• Carmen Marie Fabio

Going postal


There are two things that really bug me. No, actually, there are a lot of things that really bug me but I’ll just focus on waste and stupidity for now because I only have about half a page.

I’m lucky in that sharing a home with a bunch of pragmatic guys and two dogs, it’s very rare that any food ever goes to waste. An inherent sense of frugality (sounds nicer than ‘cheap’) means that bruised fruit becomes muffins, socks with holes get tossed into the rag-bag, and leftover anything can get mixed into eggs for an awesome quiche. At the end of the day, if I lose money because something in my home goes to waste, I’ve only myself to blame. And though that’s enough to tick me off, it’s nothing compared to the anger I feel at the waste of our tax dollars.

The month of February will welcome the 19th Annual Teddy Government Waste Award winners in a contest named for Ted Weatherill, the former head of the federal Labour Relations Board who was fired in 1999 for lavish spending of taxpayer dollars, reportedly including $150,000 for food bills over eight years, replete with a $700 lunch in Paris.

As if his transgressions were not insulting enough, the taxpayer.com website lists all the past winners of the Teddy Awards, including at federal, provincial, and municipal levels as well as annual Lifetime Achievement honourees.

The trophies presented feature golden pigs and, according to a report in the National Post, are reused every year as since the contest’s inception, no one has shown up to accept their prize.

Last year’s winners include the ‘Poop Palace’ in Calgary for its wastewater facility that was embellished with LED lights that changed colour depending on how fast the water inside was pumping – a project that cost $236,000.

Other winners are the PEI Tourism Guide in which nobody noticed, on the 180,000 printed copies, that the man on the cover wearing shorts had a noticeable erection, the Alberta School Boards’ Association that hosted a $900 staff Easter Egg hunt, and the $40 million Biomass Plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario, that only runs on imported Norwegian wood chips resulting in a $1600 megawatt hour – 25 times the cost of an average biomass plant.

The list is exhaustive and would be laughable if it wasn’t coming out of our pockets… severance packages that are merely transitional allowances for those already earning six-figure salaries… LED lights installed on a bridge that never worked properly and required over $400,000 in repairs. (No, not in Montreal. Not yet anyway.)

Last year’s lifetime achievement award was given to Bombardier Inc. nominated for ‘A Half Century of Suckling at the Public Teat’ to the tune of $3.8 billion. And counting.

While on a much smaller financial scale, but well-deserving nonetheless, I nominate Canada Post for this year’s Teddy Award for leaving a brochure in each and every one of the 54 mail slots that comprise the super mailbox located a kilometre away from my home. The brochures advise homeowners that clearing stairs and railings of snow is “…vital to your safety and the safety of your loved ones and your letter carrier.”

To be clear, the letter carrier never even came right to our door. Our rural mailboxes located at the end of the street were unceremoniously abandoned a couple of years ago so the fact that this Crown Corporation would suddenly decide it would be a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on printing and distribution costs to protect their staff from a job they never did in the first place is more than worthy of a Teddy.

Bravo.

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