column was published in the North
Shore News on
Jan. 26, 2000)
NHL game a
By Leo Knight
Industry Minister John Manley took one for the team on Friday
when he was cross-checked in the back by Canadian taxpayers fed
up with a government so incredibly out of touch with the people
who pay their freight.
doing so, Manley also euthanized his own political career. The
Ottawa-area MP might as well kiss any chance of re-election
goodbye once the ramifications of his failed NHL aid package
result in the Senators (the hockey team not the failed
politicians with their snouts in the public trough) packing up
their pucks and heading for the more friendly environs of the
Excited States of America.
72 hours after announcing his government's ill-conceived subsidy
plan for the Canadian-based NHL teams, Manley flipped faster
than Gordon Wilson looking for a new political party.
have made their views known on taxpayers' assistance to
professional hockey," said the grim-faced minister.
caucus colleagues have echoed their constituents' opinions. The
prime minister and I want them to know Friday that this
government listens and takes their views very seriously,"
Manley said as he tried to rescue his tattered career.
next time Chretien and his trained seals listen to the public's
viewpoints and actually take them seriously will be the first
is the same bunch who, while in opposition, howled like stuck
pigs at the Mulroney government's GST and promised to eradicate
it when given power.
about a refugee system leaking like a sieve? Tax relief? A
failing justice system? Victim's rights? Hospital waiting lists?
was truly amazing in all of this was the rather piddling amount
offered by the Liberals. In the great scheme of things it was
only $20 million. External Affairs spills that much claret on
consulate Persian rugs every year.
also had the unmitigated gall to point at provincial ministers
of finance in attempting to allocate blame for the disaster.
of his targets was Alberta treasurer Stockwell Day, whose
inherent philosophy is probably what really galls the Chretien
day after Manley's public humiliation, Day was quoted in the Calgary
Sun as saying such blasphemous things as: "The feds
should lower their taxes now. Canadians are more sophisticated.
They can't be fooled anymore.
know we can lower taxes by getting out of things government
shouldn't be doing, by delivering essential services in the most
efficient way and by paying down the debt."
went on, "It used to be politicians held the citizens of
this country together by saying: You want to lower taxes, you'll
be paying through the nose for services. Decade after decade,
the politicians paralysed the Canadian people with fears that if
taxes were lowered we would all die naked, uneducated and
starving on unpaved streets. They were wrong."
ought to be careful when he speaks in those terms. Chretien's
boys might try to charge him with treason.
the same week, news emanated from Ottawa exposing the crass
mismanagement of Human Resources Development Canada, rather
clumsily run by Minister Jane Stewart.
has evidently, according to the news briefing given by Stewart,
frittered away over $3 billion on so-called job creation grants.
internal audit determined that 87% of the money given away was
never monitored. Twenty five percent of the files didn't state
what kinds of jobs were being funded.
per cent didn't even have an application form on file. And, in
the majority of cases, more money was given out than was asked
response to this insanity: the public expects better of
government, she told the press conference.
for sharing that particular insight minister.
Lord! Three billion dollars wasted and that's it? Not a rolling
head in sight. Even to the Liberals $3 billion must seem like a
lot of money. And there's been barely a peep thanks mostly to
Manley and the NHL thing. Hey, wait a minute. You don't suppose
there's a connection do you?
substantial bit of that $3 billion was given to various projects
in Shawinigan, the prime minister's riding. Some of it to a
hotel that Chretien himself used to own. Hmmmmm.
Liberal spin doctors were conspicuous with their silence in the
wake of Manley's announcement. Equally, it's unlike Chretien to
make a major announcement without lining up his own backbenchers
and cracking the whip to ensure everyone is onside. That doesn't
seem like it was done in the case of the NHL subsidy.
Chretien's storied polling machine would have let them know the
people were against subsidizing multi-millionaire hockey owners
with any taxpayer dollars.
how could the groundswell of public outrage have caught them by
surprise as Manley would have us believe?
Is it possible the whole thing was created as a political smokescreen to ensure the focus was on the rather paltry NHL subsidy and not on the HRDC debacle?
the federal Liberals aren't that diabolical. Or are they?
Could it be that this was all very carefully coordinated to head off a taxpayer's revolt.