CTF in the News

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

US congress "paving way for private toll roads"

Very interesting. Could this be a way to get the highway linking Saskatchewan's north to the oil sands business near Fort McMurray, Alberta (my home town, BTW) that everybody wants?

Environment committee "whitewashes" Kyoto report

Via shotgun yesterday...

This release from MP Bob Mills blowing the whistle on a bogus report coming from the environment committee...

“Day after day MP’s sat in committee listening to dozens of witnesses point out the flaws in Canada’s commitment to Kyoto. The report the NDP, Liberal, Bloc coalition has forced through today bears almost no resemblance to the depositions we heard. This is another Liberal whitewash designed to prop up a failing coalition between the Liberals, socialists and separatists,” said Mills.

“Seeing as though the committee coalition has voted to recommend a report which calls for sending billions of dollars offshore to buy hot air, the Conservative MP’s on the committee have tabled a minority report. This report reflects much of what we heard at committee from the witnesses. It promotes a responsible plan to keep Canadian tax dollars in Canada fighting both climate change and real air pollution. Moreover it calls for the aggressive promotion of new green technologies that we can export for the betterment of everyone,” finished Mills.

Alberta has no plan for $5 billion surplus

Let's get this straight. Alberta has conducted more public consultations than any other government...well...ever, and they still don't really know what to do with the surplus.

Of course, your CTF is on the scene with a suggestion....

SK: Frontier Centre on school board amalgamation

Frontier Centre has an excellent piece on forced school board amalgamation. This is what is in store for Sask.

“There are now fewer school trustees and, in theory at least, there should be fewer duplicated administrators. . . .In fact, since the majority of amalgamations consisted of the merger of two intact school divisions, one might expect to see up to a 50% decrease in expenditures on administration. That’s not the case.”

Canucks Trail the Yanks

In Canada, high taxes have caused our standard of living to trail our neighbour to the South.

At least we have hockey, er, wait a second, we don't even have that!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sask: Government insurance company increasing rates for farmers

Farmers will be paying an overage of $30 more per year to register heavy farm vehicles, supposedly because of the damage they do to roads.

The Opposition Saskatchewan Party says nothing about the fact they they are sucking $2.5 million from the rural economy. Instead, they tell the government how the extra revenue should be spent.

Since when does registering your vehicle have anything to do with road maintenance? Isn't that what fuel taxes are for? Income taxes? PST?

This is pathetic.

Live 8 – A Solution that is Simple, Direct and Wrong

For answers why this is so, taxpayers – and policy makers – need only pick up a copy of Lords of Poverty. Published in 1991, the book exposes the many failures of the multibillion dollar government aid business. Lords of Poverty is an indictment of the international aid industry, and as a New York Times book review noted, “If books had hands, this one would be reaching out to strangle the United Nations officials who will no doubt be reading it at their desks in brown paper wrappers.” (Voluntary agencies are spared criticism because they tend to be funded by charitable contributions and are pressured to spend money more wisely than government agencies.)

Author Graham Hancock became disillusioned with the aid industry after working in developed nations. He asserts – with examples of waste and corruption – government aid programs more often than not worsen the conditions of those they are meant to help. Aid organizations, like the Canadian International Development Agency, serve to keep western consultants employed but do little to develop poor economies. Government programs are ill conceived because they rest on the premise that developed nations must save the Third World – precisely what taxpayers are being told in advance of Saturday’s Live 8 concerts.

From 1950-55 total government aid seldom exceeded US$1.8-billion per year. By 1962 total world aid hit nearly US$6-billion and a decade later OECD nations (i.e. western countries) gave almost US$10-billion. By 1984 this figure jumped threefold and the Soviet Union was also doling out development assistance. Total world aid in 1987 was over US$50-billion, topped US$60-billion when the Berlin Wall fell, and stands at US$70-billion today.

Read more...

A whole new meaning to nanny state

If you thought that government intervention into our personal lives couldn't get any worse, it has. 80 year old Thomas Hanaway of Winnipeg has literally had his life taken over by the Public Trustees office, taking his pension cheques, cleaning out his bank account - with no permission from his family to do so. A World War II veteran, Mr. Hanaway suffers from Parkinson's disease, but as the Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck accounts, he is lucid and well cared for by his wife and their son, not to mention the daily visits from home care workers who bath and care for him.

In what can only be described as a fundamental loss of personal freedom, Brodbeck explains why this happened and warns that in some cases, criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens under the Trustee.

To add insult to injury, Hanaway's wife Grace, recently discovered she is unable to access her pension cheques as they are put into a joint account which was seized by the Public Trustee.

