Corporate welfare debate comes to Sask as Scheer pans supercluster funding

The federal Conservatives are looking to cut at least $1.5 billion of what they call “corporate welfare handouts” if elected, but the Liberals warn that efforts to supercharge Saskatchewan’s plant-protein sector could be on the chopping block.Conservative leader Andrew Scheer announced Wednesday that a Conservative government would conduct a review of business subsidy programs with an aim of “eliminating grants for those who don’t need help.”“We get to the $1.5 billion by establishing the criteria that government programs in the future will not go to wealthy executives, to line the pockets of shareholders or for foreign companies,” Scheer said during a campaign stop in Hamilton, Ont.He said the money would instead be used to help less well-connected Canadians, presumably by paying for the billions of dollars in tax credits and tax cuts his party has been unveiling on the campaign trail.Scheer said his review would root out “programs that leave Canadians with no benefits.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.He listed examples of spending that, if cut, could help him arrive at that level of savings. He mentioned $950 million the Liberal government pledged to create five “innovation superclusters” across Canada, which Scheer criticized as “not evaluated for any type of performance criteria.”One supercluster is concentrated on the Prairies to promote the development of plant-based protein products, including meat substitutes.Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and MP for Regina—Wascana, views the funding as a boon for Saskatchewan. On Wednesday, he attacked Scheer for treating it as a “frill” that can be thrown away.“I was shocked by it and really disappointed, because this is an initiative that a great many people in Saskatchewan have invested a lot of time and attention to bring about,” said Goodale. “Businesses, particularly in the agricultural sector, have been intensely involved.“It’s just ridiculous for Mr. Scheer to throw it in the garbage,” he added.Goodale said the supercluster is intended to make Saskatchewan and the Prairies a world leader in plant-protein innovation. He pointed to an estimate that it could create 4,500 “really good, solid new jobs” over 10 years and potentially add more than four per cent to provincial GDP.He said the $153-million federal commitment, to be matched by private money, is designed to “prime the pump” for innovation, partnerships and private investment.Scheer didn’t commit to ditching the funding, but mentioned it as an example in the context of his proposed review. A party release said the review would eliminate handouts “that don’t create growth and support economic growth in Canada.”A Conservative spokesman didn’t directly comment on whether the party considers the supercluster funding to benefit economic growth, rather than wealthy shareholders. The program has attracted criticism from some who question whether government seed money can stimulate “made-in-Canada Silicon Valleys.”But in Goodale’s view, framing the supercluster money as corporate welfare is “grossly distorted and wrong.”Joel Bruneau, head of the economics department at the University of Saskatchewan, said the supercluster program is not a “typical example of corporate welfare.” In his view, the term usually refers to benefits directed at particular companies or industries to enhance their competitiveness, rather than to investments in “public goods.”“The clusters strike me as something that’s a little bit in between, because you’re financing research… towards a public goal, where some of that innovation will then have major spillovers,” he said.Bruneau said it would be “false” to suggest the supercluster funding doesn’t generate public benefits beyond what accrues to private companies, which often don’t invest sufficiently in research and development.But he also questioned the government’s numbers for economic impact and job creation, which Goodale’s office said comes from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Conference Board of Canada and Avascent. Bruneau said the figures sound “really high.”Premier Scott Moe’s office did not directly criticize Scheer’s announcement when asked for comment, but recognized “the role that matching incentives such as those provided to the protein supercluster can play in attracting further investment, generating innovation, and creating jobs.”Moe’s press secretary, Jim Billington, said Saskatchewan will advocate for an approach that encourages precisely that while respecting taxpayer dollars.So far, only one company, Alberta-based oilseed processor Botaneco, has been awarded protein supercluster money. Applications for two initial funding instalments of $40 million and $60 million have been submitted, but the successful companies have not yet been announced.That means the vast majority of the funding pot could potentially be slashed, according to Goodale’s office.Applicants for federal money must be members of the supercluster itself, which includes AGT Foods and Ingredients, Maple Leaf Foods and Dow DuPont [email protected] read more

BBC decorated canteen with huge Bake Off images before it lost show

first_imgWe literally JUST redecorated the canteen at the BBC 😒 #GBBO pic.twitter.com/sWWP3EKWzE— Julia Macfarlane (@juliamacfarlane) September 12, 2016 You beat me to it @juliamacfarlane! A decorating disaster. Could there be a programme in that? The Great British Paint Off?— ritula shah (@ritula) September 12, 2016 It is enough to leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Hours after the BBC lost the rights to its most successful show, The Great British Bake Off, the corporation revealed it had only  just redecorated the canteen with images promoting the programme.According to one BBC employee, large images of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the baking show’s judges, had only just been put up on the walls of the staff canteen.BBC producer and reporter Julia Macfarlane tweeted: “We literally JUST redecorated the canteen at the BBC” with an unimpressed emoji.Accompanying the tweet is an image of the large pictures in the canteen. Berry is quoted saying: “The terror of a soggy bottom has been keeping me up all night.”Hollywood is illustrated with another quote from the show: “Keep your biscuits erect, you’ve got four hours to do so.” A BBC spokesman told The Telegraph: “We have pictures of many much-loved BBC stars in our buildings.”Channel 4 poached the show from the BBC after the corporation refused to pay £25 million a year to hold on to it.The company behind the baking show, Love Productions, announced on Monday afternoon that it would withdraw the programme from the BBC at the end of the current series, having failed to seal a new deal after “more than a year of exhaustive negotiations”.Channel 4 then announced it had a three-year deal with the production company, and will be broadcasting the show after the current series. Ritula Shah, another BBC member of staff, joked they could begin a “Great British Paint Off”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. It is unclear whether the BBC will keep the decorations up, or whether they will have to re-decorate the canteen after the show is moved to Channel 4.Ms Macfarlane suggested the company “may have to wallpaper over it”. @ritula They’re going to have to wallpaper over it surely. How awkward!— Julia Macfarlane (@juliamacfarlane) September 12, 2016 Love is understood to have rejected bigger offers from both Netflix and ITV.However, the BBC’s canteen images may remain relevant – as it is unclear whether the presenters of the BBC show will move to Channel 4.Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, as well as hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, have all previously expressed a desire to stay with the BBC.Perkins used her Twitter profile to share a BBC statement in which the corporation said that Bake Off was a “quintessentially BBC programme”.last_img read more