5/10/2002

Susan Riley is a writer for the Ottawa Citizen.

She has a fine example of moral equivocating displayed in the pages of that paper today. I'm in a critical mood and today's target is Susan Riley. I'm going to give her the full treatment.

The air is charged with dire predictions, dark warnings, foreshadowings of apocalypse: The Groupaction affair, it is said, is the final straw for the Chrétien government, the coup de grace.

The first signs of this disaffection may be evident Monday in the results of six federal by-elections, suggests a CBC pundit. After years of corruption, the corpse is decomposing from the inside and the stench is unmistakable, says Tory Peter MacKay -- or words to that effect. The jig is finally up, say several hopeful columnists.

These couple of paragraphs are classic straw man positioning. Riley exaggerates and ridicules the position that she wants to deride because an accurate reporting of that position would not lend itself to the dramatics she wants to engage in... I haven't heard anyone claiming that this is an 'apocalyptic' development, have you? Riley mentions a number of columnists and a 'CBC pundit' but she doesn't use any names, why? Because using a name would place upon her the burden of accuracy in reporting their comments and accuracy is not the point of this exercise. The point of this exercise is to downplay the seriousness of this Groupaction episode.

Not so. In fact, this scandal could be over before it has even begun. The three smelly advertising contracts that Auditor General Sheila Fraser says "broke every rule in the book" are already being reviewed by the RCMP. The police report will likely take weeks, if not months; in the meantime, cabinet ministers will deflect pointed questions by claiming they cannot comment on an ongoing inquiry.

They can run, but they can't hide, indignant editorialists will say. Fraser was so appalled by the mismanagement of the Groupaction file that she has ordered a second audit of all federal advertising, polling and sponsorship contracts. That will uncover a cesspool of patronage and sleaze, offences so blatant and numerous they will destroy the Liberal government, says just about everyone.

Problem is, Fraser's investigation won't conclude until the end of next year-- after Jean Chrétien announces his resignation, if common sense prevails, or long enough before another election for remedial action to be taken, grudging apologies to be offered, scapegoats to be found. If Fraser's report is anything like the extensive APEC commission report, it will have long since been overtaken by events.

Opposition parties are aware of this. That is why they are pressing for an independent judicial inquiry into the Liberals' "culture of corruption." Unnecessary, say the Liberals, with some justification: Both the RCMP and the auditor general are looking into the affair. That's hardly a coverup.


Riley here describes, pretty accurately, the tactic of covering up an issue through delays and procedural wrangling. But then she turns around to say that there is no cover-up because it's only delays. I guess she has a quota of words to deliver, there's nothing else to explain four paragraphs that describe such a perfect circle.

The problem with the Groupaction scandal is that, so far, it isn't interesting enough. And scandal cannot, by definition, be dull.

Sounds surprisingly similar to Chretien's defence of his own actions in the Grand-Mere business, doesn't it?

What we know is that senior Public Works bureaucrats disregarded existing rules and shovelled some $1.6 million to a Montreal advertising agency to help the federal government buy visibility in Quebec in the wake of the whisker-close 1995 referendum.

This is the heart of the Liberal lie about Groupaction. "Sure mistakes were made, sure we were a little fast and loose with the regulations, sure we could have done better, BUT look what was at stake!!! The very future of the country was hanging in the balance." It's an unacceptable excuse for criminal behaviour. Riley's acceptance, and repetition, of that premise is what makes me suspect her motives. Perhaps she is merely too credulous but I tend to suspect that she knows exactly what she is doing. It is a dishonest rationalization of a criminal act. This was not an error, it was theft. It drives me nuts that so many people, even in the House of Commons, accept this rationalization unthinkingly. The Liberals continue to point the finger back at the opposition parties saying that 'this member got a sponsorship contract in his riding' and 'that member attempted to get a sponsorship contract in her riding' and all the Liberal lemmings 'OOOHHH' and "AAAAHHH' on cue. Not one of these rubes in the opposition point out the glaringly obvious point; sponsorship itself is a questionable political policy but we are not talking about sponsorship we are talking about payments made to Liberal supporters for trinkets and beads. You might as well trade a suitcase full of cash for a suitcase full of flypaper and claim that you're simply trading luggage. And no-one seems to catch on to that. Not one of these sad sacks on the opposition benches has pointed out the difference between a bad policy and a criminal act. Why?

