Good to know that loyal Harperistas may be taking helpful hints from a nattering twit like “Joanne” about what she boldly calls “Walking the Conservative Talk.” The “excellent example” she’s chosen as a case study in fostering “growth of the conservative movement at the grassroots level” is somewhat interesting on a number of levels.
But first the background… It seems that several months ago, her friend Matt McGuire, the President of the York Centre Conservative EDA was blasted out of bed by the Sunrise Propane Explosion in Downsview — an event that “deeply affected” him. Following the accident, the provincial government established an expert panel to conduct a safety review of the storage, handling, location and transport of propane in Ontario. The findings of this group were released to the public in November of last year. Matt, not only because he was “deeply affected” by the event, but also because he’s filled with “caring and compassion” we’re informed, wanted to obtain five hundred copies of the 52 page report so that he could distribute them to similarly “affected people” in the area.
There was one slight problem with McGuire’s cunning plan, however. Like most government reports, there is a charge associated with them — $12 for this particular publication. Well, you can just imagine the indignant outrage! “It is like we are paying for this three times,” McGuire told the Toronto Sun at the time. “First, we nearly paid with our lives. Second, as taxpayers, we paid the salaries of those writing the report. Now they want $6,000 for the report to be delivered to the affected area. Enough is enough.”
That the government, or more accurately the Queen’s Printer, charges for reports and other publications is a well-known fact to all but the most deeply clueless people. In any case, rather than pay $12/each for the reports, McGuire decided instead, to have his local Conservative riding association print them for distribution to “affected people” in the area (together with a highly partisan, inflammatory and wildly misleading letter, of course):
I recently phoned Service Ontario to request 500 copies of the report to distribute to our community. I was shocked to discover that the report was priced at $12 per copy! By trying to make a profit from this report which should be given to us for free, the Liberal government is adding insult to real injury. The Liberals would turn a profit of $6,000 if every home in this community purchased a copy!
My friends, this is not good enough. You deserve nothing short of what you are owed. The York Centre Conservative Association has taken it upon ourselves to create 500 copies of this report and distribute it around to every residence in the community. While the Liberal government is trying to suppress and make a profit from this information, we feel it is vital that you get the entire report so you can read for yourself, first hand, the failure of our Liberal politicians in protecting us.
A few things here, my friends… First, as with all Queen’s Printers, ServiceOntario Publications functions as a division of the government’s supply and services branch and, as such, operates on a not-for-profit basis. That isn’t to say that there isn’t an aspect of cost recovery in this “user pay” system, but it’s a gross distortion to claim that the Liberal government was somehow crassly attempting to make a profit from sale of the publications.
Second, the Liberal government wasn’t attempting to “suppress” the information in the report simply because, as is routinely the case with both federal and provincial governments, there was a charge associated with obtaining a printed copy of the report. If anybody wants to read the report it’s readily available online in PDF format — for free! So, clearly then, this was another completely false allegation.
Finally, rather than simply making “affected people” aware of where they needed to go to read the report online (perhaps even providing some of the key findings of local relevance or an executive summary, which might have added value to their communication) instead, they printed 500 copies of a 52 page report; that is to say 26,000 pages of material, 99% of which will likely go unread and be quickly disposed of. What a complete waste of paper, ink and other materials. All, just so Matt McGuire could pull off a boneheaded little stunt to make his political enemies look bad.
That “Joanne” thinks Conservatives “can all learn a lesson from Matt — about growing the movement, and about reaching out with genuine human compassion and caring in a practical way” is beyond hilarious. If it means ignoring common sense, being an ignorant jackass, spreading misinformation, making completely false allegations, and wasting resources in a needless and utterly redundant venture that served no purpose but to score cheap political points by pretending to be an outraged victim, well then, I suppose it is indeed a lesson of sorts.