‘Canadians’ tax dollars are precious’

Jim Flaherty, Nov. 27We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts during tougher times without looking in the mirror. Canadians have a right to look to government as an example. We have a responsibility to show restraint and respect for their money. Canadians’ tax dollars are precious. They must not be spent frivolously or without regard to where they came from.

Canadian Press, today. The Harper government spent well over $100,000 staging a one-hour event in June to deliver an update on its efforts to help the recession-ravaged economy. Invoices obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act show a nominal bill to taxpayers of $108,000 for the carefully scripted “town hall” meeting in Cambridge, Ont … Some $30,000 was spent on audio visual equipment and staging, another $10,000 was spent buying the rights to use photos and web images and almost $50,000 went toward printing glossy copies of a 234-page Economic Action Plan “report card.” Another $5,700 went to an outside editing service and more than $3,300 was spent on a communications firm. Almost $10,000 was spent on airfare, ground transport and hotels for some 20 individuals who flew in from Ottawa, not including their meal expenses … The invoices don’t cover the cost of the use by Harper and his staff of the government’s Challenger jet to get to Cambridge, about an hour’s flight from Ottawa. In opposition, Harper and other Conservatives repeatedly said the jets cost about $11,000 an hour to operate.




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‘Canadians’ tax dollars are precious’

  1. But… but it doesn't matter how the money is spent, as long as it is spent! That's basic Keynes. You just don't understand economics!

    Seriously though, this is ludicrous. It dovetails nicely with the big cheque scandal as well. If the opposition can't make hay with this, they aren't trying.

    • I want to see the Prime Minister.

      He is the PM of all Canadians and I reject this notion that he should be holed up in Ottawa and not get out and see Canadians and talk to them.

      Could they be doing this cheaper ? I don't know, these events DO tend to cost money. And i'm no expert in the economics of event management. Just throwing out the dollar figure without context doesn't seem useful.

  2. "Those costs didn't include expenses for Senator Mike Duffy, who hosted the show and led a question-and-answer session with the 300 invited guests."

    Imagine if those were factored in. Diesel hoists, rain barrels of Chardonnay and troughs of foie gras, custom-made bedding from Cambridge Tent and Awning…

    • "…custom-made bedding from Cambridge Tent and Awning…"

      LOL…

  3. Resign.

  4. And the story is so nicely juxtaposed against the devastating and incriminating quote from Flaherty last year. Blogging at its most brilliant, such an ingenious and insightful way to analyze politics. Wherry should do this more often…

    YAWN.

    • Derisive dismissals? Are you Stephen's speechwriter?

  5. Good idea and maybe we could also see some restrictions on the CBC budget espousing their political views.

    • Did they stage an economic update too? Dreadful…appalling waste of taxpayers money. Er…what has that got to do with this topic? Or did you mean they had the nerve to cover it? It's unlikely they were invited, don't you think?

    • Actually I am just trying to get you guys to use your imagination so you will understand why the CPC feel they must use their funds to pay for ads and to bill the taxpayer for an economic update that the Liberals insisted they give if they wanted to continue to have the confidence of the House.

      You know that outrage you guys have felt the past couple weeks because you don`t think MacLeans and Wells are giving your party a fair shake—-well that`s how the CPC feel about the publicly funded CBC 365 days a year. So just think of the money spent on this update as going a small way to balancing things. That`s $100,000 spent against the $1,000,000,000 plus subsidy to CBC.

      • Actually [he says smugly i didn't complain. I think the macleans coverage is pretty fair overall ] So you claim everything the CBC does is biased right? And all this advertising was forced on the CPoC because of that bias. Is parliament also biased? Are all the other news outlets biased. That has to be the most pathetic excuse you've yet come up with in defense of your party. But it is consistent…consistently paranoid. Tell me.Did you get that one from the same source the as the" bureaucrats made us do it" beaut?

        • I am not a member of any political party and I am not offering excuses but rather explanations to ultra-partisans like you.

