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Winnipeg Sun | 17Oct2012 | Tom Brodbeck

Canadian Museum for Human Rights' $10-M lie to taxpayers

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ claim that it “saved” over $10 million last year is not only a crock, it’s an attack on the collective rights of Canadian taxpayers.

According to the CMHR’s audited financial statements tabled in the House of Commons last week, the museum increased its operating costs by more than a half-million dollars last year compared with the previous year. It also posted a $66,000 deficit.

So no, there were no overall “savings” of anything, much less $10 million as the museum claims.

Despite that, museum officials announced in their latest annual report that due to recent economic challenges the Crown corporation has had to make some cuts to its operating expenses.

“The museum has responded to these fiscal realities with an aggressive program of reductions and deferments that ultimately realized over $10 million in savings in 2011-2012,” the report says.

Actually, the museum’s operating costs jumped to $10.9 million in 2011-12, up 5.7% from $10.3 million the previous year.

So I’m not sure how that translates into a $10-million saving.

What museum president and CEO Stuart Murray is trying to argue is that because the opening of the museum has been delayed, they don’t have to incur the level of operating expenses they eventually will once the facility is open.

That’s fine. We get that.

They have an operating budget of $21.7 million from the federal government once the museum opens. But until it opens its doors, the museum is expected to spend far less than $21.7 million. Which is why the museum’s current operating budget is $10.9 million.

But what Murray is trying to shop around to the media and to the public is that because they’re not spending the full $21.7 million yet -- because the opening of the museum has been delayed -- they’ve “found” over $10 million in savings.


What a shell game. I guess this is why Stuart Murray never became the premier of Manitoba.

The annual report also says the museum found “major” reductions in marketing expenses. No they didn’t. The audited statements show that the museum spent $621,000 in marketing in 2010-11. That dropped very slightly to $601,000 the following year. That’s a “major” reduction?

Sure, they reduced their travel budgets -- after we continually exposed them -- and they reduced operating costs in a few areas. But those were more than offset by increases in other areas, including a $240,000 jump in personnel costs. All told, Murray and the museum spent some $600,000 more in 2011-12 than they did the previous year.

That’s not a $10-million saving.

Telling Canadian taxpayers that they have found savings of $10 million is not just political spin, it’s an outright lie. It’s pure deception.

And it shows once again that Canadian taxpayers have no rights whatsoever in the building of this white elephant. I doubt taxpayers will have their own gallery anywhere in the museum to “celebrate and protect” their rights.

Not only are they being forced to pay for this thing and its escalating costs, museum officials aren’t even being straight with them on how much more they’re spending on operating costs from one year to the next.

They’re telling them that they’ve found savings in the operating budget when in fact they have increased spending.

Is this the kind of honesty and straightforwardness museum officials are going to teach the thousands of children who come through this museum once it’s open?

How to lie and deceive to deliberately mislead the public? I sure hope not.

But so far, they haven’t done a very good job of leading by example.