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Empty disclosures

Good luck basing your voting intentions on this info!/ Matthew Barre
Good luck basing your voting intentions on this info!/ Matthew Barre

Brad Wall releases information that really means nothing.

Brad Wall’s decision to get hard over the expenses of his ministers is pure crap. In May 2012, Minister of Social Services June Draude stated, “we take fraud very seriously,” in reference to a Reaganite idea of welfare queens draining the coffers of social services.

Ex-Minister Draude has been found to have used a car service in London for personal purposes while on the way home from Ghana. I am also wondering why this provincial cabinet minister is using public funds to pay for her trip to speak at a conference in Ghana. Why not send a scientist or doctor who specializes in treating Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder rather than a government minister?

After being caught with her hand in the cookie jar, the minister has decided to retire – for personal reasons, though. Cabinet secretary Rick Mantey accepted responsibility for the “indiscretion” and was grounded from travelling by Wall for six months. Rumour has it he is so moving out as soon as he turns eighteen.

These are the same people who abuse public funds, and then claim that the state can’t afford to provide public services in our Booming Oil Economy.

Elected officials occupy a privileged position above nearly everyone else in their community. This privilege should also include a degree of social and economic responsibility to their constituents. By forcing elected officials to disclose their expenses, Wall creates a situation where he looks like the Good Guy without actually doing anything meaningful.

Working people have little time to devote to following the ministerial follies of the provincial government. This plan makes a huge assumption: that the average voter has the time or will to pore over the expense reports of government ministers. In a time where people don’t even read policy documents of parties before voting for them, it’s highly unlikely the average voter will burden themselves with this.

The only way this can actually create a positive change is if an incorruptible third party is bestowed with the power to dismiss members found to make fraudulent claims. Otherwise this is a meaningless gesture at best and a slap in the face of political integrity at worst. This event and the party’s non-response show the bald face of reactionary politics: it’s all bullshit. Economic conservatism only exists when applied to people without as much money those surrounding Wall.

It’s great that Brad Wall is making ministers disclose their expenses to the public. It is just unfortunate that they are only doing it after having been caught. Every thief is repentant once they are caught in the act. As it is, this is a positive development and would be nice to see such policies proliferate to other levels of the state. The government posted the result of these policies this month. A quick look shows Brad Wall charging $826 for four days’ meals on his recent trip to Charlottetown. As of Oct. 26, 2014, the time of writing, Draude’s expenses remain absent from the government site.

This policy was concocted with the same old brand of laissez-faire bullshit that has been infecting our political discourse for years. Under this new regime, voters become responsible for the failures of character within our political class and, as usual, those in power will remain such. If someone who is not an elected official were to be caught stealing, they would have to deal with the consequences, even if they tell the authorities it was a mistake and give it back.

About John Kapp