Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Tory Three-ring Circus

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome under the Tory big top and prepare to be entertained by the incredible performers of Harper Brothers (formerly Harper & Flaherty), Canada’s premier political circus.

Unlike other political circuses, we don’t just present one show at a time. We are a full, three-ring operation. That means no matter where you turn your head, there’s an amazing performance you just won’t be able to look away from.

Unfortunately, our regular ringmaster, Mr. Stephen Harper, could not be here as he is away on an extended foreign tour bringing our unique style of political showmanship to foreign capitals from Jerusalem to Kyiv to Berlin. However, as his political understudy, I, Pierre “call me Pete” Polievre, will host tonight’s festivities in the very same fashion with absolutely no added original thought or flourishes.

Now if you will turn your attention to the far ring on my right or what we have dubbed “the Senate ring”, you will be wowed by several acrobatic feats. Watch as the seemingly immoveable Mike Duffy simultaneously lives in Ottawa and P.E.I. Marvel as the glamorous dragon lady Pamela Wallin resides in Toronto but claims official residence in Saskatchewan. Be amazed and astounded at the financial high wire act of our once-undefeated serial pugilist Patrick Brazeau.

To my left is the Prime Minister’s Office ring which doubles as the home of our circus’s clown contingent. Watch as PMO clowns engage in all manner of political high jinks from unauthorized personal loans to senators to questionable interference in riding association nomination processes. Supposedly under the command and control of the ringmaster, these Kanadian Keystone Kops will have you in stitches with their crazy unexpected actions.

Some of you are no doubt expecting to see our most famous PMO performers Nigel Wright and Dmitri Soudas. Unfortunately, neither of these clowns is with the circus anymore but I can guarantee you that our current cast of jesters is capable of just as many wild antics as their famous predecessors.

Finally, if you will look directly in front of me in the main ring, you will see our star attraction: the dangerous caged caucus. For years, these fierce House members have been tamed and controlled by Canada’s top MP tamer, our brave ringmaster himself, Mr. Harper.

But with Mr. Harper’s repeated absences and recent damaging events, the caucus animals have become restless and emboldened. As your ringmaster for tonight, I will share taming duties with our top whip, Mr. John Duncan. Together we hope to keep these bellicose backbenchers from breaking free and bringing down the entire Tory tent.

We may not have dancing elephants or unicycle-riding donkeys but we have something even better: non-stop political shenanigans. If you thought politics was dull and unentertaining, you’re in for a delightful surprise as you’ll see astonishing things you’d never see anywhere outside Washington, D.C.

From double-claimed expenses to overused omnibus bills to borderline criminal activity, the Tory three-ring circus is sure to bring you ongoing, jaw-dropping entertainment unmatched in any jurisdiction north of the American border.

So, ladies and gentlemen, sit back and enjoy our three-ring circus. No matter where you look, you’ll be surprised, amazed and amused by the common sense-defying actions and antics of our team of unique performers.

You are indeed a fortunate audience as there is no guarantee that our circus can continue much longer. With this many no-net high wire acts, we may not last until the end of the year or even the end of the month. So sit back, open your eyes and be prepared to be astounded.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bureaucrats' Trap

“[D]epartments are experimenting with regular ‘Dragons' Den’-type events with employees to find creative solutions to policy and operational challenges.”                                                          
-    Destination 2020 web site

