Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Colle a scapegoat?

Lots of damning editorials in MSM today, but the most critical may be the Globe. Actually, it's interesting that the most vehement attacks seem to have come from both the Globe and Star.

Lorrie Goldstein has a piece in the Sun (Colle-gate is shades of a new Adscam), but it's little more than a slap on the hand compared to the others. The Post seems to be MIA.

Anyway, let's start with the Globe's Murray Campbell (McGuinty must shoulder blame for the whole sorry mess). He starts by suggesting that "the first wheel finally fell off Dalton McGuinty's government", meaning that Dalton appears to have ducked previous potential scandals until this moment. The remark, however, reminded me of that ominous moment on the 2005 federal campaign trail when a wheel suddenly fell off the wagon Paul Martin was driving...

Campbell's whole piece is worth the read, but here are the highlights:

...The furor over the year-end grants to groups seen to be friendly with the Liberal Party began last April with a story that the Bengali Cultural Society received $250,000.

The story had legs because one of the organization's executives was vice-president of the riding association of Liberal MP Maria Minna.

The next day, we found out that the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre was given $200,000 just three weeks after it registered as a charity and that its directors included a Liberal candidate in the coming election.

The opposition called for Mr. Colle's head. Instead of acceding, the government embarked on what Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory characterizes as days of "denial, ducking and stonewalling."

The grants issue dominated Question Period until Mr. McGuinty could stand it no more and recessed the legislature three weeks early, a few hours before Mr. Colle was scheduled to be grilled before a legislative committee.

The Conservatives asked about 270 questions in that period. They received no answers and, worse, were on the receiving end of insinuations that they were motivated by racist attitudes.

It gets worse:

In the coming weeks, you will hear a lot from opposition politicians about the cricket association that asked for $150,000 after it was invited to apply for funding and the next day received $1-million. It had so much money that it spent $20,000 to throw a celebratory dinner (at which Mr. McGuinty spoke) and then socked away $500,000 in five-year, investment certificates.

Actually, I'm going to be doing this in installments today, because I have a lot to say, and I know most people hate reading long posts.

More to follow.


Anonymous said...

Good read - you should pay attention:

Friday, May 18, 2007
Page: 4
Section: Editorial Byline: Kelly, Paul

The Ontario Progressive Conservative party is up in arms about the Liberals spending money.
Seemingly (and allegedly), of a $32 million dollar program a couple of $100, 000 grants have found their way into groups that have - brace yourself - Liberal supporters.

You must be thinking that it would not happen in a PC government. Well, I beg to differ.
At the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources between 1997 and 2002, there was a program called the Fish and Wildlife Protection and Enhancement Fund.

It was a three-year, $10 million program divided yearly into $5, $3 and $2 million respectively.
It was extended for another $10 million for another period of time.

The first year it ran, it was for $5 million in unspecified spending but the projects somehow had to be linked to the crown jewel of Mike Harris's government - hunting and fishing.

MNR district offices submitted proposals for programs developed with local outdoor clubs - a core constituency for the Harris Tories.

The list was sent to a small group of Progressive Conservative MPPs for "review and approval."
The group was the 'MNR Caucus' and it included several current Progressive Conservative MPPs.

When the committee got the list there were two items they could not touch: $400,000 for Premier Harris's riding - a group dealing with Lake Nipissing - and some $60,000 for an advertising campaign with a high-profile angler with close links to the premier.

To mess with those two projects was to invite almost certain career-ending death.
Another tab was for a fish hatchery in Haliburton (the riding of a very powerful minister, Chris Hodgson). It was another $164,000.

There were some other projects in the Haliburton region that came in for another $50,000.
There was no end to the demands for more money.

The MNR committee quickly went to work 'liberating' money. The first round was a 'rapid fire' round of killing things for what they sounded like and where they were. If it typically had anything to do with conservation or 'tree huggers,' it died an ugly death.

If it was in an opposition member's riding it was killed with glee.

This money was 'Conservative money' and was to be spent on Conservative projects.

