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The Commons: ‘Tell the truth!’

The Liberals may have statistics on their side, but the Tories have a Liberal


 

The Commons: 'Tell the truth!'The Scene. Ralph Goodale stood, broad and booming, with a particularly provocative turn of phrase.

“The Conservatives,” he said, “are engaged in an orgy of partisan abuse.”

And you needn’t apparently take Mr. Goodale’s word for it.

“Three independent investigations confirm the research of the member for Parkdale-High Park,” he continued. “A shocking part of the stimulus plan is earmarked for partisan Conservative purposes. Will the Conservatives admit this is a threat for those who didn’t vote for them?”

The Prime Minister stood, apparently quite confused by the Liberal house leader’s tone.

“Mr. Speaker, the program for the reconstruction of leisure facilities is a very important measure for the Canadian economy and for communities. I do not understand at all why the Liberal Party of Canada opposes such projects and, even in their own counties. The allegations of the honourable member are quite untrue and, indeed, the Liberal deputy premier of Ontario said so.”

So there.

Such is the week here in Ottawa. On Monday, the government proclaimed Jean Chretien its guiding light. Now it takes solace in the assurances of George Smitherman, a top minister in the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty, a premier once denigrated by one of Mr. Harper’s cabinet ministers as the “small man of confederation.”

Mr. Goodale, filling the chamber with his emphatically pronounced syllables, was not persuaded.

“Mr. Speaker, what the Conservatives have done here is cheating pure and simple and it gets worse,” he said.

The government side howled at the allegation, a couple of Conservatives gesturing for the Speaker to reprimand this remark.

“The Liberal Party should welcome the continuing good news we are hearing about the Canadian economy,” The Prime Minister lamented, “rather than complain about it.”

Mr. Goodale seemed not to have taken away from the morning papers the same sense of optimism.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives taint themselves with their abusive tactics. Corrupt advertising, phony cheques, partisan logos, billboards on doorknobs, untendered contracts, worst of all the twisted distribution of infrastructure money to discriminate on a partisan basis against millions of honest, hard-working Canadians,” he said. “Why, for example, is a disabled child in Dartmouth worth less to the government than such a child in Whitby? Why?”

From the groan that arose, it seemed the government side found this question most unfair.

“Mr. Speaker, I guess when he is stuck in a party that is talking only to itself he can whip himself into that kind of lather,” the Prime Minister mocked. “I see this allegation, for instance, that RInC moneys have been distributed in a way that discriminates against Liberal ridings. This of course is a list of projects agreed to with the provincial Liberal government of Ontario and the Deputy Premier Mr. Smitherman says himself there is no such discrimination.”

And let it never be said that Mr. Smitherman is unwilling to speak truth to power. Indeed, just a year and a half ago, he was summing the Harper government as an administration going “from scandal, to scandal, to scandal.” And let it furthermore never be argued that this great recession hasn’t been without its blessings. For one, quite obviously, it has brought bitter rivals together. For another, apparently, it has not killed irony.

Undaunted as usual, Gerard Kennedy, a former cabinet colleague of Mr. Smitherman’s in a previous incarnation of the Ontario government, stood awhile later to pursue the matter further.

“Sit down!” yelled one Conservative.

“Time!” chirped another.

“Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Prime Minister why he is letting his ministers abuse their government authority on infrastructure spending,” Mr. Kennedy said. “The people of northern Ontario who have been hard hit by the economic downturn are being shortchanged so his Minister of Industry can give a double helping to his riding and that of the other Conservatives in the region.”

“Tell the truth!” encouraged a voice from the Conservative side.

“Can the Prime Minister explain to hard-working unemployed people elsewhere in the north why he thinks they are only worth half as much assistance as those in his Conservative ridings?” he asked with the first of several questions. “Will the Prime Minister discipline his ministers, will he make them start treating Canadians fairly or are they just doing what he wanted them to do in the first place?”

The Prime Minister stayed seated. Up, instead, came Tony Clement, flapping his arms in an apparent attempt to take flight.

“Mr. Speaker, of course the recreational infrastructure projects, as well as all the other infrastructure stimulus, are designed to help Canadians across this country, northern Ontario, southern Ontario, all across the country, to make sure that they can participate in the economic recovery,” the Industry Minister explained. “More jobs, more opportunity are the things we are focused on on this side of the House. You do not have to take my word for it, Mr. Speaker. The deputy premier of the province of Ontario, his former Liberal colleague, said that he was quite satisfied that things were done equitably here in the province of Ontario.”

Mr. Kennedy tried again, louder this time on the off chance Mr. Harper had not heard him.

“Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the minister wants to hide behind the other minister, but I do not understand why the Prime Minister is nailed to his seat when his Minister of Industry is getting the most money in the region: $36 million,” the Liberal cried. “Why is the Prime Minister punishing the unemployed and children’s recreation programs in certain ridings just because they did not happen to vote for him?”