          Some facts:
          The one party that will restrict the ever expanding budget of the CBC is the CPC.
          The CBC knows that and would like to see the Libs or NDP in power.
          Their coverage of politics reflects that wish.
          The CPC uses paid for ads and non-CBC events to get the message out.
          Political events outside of Ottawa are good for national unity.
          If these events bother the Libs so much they could rescind their demand for the updates.
          The Libs may want to consider having similar events—a good choice to MC such an event would be the future Senator Wherry.

          • LOL Neither am i a member of any party. So what, that's your" i am not a partisan card"? Your partisan slip shows with almost every post you make.
            Libs have cut CBC budget – more tan once.
            Subjective opinion – not fact.
            CPC uses paid adds. – thats the problem, they don't pay for them.
            No arguement if the events promote the GoC not the CPoc on our dime.
            No way Steve would give up those now – Ignatieff's mistake.
            Non-sequitor – Libs are the opposition not the Govt of the day. If you hate wherry so much why are you here? Oh right because you aren't a hyper partisan…right.

      • Actually [he says smugly - i didn't complain. I think the macleans coverage is pretty fair overall ] So you claim everything the CBC does is biased right? And all this advertising was forced on the CPoC because of that bias. Is parliament also biased? Are all the other news outlets biased. That has to be the most pathetic excuse you've yet come up with in defense of your party. But it is consistent…consistently paranoid. Tell me.Did you get that one from the same source the as the -" bureaucrats made us do it" – beaut?

      • So what you're saying is you want the government to fund ANOTHER station in addition to CBC?

  6. And that's just one event. Imagine the stories that are going to come from the dozens and dozens of these photo ops all through the summer, not to mention the obscenely expensive ads.

    This will make AdScam look like a walk in the park.

    • Adscam – the Liberals diverted Government of Canada funds into the coffers of the LIberal Party of Canada. Like they were entitled to it. It was high corruption. Canadians, and Quebecers, will never ever forget about Adscam. It constituted the most outrageous and repulsive behavior. I highly doubt anyone will ever stoop to those depths ever again.

      • Where's your verification of the claim you keep repeating about Sponsorship funds going to the Liberal Party?

        • Jarrid rarely provides any actual evidence for his claims. It's why no-one at macleans takes anything he has to say seriously…oh its just Jarrid, yawn!

          • Yeah, I was kind of getting that idea, but after reading this item – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/andrew-steel… – it occured to me that letting these 'inconsistencies' slip by could give them some credibility.

          • You fellows just start following the news last year?

            A complex web of transactions among Public Works and Government Services Canada, Crown Corporations and communication agencies, involving kickbacks and illegal contributions to a political party in the context of the sponsorship program. Five agencies that received large sponsorship contracts regularly channelling money, via legitimate donations or unrecorded cash gifts, to political fundraising activities in Quebec, with the expectation of receiving lucrative government contracts.
            Certain agencies carrying individuals on their payrolls, who were, in effect, working on Liberal Party matters.

            http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

            I'm not claiming that this justifies wasteful spending by any subsequent government – because it doesn't – but let's not pretend that adscam was simply wasteful spending; it was theft, on a large scale organized and directed from the Prime Minister's own office. Premature revisionism, fellas.

          • kcm an knick: "Our Liberal Party of Canada didn't really divert Government of Canada funds to the Liberal Party of Canada coffers did they? It's all in Jarrid's mind."

            Sorry folks, I appreciate that Adscam got a lot more airplay in Quebec where much of diversion of funds to the LIberal Party occurred but these facts are beyond dispute.

            I bet knick and kcm are also unaware that Adscam in part accounts for the fact that in many Quebec ridings the Liberals lose their deposits in elections because they garner support in the single digits.

            kcm writing posts like the one above doesn't do much for your credibility I'm afraid.

          • Dude, if you are seriously trying to suggest that there was no kickback component to Adscam, then you've just managed to out-Jarrid Jarrid. Congratulations.

