The Commons: 'It depends' -

The Commons: ‘It depends’

For the Tories, it’s all in how you measure things


The Commons: 'It depends'The Scene. Michael Ignatieff stood looking serious, perhaps a bit unimpressed.

The Prime Minister, he reported en français, had admitted it was wrong for the government to put Conservative party logos on giant novelty cheques announcing the arrival of taxpayer dollars. But what of the public funding itself? What, for instance, of the fact that 75% of a fund for unemployed youth had been allocated in Conservative ridings?

On the government side, there was much yapping and whining.

“Having admitted it was wrong to put logos on cheques,” the Liberal leader wondered aloud, “will the Prime Minister admit now that partisanship in spending must stop immediately?”

The Prime Minister would not, if only because he was elsewhere. Absent too was John Baird, the government’s usual choice to enunciate a response on this file. So here, instead, came Industry Minister Tony Clement, waving his arms and pleading for your respect.

“We are on the side of Canadians,” he declared. “We are producing these projects because they mean jobs and opportunity. They mean getting behind and beyond the recession to a better and more prosperous economy through economic recovery. That is our message to Canadians and that is what Canadians want of us.”

Oddly enough, Mr. Ignatieff did not find satisfaction in this explanation.

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister admitted that it was not correct to put those logos on top of government cheques,” he repeated, this time in English. “However, that is not the only thing that was not correct. There is overwhelming evidence of Conservative partisanship in this spending. Here is one particularly shocking example. Over 90% of an accessibility fund destined for disabled Canadians goes to Conservative ridings. Is it not time that the Prime Minister admits that is not correct either? When will he put a stop to it?”

Back came Mr. Clement. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “the evidence is clear and incontrovertible.”

“That’s right!” yelped a Liberal across the way. The official opposition happily applauded the Minister’s declaration, forcing the Speaker to intervene.

“Mr. Speaker, we are engaged in helping this economy. We are focused seriously on the issues that Canadians care about: jobs, helping those who need help through our EI reform, making sure that infrastructure is there now and for the future,” Mr. Clement repeated when allowed to continue, listing various notions on his fingers. “The honourable member fails to mention all of the money that went to his own city for the Spadina subway line, the Sheppard subway line, Union Station and the northwest transmission line. We can go on and on, but the point of the matter is that every part of this country must be part of the solution and that is exactly what we are doing.”

Indeed. Toronto is a city with a subway system and Toronto is a city with no Conservative MPs and that subway system in that city has received federal funding. Therefore, everything is obviously quite fair and upright.

“Mr. Speaker, for once I agree with the minister. The figures are incontrovertible,” Michael Ignatieff conceded. “Here is another one: 66% of recreational infrastructure projects in this country have been allocated to Conservative ridings. The minister in charge directly opposite gets the lion’s share of the projects. If one votes Conservative, they get the rink. A lot of Canadians think that is wrong. When will the Prime Minister begin to understand that it is wrong? Will he put a stop to it?”

Back to Clement, now waving his notes in the air. “Mr. Speaker, for the Leader of the Opposition, who aspires to be prime minister one day, to get his facts so wrong is quite frankly shocking,” he said, proceeding to not in any way refute the figures just cited. “In Ontario, 29 out of the 57 $1 million maximum allocation projects went to opposition ridings, while 28 went to government-held ridings.”

So there. Nearly 51% percent of million-dollar projects in Ontario—a province where opposition MPs represent 52% of the ridings—were allocated to ridings occupied by opposition MPs. Now, mind you, by one count, 62% of recreational projects in Ontario went to Conservative ridings. And a related analysis of million-dollar projects nationwide showed that 57% were allocated to ridings with Conservative MPs, despite Conservatives currently representing 46% of ridings. But surely we can all agree that, of all those figures, Mr. Clement’s numbers seem fairest.

Back and forth we went on a day of bitterness and statistics.

Out in the foyer, Tony Clement emerged to take questions from reporters. One came forward with new numbers—that Conservative ridings in Ontario had, on average, received more money than opposition ridings for the purposes of building hockey rinks, swing sets and soccer fields.

