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Marine *&^$^&%&%@#@! Atlantic

(insert rant)
As a dyed-in-the-wool lefty, my blood boils when I read about government execs wasting taxpayer dollars like this. Executives of Marine Atlantic, the Crown corporation that runs the ferry service here on the east coast, have been dining out, playing heady rounds of golf, and going to conferences in Athens and the Bahamas at our expense.

Stuff like this makes it that much harder to defend government initiatives that provide needed services and jobs against charges from the right that they would be better off privatized.

When the revolution comes, I will be waiting next to the wall with a golf club for the heads of assholes like this. They will understand.
(end rant)

When the government of the day quits appointing their supporters to crown corporations this abuse will probably stop. I say this because a lot of Liberals were appointed by Cretien and Martin. However, I'm sure, given the chance, the Conservatives would do it too. I believe this practice should stop. When you are appointed by the government in power, you have a sense of security and you feel that no matter what you do, you have a right to do it.

How do we get around this, though? If not appointments, then what?

Maybe we should make them apply for the job, like, with a resume and stuff.

Err, yeah. I guess that sounded kinda dumb. I mean, to whom would they apply for these jobs? Would they just go through the regular civil service process?

Take it out of the governments hands entirely and give it to the Auditor General. Then whoever is chosen will know that they will be audited so they better run a clean ship.

The Auditor General should be ultimately responsible for oversight, but surely that office can't do the actual hiring? Unless you're suggesting an expansion of the AG's mandate and office size.

There is another option, which has a very sharp double edged sword and that is through privatization. On one hand the execs can do as they please because it will not come out of the tax payer's pocket. However, being a privately run organization, the users and employees will be the most effected by how the company is run. Users will have to pay the price of tickets which nodoubtedly be higher and employees will have more layoffs while the company tries to run itself like a for profit business. On another, note though, to keep the company running smoothly at the beginning government will probably be shelling out lots o' dough to allow the company to "fix" its inherited problems.
Is the best option? In some cases it is, looking at Alberta's model. However, as we have read in the papers these days, over privatization can lead to the erosion of our healthcare system.

my two cents.

Paul,
Privatization might be a good idea in some instances, as you say, but I don't think in many. The reason that we have Crown corporations in the first place is to provide a cheap service, often, though certainly not always, cheaper than private industry could provide. In the case of the ferry service, not knowing the books I couldn't say for sure, but I expect that the ferry is being run at cost or at a loss, and the loss would be considered simply the cost of providing a benefit to those that depend on it.

Classic free market arguments would have that all services be delivered by the private sector, and I understand the rationale - if it is worthwhile people will happily or grudgingly pay the price. However, we in Canada have made some decisions to offer some services outside of the profit mandate because those services make other things possible. For instance, we don't have private city streets because providing streets for free allows cities to do business more easily and make life easier for residents.

For example, I would argue that cities should provide free public transportation. It would be expensive, and naturally covered by taxes, but the spinoff benefits might well be worth it. The poor that predominantly use the system would save money and more people would use it. And more people on buses means fewer cars, which means lighter traffic, less pollution, quieter cities. These benefits might not add up in an accounting sheet, but they might well be worth at least an experiment.

Oops, got sidetracked there; back to topic. Whether the Canadian government has too many Crown corporations is a good question, but reducing their number would not remove the problem I wrote about in this post. Private companies are no less prone to greed, theft, and abuse - WorldComm, Enron, the list is endless.

Valid points all around, proving the double edged sword for the option. I do understand why we have crown corps. and I do like the free transit system for cities idea. A great way to help the environment.
I am going out on a limb, and feel free to flame on it, but what do you think of an auditing group made up of the opposition party with specific guidelines for spending limits. THe opposition party would have the power to fire CEOs and other execs who go beyond what is expected. Of course, severence packages would be more realistic of a typical civil servent (isn't it one weeks pay per year of service after serving a minimum of 20 years? "the old militia gratuity formula"). Having the opposition with this power, Execs would have to keep a close eye on what they spend or find themselves with very little.

Just a thought.

Hey Kevvyd,

Sorry, hadn't been back to see the chain continue... I wasn't taking a crack at your question; instead, it was more my frustration with processes (or lack thereof).

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