          •  IntenseDebate Notification <DIV>Gomery was biased against Chretien. But the evidenceis the evidence and it is undisputed. </DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV>The liberal party went far beyond being merely wasteful into wholesale theft of public funds. </DIV> <DIV></DIV> <DIV>I can understand why you want to forget this. But you'll never get me to forget it. </DIV> <DIV>

          • "in the sense that no Liberals have gone to jail."

            I should have said that no Liberals have gone to jail yet because Benoit Corbeil is still awaiting sentencing.

          •  Gomery was biased against Chretien. But the evidenceis the evidence and it is undisputed. The liberal party went far beyond being merely wasteful into wholesale theft of public funds. I can understand why you want to forget this. But you'll never get me to forget it.

            Gomery was stupid to let his personal feelings about Chretien become an issue. In a criminal trial it would have been enough to get Chretien off. But this wasn't a criminal trial, it was a public inquiry. As a member of the public, I am completely satisfied by the evidence that Chretien launched a criminal enterprise to the benefit of the Liberal Party. Your party "got away" with a large-scale theft in the sense that no Liberals have gone to jail. But your party also is bearing the costs of choosing to protect and harbour the theives among you. And you'll continue you to bear that cost for decades to come.

            The legal system failed to convict any of you. But the voters aren't ready to forget about yet. And every attempt you make to revise history is just another opportunity to set the facts straight. If I were a Liberal, I'd just shut up about it already.

          •  Gomery was biased against Chretien. But the evidence is the evidence and it is undisputed. The liberal party went far beyond being merely wasteful into wholesale theft of public funds. I can understand why you want to forget this. But you'll never get me to forget it.

            Gomery was stupid to let his personal feelings about Chretien become an issue. In a criminal trial it would have been enough to get Chretien off. But this wasn't a criminal trial, it was a public inquiry. As a member of the public, I am completely satisfied by the evidence that Chretien launched a criminal enterprise to the benefit of the Liberal Party. Your party "got away" with a large-scale theft in the sense that no Liberals have gone to jail. But your party also is bearing the costs of choosing to protect and harbour the theives among you. And you'll continue to bear that cost for decades to come.

            The legal system failed to convict any of you. But the voters aren't ready to forget about yet. And every attempt you make to revise history is just another opportunity to set the facts straight. If I were a Liberal, I'd just shut up about it already.

          •  Gomery was biased against Chretien. But the evidence is the evidence and it is undisputed. The liberal party went far beyond being merely wasteful into wholesale theft of public funds. I can understand why you want to forget this. But you'll never get me to forget it.

            Gomery was stupid to let his personal feelings about Chretien become an issue. In a criminal trial it would have been enough to get Chretien off. But this wasn't a criminal trial, it was a public inquiry. As a member of the public, I am completely satisfied by the evidence that Chretien launched a criminal enterprise to the benefit of the Liberal Party. Your party "got away" with a large-scale theft in the sense that no Liberals have gone to jail. But your party also is bearing the costs of choosing to protect and harbour the thieves among you. And you'll continue to bear that cost for decades to come.

            The legal system failed to convict any of you. But the voters aren't ready to forget about yet. And every attempt you make to revise history is just another opportunity to set the facts straight. If I were a Liberal, I'd just shut up about it already.

      • "I highly doubt anyone will ever stoop to those depths ever again. "

        Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

        Wait – You were serious?
        Dude – this is politics. All sorts of fingers are in all sorts of cookie jars!
        The question is – Who will not be careful enough, and get busted!

      • "I highly doubt anyone will ever stoop to those depths ever again. "

        Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

        Wait – You were serious?
        Dude – this is politics. All sorts of fingers are in all sorts of cookie jars!
        The question is – Who will not be careful enough, and get busted?

