Wednesday, March 09, 2005

12 years - Promises Broken

Well, it's been over a week so I guess I may as well finish the second half of my "tribute" to Canada's Liberal party and as promised This post will deal with some of the Liberal promises broken over the past 12+ years.

Most of their biggest broken promises can come under the heading of "Restoring Integrity to parliament". This was the driving force for the 1993 changeover from a PC government to the Liberal one we have today. (Although it should be noted that many of the scandals of the previous government have been shown to have either been carry overs from the prior Liberal government (google: "tainted blood" Canada) or have come up with no evidence of wrongdoing even after several years of international investigation (google: Mulroney Air Bus).

Their first step in restoring integrity was to create the position of independent Ethics counselor. Their promise was that this position would be appointed by and report to parliament directly. As it turned out they did create the position with only one small difference; the current Ethics counselor position is directly appointed by the Prime Minister and reports only to him. Essentially turning the position into an extremely expensive rubber stamp which has been shown over and over through the various scandals.

I guess this would be a good place to list off just some of the scandals that have helped make this latest incarnation of the Liberal party the last people you would turn to for lessons on integrity:

1) The Grand Mere Affair (aka Shawinigate). A pretty good run down of the whole affair can be found here.
Of course they fail to mention a couple of important facts which you may want to keep in mind when reading the linked article.
  1. The previously mentioned fact that as Prime Minister, Chretien both appointed the ethics commissioner and was also the only person the commissioner reported to.
  2. As Prime Minister, Chretien was also responsible for appointing the head of the Business Development Bank of Canada.
  3. The only proof of a date as to when Chretiens shares were sold to Jonas Prince is a contract signed on a napkin (and not witnessed by anyone) that he presented after pressured by opposition (and even then, only a photocopy of the napkin).
2)The HRDC Billion Dollar boondoggle. The Liberal response to the Auditor General on her report that contract were being handed out on a partisan basis with little to no paperwork and against set guidelines? No records, no problem.

3)Adscam. Once again, their response to being caught giving contracts for little or no work to Liberal friendly ad agencies, and even requiring donations for contracts? Apparently it was all the valets fault, since no one with any responabilities higher than that has really come forward to claim they had any knowledge/control of these programs.

4) Canada Steamship Lines. This is a bit more of a personal scandal than the other three. This is the company that belonged to then Finance Minister Martin but has since been transferred to his sons (once he became Prime Minister). When originally purchased by Mr. Martin in 1981, CSL, as it's name suggests, was a primarily a Canadian company with most of its business conducted here, ships built here and crews hired here. Since that time, Mr. Martin has transferred almost all of the companies assets to countries such as Barbados, Bermuda and Liberia (amazingly all countries with little or no corporate taxes). While not illegal by any means, it is certainly a poor showing for a MP who constantly attacks the idea of tax cuts for Canadian companies and simply un-Canadian.

When originally questioned about federal contracts going to CSL the value of $137,000 was quickly provided. Mr Martin immediately called for a complete explanation for the amount. After further investigation it was learned that the actual number is approx. $167 million dollars. Apparently the reason he was so upset was that he had made so little.

5)Outside of the monetary scandals are the personal behaviours of several members of the Liberal party. While some may claim these instances as example of 'Politics as Usual' it is the response by the party that makes them scandalous.
  1. Carolyn Parrish - famous for her public outbursts like: "Damn Americans. I hate the bastards" and the always popular calling the US President a "moron". Her punishment? She became a national Liberal celebrity until she made the mistake of making a comment about the Prime Minister, then she was finally kicked out of the caucus.
  2. Hedy Fry - claim they were burning crosses in Prince George. She even went so far as to claim she had correspondence from the Mayor stating this. Of course the Mayor denied ever sending any such letter and Ms. Fry never produced anything to substantiate her claim. Her punishment - none.
  3. Prime Minister Chretien - His lists of attempted deceits are too numerous to list here. Basically, he would say whatever he thought would endear him to his current audience. His "I am not a lawyer" statement (when in fact he has been for several decades), as well as his entire Middle East tour are stuff of legend. His stories of his favourite bar (which no one has ever seen him in) and the invisible homeless man he often talked to, were meant to make him look like the common man he claimed to be not the multi-millionaire he was. Sadly enough, many people just dismissed all his falsehoods and continued to vote for him.
You get the picture.
Integrity restored = definitely NOT

Another big promise, the removal of the GST. While it is true the Liberals did not introduce the Goods and Services Tax (a 7% federal tax on almost everything) they did run on a platform that
promised to scrap it if they won. They won and 12 years later we still pay an extra 7 cents on the dollar on everything from newspapers to gasoline. One prominent Liberal even promised to quit if they did not cut the GST as promised. They didn't, so 3 years later, after polling her constituents, Sheila Copps became the second Liberal to follow through on a campaign promise (see EH-101s from the first post) and resigned. She, of course, then immediately regained her seat in the resulting byelection.

I think I'll end this series (is 2 really a series?) of posts here because as I think about how many people continue to vote for a party with such a seriously flawed history, my blood pressure is beginning to rise, and if you've lived in Canada over the past 12 years, you know you really don't want to have to go stand in line at a hospital.



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