Thursday, 18 August 2016

Its not the thousand dollar limo ride...

Its about who owns the limo that drove Jane Philpott around

People love it when politicians spend crazy amounts of money on trivial things.

Er well rather, people love to complain about politicians who spend a lot of money on trivial things. This is one of the few areas where most people who follow Canadian politics can agree party doesn’t matter. Tory, Grit, NDP-er, regardless of who you vote for, when someone spends more than you do on a car ride, flight, or glass of juice it is an issue that demands outrage.

(A similarly expensive glass of  OJ, that was bought by a soccer player with limited controversy)
In 2011, then Minster of Development Bev Oda was widely criticized for upgrading her already high level accommodation, spending to much on transport, and in what became the keystone of the argument, spending $16 on a glass of orange juice. The most amusing thing about this in retrospect, is how Liberal Nova Scotian newspaper “The Chronicle Herald” described Ms. Oda’s other expensed line items:

“Oda needed some form of local transportation. As no ordinary London taxi should be used to ferry the well-heeled patrons of the Savoy, a limousine was chartered for the princely sum of nearly $1,000 a day.” 
“one only has to go back to 2006 when Oda was chastised for spending nearly $6,000 in just four days on a limousine service in Halifax while attending the Juno Awards.”
If you do the math, Bev Oda’s limo in London England was cheaper than Ms. Philpott’s Toronto limo, and Oda’s Halifax limo was about $1500 a day, or just shy of $200 more expensive than an afternoon in a limo touring the GTA.

Another example is from 2014, when former deputy leader of the NDP Megan Leslie was criticized for spending some $6,300 on a flight to Ottawa when a Conservative MP from the same area spent a hair over $1000.

While you can say what you want about the specific incidents, what is clear is that no party is immune from criticism over expenses. However there is something that the two previous examples lack, and that’s exactly what sets this case apart.

Jane Philpott’s case is different from other expense scandals. Its not just an issue of over spending, its a much more serious issue of backroom election promises. One would think after the Liberal sponsorship scandal that decimated the party ranks in the 2006 election that as a party they would be more careful about lining the pockets of Liberal supporters. Luckily for those who like to be outraged at politicians, the Liberals were not careful. Minister of Health Jane Philpott spent $1700 for a limo ride around the GTA and in an effort to repeatedly shoot their boss in the foot, Ms. Philpott’s office revealed this wasn't the worst line item from the minister’s finances.

However, it gets even worse. Remember when I mentioned the sponsorship scandal, well here's why I dropped that gem into the mix.
When Oda spent LESS on limos while touring England, but had the gaul to order pricey fruit juice, the Liberals called for her to step down. However when Jane Philpott spends outrageous amounts on a limo, that limo is owned by someone who worked to get her elected, and its proven the minister in question was aware of this, the Liberal’s reaction is… well nothing, so far.
Politicians are notorious for overspending, but thats only half the issue here. The Liberal party in Canada is notorious for giving money to their supporters. They promised they would end this sort of partisan spending, but clearly nothing has changed. 
Image result for Jacques Corriveau
(The expression of Jacques Corriveau after he realizes his career was tanked
in the wake of the sponsorship scandal, and nothing changed at party HQ)

Someone from the Liberal party needs to stand up and take the blame. Outrageous expense reports are one thing, returning to the days of Liberal sponsorship scandals, are another.

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