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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Patronage Plumbs Peddled for PM's Purposes

This morning I stumbled across an article from the “Hill Times” that immediately caught my attention and captivated my interest. The piece was about none other than Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The headline read, “Harper criticized for not 'taking care' of former MPs, top staffers”.

The author referenced Conservative MPs and staffers who are worried because, “...Mr. Harper demands loyalty … (but) he doesn't show the same loyalty when MPs lose an election or staffers leave their Parliament Hill jobs."

Apparently those loyalists are, "disappointed that he has failed to "take care" of them in their post-Parliamentary lives.”

I have to say I was left in total bewilderment after reading this.

I mean boo hoo for the party hacks moaning to this reporter but what's going on here?

First of all let me say I’m strongly believe that political patronage and the “old buddy” network is a major part of the problem we have with politics today. Anybody who chooses to run for office or to work for a political “machine” shouldn’t have any right to expect to be “taken care of” when the party ends. They do of course but that doesn't make it right.

Knowing how I feel about this I’m sure you can understand my confusion.

Politics in Canada has been an elitist and closed “scratch my back” system for decades and to hear that suddenly Stephen Harper, one of the most underhanded and self serving of the bunch, may have suddenly decided to do the right thing and give up the practice had me flabbergasted.

I mean wasn’t it Stephen Harper who claimed he would never appoint senators to that most golden of retirement homes, the Red Chamber?

Wasn't it also Stephen Harper who did just the opposite by appointing 18 of them?

Didn’t he thank Mike Duffy for his partisan service and support during the last election and for Duffy’s crucifixion of Stephane Dion after a botched Nova Scotia interview (an action by Duffy and NewsNet that was later described by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council as unethical)?

Didn’t Mr. Harper also send former Newfoundland and Labrador MP, Fabian Manning, to the red chamber after Manning was ridden out of town on a rail in his home Province? Wasn’t that a thank-you to Manning for standing next to the PM in the House of Commons, laughing and clapping as Mr. Harper callously stripped hundreds of millions from Newfoundland and Labrador and publicly ridiculed Mr. Manning’s home province?

Could the Stephen Harper I know and dislike have changed so much in such a short time that his party insiders and toadies were beginning to worry about their future expense accounts and "rolling around money"?

I was so confused. How could some reporter have identified a lack of political pork barreling and cronyism as a serious weakness in anyone but of all people, Stephen Harper?


What was I missing?

I mean here is a Prime Minister who has proven time and again that he is not to be trusted in any way, shape or form. For Stephen Harper breaking a promise or “sculpting the truth" is as natural as breathing. So my question was this: Had the Prime Minister suddenly turned over a new leaf or was he just proving to those in his inner circle what many of us already know, that he can’t be trusted?

It's something they all should have been aware of by now but in the rarified air of Ottawa clear vision is something often encountered.

Was it something else all together?

Did the Hill Times get boondoggled by the Harper media machine into running a story that might allow the Prime Minister to be viewed as the only one willing to “clean up dodge” even at the expense of his loyal minions?

The whole thing left all me with so many questions my head hurt and I believe (just for a moment) my morning muffin threatened to reappear from the depths.

What was I to say about this new information staring me in the face?

At first I almost thought that even though the Hill Times wasn’t very flattering to Mr. Harper (They seemed to view this lack of cronyism was a bad thing ) I might actually be forced to sit down to write something complimenary about the man.

My blood ran cold.

I nearly passed out from the stress.

But I was saved the horror of defending Mr. Harper's actions.

As I lowered by now tense frame over the keyboard and the blood slowly began to flow back into my head I suddenly realized what was really happening. It wasn’t that Stephen Harper had decided to do the right thing by turning his back on old school politics, it was just a case of the true nature of the man once again reaching the public eye.

I guess all the conflicting facts and my desire to see political cronyism done away with had clouded my judgment and overwhelmed my nervous system.

