Government credit card purchases show everything but fiscal discipline.

Government ministers,certain employees,and subcontractors, are given purchase cards to make “authorized purchases”: purchases made on behalf of the province, for the benefit of the province.  These aren’t my words, but ones from their own policy.

The rules are quite clear- no personal purchases allowed – and recipients must sign an agreement stating they understand and agree to the terms and conditions of the policy manual.

However, while finance minister Kevin Falcon claims fiscal discipline, the public accounts of purchase card spending by the government, shows anything but discipline.

In fact, in the 726 pages of accounting for the various government offices and ministries, there are so many examples of what I would consider questionable purchases, that I have to ask, who actually checks to see if cardholders are adhering to the rules?

Total  purchase card spending for the year ended March 31st 2011 ? A whopping $47,353,802.86 * click to see full size image

 First, it is worthwhile to see which offices and ministries have incurred the greatest value of purchases.The biggest spender, shockingly, is Children and Family Development, followed by Forests, Land and Natural Resources, then Transportation and Infrastructure.

While it is clear that a majority of the purchases would clearly be justified to even the outside observer – again,made on behalf of the province, for the benefit of the province, there are plenty of examples of purchases that I think require further examination, and explanation.

Here are just a few small examples of what I am talking about:

Lululemon: $1900.12 total purchases over all departments, comprised of many smaller purchases. Please explain how Lululemon benefits the province. Please.

 The Body Shop: $256.24

The Wine Barrel: $199.02 – yes, this is a wine shop.

BC Liquor store: $3,039.42 – made up in many smaller purchases all over this fine province and across all ministries and offices…

Edgemont Liquor Shoppe: $242.45

Cascadia Liquor: $90.50

Bear Paw Den Quilting: $300.00 – remember, for the benefit of the province…lol

Estate Wine Shop: $7,029.44 ( I didn’t get a bottle, did you?)

Marquis Wine Cellers: $ 1590.00

I could go on… there are spa visits, barbershop visits, golf equipment, books, clothing purchases….. But you can look for yourself, here, at this link. http://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs/348389/2010_11/purchcard.pdf

Remember, PDF documents have a search function so you can even search for specific items.

There is no money, they tell us, we must make hard choices, they moan.

Fiscal discipline, indeed.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

“We only have this much money…”

26 thoughts on “Government credit card purchases show everything but fiscal discipline.

  1. Norm

    In ancient history when we were working on a government crew in the Okanagan and needed some hardware type supplies we were under very explicit instruction to not buy them at WAC Bennett’s hardware store, at times a problem for us but also an honourable way to deal with government purchases,

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  2. Shirley Gentner

    My goodness Laila ~ you’re singing from Guy Gentner’s song sheet. If my recall is correct, he exposed this way back in 2007. Not only is it recorded in Hansard, the press had quite a hey day with it as well. One of the guiltiest culprets was the Ministry of Public Health which spent a firocious amount of $ on pizza. Oh, and I do recall Falcon Eddie’s ministry of the day facing some embarrassment due to some “sex” shop expenditures. Just goes to show some things just don’t change.

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    1. Laila

      Wow Shirley- really?( funny I was just singing Guys praises today too..lol. ).2007 is about when I first started becoming interested in politics in BC,so I don’t recall that firsthand,but it speaks to why Guy has held his seat for so long – he’s on the ball!

      I will have to get that transcript out to see what the government said back then, and compare to what we actually see now. Guy should bring this up to Falcon , wouldnt it be interesting to see what he has to say about this? ..lol. All I know is that is a hell of a lot of wine… and yes,I wonder if Ali Baba pizza is the culpirt, they are biggest suppliers of pizza to the house. Not to mention all the opulent meals,vacation destinations in province…

      Norm, great memory and funny too!

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  3. muriel west

    Very good questions Lailla… but don’t expect any answers. It will be alot of bafflegab by the govt henchmen. This government is on life support so why would you question the purchase of oxygen? I just hope we can get this byelection going out here in the Fraser Valley so they can all see the writing on the wall. Then you might see an exodus of the rats from the sinking ship.

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  4. Maybe we should send this link to all of our MLAs and see what (if any) feedback we get. I haven’t had time to go through all the ministries’ accounts yet, but I did zero in on Ida ‘Oink-Oink’ Chong’s ministry. More than a few items sent up a red flag, e.g. Rising Star Bakery – $3,342.21, Shark Club Bar & Grill – $5,752.25, Telus Mobility Airtime (Scarborough, ON) – $10,296.29, (Calgary, AB) – $26,014.38.

