Sunday, February 18, 2007

Solidarity not quite forever

In the file called strange news releases, we add to the one noted by Mia about Steven Fletcher's odd decision to use taxpayer resources for a partisan congratulatory message, by noting this one from newly-minted Treasury Board president Vic Toews.

On the surface, it is a completely ignorable document congratulating his own government for its agriculture initiatives -- itemizing increased payments in some sectors and other things totally indistinguishable from a policy point of view from the previous Liberal administration.

But then, there's the way this news release -- of no apparent news value -- ends:

On Western Canadian wheat and barley producers, Minister Toews said the following:

"We have a world-class product and farmers should have the option to maximize their returns and earn their money directly from the marketplace if they choose. Canada’s New Government listened to Western Grain producers when they said that they wanted marketing choice for wheat and barley while continuing to preserve a strong Canadian Wheat Board. The government is giving them an opportunity to stand and be counted by voting in a plebiscite."

Out of the blue, for no apparent particular outward reason, Toews gives a bland, lukewarm nod to the referendum on the Wheat Board.

We can just imagine the phone conversation that led to this document.

Chuck Strahl: Hey, Vic. It's me, Chuck. You know, you've been kinda silent on this Wheat Board thing.

Vic: Well, you know Chuck, it's kind of divisive in my back yard. You know most Manitoba farmers don't like what we're doing.

Chuck: Yeah, Vic. It's that kind of team solidarity that makes me warm and fuzzy all over. I'm also hearing you're dissing me to anyone who will listen.

Vic: Well, er ...

Chuck: Fix this, Vic. Set the record straight -- or this will be at Cabinet.

Vic: Sure thing, Chuck. You got it.

One tepid statement of support, coming up.


And while we're referring to inappropriate interventions by Steven Fletcher, his apparent cold call to Mia Rabson last week to go nuts over the East Side transmission line was a bit of a head scratcher.

We thought now in government, Fletcher may have less time on his hands to play silly-bugger. Apparently not.


While we're looking at the Wheat Board vote, why isn't the Manitoba government making some hay over the three ridiculous ballot questions being asked by Strahl?

We mean, really, the party that brought us the idea of the Clarity Act is now imposing a referendum on farmers that is anything but clear.

We could hear the clip now: "We wonder why the Conservative Party feels clarity is important for Quebec referendums, but it's not good enough for Western producers?"


Lastly, we feel for the Peg Sun's John Gleeson, as we think he must hate his job.

Last week he lamented Sun readers' apparent lack of intelligence with their anger over some businesses' opposition to a new holiday in February.

As he made the stock drive-by slurs on our province with a bunch of Saskatchewan-envy lines straight out of Adrienne Batra's talking points (they have some lower tax rates than us, you know -- it's outrageous) and an attempt at a clever turn of phrase ("It's like the public is saying, 'Give us the circus, but you can hold the bread'"), the overall message from Gleeson is clear.

His readers are stupid.

That must really suck.