Tony Clement: An ideologue in Parliament.

The federal New Democrats do not seem to like Treasury Board President Tony Clement.  This dislike might be because of Mr. Clement’s hard right wing stance, his distain for any opposition and his seeming lack of concern for taxpayers’ money or taxpayers.  Since his days at the University of Toronto, Clement has shown a propensity for annoying people who might be more fair-minded than himself.

We first heard about him at the U. of T. when he tried to promote a debating event with the South African Ambassador, at the time, a known advocate of apartheid. It was more an attempt to goad than to promote free speech.

That chip on his shoulder seemed to reveal what was probably a deep-seated inferiority complex during his political career.  An Ontario politician, Clement, allied more with the Western Canadian Alliance, wrote policy for Michael Harris’ program-slashing plans in the early 1990s under the strange title of the “Common Sense Revolution.”  He was elected provincially in 1995 and in 1997 became part of the Harris Provincial Cabinet and its successor government headed by Ernie Eves, until defeated along with the Eves government in 2003.

Clement won election to the House of Commons in Parry Sound-Muskoka by 28 votes in 2006 and was appointed to the new Harper Government as Minister of Health.  He was immediately in hot water because of a drug company conflict and then his stand on providing AIDS-related drugs to the Third World.  He went on in that portfolio to cause a Supreme Court ruling on safe injection sites for addicts.  This was in addition to his trying to enforce draconian treatment of drug users instead of going after drug dealers.

After two years of annoying people in Health Care, Clement was moved to the supposedly safer Industry Ministry in 2008.  In this role, he made many controversial remarks.  The most note-worthy that applied to his job for Harper was to refer to the danger of the City of Sudbury becoming a “Valley of Death.”  His interference in Statistics Canada being able to provide assistance to Canadian industry led to the angry resignation of the Chief Statistician.

The G8 $45 million spread-the-wealth fiasco that he arranged for his own riding in 2010 was a classic of pork barrel politics.  It certainly got him re-elected with more votes this time.  His only problem is that he keeps trying to correct things he has said and, if he had a Pinocchio nose, it would be a foot long by now.  The NDP opposition smell his fear and have now accused Clement of falsifying parliamentary records.

Prime Minister Harper is watching his minister squirm.  Harper has a majority now and he knows that Clement is disposable.  Fix it or fail, Tony!

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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