Mr. Harper pretended not to notice this question. Mr. Clement stood and again directed Mr. Kennedy to the assurances of Mr. Smitherman.

“We have been fair and equitable,” Mr. Clement assured.

And you needn’t take his word for it.

The Stats. Government spending, nine questions. Pensions and Afghanistan, six questions each. Crime and employment, three questions each. Ethics, the environment, social programs and H1N1, two questions each. Spam, Net Neutrality, taxation, search and rescue, and agriculture, one question each.

Stephen Harper, eight answers. Tony Clement, seven answers. Laurie Hawn, five answers. Christian Paradis, four answers. Rona Ambrose, three answers. Jay Hill, Jim Prentice and Leona Aglukkaq, two answers each. Stockwell Day, Diane Finley, Helena Guergis, Jim Flaherty, Rob Nicholson, Peter Van Loan and Jean-Pierre Blackburn, one answer each.


 

The Commons: ‘Tell the truth!’

  1. “Why is the Prime Minister punishing the unemployed and children's recreation programs in certain ridings just because they did not happen to vote for him?”

    Based on Kenney's own numbers, two ridings explain this entire issue: Kenora and Kitchener. If they'd got the average amount, the RInC program would be spending $0.90 in opposition ridings for every dollar spent in a Conservative riding.

    So, it's Harper, Clement, Smitherman and Kennedy against Goodale and Kennedy…By the way, did anyone else get the spreadsheet promised by Kennedy? Mine may be lost in the mail.

    Is Sudbury the only northern riding that doesn't qualify for the BCF-CC?

  2. What part of Goodale's question included the words, "leisure facilities"?

  3. This result seems to be driven by the poor showing of Nickel Belt in the BCF-CC. Which shows that all this cynicism about patronage is misplaced – the provincial incumbent David Ramsay won by an uncharacteristically narrow margin of just 634 votes over New Democrat candidate John Vanthof. Ramsay is a former cabinet minister and currently Premier Dalton McGuinty's Parliamentary Assistant. Even with all that authority and such a close margin of victory, the infrastructure fund has not been misdirected for partisan gains.

  4. Smitherman: "very equitable regional distribution".

    If the Federal Liberals want to cherry pick the mix of rural rinks and urban bricks, why don't they just tell Harper his time is up and its time for them to govern again. Oh they tried that? So how did it go?

  5. When PM Harper referred to Goodale as stuck in a party that is talking only to itself, he may have uttered a phrase that most accurately describes the antics of the Liberal Party for the past year. A party so insular, so out of touch, that they honestly believe that by manipulating numbers and inventing scandals that this will somehow convince people other then Lib members that they deserve to be better then the mid-twenties in the polls.

    Once again thanks to our man Wherry for catching this phrase and also for the "tell the truth " phrase.

  6. I´m in an NDP riding and we received funding for all four projects that were requested from the feds. Even our town paper has stated that we are pretty lucky and all the complaining is just jockeying-for-position-politics. Many of the individual stimulus projects are in reality three way decisions between the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Spending so much money so quickly is bound to be frought with mistakes but lets hope that there are enough eyes at each level to keep it on the up and up. Also awarding these stimulus projects based only on population figures seems a bit wanky to me. Is it true?

  7. I am so tired of Ralph Goodale. Why can't Wascana just get over being the last bastion red in Saskatchewan?

  8. Well, he did say something about orgies…

  9. The Globe has a decent article about RInC spending on Ontario reserves that will make a nice addition to your ongoing "Lonely End of the RInk" series.

    The money, for the most part, will be spent on renovating or expanding community centres and arenas. For some reserves, it means bleachers in the rink, or a long-awaited gym for the children in their remote community. “Everyone is very excited,” said Chief Barron King, at the Moose Deer Point First Nation on Georgian Bay. The community received about $850,000 from the federal government for a new gymnasium. “It's our youth that are going to benefit from this.”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/onta

  10. Don't worry. It's coming.

  11. Clement had an excellent point about lots of this money being earmarked for native communities.

    Well call me crazy but how many native reserves are in a downtown Toronto Liberal riding?

    That skews the numbers considerably. Regardless, nobody should expect the money to be distributed perfectly evenly by riding. That's ridiculous. The money goes where people think it will have the most impact.

  12. Except if you actually read the article it shows that Wherry's pro-liberal stance is wrong.

    "The Liberal numbers can largely be explained by the fact that the party's seats in Ontario are now concentrated in and around Toronto, where there are no native reserves."

  13. "Billboards on doorknobs"? Seriously? The "doorknob" talking point is so weak that I imagine it must have originated with Mr. Kinsella, or his partner in lame stunts, Mr. Easter.