To their credit, the Opposition Tories are calling on the Doer Government to take action and clean up this mess and to protect citizens from future violations by the Office of the Public Trustee. Even the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been fielding phone calls on this issue as citizens are concerned that they too could have their lives taken over by government

Ottawa: Garbage user fees

In an attempt to promote recycling, the City of Ottawa has removed the annual fee for garbage removal from property taxes and is charging a separate user fee of $88 per year.

It is hoped that by seeing how much money users are spending on garbage removal they will throw away less and recycle more. Thus, reducing the demand on the local landfill.

In "theory" if garbage removal is reduced sufficiently, the city will reduce the garbage user fee. Do you think the "theory" will be "practiced"?

Check out the full story in today's Ottawa Sun.

Gas Prices Leave Taxpaying Motorists Fuming and Running on Empty

The national average price for a litre of gasoline is now over 94 cents.

The CTF has long fought for gas tax honesty and fairness.

Check out the 7th Annual Gas Tax Honesty report here

AB: Will Klein provide greater choice to patients?

Once again Alberta's Premier Ralph Klein is talking about providing greater choice in health care for patients.

Klein has stated that he will "consider" the Calgary Health Region's proposal to allow patients to pay for elective surgeries, such as cataract and hip replacement operations, performed in the city's private clinics.

Medically neccessary surgeries will still remain in the public domain.

Will Klein finally act?

A case for tax cuts

"For politicians, surpluses are a tool to bribe constituents," wrote Reuven Brenner in today's Financial Post.

Ottawa would do more for the economy leaving tax dollars in consumers' pockets than cutting debt or spending surpluses.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why you should support the CTF

Isn't it time to stand up for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government in Canada?

The CTF is the country's ONLY non-partisan taxpayers' watchdog and advocacy group. We don't receive government grants and we don't have a charitable tax number. We rely on modest donations from individual supporters in every corner of the county.

We reject the notion that nothing ever changes: that all politicians lie, raise our taxes and waste our money. Balanced budgets, ending gold-plated pensions, implementing taxpayer protection laweliminatinging bracket creep and authoring tax reform are some examples of the CTF's success, and are all testimony to how a non-partisan group of citizens can make a difference.

Change is grounded in the participation of honest, taxpayer citizens like yourself.

In addition to supporting our advocacy work you have an opportunity to receive our flagship publication The Taxpayer. Called a "battle cry on newsprint" by the Vancouver Sun, The Taxpayer magazine arrives in your mailbox six times a year. Supporters also receive a monthly "action and issues update" (by e-mail or fax) called Tax Action. Click on www.taxpayer.com and you'll find the CTF's award winning web site that is updated daily.

Support the CTF, receive publications and bookmark our award-winning website at www.taxpayer.com.

SK: Big labour on the economy -- "Everything is just fine"

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour thinks that having the worst average GDP growth in Canada for the past 10 years is just fine, and that businesses "have never had it so good."

Has it ever occurred to them that having a stronger economy means more members and higher salaries?

But SFL president Larry Hubich said business currently pays about 20 per cent of the total tax bill. "That is not an excessive amount in our view,'' Hubich said. Similarly, the current five-per-cent CIT rate for small business "is not excessive level of taxation,'' he added.

While conceding the 17-per-cent general CIT rate was at the "high end,'' Hubich said Saskatchewan doesn't levy payroll taxes or health- care premiums, like other jurisdictions.

Hubich said the Saskatchewan economy is healthy, "company owners and corporation shareholders have never had it so good,'' and successive governments have lowered business taxes substantially in the last 20 years.

"Clearly, the facts and good sense argue for no further reduction in business taxes in Saskatchewan,'' Hubich said.

Ujjal Plugs his Ears, and buries his Head in the Sand

Our Health Minister has no plan for health care - he simply demonizes those who suggest the status quo is not good enough.

Talk about not being up to the job!

Read more here

Yes Virginia, tax cuts do work

In the post below, "Federal Government lacks vision and is directed by polls", some of Canada's top CEOs advocate tax cuts to aid Canada's econmy.

The CTF has published a myriad of columns, papers and studies advocating for tax cuts. All of the studies conclude the same thing, tax cuts help grow the economy.

Here's another example as to the benefits of tax cuts. Written by William Kristol of the Weekly Standard. Yes, Virginia. Tax cuts do work.

Judicial Activism

Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Chaoulli case - the court case that opens the door for a parallel public-private health care system in Quebec - some Canadians have been crying "judicial activism".

