Friday, February 22, 2008

Finance Minister Hugh MacPhie speaks


Would this op ed piece below, that appeared in yesterday's National Post by Finance Minister Hugh MacPhie
have been covered by Hugh MacPhie's original $122,340 contract, or was it covered by one of the many subsequent $24,999.99 contracts?

Let's be honest, Jim Flaherty is incapable of original thought, apart from ”It’s not my fault” or “The panel did it”.

Hence Svengali Mark Carney. Hence Hugh MacPhie.

And to think, Hilary Clinton is accusing Barrack Obama of plagiarism for lifting a few lines from a speech by his National Campaign Co Chair.

Meanwhile Flaherty is programmed 24/7 and no one utters a peep?

Dalton McGuinty is Ontario's biggest problem
National Post
February 21, 2008

by: Jim Flaherty?????


Plagiarism Watch: This just in.

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10 comments:

Robert Gibbs said...

EDITORIAL
TheStar.com

Flaherty vs. McGuinty

Feb 22, 2008 04:30 AM

In the court of public opinion, Ontarians are the jury that will ultimately decide the case of Flaherty versus McGuinty: the No. 1political who-done-it of the current budget season.

In a speech this week that laid out the federal case against Premier Dalton McGuinty, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty set aside all the diplomatic niceties dictated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's promise of federal-provincial harmony and delivered a blistering partisan rant that blamed all of Ontario's economic woes on McGuinty's failure to adopt the cure-all of corporate income tax cuts.

Flaherty intimated that Ontario's economic boom under the Mike Harris government (in which Flaherty held key cabinet posts, including finance minister) only petered out after McGuinty came to power and started focusing on things other than corporate tax cuts.

Unfortunately, prosecutor Flaherty suppressed some key evidence of significant relevance to this case.

First, he forgot to mention that the Canadian dollar was low under Harris and only started soaring after McGuinty took over, thanks primarily to the Alberta oil boom and Bank of Canada policy. It's the rise in the dollar, far more than tax rates in Ontario, that dealt such a massive blow to the province's all-important manufacturing sector.

Second, he failed to mention that the troubles in the auto sector are North-America-wide, and have almost nothing to do with tax rates in Michigan, or for that matter, Ontario.

Third, Flaherty seems to have suffered amnesia when it comes to the state in which the government he represented left the province after losing power. Thanks to all the Harris tax cuts, the education system was in tatters after being starved of funds for nearly a decade. The health-care system was stretched to the limit. Cities were on the verge of collapse as a result of all the costs the Harris government had downloaded on them. Colleges and universities were seriously underfunded. And the Tories also left McGuinty saddled with – dare we mention that word, which Flaherty finds so offensive today – a $5.6 billion deficit.

That McGuinty chose to repair all that damage instead of cutting taxes hardly seems to be the crime Flaherty would have you believe.

So what is McGuinty's crime? Apparently, it is having the audacity to ask Ottawa to join the province in ensuring that Ontario gets its fair share of the limited North American investment that the hard-pressed auto companies are prepared to make over the next few years. Also, McGuinty is asking Ottawa to provide a bit of relief to the province sure to be hardest hit by the recession brewing in the United States by increasing spending on infrastructure and providing support for the auto industry.

Ontario has long contributed more than its share to federal programs like equalization and employment insurance to help Canadians in other regions. Is it wrong for Ontario's premier to ask Ottawa to help him meet the challenges his province now faces? Or is it wrong for the minister of finance for all Canadians to tell Ontarians facing tough times that as far as he is concerned they are on their own?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, who is the guilty party here?

Robert Gibbs said...

No surprise that the National Post is a sounding board for dwarf Flaherty and his crooked CON cronies, is it?

Anonymous said...

Irony Defined: Paying $122,000 For a Speech About Fiscal Responsibility

http://issmatblog.wordpress.com/

The Globe and Mail reported that current Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has admitted handing an un-tendered contract to Hugh Macphie, a one-time speechwriter for former-Ontario premier Mike Harris, to work on last year’s budget speech.

The article indicated that “Treasury Board guidelines require multiple bids for contracts over $25,000.”

While Canadian politicians are busy accusing Flaherty of administrative murder, I am yet to see anyone clearly and directly raise the following two obvious points:


The ironic audacity of a fiscal department paying $122K to someone to write a budget speech, and


The inference that neither Canada’s top finance politician nor any of his aides are able to write a speech about the subject matter of which they are assumed to be experts.