“Good evening. I’m Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, and I’d like to welcome you to the first episode of our brand new show called Bureaucrats’ Trap. It’s a chance for federal public servants to participate in our wonderful new action plan called Destination 2020 by pitching their ideas to improve government service to a panel of topnotch bureaucrats.”
“First up is Fred Warner, a file clerk from Vancouver who has what he describes as a ‘sure-fire method’ to eliminate red tape and improve file processing in any government office.”
“Thanks, Mr. Clement. I’m really excited to be here tonight to tell you about my plan to revolutionize file handling in the public service. What’s that? Do I have my proper ID with me? Well, no. I didn’t think I’d need it for this. Security clearance? Again, I wasn’t aware I’d need to document that for a simple presentation.”
“Sorry about that, Fred, but you’ll understand that rules are rules and we can’t just have anyone appearing before our panel of experts. But hopefully our next presenter, Cindy Lawson, from Halifax has the proper accreditation so the bureaucrats can consider her new idea.”
“Yes I do, Mr. Clement, plus I’ve got everything in triplicate with extra copies for all the panelists.”
“Excellent, Cindy. Now please go ahead with your presentation.”
“As you can see on the screen in front of you, my plan for efficient file handling is called “first in – first out” or FIFO for short. It’s a revolutionary new method whereby the first file received in an office receives priority to ensure that it is the first one processed and finalized.”
“Thanks, Cindy, but as the bureaucrats have noted, that’s just not going to work. Your plan has a superficial appeal but, in essence, is just too simplistic. What about files requiring immediate priority for the minister? Or what about folios from favored constituents? And then there are those dockets that need to be temporarily or even permanently shelved for any number of good reasons that typically need not be publicly revealed. It’s a nice thought, Cindy, but I’m afraid it’s just a bit naïve. Which brings us to our next presenter - Gord Burroughs from Ottawa. Gord, what have you got for us tonight?”
“Well, Tony. May I call you Tony? No? OK. Well, Mr. Clement, I’ve got a plan that I know is going to help revamp and revitalize the entire federal public service. It’s something I call ‘adequate compensation and directions’ or ACAD for short. ACAD would provide a mechanism whereby an individual employee’s position would be properly classified and salary and bonuses would be set in accordance with established industry metrics.”
“Gord, the bureaucrats love your creative use of acronyms and the can-do spirit behind your proposal but ultimately they feel that it’s a no-go simply because it is far too specific. They would have preferred that you come up with a couple of innocuous acronyms without any detailed action plan. After all, obfuscation and deferral are the two key watchwords in any new grand government initiative. So long as it sounds good and it’s vague enough so no one can actually assess results, it’s a winner. Better luck next time.”

“Well, that’s it for this week’s episode of Bureaucrat’s Trap. Join us next week when we welcome three more workers with their simplistic and obvious suggestions that will likely not meet the bureaucrats’ minimum standards for viable policy implementation. And stay tuned for our new quiz show entitled Remember These? in which  workers and mandarins participate as contestants and try to recall anything meaningful about previous long-forgotten government action plans like La Relève, PS2000, GE Conversion, UCS (Universal Classification System) and VASE (Vision and Strategies Exercise). The winner gets to keep his or her job.” 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Barry And The Boys

Barry and the boys were sitting around the Oval Office trying to come up with an answer to the Ukraine crisis:

"Mr. President, we have to do something about Ukraine. We can't keep saying that there will be consequences. People are calling you a wimp."
"Let's be clear; I am not a wimp. There will be consequences if Russia does not respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Mark my words."
"That's what's been happening, Mr. President. Everyone's been marking your words and there's not a whole lot there."
"Well, let me be perfectly clear. The United States will not accept nor will we condone any incursion by a foreign power into the sovereign territory of another nation based solely on trumped up allegations of non‑existent security threats."
"Uh, Mr. President, what about Iraq?"
"Oh, damn! Thanks a lot George W. Bush."
"Anything else, Mr. President?"
"Well, let's see. How about the United States does not concede that there is any doctrine that Russia can invoke to curtail foreign influence in any country within its immediate sphere of influence?"
"You mean like the Monroe Doctrine?"
"Damn again!"
"There must be something we can do, Mr. President."
"Wait, wait, I've got it. There can be no acceptance of a political situation where a foreign power decides to intervene in the affairs of another country simply because one political faction in that country has toppled the ruling party and seeks an alliance with the foreign power's foes."
"Our invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965?"
"Damn and double damn! Wait, I've got it. Our nation will not countenance a violation of international law whereby a nation invades another country simply to protect those of its own ethnicity."
"Ronald Reagan. Grenada. 1983. Had to rescue those American medical students. Remember?"
"Can't allow a foreign influence to take hold so close to our shores?"
"Cuba. Bay of Pigs. 1961."
"OK. What about a condemnation of a specious claim of manifest destiny to expand one's sovereignty to include contiguous territory?"
"Sounds like the Mexican War of 1845, Mr. President."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. So if you guys are so smart, what's the answer?"
"Let them have Crimea and call it a day. They'll live to regret it. Remember Afghanistan and Georgia?"
"OK, let's do it."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fuggedaboutit, eh?

