9th Annual Teddies Waste Awards
February 19, 2007
- Taxpayers Honour Senator Colin Kenny, Hydro One (Ontario), City of Edmonton, and Dalton McGuinty
The Teddies are named for 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. In the spirit of the entertainment awards season, Teddies are awarded annually to a government, 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.
"Sadly, 2006 has been yet another blockbuster year for government waste," said Ms. Batra. "Politicians and public officials must realize that hardworking Canadians will not tolerate those who use tax dollars to live the high life. Our Teddies are an appropriate way to recognize those who abuse the public purse."
The movie is set to be filmed in Scarborough, Ontario, a riding where the film's star Jim Karygiannis, has been a Member of Parliament since 1988. Like many that let fame and fortune go to their head, showing up to work has never really been his thing.
He routinely skips votes, hardly ever makes statements in the Commons and has little time for the normal day-to-day duties one would expect from a Member of Parliament. In short, Mr. Karygiannis is the taxpayers' worst nightmare. His no-shows would make even Lindsay Lohan - Hollywood's current truant-du jour - blush. In the 39th session of his latest Parliamentary film, Mr. Karygiannis showed up for zero of 32 votes.
Where was he He was busy working on another project - a little independent project called "The Liberal leadership campaign of Joe Volpe." Perhaps Mr. Karygiannis was hoping to "win" a coveted Teddy as Mr. Volpe did in '06. Yes, taxpayers were paying Mr. Karygiannis a cool $147,700 to be in Parliament yet he was busy with partisan politics.
At the film's premiere in October, 2006, Colin Kenny is overheard remarking that office budgets for senators should be increased from $135,000 to $200,000. "I'd like us to move up to match the House of Commons," the unelected senator was quoted as saying.
The good senator really incurs the wrath of taxpayers and critics when as chair of the senate's National Security and Defence Committee, he and a supporting cast head off on a $150,000 magical mystery tour that they claim will eventually arrive in Afghanistan. Documents clearly show that military officials told them in advance that a trip to Afghanistan was not an option. Undeterred, the good senator leads the crew onwards where they stay in a luxurious hotel in Dubai for seven days even though only one three-hour meeting is scheduled. The hotel bill is a cool $30,000.
Upon being questioned, Senator Kenny immediately calls a press conference and lashes out saying the delegation stayed in Dubai because there was a chance they'd be able to travel to Afghanistan. With earlier scenes already confirming that this was never an option, Senator Kenny brings the house down when he maintains everything was above board since the committee worked on a "report" while in Dubai and alleges a PMO conspiracy against the entire Senate. The film ends with all critics and voters alike agreeing it is time to clip Senator Kenny's wings.
As taxpayers wonder if Ottawa will be successful in trimming the Department of Public Works' $13-billion annual procurement budget the saga takes a turn when Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints Michael Fortier to the Senate and as Minister of Public Works - all in the same scene!
After the election, Ottawa moved to reduce the amount of money it spends on goods and services. Tasked by the New Conservative ™ government, Public Works awards a $1.75-million contract to discover ways to cut costs. The film fast-forwards nine months and suddenly the "cut costs contract" has increased in value to $24-million.
Artist Cesar Saez has a dream. He dreams of a 1,000 foot-long banana flying over the great state of Texas. Saez plans to make a banana-shaped, helium-filled, synthetic-paper airship that will fly 20 to 30 kilometres above the Lone Star state for one month.
This story is about making sure people's dreams come true and luckily for Mr. Cesar, the Canada Council for the Arts shares this dream. They wanted so much to ensure this movie got made that they kicked in $15,000 of taxpayers' money for the project. The Quebec government's Council for Arts and Letters threw in another $49,800. With governments firmly behind this Big Banana in Space Project, the film is sure to be a "success." Yet taxpayers and officials from NASA are curious to know if the sequel will feature the banana being peeled by the Canada space arm Stay tuned!
In the opening scene Marine Atlantic President Roger Flood declares that reports of excessive executive spending at the federal Crown corporation are complete balderdash. In what some are calling this year's undisputed "Teddy moment," Mr. Flood cries, "It is deliberately taken out of context."
The scene in question reveals that Martine Atlantic executives expensed a dinner in December, 2003, at the Hungry Fishermen restaurant in St. John's, Nfld. The cast was hungry indeed. The bill totalled $1,038.76. The plundering had only begun. The pirate crew pillages $1,313.71 at the Casbah restaurant in St. John's; $1,237 at Java Jack's in Rocky Harbour and another $666.33 at Da Maruizio in Halifax.
The closing credits reveal three Marine Atlantic executives and their chairman bill $18,857.81 to attend a convention in Greece to do some "research" on new ferries. The Marine Atlantic executive sticks to his script and calls the story "inaccurate." Critics aren't impressed. Taxpayers and moviegoers demand the pirates get off their tax dollar diet and try packing a lunch.
