Sunday, October 25, 2009

What A Crock

Bombarded by several independent media outlets showing a worrying trend? Tired of bad press that demonstrates a clear pattern of political favoritism? No worries, Canwest to the rescue, using the most dubious of measures to paint a pretty picture. Fact- if you've been paying attention the past couple weeks, you would have noticed a curious ABSCENCE of stories in Canwest publications, speaking to this stimulus distribution. The eyes don't lie, everybody knows the bias, the low key focus ENTIRELY predictable. But wait, it's all changed now, Canwest has done it's own homework, using a fund that I'm sure was conceived of independently (COUGH), and guess what?:
Infrastructure funding fair, analysis shows

Ridings represented by Liberal and NDP MPs are getting more than their fair share of a $2-billion federal infrastructure fund, suggests a new analysis by Canwest News Service.

Canwest's analysis of 310 infrastructure projects receiving funds from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program follows separate analyses by other news organizations of other infrastructure programs published last week that showed ridings held by Conservative MPs were receiving a disproportionately higher share.

This fund, is meant for college and universities. I will GUARANTEE you, that if Canwest bothered to cross reference the number of said high learning institutions in each riding, they would find that the opposition parties, by their support base nature, would have more of these institutions per riding, relative to Conservatives.

The "analysis" by Canwest finds Liberal ridings in Quebec are the big beneficiary, the Bloc ridings shortchanged so to speak. Well golly gee, take a look at where the Liberals hold ridings and you might just see a CLUSTER of higher learning institutions. Then, look at many of the rural Bloc ridings- hmmmm, I see a discrepancy.

Here's the kicker with the Canwest "study", which actually undercuts their conclusion:
With nearly 90% of the money allocated, colleges and universities in ridings held by Conservative MPs have received the most funding -- $666-million or 38%.

But Conservatives won 143 seats last fall, or 46% of all ridings. If the money from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program was being distributed equally across each riding post-secondary institutions in Conservative-held ridings should have received $803-million, or about 17% more.

So, in Conservative ridings where these institutions exist in some capacity, Canwest finds they received "the most funding". This fact actually supports all the other analysis, because I'll guarantee you that 38% of all college and universities don't fall within Conservative ridings. No, this sidenote admission is the really storyline here, buried amongst the fluff to show "fairness".

I challenge Canwest, David Akin, to review all their findings, using institution placement within these ridings. It will then be no surprise that NDP ridings do well, nor the Liberals, because, WELL, they have lots of seats in URBAN settings, settings that just so happen to be HUBS for colleges and universities, DISPORPORTIONATELY if you will. Could you start with a more SKEWED data set? The fact that Con ridings with these institutions are getting OODLES of cash supports previous findings, there is no "confusion".

A shocking day, Canwest finds the data to absolve the Conservative government, but doesn't bother to acknowledge the most common sense, inherently problematic "apples to apples" dynamic within that data. Please.


Rick said...

So Libs and Dippers should have more Knowledge Infrastructure funds because of where they hold seats, but when the same argument is used for the RinC funds (rural areas need the arenas and recreation more), that is not a valid reason?

You asked for " I wait for some study which shows a disporportionate expenditure in opposition held ridings, on any measure. Just one?"

Well you have your one now. Here is another - from Canadian Press via -
"Since January, Conservative ridings in the province have received $403.9 million in major-projects funding from Ottawa, while Opposition ridings have landed almost double that amount, at $753.9 million"

You may not agree with the source - the government in this case, but it is as valid a source as the Liberal party is.

You may not like it, but these are as valid as the others. The whole point that I have tried making is that you cannot look at only one program, but look over all the programs - which is also what Smitherman said, and he addressed KIP and RinC specifically(from the Star this time)-

"But Smitherman said Thursday, "If you take a look at the much bigger program, the knowledge infrastructure program ... you'll see that Toronto actually comes out with a higher degree of investment than its proportion of population."

