The Canadian Taxpayers Federation released its annual Teddy Awards on Wednesday for what it calls the best of the worst in government waste.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s eight-day visit to India in February 2018 earned this year’s federal award. It cost taxpayers at least $1.6 million and only a half day of official government-to-government business was scheduled, according to the release.
“It was bad enough to watch the prime minister’s costume changes and dance moves during his trip to India, but seeing the bill was even worse,” said federal director Aaron Wudrick.
In B.C., the winner is the ongoing scandal at the B.C. Legislature. Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas accused Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz of using taxpayers’ money to take frivolous trips to places such as the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Both James and Lenz are suspended from their duties and deny all allegations.
“We also won the municipal award for Vancouver’s bizarre email-a-tree program,” said B.C. director Kris Sims. “When bureaucrats and politicians choose to waste our money like this, it’s important to recognize them for their efforts – and B.C. is topping the charts, winning the Teddy Waste Award in two categories this year.”
The Vancouver Park Board spent thousands on its All the Trees project, where residents were invited to send emails to trees and artists were paid to send replies on the trees’ behalf. The park board contributed $7,000 of the project’s $12,000 budget.
Also winning for the second time was former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, getting the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The public learned last October that Clarkson has billed taxpayers more than $1.1 million since leaving the position in 2005 – something she is allowed to do under a policy that permits former governors general to continue to submit expenses.