Politicians in power tend to deal with problems by telling us they will throw our money at the problem. They have some confused idea that we will all feel good because the problem is being looked after.
That is not necessarily the case.
Sometimes, we look at the amount of money and we recognize that the amount is only a token and it cannot solve the problem. There are other times when we are annoyed because we recognize that it is costing far too much money to fix the problem. The politicians look stupid either way.
And speaking of stupid, there is a third problem with conservative governments. This is the problem created by the Harper conservatives when they were in power with a majority government from 2011 to 2015. This government was very good at guessing the amount of money needed to fix a problem. They would have elaborate news conferences and posts in social media about the amount of money they were going to use to fix this or that problem that had been brought to their attention.
What the Tories discovered was that even if you guessed the right amount of money to solve the problem, you did not have to actually spend the money. It was the MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka, Ontario, Tony Clement, who was president of the treasury board during the four years of the Harper conservative majority government. Most Canadians have no idea what the role of president of the treasury board might entail.
It is the treasury board that ensures that cabinet departments have the staff and funding necessary to implement government programs. As president of the treasury board, Clement could turn the funding taps on or off. Instead of running the board to implement programs, he used the treasury board to implement conservative ideology. He would pick and choose which programs got the money and which might be told to wait. It meant that the finance minister or the prime minister could make grandiose promises but nothing necessarily happened.
Listening to premier Ford of Ontario and some of his minions, it seems they have discovered the same solution. We should ask them at these promise sessions to show us the money.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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