Column – Progressive Views – Tory Tropes

Tristan cropBy Tristan Turner

It appears the lines between the government and civil service have been blurring since the Tories took office in 2006, but now we have truly reached the apex of the Tories politicization of bureaucracy.

Last week, the Twitterverse erupted with the sudden realization that Minister Julian Fantino utilized the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) website to launch invective and vicious partisan attacks by publishing letters Fantino had written criticizing both Liberals and New Democrats.

According to his office as well as himself, the minister had no idea how partisan letters he authored ended up on his agencies website. On twitter, a staffer with Fantino’s office claimed someone at CIDA must have accidentally found, edited, hyperlinked, posted and later updated two separate partisan letters from the minister on CIDA’s website.

Of course, that is impossible. I certainly wish that my mistakes were that thorough, but ultimately, a decision was obviously made here, and the minister must bear responsibility

The letters – In typical Tory ministerial fashion – regurgitated some tried and true lines from the Prime Minister’s Office. Fantino even managed to fit in the imaginary “$21 billion NDP Carbon Tax” line in the second letter he ‘mistakenly’ posted to CIDA’s website.

It is upsetting to see a member of the government utilize public funds and resources to boast about their own policies and attack the opposition. Oh wait! This is only the most recent in a long line of the government inappropriately using public funds to support their own survival in governance. Last year, the government earmarked tens of millions of dollars for advertising their own “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” on national television.

It’s almost surprising that when citizens file tax returns they aren’t automatically reimbursed for a portion of their donation to the Conservative Party of Canada.

Joking aside, Mr. Fantino bears ultimate responsibility for this egregious lapse in judgement and has done little to correct it.

This has shown the public once again that whether you’re a hardcore Libertarian or a soft Social Democrat; this government doesn’t govern with the most basic respect for its electorate.

Surely, Tory backbenchers are keeping the ruling minister to account on this, right?

Nope. Once again while the government is laying siege to basic tenants of Canadian democracy, the Tory backbench has remained silent. The Harper Government’s attitude of treating stepping out of the party line with hostility, combined with a backbench that seems indifferent to keeping their government to account, are both primary causes of the slow erosion of Canadian democracy.

It is vital that Mr. Fantino and the Canadian government cease their inappropriate politicization of Canada’s civil service and own up to their innumerable affronts to our democracy.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s pretty obvious some journalist has taken Tristen Turner under his left wing to mentor him in creating completely biased editorials. Unfortunately, the mentor has not yet schooled him in how politics actually works.
    Yes, the Canadian Government has issued their Economic Action Plan and have every right (in fact, an obligation) to put it in the hands of Canadians, which does cost money. As evidenced in the last election results, the Conservative Party is governing Canada in a responsible manner that we hadn’t seen for many years and is in line with what Canadians want. When Canadians decide they want to be guided by tax-and-spend politicians again, who waste hundreds of millions on corruption-ridden programs, they will look to the left. Until then, most are happy to have an actual economist at the helm, who is committed to eliminating waste and leading the world in financial policy.
    Can you imagine some reporter in the 80’s complaining in an editorial that the Trudeau government should have used Liberal Party funds to publish the National Energy Program, which raped the West for over a decade and was eventually scrapped as one of the worst (of many Liberal plots) disasters in political history? He would have been laughed off the page.
    It is (perhaps) unfortunate that an error was made in releasing those letters, but it’s not like the Liberals and NDP haven’t accidentally “leaked” advantageous messages to the public over the years. It’s how politics works and likely always will. The sooner the editorial page matures and recognizes this, the sooner we will be able to read substantial journalism, instead of this whining about such insignificant events.

    • It is easy to take the stance that journalists are “left wing, and while I would agree it is the norm, what is obvious to you is not the case. What has occurred here with Mr. Turner is a newspaper owner (A Conservative whose political views are slightly to the right of Attila the Hun) has given a politically-minded 15-year-old high school student the opportunity to have a column in his local newspaper.

      Columns express the viewpoint of the writer. They are opinion pieces. Editorials are also opinion pieces, but they express the view point of the publication. We run several columns in this publication, including one from our Conservative MLA. They are free to write what is in their heart and what resonates with their readers. We try to touch on all segments of the community and a broad range of interests – like community papers once did.

      The only wing Mr. Turner has been brought under is the one that provides him an opportunity to express his views, even when they are largely at odds with those of the publication and its owner.

      – SD

  2. Thanks for the comment Laurie. To echo what Stephen said, myself and the Morinville News editor have nearly nothing in common politically. I wrote this column on my own initiative, and all the views expressed here are of my own volition. I haven’t been taken under the wing of anyone; I write what I believe based on my naturally inquisitive mind.

    You may disagree with what I have to say, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of my piece. I’m writing for this paper to create a healthy dialogue with Morinvillians. I certainly disagree with many right wing columnists writing for the National Post, but I would never accuse someone of not being an unsubstancial journalist just because I disagree with his or her politics, and I would appreciate it if I could be treated with the same respect. There’s no wrong or right way to think with areas of thought as subjective as politics, and my only hope is that we can share compassion and respect for each other and for our differences going forward, because that’s how democracy works.

  3. I find it highly immature to call a writer “whiney” because they are concerned with the state of the country. The reason a democracy has a free press and an opposition is to keep the current government in check, regardless of that government’s successes or failures. I totally support Mr. Turner for voicing hid opinions, regardless of my political standing. There are no falsehoods within his article, and I find it morally repugnant to insult a writer in the FREE press for raising their voice.

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