May 20, 2024
Press Coverage

99 stupid things the government spent your money on

We’ve previously brought you items 1-18, on subsidies and infrastructure, 19-34, on food and job creation, followed by 35-55, the environment, animals, and money for nothing, and 56-73, culture and tourism. Here’s the wrap-up, a sample of questionable spending on employee expenses, patronage, makeovers, studies, polls and surveys as well as lawsuits and lawyers.

Canada’s finances may be the envy of the world, but the bar is awfully low these days. Whether it’s Ottawa, the provinces or municipalities, governments across the country face horrendous deficits. We must tighten our belts, say the politicians. Austerity and cutbacks are the order of the day.

Only, you wouldn’t know it looking at this list. What follows is but a slice of the silly, wasteful, craven and often outright stupid ways governments at all levels spent taxpayers’ money over the last year. To find our 99 items, Maclean’s scoured press releases and auditor generals’ reports, contacted watchdog groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and waded through news reports, looking for examples where the money was either spent or announced in 2011. We also included a handful of egregious instances of waste that only came to light in the past 12 months, even if the actual cash was doled out in previous years.

Not everyone will agree with all these items being on the list. Some will justify handouts to companies and sports teams as necessary to “promote economic activity,” or they’ll say a camping program for new immigrants was a nice thing to do. Sure, it would be great if we could afford everything, but at a time when government spending is under the knife, when services and jobs are being cut, it’s clear many of those with their hands on the public purse have yet to come to terms with Canada’s new fiscal reality.

THE PAY SCALES OF JUSTICE — Spending on lawyers and judges

97 Holy unreasonable: The City of Calgary spent more than $65,000 fighting a controversial street preacher in court over a $100 bylaw fine.

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