The 2014 Summertime "Ottawa Spends" Winners

From a tuna sport fishing derby to golf tournaments to brain research, Conservative MPs rang up a whopping $1.4 billion bill handing out cheques on the summertime spending circuit.

The annual summer spending spree began on June 21 when the House of Commons shut down for the summer recess and it ends Monday when the House opens for its fall sitting season.

But in the 85-day-summer that government MPs had to hit the barbecue circuit, a total of 432 spending announcements were logged in our exclusive QMI Agency “Ottawa Spends” database.

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Let the summer of spending begin!

Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Robert Goguen (centre) in a picture from his MP Web site at recycling facility in Tracadie-Sheila, NB where Goguen presented the facility’s owners with a cheque from the feds for $792,500. Among backbench Conservatives, Goguen was the 2013 Parliamentary Summer #OttawaSpends champ with 11 spending announcements, like this one, totalling $5.2 million.

The House of Commons shuts down today for the summer recess and so begins a summer of government MPs handing out cheques at various festivals and events around the country.

For your information, the Parliamentary Summer last year ran from June 20 to Oct 15 and, over that period, Conservative MPs put their names on 510 spending announcements. The combined value of all those spending announcements was $2.4 billion.

My database that tracks all these spending announcements, by the way, is now at about 4,800 separate spending announcements since 2011 federal election. They range from, say, the awarding of a $500 million contract to a firm in Esquimalt, BC to retro-fit our submarines to $2,000 to organize some studio tours on Saltspring Island, B.C.. Continue reading Let the summer of spending begin!

The Ministerial handout: The scorecard on who in Harper's cabinet handed out how much

Denis Lebel hands out the cash
Minister Denis Lebel (left) is one of the pros in Stephen Harper’s cabinet when it comes to handing out federal cash. Here, the mayor of Saint-Edmond-les-Plaines, QC, Rodrigue Cantin gives Lebel a hug earlier this year after taxpayers across Canada chipped in $272,000 to help fix up the community centre in Cantin’s community. See bottom of this post for more info. (PHOTO COURTOISIE/LE POINT)

One of the most important jobs for any minister is handing out tax dollars. The federal government collects more than $245 billion dollars a year in taxes and fees paid by individuals and businesses and, more often than not, spends more than it collects. Some of that spending is unavoidable — think Old Age Security benefits or transfer payments to the province for health care and social services — but a good chunk every year is quite discretionary. And when there’s a political spending choice to be made, you can bet a government minister wants his or her name associated with this decision.

As I’ve written here before, I try to track as many press releases as I can detailing spending announcements through my “OttawaSpends” project and, so far, up until Monday’s cabinet shuffle, Continue reading The Ministerial handout: The scorecard on who in Harper's cabinet handed out how much

In hot water for big spending ways, Canada's top librarian quits

Hot off the presses ..

Not only did the French- and English-speaking Caron bill taxpayers more than $4,000 in 2011-12 so he could take one-on-one Spanish lessons, he signed a $10,000 contract last year for another year’s worth of lessons though a spokesman said no charges were ever actually incurred on that second contract.

Still, Caron appeared to enjoy the taxpayer-funded perks of the job.

Caron enjoyed dining, for example, at the swanky Rideau Club in downtown Ottawa, billing taxpayers more than $2,100 for his 31 visits to the members-only club over the last two years. And if he wasn’t eating at the Rideau Club, taxpayers still paid: He expensed more than $8,700 for 35 business lunches elsewhere over the last two years.

Researchers with the opposition NDP calculated that Caron’s total bill to taxpayers for his travel and hospitality was more than $87,000 last year alone, including six trips to Europe so he could meet with international archivists. By comparison, his boss, the heritage minister, spent about only half that – $47,755 – on travel and hospitality.

via Sun News : In hot water for big spending ways, Canada’s top librarian quits.

The opposition NDP is on to this:

Pools, arenas and other "modern and efficient public infrastructure" spending

 Economic Action Plan

The federal budget of last week included a commitment to a 10-year $53-billion infrastructure spending program, “a new infrastructure plan focused on projects that create jobs and economic growth,” the budget documents said.

The purpose of the multi-billion dollar infrastructure programs that are just wrapping up as well as the decade-long one ahead of us is to build “modern and efficient public infrastructure in every community.” Continue reading Pools, arenas and other "modern and efficient public infrastructure" spending

Snowmobiles and The Harper Government: The track record

Stephen Harper rides a snowmobile in Iqaluit
IQALUIT – Prime Minister Stephen Harper rides a snowmobile in Iqaluit on Feb. 23, 2012. (Reuters/Chris Wattie)

So far in the last couple of weeks, The Harper Government™  has announced about $940,000 worth of grants to snowmobile clubs all of which are in Quebec and almost all of which were to help those clubs by snowmobile trail grooming machines — expensive bits of equipment that can cost in excess of $100,000 per machine.

No snowmobile club in any other province has received any other snowmobile grants so far. And, based on the history of snowmobile-related grants made during the last Parliament, it’s unlikely any province other than Quebec is going to get some. That’s because, in the last Parliament, Quebec received $6.4 million in snowmo-grants; NB got $300,000; NL got $155,000 and the rest of the country got precisely nothing in the way of snowmo-grants.

Here, for the record, are the snowmobile-related handouts I tracked from my OttawaSpends database from the 40th Parliament: Continue reading Snowmobiles and The Harper Government: The track record

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

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. Continue reading Ottawa spends — and spends, and spends, a spends.