Despite the temperatures, things are heating up. Heating up the political rhetoric, the posturing, accusations, replies …. all the grease that keeps a democracy stumbling along! “Wasteful spending!” is today’s slogan.
Wasteful, you bet! A parliamentary committee is hearing charges that the federal Liberal have multiplied the no-compete contracts awarded to particular consulting firms — including one led by a former Liberal cabinet minister. The numbers are shocking. It’s amazing the Liberals felt they could award these contacts “so liberally” and over only a few years. This is an image the Liberals have constructed for themselves over the years: feed your friends! Often with little to show in the government’s gain.
Contracting out so many consultancy jobs seems strange, to start with. It’s not as though our government is tiny and tight, running on a skeleton budget and staff. Today governments in general seem to have hired all the skills around — and yet still need to contract more “experts”?
These hearings have given new life to the Conservative claims that “Big Government” is spending the nation into bankruptcy. They have nailed the label “big spenders” to the Liberals over and over, and now, these hearings are providing what appears to be the waste of “big government”. Government is all bad, according to this script, which fits in with the underground efforts of US rightwingers to attack any form of government that seems in any way “big”.
The truck convoy last year, the constant messaging from the underground Right and corporate media, plus the provinces’ continual complaining, all feed an image of a bloated, even corruptible, government in Ottawa. The Conservatives have a new leader (this year’s) and he needs some creds, given his “attack dog” reputation from his years inside Harper’s government.
All the feds’ COVID-alleviation spending has provided opportunities for waste, fraud and duplication — no wonder, there are billions (yup, billions) of dollars and millions of people at play here, all bound to create an occasional mess. Which is what’s feeding today’s Opposition. The Feds wanted those funds out into the economy and to families quickly, while Covid was crashing through the country. Perfectly admirable goals, but not so well executed, we are starting to learn.
So we should expect that from now to the next election we’ll hear the messaging: “Big Government is Bad Government”. But, please, tell us how we can run a large country like Canada without a big government! You’ll merit a Nobel Prize. This is the heart of the current back-to-the-basics movement: folks who want to get out of the big economy, big cities, big factories, big taxes, big police, etc, etc.
Let’s try for that Nobel Prize: say we set up a region, still undeveloped and sparsely populated. We invite all the rightwing Don’t-Tread-on-Me folks to move there. Free land! No taxes! A starting bundle of cash to build a home and start life anew — without Big Government”.
Take a large piece of the Northern Ontario claybelt, for example, west from Timmins: very fertile land, Boreal forests, all with very little government and policing infrastructure. We ask the “Freedom-Now!” (or “F-Trudeau!”) individualists to move there, build a new life, unconstrained by government, and so thrive under these conditions, which they have argued are necessary for real human liberty and prosperity. (Just ask them.)
Free land, but all build-your-own. Create jobs or employment, build towns, streets and roads, airports; create their own food and clothing, all the necessities — all without the heavy hand of Big Government regulations, standards, inspections and conditions — and taxes. Just pay the taxes each wishes to pay, and whenever. No tax police. No government except for hyper-local things, roads, bridges. “Bug off!” could be the territorial logo, except for the black flies.
Sounds just what these folks want of the whole country. But first let them show us how to do it. Maybe Trump and Doug Ford will invest. The PPP folks, the Rebels, and many US Republicans will show up, ready with shovels and hammers. Imagine, no taxes! No government regulations, no police intervention, no … no … no …. — they’ll show us how to create and run a really free nation.
Before the next election, let’s start this test of Anti-Big Government Prosperity. Tomorrow. All in Northern Ontario.