4 min

Costly political decisions

On CTV’s Question Period yesterday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews admitted it was a political decision to showcase the Huntsville area for the G8 meeting as well as Toronto for the G20. He also said that if they used the much less expensive troops to assist with security, rather than the RCMP, there would be a political firestorm of “Troops with guns! On our streets!” like the Liberal attack ad that never aired of yore. But do you know what else was a political decision? That they went over the heads of Toronto City Council and decided to hold it at the Convention Centre rather than at Exhibition Place, like City Council requested, because it was outside of the downtown core, had the facilities to hold it, and would have been easier to secure with far less disruption. Why no one has brought up this particular item since it was revealed that the security price tag would be over a billion dollars I don’t know, but it seems very relevant now. Had the Conservatives held both summits at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, I’m guessing the total security price tag would have been radically reduced, and everyone would be happier. Too bad they decided to instead shore up Tony Clement’s riding (and spend a disproportionate amount of stimulus money there to spruce up said riding for the G8) rather than, you know, be fiscally prudent like they keep claiming to be.

I am forced to wonder whether this has been deliberate. Harper has never been a fan of the G20 – too much of a Paul Martin idea, and all of that. Could it be that by staging the most expensive G20 meeting ever, he’s trying to leave a poison pill that will make it unpalatable for future summits? I wouldn’t put it past him, while he plays chess while the rest of us play Clue, and all of that. (Incidentally, the figures are that Harper’s planning on spending a billion dollars on maternal health – which sounds well and good, except it’s half of what’s needed to accomplish any meaningful goals, and likely to be reshuffled money, since he put a freeze on foreign aid in the budget).

Clement, by the way, sees this whole flap over the likely conflict of interest in his appearing in that infomercial bound for China for his friend’s company, as just “silly season” stuff. Right…

During Friday’s Question Period, NDP MP Libby Davies asked questions on a national housing strategy, per the big city mayor’s meeting that was going on in Toronto. The parliamentary secretary responded with the usual obfuscation about the government taking action while everyone else is just talking. Err, except there’s no actual strategy. That’s what Davies’ Private Members’ Bill is all about. Not that the government would ever admit that.

Jack Layton has staked his position on the “Trojan Horse” budget implementation bill, C-9, and won’t be supporting it because of all the hidden goodies in the 880-page omnibus bill. He says that since there’s “no way” Harper will let his government fall before the G8/G20 summits, the opposition can play harder ball. Really? Seeing as Harper will remain prime minister during the writ period, you don’t think he’d allow his government to fall, and then use the G8/G20 meetings as campaign props to look prime ministerial and like a statesman for the voters in the hopes that the optics will give his numbers a boost? Because I can see him doing just that.

What’s that? The Conservatives are trying to play silly games with the actual written agreement on the detainee document process that would allow them to use “solicitor-client privilege” to do an end-run around accountability? You don’t say! At least the opposition parties are balking at this latest round of nonsense.

The CBC takes a look into the bugaboo of many a right-winger, the issue of chauffeur-driven cars in the federal government.

Canada’s most intellectually bankrupt MP, Conservative Shelly Glover, is at it again. This time she’s claimed that Toronto police chief Bill Blair is silencing the rank-and-file officers that want to scrap the gun registry, and she aired this in committee without giving Blair a chance to respond or defend himself. Glover later said she never accused him directly, but said “chiefs like Bill Blair,” which I’m sorry to say, is more than splitting hairs. Blair points out that the gun lobby makes a habit of finding members who are cops or retired cops to appear as authorities to claim that most police want the registry scrapped, even though it’s far from the truth. But this is Shelly Glover, the woman who claimed no knowledge of who Tom Flanagan (Stephen Harper’s mentor and former chief of staff) was, claimed that the Liberals have a vested interest in being soft on crime because prisoners vote for them, and is famed for pulling nonsense made-up stats out to prove points that are contrary to logic or established academic thought. In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised that she continues to stoop to this level.

Speaking of the long-gun registry, the “open and transparent” government deliberately withheld a positive report on the registry’s performance until after the Second Reading vote on Hoeppner’s Private Members’ bill last year, Access to Information documents show. Not that it’s a surprise, considering the myriad tactics they’ve resorted to in order to force this bill through as it is.

Up today – the Oliphant Commission report on the dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber is handed down.

Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu is in town, and I have to wonder if that doesn’t mean we won’t see protests on the Hill as a result.
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