Our hard-earned dollars are easily spent
PM forfeited $4.1 million for early election
There may not be sufficient funds to maintain our health care and education systems. But there's always enough to throw away a few million dollars when the country's leader's competitive juices are flowing.

Committed to taking Team Canada to China last fall, a challenge from Stockwell Day was all Prime Minister Jean Chretien needed, he says, to throw his travel plans to the winds -- along with $4.1 million of our tax dollars that had already been committed to the project. This included $1.6 million in penalties for cancelled hotel and convention centre bookings and another $1.4 million for what he terms "protocol costs". Additional costs were for air charters to take Team Canada participants -- including most of the provincial premiers and more than 300 business people -- to China, consulting contracts, extra pay for staff and the rental of computers and other equipment.

"The leader of the Opposition dared me to call an election," Chretien is quoted as giving as his excuse for calling an election at that particular time. He has not satisfactorily justified the expense of unnecessarily calling an election just three and a half years into his five-year mandate.

Some members of his party expressed concern that Chretien might alienate Canadian voters by being so wasteful and opportunistic. Such concern appears to have been misplaced, however, given Chretien's subsequent major victory at the polls.