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No more sports tickets, capiche?

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So remember last year when the Manitoba NDP members were left with egg all over their Jets'-enthusiast faces after it became clear several cabinet ministers had accepted free tickets for  much-coveted Jets' home games?

Remember the uproar over the fact Crown corporations in Manitoba were buying tickets and distributing them mainly to cabinet ministers, board members or executive officers?

Remember how well that whole thing went over? 

Yeah, not very well. Seems people are kind of testy (and rightfully so) about ministers getting freebies, or how much Crown corporations are spending on sports tickets.

Well, Manitoba is sadly now joined in the "sports ticket hall of shame" aisle, by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Answers to an order paper question from the NDP were finally tabled in the house Monday and uncovered the fact DFAIT spent $60,000 on hockey and baseball tickets between 2005/06 and 2011/12.

The amounts spent include nearly $40,000 on hockey tickets over the time period, and in one year alone, a combined total of $20,204 on hockey and baseball.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird immediately stepped up to say he hadn't approved the purchases and it will not happen again.

The answers do not break down which teams the tickets supported, but says "these tickets were purchased in support of official hospitality offered to foreign nationals, as well as to foster positive working relations abroad through the promotion of Canadian businesses, and the sales and exports of Canadian products."

Most federal departments said they didn't buy professional tickets, although a few said they didn't have the ability to track such purchases and CSIS declined to answer for reasons of national security.

Treasury Board spent $1,108.94 on NHL tickets in two years as a reward for four employees. Veterans Affairs spent $610 on CFL tickets for veterans who participated in on-field commemorative ceremonies: $300 in 2007 and $310 in 2010.

In Baird's favour is the quick response to the situation. Maybe he learned from the Manitoba NDP, whose dithering over the subject of the free tickets kept the story in the public eye for far longer than this federal story will be.

Regardless, seems if diplomats and foreign investors want to take in a Senators game or watch the Blue Jays this year, they'll have to find someone other than the Canadian taxpayer to foot the bill.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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