Friday, October 30, 2015

The Trudeau Metre

I see there is a new website devoted to the promises made by the new Liberal government of Canada. What a great idea for sharing and tracking corporate memory and responsibility. If we don't remember the promises and come to understand and take responsibility for their outcomes, we don't deserve to know if there is a promise to be kept.

Here's a few thoughts that this list brings to my mind.

Access to information: if one ever might suspect double-speak, it is in the name 'the freedom of information' act. One wonders who is being protected sometimes. We have also had along with these 'acts' a difficult time implementing useful web sites to make sure they are serviced. Knowing for instance 'who gets' and 'how much' in government contracts is a laborious process working through public accounts. What is really spent on - a system implementation like the long-gun registry?  Who is really getting the funding through subcontracting or not.

Elections: I am not sure we understand alternative voting systems and their own failures. For instance, in a multi-candidate ballot, do you weaken your first choice by also choosing a second? There is a need for education here as well as action. I mused on whether other parties might be made present in his small to-be-announced cabinet even now. Wouldn't that be different! The suppression of Elections Canada (another double-think act - the 'fair elections' act) was certainly an issue for the past election. But that was just part of the muzzling from the PMO of the independence of many sections of legitimate government in the past 10 years.

I am greatly distressed that those who are Canadians living outside of Canada cannot vote. So many of these have lived their lives outside Canada for the sake of Canadians.

Parliament: Omnibus bills are the biggest problem here. They should never have been allowed. Another big problem is the televised stupidity of good questions and non-answers. This is not entertainment.

Science: I'll be looking for the un-muzzling of scientists even on uncertain items.

Senate: Here's the nub of the constitutional problem. NDP did not get my vote because they have no solution to the Senate. The rule of a body of unelected individuals is certainly problematic. But we have it and it should be made to work without the partisan opinions. Every bill needs second thought. But are there sufficient thinkers in Canada to do such a job? Clearly, there have been party hacks appointed. And sober is not a word I would associate with them - rather over-privileged and over-indulgent.

Service quality: Now here's where some decent software is needed. Particularly a framework that can allow quick adjustments. I think I would group the Stats Can promises along with this general area. The long-form census is important for stats. The prior regime had an aversion to long things.

Taxpayer dollars: I don't see here some things I expect: changing the immediate taxes that benefit the rich - the $10,000 TFSA limit, the income-splitting, the child tax credit changes, dead money in corporate accounts. (I have run a corporation since 1982 - money has to move to be useful.)

Women and youth: No mention on the site of the First Nations issues here. Law and order were touted by the prior regime, but success with individual abuses of power seems to have been moot.

There are a few other things I think are missing from the site - for instance the prior regime's balancing the budget by reducing voted services.  Every year the estimates are voted on and approved by parliament. Then from these, departmental budgets and allocations are determined. From these, departments are supposed to hire and deliver the services required within budget. Not spending your allocated budget is equivalent to not doing your job as mandated by the people of Canada through parliament. Clearly there were abuses to this but somewhat mitigated by moving Canada to a GAAP form of accounting in the late 1990's to the early 2000's. But under-spending a mandate is still an error in judgment somewhere along the allocation chain. I suspect that the prior regime did this by fiat in the past fiscal year - but it is only a suspicion. The problem will equally arise in a culture of fear and centralized control. Enough said.

[addendum per Globe and Mail editorial 2015-10-31: add First Nations issues - boil water, education, missing and murdered women; add pharmaceutical and home-care issues, strengthen CPP, review mandatory minimum sentences passed by the fearful prior regime.]

You might wonder if it is the novice religious reader of Hebrew who writes posts like this. It is. And the connection? The Old Testament is basically all about human governance. Too much indulgence, too many horses, and too much gold. That was the indictment of Solomon (pace Psalm 72). And all these kings, even David, were guilty of doing evil in the eyes of Yahweh. We can do better, even if I distrust the use of that word.