  14. And of course, economic stimulus should go to the hotbeds of industrial output, the hotbeds of innovation, the industries and regions that form the foundation of the Canadian economy, where it will make the most impact on the country's economic growth…

    Um. Yeah. Uh-huh.

  15. I suppose I could Google-News this thing, but can you offer a quickie summary of what the doorknob story is about?

  16. OK, never mind, I just did Google-News it. Actually, Easter does have a bit of a point. Claiming magnificent credit for the routine maintenance you need to do anyways as some sort of economy-saving "stimulus" is foolish. But it's a wash, because this whole "stimulus" garbage that saps future prosperity is dumb, and you won't see the Liberals crying over that.

  17. OK, never mind, I just did Google-News it. Actually, Easter does have a bit of a point. Claiming magnificent credit for the routine maintenance you need to do anyways as some sort of economy-saving "stimulus" is foolish. But it's a wash, because this whole "stimulus" garbage that saps future prosperity is dumb, and you won't see the Liberals crying over that.

  18. Well as usual myl, you have to look a little harder and not blindly swallow the pablum being fed to you by our media to find out the real story…the doorknobs were not routine maintenance, they were part of a larger initiative to improve accessibility for the disabled to a federal building.

    This and the debacle of the coverage around the Ontario RinC funding show that you simply can't trust anything that our media is writing about infrastructure spending, let alone the complaints of the Liberals.

  19. Now it takes solace in the assurances of George Smitherman, a top minister in the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty, a premier once denigrated by one of Mr. Harper's cabinet ministers as the “small man of confederation.”

    My you're bitter aren't you now that your attempt to cast partisan aspersions on the infrastructure program has been debunked? But guess what? You don't even have to take Smitherman's word for it either. From the Post, a Vice President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities:

    "I personally have not heard anything about a conspiracy or the fact that perhaps the money was going to the wrong ridings for the wrong reasons," said Hans Cunningham, a vice-president with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the director of the regional district of Central Kootenay, B.C. "The FCM has not had any experience with that at all."

    And their scope is national, not just Ontario.

  20. Why should I sell your wheat?

  21. So in an economic downturn, the appropriate response is to bail out the one of the richest parts of the country? This is the regionalist equivalent of trickle down economics.

    The criteria for eligibility, broadly speaking, is whether spending will provide public goods, serve strategic interests, create jobs, and whether a city could guarantee that a lot of the money would be spent fast.

    Obviously you can see how the criteria were skewed against the incompetents in Miller's city hall.

  22. they were part of a larger initiative to improve accessibility for the disabled to a federal building.
    OK, thanks for the depth. And that deserves an Action!Plan poster… why, exactly?

    Oh, and CR, as to your Kins– uh, your reference to a certain not-named-by-me-heavens-no litigious Liberal operative, my google-newsing gave me this, which I share solely in the spirit of public information and debate (lest any southern Ontario lawyers be drafting a letter):
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Liberal+attac

  23. Thanks for the link! My favourite line, referring to Wayne Easter's buffoonish attempt to draw media attention to his prop doorknob:

    "He should be careful about having his picture taken with a doorknob–it invites comparisons."
    –L. Ian MacDonald

  24. Well, it'd be nice to think that. If only somebody had maintained some sort of list over what projects were accepted and what projects were rejected. Somebody who cared about accountability and perhaps transparancy.. then we could put this all behind us.

  25. Oh, yes – Mr. Drooly at it again. Everything he writes drools of I live conservatives and I love Harper and Mulroney is my man.

    Yawn.

  26. So if you choose for no particular reason to ignore the most blatant examples of pork-barrelling, the pork-barreling looks somewhat less blatant than if you look at all of the numbers. Yep, strong defence that one.

  27. You conservative folks need to get your story straight on all this unprecedented graft and pork and Tory favouratism.

    We have Tony Clement saying all the money is being distributed equally and Tory ridings are not being favoured.

    We have John Baird quoting Jean Chretien as justification for favouring Tory ridings.

    We have some in the blogosphere trying to say there reasons for the favouratism, i.e. differing needs of differing ridings.

    And then you have the Prime Minister himself admitting that the money is not spread evenly but justifying it not by the needs of the ridings but by simply and arrogantly saying Tory MPs worked harder than Liberal MPs to get that pork into their ridings.

    I think if the Prime Minister and Baird are admitting that the money is not spread evenly, you can stop trying to convince the world that favouratism isn't happening and start trying to unapologetically excuse Harper's most massive broken promise so far just as the PM does.

  28. Baid was talking about the Government taking credit for government spending, not justifying pork.

    Tony Clement, Harper and "some in the blogosphere" are saying the same thing – Tory riding are not being favoured, although some ridings represented by Tories qualified for more spending because of the riding's needs.

