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Canada: Where Taxpayers Reward Failure

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They aren't exactly scandals, though in some ways all of them are scandalous.

If they happened in other countries, it'd be ho-hum stuff. For some reason we in Canada are always a bit bemused when the happen, though Lord know why -- we've had lots of examples over the years.

But it's becoming more common. Or so it seems.

We have former cabinet minister Helen Guergis suing the prime minister and a bunch of others for various disreputable allegations about her, which she says are false and got her bounced as minister; $1.3 million in damages might soothe her ego.

Then we have Col. Bernard Ouelette suing DND and other officers for $6.2 million after he was dismissed from command in Haiti over allegations of inappropriate behaviour with a (female) UN person.

And finally there is the former CEO of the Ornge ambulance service, Dr. Chris Mazza, who weeps at appropriate moments defending himself ("I did the best I could") as to why Ornge went rogue with speedboat purchases and other money wasting ventures -- with him drawing a big salary and getting $1.4 million severance.

All different, but all very Canadian these days.

Guergis problems began when her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, was charged with cocaine possession. Allegations were that he used her office for various dealings. She was banned from caucus and the PM wouldn't sign her nomination papers, with no reason given.

Nothing has been proved against Guergis, and it seems she was treated in a rather churlish and dismissive way by the PM who, it must be admitted, has every right to replace any cabinet minister without necessarily giving an explanation.

Guergis may have been treated badly, even unfairly, but it's hard to see the PM losing on this one. But with our courts, one never knows.

The same goes for Col. Ouelette. He was certainly the target for smirky allegations and innuendo when the news of his supposed "inappropriate" behaviour in Haiti came out.

It can't have pleased his wife of 28 years and, if untrue, the colonel has a case since his career was stalled and perhaps torpedoed by the allegations. His suit against DND is so unusual, that one is tempted to assume it's valid, since it will be resurrected in court.

Anyway, anything approaching a $6.2 million judgment in his favor would more than compensate his failing to be promoted to brigadier-general or beyond.

As for Mazza -- what can one say?

Here's another case of a CEO managing a company that loses all sorts of money in efforts to be profitable while running a non-profit helicopter ambulance service.

Probably Mazza did have a free rein, and probably the provincial Health Ministry indicated they were satisfied with his "leadership." But it became something of a bad joke. Yet he got paid handsomely.

Too often one reads of CEOs of failing or disappointing companies, and getting fancy bonuses and lavish compensation when they leave. If not salaries, certainly bonuses should hinge on performance.

Often, it seems, failure in the public sector gets handsome rewards, which means it's the taxpayer who foots the bill. And as evident in polls, it's small wonder that the public holds politicians in such low esteem -- even lower than they hold journalists!