Friday, June 10, 2011

Austerity for thee, but not for me

Senior Conservative officials broke federal rules to shower $50-million on the riding of the minister now overseeing Ottawa’s austerity plan, according to the final audit of a G8 program that fuelled opposition charges of pork-barrel politics.

In her last report, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said the funding for the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was approved by Parliament under the guise of a border initiative. The money was then distributed to projects in the riding of Treasury Board President Tony Clement without any input from civil servants, in a clear breach of federal policies dealing with transparency and accountability.

Tories respond to Auditor-General's G8 findings “It is very unusual and troubling. There is no paper trail behind the selection of the 32 projects,” said John Wiersema, the interim Auditor-General who recently took over from a retired Ms. Fraser. “I, personally, in my career in auditing, have not encountered a situation like that.”


The report provides embarrassing ammunition to Mr. Clement’s critics, who noted that his main task at the moment is to find wasteful spending as part of efforts to bring down the annual federal budget by $4-billion.

“That’s rich,” said NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair. “When we see that he’s the most wasteful spender in the history of the Canadian government since the sponsorship scandal.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the program a “slush fund for pork-barrel projects” in Mr. Clement’s riding.

As the government started seeking approval for the fund in Parliament in 2009, it buried the initiative in a larger $83-million item identified as the “Border Infrastructure Fund.” As such, when Parliament approved the funding, “the request only indicated that money was to be used.
Albertans will be familiar with the brand of politics; billions spent on paving dirt roads in sparsely populated but reliably Conservative rural ridings.  Giant state of the art hospitals for small town Alberta while in Calgary one of the few remaining hospitals left is blown up in a festive ceremonial atmosphere.

Get used to it folks, rewarding their supporters and punishing anyone with the temerity to vote against them is practically the Conservative raison d'être

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