  7. THE HARPER GOVT IS NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT HASN'T BEEN DONE BEFORE. I AM NOT SUPPORTING IT BUT WISH THAT REPORTING WOULD BE EVEN AND FAIR I LIVE IN ON WHERE THE GOVT HAS BLOWN 1 BILLION ON E HEALTH FIRED A CEO AND THE POLITICIANS INCLUDING THE PREMIER HIDE IN THE OUTHOUSE. I KNOW THAT SOME MINISTERS RESIGNED BUT THE MAIN ONES JUST CRUISE ALONG AND AVOID ANY PENALTIES OR PUNISHMENT

    • Dude, your caps lock is stuck in the on position.

      • That doesn't explain the lack of punctuation.

        • Nor the inability to distinguish federal and provincial governments.

    • Ladies and gentlemen, a man after my own heart. Eric here clearly understands that essential internet axiom: caps lock is cruise control for cool.

      • I just thought he was tring to shout down the internet web thingy.

    • Eric, we could only hope for the press to cover Say Anything Steve's pork the way they have covered eHealth with daily coverage of well over a month now, in depth independent analysis, multiple articles per day, questions to every minister as well as the PM whenever they are being interviewed and especially when scrummed.

      Canadians can only hope for a modicum of that type of coverage for Say Anything's Cheque Republic.

      • Jeez, move over Feschuk—you guys are really funeee.

        Actually, If you guys really feel strongly about gov`t spending then you should understand that there has been 10,000 as many dollars spent on the E Health scandal ( that`s 1,000,000,000 dollars ) and no improvement in health care in Ontario.

        • $1B? That's not nearly as Say Anything Harper's own brewing eHealth scandal.

          "The eHealth scandal in Ontario that recently rocked the provincial government may have been a dress rehearsal for its larger counterpart at the federal level.

          The troubled Canada Health Infoway Inc., which like its provincial cousin is trying to convert medical records into electronic form, gets a long-awaited report card next month from the auditor general of Canada.

          And so far, the prognosis is poor for the secretive agency, which has already swallowed $1.6 billion of federal money and was promised $500 million more this year by Health Canada."

          • Thanks for the link Ted—-it`s hard to keep up with these gov`t waste scandals. I see where this Health Canada Infoway began way back in 2001 and if it shows that today`s federal gov`t were not doing their job by removing the deadwood in Infoway in 2006, then we should find out why.

        • In case you haven't been paying attention – we're talking "Federal" government here.

          • Read Ted`s link carefully OT—it talks about a federal E-Health scandal in 2001 when your Libs were in the middle of their 13 year run.

          • Un, not quite, William.

            The "scandal" didn't start in 2001. The program was initially set up then. We don't know what happened between 2001 and 2006. We know a little bit more about what happened between 2006 and 2009 under Harper. For example, he chose to exempt the federal eHealth from the Accountability Act. That was his choice.

            No doubt, Say Anything Steve is going to blame everyone and pass the buck to everyone except himself for this brewing scandal, most especially the Liberals. If this was 2006 or maybe even 2007 he might even get away with something like that. But he has been in charge of Infoway now for 3 years, has made decisions that lessened its accountability and oversight, and has had plenty of time now to take corrective action.

            Besides which, for him to try to pass the buck once again and duck responsibility for his own government, feeds two themes/narratives: (1) too partisan for the good of the nation; (2) not willing to take responsibility for governing and blame others (eg.: medical isotopes, Raitt's confidential binder, the recent detainee memo, Maumood, body bags, etc. always someone else's fault)

          • Shelia Fraser gave " a highly critical 2002 report ". It seems that the initial set-up design of this group was lacking.
            Hopefully the next report will be out soon and if the CPC are also responsible for time and money waste with this E-Health scam then they should receive an equal a$$-kicking as the previous gov`t.

            I am sick and tired of gov`ts allowing non-medical people using medicare as their cash cow while no new doctors or technicians are available. Folks are still waiting months for a biopsy or MRI while consultants hire more consultants.

  8. Unfortunately the Auditor General's report is not due until next fall – unless Stevie tries to get rid of that position before then too.