Think about it, Stephen Harper hasn’t actually done the right thing by deciding not to offer cushy jobs to his cronies on the taxpayer dime. Instead he’s been carefully weighing the market value of those around him and acting accordingly.

Those who have little future value to him, savagely loyal or not, must be removed and forgotten in the interest of the Harper "buddy" portfolio. In this way the limited number of valuable patronage positions available can be offered to those who have continued political or personal value.

I mean if Harper just gave away those plumb jobs as a thank-you to every Tom, Dick or Sparrow how would he be able to buy future influence inside Ottawa?

Consider this, were the onslaught of senatorial appointments really a political thank-you on the PM’s part or a way for him to meet his own self interests?

I admit that at first I thought they were nothing more than a taxpayer funded pat on the back but on reflection, and in light of this recent information I’ve been forced to look for another explanation and it isn’t hard to find one.

Just squeeze your eyes into tiny slits, forget you’re human or even a primate and try to think like Stephen Harper. I know it hurts but if you try real hard the answers will come.

For anyone afraid of having their personality or moral compass get stuck in Harper mode stop now and I'll tell you what I came up with.

Mind you I didn’t have the time, inclination or article room to research all the senate appointments made my this PM but in the case of Duffy and Manning the answer is simple.

Those appointments weren’t Harper’s way of thanking two political hacks for climbing into his back pocket they served a much more important purpose.

Duffy’s senate seat ensures that Mr. Harper has a very experienced and well connected media insider at his back pocket and at his beck and call whenever he needs to create some spin. And here’s the really interesting part, it’s not costing the Conservative party a cent because the taxpayers are footing the bill for Mr. Duffy’s enormous salary and golden perks.

As for Fabian Manning’s appointment, that ones a lot simpler and less forward looking.

Harper still has a major pissing contest underway with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, and he needed a way to retaliate against the Province for not electing a single Conservative during the last election. What better way to send a message to the Province and the Premier than to offer a highly publicized senate seat to the Province’s poster boy for “traitor of the decade”?

Can you say “slap in the face” Premier Williams? I bet you can.

Anyway, once the reality of the situation got a little clearer I slapped myself for being so politically naive and I felt much better, not for Canada which is still politically screwed, but about my personal well being.

My headache went away and things began to return to normal after a few minutes of deep breathing. It was then that another terrible thought occurred to me. What will happen after the next federal election?

According to the same “Hill Times” article that threw my morning into such turmoil, Mr. Harper may not always “take care” of his loyal supporters but the Liberal party has, “a fairly strong support network, not only political, but also corporate and academic” to help its loyalists.

Oh great. Once again we are faced with proof that the Canadian political system is nothing more than a joke. The banana republic of the North.

Now Canadians can either elect a ruling party that has no morals but which is pickier about feeding its loyalists at the trough or one that claims to have all the morals in the world while historically handing out patronage positions like Halloween candy.

Thank God we live in a democracy (well actually a democratic monarchy) where the public is free to decide which party had the best publicity machine leading up to election day.

Personally I think I’ll take next polling day. At least nobody will be able to blame me for “choosing” our next government.


Anonymous said...

Your question Patriot: "Did the Hill Times get boondoggled by the Harper media machine into running a story that might allow the Prime Minister to be viewed as the only one willing to “clean up dodge” even at the expense of his loyal minions"?

Patriot: Yes indeed once a Canadian Federal Government is elected in Ottawa, no matter which stripe, every angle is covered so it will be taken care of, even the National Media will support it at any cost and will be at its beck and call until a government of the next stripe is elected.

Everything in Canada centers around the Political Patronage Tool (that is a corrupt form of government as far as I am concerned) and as we have seen for the past 60 years that our province, Newfoundland and Labrador, has been part part of Canada, our natural resource base has been pilfered so as to look after the politicial patronage needs.

It is unimaginable what those, who the trusting and gentle electorate of the beautiful and geographic strategic province of Newfoundland, were willing to do to toe the line for Ottawa while impoverishing their own people?