I could look at a list even today and tell you where it came from and who spoke to it.

Once the list was tidied up and some money was freed up, these MPPs (and usually they were the only ones who knew about the fund) would come back with their own ideas or those of other government MPPs.

There would be the small boat launch for $10,000 and the larger Lake Erie studies for hundreds
of thousands of dollars.

There would be a new release, photo in the newspaper and a lot of "Me and the premier brung you this cheque" giddiness.

My own personal favourite involves a current MP and MPP. At the time Gord Brown, current Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville, was chairman of the St. Lawrence Park Commission.

Over lunch at a Yonge Street restaurant, he mentioned needing money for a project.
I suggested a letter from cabinet minister Bob Runciman to the MNR might help. And, $60,000 later, it did.

All of it was done perfectly legal.

Contracts were signed, guidelines where adhered to, memorandums were approved, etc. The auditor could check it today - all rules were followed.

Was it a 'secret' fund? No. Was it an obscure fund? For sure. Was it a 'slush fund'? In many ways, it was.

So what is the point of all this? Well, the Tories raising a stink about this against the Liberals are hypocrites and, even more so, frauds.

In the global scheme of multi-million dollar budgets - in fact, billion dollar budgets - this is all nickel and dime stuff.

More so, if the Tories were in power they would do the exact same thing. I have seen it done.
At one point in time, the Tories had the wife of a cabinet minister secretly checking on groups applying for Trillium grants.

This is what politics and being in power is all about.

The ability to throw around a small amount of money to groups that support you and that you are involved with comes with the territory. To the victor goes the spoils.

I have no axe to grind with any of these people. I turned the page on this chapter of my life long ago. But this is a clear demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black.

Nowadays with so few people involved with volunteer groups, it is noticeable the people who are involved in the political process and are also involved in local community groups, festivals and such.

So you are never going to get an organization without one link to any political party. So are they to receive nothing? I don't think so.

But to sit back and watch the Tories attack the McGuinty government for doing such a thing is a laughable sight.

Laughable because not so long ago, they did - and would do again - the very same thing.

Questions? Comments? Contact the author at:

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Anon. Could you please provide the newspaper that this editorial was in?

I was just watching a newstalk show at noon, and one woman called in saying she wouldn't vote for either the Liberals or Conservatives next time.

I think the NDP may end up picking up a lot of the soft-Liberal vote.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon. Never mind. I found the source.

From the man who says, "Stephen Harper's government is evil and must be defeated. The sooner, the better."

Um, no bias there.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

And Torian does an excellent job defeating the argument here.

Moebius said...

I was getting pretty disgusted with the "so-called Tory" Tory, but D McG has convinced me that he must go. Colle is absolutely a scapegoat in this, blamed for Lib policy.

JT is back on my list, if only to get rid of the corruption.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

JT is back on my list, if only to get rid of the corruption.

Moebius, you're exactly right. We need to vote for the least awful choice. Sad, isn't it?

Moebius said...


I was prepared to vote Green or NDP to protest my lack of choice in Ontario.

This widespread corruption in the Lib party (and the previous record of lies) has convinced me it's too dangerous to protest vote now.

JT is still not a conservative!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This widespread corruption in the Lib party (and the previous record of lies) has convinced me it's too dangerous to protest vote now.

Actually, I was thinking that this would be the ideal time to do a protest vote, in terms of figuring out which candidate in your riding would have the best odds of defeating the Liberal one.

Moebius said...

It would make a lot of sense to do so. For most ridings, it's a Conservative or Lib choice. Where I live, the Lib's have always won no matter how badly the party has behaved.

I don't have a lot of power to change things, but I can still vote my conscience.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

the Lib's have always won no matter how badly the party has behaved.

Just try to find out who was next runner-up in the last election, and by how much.

Strategic voting is key.

I don't have a lot of power to change things, but I can still vote my conscience.

You'd be surprised how much one person can make a difference. Word of mouth is huge. You have friends and family. You tell them what you believe to be true, and on it goes.