Dutch Disease – Pronounced Bitch-u-men Bubble
Remember way back in 2012 when everyone who’s anyone in Canada lost his shit because the leader of the New Democrats used the expression “Dutch Disease” to describe our economic reality.
Well, nobody’s using that expression now. Now it’s “Bitumen Bubble”.
And yeah, we get it, guys – pronounced “Bitch-u-men”.
Cripes, Allison Redford can’t win for losing.
So tiresome, isn’t it? Especially at tax time when so many of us had jobs last year so we still have to buy RRSPs, only to have to cash them out next year so we can feed and house ourselves.
There are no jobs, you know, or not enough of them to go around, anyway. And since we all know now that Keynes was right, governments should spend in bad times, conserve in good, I’m not clear on the Harper government’s strategy of deliberately laying off thousands of us.
Why would any halfway intelligent being think that public servants, people willing to endure the tedium of public service, can be laid-off to become risk-taking entrepreneurs?
That’s the plan, I believe, so good luck with the future of Canada, everybody.
But there’s good news. Democracy Watch, a non-profit keeping its eye on government accountability (of which we currently have none) has asked the Information Commissioner to investigate whether muzzling scientists and denying Access to Information breaches the act.
Oh, didn’t you know? We have an Access to Information act. Indeed, brought in under PET, himself.
Oh yes, these Conservatives are pikers compared to Liberals.
Because here’s the thing, the Access to Information act is actually a negative in terms of access to information because what it did was establish mini bureaucracies within ministries (now known as departments, in case you haven’t been keeping up – we could probably eliminate the deficit by bringing in the “No More Changing the Names of Things” act) to decide who when where and why access to what information.
True story and not confidential so eff u any old Conservative hack bosses reading this:
It used to be that Access to Information jobs posted on the government jobs website comprised most of the postings. But you couldn’t get past the initial screening unless you already had experience as an Access to Information officer – or lied. I once tried to get training, at least, but the training was canceled when everything was canceled because the current government doesn’t have a clue what it’s doing, the deficit is out-of-control, and we’re all screwed.
Anyway, one day, I got a telephone call from another public servant, a lawyer actually, working in another part of the department (Minister’s name rhymes with “Oh you piece of shit!”) asking if it would be okay to share information contained in a letter from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR).
What did the letter say? Well, it basically asked, and I paraphrase, “Oh you piece of shit! When can we expect a response to our letter of 1972?”
Correspondence between the SJCSR can go on for decades, usually quibbling over what are called discrepancies between the French and English versions of regulations, which are drafted simultaneously, as opposed to being translated.
It’s quite the process, or so I’ve heard, jurilinguists and lawyers and policy analysts crowded together into one tiny room to git ‘er done so that the SJCSR can’t begin the decades long complaints process because an expression in the French version really doesn’t come across as meaning the same thing as a different expression in the English version.
And vice versa, actually.
Hey! Wake up, dammit!
Now, my initial response was to turn it around and say, “Uh, aren’t you a lawyer? Don’t you know?” Because it struck me as unlikely that if a lawyer didn’t know the answer to that question, I would.
But I was wrong because I did know the answer – according to no less than two lawyers at the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. My answer, “I guess?”, was, indeed, correct.
Sadly, my boss didn’t agree, his boss wasn’t sure, and her boss, well, to be honest, and I hope he isn’t reading this, but some people are just too thoughtful and considerate for the government decision-making process.
I’ve already lost my job so let me just be blunt and say that I defied my people and went with the SJCSR legal opinion on account of, get this, it turns out (and I did the job of dealing with SJCSR correspondence without even knowing this) its meetings are all public record anyway.
I mean, wtf? So I phone buddy back and said, “Go for it!” (after being reassured once again that we were talking about correspondence that didn’t contain any information anyway).
See, the problem with the Access to Information act is that the government is currently run by temps, and NOT that there’s anything wrong with that, but most of us really don’t know what we’re doing. The other problem is that public servants take an oath that is increasingly interpreted as meaning their job is to protect governing politicians from embarrassment. So when an Access to Information request shows up and the poor bastards tasked with gathering together a bunch of stuff (itself a bureaucratic nightmare of epic proportions, because by bunch of stuff I mean relevant bunch of stuff) there also begins the sighing and moaning of higher ups who see it as their job to prevent anything that might be embarrassing to the government from being technically relevant.
And this all happens before anything is sent to Access to Information offices for redacting.
Anyway, while I’m heartened that Democracy Watch isn’t getting bogged down in bureaucrat-ese and states simply “scientists conduct research that is paid for by taxpayers who therefore have a right to learn the results”, its complaint is to the Information Commissioner.
Can you hear it? The sighing? The moaning?
Because that’s it and that’s all, really. The government is ours, not theirs. And sadly, it’s completely out-of-control and has been for far too long. Sadly again, a lot of what’s wrong dates back to the Liberal government of PET, you know, the one Stephen Harper claims to despise.
Well, that may be true, but what’s also true is that he’s been co-opted by the worst of it.
So now is not the time for the faint of heart, public servants. Start speaking up or forever hold your peace. It’s for your own good – and ours.