Friday, January 23, 2009

Crazily convenient Conservative concepts concerning cecrecy*

Two stories in the news today that are worth contrasting.

First from (as General John Cabot Trail would say) The Comical Herald:
Canada’s information watchdog says the public knows less than ever about what its government is doing — a stark contrast to Barak Obama’s push for openness in the United States.

Information Commissioner Robert Marleau said Thursday the grip on federal files is tightening, largely because of the Conservative government’s "communications stranglehold" on the bureaucracy.


"There’s less information being released by government than ever before. And that’s alarming."
"The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," said his memo to the heads of departments and agencies.

The Conservatives took office in early 2006 partly on the strength of promises of new accountability, including reforms to Canada’s outdated Access to Information regime advocated by Marleau’s predecessor.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made good on only a handful of changes, including opening the law to some additional agencies. The issue of access reform was handed to a Commons committee for more study.

So we have a definitive statement that the Harper government is obsessively secretive. Very much like the Bush disaster years.

Or maybe this is only when it suits their purposes. From the Grope and Flail (I'll take credit for that one):
The Harper government, which only eight weeks ago still forecast surpluses for Ottawa, has now revealed it will run the deepest shortfalls Canada has seen in more than half a generation: $64-billion over the next two years.

A senior government official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, also warned that it will take as long as five years for Ottawa to return to balanced budgets.


The deliberate leaking of fiscal projections -- just five days before the Jan. 27 budget -- is unprecedented, Finance watchers say. The move reflects the minority Conservative government's desire to get unfavourable coverage out of the way before next week.

“I guess it's that old school of thought that you pre-condition for bad news so it's less of a shock when it comes out,” Toronto Dominion Bank chief economist Don Drummond said.

The Tories are betting that dealing with the deficit news now will ensure that media coverage of next week's stimulus budget instead focuses on its huge package of spending measures, expected to funnel billions of dollars into everything from public works projects to tax breaks.

Not that this should be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. It is all about power and nothing about the people. Again, just like Bush.

I'm all for trying something new. Especially when trying to find one's way out of the forest. Maybe the need for budget secrecy is overblown and this is a tradition that can be done away with. Make the case. I'm all ears.

But the 13 billion (whoops, it has now been updated to $64 billion) things these guys have tried in the past haven't worked so well. They would best serve the country by following the rules right now.

Along the continuum from success to failure that government actions are measured on, there is every indication that this budget will cluster along the same spot as everything else they have done. Abject failure.

Update: The KD has the goods on further budget badness.Recommend this Post


Skinny Dipper said...

I love cex with a conservative. It's so rigid.

Oop, that should have been "regimented" instead of rigid.

Constant Vigilance said...

Any suggestions on how to clean red wine out of my keyboard? Because I snorted it out my nose after reading that.

You prefer regimented sex to rigid? That in itself is interesting and worthy of a post.