Saturday, January 1, 2011

Government Transparency (3—and last for now)

Post 29--:

I don’t want to keep flogging the same horse, dead or alive—the horse, that is. But I do want to report on some progress that is being made at the transparency front.

Transparency could be dangerous to our health. The decision in favour of transparency of the BC Ferries is a case in point. The recently released info about the outrageous annual income of its American CEO has upset many citizens, judging from letters to local newspapers. Some, including yours truly, are—well, let me not embarrass my family with Vancouver’s favourite street vocabulary—blooming angry, especially as they learn of additional charges and reduced services to pay the pigs at the trough. Over a million p.a., according to a caption under the man’s picture in the Vancouver Sun (Dec. 27, 2010, p. A14). As I read angry letters, my own anger rose right along with them. Not good for my high blood pressure!

It would be nice if this public outcry would cause shame among the pigs at the trough. I must admit I doubt that. Corporate pigs have been exposed much since the beginning of the current economic crunch, but I have not heard of any public repentance or confession. They themselves and their lackies continue to argue that in order to get highly qualified people, they have to be paid “market prices.” That is, as high as they dare to make it. They won’t do it for less. Have these people heard how they describe themselves? They seem to be incapable of shame and beyond embarrassment. Let me address them in the second person directly: Do you realize how extremely egoistic and materialistic you sound? Listen to yourself, man! I can’t imagine! How can you live with yourself?

If you pigs are enjoying your trough too much to listen, perhaps the public anger will make the authorities in government a bit more careful in future doling out their largesse by thinning what goes into that trough.

I love the work of Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF). They are on the ball and provide taxpayers with lots of great info. I enjoy their work and thank them for it. They push hard for financial transparency. Nevertheless, at the end of this post, I will critique them. But first, the positive, the progress that their Federal Director, Kevin Goudet, writes about in the Vancouver Sun (Dec. 22, 2010, p. A15).

One item that gladdens my heart is that Kelly Block, a Member of Parliament (MP) from Saskatchewan, has sponsored a bill “for transparency of reserve remuneration for chiefs and council.” The idea is to “put reserve politicians’ pay online”! I love the unintended pun—online vs “on the line” “Even the Assembly of First Nations has buckled to the pressure and is now promising to make this information public.” Wow! That’s big news! Rumours have it that some chiefs of small bands make as much or more than the Premier of the province they live in! If you compare that to the squalor in which many members of these bands live, then such incomes place these chiefs also among the pigs at the trough. So, this new development could mean significant progress in terms of transparency, though you never know, for promises and new laws often end up as mere smoke screens.

The second item reported by Gaudet is that, due to pressures from various quarters, the Auditor General of the Federation is going to “be allowed to look at the books of MPs and Senators. The voices were heard, sense prevailed and the books will be audited.” Having read about some of the high expenses these “servants of the people” incur, seemingly without real worries about the welfare of the people or sense of responsibilities towards them, I am very happy to learn of this development.

But I cannot suppress the question how it could be that the Auditor General of the entire Federation of all people needed such special permission! How did it develop that that high office did not have access naturally, automatically to this info? I am stunned. But I’m also happy. The next step is for that info also to be accessible to the general public. Canadian transparency ain’t what it should be by a long shot. I believe a party that makes this a major component of their platform and acts upon it, will be honoured by the people. For transparency goes along with a cluster of attitudes that together spell “democracy,” something of which Canada has a serious deficit between elections, what with Prime Ministers and Premiers acting like tribal chiefs.

I did promise you a word of critique of CTF or, at least, of its Federal Director. His closing paragraph starts with this sentence: “Undoubtedly the list of all the things governments did wrong this past year would dwarf this list of things done right.” That comment, Mr. Goudet, is unbecoming of someone of your stature. “All the things” our governments—note his plural—do are amazing in keeping this country going, from the smallest details of city curbs and sewage you seldom see, through providing health care and security for all, to representing the country on the international scene. Canada is admired by the international community for the way she negotiated her way through the global economic crisis. To negate all that by a flippant condemnation as mostly wrong is nothing short of irresponsible. You owe all the governments and their civil servants in Canada a serious apology and all the people an explanation. Yes, transparency please. Yours is a low blow.

I would refer you to the National House of Prayer (NHP)in Ottawa, an organization that teaches serious politically impartial prayer support for Canadian government ( ). Perhaps they can help you develop a more serious, wholesome and responsible attitude. Christians critique, yes, as I do here, but they also support the governments of the day with respect and prayer. There, that’s the Calvinist in me peeping out, referring you to an NHP operated by a Baptist. John Calvin could be shocked! Probably surprised. Most likely pleased.

No comments:

Post a Comment