Auditor General Report Points Out The Obvious: CRA takes too long to resolve tax objections.

In some not-news of the day, the Federal Auditor General has found that the federal government takes months — sometimes years — to make decisions, costing Canadians time and money when it comes to resolving tax disputes.

Audits of the Canada Revenue Agency unveiled exceedingly long delays which fall short of public expectations in an era of advanced technology and instant communications.  He noted that departments, like the CRA, assess the time it takes to make decisions against their own internal benchmarks, giving little heed to what the taxpayers they serve might consider a timely decision.

The Canada Revenue Agency often leaves taxpayers waiting for months after they file formal objections to their tax assessments.  Appeals officers seeking help from other parts of the agency often wait a year or more.

Over the last 10 fiscal years, the inventory of outstanding cases at the CRA grew by 171%, while the number of employees dedicated to resolving them grew by only 14%, the audit found. The backlog of unresolved cases as of March 31 represented more than $18 billion in federal taxes, the audit said.

But the solution here is not necessarily to grow the public service, but rather a review of the internal policies and how the union impacts the employees ability to do their jobs might need to be reviewed and revamped.

I remember when I started working in the CRA and was “advised” that I should be working 7 accounts per day.  I can tell you this, when you begin your day at 7:15, and are completed your work by 8:30 there is only so much coffee you can drink per day.  I wound up holding several inventories of accounts, and assisting my teammates in order to keep busy.

Eventually, as rules loosened, I was in charger of a collections / compliance team and we were working upwards of 90 accounts per day each which made such a significant dent in the total amounts coming into collections that they disbanded the team.

Our office had to take on work from other tax offices in order to have enough work for each employee and as stay left, took on other positions outside of collections or took leaves they were not replaced.  Our tax office at 50% less staff was resolving 400% more accounts…

But like everything else in life, there was a downturn, contracts up for renegotiation, people moved on (like myself) and now the Auditor General reports there are too many accounts which cannot be handled at current staffing levels.

Ahhh, government.

Can You Describe What You Do To A Stranger? Tell People What You Do!

If you have been reading my posts on The Urban Daddy, or on inTAXicating, you will know that I sometimes put on my MBA-hat and question everything about the way we do business.

One of the questions I have had for a long time has to do with how businesses choose to identify themselves to the public. We all know that keeping customers is much easier and much cheaper than getting new ones – so they say – which makes the next example even that much more puzzling to me.storefront without sign

Storefronts, in particular, have very limited space to let potential customers / clients know a whole lot about what they do, so that you will use their goods and services, yet many businesses continue to put their brand name on the store, or use an unreadable font which limits their ability to get new customers who are not walking by the store and who have the time to look in the window and walk in.

As I question this, I think back to one of the more complex collections cases that I handled while working at Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and how after years of being unable to get a cent out of this establishment, I had much different results.  This case had to do with a very large restaurant just North of Toronto which had fantastic food, very positive reviews, incredible decor, and $3,000,000.00 owing in taxes, without a single payment made to arrears in years.

The owners of this restaurant were perplexed at the spiralling debt and their bleak prospects for operating in the future because what started off as a very profitable business venture went south, quickly and at massive costs – both personal and professional.  When their debt grew, they started to cut costs, but it was the wrong costs – like having fresh food on the premises daily, reducing the variety and portion size on their menu and by running out of options at meal time.

Regular patrons became frustrated with the frozen additions or the cutting out of their favourite meal choices and as their clientele dwindled to handfuls of patrons during the day and at night, it only made matters worse.

With their personal assets fully leveraged to keep the business running, they were steps away from bankruptcy and losing everything.  They also were not paying their tax debts, but they were staying current on their filing obligations, and between the threats from previous collectors and their power being turned off all the time, they knew the end was near.  After hearing this, I thought I would need to see it myself, so I took my newly earned MBA and headed out to have a conversation with them about what they had intended to do with these debts.

But I could not find the restaurant.

