Waste Not, Want Not

By:  Rachel Marsden

This week, the federal Conservatives trimmed a billion dollars from their annual spending, proving that even though Prime Minister Steve may have indulged a little too much on the summer barbeque circuit, at least he knows when to push away from the table when it really counts.

But there’s nothing quite like the squealing of pork barreling NDP and Liberal MPs as their chairs get pried away from the tax dollar buffet. Liberal leader Bill Graham said the belt-tightening was vindictive and mean spirited. Right, about as mean spirited as telling a kid to take his head out from under the Slurpee tap at the 7-Eleven.

Let’s have a closer look at some details of this Conservative “exercise in ideology”, as NDP MP Charles Angus calls it.

* Harper has saved us $47 million per year simply by shrinking the size of his cabinet. That was a lot of wasted money just to make Liberal MPs feel important. Then again, when your party’s sleaze factor is off the charts, as it was during the sponsorship scandal, it helps to have the word “Honorable” in front of as many names as possible.

* The Liberals were blowing $10 million a year to encourage people to work for free as a volunteer. How about a booze-soaked bash for the purpose of encouraging sobriety?

* What will the Natives do now without the federal government’s $11 million stop-smoking campaign? I have a cheaper, more effective idea: Ditch all the cigarette carton pictures of blackened lungs, rotten teeth, and limp cigarettes. Use only a picture of the male organ that the limp cigarette represents. Blow it up to cover the entire carton. No man, native or otherwise, will put anything in his mouth that comes out of that.

* Harper shaved $5 million from the Status of Women budget. Our military budget already has this covered. Canadian soldiers who are killing the misogynist Taliban in Afghanistan have done more to improve the status of women than any special interest group. It’s too bad the NDP won’t support their mission.

* Nearly $18 million has been cut from the adult literacy program. We could easily save that amount if we made it a mandatory requirement for immigrants to be fully literate in English as a condition of admission. Then we’re pretty much just left with people born into our fully accessible education system who screwed around too much in class.

* $5.6 million was saved by axing the Court Challenges Program. This funding enabled gay and lesbian groups to challenge laws made by parliamentarians democratically elected by the rest of us. There’s a name for this: tyranny.

* The Museum Assistance Program has been cut by $4.6 million. I could understand if that cash went toward restoring precious ancient artifacts, but looking over the program’s 2004-2005 funding, I see projects like The Edmonton Art Gallery’s Maxwell Bates expressionism exhibit, which burned through roughly $100k of our cash. We already have a program for artistic endeavours that require government handouts. It’s called “welfare”.

There’s one opportunity that Harper missed, though. He could have recouped an automatic billion dollars annually by canceling the liberal propaganda project known as the CBC. Before pulling the plug, he could give them a year’s notice—meaning five more Trudeau miniseries and three more conspiracy movies about how the Americans blew themselves up on 9/11—just to prove that he’s a truly “compassionate conservative”.

PUBLISHED:  TORONTO SUN (September 29/06)