Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beyond The "Rhetoric"

What to make of it all? I thought it might be TELLING to compile a list of independent examinations, regarding the stimulus spending and "fairness". It is true, that statistics can be misleading, which is why many times we do see seemingly contradictory empirical information that can be confusing. In many instances debates are reduced to dueling claims and the truth tends to get lost in the numbers. Anyways, in an effort to move past partisan rhetoric, here are samples of all available media analysis, using government provided data sets.


Oct 13 Chronicle Herald
The analysis by The Chronicle Herald supports the conclusions reached by a federal Liberal party report, which found that Conservative ridings across the country have been getting more federal economic stimulus funding than opposition-held ridings have.

In Nova Scotia, though, the projects announced so far do not appear to be fairly distributed.

Oct 20 Ottawa Citizen:
Tory ridings receive bigger slice of big-money stimulus cash: Research

Conservative ridings across Canada received more than their fair share of big-money stimulus projects paid for by taxpayers, an investigation into the Harper government's Economic Action Plan shows.

The numbers — drawn from Ottawa's own website — bolster opposition allegations of pork barrelling in the multi-billion-dollar stimulus package, a charge the Tories deny.

An Ottawa Citizen-Halifax Chronicle-Herald investigation shows 57 per cent of the projects, with more than $1 million in federal funding nationwide, went to Conservative ridings.

Oct 20 Chronicle Herald:
Vote Tory, get an ice rink
Our analysis shows more blue ridings got rec funding

Funds from a federal stimulus program for hockey rinks and other recreation projects in communities across Canada appear to have been awarded disproportionately to Conservative ridings, an investigation shows.

Tory ridings have landed 66 per cent of all projects announced so far under the Harper government’s Recreation Infrastructure Canada program, also known as RinC.

Oct 21 Globe and Mail:
Recreational stimulus favours Tory ridings

A high-profile Harper government stimulus program created to build hockey rinks and other recreation projects has funnelled about 33 per cent per cent more money to Conservative seats than to opposition ridings in the battleground province of Ontario.

An analysis by The Globe and Mail shows Tory ridings received an average of $2.1-million, compared to $1.5-million on average for opposition ridings.

More evidence coming in tomorrow's Globe and Mail, according to CTV.



I know the Liberals and Kennedy are making up all this stuff for partisan gain, but it is strange that the Conservative counters can't find ONE SINGLE INDEPENDENT REFERENCE POINT TO VALIDATE their claims. Can't they give L. Ian MacDonald or The National Post a calculator and some cooked numbers to get some "balance" out there? Dmitri, my man??

In all seriousness, if the government had any credibility, you would expect to see some conflicting data produced. In fact, the law of averages almost suggests some limited backing. But NO, whatever rock is turned over, finds the same worrying favoritism.

Forget checks, this is the real issue that will blow up in their faces. The reason, it's TRUE.


cls said...

I've been surprised at the really weak response from the Tories. They claim, "the liberals did it, too", and then don't produce images that can be reproduced in the media. Even better (or worse) is Baird claiming we can do it because Chretien said we could. Cripes, what will they think of next.
I do get the distinct impression that mud is starting to stick to the Tories, and they're no longer control the narrative as firmly as before.

Steve V said...

I think the weakness speaks to not having much available outside of their own spin. At some point, you need more than just Baird yelling and Harper being dismissive, particularly if everyday it's drip, drip, drip.

I agree on one aspect I heard mentioned. Liberals should be weary of continual "stunts", stick to the substance and let the media uncover what is there. The doorknob thing was classic, but you don't want to do that stuff everyday, people get bored.

KNB said...

cls, the thing is, we didn't do it. They claim it, but it's false.

That failed so they have gone back to the '90's and sponsorship.

Yes bad, yes the world has moved on, but by bringing this into the mix, the CPC is cool with being in that company.

Their aim of course is to make every party weak and hold their base. A pox on all their houses, stands them in good stead, because many of their voters, vote blindly.

Sometimes mud in your eye bolts you to your feet and out of your reverie.

We shall see.

Jerry Prager said...

That assumes that the rest of the media will start doing their jobs.

KNB said...

With you on the stunts Steve.

Lizt. said...

What happened to liblogs, as that site has blogs from the 19th.

DL said...

Meanwhile in other news, today the Liberals voted with the Conservatives to kill an NDP bill on climate change that they had previously supported and the environmental community is up in arms. I guess now we really know that Ignatieff is a eco-terrorist.

Steve V said...

Try to focus DL.

Steve V said...


It actually seems like some of them are doing their jobs now. Everybody but NP is poking around now. Nice change.

Rick said...

No one seems to mention that in Ontario, the provincial Liberals, and George Smitherman specifically, worked hand in hand with Tony Clement on RinC:

"A spokeswoman for Smitherman defended the grant decisions without mentioning Clement by name.

"There are a number of stimulus programs that we are delivering," Amy Tang wrote in an e-mail. "It is impossible to draw conclusions from just one.

"For example, our infrastructure investments in the Knowledge Infrastructure Program might be seen to have an urban bias, but most schools are in urban areas," she wrote. "For RinC, the program was open to smaller municipalities which are mostly located in more rural areas."

Linked from Ottawa Citizen:

I remember the old line, "there are 3 types of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics." Stats tell a story, but not the whole story.

Unless there is a conspiracy with the Provincial Liberals to help funnel money to Tory ridings in Ontario so that the federal Liberals can then claim that the Conservatives are being unfair, this might just be a useless conversation.

