Trudeau government’s failure to manage even the little expenses doesn’t instil great confidence in their ability to manage the big ones

Global Affairs Canada is wasting your money

By -- Aaron Wudrick, CTF Federal Director—— Bio and Archives--August 10, 2018

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Global Affairs Canada is wasting your money
Would you pay $286 for a seat cushion? How about $117 for a wine glass? Or $1,000 for a chair?

Access to information documents obtained from Global Affairs Canada by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation show Canada’s diplomats used your money to furnish embassies and consulates around the world.

Some will recall the fawning reception received by a newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Global Affairs Ottawa headquarters in November 2015. Coming from supposedly non-partisan, neutral government employees, it raised more than a few eyebrows.


No wonder they were so happy.

It seems Global Affairs was happy to help run up the deficit by going on a spending spree that would make a teenager blush.

Nearly $25,000 for 86 seat cushions for the Mexico City embassy. That’s $268 apiece. Try asking a friend or neighbour where you can even find cushions that fancy.

And just how high-end are the 1,000-plus pieces of crystal stemware bought by the department for a grand total of $127,000? For comparison, the average cost of $117 apiece is more than double the price of TIffany’s crystal wine glasses.

When the government could save taxpayers’ money by shopping at Tiffany, that’s a problem.

Or how about sixteen dining table chairs for $1,000 apiece, shipped from Vancouver to the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong? And that’s not even counting the $7,500 credenza (which for those of you not fortunate enough to own one, is a glorified storage cupboard.)

At the very least, you would think having been caught billing taxpayers for such over-the-top purchases, Global Affairs would apologize and promise to do better.

But you would be wrong.

When asked for comment on the Mexico City cushions, a departmental spokesperson defended the purchase and said, “we know that taxpayers’ dollars must be treated with the utmost respect.”

If this is respect, what would disrespect even look like?

Worse, arguing that these purchases “support Canadian businesses,” misses the point. By all means, buying Canadian products where the price is comparable to other options makes perfect sense.

But paying double or triple the price is simply inexcusable.

Common sense can also save Canadian taxpayers more than a few bucks — such as in Hong Kong where the consulate showed in separate purchases that it could buy good chairs and credenzas locally at a savings of 71% and 85%, respectively.

This would normally be the point where the minister responsible would step up and order a review of departmental procurement policies to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

But so far there hasn’t been a peep from Trudeau or any of his ministers promising to put a stop to these kinds of outrageous expenses.

Some critics argue that these kinds of expenses are a tiny drop in the vast taxpayer bucket and we shouldn’t worry about them. But a few drips can turn into a significant stream if left unchecked.

More importantly, while overpaying for cushions and wine might not break the bank, getting it wrong on big-ticket items — such as ships and planes for our military — certainly would.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the Trudeau government’s failure to manage even the little expenses doesn’t instil great confidence in their ability to manage the big ones.


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Canadian Taxpayers Federation -- Aaron Wudrick, CTF Federal Director -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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