    Harper may be channeling Stephen Leacock –
    http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian

  29. And of course, if they ever wanted to deny the favouratism, all they have to do is release the data that Harper and Baird have promised and that Harper's own Budget Officer has been asking for for most of the year.

  30. Cut and paste…nice job…how many more times?

  31. Harper is brilliant with the way he has setup the 3-3-3 of sharing funding as the only real partisan influence in this spending is the local MP's ability to get his or her act together and network with the local municiplaties and Province and if he or she isn't good at it then the ridings don't get the end of the trough – so sad – so bad and everyone knows it! The LPT is inbetween a rock and a hard place too bad no matter what they do they just look desparate and incompetent. My favorite QP line in quite some time though simply has to be = “Mr. Speaker, I guess when he is stuck in a party that is talking only to itself he can whip himself into that kind of lather,”

  32. Ya know, I'd really like to give our leadership some credit in getting out stimulus dollars to opposition ridings at all, but really, this comedy of errors is starting to look like from each according to his income, and to each according to his vote.

  33. So…the Liberals are blaming the Liberals for Conservative ridings getting more funding? These guys are all so smart!

    Didn't Ignatieff say something about this Governement's time being up? So, when is that actually going to happen?

  34. i got a kick out of Goodale on power Play yesterday – wouldn't go NEAR using the word "corrupt" in his own words outside the House.

    what a pussy.

  35. It's more a plea for better journalism. Rather than systematic preference of Conservative ridings, as reported, it's about Kenora and a couple of Liberal ridings that Gerard hasn't revealed. That's a pretty different story.

  36. Goodale has ZERO credibility to question anyone on ethics!

  37. Goodale has ZERO credibility on ethics!

  38. Really?? I would have thought that if there was a Liberal who was there through all of the 1990s who came away squeaky clean it would have been Goodale. There is not a single ethical issue attached to him as far as I am aware.

  39. What can we expect from the schizophrenic Liberal war room today? Canadians have heard all the conflicting messages from the Liberal war room ( what they haven't heard is some sound policy or a Liberal platform). One day Liberals are on their feet ( others braying from their seats) in the Commons, making false and unfounded accusations ad nauseum, that the stimulus money is not getting out there, and insist the government is failing in getting the stimulus money to Canadians. The next day (it appears as if to prove their false and unfounded accusations of the day before wrong) we have the allegations that large amounts of stimulus money is getting out there, but in there small selective sample, they don't like the distribution. The next day we find Liberal MP's parading in front of TV cameras and the media, to draw public attention, to the giant carnival sized cardboard cheques, showing the smiling faces of provincial government officials, municipal officials and organizations, as they are recipients of huge amounts of stimulus spending, and are only too happy to publicize that fact, but now with the cooperation and assistance of the Liberal MP's. What will their message be today ? Stimulus money is getting out there or it isn't – who knows. But what I suspect we know, is we won't hear any sound policies, programs, or ideas, but only more hi-jinks and political stunts which may amuse the feeble minds.

  40. Peter:

    The accusation was that Goodale had ethical problems. The RCMP went out of its way to confirm that they saw nothing at all whatsoever not even a hint of impropriety by Goodale.

    You want to say he's incompetent? Fine. That's your opinion.

    But there are few MPs, and certainly very few MPs who have been around as long as he has, who have the integrity that he has been able to maintain.

  41. The obvious thing was that there was a leak from Goodale on the Income Trusts and Goodale denied it. The RCMP were finally called in and found one of the perpetraors – there were likely more and you can bet they weren't NDP or Conservatives.
    Yesterday in Question Period Goodale made some serious accusations and was asked to make the same accusations outside the House if he believed them and would be subject to libel action – the little yellow coward refused to do so. He was invited to make the same accusations on Power Play by Tom Clark and once again declined but sure was prepared to shoot off his mouth in the House of Commons – how can anyone have respect for such vermin.

  42. The longer we are “appeased” by “recreational spending” the government has aboslutely no reason to actually fix any of the damage it has caused, is causing, or will cause by their current policies.

    What we need is sound money based on a real physically accountable commodity such as gold, silver, platinum, etc.

    What we need is less government interference in our daily lives.

    What we need is a smaller government which does not honestly believe that the people OWE the government for anything.

    The people are getting tired of being lied to and stepped on by the government that was formed to make the lives of the people better…it hasn’t, and we should stop giving them money until they get their act together and start BENEFITTING SOCIETY instead of consistently attacking and harming us.

  43. Where do you get this bunk? Ralph Goodale was smeared by the RCMP during the last election campaign (and they have never been taken to task for this). He was cleared of all false allegations. Mr, Goodale has more integrity than the whole of the Conservative government put together, and more ability too.

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