OTTAWA, ON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) recently held its 18th annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony, celebrating the best of the worst in government waste. CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick served as host, joined by the CTF’s pig mascot Porky the Waster Hater and talented event hostess Amy. The awards event took place on Parliament Hill at the Charles Lynch Press Conference Theatre.
The Teddy, the pig-shaped award given annually by the CTF to government’s worst waste offenders, is named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was turfed in 1999 for submitting a panoply of dubious expense claims, including a $700 lunch for two.
“Opposing government waste is serious work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun highlighting some of the most ridiculous examples,” said Wudrick. “Especially since the capacity for governments to dream up creative new ways to waste money seems infinite.”
Federal Teddy Winner: Canada’s 2015 COP Paris Delegation
Canada’s delegation to the 2014 conference numbered 69 people – but the new Trudeau government quadrupled that figure to 283 for the 2015 event. The total bill for taxpayers has yet to be tallied, but the costs from one Ministerial office alone ran to $282,000.
“It seems counter productive to stick nearly 300 people on green-house gas spewing planes to fly them to a conference to figure out how to cut greenhouse gasses. There’s simply no need for such a large delegation, especially considering even the United States sent less than half as many people,” said Wudrick.
Provincial Teddy Winner: PEI’s Department of Tourism and Culture
Prince Edward Island’s Department of Tourism and Culture printed 180,000 copies of their 2015 tourism guide. The cover features a man and a woman relaxing on a sandy PEI beach, with the woman reading a book and the man in shorts laying back and relaxing. Unfortunately, the department clearly failed to notice a significant “bulge” in his shorts that appears to be an erection.
“This was a pretty firm example of government oversight,” continued Wudrick. “But the consolation may be burgeoning prospects for PEI’s tourism industry.”
Municipal Teddy Winner: City of Calgary’s waste station “poop palace”
The City of Calgary spent an extra $246,000 on a project to embed LED lights on its new Forest Lawn Lift Station that change color depending on how fast the station is pumping waste water. Opened in September 2015, the new lift station proved immediately controversial, with area residents dubbing it the “poop palace.”
“Most people would agree that our waste water is something to manage discreetly, rather than celebrated with an expensive hilltop art project,” noted Wudrick.
Lifetime Achievement Teddy: Bombardier
Cost: At least $3.8 billion and counting
Bombardier, the Montreal-based aerospace and transportation company is one of Canada’s longest-running corporate welfare recipients, having taken at least $3.8 billion in public funds (2015 dollars) since 1966. They are rumoured to have asked for an additional $1 billion in support from the federal government.
“Bombardier is certainly not the only Canadian company surviving on taxpayer handouts,” said Wudrick. “But there is no question that it is one of Canada’s most prominent symbols of a fiscally wasteful, economically distorting and politically manipulative strategy of subsidizing failed private companies with public dollars.”
Other nominees included:
Federal – The Canadian Museum of Human Rights: $1.89 million for opening weekend events, in addition to huge capital and operating overruns.
Federal – The “Severance Seven”: New MPs collecting taxpayer-funded ‘transition’ packages from former jobs in provincial and municipal politics – in spite of now having higher-paying jobs as MPs.
Provincial – Thunder Bay Biomass Plant: $40 million per year to operate a coal-turned-biomass plant that run only on imported Norwegian wood chips, generating energy at 25 times the average cost.
Provincial – The Alberta School Boards Association: For spending $41,000 on such baubles as an adult Easter egg hunt and off-site planning events at luxury hotels.
Municipal – City of Victoria: For spending $10,000 on installing musical sensors on the stairwell railings in a municipal parking garage.
Municipal – City of Saskatoon: Two separate nominations, for a $5.3 million money-losing parking system that doesn’t work well in cold weather and spending $462,000 on a decorative lighting system on a bridge that was subsequently torn down.