What age do we live in when our elected leaders are unable to string thoughts together in written format that can be delivered orally in a clear, concise, and inspiring manner while adhering to the objectives of their political agenda?

I understand that a Minister’s time may not afford for such trivial, administrative tasks, but to suggest that a few hours of his time are worth more than $122,000 is preposterous! In the same issue of the Globe and Mail, an executive coach (Jerome Shore) indicates that business owners and executives should outsource a business task only if it can be done “cheaper than your hourly rate or better than you can do it“.

A 2004 CBC News report notes that a Cabinet Minister’s annual salary is around $230,000. If we assume 8-hour work days and 12 weeks of paid vacations (3 months), that leaves us with 40 work weeks at 5 days per week times 8 hours per day, totalling to a rough 1600 of ‘billable’ hours. At $230,000 per annum, this translates to a (possibly wildly inaccurate) rate of $144 per hour for the Cabinet Minister’s time.

Some reports estimate the size of the speech in question to be around 5500 words. Let’s call it an even 6000 words. From my earlier days in university, I think it used to take me about 2 hours of serious thinking to churn 1000 words of polished literature (I am not the brightest bulb on the tree).

So, 6000 words would take a not-so-bright university student about 12 hours of work. At $144 per hour, 12 hours of the Minister’s time costs tax payers $1730. Meanwhile, 12 hours of Hugh MacPhie’s time cost the government a whopping $122,000 CDN of my dear, dear tax dollars.

So, it appears that outsourcing the task, in this case, was not cheaper. According to Jerome, that only leaves one other justification.

Robert Gibbs said...

Anonymous:

I'd say with dwarf Flaherty, the third reason to outsource is unaccountable payola or CON partisan patronage.

Mary the golfer said...

When you don`t know "sickum" yourself , then get someone else to write your words.

That way you can always blame him for your mess.

Jim , get a life you "bozo".


Mary P

Dr Mike said...

Flaherty talks about Mr McGuinty`s fiscal mismanagement.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Flaherty is "Mr Mismanagement".

Ontario was in OK shape financially until he became Finance Minister--he told us over & over again that he was doing a bang-up job--that we were in the black to a tune of over a billion dollars.

Well , surprise , surprise --turned out we were in debt at a level near 6 billion.

Is it just a problem with the math or is this guy really as dense as we know he can be.

Either way , he should not be in charge of an ant farm , let alone a country.

Imagine this guy attempting to understand the complexities of income trusts--I am just surprised that he knew where to look!!!!!

mike.

Robert Gibbs said...

TORONTO STAR/ANGUS REID POLL
TheStar.com

Voters still not sold on Tories: Survey

After two years in government, the latest results amount to a failing grade for Harper, pollster says

Feb 22, 2008 04:30 AM
Richard Brennan
OTTAWA BUREAU

OTTAWA–Even after two years in power, Canadians appear to be unwilling to hand Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives a majority government, according to a Toronto Star/Angus Reid poll released today.

"Two years later the report card is in – Stephen Harper you fail," pollster Angus Reid said in an interview after releasing the poll showing the Conservatives with a slight lead over the opposition Liberals.

The online poll shows the Conservatives with 34 per cent of the decided vote, the Liberals with 31 per cent, the New Democrats with 17, the Bloc Québécois with 9, and the Green party with 8.

Support for the Conservatives, who won a minority government in the Jan. 23, 2006, election, has increased by one percentage point since the last Angus Reid poll in December, while the Liberals climbed by three percentage points.

The online poll of 1,082 adult Canadians, conducted Feb. 15 to 18, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Whether there will be a federal election as early as this spring will likely depend on whether Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion can accept Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget, to be released on Tuesday. A vote that could topple the government could come on March 4, leading to an April 14 election.

"Stephen Harper has had the opportunity to emerge as the putative prime minister of Canada. He's got a very weak opponent in Stéphane Dion," Reid said. "But he still has a terrible approval rating, terrible numbers in terms of momentum and he is doing terribly on the question of who would be best prime minister."

The poll shows that the Liberals continue to hold a healthy lead in Ontario, with 40 per cent of the decided vote, compared to the Conservatives' 34 per cent. The NDP is at 14 per cent in Ontario and the Green party at 10 per cent.

Harper's approval rating as prime minister mirrors his party's support at 34 per cent. Dion is at 17, up three points from December.

"There have got to be a lot of Tories in this country shaking their heads ... because this guy has had basically a free pass for the last two years. He has had a great economy and a weak opposition leader and all he can pull out of it is a result that's basically two points lower than he got in the last election. This does not bode well for his future."