If readers of the CTFs blog want an example of judicial interference, take a look at a column penned by Richard Nadler of the National Review. The column details a Kansas Supreme Court decision that ordered the state legislature to increase public school (K-12) spending by $853 million per year.

The CTF has wade into the debate as to how Canada should choose Supreme Court Justices and Senators.

Federal Government Lacks Vision and is Driven by Polls

Canada's business leaders lament the performance of Paul Martin's Government.

A government that does what is popular isn't always doing what is right. Who knew?!

Monday, June 27, 2005

US government awash in revenues

From NRO, thanks to Small Dead Animals....

According to the Treasury department, the U.S. government took in a single-day record $61 billion in tax receipts on June 15. This surpassed the previous single-day high of $56 billion set on December 15, 2000. The recent surge in tax revenues is not just a one-day event. Fiscal year to date, total government receipts are up 15.5 percent, the fastest rate of increase on a comparable FYTD basis since 1981. The difference between the growth rate of tax revenues and the growth rate of government spending has widened to 8.4-percentage points, the largest since late 2000 when the budget was in surplus.

Not surprisingly, the recent tidal wave of tax receipts has ignited a furious debate about whether or not the Bush tax cuts are responsible for stimulating economic activity enough to actually boost overall tax-revenue collections. Classical economists refer to this as the Laffer curve, or the revenue-reflow, effect. In simple terms, if a tax cut stimulates the underlying activity being taxed, a revenue reflow will result. The reflow can offset or even surpass the volume of revenues that would have been collected under the higher tax rate and smaller tax base. Pro-growth tax-rate reductions on labor and capital in the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s, and then again in 1997 and 2003 all exhibited revenue-reflow effects, although some were stronger than others.

Despite the avalanche of historical evidence, some economists and policymakers question the validity of incentive-based revenue reflows and assert instead that the recent surge in tax-receipt growth has been caused by an increasing fraction of the workforce being ensnarled by the alternative minimum tax (AMT). They also argue that annual comparisons were made extremely easy due to the huge drop in revenues due to the 2000-02 stock market implosion and the 2001 recession that accompanied it. While there is some truth to these claims, they overlook several key facts.

The AMT, an increasing problem in its own right, does not explain the 45.2 percent fiscal year to date surge in corporate tax revenues and the 35 percent jump in non-withheld (i.e., capital gains) receipts. Fiscal year to date, corporate tax revenues are growing at 4.6-times the average rate of increase going back two decades. Moreover, rising profits and personal incomes, combined with the boom in housing, are increasing state and local tax revenues dramatically. According to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, state collections in the January-March quarter were up 11.7 percent, the strongest year-on-year growth for the comparable period since at least 1991. In other words, a broad rebound in economic activity, business profits, and asset prices has boosted the tax base and lifted revenues at all levels of government.

SK: Civil servants get extra-long weekend?

If you have any business to do with government don't bank on offices being open on Monday, July 4. Fighting for Taxpayers has learned that Information Services Corporation (land titles) will not be open on July 4th for some unknown reason. Your tax dollars at work.

The NDP e-zine commonwealth on the "non-announcement"

This from the Commonwealth:

NDP Increases Minimum Wage
Beginning on Sept. 1, minimum wage earners in Saskatchewan will earn another 40 cents per hour.

The announcement was made by the Saskatchewan NDP last week as part of a three phase increase in the minimum wage over two years. On Sept.1, the minimum wage will increase to $7.05 per hour, followed by another increase of 50 cents to $7.55 per hour on Mar. 1, 2006 and then another increase of 40 cents to $7.95 on Mar. 1. 2007.

Actually, the NDP didn't announce it. The Saskatchewan Party did. Which must have been pretty embarrassing for the government, but somewhat humourous for everyone else.

New on taxpayer.com

The saskatchewan business tax submission is posted on our site.

Ohio workers compensation fund scandal

Whoa nelly...big scandal in Ohio. Sounds a lot like the Manitoba's crocus disaster and pretty much everything Saskatchewan's Crown Investment Corporation does. It's the inevitable result when politics meets economics. Ohio "investments" included a rare coin collection and a failing bagel company, and of course, the stench of corruption is in the air.

Last year, the bureau announced it would move $31 million into seven private equity funds that have said they will loan money to new Ohio companies involved in technology-based industries, biomedical and fuel cell research, and similar advanced fields.

'Helping create jobs'
"This is a solid investment in Ohio's future," Governor Taft proclaimed in a news release touting the investment. Funds selected, he said, "are committed to helping create jobs."

But the purpose of the Workers' Compensation fund is to pay expenses of workers injured on the job, noted Mr. Brainard, of the Retirement Administrators group.