“Well,” said the Industry Minister, “I think it depends on how you measure things obviously.”

On this, if nothing else, there can be little debate.

The Stats. Government spending and crime, eight questions each. Afghanistan, six questions. Pensions, five questions. Ethics, three questions. The environment and forestry, two questions each. Aboriginals and H1N1, one question each.

Tony Clement, 15 answers. Christian Paradis, eight answers. Peter MacKay, six answers. Denis Lebel and Rob Nicholson, two answers each. Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl and Leona Aglukkaq, one answer each.


The Commons: ‘It depends’

  1. So, here's a question.

    If ridings represented by Conservatives are, by some provable metric, somehow more in need of stimulus funding, is it inappropriate to direct spending as such? (That is, if there's a connection between tending to vote Conservative, and economic malaise on an extremely local scale.) Or is it necessary to allocate the same sum to every riding, even if that results in inefficient actual stimulus spending (to the extent that such a thing exists)?

  2. Conservative ridings need more fixing because they are more broken? Why would they be so badly managed that they need more infrastructure funding? because they are run by conservatives?

  3. "Run" by Conservatives? Really? So the local MP is in charge of the everyday goings-on of business?

    Try very hard to set aside the default sneer. If stimulus spending is a positive good that acts as a real corrective measure, and if ridings suffering more from the recession happen to be represented by Tories, in that case, should those ridings not be receiving a greater share of spending?

    • "So the local MP is in charge of the everyday goings-on of business, and is personally to blame…"

      The local MP reflects the will of the electorate, in that they were selected by prominent local personalities to run for these local/provincial/federal management positions, or they chose to run and certainly need the support of prominent local, civic, county persons of similar political views. The reflect the will of those who then voted for them as candidates in the local riding association, and if then successfully elected, presumably reflect the will of the electorate.

      I can see how the underlying political ideology of the area is reflected then in local business and political management practices and pressures.

      If the will of the local populace reflects small c conservative spending and taxing practices, then one could see certainly how electing big C Conservatives is somehow reflective of the chickens coming home to roost.

  4. The gov't needs to disclose their criteria for shelling out the $$. Our PM was elected on a platform promising to end the sleazy practices of the LIBs. Instead they have embraced them!

    • Done in conjunction with the Provinces and Municipalities.

      Better to look at the ones that were rejected at each level, it will tell you more.

  5. The Harper Government is not in the pothole business

    • One question — the infrastructure money is all tied (to my knowledge) matching funds from at least one if not two other parties – municipal and public operations; does this play a major factor in who and how these projects are being approved? Is it just randomly that municipalities of conservative-held ridings tend to have more available funds, more readily to go into debt, or perhaps better prepared to launch the applications? Stripping away the partisan stuff, why is it that the recreation dollars seem to be (at least in Ontario — my neighbouring riding is CON-held and is in greatly need of a new rec/rink facility, but has chosen not to go further into debt [despite the allure of matching $$]) flowing in the blue-tilted ridings?
      While its possible that there is a reasonable explanation — Joylon's just doesn't wash, as noted by the response far above — if we go on recent performance it is hard not to be exceedingly cynical about it all. I'm still thinking the opposition should focus just as much on the CONs excessive use of advertising, and how much is that eating into the eap…

  6. Question remains, why would Conservative held ridings inherently need more infrastructure spending?

    • "Question remains, why would Conservative held ridings inherently need more infrastructure spending?"

      Because we recently had 13 years of Lib rule and they favoued their ridings.

      It is simple: both parties give baksheesh to their supporters.

    • The obvious reason would be the pork delivered disproprotionately to Lib ridings from 1993 to 2006.

    • Because they are tilted to the rural side of the equation. So do rural ridings update their infrastructre as often as urban ridings….no……

      The last time many of these small towns engaged in a significant infrastructure project was the money put in place 40 years ago leading into the centenial. Why do you think so many of them are called "the centenial arena"? Then, under a Liberal government ever nook and cranny in this country got money for hockey and curling rinks, which is why every small town has one of either and sometimes one of each, completely out of proportion with poulation.

