Boondoggles and government waste

Boondoggles and government waste

One thing the Conservatives are talking about this election is government waste and corruption.  They point to the long gun registry, the sponsorship program and HRDC “billion dollar boondoggle”.  If you add all the reported waste together it would be about 2.25 billion dollars.  The Conservatives aren’t giving all the facts.

The gun registry is a bad idea and an expensive program but it isn’t waste.
A detailed review of the HRDC program revealed that the actual amount of money unaccounted for was $85 000.  A number the auditor general did not dispute.
The amount of money that was funneled to Liberal friendly ad agencies through the sponsorship program is at most 20 million.

Waste is bad, but a certain amount of it is inevitable.  I will not let 20 million dollars and change distract me from the 7 years of balanced budgets, the resilience of the economy, and the positive things Canada is trying to do on HIV/AIDS and 3rd world debt. 

I believe that the current government is less corrupt than the any of the governments we’ve had in the last 20 years.  Why?  Because we actually see the government admitting there are problems and they are putting measures in place to fix them.  The Mulroney era was well known as an age of cronyism and patronage but they had no internal reviews or independent auditors actually bring this stuff to public light.  Because the current Liberal government is more transparent I believe I can trust them more.

  1. #1 by lylem on May 26, 2004 - 10:59 am

    I agree 100%.

    This is a weakness of mine. I like big government. My tax money might be not well spent sometimes, but it is better than doing nothing at all.

    Like my 1st year Philosophy teacher said. “The system may stink, but is the best we got!”

  2. #2 by Sean Crocker on May 26, 2004 - 3:27 pm

    There’s a difference between waste (which is inevitable) and corruption. I can’t get too worked up about the gun registry (a billion dollars and counting – okay, a little worked up) or the HRDC scandal.

    The sponsorship scandal is different. That wasn’t just incompetence. Charges have already been laid, and there is a judicial inquiry. The public inquiry has been dissolved for some election.

    Some have alleged that the Prime Minister’s office might have been involved. An allegation is not the same as proof, but I think it merits investigation. At the very least, Chretien delayed the report until he was out of office.

    Less corrupt? That may be so, but unfortunately, we’ll never know. It sure doesn’t look good.

  3. #3 by RonG on May 26, 2004 - 5:13 pm


    If you want to pay taxes then feel free to do so. However, I do not wish to and I feel that taxes are theft.

    For example, this gun registry, which iis admitted by the government to be incapable of solving a crime, will neither reduce it. Thus it is a WASTE.

    The government KNOWS that it will not reduce crime. Thus it is CORRUPT.

    I fail to see how big goverment, which is unproductive, and even counter-productive, which is more intrusive today than most of the dictatorships previous to Lenin, and so restrictive of our rights as to discipline schoolteachers who write letters to newspaper editors gains such favour.

  4. #4 by Leighton Tebay on May 26, 2004 - 8:12 pm

    The waste I’m worried about is the billions and billions of dollars of interest our government pays every year because of the financial mismanagement of previous governments. The Conservatives proposed tax cuts, combined with new spending in health care and overly rosy economic forecasts communicate to me they have learned nothing from Paul Martin’s effective fiscal management. I agree with Paul Martin when he says Harper could take Canada where Harris has taken Ontario.

    Taxes are anything but theft when they provide the services they do.

  5. #5 by Sean Crocker on May 26, 2004 - 8:48 pm

    Martin is the individual who drastically cut transfer payments, which led to cuts such as the ones you mention by Harris.

    As for Harris, I don’t agree with everything he did, but give the guy credit in two areas: 1) He kept his promises and 2) government revenues increased, despite the tax cuts, during his term.

    There’s no doubt that Martin balanced the budget, which many before him failed to do. But that shouldn’t excuse flat-out corruption.

    Governments rot, and the longer they’re in power, the worse the rot. It’s time for a change.

  6. #6 by Leighton Tebay on May 26, 2004 - 11:08 pm

    Some governments rot. I think the Paul Martin Liberals are a significantly different government. That provides us the best of both worlds. We have some new vision in governance and we have some high quality people from the previous government (Hedy Fry being one notable exception.) Cabinet has lots of new faces.

    I’m not as well informed about Harris as I should be. If revenues increased, and spending cuts where made why is there a such a big deficit? Was there a problem on the spending side?