"Such an investment has to be made with the beneficiaries of the plan being the first consideration," he said. "Promoting economic development in Ohio is a worthy objective. But it has to take a back seat to those who rely on these monies."

One of the firms selected for the money, Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle Ventures, is represented by Brian Hicks, a former top Taft aide who is now a statehouse lobbyist, according to state records.

So far, the firm has drawn $450,000 of $5 million committed by the state in October, according to figures provided by the bureau. Draper Triangle officials were unavailable for comment.

A venture capital firm with links to Ohio University in Athens has drawn $20 million in bureau investments for four separate funds.

Lottery Director Hayes said he had heard of no instances in which the governor or
members of his staff asked officials to invest in a fund for promoting Ohio
companies. But, he said, unlike in the private sector, portfolio managers at the bureau are asked to consider factors such as whether a prospective investment will advance the cause of women and minorities.

John Lennon on third-world aid

Some very prescient comments by the late John Lennon to Playboy Magazine in 1980, courtesty of Cosh.

Lennon had it spot on. He supports his favourite causes by giving 10 per cent of his own income to charity. What a concept!

Lennon: Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn't mean a damn thing. After they've eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I'm not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

SK: One more thought on the committee

I must say that I have a really good feeling this committee chaired by Jack Vicq is going to be a really good thing for Saskatchewan. Vicq, as many of you are aware, chaired the income tax review committee in the 90's which led to significant tax cuts. We're feeling REALLY optimistic.

SK: CTF makes recommendations to business tax committee

Met today with the Saskatchewan business tax review committee. Here are our recommendations and some excerpts from my comments this morning.

  • Phase out the corporate capital tax
  • Eliminate the PST on business inputs
  • Reduce the corporate income tax rate to 11.5 per cent and eliminate the 10 per cent M&P rate


    "The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is a federally incorporated, non-profit and non-partisan, advocacy organization dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.

    The goal of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation recommendations in this submission is to reduce the burden of taxation on Saskatchewan productivity in order to increase employment, grow the economy and enhance the lives of Saskatchewan families.

    The reality in Saskatchewan, which requires no quantification in this submission, is that our economy has underperformed for decades.

    Our average GDP growth from 1994 to 2004 ranks dead last among the provinces.

    The obvious question that arises when proposing lower tax rates is how the province can “afford” to reduce revenues while striving for a balanced budget. The CTF strongly advocates for balanced budgets and legislated debt reduction plans.

    The point that needs to be accepted by government is that the province cannot afford inaction. Dramatic changes are required to foster the growth we need to ensure long term sustainability.

    In order to best estimate the overall impact on government revenues we should look to British Columbia, the province that most recently under took such reforms. The 2001 British Columbia budget reduced dividend tax credits, reduced the corporate income tax rate from 16.5 per cent to 13.5 per cent, began phasing out the corporate capital tax and cut personal income taxes by 25 per cent.

    In the first year after the tax cuts British Columbia government revenues declined by 1.3 per cent, and then rose steadily in the subsequent years. Since 2002/03 total government revenues have increased by 18 per cent.

    When undertaking the required changes, the government must reaffirm it’s commitment to fiscal responsibility. Government must prioritize and reduce expenditures to make these changes a reality. "

Nevermind what Doctors and Patients Say, Ujjal Knows Best!

Facts only get in the way as Canada's Health Minister clings to ideology. How many more patients have to suffer and/or die before Ottawa will listen and make genuine reforms to the current broken system?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Think tank cat fight

Ooooh...the tax-loving, union-funded, profit-hating Canadian Centre for Policy alternatives says Fraser Institutes "Tax Freedom Day" report is a "misleading gimmick." Fraser Institute says "whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

Three more sleeps until Tax Freedom Day

Each year, the Fraser Institute calculates Tax Freedom Day as the day of the year when taxpayers finally start working for themselves after paying the total tax bill imposed on them by governments. Prior to the Tax Freedom Day, the equivalent of all money earned by taxpayers is required to pay the numerous taxes, fees and levies imposed by federal, provincial and municipal governments. The original release and calculations is available here.

From New Year’s Day until noon on April 14th, taxpayers worked for the Canada Revenue Agency. After lunch on April 14th until the lunch break on June 17th, we toiled away for the provincial tax collectors. And from noon on June 17th until close of business Saturday, we worked for City Hall. This year Tax Freedom Day falls on Sunday, the day of rest for weary taxpayers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The New Face of Corporate Welfare

Almost a month after the election, Premier Gordon Campbell announced his cabinet. The 23 member executive were sworn in last week, and rookie Carole Taylor managed to score the coveted finance ministry...hmmm....methinks there was a deal here. In any event, the first and only fiscal news out of the legislature in the past month came from Cambpell, not Taylor and it was at a conference in the States not the legislature.

