Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Afternoon Links

- Vaughn Palmer notes that while the HST may have been the issue that's permanently torpedoed Gordan Campbell, it's far from the only issue where the B.C. Libs are effectively thumbing their noses at the province:
(T)he rest of the costs laid out in Friday's 20-page report (on the Olympics") were not regarded as part of staging the Games, and thus were "outside the envelope."

The $48-million Olympic Secretariat, for instance. Who would think that was an Olympic cost? Not the B.C. Liberals. Outside the envelope.

Or the five giant rings in Coal Harbour, placed there at a cost of -- I'm not making this up -- half a million dollars per ring. Hansen left them outside the envelope as well. Ditto for such exercises as the Games-Time Celebrations ($14 million), the Look of the Games ($1 million), the Torch Relay Community Grant Program ($4 million), the Torch Relay Expansion ($4 million), Games Town and Games Kids and the Road to 2010 ($2 million), the B.C./ Canada pavilions at the you-knowwhats in Turin and Beijing ($17 million), the never-an-Olympic pavilion at the Vancouver Art Gallery ($6 million), the B.C. International Media Centre for an event to be named later ($3 million), the One-Year Countdown Celebration ($1 million) and the Robson Square Celebration Site ($15 million.)

All those, Hansen stuffed into a separate $160-million envelope as costs of "marketing, hosting, celebration and community engagement activities."

Marketing what? Hosting what? Celebrating what? Not the Olympics apparently.
Only the must gullible government supporters believed (previous statements that the Olympics would only cost $600 million). People recognized at the time that Campbell and Hansen were fudging the budget. Observers will likely dismiss the latest update as a less-than-complete cost accounting as well.
Today, when the Games are widely regarded as a success (and I say that having opposed them), the day for quibbling over the cost of staging them is long past.

So I was thinking as I listened to the Hansen press conference Friday: If this is how the Liberals handle a triumph, no wonder they are having so much trouble managing a genuine fiasco like the harmonized sales tax.
- It's for the best that SaskPower's refrigerator recycling program has received loads of public interest. But the fact that the program has run out of funding is particularly galling in light of the goal involved: is it really the best environmental message to tell people to hold onto their old, inefficient appliances in hopes that the program will resurface in years to come?

- The latest Angus Reid leadership polling is interesting enough in its well-reported findings that Jack Layton is the only federal leader identified in positive terms. But it's even more noteworthy that Layton also has virtually no negative associations attached to him: of the nine negative terms included in the survey, Layton is at the head of the pack (i.e. carrying a lowest association) for seven of them, and finishes in actual or effective ties for second behind Harper on the other two. All of which is to say that if the Cons' idea of scaremongering is to suggest that Layton might someday hold power, then I'll strongly encourage them to keep on doing what they're doing.

- Finally, Douglas Bell rightly slams Macleans for its embarrassing G20 editorial:
That last line is as sweet a piece of editorial counter-programming as you’ll read this week or any other. That said it’s remarkable, at least to my eyes, that the national weekly news magazine (it is still a news magazine, right?), on this issue at least, resembles Pravda circa 1954. The editorial that accompanies the cover line reads as though it were written by some central committee in charge of the Politburo justifying the Lithuanian deportations of that era.
“The police should be commended for their vow to pursue any and all protesters associated with the vandalism. Merely detaining and releasing violent hoodlums is not a sufficient response to the threat they pose to civil society. The protection of free speech and assembly can only exist when there is proper respect for the rule of law. Legitimate protest acknowledges the existence of state authority while providing a different point of view. The same is true with civil disobedience. What we saw over the weekend, however, had nothing constructive to offer society. It was simply opportunistic chaos. It is thus imperative that we find and punish everyone responsible for this embarrassing period of disorder.”
Notice the nifty conflation of “vandals” and “embarrassing period of disorder”? And that bit about “legitimate protest acknowledging state authority?” Oy. Orwell would have a field day.

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