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This article was published 6/9/2010 (3702 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- The Harper government ordered civil servants across Canada to document every single sign posted anywhere promoting the federal economic stimulus plan, The Canadian Press has learned.
They've spent countless hours tracking every one of more than 8,500 signs posted since last summer, when the urgent, weekly exercise was ordered by the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic support arm of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office.
It continues to this day.
Eighteen departments and agencies are involved, including the country's over-stretched food inspection agency, fisheries and oceans officials, health, public safety and environment workers and Parks Canada employees.
The signage database, at the request of the PCO, includes the total number of projects that require an "Economic Action Plan" sign, the number of signs already installed, the number of signs remaining to be installed and the number of signs ordered. The PCO also demanded to know the anticipated installation dates for uninstalled signs.
The tracking exercise generated thousands of pages of documentation over a six-month period at a single Crown corporation, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. documents obtained under the access to information law.
The CMHC effort involved everyone from CMHC president Karen Kinsley, who signs off on each week's tally, to CMHC field staff across Canada.
More than 500 pages of CMHC signage documentation obtained by The Canadian Press -- winnowed down from more than 3,000 pages generated between mid-October 2009 and mid-April 2010 -- include multiple reminders from PCO that the arms-length housing agency's signage report must be submitted "every Monday by noon." The PCO reminders are written in bold face and underlined.
Opposition critics have repeatedly claimed that the Conservative government is using the 2009 budgetary stimulus package as an ongoing partisan platform to promote the Harper government.
A Privy Council spokeswoman said the government is simply communicating with Canadians.
Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal critic on infrastructure spending, said the internal tracking effort is ridiculous, especially since the government hasn't bothered tracking how many jobs were created by the stimulus spending.
CMHC did not respond to inquiries about the overall cost of the tracking exercise, nor the number of employees involved.
-- The Canadian Press
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