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December 11, 2013 (OTTAWA) – Today, Liberal Treasury Board Critic, Gerry Byrne, called on the Conservative government to stop abusing taxpayers’ money and put negotiation before litigation with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
“Time after time, we have seen that instead of cooperating and negotiating with Aboriginal Peoples, this Conservative government shamelessly pursues legal challenges in court – and often loses,” said Mr. Byrne. “Moreover, at huge expense, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has increasingly been using expensive private sector law firms, rather than using Department of Justice lawyers.”
Under the Conservatives, Public Accounts reveal that in 2012/2013, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada used outside legal help on 330 occasions, costing taxpayers $32.5 million. In contrast, the 2008/2009 Public Accounts show that this same department hired outside legal assistance only 61 times at a cost of $12.8 million.
“A 153% increase in hiring expensive private sector lawyers – in one department alone – at a time of fiscal restraint is proof that the Conservatives cannot be trusted to manage the public purse,” said Byrne. “Canadians expect and deserve a higher level of accountability and fiscal responsibility from their government.”
Office of Gerry Byrne, M.P.
Le 11 décembre 2013 (OTTAWA) — Aujourd’hui, le porte-parole libéral responsable du Conseil du Trésor, Gerry Byrne, a exhorté le gouvernement conservateur à ne plus abuser de l’argent des contribuables et à privilégier le dialogue avec les peuples autochtones du Canada plutôt que les procédures judiciaires.
« Nous voyons constamment que le gouvernement conservateur choisit de régler les litiges devant les tribunaux, la plupart du temps en perdant, au lieu de coopérer et de négocier avec les peuples autochtones, a déclaré M. Byrne. De plus, Affaires autochtones et Développement du Nord Canada a de plus en plus recours à des cabinets d’avocats du secteur privé, très coûteux, au lieu d’utiliser les avocats du ministère de la Justice. »
Les Comptes publics révèlent qu’en 2012/2013, sous le gouvernement conservateur, Affaires autochtones et Développement du Nord Canada a eu recours à de l’aide juridique externe à 330 reprises, ce qui a coûté 32,5 millions de dollars aux contribuables. En comparaison, les Comptes publics de 2008/2009 montrent que ce même ministère n’a eu recours à de l’aide juridique externe qu’à seulement 61 reprises, pour un total de 12,8 millions de dollars.
« Cette augmentation de 153 % dans l’utilisation des services juridiques très coûteux du secteur privé, pour un seul ministère et à une époque de restrictions budgétaires, est la preuve que l’on ne peut pas faire confiance aux conservateurs pour gérer les deniers publics, a déclaré M. Byrne. Les Canadiennes et les Canadiens s’attendent à de plus grandes redditions de comptes et responsabilité financière de la part de leur gouvernement et ils le méritent. »
Bureau de Gerry Byrne, député
December 4, 2013 (OTTAWA) — The Conservative government should immediately rein in its reckless spending of taxpayers’ money on government advertising, said Liberal Treasury Board Critic, Gerry Byrne, today.
“The Conservative government has spent well over half a billion dollars on advertising since 2006, including over $100 million on the Economic Action Plan advertising alone,” said Mr. Byrne. “The Conservatives shamelessly spend taxpayers’ money on advertising, and have even gone so far as to create the partisan position of manager of government advertising in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Whether promoting the years-old First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, or advertising about wireless services while doing nothing to fix the mess and bring down costs for Canadians, the Conservative government has not hesitated to misuse taxpayers’ money for self-promotion. More recently, this has included efforts to highlight the Canada Job Grant – a program that does not even exist – as well as a taxpayer-funded, $40 million campaign to mitigate the international damage they have done to our resource sector.
“Clearly the Conservative government would rather waste time and money on self-promoting campaigns rather than actually work for the real priorities and demands of middle class families,” said Mr. Byrne. “Canadians expect and deserve a higher level of accountability and fiscal responsibility from their government.”
Office of Gerry Byrne, M.P.
Pour diffusion immédiate
Le 4 décembre 2013
Les conservateurs gaspillent l’argent des contribuables pour des publicités gouvernementales
OTTAWA— Le porte-parole libéral responsable du Conseil du Trésor, Gerry Byrne, a déclaré aujourd’hui que le gouvernement conservateur devrait immédiatement mettre un terme à ses dépenses inconsidérées de l’argent des contribuables pour des publicités du gouvernement.
« Le gouvernement conservateur a dépensé bien au-delà d’un demi-milliard de dollars en publicité depuis 2006, dont plus de 100 millions de dollars uniquement pour le Plan d’action économique, a déclaré M. Byrne. Les conservateurs dépensent sans vergogne l’argent des contribuables pour de la publicité, et sont même allés jusqu’à créer le poste partisan de directeur de la publicité gouvernementale au sein du Cabinet du premier ministre. »
Que ce soit pour faire la promotion du crédit d’impôt pour l’achat d’une première habitation, qui ne date pas d’hier, ou bien celle des services sans fil sans pour autant rien faire pour y mettre de l’ordre ni faire baisser la facture des Canadiennes et des Canadiens, le gouvernement conservateur n’a pas hésité à abuser de l’argent des contribuables pour ses propres besoins d’autopromotion. Plus récemment, le gouvernement conservateur a fait la promotion de la Subvention canadienne pour l’emploi — un programme qui n’existe même pas — ainsi qu’une campagne de 40 millions de dollars, financée par les contribuables, afin d’atténuer le tort qu’il a fait sur la scène internationale à notre secteur des ressources.