    I could go on, but you catch my drift. Plenty of personal items being charged to the taxpayers of B.C., I’m sure. How can we legally publish these findings so the general public will know how they’re being fleeced?

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    1. Laila

      gini, there are so many things on this document that all I can say is people need to see for themselves. Ridiculous. Nail salon? The amount spent on food is atrocious! They are public documents gini and you can do what you like with them. Even more interesting will be the new public accounts that come out, showing the spending under Christy Clark!! Cant wait for those to see what the premiers office has been spending ….

      Muriel, bafflegab is what they do best. I read a quote in Forbes that said ” If they knew what they were doing, they wouldnt be politicians.” lol… really made me laugh.Often true. I too look forward to seeing what happens in a byelection. Never can count on what the people know, or dont know, or what they will do in the end.

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  5. Evil Eye

    What we see is a doomed government squandering every penny they can on pure lolly as they do not care. In the end, the BC/Gordon Campbell Liberals will reveal themselves as true carpet baggers, who raped the province of its assets (read the people’s assets), distributing the new found wealth on their friends and cronies.

    We have been living in an era of the grand deceit, abetted by the mainstream media, who have been mere lick-spittles to those in power, hoping to score an “Odor of Canada” or some bauble for their efforts.

    Corruption, thy name is the BC Liberal Party.
    Deceit, they name is Christie Clark.
    Thief, they name is Gordon Campbell.
    Quisling, thy name is Bill Good.
    Evil, thy name is the Vancouver Sun

    ***********************************************************************************************

    Heroic, they name is BC Mary.

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  6. a quote in Forbes that said ” If they knew what they were doing, they wouldnt be politicians.”

    I think Laila, that they DO know what they’re doing and that for that reason alone they are in politics. It’s criminal activity legalized, white-collar crime we call it. We put people in jail for stealing a stereo from our cars, yet politicians (and lawyers who work for them) are stealing millions and billions from us and we do nothing.. “it’s just white-collar crime, noone got hurt”.
    Well, I beg to differ, we are hurting and badly.
    It’s time for justice, ours, not theirs.

    Politicians know how shoddy record-keeping and backroom deals and media-spin can work in their favor to make it hard to track all the unjustified/able transactions with these cards, hell, with any deals they do. The Government FOI system is a failure because of bureaucracy and policy designed to hinder investigation, not assist.
    “oh, excuse me but the prime minister from china was in.. did you think i would take him to wendy’s?”
    Yes. I do.
    Basically they know they have free reign when so much money and power has been given to them to work with, and surely with the public so distracted with all the shiny new things constantly being bombarded at them 24 hours a day, they won’t miss a few billion here and there.
    And didn’t Cap’n’Bottle Farts Christy Clark get 3 billion $ in “wriggle-room” when she took office? What happened to that?
    She’s (well, they) are stalling to get everything they can while they can. They know the bubbles bursting and they’re trying (and succeeding) at draining us before the election.

    “Power tends to corrupt, and Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~John Dalberg-Acton
    The LIEberals have taken that to new levels and likely know that the incoming party is going to face serious back-lash for their (LIEberals) 12 years of dicktatorship (misspelled intentionally) and the screwing over we got.

    We KNOW, yet we don’t learn. Not a good thing for a supposedly intelligent species.

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  7. cherylb

    They need to have managers who are women who remember what it’s like to budget for a house, and to budget for their Ministries accordingly. There is a huge difference between what you need, what you’d like and what you can afford. A lot of people in Victoria seem to forget this, once they get into that Leg. The people of the province deserve no less….

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    1. Laila

      I guess therein lies the key.We have a woman with no clue about anything running the ship, never struggled a day in her life financially, and is so far removed from the real world that I wonder sometimes what anyone was thinking in the Liberals who thought she would make a good leader.

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  8. Gloria

    The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, are all about thievery. Campbell thieved an entire railroad, and the priceless Real Estate that went with it. Campbell thieved $778 million out of our ICBC money. Campbell thieved entire rivers. He thieved a $60,000 per year salary hike. His ministers were given 29%. Yes of course, Chomp-chomp Chong is at it again. There has to be one hell of a high number of drunks, by the booze bills. There have been a few drunks, that were given DUI charges. Boessenkool and Christy are busy selling off the buildings and Real Estate, owned by the province and the BC people.

    Then BC will solely belong to China. Remember what Fadden of CSIS warned, China was making inroads too far into Canada. He specifically named BC. Now Harper is permitting China to buy out the tar sands.