    • Seems like just about every other bureaucrat in the federal government has buckled and is now an pbedient servant of the regime. Why would the Auditor General act any differently?

  9. "The Harper government spent well over $100,000 staging a one-hour event in June to deliver an update on its efforts to help the recession-ravaged economy"

    Let's see now. Following the logic of some of the conservative supporter's club on here lately this would be…Ignatieff's fault…or maybe the coalitions…since they forced Harper to spend, spend, spend.

    • Ignatieff did make those ridiculous "report cards" a condition of his supporting the budget.

      I mean, c'mon, you DID walk right into that one..

      • It's definitely Ignatieff's fault for not specifying that the reports would have to be delivered in the House and not at staged events that cost $108,000 plus 'incidentals'.

        • Actually, it did require Harper to report to the House. Which he eventually did, after he got the media to cover his story with his lines and no opposition questions interfering with his marketing.

          Which makes the $108,000 even more wasteful and more clearly about making it a Tory ad at taxpayer expense.

      • Er…no Jesse, actually you just walked right into that one. Sorry! Next time i'll post a heading for you: Beware: some posts may be ironic.

  10. $5,700 for outside editing.

    Cheap at half the price (snicker)

  11. $108,000 on a report that should have been given in the House where, unlike these Harper show-and-tells, questions would be asked, lots and lots of questions.

    • Exactly why it couldn't be in the House.

  12. Positive news on the economy is good for the economy. It spurs investment, risk taking and liquidity of capital.

    Of course what is really irking Harper's detractors is not the manner in which Harper delivered the message.

    It's the message itself and what it means to the Liberals.

    While the Liberals complain, another 30,000 jobs were created this past month.

    • Hmmmm, by that logic the Liberals shouldn't have had to face the music for their financial indiscretions as the economy was in a boom at the time.

      I don't buy it. Misuse of the public purse should always be called out.

      • I think I understand Biff when he says positive economic PR is good for the economy but would you explain how "financial indiscretions " ( Adscam corruption ) is good for the economy.

        • I didn't say it was good for the economy. I am glad Paul Martin called the inquiry into it and the whole debacle was dealt with. Let me ask you, should misuse of tax payer funds be ignored or swept aside just because it *may* also have a positive (no matter how minute) effect on the economy?

    • "While the Liberals complain, another 30,000 jobs were created this past month "

      link please.

      • http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/10/16/econowatch-28/

        This very website, only a few links down from this one. 31,000 last month. Actually, the Cons could be claiming 48,000, since the private sector lost 17,000 jobs.

        Now, this is the level of publicly funded jobs we should have seen months ago, but better late then never, and this is a significant amount of job creation.

        • Unfortunately, if you read the details of those numbers, the public sector jobs went way up and the private sector jobs went down.

          So Harper continues to expand the government while the engine of the economy, the private market, sputters. Worse, with this kind of job creation, you don't magically ease out of a deficity as Harper keeps telling us.

          And that is not even to mention that to get 31,000 increased jobs, your part time jobs have gone way up and your full time positions are flat or down.

          In other words, looks good on paper.

          • Bah, saying that the public economy can't prop up the private economy, and that government spending only leads to an artificial and unsustainable recovery is heresy. Heresy I tell you! Burn for doubting the holy Keynes!

            Seriously though, you can't borrow and spend your way out of of a recession, especially when the cause of the recession is a collapse of a credit market.

          • Actually, while the trend has been from full-time to part-time jobs, this month is went the opposite direction – full-time jobs were created, part-time jobs were lost.

            I'm not trying to defend Harper's economic policy here, I'm really not a fan, but yes, they have created 31,000 jobs this month.

    • “Positive news on the economy is good for the economy”

      Sounds vaguely Stalinist to me, I am expecting to hear this any day now: “Bottle opener production in the past quarter has exceeded quotas due to our comrades Stakhanovite attitude”

  13. Worst Conservatives EVER.

  14. merci beaucoup.

