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More trees chopped and more money wasted on partisan flyers by the Cons

This is one time that this particular endorsement from this particular group I don’t mind seeing:

The Liberals are getting some support from a small-c conservative source for their opposition motion Monday that aims to cut government waste by curbing the use of political tools like 10-percenter mailings. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation plans to e-mail its supporters on the Conservative backbenches and within the NDP caucus, asking them to back the Liberal initiative. The 10-per-centers are flyers that are sent, using taxpayers money, by MPs into the ridings of other federal politicians. Their messages are often overtly partisan.

Rather hard for the Conservatives to reject the Liberal proposal without angering a group that contains their core voters. A potential wedge issue, perhaps, if the Conservatives refuse to consider it.

Coincidentally enough, what do I get in the mail today? Why, a 15 page flyer sent on behalf of my MP, Conservative Dave Mackenzie, proclaiming that the Conservatives are “saving me money on my tax return”. Inside, a point for point rundown on Canada’s Economic Action Plan, with of course a footer at the bottom continuing to try to tell me that the Conservatives are saving me money.

At the end of this lovely propaganda piece, a link to a government of Canada website for more information – a supposedly neutral non-partisan website. mind you, in a decidedly partisan Conservative mailing.

In days gone past, when governments of Canada wanted to get out information on tax return changes or savings, they’d normally send out that info in official Government of Canada letterhead. They’d point out the potential savings, while carefully trying to remain non-partisan about it.

Not with this bunch in power. There’s a reason certain civil servants in the administrative functions of Ottawa were uncomfortable with the crossing over into partisan territory, and why they recommended against it (which Harper and his PMO rejected).

Now we’ll see how serious this government is about saving money, or whether they continue to want to spend taxpayers money for partisan purposes, because the savings are not insignificant:

The Liberal motion takes aim at what the party says is $1-billion in partisan expenditures including $800-million that is spent on government advertising and travel and $350-million that is spent on management consultants. But the 10-per-centers, mass mailings that cost an estimated $30-million a year, are the most controversial of the items the Liberals want to see on the chopping block. The Liberals say that Conservative MPs accounted for 62 per cent of 10-per-center printing costs in 2008-09, compared to 16 per cent for MPs in their own party.

If this government wants people to believe they’re serious about belt-tightening, this would be a much bigger gesture then freezing MP’s salaries. But a) it cuts out their propaganda, and b) it was suggested by the Liberals, so if they refuse to consider it, don’t be surprised. But, if they do refuse it, it will be a useful thing to remind people about in the next election campaign.

UPDATE @ 8:55 pm: Word from the CTF’s director Kevin Gaudet on Twitter is that the Liberal motion passed 140-137. All Conservative MP’s opposed. Something to do with “freedom of speech”. Their normally staunch allies in the CTF don’t seem to agree with that.


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