Prime Time Crime
(Published in the Abbotsford News week of July 19, 2004)
BC Matters, Says PM What A Crock!
To hear the spin doctors tell it, one might actually believe that British Columbia is now far more important to the federal Liberal government than ever before, thanks to supposed greater representation in Cabinet.
A closer examination of the new line-up for Prime Minister Paul Martins A team, announced last Monday, suggests otherwise. Yet, the spinners, aided an abetted by a mostly-sycophantic news media, have no doubt left most British Columbians who care about these things to think that the Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal triangle that rules this country actually cares about them.
What a crock.
Closer examination of just what happened in the Cabinet sweepstakes shows the following:
The appointment of former NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh as federal health minister will pit the supposedly-former socialist against the provincial Liberals who have little or no liking and respect for him. It also should be noted that the Prime Minister is likely to take the lead on health issues anyway, with Mr. Dosanjh serving as his token Indo-Canadian assistant. No doubt the spin-doctors also know that Our Ujjals appointment is all part of keeping left-leaning Liberals in the fold.
Having political rookie David Emerson as industry minister actually makes sense, given his considerable and impressive track record running the Vancouver Airport Authority, the BC Ferries Corporation, and forestry giant Canfor. This may well be the only positive choice that actually will help BC, aside from the dumping of the arrogant David Anderson from the Cabinet room.
Policy wonk Stephen Owen was demoted from public works to western diversification, formerly a junior minister posting, as well as minister for sport. Given the appalling lack of federal support and funding for our Olympic athletes, do not expect Mr. Owen to be very busy, or very important.
Lacklustre is the adjective most used to describe Raymond Chan during his term as a junior minister under Jean Chrétien. Putting him in Cabinet in another junior post (multiculturalism) is but a cynical political move in an attempt to impress the Chinese communities in Vancouver Richmond, Toronto and Montreal, and to buy their votes for the election likely to come within two years.
Whoinhell is Jack Austin? That's a valid question that most British Columbians would ask, if they gave a damn, as this un-elected, little-known, unimportant Liberal Senator is elevated to Cabinet as Senate leader just to add to the BC numbers.
As for other provinces, there is one Cabinet member each from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, whose collective population is more than five million, yet the tiny Atlantic provinces that have less than half the people, get no less than six members in Cabinet.
The final tally is 32 ministers, seven secretaries of state and 12 parliamentary secretaries another bloated Cabinet of fat cats and their inflated salaries, staffs, perks and expense accounts that you, dear taxpayer, pay for, whether you like it or not.
In other words, the same old, same old Liberal lineup of pigs at the public trough continues.
BC matters, says Our Paul. Yeah, right.
Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at email@example.com.