Most political scandals in America have a Washington connection. Think Watergate, Abscam, Iran-Contra and Clinton-Lewinsky. In the case of the maelstrom surrounding Chris Christie, however, the Washington connection happens to be the George Washington Bridge spanning New Jersey and Manhattan.

For those who might have been out of the country or trapped in traffic on said bridge, Governor Christie is in hot water because his staffers arranged a traffic tie-up on the GWB last September in retaliation for the lack of a reelection endorsement from Fort Lee’s Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich. Although it appears that Mr. Christie had no direct involvement in or knowledge of those shenanigans, the fact that his people initiated this stunt suggests that he had created and encouraged an atmosphere of vindictive political payback.

Ordinarily, such an event would be a one-day wonder and would quickly disappear from the nation’s headlines. But in this case, the governor in question is the putative favorite to be the Republican Party’s nominee in the 2016 presidential election. Thus, this scandal has, if not legs, at least a couple of arms that could see it dragging itself along in full public view for the foreseeable future.

As a Canadian, I don’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed by America’s latest political scandal, what is sure to eventually be known as Bridgegate, Christiegate or Jerseygate. On the one hand, it finally takes the spotlight away from our foulmouthed, crack-smoking, lady-councillor-shoving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. On the other hand, it takes the spotlight away from Canada, a country that can use any publicity it can get whether good or bad.

On balance, I think this latest screw-up is a bad thing for us Canadians. After all, Mr. Ford has managed to give us more international media coverage in the last six months than we’ve otherwise garnered in 25 years. And since I don’t see anyone else on the northern horizon who’s capable of the antics necessary to get us noticed, I think Rob Ford’s the publicity horse we should keep on riding.

The question then becomes how do we squelch the interest in Governor Christie’s mess and get the news hounds back on the trail of Mr. Ford? I think the answer lies with Mr. Christie.

All it would take is a discreet call from the New Jersey Governor’s office to the Toronto Mayor’s office asking for one small favor. The fact remains that no matter what Rob Ford does, nothing seems to affect his popularity among Toronto voters. The crazier the stunt, the better his reelection chances. In fact, it’s apparent that when Mr. Ford is  behaving himself, his electability actually drops.

A savvy New Jersey pol should be able to pick up on this fact and suggest to Mr. Ford that a few more faux pas might be just what it takes to get him reelected to the Toronto mayoralty later this coming year. Maybe he could snort cocaine while speeding through downtown Toronto on a stolen motorcycle. Or what about dropping a couple of  water balloons from the CN Tower?

Let’s face it; it wouldn’t take much to return Mayor Ford to the front pages, the supper hour news shows and, most importantly, the lead story on The Daily Show. At that point, the George Washington Bridge scandal becomes yesterday’s news and Governor Christie can get back to doing what he does best: pimp for President.

So, hey Chris Christie, do yourself and us Canadians a big favor: call Rob Ford. As I see it, it’s a win-win situation. No need to thank me. As they say in Toronto: “fuggedaboutit, eh?”  

Saturday, November 02, 2013

24 Sussex Trick-or-treaters

Halloween is over and that means Canadian homes from coast to coast to coast were visited by scary trick-or-treaters.  And that included the nation’s First Residence: 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa.  Here are some of the frightening visitors Stephen Harper had last Thursday night:

Mike Duffy
This is probably the scariest visitor the PM had on Halloween night. A modern version of the walking undead, it seems this guy can no longer be killed or bought off. Mr. Harper can try putting another cheque in Mr. Duffy’s treat bag but it might be too late. He better come up with something nice though; otherwise he can expect all manner of tricks from the Puffster.

Nigel Wright
This is the last person Mr. Harper wanted to see on Thursday night. But if Mr. Wright did show up, maybe the two of them finally got their story straight. Did Mr. Wright resign or did Mr. Harper dismiss him? With any luck, Mr. Wright will remain the disappeared ghost he has become.

Pamela Wallin
Dressed as a  witch, Ms. Wallin may have paid a visit to the official residence with vengeance on her mind. Like Mike Duffy, she’s looking for a few treats including the retention of her Senate seat or else she’ll be handing out old e-mails to the media like Halloween candy.

