Taxpayers demand cancellation of second glitzy awards night for federal bureaucrats
OTTAWA, ON – A Hollywood-style awards night for federal communications bureaucrats that cost taxpayers at least $12,400 is getting a taxpayer-funded sequel on Feb. 18.
“While running a $26-billion deficit, what is the message being sent to Canadian taxpayers when the government is dropping $12,000 on a red-carpet gala for bureaucrats?” asked Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Ordinary Canadians are less than starstruck by the extravagant use of taxpayers’ money. Supporters of the CTF sent messages to the Privy Council Office (the federal department directly responsible to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).
“It has come to my attention that, in a few weeks, Canadian bureaucrats will be holding another ‘Red- Carpet Gala’ at taxpayer expense,” read Anella Stewart’s message, which she shared with the CTF.
“Outlandish and stupid blunders like this are only adding to our run-away $26-billion deficit. Taxes paid by hard-working Canadian citizens are not to be used as the personal bank account by a group of highly paid insensitive bureaucrats who appear tone deaf as well as wilfully blind.”
She suggested cancelling the event or at least letting taxpayers off the hook for the bill.
“Here’s a novel idea,” wrote Stewart. “Instead of gouging the Canadian taxpayer, have all attendees equally share the $12,000 cost.”
The CTF has launched a petition demanding that Trudeau cancel the expensive upcoming gala.
Criticism has yet to change minds in the bureaucracy as PCO confirmed to the CTF that it’s still planning to go ahead with this year’s extravaganza.
The first annual Communications Awards Of Excellence were held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Feb. 13, 2019.
According to the official description of the event, the awards recognize “communications excellence” in the federal public service, and celebrate the “achievements of the communications community.”
PCO internal documents obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter showed the cost of the 2019 event included $2,880 for a cocktail party where bureaucrats enjoyed Nova Scotia smoked salmon, Serrano ham, parmesan risotto balls, and Alberta Angus beef meatballs with bourbon barbecue glaze.
A red carpet was rented for $1,333, and helium-filled party balloons cost $120. A tuxedoed master of ceremonies and velvet ropes were also part of the program.
The PCO even took issue when the cash bar served liquor in plastic glasses, instead of real glass.
Other costs included $2,437 for event banners, $339 for commemorative certificates and $2,712 for nine-inch “crystal awards” engraved with winners’ names.
The PCO did not release any details of this year’s event, or a projected budget, instead saying planning was underway and final details were not available.
The PCO statement indicated that the total cost of the 2019 event was $10,000, which included the room rental, awards, and hospitality. It also indicated that $2,400 of the 2019 included “items that will be re-used for several years”.
Communications professionals at PCO offered these words of comfort to taxpayers.
“All Treasury Board Guidelines were followed,” read the statement. “No public funds were spent on alcohol.”
The CTF has asked for a copy of the 2019 documents obtained by Blacklock’s, as well as all receipts filed by attendees.
A link to the event page can be found here.
-story by James Wood