“Blundering Bill” Morneau Blunders On

            Whatever the number of blunders Finance Minister Bill Morneau committed in the July roll out of his spurious private corporation tax assault, he added a bunch more to his overall total this week.

            It was revealed that he spent $388,573 on the cover designs for his two budget documents. Apparently the Harper government spent less than $1,500 on their last two.

            It was discovered that for the past two years he overlooked his ownership of a villa in France. This is really two blunders because he also forgot to mention that it’s held in a private corporation, the very type of entity that was the target of his vitriolic attack on small business. What hypocrisy!

            It was disclosed that he had not put his millions of dollars worth of Morneau Shepell shares into a blind trust, even though he was on record as saying that he would, and even though Prime Minister Trudeau decreed that cabinet ministers would be required to do so. Add arrogance to hypocrisy.

              When confronted on this, Morneau said he had “worked diligently and in great detail with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure that all my affairs were arranged appropriately and comply with the spirit and letter of the rules.” What a study in obfuscation; twenty-nine words conveying no useful information whatsoever, Morneau’s “diligence” “appropriateness” and “compliance” were on a par with those he applied in formulating his July tax changes and when he "forgot" about the chalet in France. His comment that he is in compliance with the spirit of the rules added farce to his hypocrisy and arrogance.

              Morneau joined the Prime Minister at a press conference in Stouffville, Ontario, during which (probably based on advice from an expensive image consultant) they both shed their jackets and rolled up their sleeves in an effort to look like a couple of hard-working ordinary Canadians. What they looked like was a couple of failed wannabees.

              Morneau finally agreed to dispose of his shares and put his other assets into a blind trust. But, by steadfastly refusing to admit that he should have done it two years ago and then publicly blurting “I don’t answer to journalists,” he managed to even turn doing the right thing into two more blunders.

 Trudeau’s Complicity

            Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also wrapped himself in hypocrisy, arrogance, and farce during this whole sorry episode by not insisting that Morneau live up to the standard that Trudeau himself had set during his campaign and that Morneau comply with the mandate letter all cabinet ministers received. Trudeau also refused to say when he learned about Morneau’s flagrant disobedience.

            It is to be hoped that both Trudeau and Morneau have finally learned that what landed them in this hot water was not about rules and loopholes, it was about integrity.

Verlander or Morris?

            I’ve been watching major league baseball on TV and in person for over six decades and I’ve never seen a better-pitched game than Houston’s Justin Verlander’s 2-1 complete game victory over the New York Yankees last Saturday. Not only did he demolish the 100-pitch myth by throwing 124, but an astounding 75% of them were strikes. He gave up only five hits, struck out 13, and walked only one.

            A friend challenged me, referencing Jack Morris’ outstanding 1991 performance in which he pitched a ten-inning 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

            Of course, I was aware of Morris’ epic game, but for some reason I didn’t see it. As October 27, 1991, was a Sunday night, and at that time I was travelling a lot on business, I was probably on an airplane heading somewhere for a Monday morning meeting. In any event, I decided to do some research and compare the performances.

            Norris threw 126 pitches, gave up seven hits, walked two, and struck out ten. I couldn’t find a strikes/balls ratio, but given that Verlander had more strike-outs, fewer walks, and fewer hits, and two less pitches, it’s likely that his 75% is higher than Morris’.

            Comparing the two outings, Verlander is ahead on hits, walks and strike-outs, and probably ahead on strikes/balls ratio. Morris threw two more pitches, went an inning longer, and gave up one less run. It’s pretty hard to pick the better performance on that information. But there’s another factor.

            Morris’ game attracted a lot of attention, but it was because of the number of innings, not the number of pitches. On the other hand, in this era of starting pitchers disappearing like morning mist after 100 pitches, a total of 124 in a tight World Series game is unheard of.

            Even if I’d seen Morris’ game, I’d probably still rank Verlander’s as being better.