BASS: Tripping over their tongues as they attempt to govern
For folks who must rely on words as their stock and trade, politicians sure seem to be having trouble with them these days.
Consider these examples:
• Apparently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is worried about folks who are cheating and collecting employment insurance when they shouldn’t be.
Sort of like getting a housing allowance when you don’t really live there, but I digress.
To combat this, his government (it is his, remember, not ours) is dispatching minions throughout the land to find these ne’er-do-wells and bring them to justice — and, in the process, each will recoup about $500,000 in illegally obtained EI monies from them.
But, that figure is not a quota, according to federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley.
It’s a target.
“There were no quotas for individuals,” Findley told reporters at Le Devoir newspaper in Montreal. “There are objectives, targets, to be sure.”
Maybe my sense of logic is different than the good minister’s, but I’ve always thought a quota is a goal that people are given to try to meet — kind of like a target.
I’ve checked some dictionaries and most define quota, among other descriptors, as an allotment, an assignment, a chunk, a measure and a part — words that could also be used to describe a target within the context of an amount of money they all have to come up with to keep the government happy.
• Still with Harper, earlier this month, he defended Sen. Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses — $142,190.26 from March 1, 2011, to Feb. 29, 2012 — as reasonable, even though only $10,551.99 was itemized as actual travel between Ottawa and Saskatchewan, the province she represents in the Senate.
The rest — $131,638.27 — was listed on her expense sheets under the category of “other.”
That’s a whole lot of other and sure doesn’t fit with what my definition of “other” would be.
• Moving to our own little part of the country, I’d really love to know exactly what the words “families first” mean to Premier Christy Clark.
In my world, given they represent her supposed guiding mantra as she governs, they mean families come first as her government makes decisions.
How she can then rationalize her government’s decision to hurt families with disabled adults by cutting their support funding by up to one-third is beyond me.
Yes, for those new to the column, I am the mother of one such person who, in a few years, will be a disabled adult.
That has given me a unique window into how some of his older friends live, struggling to survive on the shelter allowance that ranges from $375 to $820, according go the chart list on the government website.
Try to find a place to rent for that amount in Kamloops.
Add to it the difficulty finding a job and the many restrictions on how much they can make and you have a situation in which most of these adults are struggling in poverty or relying on family to help them make ends meet.
Maybe that’s the families-first definition Clark is going for: Go to your family first and don’t expect the government to help you out.
• Finally, we come to Kevin Krueger, the reporter’s dream and outgoing B.C. Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson.
Krueger took exception to criticism launched at Pat Bell, the province’s minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and the minister responsible for labour.
The criticism by the B.C. Conservative Party revolved around allegations by a businessman in Bell’s hometown of Prince George that the minister promised he’d be shortlisted for a government contract, which didn’t happen.
In defending his friend, Krueger called the Conservatives morons, idiots and scum not worthy to tie Bell’s shoes.
Krueger’s excuse? Bell was being attacked unfairly by the Conservatives.
Someone needs to teach Krueger that bullying words are nothing more or less than that — and unbecoming a politician, no matter how he rationalizes it.