As Canada’s 150th birthday draws near, here’s a look at some of the more unusual projects governments have spent money on to celebrate the event.
A red couch travels the country: $155,000
Coming soon to a city near you: a red couch you can sit on and tell the camera what Canada means to you. Or go online to watch videos of Canadians offer their two cents (spare change presumably found between the cushions).
Handmade in Winnipeg, the one-of-a-kind couch travelling via an RV from coast to coast to coast was one of 38 signature projects chosen from 387 applicants that the federal government opted to fund to celebrate Canada’s 150th.
So what return did Canadian taxpayers get for their $155,000? As of last count, 57 video testimonials posted on YouTube—only three of which have achieved more than 100 views.
The artists behind the couch project have argued the money is worth it: “Canada spends tons of money on public opinion polls to try and figure out what we like and don’t like, and it’s $155,000—which is a drop in the bucket, really. This is probably the most important public poll that we undertake in a sense,” Ela Kinowska told iPolitics.
A giant rubber duck: $121,000
Ontario’s provincial government was willing to spend money like water, as was made evident by a $121,000 grant towards the rental of a 19m-tall, 13,600-kg rubber duck that will float around at an upcoming waterfront festival in Toronto.
Add in allegations from a Dutch artist, who says the duck coming to Canada is a counterfeit of his own creation, and the whole thing sounds too crazy to believe. Next up in the fiasco: upset Ontarians sending 797 tiny rubber ducks to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office as part of the “Duck Off Queen’s Park” protest campaign.
Branding Canada Ontario 150: $30,000
In case you got lost in all the excitement about Canada celebrating its 150th birthday, Ontario too is celebrating 150 years. The provincial government even paid $30,000 for an official log to mark the occasion.
— Ontario government (@ONgov) September 16, 2016
Why so much money? That’s the going rate, apparently, for the design, licensing and trademark of a logo. As for the design itself, the government told the Toronto Star it “makes it unique, personal and approachable—something that we know the millennial target values.”
Does frivolous spending also target that demographic?
Giant game of snakes and ladders: $416,000
Here’s the premise: turn parts of urban Calgary into a giant game of Snakes and Ladders.
Why? Canada 150.
The installation will use real-life city structures to turn the city into, as a press release says, “experiences that embody the ups and downs of the remarkable history that has built Calgary—from Indigenous Peoples to the discovery of oil to the surge of social entrepreneurship today.”
But half a million dollars? Watch out for the snake.