“For I have sworn thee fair,
and thought thee bright,
“Who art as black as hell,
as dark as night.”
— Shakespeare, Sonnet 147
Oh Canada, what a magical country you are. How lucky we are to be living in such a glorious nation with such a wise and benevolent leader.
Surely only Stephen Harper would be capable of making millions of dollars in cuts and axing thousands of jobs and having everything run even more efficiently than it did before.
Oh, wonder of wonders. And his ministers and minions are practising their own brand of magic, twisting the language so that black is white and down is up and what is false is true.
Is laying off scientists who monitor the effects of aquaculture pesticides on the marine environment bad news for the fishery?
Why no, it’s a good thing. They’re merely getting their priorities straight.
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada is refocusing its research on priority areas that directly support conservation and fisheries management,” DFO spokeswoman Erin Filliter wrote to The Canadian Press (CP) in an email a couple of weeks ago.
What about cutting the jobs of archeologists and conservators at Parks Canada? Will that be a blow to the country’s tourism industry? Will fewer people visit our nation’s most treasured places and learn about heritage and nature if the season is shortened for visitors?
Why no. Not a thing will change. Nothing to see here, folks.
“We will, of course, focus on priorities as we always have,” Parks Canada secretary Larry Ostola told CBC News.
With 10 Canadian Coast Guard communication centres being chopped across the country — a diminishment of service keenly felt in this province — should Canadians be concerned about public safety?
In British Columbia, the provincial government was worried enough to write to the federal government, asking it to reconsider.
“I think a lot of us who use the ocean — and I’m one of them — want to know that no lives will be imperilled as a result of this budget-balancing exercise,” Christy Clark told CP on May 28.
Pshaw, the feds respond. People will be as safe as they ever were.
In fact, the federal government is so sure of the wisdom of its decision to cut the Canadian Coast Guard, it consulted only the Department of Defence about the move, even though when the announcement was first made, Ottawa said the public had been widely canvassed.
How’s that for confidence, eh? No need to second-guess. Don’t worry your pretty little heads about anything. We’re in good hands with Uncle Steve.
And, speaking of public safety, nothing instils a greater sense of security in your average Canadian than knowing Vic Toews is the man in charge.
Over in his neck of the woods, more than 1,100 employees at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) found their jobs on the chopping block.
But don’t worry — nothing will get across the border that shouldn’t. Things will actually work better with fewer people minding the fort.
“We are merely making our border leaner and more efficient …,” Toews’ spokesperson Julie Carmichael wrote in an email to CBC News in April.
“By modernizing and improving efficiencies, the CBSA will achieve savings at headquarters while streamlining frontline services.”
Wow — modernizing efficiencies and saving money, too! I’m impressed.
At Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, they’re hauling out the thesaurus to find words to mollify worried farmers as the government explains how things will run much more smoothly on $300 million less.
According to Alberta Farmer’s website, Gerry Ritz’s crowd is “consolidating back-office functions,” “shedding assets” and integrating “scientific research capacity and expertise through co-location and collaboration.”
How do you like them potatoes?
Meanwhile, prisons are being closed and the RCMP will have its budget reduced by $195.2 million over three years.
According to The Huffington Post, the federal budget says, “The Mounties will be ‘pursuing administrative and operational support efficiencies, with minimal impacts on direct policing operations.’”
One of those minimal impacts is the impending closure of three of the RCMP’s six forensic labs in the country. As a result, the closest lab RCMP members here will have for getting DNA tested and the like will be in Ottawa instead of Halifax.
But — you guessed it — service will be even better than before.
Are you sensing a theme here?
And it’s not just the feds; government spin-doctoring is a widely practised art here, as well.
Chop 550 full-time equivalent jobs at Eastern Health and everything is business as usual.
“There will be no reduction to programs; there will be no reduction to services,” Health Minister Susan Sullivan said in the House of Assembly at the time — sounding suspiciously like someone rehearsing a mantra.
That’s a tough sell. If you remove more than 500 jobs from any organization and the people on the end of the service being delivered can see no perceptible difference, then what the heck were the 500 people doing? I find it hard to believe they were doing nothing at Eastern Health.
Let’s call a spade a spade. When politicians use euphemisms and nonsensical language, like “modernized efficiency” and “consolidated back-office function,” we know we’re being whitewashed.
Here’s a tip for the politicians: we realize that sometimes budgets have to be trimmed. Sometimes jobs have to be lost. And sometimes, cuts are purely spiteful or are made to reflect a political ideology.
But they are not always benign, and they rarely have no effect.
So do us a favour: cut the crap and be honest with the electorate.
Otherwise, no one will believe a word you say, even when you’re telling the truth.
Pam Frampton is a columnist and
The Telegram’s associate managing editor.
She can be reached by email at