Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top 100 reasons why I don’t take the Canadian Taxpayers Federation seriously

Okay, I don’t actually have 100 reasons why I don’t take the Canadian Taxpayers Federation seriously. But I think the reasons I have make up in quality what they lack in quantity.

Unlike, say, the CTF’s latest broadside in the war on government waste, the “Top 100 Federal Handouts for 2008-09: $5.8 billion” news release that CTF boss Kevin Gaudet (whom I follow on Twitter because he does often have interesting things to say) released today.

Skimming the release, they start with corporate handouts, lamenting “handouts” to companies such as Ford, Husky Oil, and of course, Bombardier. That’s fine, I might debate some of the merits here on a case-by-case basis, but it’s certainly all fair ball.

The CTF started to really loose me though when it went on to lament funding for renewable energy research, and for the World Food program and fighting malaria. Now they’re out to lunch, but still well within the CTF’s usual nuttiness range.

When they went-on to single out Toronto, though, that’s where I drew the line, and not because I’m currently a semi-reluctant resident of the Centre of the Universe. Here’s their paragraph on the T-Dot:

Toronto continues to get large amounts of government money, despite Mayor Miller’s complaints to the contrary. The largest single handout was to the Regional Municipality of York and the City of Toronto for a subway expansion totalling $622 million. Toronto Waterfront Revitalization was given $48.5 million, University Health Network ($92.3 million), the Hospital for Sick Children ($91 million), Sunnybrook Hospital ($57 million) and the Canadian Television Fund ($120 million).
So, apparently, the members of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are against basic infrastructure such as public transit. I trust CTF members don’t take the bus to work, or even drive because, after all, tax dollars pay for highways too. Maybe they all work from home?

But more galling, is the CTF is against funding for hospitals? Is it against helping sick children? Too many handouts for those whiny sick kids, CTF?

Come on, guys. Highlight legitimate government waste, absolutely. Lord knows, there’s enough of it out there. But leave the sick children alone.

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Scott Hennig said...

The Top 100 isn't based on some meritorious ranking dreamed up by the CTF. This is just a list of the 100 most expensive grants given out by the federal government in the last fiscal year, ranked by dollar value. The commentary in the release is just noting a few trends within that list.

Derek Fildebrandt said...

Toronto is "singled out" because it is the "single" largest recipient. "Nuttiness" on this blog, but a fact in the real world.

Jeff said...


The headline called it "handouts" which I certainly wouldn't consider a neutral term. It holds negative connotations, certainly within the context of a release from an avowed government watchdog.

So, this release is just an FYI, a hey, here's a bunch of stuff the government is spending your money on, and we have absolutely no feelings one way or another as to their merit? To try on an editor's hat for a moment, that seems of dubious news value.

Derek, actually my nutiness comment was relating to the "observation" of funding for things like good for poor people and fighting malaria in impoverished nations. As for Toronto, I'd suspect they're the largest recipient because they're the largest city, but I'm no mathematician.

rww said...

I'm sure they are not against all sick kids - just sick kids in Toronto.

Demosthenes said...

What Jeff said. If you use a term like "handout"—which has been rather successfully demonized by groups like the CTF—you deserve what you get. Calling funding for something as universally laudable as Sick Kids a "handout" deserves every bit of scorn people can muster.