  7. Perhaps there's some kind of correlation between party identification and the presence of particular industries; hell if I know. The question remains, if that is the case, then precisely what would be scandalous about such spending priorities?

    • If that were the case, why wouldn't the government claim they were justified instead of claiming that there is no difference in per-riding spending (a claim easily refuted by the information we do have, and one that could be easily supported if the government had any information to support it, but they won't release all the info for some strange reason).

    • Hasn't it occurred to you yet that most of the conservative ridings of today used to be liberal ridings back when the liberals had a majority?

  8. Let us not forget that John Baird sat in committee back in March and demanded that Parliament waive the normal accountability standards for the extra $3 billion slush fund, er, stimulus.

  9. Hockey Rinks are industries?

  10. The longer Harper & Co. stonewall on revealing the actual numbers for the stimulus spending, which they no doubt have because they would otherwise be unable to answer these types of questions, the more they appear guilty of everything they're being accused of, and the more journalists (and blog commenters) are going to keep digging for the truth. This isn't going away, and their answers to date do not inspire confidence in either their ability to manage or their ability to be open and transparent.

  11. My view is that the Conservative ridings tend to be in rural Canada rather than urban (Toronto) Canada.

  12. It might be argued that the CPC was voted control of the house because the last LPC government was to busy taking care of itself and thus, not enough of its constituency(s). It can certainly be argued that the LPC has less than a broad spectrum of seats across the nation and thus, would be hard pressed to suggest that it would be equitable to spend taxpayer dollars on a 1:1 basis when they represent substantially(decreasingly?) less than 1/2 of the nation…orange included.

    Flinging monkeys, the lot of them.

  13. I agree with knick above: if the Conservatives are spending the stimulus money fairly, they need to get one of their interns or war roomers to release that information as soon as possible. If they withhold this information, the obvious conclusion is that they are using the stimulus money to either reward Conservative ridings or bribe voters into electing them.

    It would be supremely ironic if the Tories were genuinely trying to be fair but were reluctant to release the numbers because their perpetual insistence on secrecy in all things. In which case, they fail because of lack of transparency and accountability – both of which they promised to improve on before they took office.

  14. I agree – the sooner we see the complete numbers, the better.

  15. "The Prime Minister would not, if only because he was elsewhere."

    That's a nice turn of phrase, Wherry. Made me laugh at least.

  16. Now that the statistics are coming out, this is pretty damning to the Conservatives. It's becoming more and more clear that there is partisanship in terms of where they decided to allocate spending.

    The question above as to whether the recession is hitting Conservative ridings harder is a good one – and if the Conservatives can come out with some statistical data showing that the ridings getting this spending are also ones with above-average poverty and unemployment rates, I'll take that into consideration as a reasonable explanation. But there's no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt on that when there's no evidence that it's the case.

  17. If that were true wouldn't NDP and Bloc ridings also be in disrepair and in need of some stimulus funds. Why aren't the Conservatives helping them?

  18. There's also some allowable margin for difference; lets not balance the distribution just for the sake of balancing it.

    Obviously 90% would be far too much in favour of conservatives but 66% was getting close to acceptable to me.

  19. I agree with previous posters. The Government should simply provide us with the spending details so we can put this behind us and the country can get on with recovering from the recession.

  20. The Conservatives thought we were heading into an immanent election and that they might get the majority they have been coveting. They pulled out all the stops which included strategically directing stimulus funding for partisan gain thinking it wouldn't fully come to light until after they won said majority. The Liberals, meanwhile, have backed off calling an election. By the time there actually is an election (spring?) a lot more of the stimulus details will have inevitably come forward. This and other developing stories (detainees, etc.) suggest hopes for a majority may have been lost yet again.

  21. Joylon – Look up, waaay up! Andre' has an answer for you. You realize just how desperate guys like you and ayr sound – don't you?

