Where the Liberals are spending taxpayer money in the dog days of summer - Macleans.ca

Where the Liberals are spending taxpayer money in the dog days of summer

Just weeks before an election, Liberal cabinet ministers and MPs are fanning out across Canada, doling out money for dairy farmers, steel producers and lots of road repairs

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(L-R): Francesco Sorbara, Bardish Chagger, Sean Casey, Filomena Tassi and Ralph Goodale at their respective funding announcements. (@fsorbara;@BardishKW;@SeanCaseyLPC;FilomenaTassiMP;@RalphGoodale/Twitter)

It’s become a time-honoured tradition for parties in power to sprinkle money around the country whenever Parliament takes a break. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives popped up in big cities and small towns alike, particularly as they rolled out massive infrastructure stimulus spending when the global financial crisis consumed the political agenda (at the time, some Tories got in hot water for handing out giant novelty cheques). Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have spent much of the summer, conveniently only a few weeks away from an election call, at nearly identical events (without the novelty cheques).

The routine is simple. A local Liberal MP, or maybe even a cabinet minister, shows up at a podium with a provincial cabinet minister or nearby mayor. They applaud the cooperation it took to get to where they are, announce federal funding and explain what it will build or fix, and then pose for a photo-op. The projects are typically approved by bureaucrats, the funds drawn from an existing program on the books; everything is above-board procedurally, and only the timing is convenient.

The dollars add up. Global News journalist David Akin has tracked the spending closely for years, and he calculated 275 announcements in the seven days between Aug. 16-23 worth a combined $2.8 billion. More than half the announcements were in Ontario, he reported, while almost half of the funding went to Quebec.

We’ve dug into 10 ridings that received money last week, during a typical pre-election midsummer stretch, each a snapshot of a city or town with businesses or infrastructure in need and a federal government armed with some cash to help out. We’ve also offered the electoral context in each case, and noted the 338Canada projection as of Aug. 23.


Kitchener-Conestoga, Ont.

What’s the project?

The feds are spending $704,375 to rehabilitate a 130-year-old bridge in Conestogo, which the local mayor said pairs “modern convenience with historical significance.” Eight other road-improvement projects in the area also scored federal money.

When was it announced?

Aug. 19

Who announced the money?

Bardish Chagger, Government House Leader and the MP for Waterloo

How much are the feds spending?

$7.7 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Conservatives won by 0.53 points

Which party came second?

Liberal

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Harold Albrecht has won four elections in a row, but nearly lost in 2015. Tim Louis, the Liberal runner-up, is on the ballot again.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Leaning Conservative


Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.

What’s the project?

SkyTrain riders in Burnaby who live near the Brentwood Town Centre station will eventually see new stairs, escalators, security cameras, as well as a resurfaced mezzanine and better lighting, among other improvements, when they enter or exit the station. The changes aren’t coming soon: work is only expected to start in late 2020.

When was it announced?

Aug. 19

Who announced the money?

Terry Beech, the MP for Burnaby North-Seymour

How much are the feds spending?

$6.1 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won by 6.48 points

Which party came second?

NDP

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Svend Robinson, a former NDP MP, is attempting a political comeback—and is campaigning hard against the Trans Mountain expansion. The Tory candidate is occupational therapist Heather Leung.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Toss-up


West Nova, N.S.

What’s the project?

Annapolis residents will soon have a new watermain on Hillside Drive, and nearby Digby’s wastewater treatment facility will get an overhaul—new pumps, electrical components and lift stations. The feds say the new infrastructure will “position communities for growth.”

When was it announced?

Aug. 20

Who announced the money?

Colin Fraser, the MP for West Nova

How much are the feds spending?

$429,950

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won by 36.9 points

Which party came second?

Conservative

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Chris d’Entremont, a five-term Progressive Conservative veteran of the Nova Scotia legislature, will try to return the riding to the Tories (who held it from 2008-2015). Fraser isn’t running again.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely Liberal


La Prairie, Que.

What’s the project?

La Ferme Vallée Verte 1912, a dairy producer based in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, a small town north of Montreal, will automate its milk and yogurt packaging lines—and increase its milk processing capacity by 130 per cent. A press release says the company will also hire five more people.

When was it announced?

Aug. 20

Who announced the money?

