The other day, I got another “Working for you” mailout from my local MP, who wants me to know that “The community has spoken out in support of improving cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Ottawa.” Really? And once again, the questionnaire on the back for the card for me to mail back (and thus be entered into the party’s database) gives me only a “Yes, Paul! I want to improve cycling in Ottawa” option.
Of course, it’s pretty easy to get a community to speak out on the issue of cycling when you put out a call for people concerned about cycling. Selecting the target audience to tell you what you want to hear is a pretty easy feat. But that’s hardly the issue at hand. No, the issue is just what the hell Paul Dewar is doing dabbling in municipal affairs when he’s a federal MP?
Throughout the process, there have been different justifications offered – that Dewar is also the critic for the National Capital Commission, which controls the federal lands, portions of which happen to be in the riding. And Dewar points to a Private Member’s Bill that he’s going to support through this process, which would see that any federal infrastructure transfers to cities have to include funds earmarked for cycling. But realistically both of those excuses are non-starters. The NCC lands are just a tiny fraction of those where cycling is an issue in the city, for one. And such a Private Member’s Bill would never get off the ground for another.
This is something I find common with a lot of backbench MPs in all parties, who propose these ridiculous bills that only exist for symbolic purposes. In this case, it would never fly because it would not only need a Royal Recommendation to happen (which means that because it would require the government spending money, they would have to give it the okay, which would never happen), but it’s also something that clearly crosses over into the jurisdiction of municipal governments. Yes, the federal government disburses money to municipalities for specific infrastructure projects, but those projects must also have things like environmental assessments and proper consultations, which take time and money. Does anybody think it would be the slightest bit politically viable for a federal government to tell a municipality that in order to get the funds for a needed project, they have to spend so much of it on cycling lanes, which would require the time and funds of those environmental assessments and consultations to come from the municipality in question? Let alone having the federal government telling a municipal government how to run its own affairs? Not going to happen.
So I ask again – just why is he dabbling in affairs that aren’t in his jurisdiction? And that’s a question I don’t have an answer to – and this goes to all MPs. Yes, politics is local in that federal issues affect one’s riding, and they’re acting as an advocate for those issues. But cycling lanes aren’t a federal issue, so perhaps one should remind him of that fact.
Elsewhere, there are more questions on just when Harper actually knew about the plight of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, given that Liberal MP Joe Volpe has records showing that he was in contact with people who should have brought the attention to the senior ranks before the first story on her even ran in the papers. Mohamud, by the way, is suing the government for $2.5 million in compensation for the ordeal. The Toronto Star also ran a piece detailing more about growing number of cases of Canadians being abandoned by this government abroad.
While there seems to be some grumbling in the Liberal ranks that too many of Ignatieff’s inner circle are from Toronto at a time when the party needs to expand its voter base beyond the country’s three major urban centres, candidates in Quebec spent the weekend getting their election photos taken. “Just in case,” and all of that.
And finally, the Canadian Navy is looking to recruit more Canadians, and is hoping to overcome their current problems of being the smallest branch of the Forces with a new PR strategy. And while the days of “Rum, sodomy and the lash” are sadly long gone, let’s just hope that they don’t do something rash like using a Village People song as part of the ad campaign…