Arthur Hamilton
The prime minister probably barred this fellow at the gate, especially if he came bearing any scary e-mails and memos or possibly a frightening cancelled cheque for $13,560. If it was the latter, the PM just better hope it wasn’t drawn from Conservative Party funds.

Marjory LeBreton
 This is one scary Halloween visitor with both feet in her mouth and dragging a loose canon behind her. If she starts telling Mr. Harper how Patrick Brazeau was a failed experiment and how Mike Duffy spun his story of a repayment plot, he better cover his ears and have her escorted off the property.

The Ghost of Richard Nixon
If this spectre showed up at the door, Mr. Harper should have heeded his words carefully. “What did you know and when did you know it?” wails Mr. Nixon’s apparition. This ghost from scandals past knows very well that it’s seldom the crime that does you in; it’s usually the coverup that destroys you in the end.

The Conservative Base
They haven’t been too pleased of late and the latest Senate Scandal revelations have made them hopping mad. Mr. Harper better have some nice legislative goodies to offer them this Halloween if he hopes to keep his leadership position intact.

The Senate Tory Caucus
If this gang appeared, the PM should have listened very closely to their advice. Some are urging that the motion to suspend delinquent senators be withdrawn as a matter of principle. Given that further scrutiny might reveal more wrongdoings by other members, perhaps it should be withdrawn as a matter of practicality instead.

The Swing Voter
Possibly the scariest visitor to 24 Sussex Drive this year, the Swing Voter is as crazy and unpredictable as Justin Trudeau with a drug legalization issue.  Frightening as it is to consider, this spooky character almost elected the NDP last election and if Mr. Harper doesn’t fill up his Halloween treat bag with goodies like lower cell phone costs and pick-a-channel cable, he might just make Thomas Mulcair prime minister next time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weedstock 2015

“Medical marijuana grow-op strikes deal at Smiths Falls’ former Hershey plant”
- Newspaper headline - September 26, 2013

Some are for it and some are against it but there’s one thing for sure; everyone’s talking about it. The “it” in question is the phoenix-like deal to turn the old Hershey chocolate plant in Smiths Falls, Ontario into a medical marijuana grow-op.

    Reasonable people can debate at length the merits and demerits of marijuana but it appears to me that we are already on the path to its eventual legalization. And since that train seems to have already left the station, it behooves citizens of the Rideau Valley to get on board and enjoy the journey.

As I see it, the creation of a handful of jobs setting up and operating Smith Falls’ new fun factory is only one small part of the potential explosion in economic growth the region could soon enjoy.

Just like Hershey used to provide guided tours of its chocolate plant, the owners of the new facility could provide tours of its operation, a kind of seed-to-weed experience. And if the drug laws change soon, who knows, each visit could end just like the Hershey plant tours did with a free sample or two and the chance to buy a couple of ounces of your favorite product.

The spinoff effects could also be significant. Smith Falls could become eastern Canada’s pot destination of choice for cannabis tourists from around the globe. The growth in bed and breakfasts, all-you-can-eat restaurants and weed-tasting cafes could be explosive.

In the manner of other cutesy tourist towns, Smiths Falls could soon be home to quaint architecture, trendy head shops and fancy street signs with catchy new names like Doobie Drive and Justin Trudeau Lane.

Creative minds might also choose to expand this new tourist destination with attractions like a marijuana museum or even a marijuana theme park complete with fairly easy midway games, slow moving rides and lots and lots of concession stands.

I suspect that it won’t be long before the city fathers and mothers of Smiths Falls seize on this golden opportunity and start holding annual festivals. Their town could soon be home to everything from grass-themed music festivals to marijuana trade shows. It may not happen next year but don’t be surprised if you find yourself attending Weedstock in the near future.

Given the seeming inevitability of legalization, there’s also a golden opportunity for area farmers to start their own boutique marijuana growing and processing operations. Much like the Niagara region and northern California have done with wine, the Rideau Valley might well do with weed.

It won’t happen overnight, of course, but it won’t be too long before we can enjoy a drive or a quiet bike ride through the Smiths Falls region with a view to touring any number of pot farms and sampling and purchasing their unique wares. I predict that ten years from now, no one will be talking about B.C. Bud; instead all the buzz will be about Rideau Red.