Campbell announced that the poor biotech industry (note the hint of sarcasm here) would be receiving a significant tax credit package because the industry needs a competitive tax environment, huh? Pardon? Well who doesn't need a competitive tax environment? It's another about face for a government that once campaigned against corporate welfare!

Instead of handing out direct subidies, that is, our tax dollars to companies, the crafty politician has noted that using REFUNDABLE tax credits (aka cash from treasury) is less offensive. So meet the new face of corporate welfare...the refundable tax credit!

And watch out, it will be coming from a government near you, just like the race to the bottom with direct subsidies, the race to the bottom with tax credits is well on its way.

MB: Gang courthouse white elephant

Remember that industrial-sized courthouse in Winnipeg that was to be used for mass prosecutions? It has been sitting empty on prime real estate for years, and the government refuses to sell it for some reason.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sask: Update -- Minister says no need to lower taxes on the poor

CJME is reporting that the Saskatchewan Party's plan to increase the basic personal exemption (the amount you can earn tax free each year) is being slammed by Labour Minister Deb Higgins. She says there is no need to increase the BPE because we already have the "third highest" exemption in Canada.

Well, that's all fine and good, Minister. That still doesn't justify having minimum wage-earners pay provincial income tax!

And with all respect, she is a little sloppy in her interpretation of taxes paid. An individual in Sask earning $35,000 or less pays the fourth highest rate of taxation in Canada. So much for "Saskatchewan heart."

Sask: Minimum wage to be among the highest in Canada

In a very strange turn of events, the Saskatchewan Party has obtained documents outlining the province's plan to increase the minimum wage. Ugh, this has to be embarrassing for the government.

According to the Saskies, the minimum wage will be increased in stages over the next couple of years as follows:

Sept. 2005 up 40 cents to $7.05;
Mar. 2006 up 50 cents to $7.55;
Mar. 2007 up 40 cents to $7.95.

This is very bad news for small businesses and minimum wage workers in Saskatchewan. The logic that escapes the government (which is a mystery to us) is that the government can force businesses to pay entry-level workers more, but they can't force them not to lay off existing workers.

Every coin has two sides. Increase the state-mandated minimum wage and you increase labour costs for businesses, which in turn will employ fewer workers and charge more for their products. An extra $1.00 added to the minimum wage rate does nothing for the university student who loses her job because the restaurant decided to operate with fewer employees.

If the government wants to help minimum wage earners without causing many to be fired, they should stop taxing the working poor. Kudos to the Saskatchewan Party for getting this exactly right:

Saskatchewan Party Labour Critic Ken Krawetz said the NDP's plan to increase the minimum wage without cutting taxes for low income earners is not good enough.

"We're imploring the Calvert government to implement tax relief for low income earners," Krawetz said.

"We believe that it should be the goal of government to remove minimum wage earners from the tax rolls."


Thanks for getting on board guys!

Bob Geldof: We want your tax dollars!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sask: Stoon Star Phoenix hits one home for taxpayers

While we don't exactly agree that the government needs to spend more money than they already do, the Star Phoenix makes a great case for tax relief.

Winnipeg's Mayor Marks One Year Anniversary

Winnipeg's Mayor, Sam Katz has been on the job for a year and already he has some major accomplishments he can point to. He slashed the business tax for downtown businesses by 20% this year(thanks to a pledge he signed from the CTF during the election), froze property taxes and established a Red Tape Commission to cut down on the bureaucracy at City Hall. Unfortunately, Mayor Katz has not made much progress on his fiery State of the City address he gave a few months ago which promised to get the city out of the business of running golf courses, gravel pits and fully privatizing garbage pick up. No question it is challenging to deal with a number of councilors who want taxes raised and spending increased, but Mayor Katz must do a better job of making the case for lower taxes and smaller government. The Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck grades Mayor Katz's performance at a B- and reiterates the CTF's concerns that change is taking too long.

PM says no to private health care

This CP story says a lot....

Taking questions on a Vancouver radio talk show Monday, Martin claimed the federal government's reinvestment in health care has already reduced waiting lists. "I don't believe in a two-tier medicare system," Martin told the CKNW audience. "What we're doing is putting our money into strengthening the public health-care system.

He neglects to mention that his personal doctor runs private clinics. So very rich.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sask: Another hog operation struggling

This time, it's Community Pork Ventures and taxpayers also have a hand in this. Where does it all end?

