5th Annual Teddies Ceremony: Half a Decade of Waste and Mismanagement
- CTF honours billion dollar gun registry, Winnipeg's million dollar toilet and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien at black-tie news conference
OTTAWA: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) held its fifth annual Ted Weatherill (the Teddies) awards ceremony at a black-tie news conference on Parliament Hill today. CTF federal director, Walter Robinson acted as master of ceremonies.
The Teddies are named after Ted Weatherill, a former senior public servant who was terminated in 1999 for "expenses incurred by him-incompatible with his position as Chairman of the Canada Labour Relations Board," according to the Office of the Minister of Labour. The Teddies are awarded annually to a public office holder, civil servant, department or agency, that most exemplifies government waste, overspending, over-taxation, excessive regulation, lack of accountability, or any combination of the five.
"While we appreciate that national and world attention is rightfully focused on Iraq and the Middle East, a small measure of relief from this tension can be found by laughing at ourselves on this final day of the government's fiscal year," said CTF federal director Walter Robinson. "Once again, this year's nominees and winners exhibited the requisite qualities of waste, mismanagement and contempt for the fruits of hard working taxpayers."
Best Adaptation of a Keystone Cops Routine: The Canadian Firearms Centre (aka: the federal gun registry) for its billion dollar pricetag, a whopping cost overrun of 430 times the original estimate.
Biggest Flush Performed by a Crown Corporation: The National Capital Commission (NCC), spent $250,000 for an outdoor public toilet in Rockcliffe; a ritzy, old-money Ottawa enclave that is home to senior public service mandarins and foreign diplomats.
Fuzziest Excuse for an Advance Screening Party: Industry Canada had its bureaucrats beaver away for weeks to come up with 13 possible titles plus supporting "tag lines" for its Innovation Paper. It then commissioned focus groups at a cost of $37,000 to determine which titles worked best for Canadians. In the end, none of the titles were chosen.
Most Expensive Use of Dead Royalty as Extras in an Independent Production: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) granted $1.6 million to Marie-France Wagner to study "the evolution of royal processions in French towns between 1484 and 1615."
Worst Imitation of a Cheech and Chong Film: Health Canada awarded Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems a $5.7 million contract to grow marijuana for "medicinal use." The first batch of weed produced by the company was so poor and the potency of the plants was so inconsistent that the department ordered the company to grow a better batch.
Runaway Budget for Set Design: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for spending approximately $44 million to build a brand new reserve in Northern Manitoba for 278 Marcel Colomb band members. The new reserve is being built 30km away from the Town of Lynn Lake where the Marcel Colomb band members currently live.
Federal Award Winner
"And the federal Teddy goes to the federal gun registry. By the middle of this decade the costs will be above $1 billion for forcing duck hunters and farmers to register their guns," said Robinson as he unveiled the first 2003 Teddy, a beautiful golden sow.
Best Remake of a WWII Film Featuring Drunken Sailors on Leave: Members of the Ontario legislature who were caught in an expense account fiasco (35 bankers boxes of claims) that revealed charges for two tickets to Vegas for a boxing match ($1,000) and canceling an aide's Cuban holiday ($2,103) amongst other abuses of public money.
Worst Use of Land Titles "On Location": The Saskatchewan NDP government initiated an $18 million renovation project to modernize Saskatchewan's land titles system which ballooned to $107 million. Not one buyer has been found for the failed system.
Biggest Flush Performed by a City Government: Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray's pet project of a $1 million toilet on the Provencher footbridge as part of an ambitious $5 million urban facelift project.
Worst Rendition of "Give Peace a Chance" by Elected Officials: The City of Vancouver voted to allocate $25,000 over three years for a "peace and justice" committee. Somehow the folks in charge of potholes, buses and garbage pickup missed the part of their orientation session that pointed out foreign policy issues are a federal responsibility.
Worst Film - The Hunt for Blue, French October: Two consultants charged the City of Quebec $30,000 for design options to change the city's logo: A stylized depiction of Champlain's ship along with the words "Ville de Québec." The three options presented kept the ship, kept the colours, kept the words and merely tinkered with case of the word Quebec (from uppercase to lowercase) or changing the ship's direction.
Worst Animated Feature - Spudco - Mr.Potatohead Buys a Business: In the late 1990's the Saskatchewan government decided the province needed a "value-added" potato industry to take advantage of the already government-subsidized irrigation network. In 2000, "Spudco" the province's potato Crown Corporation went bust. A CTF complaint to the RCMP has resulted in a criminal investigation being launched.
Provincial/Municipal Award Winner
"And the provincial/municipal Teddy goes to City of Winnipeg for its $1 million dollar toilet. We can only hope the restaurant that this toilet will serve will in turn serve high-fibre meals so the City can maximize the return on its, er, um, investment.," added Robinson.
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
A Lifetime Achievement Teddy was bestowed in-absentia to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for his long and expensive career in Canadian public life spanning four decades.
"From authoring an ambitious yet fundamentally ignored White Paper on native affairs in 1969 to jeopardizing the lives of our soldiers by denying them proper equipment like Sea King helicopter replacements to balancing the federal books on the back of the nation's taxpayers to presiding over a 10% decline in the value of our dollar, these sad facts along with his recent scandal plagued government are part and parcel of Mr. Chrétien's legacy," concluded Robinson.
" His legacy of public debt, record spending and a visible contempt for parliamentary democracy earn our Prime Minister the 2003 lifetime achievement Teddy."