(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the “budget will balance itself” and that our economy grows “from the heart out.” So it isn’t exactly surprising to find out that one of Trudeau’s campaign promises has gone massively over budget.
On the campaign trail, Trudeau told Canadians that his pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 would cost taxpayers $100 million. The Liberal Party’s campaign platform document stated that the refugee intake would cost $100 million in 2015/2016 fiscal year.
At the time, I wrote a column saying that Trudeau’s numbers didn’t add up.
By simply looking at the previous year’s spending on refugee resettlement, it was clear that the $100 million estimate was unrealistic. In 2014, the government spent $64.3 million through the resettlement assistance program to resettle 7,100 refugees.
That works out to $9,055 per refugee. Trudeau’s plan, by contrast, only allocated $4,000 per refugee.
It was plain to see back then that the Liberal platform price tags were out of touch with the real costs of refugee resettlement.
Lo and behold, on Tuesday, the Trudeau government released the final annual expenditures on the Syrian resettlement program.
The initiative did not cost taxpayers $100 million, as Trudeau had once promised. Instead, the Trudeau government spent $384.7 million on the program. They spent nearly four times as much as they said they would.
But, in a truly Orwellian twist of logic, the Trudeau Liberals claimed the initiative came in under budget. Immigration Minister John McCallum’s office shamelessly claimed the government managed to save $70.3 million from the cost of the Syrian resettlement program.
How can the Trudeau government claim they spent $70.3 million less than planned when they actually spent $284.7 million more than planned?
By using an old sleight of hand trick.
In June 2016, the government quietly released “preliminary costs” for the program, and pegged the costs 350% higher than Trudeau’s campaign pledge. That way, six months later when the updated financial figures became available – and Trudeau only went 285% over budget – the Liberals could pat themselves on the back and celebrate.
Perhaps equally egregious to the government twisting facts and logic, this misleading information was repeated verbatim by the Liberal media.
A report in French CBC didn’t bother fact checking Trudeau’s campaign promise, and printed the government’s spin without question.
Radio Canada wrote that the government spent $70.3 million less than planned.
Readers who get their news from the public broadcaster were left with…(READ MORE)