OTTAWA - A $3-billion emergency stimulus fund has gone from being a potential election trigger to a procedural non-issue in the space of two months.

Both Liberals and Conservatives were left wondering on Thursday what all the fuss over the fund had been about after the federal government released details of how it's spent the money so far.

"I don't know why there was such a fuss over this at the time when they could've just told us this list earlier ... because I don't think these are controversial items," said Liberal finance critic John McCallum.

"Maybe they (Conservatives) got into a huff and decided to make an issue of it, I don't know why."

But Treasury Board President Vic Toews said he tried to tell Liberals all along there was nothing sinister about the fund but no one would listen.

"This has been a big hullaballoo about nothing," he said, referring to the fund as strictly a "procedural mechanism" to get economic stimulus measures moving more quickly.

The fund is essentially an advance on the $40-billion worth of economic recovery measures unveiled in the Jan. 27 budget. It was designed to allow departments to quickly start spending on those measures between April 1 and June 30, rather than waiting until as late as December for normal parliamentary authorization.

When the fund was first proposed back in March, it briefly threatened the survival of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government.

All three opposition parties were opposed to the idea, labelling it a "slush fund" and a "blank cheque." Harper countered that it was a confidence matter and warned that opposition parties would "find themselves in an election" if they blocked it.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff dug in his heels, adamantly asserting that he'd never support creation of the fund without some advance idea of where the money would be spent. He backed down three weeks later and the fund eventually won parliamentary approval, with the help of the Liberals.

Ignatieff is belatedly getting the details he demanded.

According to documents tabled Thursday, the government has so far allocated $1.8 billion of the $3 billion fund. The money has gone to two-dozen programs in 12 departments, including $250 million for skills training, $100 million for improvements to federal buildings and bridges, and almost $500 million for infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities.

Money also flowed to some longer term programs - such as $222 million to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to support development of an advanced CANDU nuclear reactor; and $155 million to the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority for development of aviation security plans and a passenger assessment system.

McCallum questioned why such programs, which will do little to provide stimulus during the immediate crisis, would be deemed in need of an urgent advance on their budgetary allotments. He said it may reflect the fact that the government is having trouble quickly identifying so-called shovel-ready projects that can provide a quick jolt to the economy.

"Maybe they were doing some padding with some of these things because they couldn't come up with as many initiatives as they had initially planned."