24 July 2006

Has anyone seen Hedley Lamarr?

Not even two weeks ago, the planted callers on radio call-in shows were reading from their prepared lines and telling us that the province did not need to waste untold millions on a public inquiry into the financial mess at the House of Assembly.

Now this week, Auditor General John Noseworthy told the people of Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday that his mulligan/snipe hunt at the House of Assembly will require his hiring new staff.

He also said that to repeat what appears to be the same work he has largely already done will take an unknown number of months beyond November of this year.

Some people seem to want to cast the local auditor general as some sort of hero from a Western, like a character from the Hollywood version of the Seven Samurai. What we have instead - apparently from script-writers employed by government - has been more like The Magnificent Seven Column Pad.

Following the latest script from on high, Noseworthy gave nothing at his news conference if not further reason for the government to appoint a Royal Commission of inquiry into the spending scandal itself.

Noseworthy also gives an excellent reason to have the Royal Commission review the entire government response to the scandal over the past month or so.

As for Noseworthy, let's give him a rest while Sheila Fraser - the real "best auditor general in the land" - takes a look at both the House of Assembly and at Noseworthy's office. As The Telegram editorial noted last week, the sort of audits needed in this case are considerably more complex than merely adding up numbers and dealing only with overspending, as appears to be the case for Noseworthy's work.

The House of Assembly scandal involves more than mere overspending. It involves considerably more mis-spending than the grudge match Noseworthy likes to mention, especially in light of public admissions of dubious spending of parliamentary accounts by two current and one former cabinet minister and the Speaker of the House himself.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve considerably better than they have been offered these past four weeks by the elected members of the House of Assembly. They deserve justice of the kind handed down by a pale rider or a preacher.

Instead, they seem to be getting endless repetitions of the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles.