Monday, April 26, 2010

MInding Our Mint

Sheila Fraser is one of my few national heroes.

She is the Auditor-General and every year, Ms. Fraser delights us all with her revelations about how various government departments and agencies waste our tax dollars.

She is a one-woman posse and Robin Hood, exposing rot at every available turn.

This morning we learn that there are even some places, Fraser may not go.

The Board of Internal Economy manages the expenses of the House of Commons. A similar committee runs the Senate. Both committees meet in secret.

As John Ibbitson reports, ten months ago, Auditor General Sheila Fraser formally asked these two committees for permission to audit Parliament's expenses, including the expenses of MPs and senators. She still hasn't received a reply.

Silence equals no.

The board is exempt from external audits and Freedom of Information requests.

In other words, the way that Larry Campbell and his Red Chamber cohorts and all the MP's in the House of Commons spend our tax dollars for their personal convenience is not open to public examination.

Cell phones and lunches, anyone?

We are talking here about a combined budget of over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS.

The next time you think about voting, go to a candidates' meeting and ask them when they're going to change this little loophole.

And again, thank our lucky stars for Sheila Fraser.

Still Dangerous After All These Years

Photos: Spanish matador Jose Tomas seriously gored in Mexican bullfight

Tomas, one of the top Spanish matadors, is in serious condition after being gored during this bullfight in Mexico

When I was 19 years old, I was traveling in Spain.

In Valencia, we went to the big corrida to see an afternoon of bull fighting.

We saw the most famous and most popular fighter of that era, an 18-year boy-genius of the ring known as "El Cordobez."

That afternoon, he was twice awarded two ears and a tail for his startling, masterful triumphs over two terrifying fire-snorting blue-black monsters.

We made the hideous mistake off asking people around us how the young man compared with the legendary Manolete.

They glared at us as if we were mad.

"Manolete es UNO!" one outraged patron declared.

Bull fighting is a strange anachronism in the modern world.

No doubt many people are deeply offended by what can be seen as a barbaric and cruel ritual.

It is hard to argue with that position.

On the other hand, if you spend a day watching great fighters and great bulls, you cannot deny the fear and horror and excitement and adrenalin attack that comes along with the coca-cola or beer.

Today I might not return to the ring to see another six fights, but I cannot forget what I saw so many years ago.

Nothing to be Said - Just Listen