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Department of Finance spent nearly a quarter-million dollars on budget document cover page...


Staff member
Costs included $89,500 in modeling fees for people posing as middle class Canadians.....


Budget Cover Cost $212,234

The Department of Finance spent nearly a quarter-million dollars on artistic themes for its 2017 budget, say Access To Information records. Costs included $89,500 for talent fees and photos of models posing as middle class Canadians.

“I like the colour scheme,” wrote Natalie Rieger, senior marketing advisor for the finance department. “It’s fresh. I love where this is going.”

Staff paid the McCann ad agency $212,234 including the cost of photos depicted on the cover of the March 22 budget document Building A Strong Middle Class and related marketing materials. Images were supposed to illustrate budget themes. “The future of children is an issue that is central to the 2017 budget,” wrote McCann executives. “That is why they are the focus of every visual.”

The finance department withheld spending records for six months and only released the Access To information documents after Blacklock’s filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner. Records detailed hundreds of pages of emails in which Finance Canada employees and McCann executives agonized over the minutia of themes and images, including the ethnicity of models hired for photo shoots.

“We would like to know about ethnicities you would like us to cover,” wrote a McCann executive. “Asian? Native? Indian? Latino? There are four models, so we will have to choose.”

A photo of a woman in hiking boots posing with a cartoon laptop was intended to represent “innovation and skill”. An image of a boy holding a cartoon bridge illustrated infrastructure. The finance department had lengthy email exchanges with the Prime Minister’s Office on whether the model posing as the bridge boy should wear eyeglasses. “I vote glasses,” wrote an employee. “Put me on team hipster.”

A photo of a grey-haired man having his blood pressure checked was meant to symbolize “Strong Canada”, though one staffer described the senior’s facial expression as “quite unsettling”.

“That’s Our Winner”

Staff rated a fourth image as their favourite, a young girl playing a cartoon air guitar, intended to illustrate “fairness”. “Really like the air guitar; very dynamic shot, lots of potential,” wrote one employee. “Love the little girl with the guitar. I think that’s our winner for the largest cover shot!” said another.

The spending on 2017 budget art themes is the highest to date. The department last year spent $176,339 to photograph two models posing as mother and daughter for the cover of the 2016 budget. Previous Conservative cabinets published budgets with a plain blue cover or inexpensive stock photos purchased from commercial distributors for $600 or less.

“Justin Trudeau’s election mantra was all about positivity, change and optimism for the future,” staff wrote in preparing the 2016 cover. “We want this budget cover to illustrate that feeling. In the past, budget covers have looked staged and emotionless.”

Records showed the department placed a rush order with McCann by contract last February 1 and approved the artwork March 13, nine days before the budget was released. The $212,234 contract was part of a $750,000 campaign to promote the 2017 budget. Finance Canada yesterday declined to say if the campaign was vetted by the Auditor General in compliance with a 2016 Treasury Board directive.

By Tom Korski

Budget Cover Cost $212,234 | Blacklock's Reporter

Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


TRIBE Member
You'd have to join the Liberal party.
It’s a disgusting, unwarranted figure, to be sure.

...but it’s about a 3rd of what the DOA under Harper gave a sausage factory in 2012 - to to help produce “a higher quality sausage that is more resistant to splitting or bursting while cooking.”

If we’re gonna toss around figures related to misspending and attach a particular party and leader to each instance, I’m happy to join in the fun. Let’s roll!
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