Saturday, December 22, 2007

Government Wasting Funds?

There is something inherently odd, if not downright wrong, about a government using taxpayer money to study a proposal by the opposition Liberals. We can debate the merits of what the study on Dion's poverty plan concludes, although when you look at who initiated the analysis, the math should certainly be viewed with scepticism. Are Canadians funding the Conservatives election campaign:
However, an internal government analysis of Mr. Dion's spending plans, obtained by the National Post, suggests that when Canadians take a closer look at what the Liberals are proposing, they may decide the country can ill afford.

Yet the analysis of the Liberal poverty plan calculated that increased funding for the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), improved child benefits and a richer Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors would cost upward of $5-billion a year.

This, of course, assumes that spending buckets of taxpayers' money in the teeth of an economic downturn has the desired effect on lifting low-income earners out of poverty.

McCallum gets it right:
He dismissed the analysis as "speculative" and "wrong," and said it was inappropriate for the government to ask its officials to cost the Liberal platform.

The column mentions taxpayer money, but the irony is that the government is wasting taxpayer money studying a Liberal proposal. Is it ethical for the government to use civil servant resources to build a case, that can be used against the Liberals during an election? Shouldn't criticism, or cost analysis be done by party hacks, because clearly the motivation for this "analysis" was partisan advantage. Why is the government wasting time and energy studying a theoretical proposition, from a party that holds no levers of power? I don't think Canadians would be comfortable with the idea of using the government apparatus to develop a talking point in an election campaign. There is something intuitively wrong here, whatever the cost incurred, it should be transferred to the Conservative Party of Canada.

UPDATE

The Jurist also smells a skunk

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suggest you read the following article:

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=191710

I think it is money well spent, for it will be to expensive to impliment.

"The problem for Mr. Dion is that, as the Prime Minister made clear in his year-end interviews this week, the economy is slowing and the government will have to be prudent with its future spending plans."

Even Dion admidts that the economy is not going to be as strong as at present.

"On top of the 30-50 plan, in his "war against poverty" speech, Mr. Dion also promised that a Liberal government would implement the Kelowna Accord for First Nations, at a cost of $5-billion over five years, and would introduce the "Dryden Plan" on universal child care, pencilled in at another $5-billion over five years. When you add in the cost of bringing back Mr. Dion's Project Green environment plan -- conservatively pegged at $1.3-billion a year -- you have spending increases estimated at around $8-billion a year in a slowing economy. Bottom line: The Liberals have already spent the surplus more than twice over."

Reality sucks sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Taxpayer money spent to find a way to try to destroy Dion's plan? This is totally unethical and I wouldn't trust what Harper comes up with or the views of the National Post.

Steve V said...

anon

I suggest you pay attention, my post links to that article :)

anon

It is interesting that NP was the one to get the details, isn't it?

Ti-Guy said...

It's completely unethical. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is criminal. Opposition research should be funded from Party resources, not our taxes.

No one should be defending this, certainly not "not-tax and spend a lot" Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

.When people complain about the cost.. no more than the government wasted cutting the GST or billions to Quebec and large corporations, just to win votes. I am sure the way they waste money, enough could be found to help the seniors and the poor, plus the Environment. The GST cut only helps the upper earners.

Scotian said...

No government should be using taxpayer dollars/resources to do such analysis of their competition's proposals, PERIOD!!! Proposed legislation is one thing, but that is not what this is, is it!?! I do not care who the government is or what party they are, this is inherently an abuse of power/position so as to conserve the resources of the political party for other purposes including fighting a general election. It also is an attempt to add a veneer of "non-partisanship" by having it credited to the civil service instead of the partisan workers of a political party.

You are right Steve V, this is inherently wrong, and the only reason I do not support Ti-Guy's contention that this is criminal is that I am not certain exactly which section of the criminal code this violates. If/when that is determined I will be more than happy to add the description criminal conduct to what is clearly incredibly unethical/immoral conduct, especially from a party that went on and on and on and on and on in opposition about how the previous government shouldn't be using government resources for any partisan purposes, and this study is by definition a partisan purpose given it is about the main competitor to the CPC's poverty strategy/plan and not anything actually proposed to be put in place by the current government.

Good catch Steve V; this is something that cannot be allowed to pass by unnoticed. I also would have to add it is noteworthy that this story appears in the NP, the supposedly conservative national paper, so did this leak come from a civil servant or as I suspect more likely from a political operative of the CPC?

Miles Lunn said...

Unless the government is actually planning to implement it (which I doubt it) then yes it is inappropriate. The Conservatives are awash in cash so they can use some of their donations to do this.

Ron said...

