|Stephen Harper's Tories are defending spending $100 million on polling over the past five years by saying at least they're spending less than the other guys did. (QMI Agency File Photo)
OTTAWA - The Conservative government is defending spending $100 million on polling over the past five years by saying at least they're spending less than the other guys did.
Documents tabled in the House of Commons in response to an official question show the feds forked over $99,924,234 to ask Canadians their thoughts on everything from fish to museums to what should be in the budget. The staggering figure doesn’t include Statistics Canada's polling as part of its regular statistical duties. However, the department did spend $258,762 on public opinion polling.
The polling was conducted between January 1, 2006, and September 22, 2010. A government spokesperson said the Liberals spent $131 million during their final five years in office.
“The government surveys Canadians to ensure that programs are aligned with Canadians' priorities. These surveys are carefully planned to ensure that taxpayers get the best possible value for money,” said Treasury Board President Stockwell Day.
“For instance, in 2004/05 the former Liberal government spent $29 million on this type of polling, compared with 2008/09 when the present Conservative government spent $8.1million. That is a reduction of approximately two-thirds”
While Day points to the $8.1 million in 2008/09, the annual average would be closer to $20 million, which critics say is still too high.
Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says he’s not buying the “we spent less than the other guy” defence.
“It’s a pretty weak defence of one’s self, $20 million a year in public opinion polling is substantial,” said Gaudet. “These are the types of things that are the first to go in the private sector. They need to be chopping down things that are not top of list.”