Magazine releases list of stupid things the government does with your money

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It's sort of apropos that, in the midst of the Attawapiskat audit and the calls for accountability within the First Nations, that Maclean's Magazine released their list of government financial foibles.

The list, dubbed '99 stupid things the government did with your money', is probably a good reminder for all of us that its not only Aboriginal administrators that have trouble managing their budgets.

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My two favourite 'stupid things' come courtesy of municipal governments — number 1 and 79 respectively on Macleans' list:

"Bad slice: The City of Abbotsford, B.C. handed a $115,000 “one-time grant” to a struggling municipal golf course, claiming its problems stem, in part, from poor weather. In a report, city staff said “good weather” was among the things “being worked on” to turn it around."

"Timber tussle: The City of Ottawa has spent $853,000 in legal fees and settlement payments to block six homeowners from chopping down city trees that were growing into their houses, only to backtrack and agree to cut down trees causing “serious damage” to private property."

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who touts fiscal austerity every opportunity he gets, also received a couple of mentions on the list. One is for the time he expensed $130 worth of cosmetics for a "beauty emergency" before a "televised budget announcement."

"Flaherty’s staff scrambled to purchase concealer, blush, loose powder and shaving supplies to do the minister’s makeup after a cosmetician cancelled at the last minute," Maclean's notes.

"For anyone wanting to replicate the look, Flaherty wears a combination of Maybelline, CoverGirl and Smashbox."

The $130 was peanuts to the $56,000 his department spent in a photo-op about discontinuing the penny.

Number 71 on the list is about B.C. Premier Christy Clark spending $67,000 on severance pay for a press secretary she hired and then fired after only 11 months on the job.

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The full list — in three parts — can be found here, here and here.

The Macleans' list compliments the Canadian Taxpayers Federations' annual Teddy Waste Awards which are awarded in March.

Last year's Federal Teddy went to Agriculture Canada's Tobacco Transition Program -  a program set up to pay farmers to get out of the tobacco business.

According to the CTF, Agriculture Canada offered $284 million to farmers to shut down their tobacco farms.

Unfortunately, the Auditor General's report in 2011 revealed that the cash giveaway not only failed in its goal of reducing the number of tobacco farmers, but in fact, their numbers more than doubled from 118 in 2009 to 251 in 2010.

Ahhh, our tax dollars at work.