I am a frequent critic of corporate media but wish I could be an enthusiast rather than a detractor. When ink stained wretches — perhaps today that should be digital savvy geeks — provide incisive commentary valuing common citizens ahead of magnates and moguls, I’m keen to applaud.
Good people at the Globe and Mail BC Bureau have deserved plaudits recently. We’ve seen fine work from Rod Mickleburgh, Justine Hunter and Mark Hume.
A few days ago, Gary Mason wrote B.C., Alberta in need of a cure for political heartburn. This is a piece that, without rhetoric, invites voters to be outraged. In the first case:
It was discovered a few months ago that 20 [Alberta] MLAs received a total of $870,000 for sitting on an all-party committee that hadn’t met since November, 2008.
Members from opposition parties on the committee immediately agreed to pay the money back – a figure roughly in the neighbourhood of $40,000.
But government members on the committee refused. Ms. Redford even mocked the opposition MLAs who agreed to pay the money back for indulging in a public-relations stunt.
After flipping and flopping, Conservative Premier Alison Redford:
…announced that her MLAs would return all the money or not be allowed back in the Progressive Conservative caucus.
By this point most of the damage was done, however, and Ms. Redford’s move looked like one inspired by her party’s sinking poll numbers more than by some moral pang.
Mason smartly draws a parallel between ethical failures of Alberta’s politicians and immoral conduct of BC Liberals in blocking the Auditor General’s access to Basi/Virk BC Rail documents. At issue is the $6-million inducement, which packaged with inconsequential sentences, brought end to a trial about to affirm that disposition of BC Rail was a swindle from the start.
…The government has been throwing up obstacle after obstacle…[fuelling perception] that the government isn’t telling the whole story.
…None of it makes sense and the public has never been provided with a satisfactory explanation of why it happened.
As Mason points out, it is not the amount of money wasted that matters to the public, it is unbridled hypocrisy, individual greed and irresponsible attitudes toward spending tax dollars. In fact, $6 million paid to defendants Basi and Virk is a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of millions lost in disposition of the railway and its incredibly valuable land bank. Add to that millions more in costs of investigation and prosecution and hush money paid to maintain the cover-up.