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Your taxes at work


Federal and provincial elections are only months away, and there's no one in the house. Both legislatures are out for the summer.

We can now expect the steady stream of campaign events, policy announcements and shameless partisan advertising — many paid for out of our own pockets — to become a virtual torrent.
All governments do it: strategically advertise government services to bolster their image. But Stephen Harper has taken the practice to new heights. Never before has the wall between party politics and government business been so transparent.
Harper has sunk millions of dollars over the past couple of years to plug Conservative policies, including at least one that didn’t even exist.
More than $2.5 million went into a publicity blitz last year for the Canada Jobs Grant — a 2013 budget program which was put on hold.
In April of this year, internal documents showed the Finance Department spent millions more for action plan ads that ran last month.
All told, the Conservatives have spent more than $100 million on ads that present more of a positive spin on economic goals rather than provide any concrete information.
And the taxpayer-funded spin doesn’t stop at advertising.
On June 26, National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay flew to St. John’s on official government business — except it was anything but government business. The minister offered a few lines to reporters about child care benefits, although she admitted most families are already automatically registered for them.
She spent the rest of the time taking swipes at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, even claiming the Liberals will axe income splitting. (The Liberals have explicitly said they won’t.)
During a brief exchange with reporters, she shrugged off questions about the cost of her trip.
“It is amazing how far they will go to use taxpayers’ money for what are obviously targeted political, partisan attacks,” local Liberal candidate Seamus O’Regan said afterwards.
Even Stephen Harper — the old Stephen Harper, that is — would be appalled. Here were some of his first words in Parliament as Opposition leader in 2002.
“Given the growing evidence of widespread waste and mismanagement of government advertising business and the fact that the government’s incompetent handling of its advertising and sponsorship is already under review, will the prime minister stop the waste and abuse right now and order a freeze of all discretionary government advertising?”

We can now expect the steady stream of campaign events, policy announcements and shameless partisan advertising — many paid for out of our own pockets — to become a virtual torrent.
All governments do it: strategically advertise government services to bolster their image. But Stephen Harper has taken the practice to new heights. Never before has the wall between party politics and government business been so transparent.
Harper has sunk millions of dollars over the past couple of years to plug Conservative policies, including at least one that didn’t even exist.
More than $2.5 million went into a publicity blitz last year for the Canada Jobs Grant — a 2013 budget program which was put on hold.
In April of this year, internal documents showed the Finance Department spent millions more for action plan ads that ran last month.
All told, the Conservatives have spent more than $100 million on ads that present more of a positive spin on economic goals rather than provide any concrete information.
And the taxpayer-funded spin doesn’t stop at advertising.
On June 26, National Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay flew to St. John’s on official government business — except it was anything but government business. The minister offered a few lines to reporters about child care benefits, although she admitted most families are already automatically registered for them.
She spent the rest of the time taking swipes at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, even claiming the Liberals will axe income splitting. (The Liberals have explicitly said they won’t.)
During a brief exchange with reporters, she shrugged off questions about the cost of her trip.
“It is amazing how far they will go to use taxpayers’ money for what are obviously targeted political, partisan attacks,” local Liberal candidate Seamus O’Regan said afterwards.
Even Stephen Harper — the old Stephen Harper, that is — would be appalled. Here were some of his first words in Parliament as Opposition leader in 2002.
“Given the growing evidence of widespread waste and mismanagement of government advertising business and the fact that the government’s incompetent handling of its advertising and sponsorship is already under review, will the prime minister stop the waste and abuse right now and order a freeze of all discretionary government advertising?”

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