There is a disturbing report in the Globe and Mail that suggests that the Liberals are up to their old, dirty, dishonest tricks. Remember the Librano$? That gang of (mostly) Quebecers surrounding Prime Minister Jean Chrétien who were shovelling our hard earned money into various Quebec Liberals’ hands in the name of “national unity?” There were made famous in the now, sadly, defunct Western Standard …
… well, it appears that they might be back, with a few new faces …
… (I don’t know who to credit for this image, but i wish someone would tell me so that i can, properly, acknowledge her or him.)
The report, by Campbell Clark, says that “Rana Sarkar, a long-time Liberal who is close to Mr. Trudeau’s top aide, principal secretary Gerald Butts, was named consul-general to San Francisco in a shuffle of diplomatic postings in the United States announced on Aug. 2. The government trumpeted the appointment as a move to beef up its U.S. diplomatic team ahead of NAFTA talks.” OK, that’s not a problem … I said so many, many months ago when David McNaughton was made our Ambassador to the USA.
The problem lies in the designation of the post ~ a consul general ~ and the cabinet decision to pay Mr Sarkar between $221,300 and $260,300nearly double the approved salary range of $119,600 to $140,700. Maybe Mr Sarkar is worth that, I don’t know; maybe that’s what it takes to get anyone of the sort of stature we need in San Francisco … but I doubt it. I know a few EX2s ~ I’m fairly certain there are some well qualified people in the public service and, equally, some very well qualified people in the public sector who would be willing to take a pay drop to serve their country; in fact I’m about 99% sure that Ambassador McNaughton did just that.
I am happy to agree that some (actually many) consul generals are far, far more important than many ambassadors … I would argue, for example, that the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong is far, far more important, in any and every respect, than our Canadian embassy in, say, Colombia or the High Commission in Cameroon.
So I’m neither shocked nor outraged that a consul general has partisan political friends in high places nor that (s)he is overpaid … but the two together tell me that, once again, the Trudeau Liberals are “tone deaf.”
Campbell Clark’s report says that “Highly paid diplomatic appointees typically fall into two groups: high-level civil servants or officials already on a higher pay scale who are appointed as diplomats late in their careers and political appointees given high-powered posts so foreign governments will see them as having the ear of the Canada’s leaders … [thus, for example] … Canada’s high commissions in London and Canberra are respectively the former clerk of the Privy Council, Janice Charette, and retired vice-admiral Paul Maddison, the former commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. Mr. Trudeau appointed David MacNaughton, a long-time Liberal, as ambassador to Washington … [but] … Placing San Francisco on that list when a Liberal close to Mr. Trudeau’s PMO takes the job raises questions, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said. “It’s almost double the normal foreign service pay scale” …[and] … He said he can understand the pay of Mr. McCallum, the ambassador to China, which is a major trading partner, but there does not seem to be a reason to pay such a salary to recruit a consul-general. He said they already saw Mr. Trudeau seek to appoint a Liberal, Madeleine Meilleur, as official languages commissioner. “Mr. Trudeau is going to have to explain why when you are friends of Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Butts, the normal rules don’t apply.”” Mr Mulcair makes a good point.
“Mr. Sarkar,” Mr Clark says, “is a long-time Liberal who ran as the party’s candidate in Scarborough–Rouge River in 2011, but lost. He sought the party’s nomination for the 2015 election in another riding, Don Valley North, but was portrayed as part of Mr. Trudeau’s clique, and lost to current Liberal MP Geng Tan. He is a friend of Mr. Trudeau and especially close to Mr. Butts, a close friend and adviser to Mr. Trudeau, who, along with chief of staff Katie Telford and the Prime Minister himself, make up the power troika that runs the federal government … [and] … The San Francisco job is considered a plum posting, as its territory includes Hawaii and calls for regular trips to the island, and it comes with a five-bedroom house – not a mansion, but in San Francisco’s hot real estate market, enough to be worth millions.“
I’m not questioning Mr Sarkar’s qualifications for the job nor am I concerned about his politics or his friendships … but like Mr Mulcair I am disturbed by the message this sort of thing sends, over and over and over again: Liberals are entitled to bend or even break the rules when it suits them, and I am waiting for a too often complacent media to call them on it.