Big political graves get dug with tiny shovels.
It’s a cliché, yes. This writer says that a lot. But it’s no less true for that, is it?
You’d think they’d learn, but they never do. In Canada: a Conservative cabinet minister who charged for eighteen-dollar orange juice, or a former Liberal MP who expensed a $1.29 pack of gum. In Britain: Members of Parliament expensing the cleaning of a moat – and the building of a duck house in the middle of a pond.
In America: a Republican congressman who sought compensation for “a tablecloth, three square pillows, a three-brush set, a metal tray, four temporary shades, four window panels, a white duck, two Punky Brewster items, a ring pop and two five-packs of animals.”
All of those expense scandals – and many, many more – resulted in resignations, firings or election losses (and sometimes all three). Because it’s always the little stuff that is most lethal, in politics. Because most of us have never held, or will hold, a billion dollars – out as billion anything – in our hands. It’s hard to comprehend.
But we know what a glass of orange juice should cost. We know that public servants who are paid well shouldn’t expensing “Punky Brewster items.”
Which brings us, with depressing regularity, to the latest outrages. Because – at a time when ordinary Canadians are debating whether they can afford to feed ground beef to their families – the latest outrages are deeply, profoundly disgusting.
Like how a federal bureaucrat, earning at least $120,000 a year, required that her chauffeur be flown from Montreal to Vancouver – twice. At taxpayer expense.
Like how bureaucrats hired a two-person Ottawa technology firm to develop their celebrated ArriveCan app, which was an unmitigated disaster. And for which the two-person firm then billed $54 million – and, allegedly unbeknownst to those selfsame bureaucrats, forked over the actual work to a bunch of other firms. Without anyone’s approval.
Like how the Trudeau folks spent a minimum of $66 million of your money on a consulting firm called McKinsey and Company. Said company having paid hundreds of millions in fines for pushing opioids in the U.S., when they knew opioids were killing many, many people. Said company touting their “carbon-reducing” work, while quietly representing 43 major carbon polluters. Said company boasting about its tobacco-fighting – while secretly helping Big Tobacco defeat those very initiatives.
With whose former global chairman Justin Trudeau was a close personal friend. Who he would later appoint Canada’s ambassador to China.
And on, and on, and on. It never ends. The entitlement, the greed, the petty corruption.
It’s enough to make you want to vomit. (It does me.)
For all of these things to be happening, over and over and over, is bad enough. But for them to be happening at a time when people are struggling – really, truly struggling – to simply feed themselves and their families? That’s more than a scandal.
In government, plural, these atrocities happen with every ideological disposition. Every political stripe, at every level. Judgment and restraint abandon them. And then, to recall an infamous phrase, they feel they are entitled to their entitlements.
They think they work really hard, and make super-duper big sacrifices, and that we – the taxpayer – should pay a little extra. And then more. And even more.
And then the downward-descent into greed and disgrace.
Let’s make a promise to each other: let’s all focus, right here and right now, on the bureaucrat – Isabelle Hudon – who flew her chauffeur across the country. Let’s make an example of her (as CBC, to its credit, is attempting to do). Let’s drive her out, and make her name synonymous with excess and shame.
Call the Office of the Prime Minister, (613) 992-4211, and express your outrage. Email him, if you want, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mostly, let’s get out some tiny shovels – and let’s all dig a big grave for Isabelle Hudon’s career.