The poll shows 36 per cent of Canadians believe the Harper administration has performed poorly and does not deserve to form a government after the next election.

According to the survey, the top issue for Canadians is the environment at 23 per cent, followed by health care at 20 per cent. Only 6 per cent listed the Afghan war as the most important issue today.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper government gives science a raw deal, journal Nature says
UNNATI GANDHI

Globe and Mail Update

February 22, 2008 at 12:27 AM EST

One of the world's most respected journals has dealt a strong blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government's “manifest disregard for science.”

In a strongly worded editorial, entitled Science in Retreat and published in Thursday's issue, the British journal Nature wrote that while Canada's researchers consistently rank among the world's finest, the same cannot be said for the federal government's position on science and research.

“Science has long faced an uphill battle for recognition in Canada, but the slope became steeper when the Conservative government was elected in 2006,” the editorial says.

It goes on to list the Conservatives' skepticism on the science of climate change and its retreat from Canada's Kyoto commitment.

In particular, the editorial lambastes the government's decision to move the office of chemist Arthur Carty – appointed in 2004 by then-prime-minister Paul Martin as Canada's independent national science adviser – away from the Prime Minister's Office to Industry Canada. Mr. Harper's government, the editorial says, set the office up to “fail” by giving it an “abysmal” budget and a “vague” mandate. The government then told Dr. Carty he was no longer needed as science adviser, and Dr. Carty offered his resignation.

Reached at his Ottawa home last night, Dr. Carty told The Globe and Mail he believes that the Conservative government needs to put a lot more effort into supporting science in Canada.

“The editorial is factual. I don't have much more to say, other than I think the facts are pretty right.”

Robert Gibbs said...

Deceivin' Stephen's CONS want to turn the CBC into a CON mouthpiece too...

When will Canadians wake up???


CBC Television Review May Lead To Showdown

Committee MPs hint getting consensus is struggle

Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, February 19

OTTAWA - A political split is looming over a federal review of the CBC.

The all-party House of Commons Heritage committee is drafting a report on the future of the taxpayer-funded broadcaster, but the chances of the report being unanimous appear unlikely.

Opposition MPs on the committee outnumber government MPs, raising the prospect of a separate Conservative report that would constitute the first detailed government policy on the CBC.

The committee's review of the CBC has lasted almost a year and is expected to end within the next three weeks. The discussions about the content of the final report, which will be presented to Parliament, haven't been divulged.
The committee chair, Conservative Gary Schellenberger, said MPs are looking for a consensus.

"It's still on the table whether there are going to be any minority reports," he said. "There could be minority reports or supplementary reports. Sometimes parties look at things differently. If there are things we can't come to a consensus on, any party on the committee could issue a minority or supplementary report."

NDP culture critic Bill Siksay said the committee is at "a sensitive moment."

"We are very close to wrapping up, but not quite there," he said. "Anything's possible at this point because nobody has fully tipped their hand. The NDP has always stood for a strong public broadcaster that performs a key role in Canadian society. That's what we're aiming for."

Neither MP would discuss details of the committee's deliberations, but potential sticking points are stable and increased funding for the CBC and the future role of CBC television. CBC governance is also a big issue, with the NDP pushing for reforms of the existing system in which CBC's board of directors and president are appointed directly by the federal government of the day -- not necessarily on merit.

The federal Conservatives have accused the CBC of political bias since before they formed the government, and two months ago, Conservative party national campaign director Doug Finley lambasted the broadcaster in a fundraising letter to party faithful, accusing it of being "anti-Conservative."

CBC supporters have long suspected that the Harper government has a hidden agenda that would radically reduce the taxpayer contribution to CBC -- currently at around $1.1 billion -- which it will move rapidly to implement when and if they form a majority government.

Among the scenarios most feared by CBC supporters are a stripped-down CBC TV forced to compete regionally and nationally with little or no financial support from government.

Ian Morrison, spokesman for the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, says Heritage committee deliberations are being watched closely by the Prime Minister's Office and a Conservative minority report would be written at the direction of those close to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"It would tend to substantiate concerns that there is a hidden agenda for public broadcasting," he said.

Robert Gibbs said...

Harper's Conservative Government Surreptitiously Funding Partisan Military Propaganda

Although this article is a "mid-length read", I highly encourage it for those who are concerned about "hidden agendas" in Canada.