It was supposed to be 15,000 square feet, and I knew the intersection quite well, but could not for the life of me find their establishment.  I called the owner and while I was circling the plaza on the corner he was frazzled about how I could not see their fantastic place, which I found to be very bizarre.

I ended up parking on the plaza on the corner and walked past a couple of stores before finally seeing what I had been circling for the better part of 20 minutes.  Their restaurant.

The outside of the building looked run-down and there was no name on the building.  I could not even tell where the front door was, and once I got to the door, I didn’t even know if it was open.  There was no sign that even said “Restaurant” or specified the type of food that was in there. There was some very hard to read script writing near the top of the building and near the door, but it looked more like graffiti than it did, a brand name.

Having been there a couple of years, locals knew about them, ate there but to an onlooker, there was no way of knowing there was a restaurant there.  I started to see a pattern emerge.

Upon sitting down with the owners I immediately suggested they perform a search on the business on the Internet (Alta Vista, I believe) and there right in front of their eyes, were people commenting about how they had made reservations but could not find the building, so did not go, or that they arrived but could not tell if the place was open, or where the front door was.  There was obvious frustration.

To me, it was common sense, that this building needed a sign that read “Italian Restaurant”, so at least people would know where they were going, or people who drove by or walked in the plaza would know there was something there.  On a more obvious scale a giant arrow pointing at the building would have been better but this was a very classy place, and that would cheapen the brand, they felt.

Needless to say, I spent 3-4 hours there, we talked about everything relating to their business, their debts – business and personal, and at the end of the day I decided to give them a couple of months to sort things out, reduce some costs, and try to attract more business which they knew they needed.

All of this effort was rewarded when they sent in a cheque for $250,000 at the end of the following month to the CRA.  By the end of the year, they had paid off $1.8 million dollars of their debt, and by the end of the next year, they were fully paid up (including penalties and interest) and business was booming.

Is it 100% a result of something I said? Probably not. Did I afford them the time to make money and pay off the debt, yes I did, but I also went through their options should they have chosen bankruptcy, a proposal, or to ignore the CRA completely and wait for their assets to seized and the directors assessed.

With all that information they were able to make an informed decision, the most obvious to me being that they improved their signage, cleaned up the outside, and put a neon sign which flashed “OPEN” on a very visible spot near the sign and near the door (with a classy arrow pointing towards the door).

But how does this apply to you and to me?

I recently took part in a challenge on LinkedIn to say what I do for a living in one sentence. I thought how hard could it be, and I wanted to check out what others had written before me. With over 300 respondents, I would have plenty of samples to review before taking the plunge, but I was shocked by what I saw.

I saw people – people I do not know – in businesses I did not know who wrote things like this;

“I solve all of your problems.”
“I get you want you need at the price you want.”
“I’m what you need.”
Even, “We’ve got you covered.”

I looked further at their business profile to see if I could tell what they did, however their business name, or description was equally as vague.

I read and read and read, almost 100 of them by now, and when I came to a comment by a lawyer, I was dumbfounded when I saw this; “I practice law.”

I immediately thought about what I would do if I came to this networking group for a professional to hire in a very specific area and I saw “I practice law” as someone’s description… Would I contact them to find out what kind of law? Or would I go to the next person.

I went to the next person.

Then the next and the next and the next.

Then I posted challenging people to go back and edit their posts. Be proud of who you are and the services you offer. Tell everyone what you do, be clear, but be brief, and if someone has more questions or wants information, they will reach out to you.

So what about my post?

Now I had a lot to live up to, because I called out the patrons of the group and if my post sucked, boy would I be the biggest hypocrite in the world.

So I posted this;

“My expertise is with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and their Collections / Enforcement division and I use this knowledge to help people and business understand taxes and pay only what they owe, on their terms.

Then I said, “please read this and if you do not know what I do, or if there is feedback – positive and negative – please provide it. I too would love the perfect pitch and I appreciate any input from this fantastic group.

So next time you are looking for a restaurant to take your family and you drive by one which only has a name and not a type of food, think about how much business they could be losing by placing their focus on themselves and not on the service or product their offer.