  22. Katherine. Why would the recession be hitting con ridings harder? It was only yesterday that most of those ridings were Liberal, and had been for some time. Seems like the NDP and perhaps the Bloq should be the ones complaining loudest of all. Course it would be hard to tell with those guys anyway…'oops mustn't cheap shot poential allies…must try and remember that.'

  23. I think you have the narrative all right. Ironic really. But if things continue to develope along these lines Ignatieff might finally have the first real, genuine cause to actually bring these guys down. Wonder if he'll blow it?

  24. "Andre' has an answer for you"

    Really? I guess I missed election where Libs swept the West. Which year was that again? Accept for a handful of seats in Ont, I don't believe there is that much overlap.

    This is a boring 'scandal' so far because this is nothing new. Political party favours its own ridings is not that shocking. Libs/libs sound like Goldilocks …. whatever the Cons do is too hot, too cold but whatever Libs do is just right.

  25. Hmmm, you have a point about the west. Although lots of commentators have tried that arguement when so far most of the questions i've seen raised had to do with the east. I wonder what the western figures will look like?
    Political parties may well have always favoured their own, as you say, but this may be unprecedented, certainly the amounts of money are. So, you have no problem then with a govt using a massive stimulus fund [ i'm quite sure ordinary Canadians thought it was going to be used as needed, where needed.] as a get a majority slush fund ? On the usual grounds presumably…because they did it too! "This is nothing new." I think we'll let the public decide that.

  26. Er…except for most of the west of course. Didn't realize they needed stimulating. I'm a westener and things have been pretty good out here for some time – even under the libs circa '93 – '06.

  27. In theory I certainly do have problem with all parties using massive stimulus funds as baksheesh. In reality, this has been going on since Westminster style politics were introduced way back when and is not likely to change any time soon.

    What makes me nuts is that Cons aren't defending their policies and are just going with obfuscation. At the very least, Harper and a few others know exactly how the money is divided between parties/ridings. Cons should provide explanations for their choices, it would do some good with public.

  28. No arguement from me about things never changing.
    As to what drives you nuts…
    Didn't Holmes say something like: When you've eliminated all the improbable possibilities, you must except the probable[ sure i screwed that up ] Namely: Incompetence…never underestimate the likelihood. Doesn't matter which party.

  29. Alas, once again, the most fundamental question is set aside, because nobody cares anymore:


  30. So, your answer to avr's original question: "If ridings represented by Conservatives are, by some provable metric, somehow more in need of stimulus funding, … ?" is; "it's the Liberal's fault."? and "This is just the way things are done." ? and "We're just a corrupt as the Liberals were!"


    What are ya, some kind of European Cosmopolitan? This is Canada, boy. We don't go for those soccer pitchs or those baseball diamonds around these parts. What have you got against Canadian culture anyway? If you don't like hockey rinks then you don't like Canada!

    You're on my watchlist, pal. I'm making that gesture where I point at my eyes with two fingers and then at you with one.

  32. Which would thus be retroactively endorsed by the CPC. Manning is turning over in his institute.

  33. This is all a lot of bull. The Provincial & local governments were involved in the decision making process. They submitted projects for consideration, and outlined their priorities and their preferences for how the stimulus spending should be used.

    This is all about optics, when Ignatieff know that the facts don't support his claims.

  34. You have part of the question answered. So if you really want to look at things you need to look at

    1) Who the provincial government is. For example, when the stimulus money was being decided in NS the provincial government was con….so do you think that the agreement on those ridings might be to favour more con ridings at the time
    2) Which ridings got funded and what the colour of those ridings is federally vs provicially. In Ontario the ridings match up perfectly. Are Blue Blue ridings getting more vs red blue ridings and how many of them are swing ridings

    finally, Toronto is the big elephant in the room. If Toronto didnt submit projects for hockey arenas, or the cities that make up the Greater Montereal area didnt submit projects for hockey arenas, preferring subways and roads then that would explain it. Oh that brings up another point, there is for towns to do regarding roads than there is for the city of Toronto so they'll pick bigger projects like arenas to spend their windfall money on.

