According to data released under the Access to Information Act, Ottawa has spent a total of $39.9-million so far this year in the 17 administrative regions of Quebec.Saguenay being the region represented by Conservative MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn, of course. The one who bragged during the election about bringing home the bacon for his riding. Now confirmed. And to think, this is the kind of thing the Conservatives once railed about. Doesn't look like the wisest distribution of moneys for the Canadian taxpayer.
Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean clearly stands out as the main recipient, with $9.3-million in funding from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) since April.
The only other area that comes close to the Saguenay is the Montreal area, with $7.4-million. However, the population of Montreal, at 1.9 million, is almost seven times that of the Saguenay, which has 273,000 residents.
In the same vein, Brison and McCallum were today publicly pushing the Conservatives to disclose numbers and plans:
The Liberals on Monday released a letter they sent to Flaherty last week outlining their demands. Signed by Brison and McCallum, the letter asks for:The party of prorogation left itself vulnerable to such public opposition demands: "Budget consultations are normally carried out by the House of Commons finance committee, which has been prevented from meeting since the government asked for Parliament to be suspended." It's a free for all now, with no parliamentary process for the Conservatives to work within. We'll see how it goes, but to begin with, it's looking like the opposition is managing it quite well. The Conservatives are on defence for a change and appear to be acquiescing to the above demands:
* "Honest budgetary numbers" and an updated economic forecast.
* A detailed plan on any Crown assets the government is considering selling.
* A Finance Department briefing for the parliamentary budget officer.
* A commitment to a two-year, multi-industry economic stimulus package.
The letter asks for a response from the government by Friday, Dec. 19.
Brison said Flaherty pledged to provide an updated forecast for the economy as well as a plan for selling $10 billion in government assets over five years, as demanded by the Liberals.Tough to see how the Conservatives have a choice. The above demands are objectively reasonable. The Conservatives failed to produce substantiating numbers for their economic update, in terms of the budget surplus and the selling of Crown assets to produce that surplus. Brison and McCallum have an ally in the parliamentary budget officer in making the requests.
All in all, not where the Conservatives want to be. It's refreshing to see them being challenged like this and exposed for their weak management on economic matters. Going after their supposed strength, bit by bit.