Trying not to get lost in the numbers in pork-barrel politics -

Trying not to get lost in the numbers in pork-barrel politics

Conservative ridings got more million-dollar projects, but it may not mean anything until the Tories release the real figures


A Halifax Chronicle HeraldOttawa Citizen report says 57 per cent of federal stimulus projects worth more than $1 million have been awarded to Conservative ridings. Since the Tories hold just 46 per cent of the seats in the House, that suggests they have funneled 23 per cent more big projects into their strongholds than would be expected if money was being spread evenly across the country. Still, the story raises questions. The government hasn’t released detailed figures, just a list of projects in four funding ranges—less than $100,000; $100,000 to $1 million; $1 million to $5 million; and more than $5 million. A government spokesman makes two claims that deserve follow-up attention, stating that most larger projects are actually in opposition seats and that a final tally will show “all regions are getting their fair share.” But take note: regions are different than ridings.

Halifax Chronicle-Herald

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Trying not to get lost in the numbers in pork-barrel politics

  1. Chances are the Tories will never reveal the real figures, and we'll only get a full report from the Auditor General long after it's too late to make a difference.

  2. An even more important piece of information is which ridings/regions actually submitted applications for funding – if no applications were submitted from Liberal/Bloc/NDP ridings what is the government to do? Or like Toronto that tried to get funding for projects that were clearly not eligible for funding and tried and tried and tried to make it a political issue and ended having to re-submit eligible projects for funding.

  3. Another useful piece of information would be how the employment rates have changed in the last two years in different ridings. I have no idea if urban centers or rural areas have been hit harder by the recession, but why should all parties ridings benefit equally if they did not all hurt equally. Similarly, the allegation is more damaging if Tory ridings were hurt the least. In my opinion it shows poor journalism that 1) The media outlets who did the initial investigation didn't bother we these questions, and 2) all the other media outlets that promoting the story aren't asking similar questions (Point 2 is directed at you Macleans)

    • Well, part of that question can be answered by the Conservative's own funding regulations for the stimulus money, that provinces and municipalities have to pony up some of the dough themselves. This means the opposite of what you're suggesting, because the ridings that hurt the least tend to be more capable of getting stimulus funding.

      • I wasn't suggesting, only asking for information. Craig, your point would be very useful in understanding the distribution, and relates to Maureen's point about applications. The point is, this nonsense about listing who got what tells us little of what we need to know to make an informed decision. Worse, it gives the false sense of presenting the facts that are necessary to understand if there is a skew in distribution from what it should be,

  4. If you look at the data by city, cities with a greater proportion of Tory MP's get less stimulus on average, controlling for population (and other factors). I suspect that the government spokesperson is right – most of the money is being spent in opposition held ground. Why? You spend money where you can pick up seats, not in places that will already vote for you. That's how you play politics.

    If you are interested in seeing my statistical results, refer to my blog.