#Tax

The Importance of a Social Media Policy and Compliance to that Policy

English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey th...
April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a user of the Internet, for work or for play, it is extremely important to know and understand what the consequences can be when you use social media.  

Many do not.

I am constantly amazed that people get caught doing, saying or showing things online which they later regret and the consequences of their actions can be very severe.  It certainly changes the way people see them, and can change the way people treat them, with bullying, job loss, or lack of promotion some of the worse case scenarios.

I learned this the hard way.  In the almost nine years since I started blogging I did so with the mistaken assumption that no one read my it and that the 5-10 hits a day were complete strangers who arrived there by error.  Not having any comments, and being able to see the search engine terms used to get there it was easy for me to write whatever I wanted in complete anonymity.  My blog was my forum to bitch, moan and complain about whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it.  Getting it all off my chest made me feel great.

Then it all came crashing down.  I can recall this as if it were yesterday, when I hit send on one particular post from 2005 in which I complained about my employer and also lambasted some colleagues for their lack of work ethic.  I never thought for a moment that there was a remote possibility that anyone from my company was reading my blog and that the information I wrote in that post, or in any of my previous posts were going to be spread around the office and used against me, like they were.  

My hits over the next couple days went from 5-10 to 150 on that post and I started to receive anonymous ominous comments on that post.  Stuff started to disappear from my desk, and I would get hang-ups in the middle of the night.  Then some of my colleagues would start random conversations with me and include information from my blog that they would not have known if they did not read it there, like “how was the movie you saw Saturday with your wife at Yorkdale.”  I was perplexed. 

It was soon thereafter when I realized that I had made a really stupid mistake and if I wanted to continue to work there without having my stuff disappear, I would need to go into damage control and implement my own social media policy.

Some of the key points are below;

1) No mention of work. Ever.  I’m a blogger building my brand first and foremost.
2) No mention of names of my family or friends unless they give me permission.
3) No posting of pictures on any form of social media except for family pictures on Facebook that I would be comfortable sharing with the world or a future employer.  
4) I would never say anything online that I do not believe in or would not say face-to-face to someone.
5) If I am going to be critical of something or someone it had to be fact based and that required sources and a ton of research.  No gossip or hearsay.
6) I am my own brand. I want my brand to be respected and taken seriously so I will have to treat others that way – good and bad.

The next thing I had to do was take a step back and see how this new social media policy worked for.  I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress and kept it hidden until I was sure that I could play by these rules.  Once I came out from hiding, I not only started to play fairly, but I started to informally educate others about the consequences of using social media for I realized that whatever you post that can be traced back to you, or your brand, can and will be used against you at some point in your life.

I have seen people tagged in photos where they are with friends and drinking, and the picture is most unflattering – maybe they are winking but look drunk – or the comments to a photo are unflattering or rude, or a photo taken in an inappropriate position – like on the toilet, and even an innocent comment like “I’m bored” which shows up next to a mention about your place of employment.  All these examples can have long-lasting consequences far from the original intent.  Ignoring them is not an option and just removing them usually does not suffice either.  Not being in that situation is the best choice a person can make, and letting others know if equally as important.

I’m being tough on myself, but it’s nothing compared to the tolerance that certain industries have for themselves and when tracking their massive employee base. 

Financial services, for example, can be especially tough due to the high regulation and as an employer they must ensure that their employees are clear about the organizations expectations and the social media policy.

I, for example, when hiring for my tax units always spends a few minutes to check out the candidates Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and then I Googled them to see if there are any warning flags.  To not do so, would be not be responsible on my behalf.  If they post anything and their profiles are not neat and tidy it means either they are going to be social media nightmares for the company or I am going to have to do a lot of coaching and mentoring them to ensure they don’t get caught online harming the company’s image of their own brand.

One of the first discussions I would have with staff is to caution them about what they say when using certain social media outlets, like LinkedIn.  If they are choosing to comment on posts and join discussions they have to remember that they are not just individuals commenting there but they are also employees so they have to be cautious to keep their comments on topic and away from anything which could get them fired or the company sued.

