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featherbed

In Canadian politics as usual, to featherbed is to make a job easier or drag it out simply for the benefit of the person doing it. It is a pejorative term that implies a person is stealing from taxpayers, donors or employers by doing less work than their title and pay would require.

In Canada public sector unions such as CUPE are most often accused of featherbedding.

The NDP is very often - and very often rightly - accused of facilitating this by making it difficult to cut any jobs in the public sector, sometimes radically expanding the public service in provinces where they have held power. However, in Ontario, Bob Rae lost the support of OPSEU and other unions for his so-called "Rae Days" measure to require government employees to take days off. Despite the fact that NDP policy had actually called for job sharing and shorter work weeks, the unions refused to support Rae and indirectly brought Mike Harris to power in the Ontario general election, 1995. Harris was not accused of facilitating a featherbed.

Another Harris, Jim Harris of the Green Party of Canada, was during the GPC Council Crisis very often accused of setting up just such an environment, free of accountability, for his spin doctor Dermod Travis. Despite clear GPC Constitution provisions putting the GPC Shadow Cabinet in charge of writing the GPC Platform, Harris funded Travis' failed efforts at political advertising - which did not increase the Green vote one iota in polls - and withdrew all funds from platform development. Many considered this a featherbed for Travis and others who worked on this GPC Media Team.

In Toronto, municipal employees have a well earned reputation for featherbedding at every opportunity and covering up all staff error even under extreme pressure. Examples include:
  • failure to buy computers transparently in 2004 even after a serious scandal involving MFP in 2003 - staff were accused of ruling out bids that met the criteria by Toronto City Councillor Mike Del Grande, but he was not permitted to show them to any expert evaluator
  • failure to scrutinize a report regarding the York Region Death Pipe, resulting in City Council being forced to repudiate it in December 2005 and call for federal action against that project
  • senior staff hiring lovers who were clearly not qualified to highly paid posts
  • resisting a shift by Elections Toronto to a matching grant system away from a rebate system, simply because it takes fewer people to write checks and the grants system would cost nearly nothing to operate - the main reason it was being adopted in the first place

Mayor of Toronto David Miller took some moderate measures to limit featherbeds by flattening the power structure of Toronto City Hall, but he was accused by opponents of simply removing those without NDP ties, to lay a foundation for featherbeds of the future.