Couldn’t Run Grant Program

Auditors have faulted Library and Archives Canada for slipshod management of a grant program intended to support community groups. Managers failed to save postmarks to prove applicants met filing deadlines, while other records were so haphazard it was impossible to know why some applicants received grants and others did not: "Staff did not keep the envelopes."

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Cost Of Payroll Fix Unknown

The Treasury Board yesterday said it does not know the full multi-billion dollar cost of a failed Phoenix software program to upgrade payroll services for federal employees. Costs to date are $2.6 billion but don’t include compensation for employees shortchanged on cheques: "We saw how that didn't work."

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Stop Citing “Golden Years”

Federal agencies should drop references to “golden years” when speaking to pensioners, says in-house research by the Department of Social Development. Seniors complained the term is patronizing: "There is nothing golden about getting older."

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OK’d $250K For Stage Plays

The Department of Canadian Heritage budgeted a quarter-million dollars to commission stage plays observing 1969 Criminal Code amendments on homosexuality, according to Access To Information records. “The total budget for this project is potentially substantial,” wrote staff.

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Happy Kids Sell Foreign Aid

The Department of Foreign Affairs in pre-election research paid pollsters $78,964 to test voters’ response to images promoting foreign aid. Photos of laughing children were most popular: "Simple information should be used."

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Feds Hid 60% Over-Spending

The Department of Canadian Heritage went sixty percent over-budget on Flag Day observances then hid actual spending from taxpayers. Expenses for the 2015 anniversary of the Maple Leaf flag were buried in 3,773 pages of Access To Information records withheld by the department for four years. Managers did not comment: "A significant portion of what was included under the events actually has nothing to do with the events."

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Cusswords Not Contempt

The Federal Court has dismissed a contempt charge against a Canadian Union of Public Employees advisor for cussing an employer. Profanity is not a personal attack per se, said the Court: 'It is a slang expression used to tell someone where to go.'

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Forgot To Lock The Doors

Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner has faulted a public agency for leaving its office doors propped open overnight in the Town of Melfort, population 6,000. The place was so quiet nothing was stolen: "Locked offices should be required."

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Sunday Poem: “The Game”

Poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday: “Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay says Andrew Scheer missed an open net…”

Review: Dreams Of Boiling Water

Explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson said the Arctic was at the very centre of national life though southerners thought of it as the edge of the frontier. The unforgiving land and its rugged people are instantly recognizable worldwide as uniquely Canadian. Say “Canada” from Germany to Japan and no one thinks of the Calgary Stampede or Toronto International Film Festival. They see Inuit art, Northern lights and merciless winters.

Johnny Neyelle, a Dene Elder with the Bear Lake people, from the 1980s made cassette recordings of ancient lore and his life experience. Neyelle had a stark purpose. As his son Morris puts it, “I realized that storytelling was changing and that kids weren’t coming to listen to the Elders’ stories anymore.”

Feds Tell U.N. To Butt Out; No Local Veto On Pipelines

The Department of Natural Resources in a confidential report told the United Nations to stay out of the Trans Mountain pipeline debate, warning First Nations do not “have a veto over government decisions”. The report followed complaints the project could breach a U.N. treaty on racial discrimination: "Canada’s response will not be made public."

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Feud Looms On Foreign Tax

The head of the largest Liberal-appointed Senate group yesterday would not commit to passing a $217 million-a year tax on foreign real estate speculators. Senator Yuen Pau Woo of Vancouver previously ridiculed “stories about rampant foreign buying” blamed for rising prices: "Of course all of us have political views."

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Too Few Francophones Apply

Not enough French-speaking people apply for senior jobs as broadcast regulators, the Department of Heritage complained in an Access To Information memo. Staff asked to review résumés of candidates applying for six-figure jobs with the CRTC: "The Minister's Office is concerned."

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Complain Of Political Tweets

The Department of Justice in an Access To Information memo complains it’s been targeted by political Twitter users with “clear far right leanings”. Staff compiled Digital Scan & Analysis bulletins with monitoring of parliamentarians’ accounts: 'Some users purposely seek to spread confusion.'

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11% Of Loans Had No Impact

Federal agencies spend an average of more than $18 million a year managing a loan and subsidy program for companies in rural Canada, says a Department of Industry report. More than a tenth of borrowers said it “did not achieve any results”.

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