Sunday, December 05, 2010

On conflicting signals

Today's report on hospitality expenses approved personally by Stephen Harper doesn't say much in terms of the amounts actually authorized. But the more important story looks to me to lie in the Cons' seemingly pathological inability to accept that the same standards should be applied to them in government as to the Libs who they continue to criticize - to the point where they're firmly defending larger expense amounts than they're actively pointing to as evidence of abuse when spent by the Libs:
Asked at a news conference to provide an example of improper hospitality spending, Day cited the example of federal government reception that cost $31,500 for several hundred people. "We're saying ... that's not a good signal to be sending."

An aide later explained that Day was referring to a May 9, 2005, reception hosted by Statistics Canada — during the term of the previous Liberal government — that cost taxpayers $31,674 for about 400 people.

The Statistics Canada event, in fact, was similar in scale to the $47,158 budgeted by the Privy Council Office for the Sept. 13 town hall, intended for some 600 public servants.

A spokesman for the Privy Council Office said the town hall came in under budget, at $42,077, partly because hospitality costs amounted to only $6,520 for "coffee, tea, bottled juice and pastries."

Raymond Rivet was not immediately able to say how many public servants attended the event. But if all 600 showed up for the three-and-a-half hour session, total costs were about $70 for each participant — not far off from the $79 for each person who attended the 2005 Statistics Canada event that Stockwell Day said was "not a good signal to be sending."

Rivet said the Privy Council Office town hall "provides a venue for interactive discussion on the priorities and challenges for the upcoming year."
Now, any reasonable evaluation should suggest that the respective events of the Libs and Cons would be seen as fairly similar in scope, cost and justifiable outrage. But there's absolutely no rational basis for trying to label one as "improper" and the other as utterly above reproach - and the fact that the Cons are once again willing to go to such ridiculous lengths in trying to play opposition while holding the reins of power should provide yet more evidence that they're not up for the task of governing responsibly.

No comments:

Post a Comment