This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Openly Transparent Hypocrites

"We think it should be public and there's no reason for that information to be hidden or considered confidential. It should be part of the budget, and why they [the federal Liberal government] decided not to release it is a different question."
"To be honest with you, when I look at these numbers, [there is] nothing there that hits me that should be kept secret or confidential or kept from the public. I don't really see anything that would justify this. I am puzzled why they are so sensitive about this."
"[But] it's not up to us to decide what is public or not. That is their information. They [Liberal government] own it."
Mostafa Askari, assistant parliamentary budget officer

"We as a party have always demonstrated a level of openness and transparency in how we've conducted our affairs and we will continue to set a very high bar on our expectations of how Canadians need to be able to see what politicians are accountable."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
A report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fr├ęchette, left, says Finance Minister Bill Morneau's budget lacks the transparency needed to properly analyze it.
A report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fr├ęchette, left, says Finance Minister Bill Morneau's budget lacks the transparency needed to properly analyze it. (Canadian Press)

The Parliamentary Budget Officer, although that office was given a legitimate and needed task, to overlook government budget to ascertain whether it was being conducted in the best interests of the taxpayer, was always given a hostile ride by the previous Conservative government. But never were primary figures enabling the Budget Officer to do his work, withheld at the demand of he PBO. The current prime minister, Trudeau, insisted that under his government accountability, openness, transparency represented an idealism he was proud to campaign on.

Now that he is prime minister, he has gone out of his way to counteract and reverse almost all legislation brought in by the Conservative government. Just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was intent on putting his stamp and his conservative values front and centre during his administration, so too is Justin Trudeau doing the same -- with a vengeance and far more deeply than his predecessor, upturning legislation, renaming government departments, feeling himself immune from criticism.

Where the previous government became consumed with the need to balance the books, the current government is intent on pulling out all the stops to spend as much treasury as all the projects he has claimed to support will require. In so doing, though he campaigned on the notion that his government would bring in a relatively modest $10-billion deficit in its first year of operation, we're looking at three times that amount, and more, to plunge the country deeper into a massive debt load.

This is a man, this prime minister, who saw nothing amiss as a Member of Parliament, and then as Leader of one of the country's three main political parties, in speaking at various venues, some of them charitable, for hefty speaking fees. As though as an MP, handsomely paid for his services, he wasn't in any event obligated to speak on invitation and not charge exorbitant fees. When a public backlash resulted with that revelation, he no longer accepted such engagements, but now that his party and he are the government, that legacy lives on.

Now, the Liberal government is making key cabinet members available for one-on-one sessions with lawyers, lobbyists and corporate heads in exchange for financial support, selling $500 tickets to attend privately sponsored meetings with key government leaders. These may be legal in practise, but they come with a stench of corruption, an observation that should be obvious enough to make Cabinet and the Prime Minister step back from that abyss, but has not yet done so.

The Liberal government's much vaunted open-government strategy, an "open-by-default" strategy to demonstrate to Canadians how honourable and clean they are, has already fallen by the wayside. It is now obvious enough, as Mr. Askari of the PBO points out that the Liberal budget is nowhere near as transparent as those of previous governments. It is not leaving its books open for scrutiny by members of the House, as required.

The PBO on sending a formal request to the Finance deputy minister requesting the required data along with an explanation why the information has been ordered to be treated as confidential is still awaiting a response. The traditional year-by-year breakdown over a five-year period of new tax and spending measures cannot be completed as required. Without the withheld data relating to the last three years of the five-year period under scrutiny an incomplete and thus worthless report will result.

So much for Liberal transparency.

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