In Milton Friedman’s groundbreaking book and television series “Free to Choose,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist puts forth four ways of spending money: you spend your money on yourself, you spend your own money on someone else, you spend someone else’s money on yourself and you spend someone else’s money on somebody else.
Friedman, an economist from the Austrian persuasion, stated throughout his career that the last one, "spending someone else's money on somebody else", was and is the most dangerous and costliest aspect of bureaucracy in government, and is usually standard operating procedure for politicians throughout the world.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) celebrated its 14th annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony in Ottawa in which it highlights public officials, government employees, departments and agencies that waste taxpayers’ money the most (and oddest) throughout Canada.
“Taxpayers can cry, we can shout and we can stamp our feet when we hear some of these outrageous stories,” said Gregory Thomas, CTF federal director, in a news release. “And we can laugh. Some government waste is so ridiculous, it deserves to be ridiculed. The Teddy ceremony is the highlight of awards season for many Canadians.”
The CTF’s signature award, the Teddy, is named after former chairman of the Canada Labour Relations Board Ted Weatherill, who was dismissed from his position in 1998 for his exorbitant expenses.
Federal Teddy Winner: Agriculture Canada Tobacco Transition Program - $284 million
Thomas explained that Agriculture Canada’s program was established to remunerate tobacco farmers to leave the industry, but it actually doubled the number of tobacco farmers in the end. This cost the taxpayers $284 million.
Nominees: Department of National Defence, Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency and National Capital Commission
Provincial Teddy Winner: Alberta MLA’s “best committee ever”
21 Alberta Members of the Legislative Assembly receive $1,000 per month to serve on a committee that hasn’t held a meeting in more than four years. This has cost taxpayers at least $10 million since 2008.
Nominees: Yukon: Supreme Court Justice Vital Ouellette, BC Hydro and ORNGE Air Ambulance Service.
Municipal Teddy Winner: Montreal’s invisible snow snowplows
Videos have circulated all over the Internet of Montreal’s snowplows snowplowing non-existent snow. Are you scratching your head at this? So is the CTF, which is why the city of Montreal received the Municipal Teddy.
Nominees: Cities of Calgary, Manitoba and St. Albert.
Lifetime Achievement Teddy: Gilles Duceppe
Although he lost his seat in the House of Commons in last year’s federal election, the former leader of the Bloc Quebecois receives more than $140,000 each year from Canadian taxpayers. Also, his party has received $23.5 million from taxpayers.
“The gift of a grateful nation for a lifetime of devoted service to trying to break it up,” said Thomas.