I treat all my online activities, whether blogged, tweeted, liked or commented on, which relate to any external business as being monitored and recorded by someone if the company is not doing it themselves.  I expect the same from my staff, my colleagues and my peers.  I know when I talk to staff who are not practicing safe, social media that it is just a matter of time before it catches up to them.

Implementing an effective social media compliance process isn’t rocket science especially when the company has a clear social media policy and everyone abides by it and that policy has to be more than reactionary and punitive.  Effective companies outline how they interact with the world via social media and how they expect their employees to do so as well.  Leading organizations empower employees to build the corporate brand but it is certainly a team effort every step of the way.

Almost every other department has a key role in shaping the message.  Marketing defines the scope of the message, the IT group outlines which social technologies will be used and provides the devices to be used while the legal and social media compliance groups are critical to ensure that the messages meet the necessary regulatory criteria.  Once all that is in order it is absolutely critical for the training and learning group to be engaged so that the organization be trained to understand the pros and cons of using the various forms of social media, the most common being Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

What most employees in large organizations do not know unless they are trained is that any output on a social media platform goes through a series of serious checks and balances before someone hits send.  Static content, for example – such as Facebook and LinkedIn profiles – require documented pre-approval before being posted online, while interactive content such as updates to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks do not need to be vetted, however, regularly monitoring the content is extremely critical to ensure that there are no compliance violations or negative comments. 

What most employees fail to understand is that these tight rules not only apply to business-related items posted by the organization but also if it comes from the employees personal social media accounts.  It pays to think twice before speaking about your organization, their practices, clients or earnings.

Organizations keeping a close eye on their social media content in order to control the public message and ensure it is compliant with the organization’s policies and procedures.  It also allows organizations to control their message and that makes sense from a brand perspective as quick accurate responses to comments shows a proactive organization while quick responses to, or removal of, derogatory or inappropriate messages displays a proactive social media policy.  Keeping negative comments unanswered in a thread is a message to the general public that it is okay to pile on with more negative comments and spam the site.  If these comments are removed and/or responded to quickly than others will think twice before hitting send. 

Even prior to the monitoring the output, employees usually are not aware that many organizations prefer to control the message by utilizing tools to prevent rogue posts from ever hitting the web.  Organizations assign limited permissions to certain employees and once that employee is finished creating a tweet, comment or update it is them moved into a queue to be edited or for managerial review before it moves to the compliance group, then on to marketing before it is approved and posted.

The best of these systems even come with their own archiving tools already built-in as financial services are heavily regulated and keeping all outgoing messages for a certain period of time, are a requirement of regulators.

Banning social communications altogether and hoping for the best, is no longer a viable alternative.  Restricting communication, access to information and people networking is a practice which many organizations have been moving away from since smartphones have become commonplace on the hips of many employees.   There is also the opinion that if organizations continue to resist, that their competitors and customers are moving ahead and talking about them to their current customers and to their potential customers. 

To further that point, many organizations who are already heavy in social media are forging ahead with new social media positions, such as the social media compliance officer who among other things, lines up tweets for management’s approval and works closely with legal, marketing and training to ensure the right message is getting out and that all staff have been trained in a meaningful manner on the risk of non-compliance to these policies both for their personal brand and for their company.

Banks in particular, are moving forward quickly in all areas of social media, and with great reason.  These customers tend to be more affluent and faster adopters of new, expense-cutting technology such as online and mobile banking, which makes them particularly valuable at a time when revenues are low and expense cutting makes the most sense.  Getting them on the bank’s side also helps on the public relations front as these tech savvy folks are just as likely to comment online about good experiences, as they are to complain about bad ones.

So next time you fire up the computer, smartphone or tablet, make sure that before you press send that you are doing so responsibly.  You don’t want to ruin your brand in a manner of seconds (or a few words) considering how long it took you to build it up. 

5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses

I just finished reading an incredible article on managing staff on Inc Magazine.  It was written by Jeff Haden and is called 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses.  It is available here; http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-5-qualities-of-remarkable-bosses.html 

I’m a huge fan of strong, successful management in organizations especially in light of the fact that every organizations’ most precious commodity is its people.  It’s always been said that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”.

