It’s Christmas in July and John Duncan is playing the role of Santa Claus.
Vancouver Island’s only government MP — and the whip, no less — has been busy criss-crossing the Island, doling out federal money for much-needed projects.
The busiest person on the Island this month was the one co-ordinating Duncan’s schedule.
Victoria in the morning to announce funds for the Island’s biggest traffic bottleneck, Mackenzie Avenue at the Trans-Canada Highway. An afternoon in Parksville or Nanaimo or Qualicum Beach to dole out dough for more projects.
It’s easy to be cynical about the timing. Yes, there is a federal election on the horizon. But that attitude might not be entirely fair to Duncan. As Chief Government Whip, Duncan needs to be in Ottawa likely more than any other MP in the country. The vision of herding cats comes to mind.
His window for visiting his riding and dealing with local issues is short. As the only government MP here, Duncan has also become the de facto government MP for the entire Island. Short window, large area to cover — it’s no wonder many announcements are jammed into a short time.
Our cynicism, if that’s what it is, steers clear from the timing of this whirlwind cheque-distribution tour. It has more to do with what we perceive to be the paternalistic attitudes of senior governments.
Rarely does any MP or MLA mention the fact the money they are handing out belongs to the people. Too many people — especially municipal politicians — fall over themselves thanking Duncan or MLAs when they arrive in town with a cheque and pose for a photo opp.
An unscientific, conservative estimate would have us in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region — Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay, Whiskey Creek, Coombs, Errington, Dashwood, Meadowood and all points between — sending more than $25 million a year to Ottawa through income taxes, the GST and other sources. Do we get that back in the form of services (health transfers, infrastructure projects, etc)? Not likely.
Also, there’s the one-third, one-third, one third formula (federal-provincial-municipal) that is now being used willy-nilly by the feds — some projects (Whiskey Creek) get that deal, some (Parskville’s water plant) do not.
All that stated, we are pleased to see some overdue infrastructure money coming to our region. Just don’t expect us to to say thanks for giving only a portion of our money back.
— Editorial by John Harding