The180·The 180

Don't fret about spending scandals — get upset about policy instead, says reporter

Photographers, limousine travel, airport lounges: spending by federal cabinet ministers has Canadians up in arms. But Justin Ling of Vice News says there are much more important things to be angry about: he points to a long list of campaign promises that have yet to be fulfilled.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, left, takes a selfie with members of the Liberal cabinet at their August retreat in Sudbury, Ont. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Hired French photographers are not a problem. But delayed decision making and over-extended public consultations are. 

This, according to Justin Ling of VICE News. He was frustrated this week with all the coverage of ministerial expense scandals, such as Catherine McKenna's photographer, and Jane Philpott's travel expenses

"If you really want to talk about wasting the taxpayer's dollar, there's lots of things we can talk about. I mean, this government has embarked on round after round of arguably useless things that do not need a lot of consulting, and they're wasting a lot of taxpayers' dollars flying around the country and holding these relatively inane public fora for things that do not need public consultation."

An example, says Ling, is defence procurement, which the government consulted on as part of a broader look at defence policy

This government has embarked on round after round of arguably useless things that do not need a lot of consulting, and they're wasting a lot of taxpayers' dollars flying around the country and holding these relatively inane public fora for things that do not need public consultation.- Justin Ling, VICE News 

"I'm not sure any of your listeners at home have very strong feelings or strong knowledge, one way or another, about defence procurement," said Ling to The 180's host Jim Brown, "but I guarantee they probably didn't go to those meetings. So, it really raises the question about why are we spending money just to kick the can down the line further on these sorts of decision-making processes."

Ling says when Canadians jump on individual stories about travel expenses, even if the policies behind those expenses may need examination, they lose sight of the bigger picture: what the government is actually doing. 

And, he says this government has made it hard to talk about that big picture, because so far it's doing more consulting than legislating. 

Click the play button above to hear Justin Ling's conversation with Jim Brown. 

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