He wasn't talking " 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." - he was talking specifically about FIP (see above) and RinC - from

“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."

Do I think the Tories are 100% fair in allocation? Of course not. I have not argued that. But there are usually (more than) 2 sides to every story, and 2 different sides can easily use the numbers they want to tell the story the want?

The numbers may not lie, but they don't always tell the whole story.

Are the Liberal numbers correct? Probably. Are the Torie numbers correct? Probably. Does each one tell the whole story? Definitely not.

Steve V said...

"So Libs and Dippers should have more Knowledge Infrastructure funds because of where they hold seats"

No, see Rick I think it should go where the institutions are, and it just so happens that those are in opposition ridings. To try and use that data to support "fairness" is nonsense, but since you're a biased hack, I'm sure you disagree.


Steve V said...

Just to add here, I think a visit to the website is informative. This program is clearly geared towards R and D, advancing scientific inquiry, all this mumbo jumbo about putting Canada in the forefront. That THRUST means- because I already hear Canwest will defend "rural" institutions- that big schools, doing the cutting edge stuff, will get preference. That's the mandate here, through the program's own words, it says "preference" to improve R and D. So, if somebody from Canwest finds these many "outpost" institutions, satelilites of bigger schools (college of the rockies in b.c. and example) and tries to plug that institution alongside U of T, it will skew the numbers again. Watch for it, a school isn't a school, isn't a school, within this program.

Rick said...

You used to be a fair Liberal supporter, who was as close to impartial as one could be and yet still support one party. Not sure what happened to you Steve, but "biased hack" applies more to you these days than me.

And by the way, since "Numbers Don't Lie", how about these numbers for you - 40, 25, 13, as in the latest Ipsos poll.

Have fun preaching to your choir

Oxford County Liberals said...

Ipsos is the most Conservative-friendly of the pollsters.. I don't worry about an Ipsos poll.

But you know what Rick? Do you as a Conservative supporter really want to get to the bottom of this stimulus stuff? Then why not call up your PM and give him this suggestion from Aaron Wherry at Macleans:

"If only there existed some sort of independent officer of Parliament—call it, maybe, the Parliamentary Budget Officer—to whom the government could turn over all its data for a full accounting of what has been spent, where it has been directed and whether it’ll all amount to anything. If only."

The Rat said...

"No, see Rick I think it should go where the institutions are, and it just so happens that those are in opposition ridings."

And Rick said that RinC funding goes where the rinks aren't which is the hundreds of small municipalities in rural areas. To paraphrase you:

"but since you're a biased hack, I'm sure you disagree.

I honestly hope Rick doesn't waste anymore keyboard time on you. He kicked your ass in a well thought out and referenced post which is obviously wasted on you.

Steve V said...


Who has the time....

Steve V said...

I note David Akin has done a follow up posting to deal with the institutional distribution bias, to which he's basically thrown up his hands at the size of the data, made mention of "satelitte" coll/univ in rural settings (which I called in my original post) and something about carpentars and bricklayers. If he visited the site mandate, it clearly says the money is directed towards enhancing r and d, whatnot, which still means you need bricks and mortar for your research. Last time I checked workers build labs, particle accelerators, you know, so not really a valid argument.

I also note, that despite the criticism here, nobody wants to touch my natural consistency bias. If you're going to claim "fairness", you have to start with a level playing field, you don't get to ignore this problematic dynamic. You want to draw any conclusion, address it or it's useless blather.

As an aside "Rick" the "we need to win you back guy", seem a touch eager to jump on that Ipsos poll from Canwest. Red flags. You're only lying to yourself methinks :)

David said...

Hey Rick V --

You know what paper first published an analysis of an infrastructure program that showed Conservatives were benefiting? The Ottawa Citizen. That would be owned by, uh, Canwest.

You refer to the G&M analysis of the RINC funds. It was some good arduous work by my G&M friends but at the end of the day, they were looking at only about $100 million worth of funding of projects ONLY in ONTARIO. I looked at $1.75 billion worth of projects across the country.