Some are understandably leery of this new economic opportunity for the region but I’m the kind of guy who sees the bowl as being half full. With millions of potential grass tourists here in Canada alone, this is an opportunity Rideau Valley residents simply can’t let go up in smoke.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Government Plants Fear Cuts

“Government uproots office plants in continuing effort to trim spending”                                                                                                                           - Newspaper headline - August 22, 2013

First came the budget cuts. Then came the personnel cuts. And now, sadly, the current government appears to be taking aim at the most vulnerable among the ranks of the public service: office plants.
Despite the government of the day mouthing the usual platitudes about how the plants are hard workers and highly valued, hundreds of our treasured colleagues have not just been let go; they’ve been effectively sold into slavery for a reported average price of $3.36.
Recently, more than 500 palms, ficus trees and mother-in-law’s tongues were reportedly given a green slip and shipped off to Government Surplus where they were unceremoniously sold, pot and all, for next to nothing.
Given their non-union status, these plants were understandably reluctant to speak out about this public service plant reduction initiative.
“Frankly, I’m concerned about losing my health benefits,” said one anonymous piece of greenery. “For years, I could count on getting regular checkups and, if needed, antibacterial and fungicide sprays and the occasional spritz of Miracle Gro. Now that’s all under threat.”
“I’ve been a faithful guardian outside a deputy minister’s office for years,” said one prickly ficus who asked not to be identified fearing random trimming by senior management. “If I was going to get the ax, metaphorically speaking, I would have thought that they would have at least found me a good home in the private sector.”
The private sector may be the answer for many of these plants. If they are ultimately purchased by responsible companies with effective plant management programs, this could be a healthy move for the ex-government shoots and leaves. However, it’s a ficus-eat-ficus world out there for most plants and the government security they enjoyed for so long may be a thing of the past.
Without union representation, there’s not much the threatened plants can do to fight this latest cost-cutting measure. Although most saw the handwriting on the dusty plant stand, they expected better treatment.
“We always figured we’d at least get some severance pay,” said one potted palm. “But now it looks like the only severance we’ll be getting is when they cut off most of our leaves to make it easier to walk us out the door.”
  Having suffered through similar employment purges, the plants’ human colleagues have expressed support for their leafy brethren. Many, in fact, have offered to adopt a plant or two and provide the required maintenance services for no cost.
“Those plants deserve better,” said one anonymous clerk. “They’re there 24/7 and you never hear one complaint from them. When it comes to value for money, you can’t top a plant.”
There had reportedly been some talk of a wildcat strike by the plants in one large government complex. However, due to the lack of legs, opposable thumbs and any effective means of communication, the strike talk quickly fizzled out.
As with any massive government cutback, it seems like only the favorites will survive. Past personnel purges proved that the survivors don’t usually include the  best and the brightest. Often it’s simply a matter of seniority or sometimes simple favoritism.
Take, for example, the office of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau which has not unexpectedly adopted two marijuana plants, a bed of poppies and a coca plant. Some say these perennials were politically connected. Others claimed they provided special services to Mr. Trudeau which gained them favored status.
A senior manager speaking on condition of anonymity outlined what has been dubbed in-house as Project Defoliation. He says the exercise is a no-brainer in that millions of dollars will be saved and there will be little if any pushback from those affected.
“Let’s face it, these aren’t plant cuts, we’re actually cutting plants,” the anonymous source said. “They can’t speak, they can’t walk and they can’t give interviews to the media. In fact, my understanding is that not one of them is even bilingual. We should be able to harvest the entire national capital region without incident in a matter of days.”
“Like any austerity measure, we don’t want to eliminate the hard workers among our potted denizens,” said the source. “Therefore, we will give special consideration to retaining productive, fruit-bearing members of the class such as tomato plants, apple trees and maybe a BlackBerry bush or two. For the rest, however, we can’t afford to have leaf-bearing plants hanging around for years serving no useful purpose, particularly when most of them are Liberal plants.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pipeline! - The Board Game


With increasingly sophisticated programming and graphics, video games are more popular than ever. Sales of such titles as “Halo” and “Call of Duty” are in the millions.

So it might come as a bit of a surprise to find that there has been a recent resurgence in sales of the old-fashioned board game as evidenced by these recent new offerings:

Loosely based on the game Monopoly, Majority has a board with ten provinces and three territories. Game pieces include the Tory, the Liberal, the Socialist, the Green and the Separatist.   Using their initial monetary outlay, players try to buy up as many seats in each jurisdiction as they can until one of them reaches the magic number of 155 at which point everyone else gives up until the next round of play in about four years.

