Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Auditor-General vs. Government / Wolf vs. Sheepdog

The 2011 Ontario Auditor-General's annual report was released yesterday, two months after the Oct. 6th election when it actually might have had an impact on government. The timing of this report also serves government interests, because Christmas is coming, and soon the report details will be overwhelmed by good cheer and tinsel, and then ultimately ignored. Nothing will kill a conversation at a Holiday Party quicker than: "So what did-ja think of the A-G's report, eh?"

The report itself is written by bureaucrats whose job depends entirely on the foibles of big government. Sure the Auditor and staff must have some integrity, because their report is invariably critical of government and its excesses, and there is so much to be critical about. But it's really just a game. The actors in this report reminds me of the Looney Tunes cartoon where the apparent arch rivals, Ralph E. Wolf, and Sam Sheepdog, punch-in every morning at the same time-clock with friendly greetings. While on the job they are brutal adversaries, but outside of work they actually live together. So it is with the Office of the Auditor-General and its partner the Government, both are sucking from the same taxpayer's teat. To push my imperfect metaphor to its limits, someone is getting fleeced, can you guess who?
The report itself is 460 pages long, and is replete with the major boondoggles that the Ontario Provincial government considers part of its mandate and purview. Government waste and ineptitude are everywhere, and people like me, have ammunition for months and months. Where to start? Here are a few issues from the report:

-  Ontario's electricity monopoly, prices have risen 65% since 1999 and are expected to rise another 46% over the next five years,
- Billions of dollars of wind and solar power projects were approved without the usual planning, regulatory, and oversight processes
Ontario drivers, particularly those in the GTA, generally pay much higher auto insurance premiums than other Canadian drivers
- Ontarians have been paying a special charge to retire an electricity debt, though the remaining debt is never disclosed
LCBO is one of the biggest purchasers of alcohol in the world is more concerned with restricting the use of alcohol than getting the best price for Ontarians

As critical of the government as these issues seem to be, the Auditor offers pathetically poor suggestions to repair to the problems, always suggesting that somehow government can become more efficient, more responsible, more accountable, and never considering that the size and scope of government itself, is the problem. Why would he? He is part of the game and he will punch-in next year at the same time, happy in his work.

We are left with a report, which I believe is truthful, that should send citizens running into the streets screaming because they are literally being robbed, but that won't happen, not yet anyway. I will have more to say. 

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