Read the transcript of this Point of View
Rex Murphy Point of View
October 15, 2009
Long, long ago – in the 1960s – or about the time the Pharaohs were conducting environmental reviews on the pyramids – and Joey Smallwood, was Pharaoh - Premier - of Newfoundland – people driving across my province would see a sign.
It was about the then – to be built – Trans Canada Highway. It read: We’ll finish the drive in ’65 – thanks to Mr. Pearson. Prime Minister Pearson wasn’t actually building the TCH – operating the heavy equipment, tapping down the asphalt or anything – but he was a Liberal PM and Joey was a Liberal Premier, and in those antique days – one good Liberal would chew steel to do a favour for another good Liberal.
I mention this to show how venerable the tradition of political parties – trying to take personal credit for spending your money is.
Politicians are ravenous when it comes to taking credit for things – plastering their faces on every handout and brochure whenever they’re rolling out the money – as if they were a combination of Santa Claus, the Salvation Army and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Which brings us to Gerald Keddy, here seen holding a toboggan – no a cheque for 302 thousand dollars for a rink in Chester, Nova Scotia…the Conservative logo is just beneath his right hand – and his name is at the bottom.
Now it isn’t his loot and it isn’t his cheque: – water will freeze on the rink but no thanks to Mr. Keddy’s personal stash. The Conservative logo is a diversion and a lie. The Conservative Party isn’t paying for anything – the government of Canada is paying for everything.
When this made the outraged news Mr. Keddy said " …he never noticed … the large Conservative Party logo in the top left corner, or his signature at the bottom." I hope he doesn’t drive, or mend watches for a living. Because if he didn’t notice that logo or see his own signature on a cheque the size of a 70 inch plasma TV, or the blade of a heavy-duty snowplow – there isn’t much Mr. Keddy can be noticing.
Having thought things over, the next day he said it all a horrible mistake, "inadvertent" "inappropriate" and he "would never (ever) do it again." I guess it’s the old "once stricken, twice shy," either that or a classic case of Spotlight Repentance.
But the bleats of various Liberals over this ‘outrage’ should be turned down a notch. There is no bunch in Canadian history who have furthered the art of pushing their own brand – of taking credit when no credit was due – than the Liberals. They were the high pioneers and virtuosos of slush funds and party promotion.
But they do have a point when they flail Mr. Harper for such things – because in opposition Mr. Harper was a one man Spanish Inquisition on such practices. Preaching when you’re out of power – is not a passport to sinning when you’re in.
Keep up this kind of stuff – and it will take more than a Beatles tune and a startled cellist to convince Canadians that there’s a hair’s breath of difference between the two of them.
Or that there ever has been – from Lester Pearson and Smallwood’s day long ago right up to the present minute.
The cheques are fatter; the game remains the same.
For the National, I’m Rex Murphy.