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THE DEVIL YOU SAY, MR. JOE BLOW CLARK - Monday, May 03, 2004 at 10:33

PUBLICATION:  The Winnipeg Sun
DATE:  2004.05.02
SECTION:  Comment




Former Tory prime minister and Conservative expatriate Joe Clark raised an interesting debate last week.

You can always count on old Joe to bring things into perspective for us.

He's the little guy that hovers over your left shoulder sporting a halo who reminds you of your duty to be compassionate and virtuous -- to be a good Canadian, really.

Joe's the guy who makes sure Canadians don't stray too far from their roots.

In many ways, Joe Clark is the real conscience of Canada. Or at least he thinks he is, anyway.

That's why he warned us about Conservative Leader Stephen Harper last week, calling him "scary" and someone Canadians should be very afraid of.

"(Harper's) plans are very developed and they're pretty well hidden," Clark pronounced. "Canadians don't know what they are."


Harper's plans are developed but Joe doesn't know what they are? Yet he's telling people to be afraid of the well-developed plans that nobody knows about?

Makes sense.

"People are so enraged at the Liberal government that they're giving Stephen Harper and his party a bye," he continued. "They should take a look at what he proposes."

How do we know what Harper proposes if it's hidden?

And how do we know Harper is "scary" if we don't know what he's proposing?

I think Joe's getting soft in the head.

Clark says it's better that Canadians "go with the devil we know," rather than the devil we don't know.

The devil we know, of course, is Prime Minister Paul Martin.

So let us review the record of this little devil, shall we?

I mean, if we're going to throw our support behind this Super Satan, we should at least know something about his hell.

Let's start with Martin's deep cuts to medicare. According to people like Joe, Canada's health- care system is the fabric that binds Canadians together. It's what defines us.

Martin, as finance minister, presided over the largest reductions of health-care funding in the history of medicare, slicing more than $6 billion out of transfer payments to the provinces.

Is this what Joe calls a commitment to Canada's health care system?

When you take money out of a government program, it usually means it's not a priority for you.

Martin made those cuts while continuing to waste tax dollars on bogus programs such as the sponsorship program.

You want to talk about scary, Joe?

Here's a frightful one: Martin spent most of the 1990s robbing Canadians of their employment insurance money. He's been overcharging us by about $3 billion a year in premiums and using the money to spend on bogus programs like the gun registry.

He's taken a total of $44 billion more in EI premiums than he's paid out in benefits over the past several years, violating the federal government's own EI rules.

That scares the hell out of me.

And what about the gun registry, which Martin has vowed to keep?

He's blown $1 billion on a registry that has turned out to be completely useless.

Little devil.

We all know the worst thing a politician can do is mishandle taxpayers' money.

And despite all the praise Martin has received over the years for being a "sound fiscal manager," it turns out he was squandering our money behind our backs.

He allowed $250 million to be blown on the sponsorship scandal, $100 million of which was earmarked for hefty commissions to Liberal-friendly ad agencies.

He was in charge of the money during the Human Resource's billion-dollar boondoggle, where contracts were handed out to companies who often didn't qualify for the money.

And he was the head of the treasury when heat rebate cheques were mailed out to dead people.

What a great money manager this guy was.

So this is the devil we know, Joe. And if it's all the same to you, I'd like to check out a few other Lucifers before I make my choice, notwithstanding the deal you've already made with yours.

Sometimes the devil you don't know turns out to be the devil of choice.