Jean-Claude Poissant, the MP for La Prairie

How much are the feds spending?

$120,950

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won by 10.22 points

Which party came second?

Bloc Québécois

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

This riding, new in 2015, comprised two former districts that joined the Orange Wave in 2011. The NDP wasn’t a factor in 2015. Former Parti Québécois MNA Alain Therrien is the Bloc candidate.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely Liberal


Hamilton Centre, Ont.

What’s the project?

Hamilton’s port, which the feds call a “primary export gateway for Ontario-grown grain,” will see new covered storage space and docking space meant to reduce shipping delays. Federal funding will also create an estimated 110 jobs.

When was it announced?

Aug. 21

Who announced the money?

Filomena Tassi, the minister for seniors and the MP for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas

How much are the feds spending?

$5.5 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The NDP won by 12.17 points

Which party came second?

Liberal

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

David Christopherson won five elections for the NDP, but he’s not running again. Matthew Green, a former Hamilton city councillor, will try to hold the riding. Jasper Kujavsky is the Liberal challenger.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely NDP


Charlottetown, P.E.I.

What’s the project?

Charlottetown’s library will move downtown and “incorporate the latest in modern technology and design.” Dennis King, the province’s new Tory premier, was at the announcement.

When was it announced?

Aug. 21

Who announced the money?

Sean Casey, MP for Charlottetown

How much are the feds spending?

$6.3 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won by 33.13 points

Which party came second?

NDP

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Sean Casey ran away with this riding in 2015, but Greens took three Charlottetown ridings in the recent P.E.I. election. Darcie Lanthier is that party’s candidate.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Leaning Liberal


Thornhill, Ont.

What’s the project?

Global Plas, an auto-parts supplier that’s currently making door and fender parts for Toyota’s RAV4, will add new production lines, molding machines and automation equipment. The federal money is expected to create 50 jobs.

When was it announced?

Aug. 22

Who announced the money?

Francesco Sorbara, the MP for Vaughan-Woodbridge

How much are the feds spending?

$2.5 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Conservatives won by 24.8 points

Which party came second?

Liberal

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Peter Kent, a three-term incumbent and former environment minister, will look to continue his winning streak. His Liberal challenger is non-profit executive Gary Gladstone.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely Conservative


Lac-Saint-Jean, Que.

What’s the project?

Inotech, an equipment supplier for the lumber industry, will be able to “install CNC machining equipment, purchase specialized software, expand and refit its building, and revamp the company’s portal and website.”

When was it announced?

Aug. 22

Who announced the money?

Richard Hébert, the MP for Lac-Saint-Jean

How much are the feds spending?

$563,400

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won a 2017 by-election by 13.58 points

Which party came second?

Conservative

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Jocelyn Fradette, a teacher and Alma city councillor since 2005, will try to wrench the riding away from the Liberals. Tories held this from 2007-2017.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely Conservative


Regina-Wascana, Sask.

What’s the project?

The Globe Theatre’s home in downtown Regina, the Prince Edward building, is more than a century old. The federal money will upgrade masonry, electrical and mechanical systems, and structural columns.

When was it announced?

Aug. 23

Who announced the money?

Ralph Goodale, public safety minister and the MP for Regina-Wascana

How much are the feds spending?

$10.8 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Liberals won by 24.86 points

Which party came second?

Conservative

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Ralph Goodale has held this riding for the last 25 years. Liberals aren’t polling well on the Prairies, though. Tory candidate Michael Kram is looking to win a rematch.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Toss-up


Cariboo-Prince George, B.C.

What’s the project?

The Cariboo Highway section of Hwy 97, which runs through Quesnel, B.C., will get new traffic signals at both Racing Road and Quesnel-Hydraulic Road. The federal money will “significantly increase driver safety.”

When was it announced?

Aug. 23

Who announced the money?

Francois-Philippe Champagne, minister for infrastructure and communities

How much are the feds spending?

$7.7 million

Who won the last election—and by how much?

The Conservatives won by 5.15 points

Which party came second?

Liberal

Who’s the main Liberal competition?

Todd Doherty won a three-way race after longtime Conservative MP Dick Harris left office. Tracy Calogheros, the CEO of the science centre in Prince George, will try to win a rematch for the Liberals.

What’s the 338Canada projection?

Likely Conservative