Federal Politics: The Scandal Gap

With federal and provincial elections coming up soon, we’re probably going to be treated to an increasing number of “scandals” involving government money.

Financial scandals are staples of politics in this country, which rarely sees a good old fashioned sex scandal of British proportions – the recent story about federal minister Maxime Bernier hooking up with a biker chick notwithstanding.

Either we don’t have much sex, or we don’t really care what people do with each other in bedrooms, or cars, or in tents and snowhuts. The closest we seem to get to a sex scandal is someone going through a divorce. Yawn.

So basically we’re forced to be entertained, or outraged, by situations in which governments tend to take our money and then disperse it to their friends, the underlying complaint being, of course, that we’re not listed among those friends.

This is especially true in B.C., where elections have always been about the ins and the outs. Our mantra is usually: Vote those crooks who shower money on their supporters out. That way our guys can get in and shower us with money.

Our astonishing gentility in this department is highlighted even more by the ongoing scandal surrounding the Italian airline Alitalia. Apparently, taxpayers showered some five billion euros on the failing airline while Alitalia officials lived the extreme high life.

It all seemed so Italian: Alitalia execs were being paid as much as $10,000 a day – mama mia, that’s a lot of Gucci – while Alitalia lost a billion dollars and teetered toward bankruptcy. This happened in one of the apparently richest countries in Europe, but one that should be in the neighbourhood of Myanmar if you believed the tax reporting figures.

One potential buyer who backed out said Alitalia needed an “exorcist” to right itself. Now that’s my kind of scandal.

So as the “scandals” roll out over the next year, ask yourself: Why are we stuck with some trifle like drinks on expense accounts or that some government contract overran the budget?

That’s not a scandal. That’s normalcy. What do you think is scandalous?