Sunday, October 28, 2007

Manley Wants You

I saw a few clips of Dion's performance before the Press Gallery dinner last night, the reviews appear to be kind. The best moment I saw, when Dion went into his bag and brought one of John Manley's business cards, rolled his eyes and then threw it over his shoulder. A funny moment, but the symbolism was perfect, sending another message to the press that this panel is a public relations exercise, at taxpayer expense.

Apparently, the Manley panel is set to launch a website, to solicite opinions from Canadians:
John Manley's Afghanistan panel is setting up a website to take written submissions from the public, the head of a Canadian development group said Saturday.

The panel has said it had no plans for public hearings, but Gerry Barr, president of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, said the website will allow for public input.

Barr and representatives of about a dozen other Canadian aid groups met Manley and his panel on Saturday. They were told an Internet site will be running soon and will accept comments and recommendations.

"Plainly, if they put their address on the website and ask for submissions, they're going to get them from the general public," Barr said.

I can't wait to leave a comment, and I suggest other people do the same. It makes sense to solicite the opinion of ordinary Canadians, because after all, we have just as much expertise, or lack thereof, to speak on the subject as the panelists. I guess a quick draft of my thoughts would go something like this:

I'm sure the panel is aware that the average yearly income for a Afghan citizen is $260 dollars. Given the fact that the Prime Minister has already articulated his vision for the future mission in Afghanistan, rendering the supposed four options considered irrelevant, do you worry that the complete lack of credibility the panel enjoys comes at taxpayer expense?

Mr. Manley is being paid $1400 dollars a day, the other four in the neighbourhood of $800. Rough math, around $5000 a day, $25000 a week just for the panelists. The panel is too conclude at the end of January, which is roughly 15 weeks, with some holiday time included. That translates to around $375000 just to cover the five member panel. I understand some office space has been rented, obviously the website, staff for each of the panelists, travel expenses for hearings, surely a trip to Afghanistan, overhead, mundane expenses, etc, etc. Just to hazard a guess, it seems reasonable to assume the overall cost of this exercise will run into the millions. Let's just say 3 million, which is probably conservative, for arguments sake.

Back to my original comment, at a per capita income of $260 for Afghans, your panel's expenditure is the equivalent of 11538 Afghans total yearly income. I guess the question for the panel, is a public relations exercise, which has already been undercut by the government, panned by the opposition, held in suspision by the media, an efficient use of taxpayers money, when the money squandered could be used to influence the lives of the people we claim to protect? I recommend the panel immediately disband, and dismiss the vanity exercise that amounts to nothingness, then asks the government to re-direct the propaganda money to Afghanistan, with full knowledge that it will contribute to the ultimate goal the panel supposedly ponders.



Susan said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Off the topic...but can you link the clips of Dion at last night's Press Gallery Dinner you saw?

Karen said...

Well done Steve. I took this in a different direction yesterday, but I have to say, you make a succint argument.

You know, thinking about your scenario, I imagine there will be much consultation with experts on the region, (who in my view should have made up a panel, in the first place, if one was needed at all) and they don't come cheap. Not to mention, if Harper had kept the review in Committee meetings, these people could have been called there.

It'll be interesting to see exactly what his site is.

btw, I thought networks including cpac was supposed to broadcast the Press Gallery dinner. Odd, Dion finally get's good reviews and no one sees it.

Steve V said...

I saw some clips on Question Period, they might be available on the CTV site.

"I imagine there will be much consultation with experts on the region"

As opposed to the five people on the panel ;)

Steve V said...


Here's the CTV link, around 3 minutes they show Dion:


Karen said...

Thanks for the clip Steve. I'd like to see Dion throughout his speech, but you did see the man.

Layton....well, we all knew he was a huckster.

Harper....a chicken, but no one would say it. Gawd they adore him.

Fife was refreshingly honest, though obviously protecting the PM.

Taber, didn't have the fortitude to attend. she was sooo afraid that it might be a Harper-bashing moment and that just would not do.

Steve V said...

"Layton....well, we all knew he was a huckster"

Apparently, Layton wasn't planning on taking the stage, but changed his mind after Dion took a dig, saying he wasn't the only "one abstaining".

Red Tory said...

Layton would make a great auctioneer! Too bad that’s a role more suited for Conservatives. ;)

Dion’s casually tossing Manley’s business card over his shoulder was priceless. I’d love to get a YouTube clip of that.