« Il est clair que le gouvernement conservateur préfère perdre du temps et de l’argent en campagnes d’autopromotion plutôt que de travailler réellement pour les vraies priorités et les demandes des familles de la classe moyenne, a déclaré M. Byrne. Les Canadiennes et les Canadiens s’attendent à de plus grandes redditions de comptes et responsabilité financière de la part de leur gouvernement et ils le méritent. »
Bureau de Gerry Byrne, député
An international trade panel, one assembled by the World Trade Organization at Canada’s request, concluded that ‘Moral Concerns’ can effectively trump the otherwise established rule of global trade law.
Think about that for a minute. A panel of internationally esteemed judges assembled to adjudicate black letter international law – a set of trade rules affecting every one of the WTO’s 159 member nations – has concluded that the opinion of a vocal opposition, can effectively trump otherwise binding trade law. The fact that those same ‘binding’ trade rules were ratified by the democratically elected governments of those suggesting to be so offended does not appear to factor into the judges’ decision.
This matter is no longer about seals. It’s about something much, much bigger. The whole concept of blind justice has been put on trial. But for now, a decision must come from Canada about an appeal to this blatant hypocrisy. My first instinct is ‘damn yes’! Fight it to the end. Fight it with every last breath. Fight it until we win.
But then I am left to wonder what could we ever practically achieve at the WTO? Would a successful appeal ever actually force the EU to re-start trading in seal products within their borders? Would it guarantee that Canadian seal products would be back on European store shelves or that seal oil would be in their pharmacies or that seals could be shipped through their ports to other destinations without interference?
The straight answer is ‘no’, it wouldn’t. Even if the ridiculous ‘morals’ argument were cast aside on appeal, under WTO rules the EU would only be required to pay a fine in an amount proportionate to the economic harm caused to Canada. There is no WTO remedy that actually forces the EU to ever import another seal product again as long as they keep paying the fine. And besides that, we would have to file an appeal year after year after year as there is no blanket application. That’s how the WTO works.
In a nut shell, this surprising turn of events is precisely why the EU’s treatment of Canadian seal products should have been included in the Canada-EU Free Trade talks and not left to the WTO. It wasn’t. The timing of the WTO ruling with the conclusion of CETA talks puts a spotlight on how deeply our own government has let us down.
But this is now, and right now our government is left with the decision: spend millions of dollars on legal fees to impose a $500,000 dollar annual fine on the EU (my estimate) knowing the ban will still continue…or fight this in a different way.
I suggest we consider NOT challenging the WTO ban! And here’s why.
While the EU parliamentarians and the champagne socialists are clinking their flutes over their victory, so are their allies; the IFAW, PETA and every animal rights group out there. Rest assured, however, the EU’s natural ‘partners’ in the seal battle will soon become the EU’s own unwelcome house guests that are staying too long. Besides the seal hunt, PETA and the IFAW have sworn to putting an end to the entire slaughter house industry. For better or for worse, the new principle of ‘moral outrage’ applies to all members in the WTO and to all industries, not just the sealing industry. This WTO ruling becomes an interesting precedent. Those who trade in British pigs, Scottish sheep, French chickens and German bull could soon learn that the ‘moral outrage’ argument applies to them equally as well. Everyone in the global food and clothing industry is a little more vulnerable today from the WTO’s decision and the actions of the extremists. It’s no longer about just the Canadian sealer.
I suggest that the last thing the EU is anticipating is for Canada not to appeal this ridiculous and politically mis-guided ruling. If the truth be known, cooler heads in Europe and in national capitals around the world are likely depending on us to appeal the ‘moral outrage ruling’ so that (1) their domestic, political victory can still be theirs, but (2) the legal precedent of ‘moral outrage’ as a legal way to shut down an industry is ultimately quashed. As long as there is an appeal under way, it’s not solid law. And as long as it’s rescinded in the end, it doesn’t take legal hold. An example of yet another two-faced, political victory for the EU’s parliamentary cowards.
But should Canada not appeal the decision, the European Union and the entire international community would find themselves in the awkward situation of being forced to denounce the moral outrage principle or face the consequences of the precedent on their own industries. They would have to scramble to somehow make the case that trade law based on pop culture opinion is a misguided concept and that the opinions of the ill-informed should not be allowed to destroy a legitimate industry…lest they be next.
There is no doubt, this was not a sensible ruling at the WTO. But it’s also one that we will never likely win in any practical sense at the WTO. Wouldn’t it be satisfying to see the EU having to be the ones to make that case and then watching them drown in the backwash of popular opinion that would be stirred from inside their own borders for doing so. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was them instead of us for a change? Lest they be next!
Hon. Gerry Byrne. MP
Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte
Newfoundland and Labrador
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