We saw our fishery resource look after the trading of the Agriculture Products in the Global Free Trade Club. Since Canada produces 20% more products than it could consume, an enabler was needed to trade those products and our fish resource became that enabler. Of course, the fish resource also assisted in trading internationally of other Canadian Manufactured goods, as well.

We have seen, when the fiscal situations of provinces were deficient in cash, those provinces were given quotas of fish to sell on the spot market. And when there were no Ambassadorial, Senatorial or Directorship positions to be drawn upon, the fish quotas were drawn on to give cronies of the Federal Government, whom they were beholden to, a quota of fish to be traded on the spot market, as payment.

We saw our Hydroelectric energy, Minerals and Oil all going to benefit the other provinces of Canada.

I am wondering why are the morals of the politicians and beaurcrats who come from our province, Newfoundland and Labrador, so low that they would allow this to happen to their province, the richest province in natural resources, yet the poorest province with the highest Unemployment Rate by far because of the lack of caring elected people?

The Canadian Governmental System is corrupt and we know that Governments are made up of human beings, so therefore we can deduce that we send off to Ottawa people with minds that are easily corrupted.

The question is why haven't we brought this Canadian System to its knees long, long ago?

It is as evident as the nose on our face what happened, but yet we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have remained complacent to this day.

Why are the fishers allowing themselves to be demeaned and to be stripped of their self-esteem because they have to be subsidized by Unemployment Insurance, while there are 340,000 farmers who work in a seasonal industry 4 months of the year and receive the same benefits?

Is it because the fishers are put in the situation where every year they are short of fish quotas which Ottawa metes out to them and they have to sing our loud and clear for more fish to create the extra week or two to qualify for UI, while the farmer's every need is tended to, and the farmer's crops are traded internationally with the help of the fisher's resource; and thus it goes unnoticed that farm workers, too, receive Unemployment Insurance?

You would never know it, would you that farmers receive Unemployment Insurance?

WJM said...

Can you say “slap in the face” Premier Williams? I bet you can.

Anyway, once the reality of the situation got a little clearer I slapped myself for being so politically naive and I felt much better, not for Canada which is still politically screwed, but about my personal well being.

You almost make it sound as if the only patronage is at the federal level.

Does ALL patronage set you off like that?

Patriot said...

All patronage Wallace, even if it comes from Danny Boy. Why would you believe otherwise, (or try to spin it otherwise I should say).

WJM said...

Why would you believe otherwise

I didn't believe otherwise, but the curious fixation on one, to the exclusion of the other, made me wonder. Hence the question.

Patriot said...

What curious fixation, in case you haven't figured it out in all these years this site is dedicated to discussing issues within our relationship to Canada, not to each other here in NL, no matter how much you would like it to be.

Anonymous said...


Good posting as usual.

"in case you haven't figured it out in all these years", with WJM it is all about the money. Wally hasn't liked Danny since he refused to cave in to the Labrador Metis 'Nation' regarding money.

McLean, the misantrophic mercenary metis misChief maker is a marauding meddler who mostly misses no chance to malign Mr. Williams.

CMJ - Former friend of WJM

NL-ExPatriate said...

Justifying one wrong by pointing out another wrong in fact makes the argument that the canadaian parliamentary political system of patronage and Tyranny of the majority is the problem. THXs Wally for confirmation that slowly but surly people are catching on and starting to realize that it isn't the Tyranny of the Majority political parties we need to change but our out dated and systemically flawed political system and dysfunctional Electoral system.

Ever heard of two wrongs don't make a right?

Stop enabling, stop the insanity of electing national Party MP's who we all know will toe the Tyranny of the Majority party line due to our flawed political system of doing whats in the best interest of the majority of canadians.

Anonymous said...

A Definition of Patronage according to one Dictionary source:

PATRONAGE is the support, encouragement, privilege and often financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another.

