Thursday, 20 June 2013


POLITICIANS GIVING BACK. A variety of approaches.

First, let me clarify: I’m not talking about giving back to your community by working as a volunteer, and I’m not talking about the forced giving back called tax return. I’m talking about the special kind of giving back practiced by politicians. For example,

Conservative Senators Duffy and Wallin who paid back the living expenses they mistakenly claimed -- unlike that ingrate, Liberal Senator Harb, who plans on paying back the investigating committee by suing them.  Maybe that’s the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. No, wait:

Liberal ex-premier Dalton McGuinty did pay back his constituents in Brampton when he cancelled the gas plants they didn’t want. No, wait. That wasn’t paying back. That was paying in advance, for their votes. And actually it wasn’t McGuinty who paid the 600 Million it cost to break the contract – the tax payers will pick up that bill.

Maybe Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is a better example of a politician paying back. He voluntarily returned the $ 20,000 speaker’s fee he charged the Grace Foundation. Mind you it took him four months to come around to the idea that it isn’t nice to rip off a charity. Also, it isn’t nice when you are in politics and the media start dumping on you. So maybe this story doesn’t come under the heading of “paying back” and I should keep it for another post on “damage control”. In any case, I’m thoroughly confused by the whole affair. I thought politicians feed at that particular trough -- the speaker circuit-- only after ending their parliamentary career, or am I thinking of another trough -- lobbying, which is legal, although smoking weed and other stuff still isn’t.

That’s why I expected Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to give back to his city, I mean, restore its former reputation as Toronto the Good and Stodgy, but all he was prepared to give his constituents was the middle finger (TheStar.com 25 July 2011). It’s a substantial finger – nice and pudgy like the Mayor himself, but I don’t think it’s a winner in the paying-back category.

Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum at least promised to restore public confidence. But after he was arrested on corruption charges, his speech writers ran out of steam and hot air. The best they could come up with was that he had put Montreal “back on the right track”. The laugh track?

Gilles Vaillancourt did better, I’d say.  The ex-mayor of Laval, arrested on charges of gangsterism, used young people as mules to move kick-back cash to Swiss banks – So at least he made a personal effort to reduce youth unemployment

Way to go, Gilles!

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