feds are tying their hands and slowing down the process — but unfortunately none are willing to come out and talk about it because Harper's predisposition to meanspiritedness and spiteful. Nice governing party you've got there, vice.

    • Care to provide any concrete examples of once a project was approved, meaning the money set aside, that there is continued interference? Facts are nice things.

      As for there being old projects….that is certainly going to be the case since the whole point was to get money out the door….so in the case of an existing project, the feds are now paying for it, freeing up the municipality to spend it elsewhere….this was the advice given to Miller to catch up on his tardy applications. Apply for things that qualify that you were doing anyway, all to get the money in. So the example doesnt shock me.

      Unlike the 30's projects require enviro assessment, community studies, open enders etc etc…..so the only way you ar egetting money out the door in a time frame to have some effect is like this. I am sure the whoever was paying for the bridge is Port Coq is not unhappy that they no longer have to pay as much and they can spend their money somewhere else.

      But once again, please identify where the feds have interefered with a project once its application was accepted….have the feds delayed a project somewhere…..facts please.

      • I don't believe there was any new money from the feds for the Pitt River Bridge. Not from this years stimulus. I could be wrong, and if you could find something to back up that assertion, I'd love to see it. From my knowledge (which is a local interest for me) The funding was all approved and implemented previously. We do however have these new fancy signs promoting it as part of the Economic Action Plan, so they must have at least spent something on that.

        • I'd like to hear more about this sort of thing, myself. Is everything that is being funded, whether it was announced this year or three years ago, included in the monies set aside for the infrastructure stimulus fund? In other words, is the $4 billion only, say, $2.2 billion or something of NEW money? If so,why are we in such a big deficit, again?

  5. It's not surprising about Kennedy understanding the role of the opposition. He did spend 7 years in opposition to the Harris government.

  6. and Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy is supposed to have credibility on this issue because….

    • Because he did his research and provided the supporting study.

      • Ya but facts have such a liberal bias.

    • Now say thank to the nice man who explained this to you so patiently.

  7. Standing in an undeveloped infrastructure project in Burlington, Ont.

    Ironically, the MP for Burlington is a Tory MP (according to a quick Google search). If this is true, the Liberal message becomes a little confusing. The Tories aren't pouring enough money into Tory ridings fast enough?

  8. Gordon Landon, (likely now former) Conservative Candidate for Markham Ontario, tells City TV: "You're dealing with a Conservative bureaucracy and with Conservative ministers and, unfortunately or fortunately however you want to look at it, they just do not want to proceed with this [stimulus spending in his Markham riding] until such time as the riding becomes a Conservative riding."

    And also this: "LANDON: There's a lot of things we're not getting here as a riding. […] They won't give it to this riding because it's held by a Liberal. HOST: The money can't flow because it's not a Tory riding. LANDON: That's right."

    Video is here, as well as a whole buncha links to other examples of Harper moving taxpayer money into Tory ridings, using Tory slogans and personal signatures on government cheques, etc..

    • He's a candidate. Why is his opinion any more informed or substantial than mine?

      • Because his honesty will hurt him and his party, i.e. it is not in his self-interest to make this statement and it would be in his self-interest to lie about it. Whenever someone acts against their own self-interest in politics, it lends a good degree of credibility to what they say.

        • Or, he could be a crazy tool.

          What's he being honest about, beyond his own take on things? I just don't think it's a given that his utterances are somehow closer to the truth because he happens to be a candidate. I get what you mean about self-interest, but there's always the Garth Turner types out ther.

        • Or, he could be a crazy tool.

          What's he being honest about, beyond his own take on things? I just don't think it's a given that his utterances are somehow closer to the truth because he happens to be a candidate. I get what you mean about self-interest, but there's always the Garth Turner types out there.

          • Suddenly his qualifications to be a CON candidate as MP are now clear. All except the 'talking when not being OK'd by the master to talk' thingy…

          • What does Garth Turner have to do with Markham? Please stay on topic.

            I would suggest Mr. Landon has been briefed on the "Action" plan in the riding he is running.Calling the guy a "crazy tool" suggests your party loyalty rather than your real opinion.

          • Garth Turner has nothing to do with Markham, and everything to do with MPs who don't pay much attention to their party affiliation, and at times drift into something of a crazy zone. Why on earth do you think the topic is Markham in any meaningful sense?

            I'd suggest to you that a Conservative candidate outside of an election writ knows nothing more than you or I about the Action plan. They are metaphoric mushrooms.

            As for the source of my opinion – it's all my own. But out of curiousity, what party do you wrongly assume I speak for?

          • Not sure Garth Turner ever called his leader a corrupt pork-barrelling liar while he was trying to get elected or afterwards, actually.

            He took issue with several broken promises and was kicked out of caucus for that.

          • It was more than his 'taking issue', but that's not the point.

