As the Canadian Press reports, Stephen Harper's Conservative government is on a pre-election speding-spree. The Canadian Taxpayer's Federation tallies the running total at some $8.8 billion, with 2 days to go:
The Conservative government, which is on the verge of launching a national election campaign, has pledged $8.8-billion as part of 293 announcements in the last three months, according to figures released Friday by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Over the last number of weeks, the government has issued a myriad spending announcements - such as $80-million to help revive a mothballed auto engine plant in Windsor, Ont.; $2.9-million aimed at helping organic spinach farmers; and $2,000 for a festival in Shag Harbour, N.S., to commemorate a 1967 UFO sighting. Those announcements continue today and are expected to continue up until Sunday morning.
"I wouldn't want to be a government bookkeeper when the waves of spending receipts from July and August crash into the finance department," Mr. Williamson said. "Of course, taxpayers will be even more distraught, and some livid, since they are responsible for paying the government's bills."
Now, of course all governments do this sort of thing. I recall Paul Martin rang-up a hefty bill in 2005 that was one for the record books. He said at the time this was all stuff already in the pipe, and with the opposition forcing an election they had to rush it out. Partly true, I'm sure, and partly pure electioneering. And the Conservatives say now much the same thing, that all this spending was booked in the last budget, although the CTF seems concerned this may slide us unto deficit.
Anyway, pre-election spending sprees are to governments as coffee is to Tim Horton's. Nevertheless, as it often is with the Conservative Party, the issue here is really the difference between their rhetoric and their reality. They were vehemently opposed to this kind of thing before. They'd never do it, they said:
"The Liberal party thinks public money is a party election fund," said Harper.
He said it's hard to take the government seriously when it promises billions of new dollars for everything from residential school compensation to new planes for the air force.
"Since most of these announcements aren't funded in any of the three budgets the Liberals tabled this year, why should anyone believe these promises?" Harper said.
That was 2005, though. Things have changed.
Now they held the pursestrings.
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