(Ottawa) The federal government announced nearly $ 1 billion in grants, contracts and other financial contributions since Monday as we now reached the mark 100 days before the federal election of October 19.
This “summer ads” is denounced by the opposition parties as a shameless use of public funds to enable the Conservative Party to “buy” votes. The Stephen Harper’s Quebec lieutenant, Denis Lebel, rejects this accusation.
“There is no strategy there. On the contrary, the more we will have announced more we will have demonstrated that we have done our job, “said Minister Lebel, who is also head of the federal portfolio of Infrastructure and the Canada Economic Development Agency for Quebec regions.
Press calculated that the Conservative ministers and members have made nearly 100 ads for funding across the country this week. They cover a series of contributions ranging from subsidies for the construction of community infrastructure renewal funding of ports or armories, through repayable loans to SMEs and ship repair contracts for the Coast Guard . They fall within the framework of various federal programs such as the Small Communities Fund or the New Building Canada Fund.
In comparison, for the same period in 2014, for the week of July 7 to 11, Ottawa had conducted about 30 ads a total of $ 240 million. This is almost four times less than the 900 million announced in five days this week, from Monday to Friday.
And to give an idea of what that represents $ 1 billion for the Canadian government, the surplus announced with great fanfare in the last federal budget was $ 1.4 billion.
Many more to come
However, Minister Lebel did not hide: several similar ads should be made in the coming weeks, while several federal programs are ripe for distributing funds. Many advisories have also been broadcast late yesterday afternoon to invite them to such ceremonies Monday.
“The new infrastructure plan is in place since 1 April 2014. The time to file folders and analyze it, it is normal that this summer we have a lot of folders to announce,” said Lebel. This 10-year plan is worth $ 14 billion.
The new Community Infrastructure Program of Canada 150, announced in May, is in a similar position. Ottawa has about a month left to the provinces and municipalities to submit their projects. The two-year program has a budget of 150 million to improve the state of infrastructure in the country for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
“I hope we will have ads this summer, but now it is the officials who do the work now,” said Mr. Lebel about this program dubbed PIC150.
“Yes, we will continue to do our job of government, the minister concluded. Obviously, the election period will stop announcement. But first, there are people who are eager we present the project on which we worked with them. ”
These expenditures of public funds attracted much criticism of opposition parties: they froze “all their programs to the very end in order to make a summer ads”, accused the Liberal MP Stéphane Dion.
October 19 will mark the first federal elections on a fixed date in Canadian history and one of the most frequently made criticism of this type of elections is that they increase the use of public funds for purposes election in the months and weeks preceding the election day.
“This is the very poor management of Canadian public funds, [funding] is subject to the re-election of the government and that is fouling electioneering,” added Mr. Dion.
The frustration of the Liberal member echoed by several of his colleagues from the other opposition parties. “It’s amazing, but not surprising … The Conservatives are doing everything they can to save the furniture they buy votes as they can!”, Launched NDP MP Guy Caron.
“The Bloc, we have confidence in the intelligence of Quebecers, who will not be fooled by gifts flavored electioneering,” ruled the press secretary of the leader Gilles Duceppe, Mathieu Renaud St-Amand.