Some Conservatives Have Stopped Pretending Funding Announcements Are Anything But Election Stops

Here’s $200,000. Now let me tell you why you should vote for us.

1. One nice thing about being a government minister is you get to cross the country doling out cash and making people happy. But it is taxpayer money, and you’re not supposed to be blatantly political while doing it.

Fred Greenslade / Reuters

With government MPs on a pre-election spending spree they’ve been accused of trying to buy votes.

When questioned by reporters, government MPs say it’s not about politics. But, well, let’s look at Wednesday’s announcement in Winnipeg by Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder.

2. Holder was in Winnipeg to announce $220,000 in Natural Research Council funding for farm tractor technology. You might expect him to talk about this project.

Chris Wattie / Reuters

Here’s a breakdown of Holder’s remarks:

  • Opening banter about Winnipeg and the weather: 93 words
  • Touting free trade deals signed by the government: 223 words
  • The importance of innovation and small/medium-sized businesses: 249 words
  • Why Conservative MP Joyce Bateman is great and should be re-elected: 597 words
  • Comments on the tractor technology being funded: 0 words

4. What that looks like:

Holder’s comments about Bateman are the giant slice, representing 51% of all remarks. Not pictured: Comments about what the $220,000 will be going towards, as they accounted for 0% of Holder’s speech.

5. His lavish praises of Winnipeg South Centre Conservative MP Joyce Bateman included:

  • “She’s really nice.”
  • “She’s really effective in Parliament.”
  • “She’s been a Winnipeg resident for many years and has huge ties to your community.”
  • “She has extensive experience in both the private and public sector.”
  • “She’s had a hand in the creation of community-based aboriginal teacher education programs.”
  • “She stands out, she’s compelling, she’s not shy.”
  • “She reminds me of my Cape Breton grandmother.”
  • “You can’t resist Joyce Bateman because she is so compelling and she speaks strongly.”
  • “She’s the first Winnipeg South Centre MP to ever have a Private Member’s Bill passed by Parliament.”
  • “Sometimes they call people a force of nature and Joyce Bateman is that kind of individual, frankly.”

6. Holder ended his speech by noting there is an election coming up, but insisted he’s not here to promote Joyce Bateman.

Chris Wattie / Reuters

“You may have heard, we have an election coming up in October and I’m not here to show for Joyce. But I would say you would do Winnipeg so well to have her back the way she has represented you with great class and truly that force of nature,” he said.

Bateman is sure to be in for a tight race. In 2011 she edged out her Liberal opponent by just over 700 votes. With the Conservatives down in the polls, Winnipeg is one area where opposition parties are looking to make gains in the prairies.

7. So is this allowed? After all this event was organized by bureaucrats and involves a funding announcement of taxpayer money. Treasury board communication rules say government resources cannot be used for political purposes.

“(Government) institutions must not participate in, or lend support to, partisan events organized for political party purposes,” the rules say.

BuzzFeed Canada has asked the office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner about the event. We’ll update the story once we hear back.

update

A spokesperson for Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson says that the Conflict of Interest Act prevents senior civil servants from carrying out partisan activities but does not prevent MPs from taking part in government announcements. There are more rules in the Accountable Government Guide, but that is administered by the Privy Council and outside the scope of the Ethics office.

Also, the minister of Science and Technology’s office wrote in to say that his role at the event was not to talk about the science and technology, but to introduce Bateman, who would then talk about the specific announcement.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.
 
 
Now Buzzing