Ready, Fire, Aim …
Canada’s new billion-dollar boondoggle

Ottawa - Thursday, December 5, 2002 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser has released another scathing report that chronicles waste and mismanagement in a variety of federal departments on a scale approaching biblical proportions.




The Auditor General's report is laid out in eleven troubling chapters which should not be viewed before bedtime lest one wishes to awake from a taxpayer’s nightmare in the wee hours of the morning. However, since it is daytime, let’s leaf through a few of Ms. Fraser’s chapters.


Chapter 1 — Streamlining First Nations Reporting to Federal Organizations.

never used

The Auditor General found that an average of 168 reports have to be submitted by bands each year to four separate federal funding agencies with most of the information never being used. Pushing paper, either in band offices or at Indian Affairs hasn’t increased financial performance or capacity.




In fact, earlier this fall the Canadian Taxpayers Federation released Access to Information data that showed native band deficits have increased by 181% over the past nine years to $373 million and the number of actual bands in deficit increased by 21% (to 188 bands) over this same period.


Chapter 5 — Financial Management and Control in the Government of Canada.


Consider this quote from the Auditor General:


“For more than 40 years, the government has been trying to improve its financial management. This initiative has not received the commitment and leadership it needs to succeed. In my view, for an organization that spends almost $180 billion a year, this is not acceptable.”



failure to
use data

Well that’s an understatement. How about this borders on being criminally fraudulent? Over this same 40 years successive Auditors General had lambasted official Ottawa for its pathetic efforts in using financial data to properly evaluate program performance and effectiveness.


Chapter 10


This brings us to Chapter 10 of the Auditor General's report, Department of Justice — Costs of Implementing the Canadian Firearms Program. Way back in 1995, former Justice Minister (now Industry boss) Allan Rock introduced Bill C-68, the fabled gun registry bill.




Despite howls of protest from law-abiding gun owners and experts in public administration claiming the federal gun registry — as designed in Bill C-68 -- wouldn’t work, Rock and his Justice minions arrogantly moved ahead claiming the registry would only cost $2 million with the $117 million set-up costs being offset by $115 million in fees and permit revenues.



430 times

So it was ready, fire, aim as Ottawa moved forward. Now seven years later, taxpayers have been forced to bite the proverbial bullet. The Auditor General projects gun registry costs to exceed $1 billion by 2004/2005 with only $140 million to be recouped in fees. So the net cost of the registry will tally around $860 million, 430 times the original cost estimate, yikes.




In the real world where taxpayers live, more than a few folks would lose their jobs for such a colossal screw-up. But here in the northern version of Oz by the Rideau Canal, not one single bureaucrat nor one single former or present Minister of Justice will pay the price for this abhorrent and unconscionable waste.




To put it in context, if you had a dollar for every second of your life starting right now, it would take you 31 years, 8 months and 16 days to amass one billion dollars. Yet Ottawa blows this in less than seven years. This is Mr. Chretien’s legacy!
  Walter Robinson
Federal Director
  Thompson, Justin, Backgrounder, Auditor General's Report, December 3, 2002, CBC News
  2002 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada


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