But if you have not clicked that link yet, and you’re still reading, here are the 5 qualities according to Jeff, and to be honest, the reason this article resonated with me is because some of this stuff he mentions can be taught – they teach you in graduate school – while other skills you either have or you do not.  I try each and every day to make sure I am aligned with these qualities and I think if you don’t do these, you really should.  

“Remarkable bosses aren’t great on paper. Great bosses are remarkable based on their actions”.

Here are the 5 according to Jeff…

1. Develop every employee.

I totally agree here that it is the managers responsibility to train, coach, mentor and provide learning opportunities for each and every employee.  By doing this you are showing your employees on a daily basis that they matter and it makes their days better which produces more productive and comfortable employees.  The organization wins here because they are getting constant feedback instead of having to wait for the twice a year formal performance appraisal process.

2. Deal with problems immediately.

Nothing kills team morale more quickly than problems that don’t get addressed. Interpersonal squabbles, performance issues, feuds between departments… all negatively impact employee motivation and enthusiasm and are extremely distracting, because these problems never go away.

As we all know, small problems always grow into bigger problems.  It’s best to not count on the fact that these problems will go away, because at the end of the day someone has to deal with it.  It should be the manager, dealing with the issue head-on, no matter how small.

3. Rescue your worst employee.

Almost every business has at least one employee who has fallen out of grace: Publicly failed to complete a task, lost his cool in a meeting, or just can’t seem to keep up. Over time that employee comes to be seen by his peers—and by you—as a weak link.  Before you consider removing the “dixie cup” from the group, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead.   Step up the mentoring and coaching you provide.  A struggling employee has tons of upside; rescue him and you make a tremendous difference. 

4. Serve others, not yourself.

As a remarkable manager you do not need the spotlight.  you have it already.  Your staff, on the other hand, need all the recognition they can get, and face time with senior manager is even more important and their level, so no matter what you to, do not try to take credit for something they have done.  The staff know your contribution and support to them, your team and the organization and trust me, if you’re doing that well, senior management already knows it too.   

When employees excel, you and your business excel. When your team succeeds, you and your business succeed. When you rescue a struggling employee and they become remarkable, remember they should be congratulated, not you.

You were just doing your job the way a remarkable boss should.

5. Always remember where you came from.

I came from an organization which, in my opinion, had terrible management practices, and I went to an organization which had amazing management presence and I took with there all my past experiences about how to not treat employees and made sure not to do any of it. 

I am also very aware of what it’s like being the “new guy” and how people look at you and over time come to get to know you and realize how much you can add to an organizaiton so I make it a policy to always engage the newest employees, ask them questions, talk to them, show them around and give them a work buddy so they don’t ever have to experience that feeling I went through.

I remember where I came from and I know what I hated so it is the responsibility of a remarkable boss to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Personally, I also try to remember a fact or 2 about each and every employee I come across – along with the correct pronunciation of their names.  It means a lot and it allows me to have a conversation with them beyond “how’s the weather”.

So if you take a step back and look at the support you get from your boss – directly or indirectly – you probably already know what you like about their style and what needs improvement.   Don’t forget the good when thinking about the bad.  for all you know your manager could be trying to improve that too.

Managing – Internal communication. Keeping staff engaged.

What forms of communication work best with your staff and within your organization?  Besides the usual suspects, being email, phone and video conferencing, what do you use to keep dialogues open and retain information for ease of use or for succession planning?

Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions;

How to use these tools to improve internal communication with and among employees.

I have noticed in my 15 years in industry that many companies are reluctant to adopt social media tools internally and externally for fear of losing control of their message and to protect their brand.  Those who have made the leap are learning that online tools and technologies make it easier to engage employees in more meaningful dialogue.  The result, I find, is improved efficiency, increased collaboration and greater employee engagement as they are creating an environment where employees feel their voices will be heard.  Engaged employees feel valued, and valued employees tend to have more motivation and are happier.

