Maybe it's just my natural streak of cynicism acting up, but when a "senior official" of government tells me that something isn't a sovereignty issue it makes me think that it actually is.
In efforts to slash the regulatory red tape that's slowing Canadian productivity down, Ottawa plans to make sweeping changes to the way it regulates business, reports The Globe and Mail.
The newspaper obtained a draft copy of a report called Smart Regulation -- a 40-point action plan that will streamline Canada's regulatory approval processes with the U.S. in areas such as drugs and biotechnology.
The plan also aims to speed up environmental assessments of business projects.
There's a trick that residents of Ontario will recognize since it was almost an art form under the Harris government. When you have a number of controversial measures to pass, you jam as many of them as possible into one big, fat package and ram them through as quickly as possible. It denies everyone the opportunity of properly studying each item to see what the real implications are.
Part of the report will be harmonizing "consensus standards" with the U.S., and eliminating small differences in the way Canada regulates products and services with its biggest trading partner.
It's interesting to note that this comes hard on the heels of John Manley and Tom d'Aquino doing their latest PR push for Fortress North America and in the same week that Dithers is due to sit down with George Bush and Mexican President Vincente Fox to talk about NAFTA+. The Liberals wouldn't be laying the ground work for something before actually explaining the whole plan and giving us a chance to have our say, would they? Naw, not the Liberals.
Ottawa insists the report is not a deregulation exercise, and that it won't cut corners and compromise the health and safety of Canadians, reports The Globe.
I wonder why they felt it necessary to even mention compromising health and safety? You see what I mean about that cynical streak?
A senior official also told The Globe that changes in regulations will have to be handled carefully because of political sensitivities, and points out that this is not a sovereignty issue.
Watch what they do, not what they say.
Given Dithers' history of strategic leaks, I suppose it's always possible that this is just PR to impress Bush and the whole thing will fade away after this week. But this bears watching. Very closely.