But don't take my word for it. Go download my raw data and do your own homework.

Oh - and stop calling me names. Makes you sound like a dink.

DL said...

Whether Liberal support is currently 24, 25, 26 or 27% or even the 30% that Nanos has - any way you slice it - its clear that something has gone catastrophically wrong for the Liberals in the last couple of months. I don't think that endless "certs is a candymind, no certs is a breathmint" -style debate on which ridings are getting more stimulus money is going to turn the tide. There were valid points to be made at first, but now the Liberals may be starting to overplay their hand on this issue and I just don't think its capturing anyone's imagination. The Liberals' problem is that they still can't seem to come up with an actual critique of anything the Tories are doing and Ignatieff is proving to be a turn-off every time he appears on TV.

Steve V said...

I have tremendous respect for you as a reporter. That said, I see no reason to give you a pass on a shoddy premise. You run the numbers, it's your piece- I have a day job :) If you can't be bothered, then don't draw any conclusions and puke it out there so the government gets a pass in the dueling haze. Period.

A Eliz. said...

The problem is Harper is very sweet with his lies and people are very gullible,, buying votes on the Go trains in Toronto, by using blue Conservative cars... instead of the Government colours of red and white., and has the nerve to use taxpayers money for his party He is despicable.

Koby said...

Main Campus

UBC Liberal
McGill Liberal
York Liberal
Regina Liberal
Alberta NDP
Winnipeg NDP
Guleph Liberal
Western Liberal
Ottawa Liberal
Ryerson Liberal
Windsor NDP
Queens Liberal
Toronto Liberal
Brock NDP
Concordia Liberal
Bishop's Bloc
Laval Bloc
Montreal Polytechnique NDP
Saint Mary's NDP
Quebec Bloc
Moncton Liberal
Dalhousie NDP

Calgary Conservative
Sask Conservative
Manitoba Conservative
McMaster Conservative
Waterloo Conservative
St. Francis Xavier Conservative

rockfish said...

Canwest's interests (besides the honest hard work by a few good journalists like DA) don't allow it to encourage too much digging. Otherwise, one of the stories will start to uncover how much 'stimulus' that it has received over the past 6 months... the advertising of the spending has surpassed any previous government's four-year mandate. Get them to dig that up but let's not hold our breath on that.

Steve V said...


Nice :)

weeble said...

I think it is a dangerous precedent to categorize money spent on our educational institutions as infrastructure spending. What we are saying is that we are only spending this money as a part of our attempts to manage this economic crisis we are in. I would like to think that money spent on R&D is there, spent regardless of the current issues.
I also agree with Steve that it skews the statistics given the traditional demographics of our universities.
They should be reported separately, or better yet...left out of the mix altogether.

marie said...

Has anyone noticed that the bulk of the Stimulus has been in Ontario? That in itself paints a pretty clear picture of the Con Artists in my opinion as a vote buying strategy. After Flahery a year ago told the world not to invest in Ontario. Harper did it in Quebec spending millions to buy votes and this stimulus package is just another attempt to buy Ontario. He needs those two provinces for a majority and it is not surprising that he would use tax dollars again to get what he wants. Nothing this jerk does surprises me anymore other than it seems Canadians are buying his blatant obvious attempts.

DL said...

You Liberals just can't stand the fact that the Tories are beating you at your own game. When Chretien was in power patronage and government money was showered on ridings that the Liberals either held or wanted to win. Apparently some gigantic proportion of all federal spending in Quebec went into Chretien's own riding of St. Maurice since he never won there by very much against the BQ.

weeble said...

But DL...did not our current government rise to power riding the white horse of accountability. Did they not tell us that they would not act like all of those 'awful' Liberals?
Hmm...all of this is as much about their actions as the spending of money.

DL said...

That's true - so given that we know that the Tories and Liberals are both equally unethical - the only choice is to not vote for either of these parties.