  35. The feds are approving projects that were negotiated in conjunction with provinces and municipalities. They cover everything from hockey arenas, to roads to some municipalities replacing standard maintenance to free up money elsewhere. This is the price of getting it out quickly.

    As well, as pointed out above, the hockey arenas are refurbishment and replacement of arenas that were built in the last wave which was a little over 40 years ago going into the centential year. That centenial fund was how every 1 stop light town in Canada got either a hockey arena, a curling rink or both. Why do you think so many of them are called Centenial Arenas?

    Just a simple google search shows this.

  36. Lessee… the Liberals spent money on hockey and curling rinks that small towns didn't need, so it's up to the CPC to maintain that infrastructure…

  37. These arent solely federal funded projects, so clearly the local municipality AND their provincial government find them worhtwhile so I dont know if I would agree that these arent needed, they clearly are if provs and munis are willing to put their own money up.

    These arent greenfield projects, they are often maintenance and upgrade. So can we put you in the camp of tearing down small town infrastructure?

  38. And while we are at it you may want to start looking at one of Iggy's ideas, who wanted to "think big" about Canada's sesquitenial making comparisons to the program I was referencing.

    How do you think that idea is going turn out, better get your email to him now to object ahead of time since he was quite enamoured with the idea, as he is with all things Pearsonian.

  39. Here's what I'd like to know:

    1. How much money do the municipalities in Conservative ridings have to spend on their own infrastructure? It would surely affect how much more they would need to update their water and sewage infrastructure, local buildings, etc.

    2. How much federal money has been spent in those same Conservative ridings over the course of the past 20 years? And, how much federal money has been spent in Liberal/NDP/Bloc ridings over the same time period? Let's compare.


  40. …from previous…

    3. (As others above have noted) What are the unemployment rates in each of the 308 ridings? What are the poverty rates in each riding? And how well does that correspond to the amount of stimulus dollars they are spending?

    4. How many of these stimulus projects were fully vetted – and what was the criteria for approval? Was it a points system, or were specific projects hand-picked so MPs could go back to their riding and say that they'd accomplished something? Toronto's request for stimulus funding for new TTC infrastructure was kaiboshed (oh so kindly, if I do recall) because it didn't benefit Toronto, rather the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay – was this a common thing?

  41. Vince, that is HOW a federal government (defend the borders, regulate the economy…) is building local hockey rinks. The question is WHY.

    If you would kindly point to the article in the Constitution that points out where the federal government has the responsibility to build and renovate every hockey rink, curling club and bizarre oversized allegedly-tourist-attracting icon in Grimshaw AB, Winkler MB, Hearst ON, La Tuque QC, …

  42. My riding is rural, and under the liberal governments nothing got done.I am pleased we are finally seeing something.Its been along slog with the libbies in for far to long.

  43. well said!

  44. He will.Wait and see.

  45. So what you're saying is that the Liberals delivered funding disproportionately so the Conservatives should do the same now? Could you explain to me why we bothered to elect Conservatives if they're just going to do the same damn thing? At least the Liberals knew how to balance the budget while running their scams.

  46. I'll tell you right now that's not happening.

    Why? Because in order to receive stimulus funding you must be able to promise matching funding from the provincial and municipal levels. Ergo, the areas that need the money the most can't afford to get it.

  47. No, the Liberals didn't back off. The NDP did, remember? I find it stunning how much of the responsibility for our government the Liberals continue to receive, even though they aren't the party in power, and even though for some things, like this, the reality is so obviously other than "The Liberals did it" and so recent yet people have some kind of mental block.

  48. Because the people who we elected to be our representatives and make decisions on our behalf agreed that that was the best course of action. Seems pretty obvious to me.

  49. "At least the Liberals knew how to balance the budget while running their scams."

    I like that. Libs are financially prudent crooks. I agree that It is about the best we can expect nowadays.