  15. I don't know if its just me, but it sounds like a lot of these new leads were supposed to be leaked to the media during the election. This is bad news for Harper, no doubt, but I have to wonder about the timing, because it is convenient for the government. Bad news coming out at a point when an election is unlikely. Is this a Liberal insider blowing his load? Is it a Conservative leaking potential Liberal ammo so that the voters will have forgotten all about it by next election? Is it Iggy trying to restore his poll numbers to stave off the knives of his caucus?

    When this many bad stories happen at once, it makes me wonder whether somebody was sitting on all these tales.

    • Yes. That's the real story here.

      When we have reports of absue of taxpayer money by the Conservatives, unprecedented pork by the Conservatives, cronyism, sole sourced contracts, contracts going to Conservative senators as part of the stimulus, a campaign to use taxpayer money to fund Conservative re-election ad campaigns, a brewing federal ehealth scandal that will make Ontario's look like a dime store heist, etc…. really, the real story can only be about the Liberals.

      • Uh I'm not apologizing for the Conservatives. I think it is bad that they did a budget (well fiscal update or whatever it is) outside of the commons on the taxpayer's dime. I think it is bad that they (like their predecessors – but they also promised to eliminate this kind of stuff) have been posing with novelty cheques taking credit for the spending of taxpayer money. Some of the other criticisms are overblown when you look at the actual data (insofar as there is enough data to make a conclusion – lack of transparency is a big problem here).

        But what I detect is that you are missing my point. I think there is an interesting inside baseball story going on here. It is a known fact that parties often sit on information and leak it at the most opportune time. If the Reverend Wright story broke on October 31st, for instance, we might be talking about President McCain. So I wonder – given the slew of stuff coming in now, who is leaking it? With what strategic purpose? Are these stories the media had on hand but was sitting on?

        So as a citizen I care about fraud. As an analyst, I am interested in seeing what is going on.

        • HH – Why on earth would the media sit on stuff like this? That would be a pretty serious dereliction of duty…no?

          • We like to talk about the duty of the media to keep the government in check, etc. In practice however, an editor's main duty is to his/her paper. Their job is to put out stories that will get readership. A story about cost overruns on a budget presentation might be buried on page 10 ordinarily, but when the Liberals are doing a reasonably effective job of highlighting the issue, and when there are other things out there (like the cheques) a story that was once a dud gains some legs.

        • So as a citizen I care about fraud. As an analyst, I am interested in seeing what is going on.

          Agreed. I'm not being an apologist for this stuff either, but I've noticed that the higher the Tories are in the polls, the lower the threshold required to put a negative story about them on the front page. That's what's really going on here.

          I mean really…$100 thousand dollars? To put it in perspective, assuming a government budget of $200 Billion, just to use a round number, the Canadian government spends $22.8 million dollars every hour of every day of the year. If we were talking about theft or fraud, then I'd still be bothered. But in terms of waste, this is a rounding error on a rounding error.

          • That's a very slippery slope to be standing on JG. The kinda slope the libs were on before some bright spark decided to make it an avalanche now known as adscam.

          • By all means, if there is evidence of wrong doing bring it forward. Theft is theft and fraud is fraud and those should never ever be tolerated, regardless of the relative size of it. But we're not talking about that. This is just wasteful spending on a PR exercise. I agree with that, but question whether $100K of government waste is worthy of a multiple day news cycle, given that the federal government spends $100K every 15.7 seconds of every day.

          • By all means, if there is evidence of wrong doing bring it forward. Theft is theft and fraud is fraud and those should never ever be tolerated, regardless of the relative size of it. But we're not talking about that. This is just wasteful spending on a PR exercise. I agree with that, but question whether $100K of government waste is worthy of a multiple day news cycle, given that the federal government spends $100K every 15.7 seconds of every day. Given that it took the Tories an hour, we got a bargain! (kidding)

          • By all means, if there is evidence of wrong doing bring it forward. Theft is theft and fraud is fraud and those should never ever be tolerated, regardless of the relative size of it. But we're not talking about that. This is just wasteful spending on a PR exercise. I agree with that, but question whether $100K of government waste is worthy of a multiple day news cycle, given that the federal government spends $100K every 15.7 seconds of every day. Given that it took the Tories a whole hour, we got a bargain! (kidding)

    • Or is it just the news media finally catching on that they have to do some digging because Harper's gang stonewalls their requests for information.

