Conservatives set the bar low for sound economic management

You may remember how money earmarked to secure the border actually built gazebos in Tony Clement’s riding in preparation for the G8/G20 meetings before those chin-wags were ultimately moved to Toronto.  At the time the story was eclipsed by the $2 million fake lake in the media centre for the same G8, but it was an indicator of how fast and loose this government is willing to play it with the books.

Despite their fervent wish to be seen (and talked about) as gifted economic managers, the Conservatives have shown themselves to be prone to spells of recklessness and self-gratification in ways that shows them to be among the worst economic managers out there.  Given the choice between the pork barrel and prudence they have gone down the road to the butcher far too often.

Worse, this government has a penchant for making big announcements and then leaving money unspent.  Whether it is intended for Veterans or meant to beef up exports, at the end of the day this government sets the table for a lot of spending that never materializes.  Then they turn around and have the gall to suggest they are coming in under-budget and saving Canadians money.

For veterans, the rough ride is nothing new.  Still, the recent revelation that Veterans Affairs handed almost $1.1 billion dollars back to federal coffers since the Conservatives came to power is most unwelcome news.  Veterans have been forced to fight for every penny of benefits they receive and for those who have had their claims denied, news that the department is intentionally not spending their budget is a bitter pill to swallow.

Similarly, the government has made much in the way of announcements about their economic action plan item designed to help Canadian companies beef up their exports.  Somehow the money isn’t finding its way past the announcement stage for this idea and a full 18 months after being announced, not a single project has received any money.  It is a case of the cowboy being all hat, again. 

Then there is the small matter of $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism money that is unaccounted for.   Yes unaccounted for!  The auditor general told us about it last April, but there has been no explanation from the government as to how such a huge sum could disappear from the books over a decade of anti-terrorism efforts. 

Without a bigger forensic effort or an admission from the government itself, there is no knowing what happened to the money.   One thing is certain; a government made of strong economic managers wouldn’t lose that much cash, unless they were trying to.  But, I have said it before and I likely will again, with this crew ‘strong economic manager’ is an ironic nick-name – like when you call the big guy ‘tiny.’