Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Signs of the times

A few more points on this story from yesterday, news of the big signage database that Harper is having eighteen government departments and/or agencies report to on the progress of installation of Economic Action Plan signs: "Bureaucrats ordered to track stimulus signage."

The sheer number of pages turning up at CMHC alone on this issue alone seemed remarkable:
More than 500 pages of CMHC signage documentation obtained by The Canadian Press — winnowed down from more than 3,000 pages generated between mid-October 2009 and mid-April of this year — include multiple reminders from PCO that the arms-length housing agency’s signage report must be submitted “every Monday by noon.” The PCO reminders are written in bold face and underlined.
In the report, Gerard Kennedy is quoted as pointing out that the government hasn't tracked how many jobs have been created by the government, that all the signs (pardon the pun) point to this obsession with propaganda instead. That's kind of an important point to hammer away at. The Obama administration's Recovery.gov tracks jobs (hover over the user-friendly map, state by state for the breakdowns). Maybe the Auditor General will have something to say about that point.

Could this signage database have morphed practically into a government wide partisan database of sorts, so that, for example, it could be tracked whether Ministers and MPs who venture out so frequently to make spending announcements would have the nice backdrops in place? Is this signage database coordinated with all those MEPs perhaps? Between the two, the Harper government has been shown to be spending a lot of time on these superficial and entirely p.r. related aspects of the EAP. That this arguably very partisan programme is being run out of the Privy Council Office is eye-opening as well. It speaks again to the centralization of the Harper government at the center and a partisan bent to the PCO.

A few other quick points...it's worth noting that CMHC had to tell the government "...why signs were inappropriate in some situations: “This is a shelter for women who are victims of family violence . . . For safety reasons no signage is planned for this location.”

Finally, 339 of these EAP signs went up from August 16 to August 27. That's 33 signs a day over a 10 day period. It's quite a little cottage industry that's still going strong if that's the pace. How many more to go before this EAP is completed? Nobody probably knows except for those elves in the PCO, the whole thing is so convoluted.

What else can you say, it's quite the scene that in this day and age so much time can be spent by a modern government pursuing its reflection on signage across the country.