column was published in the North
Shore News on
Feb. 16, 2000)
deeper into Shovelgate
By Leo Knight
ongoing Shovelgate saga may yet prove to be the undoing of Prime
Minister Jean Chretien and his party of trough-dwellers.
beginning to look like it may well be the political version of
the Death of a Thousand Cuts.
this scandal first broke, Chretien told caucus members it would
blow over in a few days. He also adamantly defended his protege,
Human Resources Minister Jane Stewart.
the Liberal pre-session caucus meeting, Chretien told the
assembled bootlicks that Stewart's head would not roll for this.
He then gave each of them the spin they were to use when
speaking to the media: "It's not a lot of money, it's only
37 projects totalling about three million dollars that's being
a couple of sycophants spoke glowingly of Stewart's undoubted
qualities (the only one which comes to mind is the fact she was
the fruit of the loins of Ontario Lib bigwig Robert Nixon)
Chretien made a show of thanking them for their support.
caucus member was questioned about the apparent solidarity in
spite of the evidence of gross mismanagement at best and
outright fraud at worst.
spit back at his questioner, "Yeah, it's true. We always
eat the sh** together. The problem is when there is pie, it's
always eaten in Brant (Stewart's riding) or Shawinigan (Chretien's
it be there are starting to be some chinks in the armour?
the Commons resumed sitting after a Christmas respite of only
seven or eight weeks the Reformers and the erstwhile Progressive
Conservatives, took aim directly at Stewart. And for the first
three days of the firestorm Chretien took the heat for Stewart.
that was then and this is now.
the Bloc Quebecois, who began the week asking questions about
the Clarity Act and insults to le pur laine, hopped on
the bandwagon when they realized how bad the Liberals, their
arch-enemies, were looking in this matter.
leader, Gilles Duceppe, even managed to sound indignant in spite
of the fact his province benefited like no other from HDRC's largesse.
went missing from the House of Commons for the last two days of
the week, leaving Stewart twisting in the wind like a rotting
gamebird. What happened to the stalwart defense by the man who
could defuse any criticism with little more than a shrug and a
it was the allegations of fraud by Tory MP Jean Dube. It seems
the Liberals received $150,000 in political contributions in
1997 and 1998 from organizations that had been the beneficiaries
of $27 million in federal job grants from Stewart's ministry. Or
maybe it was the revelations that private sector giants like
Wal-Mart and Adidas got job creation grants.
Shovelgate pot is bubbling over and the PM has now realized it's
not going to be easy to get it back to simmer.
spin from the PMO is nothing more than codswallop and should be
treated with the disdain it deserves.
problem here is twofold.
neither the PM nor Jane Stewart will tell us the truth.
this week, both Chretien and Stewart were called liars outside
the House where qualified privilege for such remarks is not
provided and nary a word is uttered in protest.
second is the failure to defend the accusations made in
Lib's believe in big government. There's not a taxpayer who
can't be bribed with his own money. Jobs for the boys and a
packet of dough for anyone who can help us get elected.
the outset the belief that a government, any government, can
create jobs by shovelling money at projects is simply ludicrous.
only jobs government can create are government jobs, something
the Libs have done to a fare-thee-well. They don't understand
that fact now; they never have and they never will.
by its definition begets itself. In a bureaucracy, work grows
exponentially by the number of people there is to do it. Don't
couple of months ago, in late October, letters were written by
no less a figure than an assistant deputy minister in Stewart's
seems they have been having a problem figuring out why some
people had not applied for their old age pensions.
letter, which begins with the following: "the Minister of
Human Resources Development Canada, the Honourable Jane Stewart,
has asked us to contact all contributors who are over 65 years
old but who have not yet requested their CPP retirement
letter is addressed to Susan Sunderland of North Vancouver, born
in 1904. It may not surprise you to learn that the letter was
never opened by Ms. Sunderland. You see, she passed away 17
assistant deputy minister who signed the letter is Victor
Rabinovitch. Hmmm, Rabinovitch, that's a familiar name. Oh yeah,
Bob Rabinovitch, career civil servant who somehow made millions
when babysitting the son of Charles Bronfman after Brian
Mulroney came to power and cleaned house, is the head of the CBC.
fact, Victor is Bob's brother. He used to be in Sheila Copps'
heritage ministry as an assistant deputy minister. He moved to
his current position, not because of any special skill set or
competence. Oh no, it was to avoid a potential conflict of
interest having his brother run the CBC, which is overseen by
a little further checking showed another Rabinovitch over at the
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Let's see, one family member
responsible for taking money in while the other works for the
department that doles it out. That's a handy little arrangement.
others? Well, yes, but space is limited.
of this happens because we, as Canadians, let it. People should
be screaming from the parapets. But they're not -- yet. This is
not "little accounting problems" as the PMO would have
you believe. This is corruption by any definition, criminal
behaviour that screams for an independent investigation.
Is Shovelgate ultimately what it takes to get the people of this country upset?