The contracts weren't properly tendered, the work wasn't fully described and what was asked for was never delivered. Yet the money was paid to Groupaction, a contributor to the federal Liberal party, with no questions asked.

The woman understands what happened but she's determined to play down it's importance I guess.

Bad, even shocking -- especially, as Fraser points out, since Public Works is the government's chief purchaser. More disturbing is testimony from long-time Public Works bureaucrat, Chuck Guite, that he always did business this way. But the scandal will remain localized -- a matter of a few bad apples in a department with a dubious history -- unless it is linked directly to the former minister, Alfonso Gagliano.

Even if that happens -- and, as Joe Clark points out, it would be surprising if senior bureaucrats ignored rules so blithely without ministerial approval -- Gagliano is gone. Gone to Denmark, not dragged away in leg-irons, but gone. By the time Fraser reports again, the controversial minister will be a distant memory. His successor, Don Boudria, is already ordering audits, tightening up scrutiny, ensuring no single firm gets too many contracts -- cleaning up the shop, in so many words.

This activity is an indirect acknowledgement of past abuses, but it may be enough to blunt opposition attacks. So will the fact that all political parties send advertising and polling work to friendly companies. It is a system ripe for abuse, but the abuse isn't Liberal-specific.


Here she is doing it again. She's smearing all the other parties - 'everyone does it' - without backing up the accusation. Give us some examples Ms. Riley. She's intentionally blurring the line between patronage (which indeed everyone does) and criminality. Shame on her for that.

In the end, the opposition wastes its time chasing mosquitoes while real outrages go ignored. There is cabinet's cavalier reluctance to sign Kyoto; its impotence in the face of the softwood-lumber dispute; its paralysis over threatening new U.S. agriculture subsidies; the fact that nearly as much is being spent on security at the upcoming Kananaskis G8 summit as is earmarked to fight African poverty. Now those are scandals worth fretting about.

Isn't it funny that all of Ms. Riley's 'scandals' originate and resonate outside of Canada? Isn't it funny that Ms. Riley who obviously understands the truth of what's happened still wants to downplay the matter? It's a 'mosquito' and there are 'real outrages' to concern ourselves with. It's not worth 'fretting about' a little theft in lowly old Canada. Let's focus on the rest of the world and quit making such a big deal over a few million dollars worth of fraud here and there. How unCanadian to make such a fuss about such a petty little theft.











HEY!!! That's not FAIR!!!



CPAC is probably the best channel on Canadian television and that doesn't sit too well with some people at the CBC and other channels.
The CBC says CPAC is straying into Newsworld's territory by running talk shows on public affairs in prime time and relegating low-rated repeats of the Parliamentary day to as late as 2 a.m. It wants CPAC pushed back to just running Parliamentary debates, accusing it of causing a "harmful competitive impact."

Only in the rarified atmosphere of the CBC is competition seen as a harmful influence. It's the Mr. Dress-up ethos; don't compete, co-operate. Let's not duplicate efforts, eh? Don't these CPACers understand that catering to the interests of the viewers just creates more work for everyone?
The private broadcasters, through the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, oppose CPAC's desire to expand into more analysis and documentaries, saying its members, among them CTV Newsnet and the History Channel, don't need the competition.

Now, in all fairness, the private broadcasters have a bit of a case. CPAC is not a market-driven channel but is funded by the cable companies, and now the satellite companies, to the tune of 6.5 million dollars a year. The CRTC is looking at changing the funding formula so that consumers start paying directly for a service they are funding indirectly already. I have no sympathy for the cable companies - it's a small surcharge for operating in a protected environment - but I can see how a private interest like CTV Newsnet could object to competing with a channel that runs on subsidies. I have no such sympathy for the CBC.
Colette Watson, president and general manager of CPAC, said she is disappointed at the vehemence of the attacks on the channel. She said CPAC needs the new funding arrangement since the cable and satellite companies have made it clear the money tap could otherwise run dry. "It could be the end of CPAC if we get turned down.," she said before the CRTC hearing.

Ms. Watson was brought in last year to spiff up CPAC image. She upgraded the sets and hired new hosts, but said CPAC has been doing for years the kind of round tables and chats with journalists that are now drawing complaints.

"What's changed is we're doing them better," she said. "Now it's getting attention."

And therein lies the problem for the CBC.