  50. Better than subsidizing the building of private decks. At least this puts some money in the hands of construction workers not just Home Depot.

  51. Recall, if you will, the criteria for stimulus funding from the budget:
    66% is federal money
    33% would be provincial, but they only get the federal money after they pony up themselves

    I could see there being some muted amount of overlap in provinces that are already fiscally in more dire straits than other provinces, that and I assumed provinces like BC, Alberta, Sask would have all all ponied up money right away. Mind you…. we all know what assuming does.

  52. You must have missed the vetoing of Toronto/Ontario's submission to build light rail cars at the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay. Toronto was willing to look beyond the local horizon and let some of the work go to another region but Minister Baird said no.

    And if it's "all about optics" that's because the Conservatives don't trust us with the facts. They have instead refused to just supply a list or projects they approved, have and when the media or anyone ask for a list, they are directed to a ridiculous web site that has poorly desigged image maps instead of the spreadsheet they are undemocratically suppressing.

    If the facts are on their side, as you imply, why don't they just cough up the list, and let us make up our own minds? The failure to release the list is making supporters like you look ridiculous, Fred. Maybe you can talk to them for us.

  53. So federal stimulus money should only be spent in areas of Federal government control only……cant say I hear anyone proposing that one. I have enough doubts about stimulus as it stands, to resrtict it to areas of responsibility is ridiculous.

    However, previous govenrments have spent without concern for privincial responsibility. In this case the federal governemnt would be picking th ebidders, choosing all the projects themselves etc. That is a recipie for disaster. You may be asking why you need stimulus in the first place…..I had that question at the time, but if you are goin to d it, this is probably the best way to do it in this country.

  54. That would have been a great picture for the Tony Clement gravy boat.

  55. Way to get your facts wrong Wherry. Kennedy's analysis does not say "Liberal/opposition ridings got 38% less" it says Liberal ridings IN TORONTO got 38% less. Why doesn't he do a province-wide analysis?

    Well actually interpreting some of the data tells a different kind of story. About 15 million dollars of the recreational infrastructure money went to First Nations communities. Considering that native Canadians can't tax themselves, transfers like this are necessary (they won't benefit from the gas tax money, I would imagine). This money incidentally, is largely concentrated in Conservative ridings, but is hardly the picture of graft Kennedy paints it to be. Aboriginals are unlikely to support the Conservative party and certainly can't be thought of as an in-group to a PM whose mentor wrote "First Nations, Second Thoughts".

    So excluding aboriginals, the average per riding should be 1,650,943 (and there are going to be discrepancies – not every riding is going to request a skating rink). This means that the discrepancy between Toronto and the rest of the province is only 21%, excluding money for First Nations. It also means that many opposition-held cities were net winners.

    This includes (I am only looking at the bigger ones) Liberal Guelph; Liberal Kingston; Ottawa (which has 3 opposition MP's); Liberal Markham (in a very big way), Richmond Hill, NDP Sudbury, and NDP Thunder Bay.

  56. Perhaps Dm meant the libs have backed off now. It is hard to keep all this stuff straight. Agree with your libs are always to blame point though.

  57. Thanks for brightening my day. Still laughing.

  58. "Way to get your facts wrong Wherry"

    George Smitherman is thinking the same thoughts as you, though he does not single out Wherry.

    "A Toronto MP claims that the federal government favours Conservative ridings, but Ontario's deputy premier disagrees.

    Gerard Kennedy charges that recreational facilities in Liberal and NDP sections of the province don't get adequate funding. Toronto has 23 ridings, 21 of which are held by Liberals and 2 of which belong to the NDP. The Liberal representative says those ridings get about 38 per cent less cash than Conservative parts of Ontario.

    “The [federal Liberals] draw conclusions based on the analysis that they've done,” deputy premier George Smitherman countered Thursday outside Queen's Park.

    But, he continued, they only looked at the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (Rinc) program. While that would indicate that Conservative ridings received more cash than Liberal holdings, it doesn't tell the whole story. The Rinc program was open to not-for-profits and municipalities, he explained. " City News, Oct 22 '09

    Also, I am in Guelph but don't feel like a 'net winner'. Many of the main roads here are dug up and traffic in my bucolic city is now a frakin' nightmare.