From a December 2001 government news release:

Premium Brands [governent-owned] will double the sow processing capacity at Harvest Meats in Yorkton, which has the only sow processing facility in Western Canada. The expansion will ensure an adequate supply of raw material for its specialty sausage products such as European style sausages and Harvest's farmer's sausage. The expansion will also allow for the production of meat snack products under McSweeney's and Grimm's brand names.

As well, Premium Brands is working with Community Pork Ventures Inc. of Outlook (CPVI) to double its hog production over the next several years. Premium Brands owns one third of CPVI.

"We are proud to be entering into this partnership with Premium Brands," Deputy Premier and Agriculture and Food Minister Clay Serby said. "Harvest Meats has been an important part of Yorkton's economy for many years, while CPVI has played a significant role in many rural communities across Saskatchewan. We are pleased with the continued growth in both of these businesses and look forward to a long and rewarding partnership with the Premium Brands group of companies."

Ontario expense account scandal

Ontario cabinet minister living high on the hog on your dime. CTF is on the scene.

Wouldn't you just love someone else to pay for a trip to Milan?

Think everyone should pay more taxes?

Every once and again the Canadian Taxpayers Federation gets grumpy emails from people who disagree with our positions and think that people, especially the "rich", ought to pay more taxes. They think more money should be taken from people and "redistributed" to the poor.

We often respond by suggesting that those concerned individuals should write a cheque, in whatever amount they choose, to the level of government of their choice.

What do you think would happen if Canada imposed a Higher rate Optional Tax (AKA "hot" tax) that would allow chronically undertaxed individuals the option of paying more taxes? I say, what is there to lose?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

MPs getting a free lunch

Like the unlimited airfare, massive salary and countless perks aren't enough, MPs enjoy "delicious and nutritious meals" every day of the week. It's only money right? When was the last time you enjoyed a $30 fillet of sole for lunch?

Bloc Quebecois MP Michel Gauthier, for example, may not be behind a united Canada. But he'll gladly throw his support behind a free Canada Dry gingerale. But, as Gauthier explains, "It's part of the work." When asked whether he thought it right that all MPs should eat for free, however, Liberal MP Pierre Pettigrew said no.

"No, I think we can afford to pay for our food," the foreign affairs minister told CTV. "I have no problem with that." But Ontario Liberal MP Susan Kadis says she sees no problem with ensuring the
nation's lawmakers are well fed.

"I don't think its wrong to provide something for MPs. I know myself, often there isn't time to go to the cafeteria sometimes you miss lunch."

Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi thinks the program's so great, he shares freebie fruit with Parliamentary guards and roving reporters.

Just because the food's free to MPs, however, doesn't mean it's entirely without cost.

CTV News has learned that the federal parties order approximately 180 meals a day, four days a week when Parliament is sitting.

It's all about accountability

So what can voters do when politicians say they will do one thing, and then turn around and do another? If ever there were a case for effective re-call legislation for all Canadian provinces, present-day Ontario is it.

Check out a list of Ontario Premier McGuinty's 50 broken promises.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ontario to spend $520 milllion on ethanol plants

Ontario is the latest province to jump on the ethanol bandwagon, with $520 million giveaway.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, however, predicted the cost of blended gas would go up by a cent per litre.

Spokeswoman Tasha Kheiriddin called the plan an attempt to curry favour with the agricultural sector and derided the Liberals for "giving direct subsidy to business."

"You should source that ethanol in the cheapest way possible," Kheiriddin said. "If it is cheaper to import it, then it should be imported and producers here should be more competitive to produce it at a lower cost."

McGuinty later participated in a groundbreaking ceremony in Mooretown, Ont., near Sarnia, where Suncor Energy roducts (TSX:SU) is building a new $120-million ethanol refinery that's slated for completion some time next year.


The fact that the government is subsidizing an industry is dumb in and of itself. But the real problem is that research shows that ethanol isn't even good for the environment.

Neither increases in government subsidies to corn-based ethanol fuel nor hikes in the price of petroleum can overcome what one Cornell University agricultural scientist calls a fundamental input-yield problem: It takes more energy to make ethanol from grain than the combustion of ethanol produces.

At a time when ethanol-gasoline mixtures (gasohol) are touted as the American answer to fossil fuel shortages by corn producers, food processors and some lawmakers, Cornell's David Pimentel takes a longer range view.

"Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning," says the Cornell professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Pimentel, who chaired a U.S. Department of Energy panel that investigated the energetics, economics and environmental aspects of ethanol production several years ago, subsequently conducted a detailed analysis of the corn-to-car fuel process.

Quebec day care workers on strike

And we want a national day care program because....

