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.