One of the most common ways to engage employees is by keep an up-to-date internal home page for the business or for the business unit.  My tax unit, for example has a neat, organized internal site that we use to store information and anyone in the unit can recommend changes and most can make the changes.  It’s a team page, through and through.  It also serves as the unit’s evolving knowledge base since it is edited and updated collaboratively by the unit   It also houses the latest applicable company announcements, HR information relating to tax, marketing documents, company policies and how-to information.  We recently made part of it public so we could share that information with the rest of the business.

This site works for us because it’s a great archiving tool for tax information.  We try to keep links and documents up to date and the problem of multiple versions of information living all over the place is eliminated.  We are sharing our tax knowledge and spreading the word in real-time.  I have always felt that people who share ideas and their thought process learn and understand faster.  No better form of training exists.

A slightly more advanced tool I like to use is the office messenger service, which only works internally.  It not only allows me to see when someone is at their desk, but when they are in a meeting or busy and do not wish to be disturbed.  Staff use the application to challenge each other, think communally and can have answers within seconds which allows them to continue working through issues and not have to drop it and get back to it at a point in the future (if at all). 

It’s also used for personal discussion, which I’m okay with since it is better than having to get up and walk over and disturb one person or possibly more than that.   I have always felt this tool increases collaboration and allows the staff to learn from each other and it gives them an outlet to ask a question privately which thy may have been too shy or nervous to ask out loud.  With the screen sharing capabilities, staff no longer have to struggle with explaining things, they can share their screen and others can see, learn and help.

My latest pet project is the internal tax blog.  In my opinion, the blog is much like the main page on a sharepoint / Intranet site where news about the company and staff are posted.  It can be used to explain a new tax treaty change or to congratulate a colleague on the birth of their child, with pictures.  Most of the blogs are written by senior management, but other staff do post occasionally, and aren’t shy about chiming in with their opinions.  Case in point, this blog, which is now 3 years old and still a work in progress.  It’s intent was to be the repository for tax changes, tax research and my management style.  Needless to say, it’s not there yet.

I also want this blog, and the internal one to be collaborative too, and provide an outlet for the staff to comment and receive feedback or questions to answer from either the team or the rest of the business.  It’s a great forum for a shy employee who knows a lot to be heard and recognized for their knowledge.

A blog is a also a smart tool to keep employees aware of what’s happening in the company, without overflowing their inboxes.   Everyone should be encouraged to participate because if it is just one or 2 people then it runs the risk of being their opinions and not the facts.

From the IABC Research Foundation’s 2009 survey, some numbers on usage of tools by employers to engage employees.  I’ll bet the numbers have grown considerably in the past 3 years with twitter coming into the mainstream and many corporate missteps through social media. 

Tools used by organizations to communicate with employees:

Blogs: 47%

Discussion boards: 32%

Podcasts: 29%

Videocasts: 28%

Social networks: 27%

Wikis: 26%

 

What tools have you found work for your organization and which will you stay away from?  any stories to share?

Government Waste Awards give Lifetime Achievement to former Toronto Mayor David Miller

The 13th Annual “Teddy” Government Waste Awards Winners were announced by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) last week.

The CTF is a citizen advocacy group dedicated to less waste, lower taxes and responsible government spending of our hard earned dollars.

These awards confirm what I had been saying all along, that a left-wing mayor in the City of Toronto was going to cause an increase in taxes and result in less money in the pockets of Torontonions, as David Miller was given the lifetime achievement award.

Please, read on.

The “Teddy” award is named after Ted Weatherill, a former federal bureaucrat who was fired for outrageous expenses in 1999 (I’ve included his expenses below). Each year the CTF holds the ceremony to recognize a government, public office holder, civil servant, department or agency that most exemplifies government waste.

The winners:

Federal Teddy Winner:
G8/G20 costs: $1.24 billion spent to host leaders from the other G8/G20 nations to ironically discuss how to trim government over-spending.