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  9. Maggie Bernet

    in my humble opinion:
    We are the “common” persons/people, but the majority of Canadians following a name brand as they have been lied to and brainwashed..

    too many “common people” lack common sense together with our Leaders, as common sense is not very common, either you have it or you don’t, it can’t be learned my opinion, but bad history shouldn’t be repeated

    how do we encourage people? that is the million dollar question, too many people want something in return, the common people as you call them, all they/we want in return is an “honest” non greedy, non self-serving government, is this 2 much 2 ask? no it isn’t, but in todays world not enough people are willing to do something for free and just 4 the sake of doing the right thing 4 the right reason.

    get out and vote… that is easier said than done, who on earth would we vote 4? there is not a candidate that I would trust 2 lead, we don’t have a party that is representing us the way they should and the way we need 2 be lead, the parties themselves are in their own war against each other for their own agenda, in my opinion they all seem to forget who they are suppose to work for and represent, never mind who pays their salaries, which makes us poor even poorer and us sick even more vulnerable, we are starting to look more and more like our neighbour country, which clearly suffers beyond a quick fix.

    lets find a common ground and a create a party that is solely here 4 us, us Canadians the people that make this Country the greatest of all 🙂

    Bullies have 2 be punished, so lets start and get the worst Bullies out of our Government and replace them with Leaders that have Humanity 🙂

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  10. Sarah

    This document leaves me breathless with rage.

    While I don’t think our public servants (haha) should have to eat at Wendy’s every time they’re out of town or order pizza every time they have a staff meeting, accounts like $1750 and change for one night at the Keg is outrageous. And the $11 000 plus that was spent by the education ministry at ONE specialty coffee/tea company would go a really long way towards paying the salary of a much needed teacher’s aide. That’s more than a single parent on welfare lives on in an entire year, and it was spent on coffee?

    The Ministry of Children and Family needs its own paragraph. The depths of corruption in this organization is appalling, but their over 8 million dollar tally is the icing on their crap cake. There were several receipts for various spa visits, but I stopped adding after I reached $1149.60. I am, however, *very* jealous of whomever was lucky enough to get the $100 of cosmetics from MAC on my dime. At least one of us will look pretty, but I guess I can take solace in the fact that I’m not ugly on the inside! They’re pushing half a million in office furniture! During a time of supposed cutbacks and fiscal responsibility! I can’t even handle it.

    Just this one document is so overwhelming and rage inducing – Laila, I don’t know how you do this day after day, year after year. Thank you for keepin’ on keepin’ on for all of us.

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  11. Laila

    Morning everyone- hope that lost hour isn’t bothering you too much this morning! I’ve been taking a break and Sarah, that is how I do this day after day, year after year. Since I started this site back in April 2007, there have been 1,079 posts, and nearly 10,000 comments, not bad since I rarely posted in the beginning and had only a couple hundred readers stemming from winning the CKNW talk show idol contest..lol… sigh. I was so naive back then when I consider what I know now.

    Anyways, good find on the MAC cosmetics, I didn’t see that at all! There is no way that could be anything but a personal purchase in the amounts listed. And that is the real point. Many of these expenditures are small and clearly an abuse of the public purse, and those add up to tremendous amounts across all ministries and offices!! Shameful!! And yes, I agree no one should starve on the public dime, however as you point out the one Keg dinner, there are many many more items just like that that are clearly not in line with the fiscal discipline Falcon claims the government has been showing. His office is incredibly replete with questionable purchases that I really dont think reflect his assertions in the 2012 budget speech. Click on this if you want to really gag after reading the above http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2012/speech/2012_Budget_Speech.pdf

    Maggie dear, you are so right about getting out and voting. Many people take the approach of voting for the lesser of two evils,since for the longest time the BC Cons have really not been a big voice in provincial politics. That seems to be changing, but again, there is a large portion of BC residents that are turned off by the clearly capitalistic BC Libs, and the more socialist BC NDP. There needs to be a balance in government, and that is harder to achieve than most average people understand. We need a healthy economy, we need business investment, we need all that to pay for public services,but we also need to make sure we balance that with the social needs of those who live here. Those who say there is a not an an income gap in BC should read this report. http://www.firstcallbc.org/pdfs/economicequality/3-reportcard2011.pdf I say we should raise corporate taxes more, raise personal income taxes at the higher income level who can sustain it, thereby replacing many of the deep tax cuts Campbell and crew brought in over their decade of deceit.

    Donna, we need to encourage more independents to get out there, and we do that by supporting them financially and with volunteers.

    Evil Eye, CanadianBud, great comments. YES, we are hurting, we are tired, And we all need to work together to make sure those who need to be, are outed. Not just Clark. Not just Falcon,but all of them.

