Debate Over Government Waste Should Start With Biggest Offences

This past week was a turbulent one in Canadian politics as Parliament opened and the gun registry came to dominate all debate. Divisions across Canada were portrayed in the mainstream media as a rural/urban divide, with some outlets going as far as to suggest a cultural divide. This ignores the reality that I have experienced throughout Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing where people expressed their opinion on the subject with good reasons for being in either camp. But that kind of a story doesn’t sell as many papers.

The argument I heard most often from those who would rather scrap the registry was that it is wasteful. It is an honest opinion that gets most of its fuel from the way the Liberals threw excessive amounts of money at the start-up phase. However, it is important to consider that it now costs about 10 cents a Canadian per year.

I am not one to go around defending waste and I never will be. I believe that the current cost of the registry is not excessive when compared to other programs that are national in scope. I also think that if we are going to talk about waste, we might want to start with some of the big-ticket money wasters. In my opinion they are much more galling and demonstrate how the government chooses to put their friends and interests ahead of the concerns of most Canadians.

How else can we explain the subsidies to the oil and gas industry in Canada? While so many Canadians wait to return to full-time work and ¼ million seniors live in poverty, oil executives are collecting bonuses in the millions of dollars and we are footing the bill with subsidies in the billions of dollars every year for this profitable sector.

When the Conservatives wanted to dazzle world leaders, they spent over a billion dollars on the G-8 and G-20 summits. We saw money go into the creation of a fake lake, frivolous gazebos and public washrooms in Conservative ridings nowhere near the summit, and the summit ultimately being moved to a location that proved the most costly to secure when other options – even in Toronto – were available. Recent G-8 and G-20 meetings in other countries have been secured and hosted for a fraction of what was spent in June.

Perhaps the biggest kicker is the $20 billion in corporate tax cuts scheduled to take place over the next five years. For years we have shelled out corporate tax cuts, being told that it is the only way to preserve business in Canada. What do we get in return? Canada continues to shed full-time jobs and the profits of what remains flow to offshore investors, thanks to relaxed foreign investment rules. Ask the workers at Vale/Inco what they think of foreign investment.

Ultimately there is an end game being pursued by the Conservatives. They are interested in reducing the government’s capacity to provide the kind of services on which Canadians depend. Soon they will make the case that we can no longer afford Medicare. If they have their way, we won’t be able to, and more of their friends will line up to charge us for insurance that we will surely need.

In addition to what is detailed above, one only needs to look at the budget for self-congratulatory advertising which now sits at $130 million as compared to the $41.3 million spent when the Conservatives took power. By frivolously wasting tax payer’s money, it is easy to see that the government commitment to tackling waste is not sincere.