New from Hasbro, this game challenges players to build a pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to a viable market end point. Roll the dice and head in the direction of your choice.
The simplest routes are often the hardest to complete. Try laying pipe south and you may end up getting blocked by environmental dead ends or by drawing the Obama card.
“Go west, young man” seems like an easy choice, too, unless you land on the Christy Clark square that requires you to give up 75% of your revenues. Slow and steady may win the game if you choose to head east but only if you can find a way to bypass the greedy Quebec monster.

Senate Reform
Open up the board and you’ll find a crazy quilt legislature populated by patronage appointments and out-of-control spenders. Each player is dealt a hand of five cards he can use to try to reform this unruly mess.
The challenge is to play the right card at the right time. The Triple-E card sounds great unless you happen to gain a Parliamentary majority. Then you might prefer to simply stock the Senate with members of your own party.
The Abolition card is everyone’s favorite but thanks to the complicated constitutional rule book, it’s almost impossible to play. Players typically choose instead to use the Procedural Change card but seldom get past all the provincial roadblocks on the board.
One lucky player will end up with the Appointment card which ensures a six-figure salary, a pension for life and the end of any more talk of Senate reform.

Cabinet Shuffle
Mattel has introduced their latest board game based on the time-honored practise of changing the federal cabinet. A deck of 163 cards is shuffled and dealt out to the players. The center of the board has spaces for 38 ministers and one prime minister.
The object of the game is to get as many of your cards into the center spots as possible. The winner is the player with the most ministerial spaces covered. Extra points are awarded for occupying the most central spots such as Finance, Defense and Foreign Affairs.
The game ends when one player reveals and plays the prime minister card which renders all the other cards useless.

Parker Brothers has adapted their famous board game Clue to incorporate the latest Canadian political scandal. Rather than different rooms, Clueless has a board featuring different residences. Each player chooses one of the playing pieces identified as Mike, Mac, Pam and Pat.
A single die is rolled to advance players across the board where they try to claim two residences at once. As they move from residence to residence, they adopt different reasons and excuses for claiming extra expenses. Unfortunately, unlike in the parent game, the players have no clue.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Given all of President Obama’s current troubles, it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s often eager to board Air Force One and get out of town.

“Good afternoon and welcome aboard AirObama flight 13 to anywhere the President feels like going. In view of recent government developments, today we will definitely be departing an overheated Washington, D. C. and may even be leaving the country entirely until such time as local hot spots cool off.
“Today’s weather in the nation’s capital is unsettled with continuing opposition high pressure disturbances still causing problems in the Senate, the House, the National Security Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Visibility is severely restricted and hindsight is nonexistent. Our moral compass is presently on an indeterminate setting.
“It is hoped that conditions will be more favorable outside of the nation’s capital, particularly in friendlier western destinations such as L.A. and San Francisco. If not, we may have to alter our course for one or more foreign capitals.
“Our flying time today will be however long it takes to get to a place where they’ve never heard of Benghazi, the NSA, the IRS or the Department of Justice. We’ll be flying at an altitude of approximately one hundred feet in order to avoid detection by any media radar systems. Please remain securely buckled in your seats at all times as it may be necessary to take evasive action to elude any incoming Republican flak.
“Your pilot today is 43-year-old chief of staff Denis McDonough who recently took over from the former flight chief, Captain Jack Lew. Although Captain McDonough is AirObama's fifth pilot in five years, it is hoped that his years of national security experience will help him guide the White House through any upcoming turbulence.
“This aircraft is a Boeing VC-25. It features a fuselage with two fixed wings although the left wing is slightly more prominent than the right wing. The plane also has numerous cockpit and passenger windows although few remain transparent.
“The interior of the plane features a large presidential swivel chair near the front to allow the occupant to keep a close eye on the other passengers. The remaining seats are arranged in twelve rows with a centrally-located aisle. In the back, you will notice several hanging straps to provide standing-room-only accommodation for members of the media who, alas, will not be flying with us today.
“There will be no meal service on board today’s flight in keeping with  AirObama’s motto  “there’s no free lunch.” We will, however, be handing out complimentary media materials for your reading pleasure including recently obtained internal documents and phone records from Fox News and the Associated Press.
“There is no in-flight entertainment on AirObama. However, flight attendants will be handing out headsets which we insist you use for any incoming or outgoing calls. There is no cause for concern as this measure is for security purposes only and we probably won’t be listening to the details of your calls.
“Please note that this plane does not as yet have any emergency exits. Rest assured that Captain McDonough and the other members of the White House flight crew are desperately working on this matter and hope to have it rectified before the next midterm election.”  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy” - An occasional advice column for those with questions about the sometimes mysterious functioning of government.

