As a political contrasts go, it was stark.
It came in the same week, too. In the very same week Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence was continuing a hunger strike, vainly seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the Third World living conditions of Canada’s First Nations, we learned his most senior minister — Jim Flaherty — had expensed makeup.
That’s right, makeup. Documents tabled in the House of Commons revealed Canada’s finance minister, who makes about a quarter of a million a year, charged taxpayers nearly $130 to pay for makeup. For him. To be precise, Flaherty expensed $119.15 on “cosmetics” and $9.99 for “beauty supplies.”
He bought Cover Girl loose powder, Maybelline loose powder, Maybelline concealer, Maybelline “Min Blush,” Maybelline LMU, Smashbox concealer, cosmetic wedges, a powder brush, a foundation brush and “SBM Top Zip Shave.”
The purchases were approved by Flaherty’s parliamentary secretary, Shelly Glover, in 2008 and only came to light in an iPolitics report last week on New Year’s Eve.
The cosmetics were purchased “to prepare the Minister of Finance for the numerous television interviews conducted with media outlets from across Canada,” Flaherty’s underlings wrote, in a document that sought to justify the expense.
When a Liberal MP asked about other Conservative ministers charging taxpayers for makeup, Harper’s bureaucrats — the Privy Council Office — demurred. “(The Privy Council Office) has no information in response to the question,” they said,
Of course they don’t. Why would they? This, after all, is the Tough Guy Conservative regime of Messrs. Harper and Flaherty — all about getting “tough” on crime, and getting “tough” on terrorism, and making “tough decisions.”
Not a very tough guy, though, is it? You know, swanning around Ottawa, wearing Maybelline and Cover Girl face paint. Kind of soft, isn’t it Jim? Kind of flaccid, wouldn’t you say, to charge taxpayers for your makeup?
This is one of those stories some folks in Ottawa think isn’t one. Like Bev Oda’s $16 orange juice, for example. Outside Parliament Hill, that one met with more than a few shrugs at the start. But it became a pretty big story, didn’t it? Ended Oda’s political career, didn’t it? It did, it did.
Now, we shouldn’t expect Flaherty’s boss to say much, if anything, about this latest steaming pile to emanate from Conservative Ottawa. Harper, after all, has been using a makeup artist for years — her name is Michelle Muntean, we know that much — but he refuses to tell us how much it costs. That is, how much it costs us, the taxpayers, with whom Conservatives used to claim to be so preoccupied.
Again, not very “tough.” It’s sort of girlish, isn’t it boys? Perhaps you should give your crotches a quiet pat or two, to reassure yourselves that you’re still, you know, all there.
It is unknown what Chief Spence thinks about this insanity. In the past two weeks, she has indicated she is prepared to starve herself to secure a meeting with Harper.
Her hunger strike, bearing the name Idle No More, has attracted the attention of media from around the world. And, in one much-seen moment, an Idle No More sign even appeared in the middle of CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast.
If Spence is disgusted by the likes of Harper and Flaherty, nobody could really blame her. Here she is, having to starve herself to get a meeting with Harper, but he still won’t. All around the time we are finding out that Jim Flaherty thinks it’s OK to charge taxpayers for his Cover Girl.
Get that? They’ll expense makeup. But they won’t make time to meet Spence.
There are days a lot of us actually, truly hate this “government.”
This is one of those days.