Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The RCMP G8 evaluation in the early going

The way the news of a possible RCMP investigation into the Harper government's G8 spending broke yesterday really was interesting.

We have learned, courtesy of the Auditor General's review, of $50 million being spent on G8 legacy projects in Tony Clement's riding, that $50 million having been drawn from an $83 million border infrastructure fund that was approved by parliament. The Auditor General's office questioned the lack of paperwork accompanying the projects chosen for Clement's riding. The acting Auditor General mused out loud about the Appropriations Act and whether "or not this was inside or outside of the Appropriations Act." I think it's fair to assume that the federal police force would have taken note of these comments. Or at least, that they should have. The facts as they have been revealed to the public, courtesy of the independent Auditor General's report, have been significant and troubling.

Yet what we saw yesterday was that a former Liberal MP seemed to possibly be a driving force behind the initial inquiry that's being done. It did not appear that the RCMP had initiated action on its own. At least, that seemed to be the perception because if it was otherwise, they really didn't do anything to dispel that perception in their public statements. It made the RCMP look reactionary and passive. And it allows for an unfortunate perception of a partisan taint when there should be no questions in the air about such matters. This strikes you as a situation that a credible federal police body shouldn't need to be prompted to look into, let alone by a former MP of any stripe.

We will have to wait and see whether a full investigation comes out of this in any event.