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3 min

Beyond spin and into outright dishonesty

There’s hyper-partisanship, and then there’s complete and utter intellectual dishonesty. The latest salvo is at the expense of Nova Scotia Liberal MP Mike Savage. On a radio talk show, he criticized the government’s decision to kill the childcare agreements with the provinces, their knocking two points off the GST, and said that he was in favour of decriminalizing – but not legalizing – marijuana.

The government memo that emerged, complete with selectively edited quotes taken entirely out of context – was that Savage had laid out Ignatieff’s “three point plan.”

“First point: raise taxes. Second point: engage in reckless, unaffordable new spending. Third point: be soft on crime by legalizing drugs.”

No, seriously – that’s what they said. And it’s beyond partisan distortion at that point – it’s utter intellectual dishonesty. And yet, just what is filtering through to the public one has to wonder, because they absolutely deserve to be called out on this, and smacked down hard for it. We now practise politics by completely and utterly fabricating the positions of our rivals? In what world is this morally justifiable? Oh, wait – it’s not. But they can’t stop drinking the Kool-Aid long enough to see past it, too wrapped up in the cherry flavour to notice the tooth decay that’s set in. This is not cool, and Canadians need to let them know that they won’t stand for it.

Elsewhere, and no doubt part of this same hyper-partisan mentality, there is a call by several public policy experts who want exempt ministerial staffers reigned in. This especially in light of revelations that Christian Paradis’ aide blocked an Access to Information request, but most can point to a culture where these staffers are parading around the Centre Block, issuing orders to the bureaucracy under the ostensible aegis of their political masters, but not having any particular accountability for it (especially given the near-death of ministerial accountability under this government). I certainly believe it – I’ve seen these staffers and how they behave when they’re off the Hill, who think they’re all god's gift without realizing that really, they’re nobodies on a power trip. (To be fair, I also know former ministerial staffers who are responsible, principled people). But this is part of a larger pattern that needs to be addressed, and a code of conduct is a place to start.

(And why am I suddenly flashing back to those White House staffers from In the Loop?)

It’s universal condemnation all around for the government’s performance and their diplomatic note on the Omar Khadr file. Not that it’s a surprise. Khadr’s Canadian lawyers have filed yet another appeal, for all the good it will do, seeing as this government has a thing about ignoring the rule of law when it suits them.

Treasury Board president Stockwell Day refuses to say whether or not he plans to raid the public service pensions in order to help balance the books (even though it’ll be a largely futile gesture). Wow. I mean, working for the public service is thankless enough as it is, can be utterly soul-destroying, and to top it off, this government has so badly abused them by forgetting little things like “ministerial responsibility” – and then they’re likely to start raiding their pensions too? Wow – good luck with that. There will be riots in the streets of Ottawa.

Up today – the NDP are holding a press conference to offer suggestions on how the military can increase transparency and accountability. Also, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is going to release his assessment of the government’s finances over the long term. (Spoiler alert – the words “train” and “wreck” come to mind).
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