Thanks Muskoka!

Hey, did you know that YOU, along with every other man, woman and child in this country coughed up a couple of bucks just to give a hearty “thanks” to the good folks of the entire Muskoka region of rural Ontario for hosting the frivolous G8 summit in the town of Huntsville last year?

The story has been reported before, but is resurfacing again in the context of an impending Auditor General’s report leaking out to the press, alluding it seems to charges of — quell surprise! — multi-million dollar deceit and deception by The Harper Government® in using the monumentally irrelevant and immediately forgettable event as an excuse to spray a golden shower of $50 million onto Industry Minister Tony Clement’s riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Claude Doughty, mayor of Huntsville, the main site of the summit in Ontario’s Muskoka region, defended the program, saying some of the projects were meant more as a “thank you” to area municipalities for being host than as G8-related facilities.

“I don’t think there was ever any intent that some of them would be used by the world leaders,” he said. “You have to appreciate that a lot of people in Muskoka did a lot of work to prepare for the G8, myself included. And for those municipalities that went out of their way to really do those things, this was a bit of a token of saying, ‘Thank you.’ ”

However, some of the “legacy” items are largely unused. The University of Waterloo’s environmental research centre, completed 11 months ago, remains deserted and without signage. The echoing hallways of a summit centre are largely bare save for pieces of community art, while a brand-new seniors centre, banquet hall and drop-in daycare were empty on Monday afternoon.

The program also financed a gazebo and public washrooms that were far from the summit centre, as well as municipal and airport improvements that aimed to revitalize the area but not all of which were used by world leaders and their entourages.

I seem to recall a little thing called “Adscam” that sent the Harper Conservatives and their Bloggin’ Tory sock puppets into an absolute frenzy of wildly indignant outrage about the missing $45 million from that fiasco… I guess they’re pretty upset about this egregiously crass misappropriation of public funds by another self-serving government too, huh?

Update: Oh look, here’s a video of the CBC news report from our C-SPAN Junkie friend south of the border.

Selling Out Canada

The Vale-Inco strike is just another fine example of the Stephen Harper government Standing Up For Selling Out Canada.

Industry Minister Tony Clement (also responsible for the Northern Development Agency, locally dubbed “FedNot”) has excused both the Brazilian conglomerate Vale and the Swiss mining group Xstrata from living up to specific commitments made to satisfy Investment Canada when the firms purchased Inco and Falconbridge respectively in 2006.

The Tony Clement Show

Pictured: “I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to try the veal.”

Having conclusively declared the deaths of six people and possibly nine others under investigation as a result of contaminated meat in the food supply a terrific “success,” it should come as little wonder that our sanguine Health Minister Tony Clement would be busying himself this week partying with powerful movers and shakers in the petroleum industry at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, promoting the limitless bounty of our secure, not-at-all-environmentally-harmful “foreign oil.” And why not? After all, it’s not like we have ministers in charge of briefs like Foreign Affairs & International Trade or Natural Resources to handle this tough assignment. Why poor little Gary Lunn would probably get trampled to death in that crowd! Besides, who wants to hang around crummy old Toronto being endlessly pestered by the media, disgruntled CFIA union representatives and millions of concerned citizens over some icky tainted meat recall?

And so, while grieving families in Ontario are planning the funerals of their loved ones like 89-year old Frances from Madoc, Ont., who died of listeria earlier in the week, Tony Clement is blithely schmoozing with political lobbyists and Washington celebs at swish receptions such as the luncheon sponsored by the Harper government at the Canadian consul-general’s Denver residence, where it’s reported that the food included bite-sized bits of beef, shrimp, tortellini and potatoes gratin. Seeking to assuage his patriciate guests of any apprehensions they may have had about tainted meat, Clement introduced himself with this bit of deathless hilarity: “I’m Health Minister Tony Clement, and I have to say I approved this food.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! What a comedian.

h/t: Jeff and Pogge