The Million-Dollar Liberal Website You’ve Never Visited (And You’ll Never Visit Again)

If you’ve ever wanted insight into the scale of government excess and waste, this would be a good place to start.

This week, news broke that the Privy Council Office wants an additional $600,000 per year to “modernize (the Prime Minister’s) web presence.”

But the lede of this story was buried – the website is already costing taxpayers $1 million per year to operate.

Have you ever visited the Prime Minister’s website? Probably not. It’s the million-dollar Liberal website you’ve never visited — and once you visit it, you’ll never visit it again.

It’s poorly designed and has only the most basic information about our Prime Minister, and functions as little more than a “non-partisan” homepage for government propaganda.

One company was quoted by the Toronto Star as saying the website could easily be replicated for $10,000-$20,000 – less than 1% of the budget being proposed by Trudeau’s government.

As a web developer and owner of testerdigital, a full-service digital marketing firm, I would go a step further.

I would be embarrassed if any website I produced looked like that, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I had produced this for a paying client. Anyone who compared the Prime Minister’s website to WhiteHouse.gov would be supremely embarrassed for our country.

The content posted to the Prime Minister’s website is equally humiliating. I don’t know how they justify needing four full-time staffers to copy and paste news releases onto the web 3-4 times a week — but they’ve proposed hiring two more.

One of the government’s justifications for spending hundreds of thousands on the website is the need to livestream events. Perhaps they think Canadians are woefully ignorant. Anyone who spends ten seconds on Google would find out that the world’s top livestreaming service, Livestream.com, charges a maximum of $399 per month – and that’s only if viewers are watching over 30,000 hours of content a month. And the kicker? The Liberal Ontario government has been using Livestream.com for years.

And was the site built on expensive, custom content management systems, or using a ton of custom JavaScript or plugins? No — it uses common elements like Drupal, jQuery, and Bootstrap, that anybody you’d hire for a junior web position would have a supreme mastery over.

And yet here we have a proposal to spend $1.6 million a year on a website that any designer would be ashamed to put their name to.

The last Conservative Prime Minister’s Office was rightly mocked when they launched 24 Seven – a lame, weekly video that was highly partisan and mostly pointless, receiving a couple hundred views a week if they were lucky. But the cost of 24 Seven was next to nothing compared to the new Prime Minister’s website.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spokesperson, Cameron Ahmad, defended the price tag, saying it was necessary to ensure the website was “adequately funded,” according to the Toronto Star. It’s as if a million dollars a year were not adequate to maintain a website that would have looked bad when Jean Chretien was Prime Minister.

Perhaps the reality is that nobody in the Prime Minister’s Office knows any better. They could be woefully uninformed about the cost of building websites, web design trends, or the time and effort it requires to copy and paste things into Drupal.

Or perhaps the reality is that nobody in the Prime Minister’s Office cares – $1.6 million wasted on a vanity project to promote their leader is a drop in the bucket compared to what they are planning to spend in the upcoming budget.

 

Dean Tester

 

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