When Harper ignores the advice of the opposition he is a partisan, closed-minded bully but when he is willing to look at opposition views and study them, he is a partisan thief using taxpayers money == looks like all the open-minded, fair spirited people out there just hate the guy and are willing to twist and turn anything he does into a negative and spew hatred and dirt to satisfy their own biases. I don't agree with a lot of what Harper does but I totally despise the class of people who inhabit and run the Liberal party. They are a hateful group with one idea in mind. Getting their grubby little hands on the taxpayer trough. I am worried that the Liberals will bankrupt the country with Dion policies in the future like they did with Trudeau policies of the past. Chretien spent his entire PMship trying to fix the financial disaster Trudeau and Mulroney got the country into and now Dion wants to head right back into it.

Scotian said...

ron:

Nice twisting/spinning there, too bad only your fellow Harperites are going to swallow this transparent attempt to deflect from the truth. That truth being the CPC is using government resources for explicit partisan purposes, in this case to try to discredit their main opponent's poverty plan via the use of the civil service to do so which would give their conclusions increased weight/credibility via the appearance of non-partisanship that the civil service is supposed to embody as opposed to the blatant partisanship if this was done within the CPC itself.

This is not about whether one likes or dislikes a leader; this is about principle, which is clearly why you don't understand the reactions here. The principle is that partisan activities are done by partisans, not by civil servants, where any party that is the government is concerned. Too bad that you are clearly too partisan to grasp this rather basic tenet of Canadian politics. Classic CPC practice of expediency (in the service of the lust for power) before principle, the true defining trait of the Harper CPC.

Ron said...

So, just because I don't want an excessive waste of monies under Dion that makes me a target for your insults. NOW I know your a Liberal - like I said, a turly hateful group.

Steve V said...

Ron

Address the point, that being our government wasting money studying a hypothetical policy, from an opposition party. I'm not sure what Trudeau has to do with, nor the hateful Liberals (quite rich, considering Harper's new party was founded on hatred for the Liberals), it's simply a question of if the government should be using resources, so they can have ammunition in an election campaign. Given the supposed massive war chest, let the party hacks pickup the tab, not the people.

Anonymous said...

What's not ethical is Stephane Dion and the Liberal's do best, promise the world without a price tag.

Oh wait, raising the GST...my bad.

Steve V said...

anon

I love how you guys can't address the point. Funny really.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

What else after all though can you expect from those that willnot/cannot act in an intellectually honest principled manner in their approach to politics?

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

Try addressing the original point that Dion committing to a bunch of social programs that will obviously have massive price tags attached but no hard numbers.

Dion said he'll consider raising the GST so it's fair game to point out that fact.

wilson said...

When Goodale was fin.min. he said the Cons's 2006 election platform would amount to:
"Tax cuts, program cuts and a deficit all at once. It appears that these figures are a formula for that kind of result," Goodale said.
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canadavotes2006/national/2006/01/13/goodale060113.html

Even with all the govt files in hand, Libs were so off base re: Cons platform costs, it is laughable.

As for the use of govt money, that money would have already been spent in analysis for the next budget; which is the right and duty of the governing party
( CONSERVATIVE incase you forgot);
running the Dion promises thru the computer for analysis likely took all of 7 entries and 20 minutes.
At a cost of $?? plus the paper to print it on.

It may annoy you Libs that your platform is shot down before it was even fully presented, but
in an economic turndown, who will Canadians want running the country?
Harper = economist
Dion = professor/environmentalist

Steve V said...

wilson

"Even with all the govt files in hand, Libs were so off base"

LOL, what about Flaherty's projections in the last two budgets? It would seem nobody understand the windfall. Your point is mute.

anon

"Hey Steve,

Try addressing the original point that Dion committing to a bunch of social programs that will obviously have massive price tags attached but no hard numbers.

Dion said he'll consider raising the GST so it's fair game to point out that fact."

First off, Dion hasn't costed out the platform, so why comment? Second, and more importantly, why are dodging the thrust of my post? I know why, because you can't defend using taxpayer money for partisan purposes.

Tootrusting said...

Harper = economist

Don't make me laugh I guess that is why he couldn't get one single fact about Income Trusts right or his attempt to fix the alleged problem resulted in a $2 Billion a year loss in tax revenue so far.

His idea of economics is spending like a drunken sailor in the hope of buying a few votes.

As an economist he needs to go back to school, 10th grade.
Most economist have dismal records at running anything that is why most of them are policy wonks, sounds familiar

Anonymous said...

Steve says

"First off, Dion hasn't costed out the platform, so why comment?

Ha,ha,ha so what your saying is the government has a better idea about what you guys would spend then your own party ha,ha,ha

Man that is scary.

But then again when you have Bob Rae writting your platform what do you expect.

But you are right no need to comment, b/c you guys are out to lunch when it comes to costing your own programs.

Steve V said...

tootrusting

Just to add to your point, if Harper is such a good "economist", why has his tax package received ABSOLUTELY NO endorsements from any economist or think tank?

anon

Yawn, you're a colossal bore.