BC: "I'm not a fiscal conservative, but I play one on TV"

Gordon Campbell announces a ludicrously large cabinet. If you are a BC MLA you basically have even odds of making Cabinet.

Ontario: City taxes hurting business

The CTF on munipal taxes inTO...It appears the Mayor is part of the businesses-should-pay their-fair-share crowd.

“The Mayor is on the wrong track,” replied Kheiriddin. “Instead of spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars on his ‘Clean and Beautiful City Initiative,’ he should focus on what really makes this city work. It’s not new street signs on Yonge Street, tidier parks, or more workers cutting grass for $17.45 an hour. It’s ensuring that the private sector can flourish and create jobs for Torontonians. That means tax cuts for business so they don’t leave and take jobs with them.”

BC: New on taxpayer.com

BC Director Sara MacIntyre on health reform...

Premier Campbell should repeal the prohibition in the Medicare Protection Act. Not only because it is likely to be ruled unconstitutional in the future, but because it is morally reprehensible to sentence people to suffer on waiting lists and to deny them the choice of purchasing private medical insurance and ultimately getting treatment faster.

Nonetheless, if the premier decides to follow the many political sheep before him and fail to lead health care reform patients should take solace in the fact that, reform will come with or without his leadership. As is usually the case, true reform will come from the ground up. There will be an instance, in the not so distant future, where a private insurer will decide to bear the risk of contravening The Medicare Protection Act and offer medical insurance. Why? Because there is both an overwhelming demand from health care consumers for timely access and an unlikely scenario of the BC government wanting to trigger a constitutional challenge.

Patients want choice and it will come regardless of the political will of our ‘leaders.’ But there is choice for premier Campbell: repeal the provision and be the shepherd of health care reform, or join the rest of the sheep and do nothing.

SK: What they didn't tell us in that fancy brochure

SaskEnergy is planning a rate hike. It's a badly-kept secret that bad news is always leaked on fridays, when people are busy planning their weekends or heading out to the cottage. And this little tidbit about the minor detail of our heat bills going up was conveniently over-looked when they sent out the $75,000 propaganda brochure to every household in Saskatchewan last week.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Debunking Canadian Myths about American Health Care

The myths of the U.S health care system have been well-documented in Canada. Is it really as bad as they say?

Read the CTF's reaction to the recent Supreme Court ruling here

For absolutely no reason

Colby Cosh on the Chaulli decision....

[UPDATE, 4:38 pm: It occurs to me that some of you who didn't follow the case while it was still sub judice may not know that Dr. Chaoulli argued this case personally before the Supreme Court. It's got to be one of the greatest David-v.-Goliath stories in the annals of Commonwealth law: with help from a few lawyers and private clinics, he took on and beat five attorneys general, ten senators, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the complete Choir Invisible of received opinion. This New York Times piece from a fortnight ago has a chuckle at the doc's expense, pointing out that he "flunk[ed] out of a Montreal law school a few years ago, after he incessantly challenged professors in the classroom and in exams with his novel legal interpretations." Who's laughing now, bitches?]

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

SK: FSIN owns native media?

Don't you dare criticize the millions being lost at the First Nations University of Canada, lest you lose your biggest advertiser...

SK: Health authority to STUDY emergency room waits

Saskatchewan's over-hyped "Health Quality Council" to look into wait times in emergency rooms, not because they are a vigorous and proactive health watchdog, but because emergency room wait times have been in the paper a lot lately.

The Health Quality Council is working with the Regina Qu’Appelle and Saskatoon health regions to look at ways of reducing wait times in tertiary hospital emergency departments.

“There is a lot of coverage in the media around emergency department wait times and so it (the review) is reflective of the attention that this issue gets, as well as the feedback from the health regions that say ‘yes, we need to look further into how we deliver care in the emergency departments’, and here is an opportunity to work with the Health Quality Council to do that,’’ said Bonnie Brossart, co-deputy CEO with the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.

High Taxes in Toronto Bad for Business

Property taxes are so high in Toronto that businesses are re-locating to other lower-tax regions in the GTA.

While Toronto City Council doesn't even contemplate competitive taxes, the loss of revenues that stem from loss of business will hopefully register on Mayor Miller's radar one of these days.

Although a more likely scenario is the usual and predictable play of asking another level of government for a handout. Yet another reason why Mayor Miller should not be given more powers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

AB: CTF calls on province to strike down restrictions on private health care

CTF taking the government to task.

Klein is keeping an open mind.

Where do your taxes go?

Here is a great refresher on where your tax dollars go, courtesy of the Regina Leader Post.

