In Wednesday's Globe and Mail, there was a back page item about a couple of issues that are near and dear to me all nicely wrapped up in one article.
Yes folks, as hard as it is to believe, those clever Conservatives in Ottawa have apparently found a way around the recent ban placed on those wonderful "10 percenters". You may recall that I've had a real "bee in my bonnet" about those little pieces of paper, especially because my riding seemed to be ground zero for the CPC propaganda blitz. Fortunately though, the delivery of Conservative Party partisan propaganda will continue with only a very short interruption in service. Yeah! It's wonderful to know that the tax dollars that I just nicely sent to Ottawa on April 30th will be returned to me so quickly. I certainly wouldn't have credited the crowd on the government side of the floor with the kind of intelligence it took to cook up this scheme but apparently, someone in the back rooms is a pretty smart cookie when it comes to spending our tax dollars on partisan propaganda.
Remember way back in mid-March when the House voted 140 to 137 to ask the Board of Internal Economy to end the wasteful practice of MPs sending out "10 percenters" to ridings that weren't their own? This practice was costing taxpayers $10 million a year. The Conservatives voted against the Liberal motion at first but after some sober second thought, the PMO announced that the Conservatives supported ending the practice if, and only if, the Board of Internal Economy supported it. On March 30th, the Board, (which makes its decisions in secret) with representatives from all parties, announced that the use of "10 percenters" had been discontinued. Because the Board debates in secret, we'll never know which MPs voted for and which voted against continuing the practice but I suspect that the story released today tells the whole tale.
Apparently, Ms. Candice Hoeppner (Conservative - Portage-Lisgar Manitoba) of Private Members Bill C-391 fame (abolishing the gun registry) has found another very clever way of contacting voters outside of her riding. She is using her taxpayer-funded postage budget to send letters to the electorate in Wayne Easter's (Liberal - Malpeque) riding. In her letter, she asks the people of the Malpeque riding whether his stance on the gun registry represents what they really want and informs them that Mr. Easter will have to vote along Liberal Party lines since Mr. Ignatieff has decided that the vote on Bill C-391 will be a whipped vote. She has selected Mr. Easter's riding for special attention since Mr. Easter was one of eight Liberal MPs to vote against his party back in November 2009 when there was a free vote on Bill C-391. His riding has been the target of numerous "10 percenters" on the registry issue and a selection of mesmerizing radio ads that unfortunately are no longer available on the conservative.ca website. Ms. Hoeppner and the Conservatives are trying to force Mr. Easter to vote for the Bill when it comes back to the House for third reading after spending time in Committee.
I'm the first to admit that Wayne Easter's stance on dismantling the gun registry seems to change on a near daily basis. It's pretty hard to know what he's thinking from one day to the next but it appears that he's now decided that (most likely because he's been told what to think) that the registry is a good idea. That's at least three different stances he's taken on the same issue but that's neither here nor there.
What is objectionable is that our elected government has found yet another way to use taxpayers' money to fund their pre-election partisan propagandizing. That is nothing less than immoral and Ms. Hoeppner should regard this action as a personal embarrassment. Unfortunately, MP budgets are determined by the same secretive Board of Internal Economy and specific expenditures are hard to determine so it will be very difficult for Canadians to find out how much is being spent under this new, improved scheme.
There's something wrong in Ottawa and I have no idea how it can be fixed. Perhaps the problem stems from the overwhelming sense of entitlement (to Canadian's tax dollars) that our elected officials develop once they hit the hallowed halls of Parliament.