Thursday, July 30, 2009

Un-WED my tax dollars

The federal government operates a department known as "Western Economic Diversification" (WED). Although politicians publicly tout WED as an important agent in spurring economic growth in Western Canada, it is nothing more than a giant political slush fund.

That's because WED is a true dog`s breakfast when it comes to the types of projects it funds. From grants for chopstick manufacturing plants, airport lighting, investment schemes and wall murals, the department will fund just about anything. In some cases WED bureaucrats review and fund the same projects that bureaucrats in other departments are reviewing and funding. Talk about overlap.

The politics behind the department's funding is evident when one looks at the handout timing. In fact, a report released by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) in early 2009 showed a striking relationship between the department's funding levels and election calls over the past twenty years. WED handouts spiked just before the 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006 federal elections.

Government hands out money from hard working taxpayers for political, not economic reasons and WED is a classic example. It should come as no surprise WED has no idea whether its spending is effective and why should it? Spending is used to buy votes, not for economic development. To provide true economic development, the government should eliminate WED and use the savings to deliver broad-based business tax relief. Doing so would leave more money in the hands of those who drive any successful economy – entrepreneurs.

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