On the $3-billion fund, here’s what the Liberals want

The main request: to see a broad list of departments and programs before the special fund is approved


On the $3-billion fund, here's what the Liberals wantThere’s been nothing but confusion about that $3-billion fund the government is asking to be able to spend without going through the normal approval process . The Prime Minister has accused the opposition is proposing “to have parliamentary sign-off on every individual project.”

If that were true, it would be outrageous. Obviously, to get stimulus spending flowing, the government needs some flexiblility to select and approve projects quickly. But the Liberals have denied they ever asked for anything like project-by-project scrutiny, and I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.

Now we know exactly what the Liberals want. Yesterday they tabled their motion asking for a bit of advance understanding of how the money will be spent, combined with prompt information to Parliament after projects are formally approved.

Far from insisting on vetting every project in advance, they request only “a list of departments and programs which are likely to require access to this extraordinary authority.” I note the word “likely”—I mean, it’s far from categorical or exhaustive.

The rest of the motion describes the sort of information the House would get after a project secured formal Treasury Board approval. It asks for details within a day of projects getting the green light. I suppose the government might reasonably ask to be allowed to, say, bundle together a week’s worth, or even a month’s worth, of these approvals and pass them on to Parliament less frequently.

But that’s a matter of debating the fine points. The main request here—to see a broad list of departments and programs to be funded before the special fund is approved—hardly looks like obstruction or red tape.

Here’s the Liberal motion, which will likely be debated after the House returns from next week’s March break

March 10, 2009 — Mr. McCallum (Markham—Unionville) — That, due to the extraordinary nature of the spending authority proposed in Treasury Board Vote 35 in the Main Estimates for 2009-2010, this House calls upon the government to table in the House, by April 3rd, 2009, a list of the departments and programs which are likely to require access to this extraordinary authority; and on each occasion that the government uses Vote 35, this House calls upon the government to table in the House, within one sitting day of each such use, a report disclosing:
(a) the name and location of each project to which the funding is being provided (including the federal electoral district in which it is located),
(b) the amount of federal funding,
(c) the department and program under which the federal funding is being provided, and
(d) what each project is intended to achieve in fighting the recession, and why it requires recourse to Vote 35 rather than any other source of funds; and
that each such report shall be posted on a publicly accessible government website, and referred immediately to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and to the Auditor General.


On the $3-billion fund, here’s what the Liberals want

  1. The current track record of Harper’s CON team has made this demand critical before letting them handle this kind of cash. It’s a simple request – sort of when that gambling-problem partner of yours says he is taking $4000 to ‘invest’… you’d want to know what kind of investment, wouldn’t you?
    Unfortunately, the MsM’s track record of just repeating CON verbiage and looking the other way, due mainly to economic constraints and editorial slants, also cannot be trusted to keep an eye on this band. Thanks for keeping the pressure on.

  2. Seems more than reasonable to me.

    • The Liberal request seems reasonable to me, too.

  3. I can’t believe the Libs expect the government to have a complete list of departments available to work from. There are a lot of departments to keep track of, you know. Maybe the Liberals don’t grasp the level of oversight the Prime Minister provides to every single Minister?

    • I would think the list would actually be rather short.

      Something like, er, this:

      1. Prime Minister’s Office.

      There. That wasn’t so hard was it? Accurate and transparent!

      • Ha!

        1. Prime Minister’s Office.
        1a. Desk
        1b. Chair
        1c. [Redacted]

        • Do you mean, like, up his [Redacted]?

    • well, accountability is part of the jig; you know what they say about being unable to stand the heat…

  4. “(including the federal electoral district in which it is located)”

    That says it all. That, plus the list of corporations and other entities which will receive the loot.

    Pork isn’t about stimulating the overall economy or saving anyone from anything. It’s about buying elections and enriching cronies. The question is, which ridings will be bought and whose cronies will have their bank accounts, ah, stimulated? CONS and LIEBS are identical in this respect. Being politicians and all.

  5. Do you think its easy to make lists?

  6. Geddes, you haven’t been paying attention, if you listened to what was said in several question periods in Parliament you might have learned something.

    • This is Macleans, just say Harper sucks..

    • OK, fill me in. What would I have learned?

  7. i realize more partisan types think about what the Liberals/conservs/NDP/Bloq/Greens–rarely the Independents want; but really i’m thinking about what i as a voter/taxpayer/etc etc want out of a govt that is supposed to represent me.

  8. I’m with CR and Douglass, it’s perfectly reasonable. Not only that, I tend to think the Harper of 2005 would have demanded quite a bit more in the way of “accountabiilty” from the Martin government, had things gotten hairy at that point in time instead of now.

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