Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney, come on down!
You — or, at least, your department — just won this year's "Teddy" award for most egregious waste of federal government money, thanks to the $2.5 million spent on prime 2013 Stanley Cup ad placement for what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation describes as "the non-existent Canada Jobs Grant."
“If you jumped from your sofa during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013 to alert your unemployed teenager about the fabulous new $15,000 Canada Jobs Grant, you were in for a sad surprise," the taxpayer watchdog group's Gregory Thomas said at an Ottawa press conference Wednesday.
"Despite $2.5 million in taxpayer-funded advertising — such as those slick TV commercials during the games — the Canada Jobs Grant didn’t exist, and still doesn’t. Maybe by the time the 2014 playoffs roll around the government will reach a deal with the provinces and Canada’s employers, and bring the Canada Jobs Grant into existence," Thomas said.
The Taxpayer's Federation award may have extra sting for Kenney, who once served as the group's president and chief executive officer.
In what has become an annual tongue-in-cheek tradition, the gold-plated trophies — shaped like pigs, of course — were handed out in absentia at a black-tie press conference, as the group's mascot, Porky the Waste-Hating Pig, looked on. The awards are named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 over expense claims that included a $700 lunch for two.
This year's recipients also included Toronto's former Pan-AM Games boss, Ian Troop, and Vancouver TransLink's $4.5-million empty parking lot, with a lifetime achievement award going — "after sober second thought" — to the Senate of Canada.
Troop won the provincial award for getting a salary of over $550,000 while overseeing an event that is $1.1 billion over budget. Troop's expense claims ranged from 91 cents for parking to a lavish $8,500 party in Mexico.
Runners-up included the Defence Department for commissioning a $14,000 public opinion poll to determine what Canadians see as the powers of super heroes and Hydro Quebec for paying unionized crane operators an estimated $1.92 million to stay off the job while crane operators from Germany did the actual work on a hydro project.
Not surprisingly, not one of the honourees turned up to accept their prizes.