Federal Award Winner:
"And the federal Teddy goes to Senator Colin Kenny, once again showing that the last institution to get the memo regarding Canadians' demands for accountability from lawmakers is the Canadian Senate. Rest assured Senator Kenny, the days of unaccountable officials thinking they can fleece Canadian taxpayers with impunity because they'll never have to face the electorate will soon be over," said Ms. Batra as she unveiled the first Teddy of 2007, a beautiful golden sow.
In this business, when the provincial auditor is the one reveling the saga you can be sure it's going to be a smash hit. The case of the Quebec government's 'Societe nationale du cheval de course' (SONACC) is no exception. The story begins with SONACC's founding in 1999 to help promote and develop Quebec's horseracing industry. As the film progresses, it quickly becomes a taxpayers' nightmare as the narrator explains that between 1999 and 2005, SONACC was handed $260-million.
Midway through the film, things turn downright ugly as officials with SONACC take rule-breaking and living high on the hog to a whole new level. The auditor explains that officers received 20 to 30 per cent annual raises while doing the same job. Bonuses of $10,000 to $30,000 were paid out without any performance evaluations or measurement criteria given.
One officer whose salary was almost six figures received an $82,500 severance, only to be rehired as a consultant. Over the next two years, he collects $350,000 to perform work related to his former duties. Other shocks include $17,000 to $22,000 on automobile allowances; spending $300,000 in "unjustified" expense claims; and almost $400,000 in reimbursements for expenses without explanation.
By movie's end, millions have galloped out the door leaving taxpayers feeling as though they'd just been kicked, and moviegoers wondering why pigs are in charge of horses.
This is one of those dark movies where the bulk of the actors are bad guys and it becomes even more chilling to learn it is based on a true story. The story is brought to life by the movie's protagonist Newfoundland & Labrador provincial auditor John Noseworthy. The film stars politicians from all three political parties and opens with a scene revealing a spending scandal that begins in April 1997 and continues until filming is finally completed in 2006.
In his narration, the auditor details how $1.6-million in excessive expense claims were filed by five provincial politicians, including three former cabinet ministers. The narrator states in one scene that "the vast majority of these expenditures went directly, via cheque and that sort of thing, to (their) bank accounts."
In addition to overspending office budgets, later scenes reveal $2.7-million was misappropriated by the same cast to buy a variety of trinkets - no doubt for adoring fans - which include gold rings, fridge magnets, pins and key chains. Outraged moviegoers demand a refund and hope the sequel keeps better track of all legislators' receipts.
While critics and buffs alike are used to hearing stories of "political pork," taxpayers are particularly unimpressed with new editing and spin techniques being used by the Government of Saskatchewan. The film begins with the government announcing a $1.5-million subsidy, in addition to an already outstanding $2-mllion loan to the bankrupt 'World Wide Pork' in Moose Jaw. The tale quickly turns dark when despite the handout and loan, workers are axed and bills to suppliers remain unpaid.
The government's solution Why yet another $1.5-million tax dollars! Moviegoers should be aware that this is not a good flick to see if you like happy endings because as the film winds down - six months after the latest taxpayer-funded handout - the company permanently closes its doors leaving many workers with no job and taxpayers on the hook for millions more.
Rating: Not suitable for vegetarians or those who hate to see their money go down the drain.
Like all good political thrillers this one begins with the resignation of a high-ranking government official. In this case, Tom Parkinson, CEO of Hydro One, the public utility responsible for managing Ontario's electricity grid is forced to quit his post after damning revelations come to light.
Moviegoers learn the CEO billed $45,000 in personal expenses to his secretary's credit card, having himself approved the expenditures. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre when it is also revealed that the same big wig is the highest paid public employee in the entire province drawing an annual salary of $1.5-million. If only it stopped there. Later scenes have the CEO using Hydro One's helicopter to visit his private cottage in the Muskoka's.
With his resignation taxpayers thought they'd finally gotten justice, but that was just the beginning. Hydro One's board implies they see nothing wrong with the behaviour of their lead actor only accepting his resignation with "deep regret." But the shocking twist comes in the last scene when Hydro One writes a $3-million severance cheque for the CEO who voluntarily resigned. Moviegoers no doubt leave the theatre scratching their heads wondering if the same rules would apply to them at work.
Provincial Award Winner:
"And the provincial Teddy goes to the politically-appointed Board of Hydro One for showing that the culture of entitlement is alive and well in Ontario," said Batra as she presented the second golden sow. "This Teddy is for Hydro One's board to share as it shows that a good team always sticks together through thick and thin, even when it is taxpayers getting the shaft.
This movie's opening scene should have been shot at a prestigious business school because whoever came up with this idea is truly gifted. If taxpaying moviegoers in Edmonton wonder why ticket prices on their property go up year after year, look no further than this film's opening scene. In it, ratepayers learn that the city of Edmonton spent $30,000 to hire 30 actors from Washington, D.C, to hand out yo-yos in the U.S. capital on Canada Day.
