Brad Johns wins taxpayer waste award for talking Christmas tree
Councillor for Middle and Upper Sackville, Beaver Bank, Lucasville paid $25K for robotic tree
Brad Johns, a Halifax-area councillor, has won a dubious prize from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for using $25,000 in taxpayers' money to buy a six-metre talking Christmas tree.
Johns, who is the councillor for Middle and Upper Sackville, Beaver Bank, Lucasville, has won a Teddy — the prize the federation gives to public figures it feels are wasting taxpayers' money.
The money for the robotic tree, made by a California company, came out of a $94,000 discretionary fund councillors are given to buy things for their constituencies.
"I wanted something that was unique for Sackville," Johns said in December of the tree, which had moving eyes, eyebrows and mouth, with a voice that sounded like Johns's.
Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, announced the awards at a ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday. The award is a golden pig mascot — of Porky the Waster Hater.
Johns was the winner on the municipal level, while there were other winners among federal and provincial politicians.
"The residents of Middle and Upper Sackville must be already awash in public amenities," Wudrick said in a statement.
"How else could a politician possibly arrive at the conclusion that the purchase of a giant robotic Christmas tree would be at the top of his constituents' wish list?"
Johns was travelling outside the country when the announcement was made. He has defended the purchase in the past and said he hoped the tree would generate about twice its cost in extra donations to local food banks.
"There's many communities around the province … that become synonymous with something that they do," Johns said in December.
"Spryfield's got the Santa Claus Parade. You think of Windsor, you think of the pumpkin people. I thought, 'What better than to revive the concept of a talking tree?'"