  16. What is it about Sunday night that brings out the Libertrolls in force? The poor poll results perhaps?

  17. What is it about Sunday night that brings out the Libertrolls in full force? The poor poll results perhaps?

    • Funny you should mention that. The comments of these two stories show agree/disagree numbers in the few dozen or so, unless it's a comment defending the Harperites/attacking the Liberals, then the agree numbers jump to the hundreds.

      Tories spent $108,000 on fiscal update town hall
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tori

      Tory Senator on payroll of company that won infrastructure contract
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tory

      Just a coincidence I guess – all those Harper supporters with nothing better to do on a Sunday.

    • What is it about Sunday night that brings out the shameless Conbot apologists in full force? Bad news perhaps?

  18. Oh Yay!
    More political poopyness!!!
    Yippee!!!! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!!!!

    Meanwhile, Maclean's has been seemingly silent about the current discussion regarding the health of the internet in Canada (you know – that thing you are using to read this somewhat cheesed off post!!!).

    First, we hear:
    "Canada is doing very well in broadband availability, speeds and affordability as compared to other countries, according to a new study funded by the country's largest internet service providers."

    Then shortly after:
    "Canada has some of the poorest high-speed internet service in the developed world and is an example of what not to do from a policy perspective, according to a study by Harvard University."

    Heck – why even bother paying attention to recent CRTC activity (pertaining to the internet), or the upcoming decisions that will essentially define healthy competition for DSL services. Never-mind examining CRTC structure, and weighing off whether its commissioners are serving the public interest. Regulatory Capture, anyone?

    Bueller……. Bueller……..Bueller……. Bueller???????

    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".

    But naaaaaah! This kind of stuff just isn't worth discussing!!!!

    And now, back to your regular scheduled wrestling match…….

    FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!!!!!!!!!

      • In my mind, this is one of the most least known/understood crucial issues facing Canadian society.
        Come on Maclean's – shake away from the control of the master, and fulfill your duty to educate the public.

  19. The overlooked question is: What is the typical cost for such an announcement?

    If the average cost of a/v equipment, publishing the booklets, etc is much less than 100k, then there's need for outrage. But if it typically costs about 100k for the PM to make major announcements outside Ottawa, why the fuss?

    I get the impression (not just from this story) that the media's becoming a little lazy. They ask the same people (Tory and Liberal MPs/staff) for the obvious partisan answers, but they don't go the extra step. Why not ask bureaucrats for typical costs, or looking at past events' costs for comparison?

    • The question IS, why didn't Harper deliver his report in the House at no cost to taxpayers.

    • Ah there is another venue these reports could have taken place. I believe they even have their own sound equipment and so forth. Perhaps that's why some of us are fussed?

  20. Interesting point William arguing that tax dollar funding for the CBC might be outdrawing the Conservative's press releases in terms of partisan propoganda. It's a good case for transitioning funding for the CBC to general tax breaks or subsidy for Canadian content news and shows regardless of which broadcaster they come from.

    As far as press-release politics, let me say congrats to everyone who (I suspect) didn't get in a huff about Paul Martin's pre-election instant billions of non-stimulus government generousity for your new and commendable fiscal conservativism and concern about the average Joe's tax bill.

    • And what happened to Paul when he faced the electorate right after that? Which party's internal support plummetted?

