Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Friday, July 24, 2009

Human Rights Museum Wants More of Your Money

Construction on The Canadian Museum for Human Rights , which started in April of this year, is taking place Winnipeg and set for completion in 2012. So far they have begged for, and gotten, $160 million dollars of government money.

Is it well spent?

Officials at The Canadian Museum For Human Rights announced earlier this year that they would require an extra $45 million in donations because rising construction costs had driven up the price by 17 per cent.

On Friday, they announced plans to approach various provinces and the City of Winnipeg to help foot the $310-million bill.

So they screwed up by not budgeting properly. And who will hold the bill for their screw up? The Canadian public, everyone of us.

And why wouldn't they beg for government money? Corporate welfare is a blight, yet time and time again government cozies up to their buddies in big business and makes deals that benefits their friends, giving millionaires more money for their projects and businesses, while the average middle class person (the majority of Canadians) are forced to pay for it.

Force people to pay for a Human Rights Museum, ironic.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on July 24, 2009 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (18)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Corporate Welfare Alert #2 – Feeling blue over blueberry subsidies

This week, the Conservative government announced $185,000 in funding to the B.C. Blueberry Council to “help ensure a profitable future for British Columbia's blueberry growers.”

The announcement was made by Nina Grewal, Member of Parliament for Fleetwood-Port Kells on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The funding will come through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

"Canadian blueberries are enjoyed around the world thanks to the hard work and expertise of our growers," said MP Grewal. "The Government of Canada is committed to the long-term viability of the blueberry industry and is working with farmers to find innovative and sustainable initiatives."

According to Will Van Baalen, Executive Director of the B.C. Blueberry Council, "without this support, many of our research projects and other initiatives would go undone."

So without $185,000 in taxpayer money, important research in blueberry growing would not get done. Hmm. That doesn’t sound right.

There are 450 blueberry growing families in BC. If each family came up with $411, they could replace the loan coming from taxpayers. Is that an impossible amount of money for blueberry farm families to come up with in order to “ensure a profitable future” for their industry? I don’t think so.

I did a quick Google search to get an idea for the value of a blueberry farm. I called the owner of the first property I saw listed, a 70-acre blueberry farm near Langley. It is for sale for $7.7 million.

So is it unfair to ask land-rich blueberry farmers with an industry association in place to finance research and business development that will “ensure a profitable future”? Surely that’s a better solution than making the profits of 450 blueberry farms the responsibility of every taxpayer.

Of course, the latter approach will do little to keep Nina Grewal in office, but maybe that's a good thing for taxpayers.

UPDATE: I got a call tonight from Will Van Baalen, Executive Director of the B.C. Blueberry Council, in response to my question about their membership numbers. The Council has 625 members, which means it would take only $296 per member to replace the $185,000 loan from the federal government.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Taxpayers and PETA-philes agree: corporate welfare stinks

Is a zero-interest federal loan to a Quebec company part of a Tory vote buying scheme? I asked Canadian Taxpayers Federation national director John Williamson.

Should vegetarians be forced to subsidize the meat industry? The PETA-philes say “no.”

And what can be done to improve private sector lending to growing Canadian businesses?  Libertarian Party leader Dennis Young commits to a strategy that could help phase out corporate welfare completely.

Read all of this and more in the latest Western Standard news story “Does it take Tory pork to process pork?” here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Monday, August 18, 2008

Corporate Welfare Alert #1 – Does it take pork to process pork?

The Minister of Canada Economic Development, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, today announced a $195,000 zero-interest loan to Charcuterie L. Fortin Ltd. The Quebec-based delicatessen has been in business for 40 years and is the largest pork processing plant in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.

I’m as bullish on pork as the next guy...probably more so, but why does a company with a 40 year proven track record need a $195,000 loan from the taxpayers? If Canadian banks aren’t doing a good job lending to businesses like Charcuterie L. Fortin, perhaps the Conservative government needs to open the sector to more foreign competition.

And what about private investors? Charcuterie L. Fortin has shareholders, why not bring in a few more? I know it’s hard to find investors in this market, but what if the Conservatives scraped the capital gains tax as they promised in 2006? That would help attract more investment in seemingly sound business ventures like Charcuterie L. Fortin.

But if they do insist on being in the business of corporate lending, why doesn’t the government charge interest? It costs money to lend money. First, there is the risk on not getting the money back. Then there is the cost of administering the loan. Let’s not forget the opportunity cost of not being able to lend that money elsewhere, or even the cost of not using that money to pay down the national debt. And, of course, with Canada’s central bank expanding the money supply at 12%, there is the cost of inflation. $195,000 is worth more today than it will be 10 years from now.

(I called Canada Economic Development and asked for the terms of the loan period. They didn’t know. Only a government department would announce a loan without including the terms of the loan.)

So let me now ask Western Standard readers -- does it really take pork to process pork?

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 18, 2008 in Corporate Welfare Alert | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack