There is a story today in the Vancouver Sun that confirms Nicholls assessment of the abuse of tax dollars, under the so-called Canada Economic Action Plan. It neatly lays out how this government turned what should have been a legitimate attempt at stimulating the economy, into a multi-million dollar ad campaign for the Conservative Party of Canada.
"The Economic Action Plan is just as much about stimulating the Conservative party's reelection chances... This is an abuse of tax dollars. Canadians should not be forced, through their taxes, to subsidize a political party's agenda." (Gerry Nicholls, National Post, Friday, October 16, 2009)
Senior bureaucrats told the Harper government shortly after the last election that its infrastructure plan could be used as a "strategically important" communications tool that would provide "excellent visibility" for local ministers and MPs, Canwest News Service has learned.
The advice was included in briefing notes released through Access to Information legislation. They were prepared for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister John Baird in the fall of 2008, shortly before opposition MPs started questioning whether the government was using its economic stimulus spending to raise its profile and boost its popularity.
From the beginning, the backroom of Harper's House of Haunts, was busy funnelling money to ridings that needed it most, not based on which ones were hit the hardest by the economic downturn, but those that would benefit the Reformers chances of winning the next election.
There is a website called Fake Action Plan, that goes into this in some depth.
Acton Plan Heavy on Advertising Short on Action
"The partisan handouts are just the latest game played with your tax dollars by a government that promised to do things differently. It has blanketed the airwaves with government-promotion ads at a pace six times the rate of any H1N1 public education blitz." (Don Martin, National Post, October 16, 2009)
Signs and television ads became more important than getting money out the door. In Kingston I found several large signs on projects that were .. well ... absent of any project. In fact the only action appearing to have been taken, was sticking up the damn sign.
One was in a church courtyard, where I often sit when I'm downtown. A huge sign blocked my view with the announcement that the Government of Canada was committed to restoring government buildings, or something to that effect.
But the nearest government building was at least a half a block away. So I walked down to it, and there just happened to be a maintenance guy outside, so I asked him if he knew of any restoration going on inside. He answered 'no, but I'm just about to mow the lawn'.
I found another at the base of a creek, with the claim that the Government of Canada was committed to preserving Canada's waterways. Waterways? It was a bloody creek. You could actually jump over it.
And all of this was paid for not only with my federal tax dollars, but provincial and municipal as well, since they found a way to bilk us at all levels.
Big Cardboard Cheques
"There really is sort of layer upon layer of scandal here. You've got not just the use of the logos but the use of individual MPs handing out this money." ( Andrew Coyne, CBC The National, October 15, 2009)
Canadians also learned of the abuse of the Government of Canada, trying to make it appear that the money was coming from the Conservative Party of Canada, and not the Canadian taxpayer.
The uproar was immediate with cries of whose money is it anyway. Not only were MPs handing out big cardboard cheques, signed by them or Stephen Harper, but they were also leaving out the local MPs, if they weren't from their party. One NDP MP complained that the project being funded was a result of her work, and yet she learned that it had been approved by reading it in her local paper. And guess who was handing out the cheque? The Conservative candidate for the next election.
Instead of targeting the stimulus money to areas that most needed it and were closer to actually putting shovels in the ground, the ref-Cons targeted the spending on ridings that were either vulnerable for them, or the ridings of cabinet ministers.
"Beyond the shameful chequebook politics, there's an apparent tendency to concentrate stimulus funding in government-held ridings." (Don Martin, National Post, October 16, 2009)
Pork-barrelling is nothing new, but the economic crisis called for urgent action, not politicking. Many of the projects that sported their 'Actions' signs were ones already in progress or for simple maintenance. Few new jobs.
My Postings on Fraudulent Economic Action Plan