Friday, December 04, 2009

Saskatchewan Conservative MPs blow $1.1-million on partisan mailouts in last 3-years; Vellacott, Lukiwski, Scheer & Fitzpatrick each top $100,000


The $100,000 Club – Vellacott, Lukiwski, Scheer & Fitzpatrick

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in Toronto on November 20, 2009, to give a speech at a combined meeting of the Canadian Club of Toronto and the Empire Club of Canada on the current state of the Canadian economy and how the federal government’s Economic Action Plan is positioning the country for continued economic recovery.

According to Les Whittington, a reporter in the Toronto Star’s Ottawa bureau, Flaherty acknowledged that Canada’s economy is fragile saying “there are some tentative signs of recovery, but even with some early positive signs, there is still no evidence of firm growth.”

Whittington outlined the Harper government’s financial mess:

▪ a budget deficit of $56 billion this year and cumulative budget deficits totalling $164 billion by 2014; and,

▪ continuing high unemployment, at 8.6 per cent, following the loss of 400,000 jobs in the past year.[Don’t expect more stimulus, Flaherty says (Toronto Star, November 21, 2009)]

With numbers this grim you’d think Conservative politicians would be inclined to do their part by controlling costs in their constituency offices. But no, they’re not doing that. They’ve instead chosen to increase spending in some areas, most notably printing costs for the seemingly endless stream of nasty, partisan flyers sent to people’s homes.

There are two kinds of mailings MPs are allowed to send using taxpayer funds: householders and ten percenters. Both are produced and mailed at taxpayers’ expense.

A householder is an oversized, often two-colour newsletter that tells constituents what the MP has been doing in Ottawa and in the community. An MP can send up to four householders per calendar year.

Ten percenters, according to the Hill Times, an Ottawa-based independent weekly newspaper on federal politics, “are single page photocopied black and white flyers” that “must be 50 per cent different from each other.”

“MPs are currently allowed to send unlimited numbers of Ten Percenters to constituents in their riding or any other riding in the country so long as the number does not exceed 10 per cent of the population in the riding,” the Hill Times said in August.

“Once a month, however, MPs can participate in a “regrouping” where any number of MPs from the same party can send the same Ten Percenters to households anywhere in the country. The total number of Ten Percenters are not allowed to exceed 10 per cent of voters in each of the members participating in the regrouping and are coordinated through the parties whips’ offices.” [Ten Percenters should be less partisan or be eliminated (The Hill Times, August 17, 2009)]

Each year the Speaker of the House of Commons, on behalf of the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE), tables the consolidated Individual Member’s Expenditures report pursuant to BOIE By-laws. The 2008-2009 report was tabled November 4, 2009.

The document includes member spending on staff, office rent, supplies, travel and printing — which includes the cost of sending out the infamous ten percenter householders.

Records show that since the Conservatives took office in January 2006, the cost of printing has increased a whopping 69 per cent going from $5.94-million in 2005-2006 to $10.06-million in 2008-2009.

A recent analysis of the report by Montreal’s Le Devoir found that the minority Conservatives spent $6.3-million on the mailouts last year, while opposition MPs spent $3.8-million. [La propagande conservatrice se nourrit de fonds publics (Le Devoir, November 16, 2009)]

In the last three years, Saskatchewan Conservative MPs have managed to blow more than $1.1-million on flyers. Leading the spending spree was Saskatoon–Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott with $123,995, followed closely by Regina–Lumsden Lake MP Tom Lukiwski at $122,383. Rounding out the top four was Andrew Scheer (Regina–Qu’Appelle) with $113,143 and former Prince Albert MP Brian Fitzpatrick at $103,081.

The biggest spender last year was Lukiwksi with $50,348, an increase of 60 per cent from 2006-2007 when he racked up printing expenses of $31,402.

Then there’s Gerry Ritz, the Tory MP for Battlefords–Lloydminster, who increased spending from $5,436 in 2006-2007 to $34,846 in 2008-2009 – or 541 per cent.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, the province’s only non-Conservative politician, spent just $13,629 last year, a decrease from the previous two years.

Rookie MP Kelly Block (Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar), spent $4,694 in 24 weeks from the day she was first elected on October 14, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

Block was the center of controversy recently when she appeared to favour spanking in one of her flyers calling it a “traditional punishment.”

The StarPhoenix reported that Block sent the mailout with the words “Are Parents Criminals?” to her constituents, asking them to help her fight a Senate bill that would see parents charged for it by mailing back their answer to a question on whether they support spanking as a form of punishment.

“The Liberal dominated Senate already voted to approve this terrible idea last year,” the mailout says. “(The bill) is designed to make moms and dads into criminals for using the traditional punishment of spanking to teach their kids right from wrong.”

Block did not return multiple interview requests seeking comment. [MP favours spanking (StarPhoenix, October 5, 2009)]

In addition to the infamous spanking flyer, Block has sent out at least nine other ten percenters in the last few months promoting the Conservative government. Nearly all contain an election style ballot across the bottom of the page with the names of four federal party leaders and an arrow pointing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The flyer asks the recipient to check off ‘Who is on the right track’?

Block’s mailouts are not only self-serving propaganda they’re also wasteful.

Contacted on October 1, 2009, staff at Block’s Parliament Hill office said each mailout is sent to approximately 30,000 households all taxpayer expense. This means at least 300,000 sheets of paper were used to produce the MPs ten recent flyers, most of which likely ended up in the garbage.

Block’s website has a page called: ‘In Your Mail Box....What Kelly has sent out’. There you’ll find a downloadable calendar and her spring and summer 2009 householders but no ten percenters. It could be that Block and the Conservative Party don’t want voters to realize just how much public money they’re wasting.

Kelly Block flyer received Nov. 19, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Oct. 29, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Oct. 21, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Oct. 6, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Sept. 30, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Sept. 25, 2009


Kelly Block flyer received Sept. 17, 2009




2 Comments:

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Garry said...

Joe:

Another great post! I have looked at this and have come to the conclusion that Conservative MPs' misuse of public funds to spread false propaganda increases in direct proportion to their lack of real accomplishment on behalf of their constituents! Perhaps we need to think of it as their little way of taxing us for their stupidity.

 
At 6:51 AM, Blogger R said...

I have received over 18 pieces of personally addressed mail from Jack Layton this past year. I continue to send it back but they keep sending me more. I persojnally find this more offensive than sending out the unaddressed flyers

 

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