Spend­ing spree

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic Re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc; his col­umn ap­pears on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days in TC Me­dia’s daily pa­pers.

It’s spring in a fed­eral elec­tion year, and the an­nounce­ments are pop­ping up like early cro­cuses.

From last Tues­day: “The Hon. Alice Wong, min­is­ter of state (Se­niors), and Brad Butt, mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Mississauga– Streetsville, will an­nounce Gov­ern­ment of Canada sup­port through the New Hori­zons for Se­niors Pro­gram.”

The same day? “The Hon. Alice Wong, min­is­ter of state (Se­niors), joined by the Hon. Chris Alexander, min­is­ter of Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion, an­nounced to­day that se­niors in Ajax, Pick­er­ing and Kingston will soon have new op­por­tu­ni­ties to make a dif­fer­ence in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

But that was just the be­gin­ning: Health Min­is­ter Rona Am­brose was an­nounc­ing “fund­ing that will en­hance ac­cess to ad­dic­tions sup­ports for pre­scrip­tion drug abuse for First Na­tions living on-re­serve across the coun­try.”

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Greg Rick­ford was plan­ning an an­nounce­ment for Wed­nes­day, while a dif­fer­ent Tory MP was mak­ing two dif­fer­ent jobs cash an­nounce­ments on Rick­ford’s be­half in two north­ern On­tario towns.

Mirac­u­lously, on the same day, MP Rox­anne James “on be­half of the Hon. Steven Blaney, Canada’s min­is­ter of Public Safety and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness … an­nounced $1.8 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing for (a) crime pre­ven­tion project.”

An­other MP, Cathy McLeod, was plan­ning an an­nounce­ment on help for the home­less in Kam­loops. In Saska­toon, fed­eral cabi­net min­is­ter Lynne Yelich was an­nounc­ing fund­ing to help youth find jobs “on be­half of the Hon. Pierre Poilievre, min­is­ter for Em­ploy­ment and So­cial Devel­op­ment” while Poilievre was pre­par­ing for an­other an­nounce­ment in On­tario.

Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Erin O’Toole was talk­ing about hir­ing “more than 100 new dis­abil­ity benefits staff, both tem­po­rary and per­ma­nent.”

Prob­a­bly the best of all? Three fed­eral cabi­net min­is­ters and three Tory MPs made an­nounce­ments about the Canadian Sports In­sti­tute Net­work in six dif­fer­ent cities — Hal­i­fax, Rich­mond, B.C., Toronto, Man­i­toba, Saska­toon and Cal­gary — and all of it on Tues­day.

In B.C.? An an­nounce­ment of “$164,000 to the Pa­cific Sea Cu­cum­ber Har­vesters As­so­ci­a­tion and the Pa­cific Urchin Har­vesters As­so­ci­a­tion to sup­port their in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing ef­forts,” on be­half of Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Gerry Ritz, who was some­where else an­nounc­ing some­thing else.

How about At­lantic min­is­ters? Well, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Peter MacKay was to be in Parrs­boro, N.S., to make an an­nounce­ment on clean air tech­nol­ogy on Wed­nes­day, fresh from telling Monc­ton high school stu­dents ev­ery­thing the Tories were do­ing to stop cy­ber-bul­ly­ing.

Fish­eries Min­is­ter Gail Shea and Mi­ramichi MP Tilly O’Neill-Gor­don were an­nounc­ing science fund­ing in New Brunswick Wed­nes­day — oh, and also a sep­a­rate an­nounce­ment on wharf fund­ing — while two other New Brunswick-based fed­eral min­is­ters were mak­ing “an im­por­tant an­nounce­ment” in Camp­bell­ton.

It is, of course, the tried-andtrue method. Some­times, the an­nounce­ment glut is part of the work-up to the bud­get, giv­ing politi­cians a chance to take credit two or more times for the same money (an­nounce small projects lo­cally, then an­nounce the global amount for a pro­gram in the bud­get.) My sense, though, is that this is more likely tied to the up­com­ing fed­eral cam­paign: “We care about men­tal health, crime, our kids,” etc.

The hope, of course, is that Cana­di­ans are too stunned to re­mem­ber any­thing fur­ther back than April dur­ing an elec­tion year.

“Here’s some of your own money — vote for us. We care about what you care about.”

Vote for whomever you like, and vote for what­ever party you think will do the best job. But go in with your eyes wide open, and watch out for po­lit­i­cal win­dow dress­ing.

Those win­dows can be very pretty — but from the an­nounce­ment to the travel to the fund­ing, the dec­o­ra­tion’s all on your dime.

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