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?