Timing is everything

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So, there is a federal budget today. It came quickly, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announcing on Jan. 27 that it would come down a scant two weeks later. And, if old habits hold true, it will be a trap door budget, all sorts of different initiatives packed into a bill that can run into the hundreds of pages, a catchall of Tory initiatives hidden inside a document that will have little time for full debate, but with scores of implications that won’t be addressed before they are passed.

That, coming on the heels of election financing legislation that ran into the hundreds of pages, but for which debate was limited, cut off by the Tories scarcely before you could actually read the whole tome.

And you have to wonder if this is not all planned by federal strategists — drop the bomb while attention and resources are elsewhere, especially while the news is overtaken by the circus of the Olympic Games.

Fundamental changes are happening in this country, at a time when our national broadcaster, hungry for cash to pay off its massive Olympic investment, seems to spend the first part of all newscasts trumpeting whatever Canadian athlete they can find to trumpet that day.

Its main television newscast is from the Sochi Olympics, and scores of its reporters are dedicated to the event.

There seems to be too few left behind to report on the overflowing and immediate agenda here.

It’s a giant game of “Sochi-says,” and the federal Tories seem to be welcoming the sports cover, using it to slip all sorts of legislation in quickly under the radar.

You could be impressed with the efficacy, if it wasn’t for the brazen lack of respect for the democratic process.

As we said in this space on Saturday, it’s clear the federal Conservatives want as few people voting as possible. Their changes to the country’s elections legislation includes stopping efforts by Elections Canada to get people out to the polls.

Now, it seems, there’s the other prong of dealing with the informed electorate. First, reduce the electorate. Then, reduce the amount of information available to that electorate by the bait and switch of hiding major changes behind a screen of the performance of Canadian athletes.

There’s only one real reason to bring in legislation and cut off debate: to minimize the number of eyes that see what you’re doing. Now we’ll have a budget hidden behind the same big Sochi screen. If it’s anything like recent federal budgets, the fallout will be extensive and carefully masked in miles of paper.

The fact that Olympic athletes are being used as part of the disguise is both tawdry and sad.

We’ve said it here before: this is a federal government that cares little about means and most about its own ends.

The sad part is that, so far, it’s worked. 

Oh, look — over there! It’s a ski-jumper.

Organizations: Elections Canada

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