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Feds get top wasteful spending award for advertising non-existent job grant

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OTTAWA - The federal government has been given a dubious award for spending millions of tax dollars to promote a job grant that doesn't yet exist.

Employment and Social Development Canada was named Wednesday as recipient of the 16th annual Teddy Award for wasteful federal spending.

The pig-shaped awards are handed out annually by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to people and government agencies that it deems as the worst wasters of tax dollars.

"If you jumped from your sofa during the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013 to alert your unemployed teenager about the fabulous new $15,000 Canada Jobs Grant, you were in for a sad surprise," said CTF federal director Gregory Thomas.

"Despite $2.5 million in taxpayer-funded advertising ... the Canada Jobs Grant didn't exist, and still doesn't."

Former Toronto Pan Am Games CEO Ian Troop won the provincial award for getting a salary of over $550,000 while overseeing an event that is $1.1 billion over budget.

Toronto is to host the games in 2016. Troop's expense claims ranged from 91 cents for parking to a lavish $8,500 party in Mexico.

Vancouver's TransLink got the municipal award for building a $4.5 million parking lot that almost no one uses.

And the Senate of Canada was named as recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

"With one former senator finishing off a jail term for fraud, another former senator and a suspended senator facing criminal charges, two suspended senators under police investigation and dozens more dragging their feet on the auditor general's investigation of their spending, CTF supporters across the country gave the issue some sober second thought," said Thomas.

Runners-up for awards included the Defence Department for commissioning a $14,000 public opinion poll to determine what Canadians see as the powers of super heroes and Hydro Quebec for paying unionized crane operators an estimated $1.92 million to stay off the job while crane operators from Germany did the actual work on a hydro project.

The awards are named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 over his expense claims, which included a $700 lunch for two.

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