Commentary

When Conservative Government-Funded Think Tanks Produce Propaganda

At the very least, credible public intellectuals should disclose the source of their funding

AMIR ATTARAN

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
February 21, 2008 at 5:48 AM EST

The war in Afghanistan is one of ideas and ideologies. Ideologies, in that the Pashtun extremist worldview is far from our own. Ideas, in that our society is likely to prevail only if it makes wiser and cleverer decisions than theirs. That is why, when one adds up Canada's advantages in this war, there is none greater than our values of inquiry and debate.

But recently, a new threat has emerged. The Department of National Defence is intruding on academic financing, spending millions of dollars sponsoring think tanks and scholars to offer up agreeable commentary. When these intellectuals comment, they are not always quick to disclose that the military funds them.

Take the Conference of Defence Associations, a think tank that got $500,000 from DND last year. That money comes not with strings, but with an entire leash. A current DND policy reads that to receive money, CDA must "support activities that give evidence of contributing to Canada's national policies." Apparently, if CDA's activities were neutral and unbiased, or even-handedly supported and questioned government policy, DND would refuse to pay!

Attendees at CDA's annual conference, which begins today, will hear speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and MP Laurie Hawn, a retired lieutenant-colonel. Curiously for an organization that calls itself "non-partisan," no opposition politicians will speak. Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier will lecture, as will NATO's military head, General Ray Henault. The agenda includes a session titled "Contemporary Security Concerns" -- a discussion on Russia and Iran.


Now consider: If the Prime Minister staged a government event and declared Russia and Iran "contemporary security concerns," some Canadians would be made uneasy by the signal that sends. But if the government finances CDA, which stages an "independent" event where the Prime Minister rubs shoulders with military officers, weapons company executives and intellectuals addressing those same security concerns, it might just pass without Canadians noticing. CDA gets away with shilling because it is so discreet. Nowhere on its website does CDA disclose its half-million dollars of DND sponsorship.

The Harper government knows what the money is for, because cabinet reviewed the funding agreement between DND and CDA, and it has been secret ever since. Nonetheless, Maclean's got CDA's executive director, Colonel Alain Pellerin, to admit that the contract obliges it "to write a number of op-eds to the press" -- propaganda paid for by you and me.

More disturbing still is the manner in which DND spends money to elicit friendly comment by Canadian scholars.

Most people would find it strange that DND sponsors the salaries, research, travel and tuition of dozens of professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. But DND's Security and Defence Forum does exactly this. The list of Canadian universities getting over half a million dollars of SDF money is extensive: York University ($580,000), UQAM ($630,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($630,000), Université Laval ($655,000), McGill ($680,000), UBC ($680,000), University of Manitoba ($680,000), UNB ($680,000), Carleton University ($780,000), Dalhousie University ($780,000), University of Calgary ($780,000) and Queen's University ($1,480,000).

What's the money for? It's not for the technical work that militaries obviously require -- building better airplanes, for example. Instead, it sponsors policy scholars, who create the ideas, news and views that shape Canadians' perception of the military and the war. And the evidence suggests that the military and government have politicized some SDF grants. The same bureaucrat who administers SDF grants to scholars also manages DND's liaison with cabinet and Parliament. When DND needs a kind word in Parliament or the media -- presto! -- an SDF-sponsored scholar often appears, without disclosing his or her financial link.

There is one Canadian professor who received an $825,000 SDF grant. For that money, DND expects the professor to "conduct outreach activities with the Canadian public ... and Parliament about security and defence issues." And reach out he does -- eloquently, but not always disclosing that he is funded by DND. He made no disclosure when he testified to Parliament that the government's Afghanistan policy "is the right mission for Canada and the right mission for the Afghan people." He also made no disclosure in a published op-ed where he praised former Conservative defence minister Gordon O'Connor as "an outstanding success," and assailed "years of Liberal [party] neglect of ... defence policy and the Canadian Forces."

I don't ever want this professor to stop saying and writing what he believes. But I do want Canadians who encounter his interventions to know how he has been funded.

That is why, at the very least, credible public intellectuals owe disclosure to their public.

But the government, too, should know better. Rather than have DND dole out cash to public intellectuals -- and risk tainting their scholarship and their conferences -- it should give the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council that money, to award grants on an arm's-length basis. This is how other public intellectuals in Canada get funded.

Parliament, the Auditor-General and journalists need a watching brief on this file. As the war in Afghanistan becomes bigger and longer, it will prove dangerous to let DND sponsor intellectuals. Canada needs fresh ideas - not groupthink - to win.

Amir Attaran, Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy at the University of Ottawa is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and not by DND.