"The federal minister responsible for cutting government waste is being called before a parliamentary committee Wednesday to explain how his own Ontario riding became paved in $45 million of political pork."
This has to be one of the best opening lines of a work of prose since "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
In brief, the government earmarked funds in support of border security and the G8 summit. Over $45 million was spent in Tony Clement's riding of Muskoka on projects that neither improved border security nor supported the summit. Many spending decisions were made directly by Clement in concert with the municipalities, circumventing the government's own safeguards against spending abuses. The man who treated these millions as his discretionary re-election slush fund is now the head of the Treasury Board.
I remember a certain up-and-coming Leader of the Official Opposition who rightly chastised the Government of the day for misappropriating funds from the public purse:
"Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party somehow believes it can make a plea bargain with itself. It is trying to be above the law.
"This scheme was not set up for the benefit of a few bit players or a few ad companies. This was a scam, first and foremost, by the Liberal Party, of the Liberal Party and for the Liberal Party.
"Will the Prime Minister get up and admit that he has a responsibility to go after every single cent of the $40 million that are still missing"
Who was that intrepid MP, holding the Government to account for the People of Canada? Why, none other than 2005 Stephen Harper, a distant cousin of 2011 Stephen Harper.
Today's Stephen Harper is not merely above the law, he is the law. When his Minister tampers with a document and lies about it to the House, he stands up beside her and says she's his gal. When a Minister leaves behind Top Secret documents at his main squeeze's flat, he makes a show of bouncing him from Cabinet, only to have him return three years later. When the integrity commissioner he appoints shuts down all complaints and shields the government from scrutiny, he gags her testimony, hands her a half-million dollar severance, and blocks any inquiry into the gross malfeasance of her office.
Follow Kady O'Malley's coverage of the G8 committee's proceedings here.