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy:
I am an appointed senator living in the nation’s capital. For several years, I claimed living expenses for my Ottawa home because my “permanent” residence was in PEI. I was told there was no problem in doing this especially since some of my colleagues did the same thing. Now everyone’s telling me that this was wrong, that I owed $90,000 and that maybe I should resign my position. Even though I repaid the money, lots of folks are still giving me a hard time. What can I do to make this problem go away?
Mike the Spud

Dear Mike:
First, let me say that I’m really sorry you got caught in this mess. It’s sad when a hardworking fellow like yourself gets pilloried for a measly ninety grand. I’m sure you earned every penny of that money, if not by doing your Senate duties then undoubtedly by carrying out many informal functions for your political party of choice. The trouble is, Mike, you got caught and that means you have to pay the price. After all, you can’t expect your friends who are doing the same thing to come forward and support you at this point, can you? Time to fall on your sword. It might hurt for awhile but, trust me, your pals will take care of you and in a few years it’ll be like it never happened.

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy:
I’m really perplexed about the workings of government. I gave up a lucrative private sector job to come to Ottawa to help out the PM. All was going well until this guy Mike begged me for $90,000 to help him out of a jam. Since I’ve got plenty of dough, it seemed like a good idea if for no other reason than to get this guy off my boss’s back. So I wrote him a cheque and now I’m taking all kinds of flak and had to resign my position. What gives? Isn’t this still a free country where a guy can spend his money how he wants?
Noble Nigel

Dear Nigel:
I’m surprised that you got caught in this mess. You know how in the private sector when you sometimes have to pay a bribe to get a job done or do a few unsavory favors in order to secure a contract? Well, Nigel, government is pretty much the same. When’s the last time you paid off a third world dictator with a cheque? Exactly. The rule of thumb in business applies equally in government: no personal cheques; cash only. If you need more advice on this matter, I suggest you ask someone like Brian Mulroney. Anyway, tough break, Nigel, but lesson learned, right? Don’t worry; this will all blow over in a few months and you’ll probably be in line for a Senate seat.

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy:
I’m a reporter with a large Ottawa-based newspaper. Recently, I wrote about a joint Canada-U.S. military exercise that was already a matter of public record. The next thing I know I’m being investigated by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service for an illegal leak. What gives?
David the Defence Reporter

Dear David:
What gives? How could you have been a reporter on the defence beat for all these years and yet be surprised by all this? I’m assuming whatever you wrote failed to pass the “embarrassment test”, meaning that it somehow embarrassed the Minister of National Defence. That is a definite no-no. If you write a flattering report, no one cares where your information came from. It could be the most confidential stuff from the leakiest inside source but you’re immune because the powers that be look good. Next time, David, consider saying something nice about the Minister and I’m sure they’ll call off the goons. Who knows? If you write enough puff pieces, you might even be in line for a Senate seat. Just ask Mike and Pamela if you need any help.

Dear Dr. Bureaucracy:
I’m the sitting Tory MP for Saint Boniface, Manitoba and Elections Canada says I didn’t file the proper campaign documents after the 2011 election and therefore should be suspended. I’m confused. After the initial investigation, I filed a revised campaign financial return which explains everything. Why am I still being harassed?
Saint Boniface Shelley

Dear Shelley:
The answer to your question is simple: Robocalls. That involved some serious malfeasance  and to avoid someone discovering who was behind the whole thing, a distraction is required. And that distraction, Shelly, is you. The government has to be seen to be taking action against wrongdoers and you’re it for now. Think of it as taking one for the team. Not to worry, though; hopefully by next year you’ll be rewarded for your loyalty. Senator Shelly sure sounds nice, don’t you think?