Checking the math

by Aaron Wherry

The NDP’s Alexandre Boulerice has dispatched a letter to Tony Clement for the purposes of clarifying the government’s accounting, specifically as it relates to a budget line for grants to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The full text of the letter below.

I’ve asked Mr. Clement’s office for a response and will post that once it arrives. The early word apparently claims a technical glitch.

To the President of the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada:

New Democrats are deeply concerned that seriously flawed and nontransparent accounting practices have become the standard at the Treasury Board in recent years.

We are writing today to bring attention a new and troubling example of this we recently uncovered.

Our research shows that Industry Canada and the Treasury Board shifted hundreds of millions of dollars of spending, under the budget line called ‘Grants to the Institute for Theoretical Physics’ for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 fiscal years. The entire statutory spending limit for the Institute was $50 million over five years—ten million dollars a year. But in the 09-10 reporting alone, this budget line exceeded $127 million, 1270% of its annual limit – almost three times the entire amount approved by Parliament.

Canadians expect that their government to account for tax dollars transparently. Financial accountability and proper reporting practices are the backbone of a functional democratic government. As is the role parliament plays in approving all government spending.

It is troubling to Canadians when their government uses questionable accounting practices and hides information about where money is actually being spent. Of course you are personally aware of the many concerns that have been raised – by the Auditor General, the Opposition and many others – about the diversion of funds from Border Infrastructure into different purposes, without parliamentary authority or documentation outlining how this fund was handled.

In order to reassure Canadians that Treasury Board is taking steps to correct these mistakes, we are asking you to:

· Implement a review of internal accounting procedures for all government departments in order to identify any other accounting failures;

· Take action to make public and correct any other mistakes that turn up in the review; and,

· Make a personal commitment that the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada will ensure these concerns are taken care of.

I am sure you agree that these sorts of problems, where money that is approved by Parliament is then diverted into other spending priorities must be addressed and that proper accounting procedures will become standard protocol. Canadians deserve no less.

Sincerely,

Alexandre Boulerice




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