In some countries the term is used to describe political patronage, which is THE USE OF STATE RESOURCE TO REWARD Individuals for their electoral support. Some patronage systems are legal, as in the Canadian tradition of allowing the Prime Minister to appoint the heads of a number of commissions and agencies; in many cases, these appointments go to people who have supported the political party of the Prime Minister. As well, the term may refer to a type of corruption or favouritism in which a party in power rewards groups, families, ethnicities for their electoral support using illegal gifts or fraudulently-awarded appointments or government contracts.


It boils my blood that this type of beau racy is allowed in the Canadian system. It promotes people into doing things to satisfy the 'ME SYNDROME' within them that causes a lot of problems for the masses whom they represent.

I would venture to say that if the Ottawa Government hadn't employed that corrupt system, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador would have been the province with the number one economy in the whole of Canada.

How can the normal mortal get ahead when his/her MERITS when the positions they would otherwise employed are given away for Political Patronage purposes?

How can any Department excel to its fullest strength when the people chosen to run that Department have no credentials or merits, other than he/she assisted some politician into attaining his/her dreams, who then turned around and gave out the reward paid for by the peoples’ taxes, and after receiving the reward the person was beholden his/her government to toe the line for his/her government’s every whim?

It is a very corrupt system and it has to become redundant!

It has been very detrimental to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador within Canada, or why else would a province with so many coveted resource and a near perfect geographic location have suffered such an anaemic economy?

The biggest question of all was why were so many Newfoundland and Labrador politicians willing to accept the "Politicial Patronage" rewards, which they knew darn well would keep their province "have not" forever?

And why did Prime Minister Harper defy the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by appointing Fabian Manning, through political patronage to the Canadian Parliament, when the electorate of NL choose not to elect him in the last Federal election for what they perceived as not being represented properly? That was the ultimate slap in the face.

As a Newfoundlander and Labradorian how can we ever adopt the Canadian system of Government as being legitimate or every doing anything to assure that our province attains its rightful place in the Canadian Federation?

Anonymous said...

To: NL ExPatriate

I agree with most of what you have to say.

But my question to you is how can we safeguard against the Prime Minister NOT over-riding a decision made by the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador, like what happened with the case of Fabian Manning in his appointment to the Senate?

EVEN If we had a much better ratio of the Canadian Parliamentary votes and we elect people with the mindset of the 'ME SYNDROME", then again there is no assurance that the affairs of our province will be looked after over those of the affected "ME SYNDROME" POLITICAN.

The Political Patronage Plum is a very powerful tool and in my opinion, It is VERY CORRUPT, it assures, those who obey, a
life-time of security, whereas they might only get elected for One Term.

In my opinion, the goodies contained in the Political Patronage Toolkit are the very reason a lot of people, who decide on a political career choose it in the first place.

Here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the very first question we must ask of any potential Federal Politician is what his/her feeling is on the acceptance of Political Patronage.

Political Patronage appears to be accepted by the politicians we send to Ottawa, as a honest way to make a living.

We have to eradicate that notion from their minds and demand that they be forthright and honest with us in the decisions that they make on our affairs. If we have totally loyal politicians, it will be the only chance we will stand to get good governance.

Ussr said...

Nicely said Patriot.

Anonymous said...

Haha, The best way to shake up anything or change it is to make the people in charge afraid of losing everything they have.

I say we all vote NDP. lol

Ussr said...

June 29, 2009 12:42 PM,

They did in Nova Scotia ;)

NL-ExPatriate said...

Triple E senate with emphasis on the Equal.

Problem is the two majority population/political power provinces 181/308 benefit from our current Tyranny of the majority political system.

Since all and I mean all of the national parties need those two provinces 181/308 to win they are essentially PROXY parties for Ontario and Quebec.

It's a numbers game 181/308 where the only vision is for whats in the best interest of the Majority: IE the national parties Lines are all the same. Tyranny of the majority with no vision for the nation.

Now if we had an Equal Senate like every other Westminster Parliamentary democracy has evolved too then and only then would there be a political body that would advocate whats in the best interest of the majority of the provinces/members of this federation: IE a vision for the nation.