Susan said...

Interesting that no one is following up to see if after the giant cheque ceremonies any money actually flows. In one case I know of for sure, two months have passed since the photo op, the work is underway and the government hasn't released the funds.

DL said...

Why, why WHY???? are the Liberals dropping the ball on the environment. Yesterday they very purposely and blatantly voted to kill a bill on climate change that they previously supported that was the last chance for the Canada to go to Copenhagen with parliament having a taken a position on the issue. Now all the environmental groups are up in arms.

I have one question. WHY? What possible rationale was there for the Liberals to reverse themselves and vote to kill a bill they supported just a few months ago. So far the specualtion is that since its an NDP bill, the Liberals would rather see no action at all on climate change than see anything happen that the NDP might take credit for.

Pretty lame if you ask me.

Marpman said...

I would be interested on a report of the real money being spent. Anything can be called 'stimulus spending', which is including many items which should be classified under normal maintenance.
New doorknobs, or a fixed boiler do not qualify for an injection of money. A new rec centre, or a new bridge does qualify in my books.
What are the guidelines, and what is the true breakdown by region and by population/riding.
I am sure that there is a determined effort to funnel money to Tory ridings to show how wonderful it is to vote blue, this is politics.

Steve V said...

If there is nothing to this argument, then you would think there would be counter data available. The fact that different jurisdictions, and different areas of focus, ALL now show the same pattern, isn't something you can fluff off. I wait for some study which shows a disporportionate expenditure in opposition held ridings, on any measure. Just one?

Rick said...

And more from Smitherman:

“The [federal Liberals] draw conclusions based on the analysis that they’ve done,” deputy premier George Smitherman countered Thursday outside Queen’s Park.

But, he continued, they only looked at the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (Rinc) program. While that would indicate that Conservative ridings received more cash than Liberal holdings, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Rinc program was open to not-for-profits and municipalities, he explained.

“So the fact that there are 450 municipalities, many of them small, meant that there were more requests in the mix for smaller communities.

“I think that’s why you see it’s a little more distributed towards rural Ontario and by coincidence, that happens to be where Conservatives represent the ridings."

And Steve, to your last point:

Toronto scored big when other initiatives were considered, Smitherman argued.
"The knowledge infrastructure program, which is for post-secondary education, you’ll see that Toronto actually comes out with a higher degree of investment than its proportion of population...I’m pretty confident that there’s going to be a very equitable regional distribution once we’ve completed the allocation of all those dollars.”

I say again, "there are 3 kinds of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics."

Steve V said...


Actually, numbers are the only way to pierce through the partisan haze. The fact people like you can't address those, and simply rely speaks volumes. You're not persuading anybody, unless you can bring something substantive to the table. Sure Smitherman worked with the feds, but only a FOOL believes Con MP's didn't do work too.

Steve V said...

Just to add, Smitherman is talking about big agreements between the feds and prov, but he acknowledged that on the local level it was more in the hands of other people, outside of his government. That's where the PORK comes in for Con MP's, because last time I checked, they worry about their riding ;)

Rick said...

Actually, "people like me" are who the Liberals need to target, since I am a former Liberal supporter who has gone to the Tories the last 3 elections, and I ma now looking to go back to the Liberals, but can't find justification yet to do so. I still hold hope that Ignatieff turns things around, but I have not liked what I have hear or seen so far. I am a big believe in parties being turfed out after 8 or so years, as they get arrogant and sometimes scandalous. I would like a viable Liberal alternative in the next year or so, or at most in the next 3 years.

I am not relying on numbers, because if you only look at one set of numbers, such as RinC, the numbers can be off. If the Knowledge Infrastructure program comes out as Smitherman says it will, then the overall numbers will be more balanced.

Will they be completely balanced? Probably not - it is one of the advantages of being in government, it has been that way in the past and will be that way again in the future, no matter who the government is.

The fact the a Liberal Provincial government is backing up the Federal Conservative government holds more water than the Opposition complaining about the government. One is completely partisan and looking for any reason to attack, and the other is the provincial government.

Visit and you can do a lot searches on what types of funding has gone where. You can search by over $5 million dollar projects, or projects that are part of the Knowledge Infrastructure program. There are 8 different $5 million plus projects in Toronto under this project shown.

Playing with that system, it look relatively fair across Canada, without looking at exact numbers. But since Kennedy is only using numbers that tell the story he wants to tell, how about these:

"He said the average federal contribution in Conservative-held ridings is only $223,652 per project, compared to an average $291,230 federal contribution, per project, in opposition-held ridings.

And he noted that 28 projects in Conservative-held ridings got the maximum $1-million federal contribution, compared to 29 projects in opposition-held ridings."

That quote from Dimitri Soudas, from this afternoon's Star. His stats are just as true as Kennedy's stats are, but they each tell the story that the teller wants told.

Call me partisan if you want, but I call a spade a spade, and I have the ability to read beyond a headline and ask questions, instead of blindly following it.

And to your last point, read the whole Citynews story, and the Ottawa Citizen Story - he is clearly referring to RinC story.

Steve V said...

Oh, it's Kennedy's numbers now? You should read the news ;)

Again, bring something to the table, other than Smitherman talking about the big projects he negotiated. There are other areas of stimulus, and these are the one's individual MP's can manipulate, as proven in every single study done to date.

If you have to resort to saying numbers "lie", then I have no time for you. Cheers. Anyways, off to do some personal banking, hope those numbers are okay ;)

Oh, and I didn't vote for the Libs when you did, so....