As with SOME Canadians, I won't say most because quite frankly I don't believe most care, but as with some Canadians I have been following the recent scandal in Parliament with some interest. And yes, from time to time, some disgust.
Of course my disgust has been directed at the Opposition Parties rather than Government. Let me explain. For more than a decade now the Liberal Party has run Canada with an iron fist, well, OK, a velvet fist, well alright, it was more like the loose grip of a poor golfer, but no one else was strong enough to even pretend to be ready to take over so it was all that we had.
During this time a scandal attempted to break out over the loss, let me emphasize that, LOSS of a Billion Dollars from the Human Resources Ministry of the Government.
A little clarification here, we're not talking the department in the Government of Canada that does the hiring, we're talking about the Ministry responsible to keep track of all the employed and unemployed people in Canada; hand out government grants to create more jobs; and do anything else relating to the soft resources of the economy: IE: the people doing the work.
Somewhere along the way an audit came out (let's say five years ago) that indicated that over a BILLION Dollars were unaccounted for. The opposition parties were in an uproar. Day and night rallying against the Government. To no avail.
You see the Prime Minister of the day was Jean Cretien. A scrapper of a guy who not enjoyed a good fight but usually outmanoeuvred his attackers before the first punch was thrown. Cretien knew what was going on even when he acted like he didn't care.
So just before the bag exploded he shuffled his Cabinet so that the guy who was responsible for creating the mess wouldn't be in the chair when the mess was found.
And the woman newly placed in the chair would be so new to the job that she'd look dumbfounded as the attacks raged. Cue time shift one month and the opposition parties attacking her were looking pretty bad.
To the casual observer (IE: the person at home watching the sound bite in the nightly news) it looked like a bunch of ugly men were harassing someone's mother. Indeed this was the case.
Just another couple years. The GUN REGISTRY. Another BILLION dollars wasted on a program which isn't going to solve the problem. Again the Opposition (which being the Republican Party North is about as in bed with the NRA as you can get) went on the attack. Again the attack failed. Why?
Lots of money, big money, was wasted. The cause was an inept Government, incapable of managing its finances. Yet the overall reaction across Canada was a polite yawn and the phrase "what else have you got?"
Cut to now. New Prime Minister Paul Martin is on the ropes. The population is talking about the latest scandal. So you gotta figure, it must be a doozy, right? Gotta be for way more than the last two, right?
Wrong. The latest scandal. The SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL is for some 100 Million dollars, misspent over FIVE YEARS!
That's less than a penny a day for every tax-paying Canadian. It's literally a DROP in the bucket. It's a single straight pin in a bin of nails.
So why the kafuffle?
Well, with the BILLION DOLLAR BOONDOGGLE in the Human Resources Ministry a few years back, the mis-spending was on jobs.
Few people would vote against spending money on jobs, so there really wasn't anything to be outraged about, except for the massive mis-spending of money. Canadians didn't think that was a big deal, so the Opposition had to drop the issue.
And then there was the GUN REGISTRY. Well, let's face it.
Most Canadians don't like guns, and more than a few of us suspect that just wanting a gun is a sign of mental illness, so there was little argument against us needed a gun registry.
Was the problem with the Gun Registry because it cost too much? Well, Canadians didn't think was a big deal, so the Opposition had to the drop the issue, even though Gun Owners are their only solid support base.
So it's pretty clear the reason people are so upset about the Sponsorship Scandal isn't because of the money? Unless they're upset because the Government didn't waste enough of it this time.
Then what is the issue? Well, let's look at the scandal.
In 1995 Quebec had a referendum, the question was whether or not to see a new deal in their relationship with Canada. The pro-Canada won by only half a percent.
Cretien wanted to figure out why Quebecois were so hostile towards Canada when the province gets more tax money spent in Quebec than is collected from the people of Quebec.
Some genius in the party suggested the problem was that the people of Quebec didn't know the Federal Government of Canada was doing anything for them because no one ever told them otherwise.
Basically they were talking about the hundreds of Festivals and Events that occur in Quebec year round that the Federal Government gives money to but gets no credit for.
And that was true because the greatest scam the Quebec Provincial Government had been running for the last fifty years was showing up at these events and pretending the Provincial Governments were the sole reason they were happening.
To put it bluntly the Quebec Provincial Government was like the obnoxious Uncle who arrives at your house party just before the other guests show up, and holds the door open so most people mistakenly believe he's the host.
So the Cretien answer was simple. Hire advertising companies to promote the fact that the Feds put money up for these events. So they did.
And some of the advertising companies were run by friends of the Government, which is the Canadian version of Lobbying.
And some of these friends decided to keep the cheques without actually doing any of the work. Which is pretty much the same thing that happened during the BILLION DOLLAR BOONDOGGLE.
And that's the scandal. The Opposition is claiming the Government is mismanaging money because some money, a relatively small amount as we've already established, has made it to friends of the Government, who in some cases didn't bother to do anything to justify it.
Is that wrong? You bet? But my question again is why this? Why the One Hundred Million Dollar Boondoggle and not the two BILLION DOLLAR ones?
Well the answer might be old politics, specifically old Canadian Politics and more accurately old REFORM Politics.
So if the HUMAN RESOURCES SCANDAL went nowhere because people like jobs, and the GUN REGISTRY SCANDAL went nowhere because most Canadians think people wanting guns have a mental illness, then why could the much smaller SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL bring down the government?
The latest scandal is about firms in Quebec getting money from Canada for doing nothing.
The people outside of Quebec are upset because it looks like another "Quebec gets special treatment" case.
The separatists inside Quebec who favoured sovereignty are upset because they lost the 1995 referendum by only half a percent.
And a few, a very small minority of people in Quebec and out, are upset because the money was wasted. But we've already established that's not that big of a deal.
And that is why it's hardly surprising the REFORM-tinted neo-Conservative Party is so hot over the SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL. It's all about Quebec.