Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/2/2011 (3901 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- There is a never-ending debate in Ottawa about dealing with crime.
Parties toss around labels such as "soft on crime", "dumb on crime", and "tough on crime" with reckless abandon.
The debate is so filled with rhetoric and name-calling that there is little room for a real discussion of policies.
Is crime going up or down? Which policies have an impact?
And the unfortunate reality of any debate -- how much will they cost?
That latter issue has been bubbling around the surface of the debate for months, ever since Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page estimated that implementing the bill ending two-for-one credit for pre-trial custody would cost $5 billion just for the federal government.
That was a seriously different take than the $2 billion over five years estimate that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews delivered. Which itself was a big departure from his original estimate of $90 million over two years.
Unlike in the U.S., where the cost must be included in all legislation, the government in Canada seldom attaches a price tag to its legislation.
And requests to get more information -- by the finance committee, Page's office and the media -- have been rebuffed, with the government claiming the information to be a cabinet confidence.
Last week the Liberals issued a point of privilege in Parliament demanding the information. Speaker Peter Milliken gave the government some extra time to respond.
But the issue could come to a head this week if the Conservatives respond and Milliken is forced to make a ruling whether Parliament's right to know trumps cabinet confidence on this matter.
Toews and other cabinet ministers have repeatedly said they will pay whatever it costs to protect Canadians and keep the bad guys behind bars.
But if that is true, why are they hiding the cost?
If it's true that the Conservatives believe Canadians will agree that there is no cost too high in this debate, they should have nothing to fear from releasing the figures.
Gummy bears and beers
WHEN I was in grade school I remember a girl running for the head of the student council with a campaign that included handing out a gummy bear to every kid who got to vote.
Not a bad strategy when you're 11 and your campaign platform can include little more than promising to hold more spirit days and bake sales.
Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak isn't running for elementary school president, but he seems to be trying a similar tactic.
Hudak -- who will be seeking to unseat Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty next October -- said last week that if elected he will try to bring back buck-a-beer.
Ontario raised minimum beer prices in 2008 to $25.60 for a case of 24. It eliminated cheap beer advertised for a buck a can.
It wasn't quite offering free beer, but it is close enough.
The Liberals sort of laughed it off, knowing full well that Hudak will feel the immense power of the beer lobby the moment he tries to cut their prices.
Ontario has so many problems facing it right now -- not the least of which are its shift to have-not status and ballooning budget deficit -- that it's doubtful promising cheaper beer will get Hudak all that far with voters.
Maybe he'd be better to bribe them with gummy bears.
Former GG stuck in traffic
ANYONE who is directionally challenged and prone to getting stuck in traffic jams know this.
Even former governor generals are not immune to driving headaches.
Former governor general Michaëlle Jean was to appear on the CBC radio show Q Feb. 10, along with her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, to promote her new foundation. But Q host Jian Ghomeshi had to fill air time waiting for Jean and Lafond, who did not appear at the studio at the appointed time.
They were more than 20 minutes late.
Turns out even people who used to represent the Queen can get lost and tied up in Toronto traffic.
"It is so embarrassing," she told Ghomeshi on air when they finally got there. "You have to understand. For the last five years we were not allowed to drive."
Now Lafond is the driver and they don't have the RCMP clearing roads and dropping them off at the door.
"Thank God there is something called the GPS," she said.