People the world over become frustrated and intimidated when having to deal with Government. The citizen petitioner, more often than not, senses overwhelming forces thwarting the achievement of his good cause - a dense and large bureaucratic jungle, cards well-stacked against him, insensitivity, and deaf ears.
Conservatives the world over make their case that they are the proponents of less bureaucracy and a more user friendly Government - Governments that listen and act fast. Governments that are lean and mean only to bureaucrats, not the oppressed citizenry. This is no less so of the relatively new RAT (Reform, Alliance, Tory) Party in Canada. Indeed Bush's pal Steve Harper has through most of his adult life been immersed in such ideas, through his very active involvement with the lunatic fringe of Conservative politics, and a lengthy stint as President of one of the nation's chief proponents of such blarney, namely, the National Citizens Coalition.
And since we are now on the subject of blarney, it is most fitting that we examine the Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's orchestration of the Hearings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on the Harper flip-flop issue of Income Trusts.
The purpose of the hearings, which commence tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM, is to air the grievances of the Income Trusts and the organizations and individuals who have been or will be adversely affected by the decision of the Government to do away with them over a period of four years.
The first session tomorrow lasts one hour, the second one which commences immediately after the first, lasts one hour. The scheduled witnesses in the first hour are: The Minister of Finance (Flaherty), and from the Department of Finance, the Deputy Minister (Robert Wright), the Senior Associate Deputy Minister G-7 Deputy for Canada (Mark Carney), Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Tax Policy Branch (Bob Hamilton), General Director Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch (Brian Ernewein)and Senior Chief Payments, Financial Sector Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch (Denis Normand). So leading off for the bad guys are no less than 5 government heavyweights (and heavy titled) and Flaherty himself.
In the next hour, five representatives of the affected industry are scheduled to appear as witnesses. But that's not all. The 2 Finance honchos - Ernewein and Normand - will wrap it up, supposedly in some sort of rebuttal.
The Hearings continue on Thursday. In the first hour, 5 witnesses from the affected sector are scheduled to appear. But not to be outdone or outmaneuvered, the Government (the bad guys to many of the RAT party) are throwing in David Dodge (Governor of the Bank of Canada), although they will probably argue that he is independent (he's not), and the obsequious Ernewein and Normand. All of which are to be heard in one hour. In the second hour, another 10 witnesses are to be heard, including the Provincial Treasurer of Prince Edward Island and the wrap-up guys, Ernewein and Normand.
Another 2 hours of hearings are set for the following tuesday, making the total Hearing time reduced from the early representation of 10 hours to 6 hours.
So those organizations and citizens adversely affected by Harper's policy flip-flop might well ask, what are all those Finance guys doing here, taking up valuable Hearing time (at taxpayer's expense) and space? I mean, do we have to have all of them sitting around at tax-payer's expense just to show us the Government means business? And why give the Finance guys the chance to speak last? And how are all of our witnesses going to make their case in one hour sessions - approximately, 5 minutes each, on such a complicated issue? I mean, it must be complicated - look at all of the mandarins sitting around, Deputy Ministers, Governor of the Bank of Canada, yada, yada, yada.
Indeed Harper, Flaherty, the RAT party and the heavyweights from Finance have stacked the deck. They weren't even subtle about it. For the Income Trust proponents, the fat lady is about to sing.