Roundup: A petulant response to a critical report

In the wake of the that leaked report on the viability of the Sikorsky helicopter project, the government is now making big threatening noises about cancelling the whole thing – because that’s helpful, given that the report’s recommendations are largely about redrafting the structure of the contract in order to make the phase-in of new technology more gradual as part of a development project rather than continuing to treat the choppers as “off-the-shelf,” which they weren’t after this government’s civilian oversight allowed the military to go on a shopping spree of add-ons. Because otherwise, what – they’ll magically be able to find suitable choppers with those very same specifications from another vendor that can be delivered in a short enough time frame to replace the Sea Kings, even though the Sikorsky ones are already now being delivered for training purposes (albeit will with some software and other issues being worked out), and which won’t cost us a tonne more money? This threat makes sense in what reality?

At the G20 meeting in Russia, the topic of Syria still dominates, but Harper and Flaherty made a big deal about reducing debt-to-GDP ratios, and pledged that Canada will reduce ours from a current 34 percent to 25 percent by 2021. There are also conciliatory noises being made about the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement, which Harper needs as a political victory in the face of all of his other troubles at home. Here’s a look at how the G20’s plan to tackle tax avoidance can affect ordinary people, as the IRS in the States seems to find it easier to go after the small fish (ie – individuals who inadvertently broke the rules) rather than the big guys.

Economist Stephen Gordon looks at Flaherty’s assurances that the deficit projections are “on track” and finds that staying the course won’t get the budget balanced by 2015. Gordon also has produced a report that casts doubt on “Dutch disease,” and points to the data that shows that most of the jobs lost in manufacturing were low-paying, and that those workers tended to get higher-paying jobs elsewhere. He also points to data showing that the manufacturing sector was actually better off in 2008 than 2002, which puts the boots to those NDP talking points.

The Canadian Press’ Andy Blatchford has been busy poring over Elections Canada filings and comparing it to those caught up in the Quebec corruption sweeps, and finds some $2 million from those named went to federal parties before corporate donations were banned in 2006.

The CBC has learned about the cloak-and-dagger means by which we shuttered our embassy in Iran, and how it was kept so secretive in order to avoid tipping off the Iranian secret police. Cue the jokes about Ben Affleck turning this into a film (and downplaying the role of the Canadians).

In another first, the new Canadian Forces Chaplain General is openly gay.

Senator Doug Black’s proactive disclosure of his expenses is already raising eyebrows because of the $180 coffee maker he purchased. But he’s happy to take the criticism because he’s transparent. Of course, this is part of the reason why most politicians are reluctant to offer line-by-line accounting of their expenses, because as one staffer friend put it, nobody wants to fight the election over the fact that they bought the expensive toilet paper for their office. To that end, a balance will doubtlessly be struck, but it’s unlikely to happen overnight.

And today’s PostMedia Senate profile looks at Senator Elizabeth Marshall, former Newfoundland and Labrador Auditor General, who was the Conservative whip in the Senate and now heads their new audit subcommittee.