Ottawa spends — and spends, and spends, a spends.

- May 22nd, 2012

MPs are not in the House of Commons this week. This is a “break week” or “riding week.” It is also the kind of week when government MPs run about the country handing out cheques. I’ve been tracking these ceremonies ever since the last federal election. I do this through a real-time Twitter project known as @OttawaSpends and, from time-to-time I summarize the data here.

It is now just 2 pm Ottawa time on this first business day of this break week and, so far, government MPs have been been busy with 12 announcements in various parts of the country during which more than $101 million was committed, spent or celebrated.

(One might suggest that Canada would balance its budget quicker if there were fewer break weeks!)

The smallest funding announcement so far was made by Revenue Minister Gail Shea who handed a $51,975 cheque to a curling club in Summerside, PEI so the club could do some upgrades. The club, the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club, is in Shea’s riding. (Shea had a second cheque presentation in her riding today, as well, giving the Holland College Marine Training Centre in Summerside a $250,000 grant to buy equipment.  The biggest announcement of the day so far was made Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Bernard Valcourt who said $49 million in funding had been released to several research projects throughout Atlantic Canada.

The spending for most of today’s announcements, such as Valcourt’s research project funding, will be spread across several ridings held by MPs of several parties. But there have been 5 announcements so far, like Shea’s, where the money will be spent in a riding held by a Conservative. Those five ridings are sharing $23 million in funding. Two of the announcements worth a combined $10.5 million are for funds to be spent in ridings held by the NDP. There were no announcements aimed at ridings held by other parties.

So far, since the May 2, 2011, government MPs have put their names on 1,503 spending announcements which have a combined valued of $12.7 billion.

Breaking that down by party:

  • 646 spending announcements in Tory ridings where $3.4 billion will be spent.
  • 428 announcements in NDP-held ridings where $1.48 billion will be spent.
  • 97 announcements in Liberal-held ridings where $107.8 million will be spent.
  • 272 announcements where the money will be distributed on a national or regional basis.  These announcements total $5.3 billion.
  • 35 announcements totalling $2.4 billion in spending outside of the country.

Here’s what this project counts as a “spending announcement”: A spending announcement is any time a federal government department issues a press release on behalf of a minister and/or MP announcing or celebrating the spending of taxpayer dollars. It does not matter if it is new money or old money, a re-announcement or a new announcement. All we care about is the fact that an MP is standing up and looking to gain a little glory by handing over a cheque. Notably, only government MPs hand out cheques. You will never see an opposition MP officially recognized in any funding announcement.

We also try to determine where the money will be spent. If it will be spent entirely within a given riding, we try to note that too as a check against evidence of pork-barrelling.

You can read more about my @OttawaSpends project here.

Categories: Politics

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4 comments

  1. Gabby in QC says:

    Math is not my forte, but here goes anyway.

    The total # of spending announcements in ridings held by a particular party = 1171
    So, 1171 = 100% of spending announcements, excluding those on national, regional, or international spending.
    • 55. 17% of spending announcements went to CPC ridings
    The CPC holds 53.90% of the ridings in the House
    • 36.55% of spending announcements went to NDP ridings
    The NDP holds 33.12% of the ridings in the House
    • 8.28% of spending announcements went to Liberal ridings
    The Liberals hold 11.36% of seats in the House

    That’s pretty fair distribution of spending, I’d say.

    If Canadians were asked which spending they’d like to see cut, they’d probably point to someone else elsewhere, never their own community. That’s human nature for you!

  2. Denny Lama says:

    And the Ottawa Special Needs Equipment Exchange is due to close in June because they can’t get $60k from charities or gov’t.
    Our gov’t spends lots of money to builds artificial lakes for no good reason but funding for the poor & handicapped who need wheelchairs and such, not do much.
    Makes you weep.

  3. Gabby in QC says:

    Denny Lama, I don’t know whether appeals for funding have been made to other levels of government — municipal, provincial — to some Ottawa MPs*, or other organizations besides the United Way mentioned in this article:
    http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/05/14/furey-cutting-a-program-that-works

    *List of Ottawa MPs (Wiki)
    Mauril Bélanger
    Paul Dewar
    John Baird
    Royal Galipeau
    David McGuinty
    Pierre Lemieux
    Gordon O’Connor
    Pierre Poilievre

    Perhaps Mr. Akin can steer you to other possibilities/government depatment, where funding for an apparently efficient program can be obtained. Good luck!

  4. Stephen Smith says:

    If the government wants to send me 51 grand for the Steve Smith Club I’d be happy to take the money. How does a private club, where I have to join and pay embership dues and I assume be accepted by the membership before I can join get public money?

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