Sunday, December 09, 2007

Canada’s “New Government”; it sure has echoes of the ghosts of those governments from the past

"I look around this room and see a room full of senators, maybe one or two judges. A Conservative government will give jobs to people in other parties only after I've been prime minister for fifteen years and can't find a single living, breathing Tory to appoint." Brian Mulroney (1983)

While Stephen Harper may at the moment be putting some distance between his office and the former holder of the office that was Canada’s eighteenth Prime Minister, his governments trek to the annual patronage trough sure seems quite familiar.

The Harper Conservatives announced a list of patronage jobs on Friday (including a much discussed local appointment) offering up boards of directorships, citizenship judgeship's and bevy of opportunities, seemingly provided to, as Mr. Mulroney would have said, any breathing Tory to appoint. Clearly there is still a lengthy line of applicants before an NDPer, Bloquiste or lets all laugh together here, a Liberal, will ever find a cushy government pay cheque provided by the Conservatives.

It’s one of the unseemly natures of politics and certainly is not the domain of the Conservatives, but still for those of us silly enough to live with Utopian fantasies of equality, accountability, transparency and pursuit of the common good, it still comes as a shock when the bare fisted aspect of the political game is thrown out there with such naked partisanship.

We suspect that in the unlikely scenario that the NDP were to form a government one day that the process would once again go forth as it has over the years, with rewards for the foot soldiers, fund raisers and hangers on standing as the currency of Canada's way of governance.
It doesn't seem right, doesn’t seem fair and doesn’t seem palatable, but then in a lot of politics there is that sense of you just have to hold your nose at times.

In a perfect world, each position would be subject to a public hearing, a review of the prospective office holder’s accomplishments (or lack there of) and of course relevance to the job and the region in which they would serve.

It of course isn’t going to happen, patronage is the oil that keeps the political engine running, sometimes it gets dirty, slows the machinery down, but just add a gallon or two and the engine is running again. Churning out more and more miles on the patronage treadmill.

It was this time last year that the howls of outrage were heard as the Harper Government rewarded the faithful with plenty of Christmas cheer prior to the day the guy with the sack of presents arrives. Either they’re early Christmas shoppers this year, or even more astounding revelations are on the way before Santa’s sleigh makes its final flight of the night on the 24th.

The Globe and Mail outlined some of the prominent Conservatives and their connection to the government of the day (or governments of the past), including the local successful applicant Mr. Veniez.
The New Ridley Chairman and CEO, is an apparently devoted Conservative, who according to the Globe, was once a Mulroney era Conservative staffer. His cause for a significant position perhaps aided immeasurably, by this contribution to the Globe and Mail Editorial pages of 2005.

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