  21. is it also that this is an example of the systemic 'trump-up announcements', complete with trained seals, multiple shots of so-called leader looking like he knows which end of the hammer is up, etc, all the while shovelling my and your money into his own personal re-election furnace. Not at all like the big cheque goof-up. Or Harper's tendency to orchestrate all announcements, interviews (favourite source – FoxNews in the US!?!) as though it was his personal sweat and toil that rendered the sunlight. Supposedly, if it also helps deflect any credit for good financial handling of the previous government and leaves him with a little more blush under his applied blush, all the better. As Carly Simon said, sir, You're So Vain…

    • "as though it was his personal sweat and toil that rendered the sunlight."

      That was magic.

  22. Gee, if only the House played along with Flaherty back last November and agreed to killing the "free money" per-vote subsidy, maybe none of this would have happened.

    OK, so maybe I'm stretching…

    • Yeah, we'd have a $400 million surplus if it weren't for the Socialist-Separatist Coalition. Flaherty said so!

  23. A defence of this spending: all recessions are, in part, a crisis of consumer confidence (at least in the short term). The belief that things will not get better can become a self-fulfilling prophesy, and ensure that things don't get better. If businesses believe this to be the case, they won't hire people. If consumers believe this, they won't spent. Spending money on advertising, and possibly on a showy "report card" can have two effects if it goes well. For one, it can buoy consumer confidence. For another, it can help inform people of some of the government programs that they might take advantage of. A stimulus won't work if people don't know what it entails. June in particular, was a critical time. The economy was just about to start growing again. Making sure that Canadians knew this (or anticipated it) was worthwhile.

    Does the data support this proposal? No.
    Here are two measures of consumer confidence and the short term economic outlook.
    First, consumer confidence had already climbed to approximately where it is now by June.
    http://www.investorsgroup.com/english/aboutUs/new

    Secondly, the TSE had similarly reached a high point in June. It actually fell immediately after the report card (obviously it wasn't the only piece of news out there).
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=^GSPTSE&t=1y

    The action plan ads, similarly, appear to have come too late in the game to make a difference. In many ways, Canada recovered on its own. The recovery arrived largely before any stimulus dollars were spent. So there are two lessons to be drawn here. One is, as Harper wrote in his MA thesis, that fiscal policy is a lousy way to respond to a recession. Another is that there are legitimate publicity-oriented tasks facing the government. What we need are ways of ensuring that those tasks are carried out in a nonpartisan fashion.

  24. Canada's coming out of the recession faster and stronger than most. Outside obvservers look to Canada as a beacon of economic strength.

    Imparitial observers and everyday Canadians clearly appreciate this.

    There are literally thousands of line items of government spending that one could question as being really necessary.

    It's understandable that the partisan liberals choose to go after that which brings this politically painful truth to the public.

    Transparent. But understandable.

    • "Canada's coming out of the recession faster and stronger than most."

      Actually this Conservative Talking Point (TM) is not true in the least. We are coming out of this more slowly with growth rates less than almost every other major developed nation. Another example of the bigger the lie, the less likely people will question it.

      And it is not just Liberals. No only are non-partisan journalists starting to ask why is Stephen Harper funnelling taxpayer money into Tory ridings instead of everywhere, but conservatives are (the ones who stayed real conservatives and the ones who remember what Harper used to promise when trying to get elected), non-partisan bureaucrats are, Dippers, Bloc, non-partisans.

      The only ones with knee-jerk defence of this unprecedented graft are Tories.

      • Isn't that because we fell less than than the others? I do know that the Canadian banking regulations seem to be the gold standard these days, although more credit to the actual banking culture which wasn't pushing the line on the regulations as it was.

        Sadly I guarantee this – I wouldn't call it graft – is completely precedented. One of the first things I learned in PoliSci was the numbers on government spending going by which ridings had members in government and in cabinet. For ridings which voted conservative during Liberal government I'd bet chances are pretty strong the inbalance in stimulus spending does no more than draw them level to the loyal Liberal ridings, if that.

        The answer is simple. We need a law that guarantees something like equivalent tax breaks to ridings for however much they've been shorted from the average. Instead of bringing home the bacon, the excessive pork barrellers will be denying their constituents a tax break.

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