  59. Those would be stupid words to put in someone's mouth.

    And it doesn't answer: "If ridings represented by Conservatives are, by some provable metric, somehow more in need of stimulus funding, is it inappropriate to direct spending…"

    'Because Liberals did it' seems to be the only answer here. But why do currently held Conservative ridings 'need' disproportionately more? That's avr's question. That's the question. Did Liberal installed hockey rinks decay more in a Conservative riding than in others?

  60. If it is so easy for you to get these numbers, how come it's so difficult for the Government of Canada?

  61. I addressed that earlier. You would expect to find older arenas…ie those in greater need of upgrade, retrofit and maintenance, in rural ridings versus either newer suburbs OR wihin greater urban areas, which have significant private arenas in addition to those municipally run.

    Where have I said because the Liberals did it, speaking of stupid words to put in someones mouth. I pointed out that the Liberals put all those "uneeded" (your words) rinks in small communites 40 years ago. That infrastructure is either maintained or it falls apart, you seemed to be arguing that they were uneeded and therefore not deserving of funds…..

    You have a point you want to stick to, apparently that the money flowing is all being partisanly directed when that is clearly not the case, that doesnt mean there isnt any partisan animus to some of the money. But really, this hardly amounts to the smoking gun, especially when NDP ridings are getting greater than the average. Maybe there is something else goiing on, you might want to see if there are explainations beyond the partisan lens you have on it to explain things.


    The program is called Recreational Infrastructure Canada (Rinc), what do you expect them to build?

    Sorry, I know what you are talking about and share those feelings, but could not help myself.

  63. You arent going to trot that out are you. David Miller unable to read the instruction manual on the application.

    Miller cost the city of Toronto months of time by trying to break the rules. It was about local projects.

    There is a good reason Miller declined to run again, and this part of why.

    As for the list of apporved projects, if it hasnt been released it should, on that I agree.

  64. Or perhaps they are waiting til this issue gets massive coverage, is on every voters minds and they looked pinned up against it and then release the numbers/justification and make everyone (mostly Iggy) look foolish. I tend to think they are not being forthcoming due to pork barelling, but you never know.

  65. The latest EKOS poll would seem to indicate that some factor or combination factors is starting to erode conservative support. The last Ekos poll gave the conservatives leading 40.7% to 25.5 for the liberals. The new poll shows the conservatives still in the lead but now its 38.3 to 27.1. The gap has closed by 4% in less than two weeks and this probably does not yet reflect the damage done by the attack by General Hillier. In the end defeating Harper may just be a matter of waiting for him to do the job himself. The old saying that its not oppositions who defeat governments but rather governments who defeat themselves may be playing out before our eyes.

  66. "Where have I said because the Liberals did…" I never said *you* said that. I said that it seems to be general answer here.

    "Then, under a Liberal government ever nook and cranny in this country got money for hockey and curling rinks, which is why every small town has one of either and sometimes one of each, completely out of proportion with population."

    Sounds like 'unneeded' to me.

    "You have a point you want to stick to, apparently that the money flowing is all being partisanly directed when that is clearly not the case,"

    My point, really, is that avr is fishing for trout in a mud hole. Partisan spending obviously happens . Just fess up and admit it and stop looking for some pseudo-statistical justification.

  67. The conservative's free spending habits rewarding their friends with public funds may be costing them support. I cant see them changing their ways now so if the Liberals manage to pull together a plausible platform and mount credible attacks on Harper we are probably seeing the beginning of a trend. If as I expect the economic situation either worsens or fails to improve that will make his life even more difficult. I suspect that when Harper called last years election he actually blew any chance he will ever have at forming a majority.

  68. Maybe the public would laugh off that kind of games playing – maybe they wouldn't? An awful lot of folks might still think Harper's not to be trusted and not at all a seious guy. It looks brilliant…in theory that is.

