In deference to John Denver’s song of the 60’s, we noted from Brian Murphy’s column in the July 11 Times & Transcript, that he is still fumbling on the Moncton airport issue. The record of his work is “both lengthy and public” our MP says. Well, in the spirit of the new Accountability Act, we decided to take a look at “the record.”
First off, we were concerned when Mr. Murphy detailed his “efforts” and included enlisting the aid of a government senator and the Chamber of Commerce “to lobby the government.” Wait a minute; we thought that is what we elected Brian Murphy to do!
He then indignantly boasts that he raised “two questions about the matter in the House.” Again the public record is revealing.” His “questions” were little more than partisan shots to please his Liberal master, Stéphane Dion. They contained neither substance nor solutions.
February 5 question: “The only culture of defeat, to use the Prime Minister’s own words about our region, is the one that is coming from the Conservative cabinet table. Why does the Minister of Public Safety refuse to recognize the importance of maritime and Atlantic Canadian airports to the economy and when will he fix this problem?”
May 16 question: “Mr. Speaker, this government does not care about …the Moncton Airport, important economic generators to their communities, are cancelling new flights. Why? Because the Minister of Public Safety neglects to rein in the rogue president of the Canada Border Services Agency and refuses to hire the needed customs officers. We know the government does not care about the charter, literacy, women’s issues, child care and summer jobs. Must we now add mid-sized airports and their communities to the not wanted list, to this culture of defeat?”
This sounds like schoolyard banter! How does this help to prompt Government action on Moncton’s airport needs? Is this “pushing hard for a resolution?” The Mayor of Moncton has been to Ottawa twice and met with officials from Minister Day’s office on this issue. The second time he took a respected delegation of business and economic development leaders, and was accompanied by the manager of our airport, Rob Robichaud. These people are dismissed in Mr. Murphy’s article as “Conservative organizers,” although some of them likely supported him in 2006!
The fact remains that Mr. Murphy should have arranged his own roundtable on an issue of such “abiding concern” to profit from the presence of all the stakeholders. Instead of showing initiative, he chose to pop in for drinks between votes in the House. He had dinners with some of the delegates, but there is no record of any meetings.
The one question that puzzled me was, “What vote was so important that our MP couldn’t represent our federal riding at the reception?” Encouraged by Mr. Murphy’s article, we checked the public record. There were seven votes that evening. None of the votes was a confidence motion. None was even close enough to be considered contested. Yet our MP dismissed an invitation by our regional Minister, Greg Thompson, to pop in “twice between parliamentary votes!” The final vote of the evening was Paul Martin’s Act to Implement the Kelowna Accord. Now that would earn him serious brownie points with the Liberal party elite!
No doubt I hear a protest, “But the Kelowna Accord is an important piece of legislation!” Not according to the Ottawa Citizen (14 July 2007). They called it “an expensive press release.” “The Kelowna Accord was no accord at all,” they wrote. “It was literally a list of agenda items typed onto a press release. The supposed commitments made on this piece of paper were not given the force of law. In fact no legislation was ready to go when Paul Martin trumpeted another of his fixes ‘for a generation’ in 2005.”
The Citizen editorial went on to say with reference to past abuse in residential schools and land claims, “Meanwhile, the Conservative government has actually moved forward to solve two real problems that affect thousands of native peoples….” Barbara Yaffe of the Vancouver Sun added (July 14) “‘Justice, Fairness and Hope for Canada’s Aboriginal People’ only serves to remind that under past Liberal governments money gushed into aboriginal coffers with little to show for it.”
Brian Murphy is back at his old-fashioned shell game. We’ve seen all this razzle dazzle before – we just didn’t expect it from an elected representative! Public service requires accountability. That means when you make public statements about the public record, the public should have confidence that the facts are accurate. In this case they were not.