            THE POINT IS THAT I WAS USING TURNER AS AN EXAMPLE OF AN MP WHO WASN'T PARTICULARLY BEHOLDEN TO PARTY LOYALTY

            NOT the particular trajectory of his public life

            NOT because I thought he was Markham – I know he's not

            IT WAS A COMPARATIVE EXAMPLE. Nothing more. End rant.

          • It was more than his 'taking issue', but that's not the point.

            THE POINT IS THAT I WAS USING TURNER AS AN EXAMPLE OF AN MP WHO WASN'T PARTICULARLY BEHOLDEN TO PARTY LOYALTY

            NOT the particular trajectory of his public life

            NOT because I thought he was from Markham – I know he's not (recently – he could have been born there for all I frigging know or care).

            IT WAS A COMPARATIVE EXAMPLE. Nothing more. End rant.

          • Okay let''s move on from Markham
            I'll apologize for assuming any political affiliation. But the article is about how the stimulus has been announced and put in the ground "eventually". You know shovel ready..

            It's just the truthiness of the Government. Last week in the House Flaherty went on about the Canada Line. (ALRT line from Richmond to Vancouver. a 2.9 billion dollar project opened in September.) This is not stimulus money but Mr. Flaherty seemed to think so.

            You cannot count projects just finishing as stimulus when they in the completion stage had nothing to do with the big infusion of government stimulus.It's a crafty way of making it look like you have shovels "in the ground" and really it is part of the Olympic projects.

            It's just wrong to mislead Canadians and not account for real stimulus.

          • No argument from me there, at the least they've been blowing smoke up our arses, and the pork barrel charges seem credible (and if true, doubly galling from the guys who rode into town promising to fix that sort of thing).

            I just don't happen to think that Landon's bizarre blathering is all that damning. Funny, yes. But it's not like Tony Clement came out and spilled the beans or anything. (If you're reading this, Tony, feel free to toss in a reply with the straight goods!).

        • Depends. Perhaps he's trying to spin it as "Hey, if you want money, yer gonna have to elect a conservative, and that's me."

          That he doesn't make that clear is perhaps a sign of incompetence, certainly a reasonable explanation when applied to any conservative MP.

      • Because he is not just a candidate, he is a municipal councillor so he would know about the project.

    • Unbelievable. Susan Delacourt just compared this to Adscam.

      I'm not saying that the practice of punishing a riding for electing an opposition MP is defensible, but there is a world of difference between that and Adscam. This is what passes for balanced journalism?

      I wonder if Delacourt ever remembers how the Liberals used to handle these things as she fills out her tax return and puts it in the pre-addressed envelope addressed to the Revenue Canada taxation office in Shawinigan.

      • I think the comparison she is making is using taxpayer/government money for direct intervention into riding politics to get your candidates re-elected.

        Which is exactly what Harper is doing.

        • Well, when it can be determined that the stimulus projects that are being funded in Tory ridings don't actually exist, and the money gets kicked back to the Conservative party through illicit donations, then I'll agree she has a point.

          Until then, she's just abusing her position with this type of slander.

      • In defence of Susan, I should note that I've made similar jokes in the past about the inevitable future commission of inquiry into the stimulus program; I suspect that, like me, she was referring not to brown envelopes, kickbacks and political graft, but the age old practice of porkbarrelling — which was also part of the sponsorship program, although not the one that most people think of when they hear the phrase. There's a big difference between pouring millions of dollars into ill-conceived make-work projects to boost the federal government's image in the riding, and stuffing money into party coffers.

        • There's a big difference between pouring millions of dollars into ill-conceived make-work projects to boost the federal government's image in the riding, and stuffing money into party coffers.

          Indeed there is. Which is why I think its irresponsible to blithely make that comparison in this case, since as you say that's not what most people think of when they hear the phrase.

          • Actually, as far as the sponsorship program went, there was far more of the former than the latter, so in terms of the amount of money that went to waste, it was definitely the bigger scandal; it just wasn't as sexy, since there weren't guilty looking Liberal cronies ambling off with suspiciously heavy pockets. In terms of sound fiscal management, however, it was every bit as egregious a dereliction of duty by the government.

          • When you say not as "sexy" I think you meant not as "criminal". Pork-barreling is not illegal. Fraud is illegal. Kickbacks are illegal. Bribery is illegal. There is no law saying "thou shalt deliver funds equally to all ridings". But there is a law saying "thou shalt not funnel public money to political candidates for campaigning". I would have to say that involvement in illegal activities is a more egregious dereliction of duty than pork – not that I like pork. But I'm not a Liberal.

  9. Tell me why, when there is this glorious new ad campaign and web site we have to wait for an Opposition study to list and add up the projects? Why aren't all the approved projects and their amounts on that stupid website instead of the crappy, barely-active, let alone interactive map? Why isn't it completely transparent from the outset?

    • Sorry, transparency and accountability are so pre-election campaign 2006…

    • Bite your tongue! (or typing fingers)…. This government is all about transparency and accountability….

    • You know, all snark aside, that would be a FANTASTIC thing to implement.