  69. I think there are a number of issues complicating a government response.

    Firstly, by taking the Liberal claims seriously they raise the salience of the issue. That can be dangerous even if they are ultimately exonerated. For instance, consider Paul Martin's response to adscam. He held a very public inquiry, and held an election. Even though it seemed pretty clear Martin was innocent, it cost him.

    Secondly, not all projects have been announced or fully costed just yet. It may be that, based on the data currently available, there is something going on. For instance if you look at RINC numbers with no interpretation whatsoever, it does look crooked.

    Thirdly, I don't think the best response for the government is to turn to data. Rather it is to make the Liberals find explicit wrong-doing. The funding application process looks pretty straightforward and fair (not necessarily equitable to all regions, but fair). If there are a lot of projects that were approved that should have been rejected (or vice versa) then the Liberals would have a real case.

    Fourthly, to some degree the government wants it both ways. Harper would like for people in Tory ridings to believe that the government is looking out for them. Gerard Kennedy's political assumption is that voters care primarily about fairness. If Harper believes anything, it is that voters care primarily about number 1 (when Harper ran on accountability in 2004, he lost; when he ran as a retail politician in 2006 he won – that is a lesson he has not forgotten). So as long as the accusations are not too egregious, Harper may benefit from these attacks.

    Finally, if you will excuse the poker analogy – if you know your opponent is bluffing, do you call him, or do you keep on raising.

  70. Even if it turns out the cons were only partisan within exceptible levels. Harper is not necessarily going to come out a winner here. Yes the libs will look bad, but they're the opposition – they oppose. Lots of people on these blogs are confused over this. I repeat. The oppostion opposes – it's not their job to propose or govern responsibly. This doesn't look good for the govt either way. Obviously one way in particular would be very bad.

  71. I agree with you. Unfortunately, once the idea of stimulus was born and the bill was passed, the fact that pork was on the way was a foregone conclusion. Now it's a question of where, not why. Save us all.

  72. Yes, I'm not saying I like it or endorse it. I hate pork.

    Without the stimulus program that Harper concocted after the opposition threatened to take over for lack of pork, Dion and Layton would be running the show. In that case, money would have been shoveled out of airplanes to ridings below.

    I'm just answering the question "why would Conservative held ridings inherently need more infrastructure spending?"

  73. "At least the Liberals knew how to balance the budget while running their scams."

    The Libs did not run the country while the economy went off a cliff, corporate taxes approached zero and income taxes dropped as well, while EI rolls swelled.

    Comments like that, I don't know why I bother to respond. If you haven't noticed the global economic downturn, then you're living in a cave. Are you living in a cave?

    I hate pork. But the NDP exist for pork, while the Libs perfected pork. What we have now is a pittance compared to what they would have delivered. Those two parties tried to bring the government down in order to deliver the most pork (and to preserve their own free handouts from taxpayers).

  74. Since you've been to Argentina, I assume you've seen firsthand what happens when pork reaches astronomical proportions, sending the country into bankruptcy.

  75. I believe they still have serious problems with corruption.

  76. That's a logical point, though is it really the case that Liberal-held ridings were festooned with infrastructure under Chrétien? As I recall, which is not well, government spending was cut across the board under his watch.

  77. You mean EVERY riding got a spectacular shawiniganian fountain?

  78. Quite. There was, and will remain forever, only one Shawinigan.

  79. I'm fairly certain there was lots of pork under Chretien despite the deficit tackling.

    The sponsorship program comes to mind as a simple example, something that Chretien created, which started as pure pork (throwing money at all sorts of events in exchange for signage), and morphed into corruption and criminality.

    I'm also pretty sure that spending was never cut under Chretien's watch (one of those urban myths), that while spending may have been cut in some programs, across the board spending continued to increase, and in fact what slayed the deficit was a reduction in the growth of spending while the economy grew more quickly. Tax revenue growth exceeded spending growth.

  80. Yeah. Did you perchance look at the budget before the economic downturn?