Saskatchewan Conservative MP’s wasted $607,608.94 on flyers in 2009-10; Randy Hoback, Kelly Block and Tom Lukiwski biggest spenders
Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s annual fall update – delivered in a speech to the Mississauga Chinese Business Association on October 12, 2010 – reveals the depth of the Harper government’s financial mess:
▪ a record $55.6 billion budget deficit in the 2009-10 fiscal year
▪ a projected $45.4 billion deficit in the current fiscal year (2010-11)
▪ a combined, two-year deficit of $101 billion
▪ no surplus until at least 2015-16
To get the books balanced, Flaherty told the business crowd the government will continue to follow a three point plan laid out in Budget 2010 that involves ending the temporary stimulus measures contained in the Economic Action Plan; targeted measures to limit growth of direct program spending; and, undertaking a review of administrative operations, aimed at reducing overhead costs and improving service delivery.
Flaherty said the government will “exercise fiscal restraint.”
Chapter 4.1 of this year’s federal budget notes that, “The Government will lead by example, introducing legislation to freeze the salaries of the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senators for 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13. It will also freeze the overall budget of Ministers’ offices and calls on Members of both Houses of Parliament to do the same. It will also maintain the freeze at 2008–09 levels on departmental spending on travel, conferences and hospitality.”
The restraint, however, does not appear to extend to MP’s printing expenses where spending is out of control.
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 2009-10 report was tabled October 28, 2010.
The document details member spending on staff, office rent, supplies, travel and printing — which includes costs incurred for producing two types of flyers: householders and ten percenters.
Householders are oversized, often two-colour newsletters sent by MP’s to inform their constituents about parliamentary activities and issues. MP’s are allowed to print and mail up to four householders per calendar year per household in their constituency, which on average represents 45,000 households per householder.
Ten percenters are single page photocopied black and white flyers reproduced in quantities not exceeding 10% of the total number of households in a MP’s constituency. MP’s may print and mail an unlimited number of ten percenters per year however each ten percenter must have a 50% difference in textual content from other ten percenters produced that year and can only be distributed within the MP’s own constituency, which on average represents 4,500 copies per ten percenter. Ten percenters are usually nasty and highly partisan. They’re also taxpayer funded.
Records indicate that since the Harper Conservatives took office in January 2006, the cost of printing has increased a whopping 148.68 per cent going from $5.94-million in 2005-06 to $14.77-million last year. The five-year totals are as follows:
At the provincial level,
Since 2006-07, spending on householders and ten percenters by Saskatchewan Conservative MP’s has risen 125.75 per cent.
The biggest culprits last year were Randy Hoback (
Hoback and Block were newly elected October 14, 2008. In less than 18 eighteen months they have managed to top the list as the biggest wasters of taxpayer money on flyers among Saskatchewan MP’s.
In Block’s case, since the summer of 2009, she has mailed out at least 30 ten percenters, most of which are partisan and say nothing about Block’s activities as an MP. They serve little purpose other than to praise and promote Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada.
Block sends out so many flyers that sometimes constituents receive two different ones on the same day. The most recent examples of this were September 13 and 23, 2010.
The subject matter of Block’s ten percenters ranges from scaring people into thinking that crime is so rampant that people aren’t safe in their own homes, to heralding cuts to the GST (which are costing $76 billion in forgone taxes between 2008 and 2013) that most economists worth their salt say is reckless, to the creepy ongoing obsession with the long-gun registry, or talking up the Harper government’s pathetic response to calls for improved Unemployment Insurance (EI) benefits in Budget 2009, which the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called the “biggest single failure of the budget.”
One area that Block’s ten percenters don’t address is the obscene corporate tax cuts that the Harper government has implemented. According to Les Whittington, a reporter in the Toronto Star’s Ottawa Bureau, between 2008 and 2013, these cuts alone will reduce the cash-strapped federal government’s tax take by a cumulative $60 billion. [Analysis: Jim Flaherty’s sacred cows — corporate tax cuts (Toronto Star, February 24, 2010)]
The Harper government intends to continue with its planned corporate tax cuts no matter how damaging they are to the federal treasury.
“We are staying on course to having the lowest corporate income tax rate in the G7 by 2012,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in his budget speech March 4, 2010.
“Some argue that we should cancel these tax reductions. Our government will follow through on our commitment. Reducing the tax burden on businesses is a key part of
The truth is,
A KPMG study released May 12, 2010, assessing the general tax competitiveness of 95 cities in 10 countries found that
The report also shows that Canada ranks second in both statutory labour costs and total effective tax rate, and is sixth on ‘other corporate taxes,’ which include capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and miscellaneous business taxes.
Tax rates used in the study were in effect as at January 1, 2010, three months before Flaherty’s remarks.
Interestingly, Block’s website has a page titled ‘What Kelly has sent out’. There you’ll find a downloadable calendar, householders, and tax guide but no ten percenters. Why is that? Could it be that Block is embarrassed to show constituents just how much taxpayer money she has wasted on them over the past two years?