Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Refreshments, like beer and popcorn... and victory dancing

"Don't give people $25 a day to blow on beer and popcorn." said Scott Reid, the communications director for Paul Martin, in response to Stephen Harper's proposed "choice in child care" plan which would have parents receive about $25 a week for children under 6.

As Stephen Taylor points out, Scott Reid buys a lot of "refreshments" with tax dollars from establishments that specialize in booze. Here is just the beginning of the list posted on Taylor's site and populated with public information available from the Privy Council Office.

Scott Reid's hospitality expenses for 2005 (Jan 1 - Jun 15)...

New Year's "Dinner meeting" at D'Arcy McGee's: $22.71
January 3rd "Dinner Meeting" at Heart & Crown: $33.13
January 10th "Dinner Meeting" at Lieutenant's Pump: $33.10
February 1st "Dinner Meeting" at The Works: $53.00
February 4th "Dinner Meeting" at Royal Oak: $93.70
February 8th "Dinner Meeting" at Brixton's British Pub: $28.39
Perhaps Scott Reid doesn't trust parents, because he doesn't trust himself.

And now someone's spotted that one of these expenses listed as a "Dinner meeting to discuss media briefing" at Suite 34, a bar lounge in Ottawa, on May 19 2005 was the same day the budget vote passed, the same week when Belinda Stronach crossed the aisle, and the same night that she and Tim Murphy, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff could be found dancing atop a speaker at... Suite 34. The The Toronto Star has the details for that evening. Scott Reid appears to have been the only person to have claimed that evening as an expense (see 1).

Worth investigation:
  1. Did anyone else expense the evening?
  2. What are Canadian attitudes towards the expenses claimed by government officials? What are the norms in other countries?
  3. Do Canadians trust themselves and do they believe that the government should trust the people?
The significance:
  1. If there isn't much reaction to Mr Reid's comments about parents, I may form the opinion that Canadians either do not care for the extra $25, think the government would spend it better than themselves, apathetic towards those with small children, and/or that Canadians have a tendency to believe that the government is more trustworthy than families.
  2. The triumphalism of people who barely just win a vote of confidence is fascinating. Almost as if it is the last days on earth. Like the night Al Gore after conceding the 2000 election "stomped and gyrated" past the midnight hour, the image of the sweat showing through his shirt spurs on my contemplation of the end and the dance. As I imagine what Stronach and Murphy dance on the speakers and Reid looks on, I wonder if in their minds tonight was the future.


Erik Sorenson said...

if you are interested in my slice on the real issue, and not the beer war skirmishes that the Liberals introduce to lower the campaign to their bottom-sucking level, surf to:


I hope I'm wrong. Or that Harper turns out to be the best communicator since Trudeau.

Christo said...

I think the recognition of the provincial governments, specifically Quebec and now Alberta, as the official opposition to the federal government is something recognized by foreign spectators and pushed by academia (not perhaps as a whole).

That it is the Liberal's fault for this unofficial system of government, I would agree they play a big role, but the problem is certainly also consitutional. The PM's office is big and getting bigger, because Canada has a history where a strong Governor General and then Prime Minister was the status-quo. As for Liberals writing Alberta off, they can do so because Ontario's vote counts more. These are consitutional issues.

As Alberta's population increases and its economic contribution to the country strengthens and as Quebec resists losing political power as it stagnates every other way, you're right, something will have to be done. But I don't know if the solution is in a change of government.