Tag Archives: government-waste

Gas company critics are hypocrites

Think the Quebec government isn’t doing enough with its time to pass meaningless laws that don’t change anything?

Well, I give you Bill 41: “An Act to foster transparency in the sale of gasoline and diesel fuel.” This bill will do two things:

  1. Force gas companies to justify increases to gas prices at the pump
  2. Force gas companies to display the minimum gas price calculated by the Quebec Energy Board at the pump.

This will accomplish two things:

  1. Waste a lot of time
  2. Waste a lot of money

It’s a stupid solution to a stupid problem. You see, Quebecers (and most North Americans) hate the sky-high gas prices they see at the pump every day when they fill up their car to go to work. They reject the idea of supply and demand and want the government to do something about it. Change the laws of economics I guess.

But they also care about the environment and want the government to step in to do something about that too.

News flash folks: the No. 1 deterrent to carbon-emitting wasteful motor vehicle use is high gas prices. It’s fair, it’s self-regulating and it’s transparent.

Yes, it’s a bummer for suburban soccer moms who use their gas-guzzling minivans to bring kids to school. And it sucks for the transportation industry, which will increase the price on goods (and especially fruits and vegetables). But it’s still the best method available.

The ADQ has quickly panned on the idea (not because they don’t pander to the lowest common denominator, but because they can easily criticize a plan without offering any better solutions). If they can convince the PQ, that’ll put an end to the bill.

Greener doesn’t mean green

Meanwhile, a think tank has argued that a federal “freebate” program, which offers economic incentive for people to buy less-polluting cars, needs to be extended to pickup trucks.

This program isn’t as obviously stupid as the Quebec gas plan, but it’s based on a faulty assumption: That the economic incentive will cause people to buy vehicle X who would otherwise buy gas-guzzling vehicle Y. That may be true for some people, but others will probably choose to buy a cheap hybrid car they can afford instead of not buying a car at all. That will have a net negative impact on the environment.

The problem is that while many of these cars are better for the environment than their non-hybrid, fully-gasoline powered cousins, they are not good for the environment compared to public transit, biking, walking and other methods of getting around.

If you’re interested in a zero-emissions car, you can look at Zenn Motor Company, which builds zero-emission, no-noise cars in Quebec. But their cars weren’t even legal in Canada until this month.

These are the kinds of vehicles that have to be promoted, not Toyota’s slightly-less-emissions hybrid car or a bus that runs on 3% biodiesel.

TWIM: Spacing Montreal and Princess Di

This week’s blog is Spacing Montreal, which quietly started this summer and formally launched last month. Since then it has quickly become one of my favourite blogs about the city (even earning a coveted spot on my Montreal blogroll). It has posts in both languages, good stories paired with good photos, and it sticks to its theme. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out.

Also this week from me in the paper (but not online) is an explainer on the Princess Di inquiry going on in Britain. You can read all about the circumstances of her death (including two investigations from two different countries both concluding there was no supersecret government conspiracy) in this Wikipedia article. Say what you want about Europe’s better ideas on governing, but at least our inquiries are about government conspiracies that actually happened.

Get drunk in Outremont

Parties at Outremont borough hall are about to become a lot less entertaining. The media had a field day today with revelations from a concerned citizen that the borough is spending thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on scotch and other booze for elected officials. The city is now investigating whether anything improper occurred.

The story hit the fan this morning as a result of an exclusive investigative scoop by La Presse … uhh, I mean an exclusive investigative scoop by Le Devoir. In reality, it was just some guy who bothered to read the borough’s financial documents where the booze money is clearly spelled out.

Outremont mayor Stéphane Harbour is, of course, taking full responsibility now that he’s realized the media thinks what he’s doing is wrong. And while he never worked very closely with the abused intern disgraced aide booze, he realizes that the buck stops with him and he’s going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Somehow I doubt this will be the end of waste in spending by municipal governments.

UPDATE (Sept. 28): Outremont invites journalists to see the booze in question, though L’Express d’Outremont, the local community paper, is peeved that they weren’t invited.

UPDATE (Oct. 1): Looking at small-government budgets is really the gift that keeps on giving. RadCan has another “EXCLUSIVE” on expensive Christmas parties paid for by the borough.

UPDATE (Oct. 9): The Toronto Star has a story summarizing the situation.

UPDATE (Oct. 12): SEE YA!