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Waterfront Confusion
27/04/2005

Christopher Hume calls it "progress" in the Toronto Star. The federal government has delivered a few bucks ($20.5-million) for waterfront revitalization in Toronto.

This money is actually in the bank, which is the real good (and surprising) news. Five years ago the three levels of government made a $1.5-billion commitment. Only a fraction actually came forward. Then last year, in desperation before the election, Paul Martin repromised $125-million. That is to say, he promised to actually deliver $125-million of the $1.5-billion. Now he is actually delivering $20.5-million of the $125-million repromise.

I have never paid much attention to those who have argued for legal penalties against discrepancies between election campaign promises and actual results. It doesn't seem realistic to me. However, something needs to be done about the way this government handles its announcements. When the government itself stands up and says it is spending money, but doesn't really do it, that is seriously misleading.

If you announce a $1-billion commitment, and then make ten separate $100-million repromises, followed by one hundred reannouncements of $10-million each, how much money is really spent? Possibly nothing.

In the case described above, this is a Toronto problem, but I have to imagine that this is the way Liberals are working across the country. Maybe this is how they get those surprise surpluses every year!

(And by the way, the waterfront money isn't the only desperate last-minute election promise for Toronto that Paul Martin hasn't lived up to.)


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