5/09/2002

To the surprise of no-one, the Liberals are now attacking the Auditor General.
Liberal MPs Dominic LeBlanc and Dan McTeague (the chattiest backbencher in Canada it seems) are slagging the Auditor General for a dog's breakfast of sins including leaking the contents of the report.

Miffed by Ms. Fraser's harsh criticism of the $40-million sponsorship program, Liberal MPs argued that the Auditor-General's office is not itself infallible and has made mistakes worth considerably more. They pointed out that the Auditor-General's office failed to notice for 30 years an accounting error that resulted in a $4-billion federal overpayment to the provinces.

"I hope before anybody gets too exercised about what the Auditor-General might think, they look at the mistakes that her office made, including a $4-billion overpayment to provinces," said Dominic LeBlanc, Liberal MP for the New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour-Petitcodiac.


What a cute accusation. I hope that Mr. LeBlanc is aware that the Auditor-General doesn't actually make payments to anyone and that it would therefore be quite difficult for her to make a four billion dollar overpayment. That error was made by the Tax department. If he's complaining that the AG didn't catch the mistake that's one thing - neither did hundreds of people who were in a better position to catch it - but if he's trying to blame the actual error on the AG then he has a little trouble with the concepts of time and space. I'd say that he also has trouble with the concept of responsibility but that almost goes without saying.



No Cry Zone declared in Ottawa
Ottawa council tackled Toronto Maple Leaf player whining yesterday by putting a 500-metre "no cry" zone around the Corel Centre.

Coun. Rick Chiarelli made the motion after first watching the Senators lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs in triple overtime in Saturday's Game 2 without complaining.

He then dubbed the motion banning tears and sniffles the "Cujo Law" after Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph whined loudly about the validity of an Ottawa goal in Game 3 Monday.

He said professional athletes need to remember they serve as role models for kids.


Is it just me?

I read that Jean Chretien is making off-the-cuff, completely unprovoked, offers of asylum for terrorists.
During a joint press conference with José María Aznar, the President of Spain, the Prime Minister made his surprising initiative to break the deadlock.

"Anything we could do, we will do. There is at this time no request from anybody to ask these people to come to Canada.

"If we were to be requested to do something, you know, Canada is always willing to be helpful in that very tragic situation in the Middle East with the violence that occur again yesterday, and so on. We are all very disturbed by that and anything we could do, we will do."

His comments were unprompted, having followed a question by a Spanish reporter about whether he considered the United States was justified in including Cuba in its expanded Axis of Evil.

You'll have to excuse my language but; is this fucker even stable? This kind of stupidity just blows my mind... Is he trying to create some new headlines to deflect attention from his crooked government? Can he no longer follow a simple line of questioning from a reporter? And what's this thing about 'being asked'... ? Every bloody time some question about foreign policy comes up this Liberal government starts the soft-peddling about 'not being asked for this' and not being 'asked for that'. I've seen waiters with more initiative than this fucking joke of a government. If you want to open your arms wide to these murdering scumbags why not approach the concerned governments like a fucking HEAD OF STATE instead of making half-assed, half cute, offers to a fucking REPORTER who was asking your opinion about something entirely different.

Jesus Christ! It's like watching a bloody child jumping on the couch to try to attract a little attention while the adults talk. Can somebody clamp a gag on that moron? PLEASE?!?!

These gentlemen that Chretien has sorta kinda invited to come and live in your country were rejected by Spain because they are considered the most hard-core of the hard-core. Spain has agreed to take 26 of the lesser criminals but rejected these 13.
"If we take in the 13 Palestinians we will expose our country to a series of serious risks," Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini told La Stampa newspaper in an interview, indicating that extremist attacks were his prime concern.

The hardline Islamic militant group Hamas had already "threatened countries who would declare themselves ready to welcome them," Mr. Fini added.

The 13 militants have been targeted by the Israelis as the most dangerous of the Palestinians inside the church, but the Israelis have agreed to allow them to be sent into exile if a country will agree to take them.

Beauty eh?




5/08/2002

It Just Might Work!!!!


Alex Mogilny says "Hey guys! I've got an idea. Let's try acting like grown-ups!"
It is time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to shut up and play hockey, says Alexander Mogilny.

The Maple Leafs winger said the team is getting too caught up in complaining about referees. The constant whining is working against the Leafs, he said yesterday.

It was Mogilny that corrected Darcy Tucker on Monday night when he launched into the sideshow act. It's nice to see that even some of the Maple Leaf players are getting sick of this carping and whining.