questions

Chamber president Rick Karp phoned last week to say Tony Clement was coming this week. "Is he announcing a gazebo?" Karp was asked. Silence. He didn't bite.

Chamber president Rick Karp phoned last week to say Tony Clement was coming this week.

“Is he announcing a gazebo?” Karp was asked.

Silence.

He didn’t bite.

And to his credit, Karp still asked if media wanted to ask Clement questions after his presentation.

We did. And he set it up.

We didn’t ask about gazebos. It seemed a good decision.

Clement would easily put off answering such questions. And blinkered conservatives would simply see it as another attack on their glass palace.

Besides, there were other questions, more relevant to the territory, to ask the minister in the limited time we were given.

Still, the gazebo issue demands attention.

After several months, the issue still swirls around Clement. And for good reason.

As Treasury Board president, Clement is responsible for cutting government spending. He’s also responsible for ethics and accountability.

The former is important to the Conservative Party, which leveraged the Liberal sponsorship scandal, often involving grants doled out by politicians with no documentation, to gain power. So, accountability and ethics are a cornerstone of the Harper government’s mandate.

Which is why Clement’s gazebo, built on our dime in his Muskoka riding to “reduce border congestion”- hundreds of kilometres from any border – is an issue.

It was one of 32 pork-barrel projects Clement built with $50 million earmarked for the G8 summit. Like the much ballyhooed Liberal scam, there is nothing to document why the Muskoka millions were spent.

There has been no transparency, no disclosure.

Like sponsorship, it suggests a breakdown in the system.

Not a single bureaucrat challenged the decision, suggested tweaks, or argued why such spending would be a good idea.

In the absence of such official paper, it looks as if Clement and then-infrastructure minister John Baird simply cherrypicked goodies in the run-up to an election campaign.

The spending decision, a single line item in the $1-billion G8 spending orgy, was also overlooked by the opposition. It, too, failed to spot the problem.

Another failure in our government’s system of accountability.

It took then auditor-general Sheila Fraser to point out the problem. She was, by and large, ignored.

And, in the House of Commons, the affair still has not been explained. Clement won’t answer questions on the matter.

Another failure.

Worse, he’s now in charge of ethics and is responsible for reducing federal spending – after several years of Conservative government, Canada is now running a significant budget deficit.

Clement has vowed to save money by cutting government programs over the next four years.

Those cuts have begun.

And, curiously, the federal audit office has seen major cuts. There will now be 92 fewer auditors overseeing government spending, Lawrence Martin notes in an incisive column in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail.

Bottom line, Clement has a lot to answer for – the Muskoka affair cuts to the heart of a government built on accountability and ethics.

Clement was in town talking about the deficit, transfers and cuts.

In siphoning off $50 million that was supposed to improve the Canadian border, Clement violated the public trust.

He also contributed to the debt he is now responsible for cutting.

Clement explained how he was going to protect the territory’s transfer.

And he laid out how he was going to trim government program spending by $11 billion over the next several years.

All of which leads to some good questions.

They include:

“What, specifically, is Clement going to do to improve ethics and accountability when it comes to government spending?

“How will government ensure federal ministers can’t pilfer tens of millions of dollars for personal political gain in the future?”

And, finally, “What makes you the right guy for this job?”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read