Saturday, December 22, 2007

On misappropriation

I'll leave aside for the moment John Ivison's willingness to play stenographer for Con spin to the effect that their tax-slashing rampage will rule out any meaningful federal spending in the future. But the background to Ivison's column reveals plenty more about where the Cons' priorities lie in government - and what Canadians should think of the information which Harper chooses to feed to the media:
However, an internal government analysis of Mr. Dion's spending plans, obtained by the National Post, suggests that when Canadians take a closer look at what the Liberals are proposing, they may decide the country can ill afford to be run by a man one of his Liberal leadership rivals once confided "couldn't balance a cheque book."...

(T)he analysis of the Liberal poverty plan calculated that increased funding for the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), improved child benefits and a richer Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors would cost upward of $5-billion a year.

"As an illustrative example, very preliminary estimates suggest that a WITB investment of $3-billion per year (current funding envelope is $550-million annually) could lift somewhere in the neighbourhood of 350,000 individuals above the LICO, including 100,000 children. These impacts alone would fall well short of those required to meet the 30-50 plan targets (one million individuals and 400,000 children respectively)," the analysis says.
Now, it seems fairly clear that the Cons don't have the slightest interest in actually implementing an anti-poverty strategy of any sort. Which means that the analysis itself looks to have been based on a direction that public resources be used solely to discredit the Libs rather than for the purposes of actually formulating policy.

And the problem is all the more obvious when the Cons' apparent eagerness to leak a report which could be used for their own political gain is compared with their consistent pattern of stifling the flow of information which could actually lead to meaningful accountability for the Cons' actions in office. (For the latest catalogue of examples, see Stephen Maher's column today.)

Once again, the Cons have left little room for doubt that they consider themselves entitled to use Canada's public resources for partisan purposes, and to reveal only information which they think helps their political cause. And it can only make matters worse if Ivison and others keep encouraging them - both by parroting Con spin, and by refusing to consider the motives behind the creation and leaking of the information.

Update: Steve V has more.

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