Harper’s political travels have (kind of, sort of) come under attack in a couple of recent news stories. Essentially, he likes going to partisan events like John Hamm’s retirement and plain old non-government events like the 40 year exercise in futility that is a Maple Leafs Game. This is all very fair.
He does, however, have to take a DND challenger, to which there is some suggestion that the Conservative Party should reimburse the taxpayer. Sandra Buckler says:
“There was no previous protocol, as the former Liberal government never reimbursed Canadian taxpayers when they used the Challenger for non-government business,”
Which is all very interesting, except:
Emphasis mine. Seems fair, no?
This is a lesson in how it is dangerous to forget that the goal of every politician in opposition is to be in government, and casting as perks which are necessities of government should be done only at their own peril. Obviously the Prime Minister cannot just get on an Air Canada flight- he’s not even allowed to cross the road from his office to the House of Commons on foot. And yet lazy opposition always goes after the low-hanging fruit: as a friend of mine told me over the summer, the optics of using the government jet are never very good. The raw numbers for a flight, especially given the prohibitive cost and hassle of civilian travel, are shocking.
I would prefer, being an idealist at heart, discussion on real issues. Talk about our abysmal record on adult literacy, our defaulted commitment to end child poverty by 7 years ago, the environment, making businesses have an easier time dealing with the rules of government, flat taxes, anything other than the mundane battle of ATIP reports that we have at present. But I suspect, being a cynic in everything but my heart, that politicians don’t create the demand for low-politics, they just feed off of it. We expect politics to be fluffy theatre, and so it is. We like the idea that they only scream at each other, so they do it for the 45 minutes a day when the cameras are on them.