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  12. You are absolutely correct Laila with your comment “…we should raise corporate taxes more, raise personal income taxes at the higher income level who can sustain it, thereby replacing many of the deep tax cuts Campbell and crew brought in over their decade of deceit.” This is the only way to recover lost revenue streams that have been decimated by these neo-liberals (aka cons).

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  13. Gary

    What you have shown us here Laila is a disgusting disregard for the the taxpayer. The Liberal gov’t. is so out of control, but what can you expect from people lower on the food chain when the big fish set such a bad example.
    A solution to people refusing to vote would be to make it mandatory, it might increase peoples ability to at least try and see the issues and just maybe we would get Real majorities instead of what we get now.

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    1. Laila

      Excellent ideas by all, clearly the wrong people are making decisions!! More on this in a bit, just looking for a link for you.
      update: cant find the damn link but wow, is this post getting crazy attention all over from twitter,facebook,emails! And rightly so, as gini mentioned back at the beginning, this accounting should be out there for every British Columbian to see. Would be nice to see the msm picking this up, but letters to the editor do the trick too. Keep passing and spreading, and asking why this government doesnt hold themselves to the same standards they preach to us!!

      CFVUA- I hear you and agree, more credible,knowledgable independent candidates and those royalties are something a lot of people dont know about- I should get a post up on those. Sierra Yo Yo road anyone? https://lailayuile.com/2011/02/22/government-is-as-government-does/

      Lynn, great points all around. People do need to get involved, do need to draw on their own power and yes, lets make voting mandatory since paying taxes is! Although I disagree with waiting to raise higer income taxes and corporate taxes- no need to wait, they can handle it, we can’t. And yes a full audit on these credit cards right now.Pull some of them back in, lower spending limits and have a better system of checks and balances to prevent such rampant abuse as we have seen in all these examples that just keep coming.

      Your opinion is always valued here Lynn, always!

      Gary, doesnt get much more disgusting than this unless you look at my new post and go to the link at Blog Borg Collectives place. Nice change for that trip to India and China and some interesting questions too.

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  14. Lynn

    Donna: we do what the citizens of Iceland did. Throw the crooks in jail and take back their country. Ensure through legislation it never happens again, and re-write the constitution. A constitution written FOR and by citizens.
    Maggie: I have long said voting is just the start of the process. Citizens have to continue to participate by becoming knowledgable of and involved with the government’s agenda. If something smells fishy, then ask, tell, and demand answers.Assist and insist the government in putting the ship on the right course.
    Before any taxes are raised we need to examine where the government waste is occurring. No business in the world would allow it’s employees to use the company credit card for booze, quilts, spas (has anyone examined which spas? Wink, wink). This madness has got to stop, including selling off (to their friends) the citizen’s crown assets.
    If tricky Dix doesn’t want to step up and expose (like he and Carole should have been doing) than he is not capable of living up to the responsibility required of leading what should be an extremely prosperous, money making province.
    End of opinion.

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  15. cfvua

    A big yes on supporting independent candidates, and don’t forget royalties as a source of revenues. Most of which are given away through ridiculous “credit” programs that don’t generate any additional jobs for residents or the resultant income taxes for the province.

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  16. Curt

    Laila says:
    Lululemon: $1900.12 total purchases over all departments, comprised of many smaller purchases. Please explain how Lululemon benefits the province. Please.

    Lulemon expenditure might be explained:
    Erin Hochstein is a Public Relations Specialist with Lulemon and a member of BC Liberal Women’s Network
    Also involved in National Public Relations Ltd. – associate Erin Hochstein.
    One of the names that comes up with hers is Mark Marissen (Christie’s Ex)
    Another Jason Keenan, Communications Director, ICBA (Phillip Hochstein’s organization)
    Jason also came up in the corrupt sale of BC Rail and Campbell.

    B.C. plants to produce 10 MW of clean energy and offset 25,000 tonnes of GHGs annually
    CALGARY, Sept. 2 /CNW/ – Pristine Power Inc. and ENMAX Green Power Inc. today announced that commercial operations have started at their jointly owned Enpower 5 MW Energy Recovery Generation (ERG) project in British Columbia under the terms of a 20-year electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro.

    Contact: Erin Hochstein, NATIONAL Public Relations

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  17. Pingback: March Madness – Part 1: Examining the B.C. government’s purchasing cards spending | DataFaced

  18. debtless

    How interesting. I’m researching retail sales #s to find out who’s spending when banks are deleveraging, covering contingencies. ie where are the productivity loans? but I’m flummoxed as to where retail sales are getting steam. Ha, this is an alternative I didn’t consider—govt credit perks. Thanks for the light.

    Like

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