Colin Hansen, our Finance Minister, not only isn’t telling the truth about the HST situation, he is a sniveling, cringing coward to boot. Be a Man, Hansen! Own up, level with people! You look like the kid with chocolate all over his face denying to his Mom that he pinched the chocolate bar as the store keeper alleged.
If you cannot be honest, at least stand up and admit it!
I have been saying publicly that the Premier and Hansen telling us that the HST wasn’t even on the “radar screen” was bullshit. And it was demonstrable bullshit before the document proving it was obtained by Freedom of Information request – and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve been there, folks, and I know how the system works. But first I ask you to look at your own experiences in life. If you want a change in policy in any company…in a union…in your golf club or curling club…it takes time. You must prepare the ground and anticipate the questions that will be raised and deal with them. In government it’s even more time consuming and when you have, as here, two governments involved you’re looking at months. In fact you’re looking at a starting point before March 2, 2009 when, by the document’s own words, Hansen asked for the briefing document that was just released. In fact you can be sure that discussion between the minister and his staff, and in cabinet, predated the March 2 request by weeks if not, more likely, months. Documents like this do not happen spontaneously.
The issue of the HST was in the news in the early weeks of 2009, you will remember, because it was an issue in Ontario, where Premier McGuinty was up to his ears in static. To assume that Campbell and Hansen weren’t aware and, indeed, in contact with the Ontario government strains credulity to the breaking point.
Let me give you an example from my own experience in government. In 1979 I, as Minister of Environment, was chair of the Environment and Land Use Committee which, amongst other things, heard appeals from the Land Commission. I went to Premier Bill Bennett and told him that we were getting beaten up every time an appeal came up because the appellant land owner, without doubt, was a Socred supporter and the media would have a picture of a “Vote Socred” sign on the land during the previous election. (This was in the days where the media did its duty). I suggested that we set up an appeal board to hear these appeals and he agreed.
It took three months and a damned fine lawyer from the Attorney General’s department before we had a presentation ready for cabinet.
Why did it take this time?
Amongst other things, several statutes required amendments and one had to assess what impact those amendments would have on other statutes. Numerous regulations had to be dealt with requiring orders-in-council. The unintended consequences of these changes had to be considered. All this to simply set up an appeal body that 95% of the province couldn’t have cared less about.
This was penny ante stuff compared to the complexities of harmonizing the GST and the PST.
I want to tell you the real damage this has caused. None of us tells the truth all the time. There is considerable social dissembling that takes place, otherwise we’d all be at each others throats. It’s human to exaggerate, especially when telling a story that, if told straight, would be pretty dull.
Governments gild the lily. Spin doctors work stories over and bad news is released at times it will get the least publicity – like Friday afternoons. We all know this and discount what governments say accordingly.
But we don’t expect governments and ministers to lie. That simple. We look up to the offices they hold and expect them not to dishonour them.
Our image, here at the Common Sense Canadian, of Gordon Campbell as Pinocchio, is an apt one. Whether it’s BC Rail, The Energy Policy, the size of the deficit, the HST and so on, he simply has told us falsehoods, which is as politely as one can put it. I’ve invited you before and do again to watch this 1:51 minute clip of Colin Hansen discussing his government’s private power policy – where he, with his oozing, sincere, avuncular manner, makes 5 basic statements, everyone of them untrue.
Now we have Mr Hansen – and the Premier – caught out, and do they have the courage to say, “We were wrong and we make that admission because that is the way we were brought up – to be truthful and to take the consequences of our actions like men”?
Instead we see a whimpering, sniveling Minister of the Crown trying to blame it all on the ministry.
Folks, the plain truth is this: Colin Hansen asked for the briefing note more than two months before the election and the issue was not only “on the radar screen”, it was well on its way to becoming government policy – a policy that Campbell and Hansen hid from the people during the election.
We all know what the honourable thing would be for this minister, the premier, and in fact the entire government to do. We need only look at what Campbell, as Leader of the Opposition had to say about the duty of NDP ministers under far, far less disturbing circumstances. In fact, the Premier, back in those days of Glen Clark’s troubles, made speeches which were and remain classic recitations of the duty of Her Majesty’s Ministers when under a cloud. Those speeches do not, of course, apply to Premiers thrown in jail for drunk driving and having their picture on the front pages of the nations’ newspapers and jumping out of TV sets; they don’t apply to premiers who break their promises not to privatize BC Rail, premiers who dissemble on the fish farms issue, or grossly understate the province’s deficit during an election, or privatize power while singing the praises of public power…and on it goes. No siree, these rules apply to the other folks, but not to Gordon Campbell and his lickspittles.
The truly sad part is that it’s tough enough to convince younger people that they should understand and get involved in public life, let alone ask them not to be cynical unto death about the political process, when they see how it’s been so egregiously abused by this bunch of shameful men who don’t even have the decency to be ashamed.