      It seems like such a nobrainer for the governing party that frankly I'm amazed they never thought of it. Imagine if you could click on your area and see all the wonderful things that are being done in the name of economic renewal? Why that kind of advertising is worth it's weight in gold!

      Instead we get a website that rivals the one set up for the Swiffer…I wonder why?

      • Swiffer cleans up in the web site comparison!

  10. Funny (to me) story: on my drive to work I pass some construction. The city is doing some fairly heavy infrastructure work in the area (which incidentally happens to be right across the road from the office of the local Conservative MP, though I honestly believe that the location is in fact a coincidence).

    About a week ago an Economic Action Plan sign went up. Which is funny, because the project started almost 2 years ago (long before we got said Conservative MP) and probably has been in the planning stages for even longer.

    So I don't find it strange at all that a number of the "job-generating announcements" are going to previously planned/already underway projects (and therefore aren't generating any jobs that wouldn't have been generated anyway). It's certainly easier than actually finding something new that needs doing.

    • This seems to be happening in a lot of ridings.

    • The sign painting business is booming.

      • Don't mock it! If the Tories put up enough websites and signs telling us that they're stimulating the economy, it might just stimulate the economy!

        LOL

  11. Slander is verbal defamation. Libel is written defamation.

    • Wow.

      (Is that your site?)

      • No. It's operated by a veteran political journalist and commentator in these parts,

        He left the political scene to serve time in PR for the Tar Ponds clean-up.

        Currently a " consultant " …. probably cringes when he sees that in print.

        He was part of a must-see political panel on CBC NS years back.
        Harry ( The Hat ) Flemming , Parker Barss Donham , moderated and prodded
        by Jim Nunn. By far the best political panel I've ever seen. Nothing since ( or
        current compares ). Of course, the blatant grasping insanity of NS politics helped.

      • No. It's operated by a veteran political journalist and commentator in these parts,

        He left the political scene to serve time in PR for the Tar Ponds clean-up.

        Currently a " consultant " …. probably cringes when he sees that in print.

        He was part of a must-see political panel on CBC NS years back.
        Harry ( The Hat ) Flemming , Parker Barss Donham , moderated and prodded
        by Jim Nunn. By far the best political panel I've ever seen. Nothing since ( or
        current ) compares . Of course, the blatant grasping insanity of NS politics helped.

  12. If actions speak louder than words than Mr. Baird's last minute pullout and the governments refusal to put anyone in front of a camera during 'Powerplay' speaks volumes.

  13. This is like running a regression with zero controls. Infrastructure needs do not tack uniformly with population across regions. Per person, the infrastructure needs of cities are going to be less than those of rural and suburban ridings. This discrepancy is largely explained by the fact that the Tories won the vast majority of Canada's land area – look at an election map and you will see what I mean. If you were to say, build another trans-Canada highway, the vast majority of it would pass through Tory ridings.

    This explains most of Kennedy's discrepancies too. In Ontario the big ridings are in the north, and they went NDP. Tories also won many geographically large ridings, but they are generally smaller than the NDP ones, and many are small 905 ridings. On the other hand, in BC there is a big difference, because the Tories won the largest ridings. Making comparisons in the prairies/Alberta is a waste of time (though there too, the big ridings are Tory ones) because there are so few Liberal/NDP ridings.

    Quebec is probably the only place where deliberate vote-buying is taking place. As Mulroney said "there's no whore like an old whore."

    • Hoser:

      This is complete graft and, because of the sheer size of the stimulus package, it is graft on a scale we have never seen before.

      Your excuses do not explain why ridings like John Baird's in Ottawa are getting something like 3 or 4 times the average, he's getting even more than most Tory ridings, and his riding has one of the lowest unemployment figures in the province. Your excuses do not explain why so many of the projects are in places like Calgary and Edmonton.

    • I don't have facts and figures, but intuitively I question your assertion that cities need less infrastructure funds than rural ridings. Yes, I know rural ridings are much bigger, but there is more to infrastructure than paving roads. At least, I sure hope there is. How about sewer repairs, subway construction, and other such "city only" projects?

      • Exactly right.

        In fact, cities – where most of this infrastructure money is being spent – have greater infrastructure needs: more people means more roads, more sewers, more hydro, more electricity. And not just for residents: big cities are where the businesses are located so they have even more demand on hydro, roads, sewage, power, etc.

      • Even if it was only about roads, there are a lot more roads in cities, and a lot more traffic wearing out the roads.

  14. […CONT.]

    At least you admit that graft is taking place in Quebec. But the odd thing is that, if you think Harper could be buying votes there, why would you assume he wouldn't be doing it elsewhere. And the serious thing is, we know he has a long history of graft-like vote-buying in his short 4 year tenure (scroll down past the video for links) and if you get into the detail of a province like Nova Scotia, actually map it out, you can see clearly that the "size of the riding" excuse doesn't wash.

    There is no excuse for this kind of graft. It is the very thing Harper was most critical of before he got control of our finances.