Provincial Teddy Winner:
Ontario tax collectors paid severance for keeping jobs: Approximately $56-million in severance for changing their business cards from ‘Ontario PST collector’ to ‘Federal HST’ collector.”
These guys moved across the street from 5150 Yonge Street to 5001 Yonge street and were topped up to make up for the fact that the Feds pay less than the province.

Municipal Teddy Winner:
Edmonton City Council for wasting $5,000.00 on a haiku contest. Citizens were asked to write poems (or haikus) about riding the bus, despite already having paid $5,000 to have one written.

Lifetime Achievement Teddy:
David Miller

“And the Lifetime Achievement Teddy goes to…former Toronto Mayor, David Miller, for a career of reckless taxing-and-spending. As Mayor, Miller grew the city’s operating budget by 44 per cent, $2.8 billion, increased the city’s debt by more than $1 billion and increased property taxes every year well beyond the rate of inflation. He fought for and got new taxing powers which he used to impose a host of new taxes, including a: plastic bag tax, garbage tax, car tax, billboard tax, and land transfer tax.”

Concluding the ceremony CTF federal director, Kevin Gaudet remarked, “over the years David Miller has provided so much material for the Teddies we will see if future municipal nominations will suffer with his departure.”

Other nominees included:
Federal – Space Agency/Agriculture Canada: $400,000 for failed “Canadian Content” astronaut food program.

Federal – Border Services Agency Employee: Bureaucrat spends five hours/day at work surfing porn and is not fired.

Federal – National Defence: $515,000 for not conducting security checks on NORAD facility builders.

Federal – Public Works: $550 million for maintenance including $1,000 for removing one light switch.

Federal – Senator Lavigne: $30,000 for expenses – while suspended from the Senate.

Provincial – ON E-Health: $224M for consultant abuse including charges to consult on consulting charges.

Provincial – ON Parks: $400K for Niagara Parks Exec expenses including roller coasters.

Provincial – NS Premier Dexter: $10,600 to expense full membership fees to the bar association, then reducing status to “not practicing” when forced to pay himself.

Provincial – MB Health: $38,000 to build “rooftop oasis” for health bureaucrats while patients down the road fundraise for theirs.

Municipal – Summerside, PEI: $1.3 million for fraudulent Michael Jackson tribute concert.

Municipal – Regina, SK: $5,000 for bizarre sponsorships including $450 for a ‘pickleball tournament.’

Municipal -Richmond, BC: $59 million for city purchase of land for five-times real value to be “as fair as possible.”

Municipal – Toronto, ON: Public transit boss caught expensing $2,400 for taxis.

http://taxpayer.com/node/13985

Now, back to the name of these awards… The “Teddys”, named after Ted Weatherill who was the Chair of the Canada Labour Relations Board since 1989. Between 1995 and 1996, Mr. Weatherill charged at least $21000 to taxpayers for business travel he incurred as President of the National Academy of Arbitrators, an Alabama-based private organization.

“Mr. Weatherill concedes that he could have sent the expenses to the National Academy of Arbitrators…but Mr. Weatherill believed his participation in the NAA’s conferences that year to be a wise investment for the Canada Labour Relations Board. So, he chose to bill his expenses to the Canadian government instead.”
The Ottawa Citizen, 7 April 1997

There’s more than just travel, though. The following is a “taste” of the meals Mr. Weatherill has billed to the Canadian taxpayer over the past eight years:

Breakfast: Relais Christine, Paris $25.00
Meal (for 2): RPG Arpege, Paris $733.43
Dinner: Le Cercle Universitaire d’Ottawa $1 084.40
Room Service (one night): Chateau Frontenac, Québec City $95.27
Meal: Royal Windsor Hotel, Brussels $531.50
Mr. Weatherill billed the federal government on average $18,500 a year in meal costs alone, for a grand total of $148,000 over the first eight years of his ten year term. He has billed the federal government more that $200 for a meal on 107 different occasions since he was hired.

Many of Mr. Weatherill’s lunches have included alcoholic beverages. Treasury Board guidelines state that “reasonable expenses means the specific, itemized expenses incurred, based on receipts, excluding alcohol.”