Edmonton officials were scripted in the film saying it was a "fun way" to promote the city and a way of connecting with the ordinary Joe. One critic called the film "absolutely ridiculous" but the Academy of Taxers and Spenders likes to set trends and always looks for the diamond in the rough.
According to sources, Canadians must wait for the director's cut to see if anyone in Washington clutching their yo-yo said "Dad, Can we go to Edmonton next year "
What makes this film so good is the simplicity of its plot. The main actors in this movie are City of Montreal roadwork crews and the plot unfolds as follows: The workers drive around. Shovel a little gravel. Stop for a poutine. Repeat. Occasionally, they sub in the odd smoked meat sandwich instead of poutine but by and large the script stays the same. In the end, three work crews, all paid about $22 an hour and spend 90 man-hours fixing 9 potholes.
The movie's end makes clear a sequel is in the works as the City of Montreal announces plans to "track" its workers using GPS devices. Will electric shocks be administered to workers who are eating poutine when they should be filling potholes Fans will have to wait for Dream Jobs Part II.
It is rare that a film captures both the genres of comedy and horror in one feature. But taxpayers have come to expect such motion picture ingenuity from the City of Toronto - arguably the most fiscally incompetent city in Canada. Critics and movie buffs should have seen what was coming when trailers for the movie showed a beaming Mayor David Miller in response to news the feds were cutting the GST.
When the film finally arrives in theatres the opening credits reveal that Toronto is not going to pass along the savings from the one-point reduction in the GST to citizens. After all, it is a costly administrative headache to change billing systems, websites and publications to reflect new - and lower - fees. So why bother. Critics wonder whether the city would also find it too costly if prices and taxes were raised. But the mayor - oddly - never addresses this.
However, plot twists are what separate the great films from the good ones and Mayor Miller quickly reverses himself upon learning that to not pass along a tax reduction runs contrary to the federal Excise Tax Act. If he doesn't pass it along to consumers he'll have to pass it along to Ottawa and what's the point in that Rating: Warning to viewers of this film in Toronto is watch your wallet.
Have you ever thrown a party and nobody showed up That's how the city of Edmonton is portrayed in yet another half-baked tourist promotion film. The city's promotions department is featured prominently in the early scenes as a $50,000 budget for three all-expenses-paid vacations are offered to lucky randomly selected Canadians. But this is where the plot takes an unintended comedic twist. It turns out that city staff offers the trip to 25 people before they can find three will to accept the prize!
In one memorable scene, a woman from British Columbia explicitly states she doesn't want to come to Edmonton! The promotions department remains convinced that this is a good idea and that contest winners will ensure Edmonton become's the talk of their communities upon their return which will in turn cause tourism to skyrocket. Taxpaying critics are sceptical and hope no sequel is planned.
Municipal Award Winner:
"And the municipal Teddy goes to the city of Edmonton for their brilliant production handing out yo-yos in Washington to drum up tourism in Edmonton," said Batra. "Edmonton taxpayers should feel extra proud knowing their city managed to garner two nominations this year in the municipal category- a first in Teddies history."
Lifetime Achievement Teddy - Dalton McGuinty
All the great ones own a memorable line that confirms iconic status. These lines usually become ingrained in peoples' minds and can instantly be associated with the person who said it and what show it was articulated in. There are numerous examples. Clark Gable had his "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," in Gone with the Wind. July Garland said "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," in the Wizard of Oz.
Which bring us to our latest inductee in the Teddies lifetime achievement category, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Mr. McGuinty made two significant statements that ensure he will be long remembered by taxpayers. First, as Liberal Opposition leader on the election trail in 2003 he repeatedly told voters: "I won't raise your taxes, but I won't cut them either.
But he didn't stop there. He showed up at a downtown Toronto hotel and signed a pledge drafted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that committed a Liberal government to abide by the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act. Above his signature, read: "I, Dalton McGuinty, promise that if my party is elected as the next government, I will not raise taxes or implement any new taxes without the explicit consent of Ontario voters."
The Liberals won that election and Dalton McGuinty became Premier of Ontario. Yet, six months later, he broke that promise, ushering in the largest tax hike in Ontario's history in the form of a so-called "health premium." Voters called it a tax and the Big Lie.
Since then, Premier McGuinty has continuously blamed his predecessors for all his troubles, delivered 3 deficit budgets, ramped up spending, and continuously whined to the federal government for more handouts. Handouts for what taxpayers ask In December, 2006, the McGuinty Liberals ushered in a 25 per cent pay increase for MPP's. Does this sound like someone to be trusted with tax dollars
A Teddy is awarded to Mr. McGuinty in recognition of his many accomplishments. "In just four years, Dalton McGuinty truly has amassed a lifetime of achievements and for that we honour him as this year's recipient of the lifetime achievement Teddy. Congratulations Premier McGuinty," concluded Batra.
For more information, contact Adrienne Batra or John Williamson at 613-234-6554.