As the word recession rolls off tongues everywhere from Newfoundland to Nunavut to Nanaimo, people are turning their attention to public spending. People want to know if the government spending enough to stimulate the economy. They also want to know where that money is going. The answer to the first question is no, but the answer to the second question was not so obvious until today. According to a Globe and Mail investigation, the federal government is investing a small amount of money in infrastructure and most of that money is going to projects in Conservative ridings.
The federal government advertises The New Building Canada Fund– its major infrastructure program- as a driver of economic growth, job creation, and productivity. The Fund is worth $14 billion over 10 years (much of which may never be spent, as is tradition). Announced in the 2013 budget, it has already funded 113 projects across the country. That’s pretty great, eh?
This is especially great if you have a Conservative MP. 94 of the 113 projects are in Conservative ridings and these 94 projects have received 66% of the total funding allotted to all 113 projects. Whoa, that’s a lot of numbers…what do they mean? They mean that we have every reason to believe that this government is treating Conservative voters better than everyone else. We may infer that it is trying to buy votes.
For his part, federal Industry Minister Denis Lebel doesn’t agree. He says that almost all the projects were selected from lists submitted by the provinces. Good, that clears things up. This is a simple misunderstanding, much like the 2022 World Cup bidding process in which FIFA allegedly took a bribe from a country that was on a list of bidders. In simpler terms, it’s really the same thing as when I steal food at a grocery store, but I only steal what is on a shelf. Or when I curse after reading a headline about how my federal government is funnelling money to its friends, but I select curse words from a dictionary. Curiously, when Globe and Mail asked Lebel if his government had intentionally selected projects in Conservative ridings off that list, he did not reply. His silence speaks volumes.
While disgusting, this sort of thing isn’t new. Globe and Mail, in a separate investigation into the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, revealed that Conservative ridings received one-and-a-half times as much money from the Fund as did opposition ridings. Some people even say the Liberals did this sort of thing while they were in power. Oh, ok, well that makes it alright.
Time for some good news (spin machine activated). The October election is closer than ever, and Eric Grenier’s magic election predictor suggests that we might soon see new tenants at 24 Sussex. Better yet, the Bank of Canada’s behaviour indicates that Canada’s economy is almost certainly in recession, so we’re sure to see more infrastructure spending following the October vote. New leadership means new ridings will receive extra funding. So, here’s to hoping the new guys are as inclined to abuse their power as this current bunch is. Canadian politics: we let abuse level the playing field.