Government spending runs amok

Call me communist, but I'm open to the idea that Canadians benefit from government spending.

A government is supposed to be responsible for keeping the chequebook balanced, but some aspects of public spending can really make you question the decisions of our right-leaning federal government.

More than a billion dollars was spent in 2010 to host Toronto’s G20 meeting; the Tories chose the most heavily populated city on the planet’s second-least dense country.

The feds spent more than a billion dollars on security, and made it a self-fulfilling prophecy: mass protests left downtown Toronto looking like a city in the ruins of war.

From a fiscal point of view, the G20 dog and pony show was a mindless stimulus campaign. How easily could thousands of protesters have been eluded if they just held the G20 summit in Huntsville, Ontario (population: 19,000) like they did with the G8? Very easily, even without the fake lake.

But that billion plus dollars put a lot of people to work. That tax money was divided between tens of thousands of Canadian’s during tough times — mostly blue-collared workers. Sure, the summit could have been organized for one per cent of the cost, but a lot of security guards, police officers and contractors were hungry for the extra work. They’re not the kind of people who hoard large reserves of money or invest overseas.

And the decision to keep the penny around as long as the Conservatives did hardly seems conservative. Although the penny is now dead, the Conservative Party of Canada passed five budgets before axing the worthless pocket trash we call pennies. Even homeless people hate pennies. Who, other than mathematically declined bozos, would support the idea of spending 1.5 – 1.8 cents on every penny pressed?

Call me communist, but I’m open to the idea that Canadians benefit from government spending.

Maybe steel, nickel and copper miners would support the penny. Maybe the truckers who work between the mines and the mint would support it too. As long as Canadians are the people earning the 1.5 – 1.8 cents on the cost of production, the money isn’t quite wasted.

The Conservatives also blew tens of millions on an exhausting Action Plan campaign to remind us how well they spent our money. And how about those Action Plan ads. The advertising industry doesn’t get a whole lot of sympathy; the $26 million price tag can be tough for Joe Taxpayer to swallow. But we need optimistic reminders during times of uncertainty.

That’s not to say tens of millions had to be spent to remind Canadians that everything’s going to be okay. As credible surveys are pointing out, most Canadians don’t care about the ads, and the ones who do care think they’re propaganda and a waste of money.

So the Conservative Party’s dropped the ball on their Action Plan ads, but its cold heart was in the right place. While the loss or gain from such campaigns are nearly impossible to measure monetarily, the feds spent a lot of money and did a poor job reinforcing confidence among Canadians.

Regardless of the effect of the campaign, those tens of millions didn’t vanish. Though Canada’s advertising industry requires less domestic production than our mining industry, there are an abundance of lower and middle class Canadians in the marketing industry that benefit from the CPC’s attempt at advertising.

Government spending sure can seem wasteful, and often is. But look further than the price tag. Ask who’s making the money — it could be your neighbour.

However, when the feds waste boatloads of cash looking into the purchase of new fighter jets, or the implementation of a Religious Freedom Office, it can be difficult to expect reciprocity.

Politicians, you would think, try to avoid unpopular public spending. It makes perfect sense in a democracy. But as long as the federal leader’s jobs are at the marcy of the voter every four years, they’ll pander to the short-term in effort to increase their chances at winning the electoral popularity contest.


Editor’s note: in last week’s column, Dan made reference to a police incident involving rough tactics employed while arresting an accused pharmacy thief. To be clear, this incident took place in Quebec, and does not have anything to do with the

Columbia Valley RCMP detachment.