    That is what bothers me about Harper. It’s not just the tax cuts, its the new spending he is talking about. He is talking about deep tax cuts and spending money on the military, health care and “Pharmacare”. Sometimes tax cuts spur on the economy and don’t hit government revenue negatively at all. It’s been proven. However we have just come off a very significant tax break and I’m not sure we need another one. My personal priorities would be health, education and debt reduction.

    If Harper is going to do everything he says he will he is going to have make cuts somewhere. He isn’t being upfront and honest about what those spending cuts will be.

  7. #7 by Sean Crocker on May 27, 2004 - 6:02 am

    Well, I guess that leaves the NDP. 😉

    Things began to fall apart for Harris and Eves with the SARS crisis and with the decision to cap hydro rates. Eves was definitely not up to the job of governing.

    LT, you’re persuaded me to look more into the Conservative platform. I can’t help but think that a lot of us will be casting protest votes, because it really is time for a change. I smell a minority Liberal government.

  8. #8 by Sean Crocker on May 27, 2004 - 6:26 am

    While highly partisan, Andrew Coyne explains why we need a change:

    “Because it isn’t just about the $100 million, nor is it restricted to a few rogue bureaucrats and their sleazy advertising-industry friends. It isn’t even about corruption, at least as defined in the Criminal Code. Adscam, rather, is woven into the very fabric of Liberal Party dominance, a web of personal, political and even familial ties built up over the party’s many years in power and connected at every point with public money. It is of a piece with the HRDC scandal, the gun registry fiasco, the regional development slush funds, the lot. That is why the Liberals, whether Martinite or Chretienite, are so deathly afraid of the whole business. Whatever its virtues as a scandal in its own right, Adscam is more significant as the entry point, the single loose strand from which one can begin to unravel the rest. I do not mean this only in an investigative sense. It is rather the opportunity it provides to focus public attention, adjust public expectations, and through them alter the structure of Canadian politics.

    For what is striking about the whole Adscam affair is how unsurprising it was, any of it, to anyone…”

  9. #9 by Jordon Cooper on May 27, 2004 - 6:38 pm

    I don’t know if I agree with your assessment that this government is less corrupt than any other. The Liberal era has its share of cronyism as well. While the Conservatives had their consultants and lobbyists, so did the Liberals. There has been lots written that the lobbying firms dont’ really change that much, just the people who are the public faces in them (many have been around since the Trudeau era)

    This is the same group of people (by and large) that had Shawinigate, Jane Stewart, and Chretien’s refusal to fire minister’s who broke parliamentry tradition (Mulroney fired ministers who did far less wrong then Chretien ministers).

    To draw comparisons between this Conservative party and the old one is hard as well because beside the name, there is only one potential electoral link left and that is only if former Mulroney and Clark era minister, John Crosbie re-enters the race. None of the Conservatives have any electoral ties with the old Mulroney governments while over 100 Liberal MP’s have ties to the old “Team Chretien”. It doesn’t mean that they will not be anymore honest but they are a new generation of Conservatives.

  10. #10 by Leighton Tebay on May 27, 2004 - 6:59 pm


    I see a distinction between the Chretien Liberals and Paul Martin’s more honest approach. He actually admitted there was a problem and did fire the people he knew were involved.

    I can’t say there is less actual corrupt activities in the government, but there are people within the scope of government that are actually brining waste and corruption to light. Which is something that didn’t happen much before.

  11. #11 by Jordon on May 28, 2004 - 12:38 am

    It is still a hard comparison to take seriously as the Martinites have been in power for a couple of months and even in the Mulroney years, they were scandal free that long.

    I am not sure how one separates clearly the Martin years from the Chretien ones as Paul Martin rose many times in the House to defend and sweep under the rug the acts of the govt he was very powerful in.

  12. #12 by Sean Crocker on May 28, 2004 - 5:57 am

    I don’t know if we can credit Martin for coming clean either. He didn’t have much of a choice after Sheila Fraser released her report.

  13. #13 by Leighton Tebay on May 28, 2004 - 8:56 am


    He did have a choice. He could have done what Chretien has been doing for years.


    The absence of reported scandals in the Mulroney government doesn’t mean they didn’t have scandals. Only insiders knew about them. This Liberal government has independent auditors with real teeth that force the government to action. The difference between Martin and Chretien is that he is actually respecting the auditors reports.

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