The fact that opposition parties have done little to raise questions about how the Liberals spend their legislative funds may have to do with their own use of them. While fewer entries in the public accounts can be traced to New Democrats and Conservatives, which reflects the oppositions' smaller caucus budgets, the same lack of transparency applies - because of the $50,000 threshold, it is unclear how many smaller contracts they awarded.
Does this story shock, disturb or disgust you?
Political Parties are supposed to hold each other to account, right? We expect them to pierce through data smog and put the information we need right in our inbox, n'est ce pas? Maybe somewhere along the way they should be doing some consultation and research - including into each other, so they can do the hold-to-account thing effectively?
Of course we do. The alternatives would be 1) for government to hold itself to account, which is silly or 2) for us to proactively engage with the system, but who's got the time to do that?
On the whole, we sub-contract the management of our democracy out to others, because we don't want to do it ourselves.
We also respond to attack ads, which is why they keep getting funded. If they didn't work, no one would be doing them.
The fact is that politics is often a nasty, elbows-up business that takes advantage of whatever resources it can and muscles the kinds of results that help further the interests of political parties. Frankly, that's how business works, period.
Competition is about beating opponents, don't you know.
I attended a webinar today that was all about helping corporations best position themselves to get public dollars through government funding programs. If they get this money, other organizations don't.
The people on the e-call were largely from big companies with lots of money already, but they got that money by playing smart, or at least playing smart towards the goal of increased profitability.
If government is looking to promote job creation or innovation or whatever and are offering money to achieve those goals, how is it wrong for financially successful businesses to become more successful by taking advantage of those funds?
How is it different when partisan caucus bureaus are hiring the talent that can help them win? By convention, that's their whole reason for being. They get money so that they can fulfill their purpose; hiring consultants they know are good at what they do and trust (you tend to trust former staffers/people you've been in political trenches with because you have worked with them) is a means to that end.
This is the political sausage.
The reason we don't like hearing about what goes into this sausage is that we don't particularly want to know it's unhealthy; at the same time, we don't want to be bothered changing our own behaviours to make the system healthier.
We expect our politicians to be just like us, so as to reflect our views, but not to have human faults or try to get ahead individually, though that's kinda what we do. We want our system to respect and respond to us, but without us having to do the homework and outreach ourselves.
This is why a consumer-based approach to politics and democracy fundamentally doesn't work.
What we want out of the system and what we're investing into the system don't add up. The centre, as it were, can't hold.
If we want to solve and address the right problem, we need to identify the right problem.
It's a bit of a Pandora's box we're opening with social media and open everything - but that's not entirely a bad thing, is it?