Posts Tagged ‘tax dollars wasted

About that Summit spending

- June 10th, 2011
g20

Photo taken on the Friday of the G20 Summit. Toronto's University Avenue at 5:30pm. Rush hour and a ghost town. PHOTO: Brian Lilley

Believe it or not there is good and bad Auditor General’s report into spending on the G8 and G20 Summits in Muskoka and Toronto last year.

On the good news side, the summits cost a heck of a lot less than expected. More on that in a moment. On the downside, some of the money appears to have been sued as a slush fund.

There can be no denying that Tony Clement and John Baird didn’t follow the right protocols, didn’t fill out proper paperwork, did not give Canadians the transparency they promised.

The $50 million legacy fund for the G8 funded project handpicked by Clement and approved by Baird. The Tories could claim, and in fact John Baird did claim, that “not a penny went missing.” We won’t know however because there is no way to check, no paperwork.

Tony Clement and John Baird could have actually run the cleanest G8 legacy fund the world will ever see and we still won’t know. There isn’t enough paperwork to know.

This is unacceptable and not what Canadians expect from the man, Baird, who helped develop the Federal Accountability Act in response to the sponsorship scandal. Canadians deserve better and should demand better.

Strangely, this poor handling handling of public money could have been a major election issue. Now retired Auditor General Sheila Fraser was supposed to release this report quite a while ago now but that was put off due to the election. Audits are tabled with Parliament and can only be released when Parliament is sitting.

While the Conservatives has spent far too much over the last five years the opposition parties have been nearly absent on holding the government to account on spending. They seem to view their job as getting elected rather than guarding the public purse.

Now as for saving the public money, these summits were supposed to have cost more than $1.1 billion. The actual cost is $664 million.

That’s right, the summits cost hundreds of millions of dollars less than expected. You won’t find that in The Toronto Star’s main story on the issue and CBC barely mentions it in passing.

It doesn’t excuse the huge problems with the $50 million fund but in a system where governments are over budget on just about everything, don’t you think saving hundreds of millions deserves at least as much coverage as having a dodgy record on how $50 million was spent?

I’d say so.

Bryn Weese nails it for Sun. He leads with the problems with the legacy fund but then also details why the government didn’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars they were expected to.

As for the summit funding, seven different requests were made to Parliament over two years from 14 different departments, and since the plans kept changing, it meant department estimates were rarely accurate.

In fact, although Parliament ultimately approved $1.1 billion for the two summits, it appears the true costs will be closer to $664 million, or slightly more than half.
“Because of the short timeframe to prepare for the summits, departments had to prepare budgets quickly, often with limited information,” Wiersema said in the statement.

“As a result, the funding requests significantly overestimated the amounts needed.”

For example, the RCMP missed the mark by $25 million on how much their hotel rooms in Toronto would cost. Instead of $600 per night, they were $200. Likewise, the budgeted $14 million in hotel rooms for the RCMP in Huntsville were never booked because of a change in plans. Originally, the RCMP budgeted $16 million to buy portable radios, but they actually only cost $5 million.

Likewise, National Defence budgeted for $11 million to use commercial aircraft, but were able to use their own planes most of the time, and used virtually none of the $11 million.

But, when it came to the summit spending, the auditor general found the money was spent on the intended purposes, despite Parliament being “poorly informed” about how much money was being requested and for what.

Taxpayers paying for Senate largesse

- December 15th, 2010

The books are open on the Senate and it ain’t pretty. My Sun Media colleague Althia Raj has been dogging this story for a while now and exposes some real problems found in an audit of the Senate.

OTTAWA — Canadian senators have been travelling around the globe with their spouses, charging personal items to their senate credit cards, making expense claims without receipts and running their offices in unprofessional ways, an audit of the Senate has revealed.

QMI Agency has learned auditors Ernst & Young also warned senators that the rules governing what constitutes official senate business need to be more clearly defined.

There is “a lack of clear guidance and criteria clarifying what activities constitute a parliamentary function,” auditors wrote after scrutinizing senators’ office expenditures from 2009.

Read the whole thing…

via Audit calls for tougher rules for senator expenses | Canada | News | Toronto Sun.

John Tory rips into CBC over accountability

- December 1st, 2010

John Tory is a passionate man but not an excitable man. He’s passionate about politics, Toronto and football but he’s not one to get excitable and lash out. I’ve known John a little while now – covered him as a politician and worked with him as a broadcaster. Still I was shocked to hear how angry he is at CBC for their accountability, or lack of accountability as the case may be.

I’d been asked to go on John’s show and chat about Sun Media’s ongoing series on the CBC called Down the Drain where we look at where your money is going, the $1.1 billion we give the CBC each year. Listen as John tory takes listeners from explaining why he used to defend the CBC and why he no longer will.

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Stash your cash “climate” summit is coming

Don Cherry works for CBC, the state broadcaster that still holds back documents on how it spends your money

Boozy days to fade away for civil servants

Fund the CBC or move to the States say CEEB supporters

- November 22nd, 2010

Apparently I should move to the United States. That’s what one reader has told me for daring to write something that questions the CBC and their $1.1 billion subsidy plus their access to hundreds of millions of dollars more from other sources of government mandated money for broadcasters.

Mike from Nova Scotia sent me the following in response to my weekend stories on the state broadcaster.

It is Canadian,(the CBC) if you have issue move to the states, take up one of their sports, listen to their version of CBC and make real sure your private health insurance is up to date and you have your lawyer(s) read everything twice, IT IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY.

I didn’t actually write anything that complains about CBC programming, I’ll leave that to others, what I am writing about is accountability. I can tell you from experience that the waste of money at CBC is a pet peeve of many CBC employees including reporters who can be nickled and dimed while the executives spend in ways that no other executive suite in the country would dare. Many of the stories we hear about CBC come from CBCers themselves.

It is true that the company I am employed by is owned by Quebecor, a competitor of CBC. Some wrote to say why should CBC have to open up how they spend their money of Quebecor does not. That’s simple – the $1.1 billion subsidy each year.

That subsidy costs more per year than the F-35 fighter jet purchase ever will. The CBC subsidy is worth 4 times the cost of the sponsorship scandal that saw millions flow to Liberal friendly people and firms in Quebec. One year of the CBC subsidy could fund three years of Canada’s Affordable Housing Initiative.

And of course there is the environment. One year of CBC funding could fund the Green Energy infrastructure fund for another five years. It was former Liberal environment minister David Anderson who said, “I don’t have the resources of the CBC.  It’s a good policy question as to whether or not we should be reversing that.”

I’m not calling on the CBC funding to be cut, just that they are open about how that $1.1 billion is spent. They have safeguards in place to protect journalistic sources and information that competitors could use to attack it, say like Quebecor. But it is our view that they are applying these exemptions far too widely.

If you have a story about the CBC wasting taxpayers money, we’d love to hear it. Email us @ cbctips@sunmedia.ca

If you missed the original stories you can read them at the links below.

Secretive CBC lacks accountability

CBC worst offender for ignoring info requests says expert

Government to CBC: be open, comply with law

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