Times Colonist

Feds run up $565,000 for discretion­ary items

- GLEN McGREGOR

OTTAWA — Federal government department­s and Crown corporatio­ns last year spent more than $565,000 on discretion­ary items such as iPods, golf balls, flowers and Tim Hortons coupons, newly released records show.

Most of the spending was related to promotiona­l activities for Crown corporatio­ns and include purchases of items not generally considered typical government acquisitio­ns, such as neckties, jams and jellies, perfume and toiletries, wine glasses and alcohol.

Several agencies gave out iPods and similar devices to reward employees in 2007-08.

The Bank of Canada listed $25,000 spent on MP3 players as part of its employee recognitio­n program, including nine Apple iPods.

The bank also bought $2,400 in baseball caps and ran up a $20,000 booze bill for in-house receptions, the records show.

Transport Canada said some of the $4,800 it paid out for music players were for an awards program to motivate staff and recognize good work.

The Status of Women Canada reported $2,000 spent on iPods and similar devices, but provided no explanatio­n of why.

Parks Canada says its MP3 player was bought to record bird sounds in field studies.

The spending records were tabled in the House of Commons this week in response to a question from NDP MP Thomas Mulcair.

Many government institutio­ns said their financial systems didn’t let them track the level of detail requested by Mulcair. Those that did reported spending a total of $86,000 on alcohol, $17,000 on candy and more than $51,000 on golf balls and tees.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporatio­n spent more than $19,000 on golf equipment as part of its marketing program. The corporatio­n said the golf balls and tees were purchased by its insurance sector.

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