Friday, June 20, 2008

McGuinty lets Phillips dump his portfolio but keep his cabinet lolly

Cost for Gerry Phillips to chair cabinet meetings: $46,858 per year.

Less work for the same pay: priceless.

Well, if I were a Fiberal backbencher looking at three more years of having to pretend that George Smitherman is entertaining and Margarett Best is intelligent, while holding my breath in David Caplan’s fart cloud, I wouldn’t be too pleased about this:

Gerry Phillips will assume new responsibilities as Chair of Cabinet and remain in cabinet as a Minister Without Portfolio. This move was spurred by a request from Minister Phillips who wished to reduce his workload while continuing to contribute to the McGuinty government.
--McGuinty news release, today

The $46,858 minister's stipend (scroll to page 3 of the Estimates) is in addition to Phillips’ MPP salary of approximately $113,000.

But never mind Premier Pinocchio’s seething backbenches. Phillips’ sweetheart deal is, to say the least, an unfortunate message to send in an economy where people are routinely being asked to do more work for the same pay, or have to apply for jobs that pay considerably less after being laid off.

I’m wondering if Phillips gets to keep his car and driver, too, to make sure he gets to cabinet on time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It’s not just me

Even the Toronto Star says Dion’s English is getting worse

“It might be politically incorrect to say, but Dion's spoken English is bad – and may be getting worse. Because of it, he's turning off many English-speaking voters. While his command of the English language is excellent, his diction and cadence are so terrible that he is often harder to understand than Jean Chrétien. Dion should work with a speech language pathologist, some of whom make big dollars training recent immigrants to speak without an accent.”
--“A summer makeover for Stéphane,” Bob Hepburn, The Toronto Star, today

Over the past few months it seemed to me that Dion’s English in Question Period was actually deteriorating. And this was with material that he presumably had some time to reword and rehearse. I guess I wasn’t alone. Better spoken English is number one on Hepburn's ten-item makeover agenda for Dion.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What has Premier Pinocchio got against Canadians?

Clintons’ fartcatcher addressed Fiberals in 2006, this year it’s Blair’s fahtcatcher

Pull of foreign gurus not new to McGuinty

The Ontario Liberal newsletter arrived today to remind me that the star attraction at the Ontario Liberal party’s AGM this weekend is Tony Blair’s communications guru Alastair Campbell.

If you are a member of the “Red Trillium Club” (minimum donation: $1,000), however, you will have an opportunity to attend an exclusive reception with Campbell and have Campbell’s book, The Blair Years, signed by Campbell himself. This is in addition to your personally signed photo of Dalton McGuinty. (No, really!)

This comes less than two years after the McGuintyites hosted Clinton stalwart James Carville at their meeting in October of 2006.

The blurb in the Liberal newsletter describes Alastair Campbell thus:

Alastair Campbell is best known as a journalist and former Director of Communications and Strategy for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was a key figure behind Mr. Blair’s rise to power and was often described as “the real Deputy Prime Minister.” With the Labour election victory in 1997, he became the Prime Minister’s chief press secretary, setting up a formidable Whitehall communications machine.

Here’s a reminder of what that “formidable communications machine” was capable of:

On September 11th, just an hour after those planes slammed into the World Trade Center, Jo Moore, a senior adviser to Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, turned away from the TV and composed an e-mail for departmental circulation:

It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury.
--Mark Steyn, National Post, October 11, 2001 (republished in The Face of the Tiger)

On 9/11, I happened to be working (briefly) for then Ontario health minister Tony Clement. Our executive assistant’s first thought was not along the lines above, but that he should ask the deputy minister to make some calls to ensure that our hospitals were ready to handle American victims, or patients diverted from northeastern US hospitals.

But back to McGuinty, who has long sought the advice of foreigners to a degree that conservatives would be crucified for. (Frankly we've been crucified for less, such as consulting Mike Murphy during the 1995 election.)

McGuinty travelled to the U.K. for education ideas prior to the 2003 election, and hired Michael Fullan as an education adviser. He then spent $25,000 to travel to Chicago for advice from Obama fixer David Axelrod.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Play Tax Tag – it’s fun!

If you haven’t checked out the Conservative Party’s “Will You be Tricked?” website about Stéphane Dion’s will-he-or-won’t-he carbon tax, I recommend you do so and click on the “Tax Tag” button.

This leads you to a page of various people and characters, and when you click on them the site tells you whether they will or will not pay Dion’s carbon tax.

The cast of characters includes: Liberal/Green candidate Elizabeth May, caucus stinkbomb Garth Turner, and even Liberal blogger Jason “Britney” Cherniak. Congratulations, Jason!