SK: Here we go again

The province's 0-1-1 wage mandate has been torn up, stepped on, and set on fire.

A wage increase the government granted to Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) members last week, after members had already signed a contract that followed the New Democratic Party's 0-1-1 guidelines, signals the government is no longer sticking to their mandate for public sector employees, Driol said.

"The SGEU re-negotiation and settlement proved that the government does have sufficient funds to treat the public-sector employees fairly, and the members of health sciences deserve a fair contract as well," he said.

The Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), which bargains with health-care workers on behalf of the province's health regions, confirmed the government is no longer asking them to stick to the 0-1-1 mandate.

"(The province) has informed us that we have some flexibility," SAHO spokesperson Tonya Duffy said Monday. "Last week we did call HSAS and let them know that we do have some flexibility now and that we do want to get back to the table and start talking again."

Gun Registry Still Firing Blanks

The federal gun registry continues to be a huge waste of money.

Half the guns aren't registered, and strangely enough, criminals are not filling out their paperwork before committing crimes.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sask: Have a problem? How about a subsidy?

To the current government of Saskatchewan, there is no problem that can't be fixed with a subsidy. The government's latest foray into the private sector is directed at building a meat processing industry. "[The]$37.3 million package of incentives and investment is designed to grow the entire industry from the ground up."

The sweetest part of the release is this:

"We want to provide an environment that encourages more investment in agriculture and specifically, in Saskatchewan's meat processing industry,"Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Wartman said. "Our livestock production levels exceeded the province's processing capacity even before the borders closed to live beef exports two years ago. We now have 29 per cent of Canada's herd and only six per cent of the nation's processing capacity. The situation is much the same in hogs, but on a different scale. We have more than doubled production in the past eight years, to 2.3 million hogs, but we continue to process at the same levels we always have.The new investment in agriculture will secure Saskatchewan's position as aworld-class producer and take us a to new level as a world-class processor," Wartman concluded.

OK, so the province finds it startling that we raise 29 per cent of the cows in Canada, and have only 6 per cent of the processing capacity. Maybe it's because we have a punishing tax on capital, the highest corporate income tax in Canada, a sales tax on all business inputs, and the most restrictive labour laws outside of Quebec.

Yeah, of course a one-time subsidy program will balance off all of the structural problems in the Saskatchewan economy. What could possibly go wrong?

Day-care Norwegian Style

Norwegian municipalities are required to provide day-care programs, before and after the regular school day, for children 6-9 years of age.

Unlike the proposed Canadian nationalized day-care program, Norwegian municipalities can decide for themselves how they wish to fund the day-care programs. Meaning, they can require parents to pay for 100% of the cost of the day-care or subsidize the programs with tax dollars.

The CTF opposes the Canadian nationalized day-care program, because it is subsidized by taxpayers, and advocates for greater parental choice.

Sask: Was anybody actually listening to wage mandate?

First, MLAs broke their own wage mandate by voting themselves a raise beyond the 0-1-1. Then they gave teachers 2-2-2. Then SGEU -- the province's largest public sector union and the only one that took a 0-1-1 wage settlement -- was given another raise in a renogiated contract. Then, we learn, that the 0-1-1 didn't apply to crown management employees. What was the point of all this? They only thing the government accomplished was a whole lot of public sector acrimony.

Native compensation

Doug Fisher is a columnist for the Ottawa Sun newspaper. In his latest column, Fisher discusses the issue of native compensation for native war vets and former residential school students.

Check out the CTFs Aboriginal Division's opinion on compenstion for former residential school students.

Tax Collectors not so good at Tax Collection

Revenue Canada has foregone billions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

It seems as though this large bureaucracy has some inefficiencies - who knew!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Big Mac Attack

The Economist first introduced its "Big Mac Index" in 1986. The idea is that a currency's price should reflect its purchasing power. According to the index, Canada's loonie is undervalued.

See how much "burger" Canada's loonie buys.

SK: Province gives 'crats a raise

A year or so back, the province announced a 0-1-1 wage mandate for all civil servants as an austerity measure. The first big union, Saskatchewan Government Employees Union came up for a new contract for zero, one and one. At first blush, this seemed like a great deal for taxpayers. For the last decade or so we've seen public sector wages rise much faster than inflation, and now it appeared the government was willing to hold the line for three years.

Of course, it was too good to be true. The government kept the deal with SGEU secret from the public. After some public pressure, they finally came clean with the fact that there was a "light at the end of the tunnel" clause, but never said exactly what that was.

Well, we're at the end of the tunnel now, and the "light" is being shed on SGEU in the form of a 3 per cent pay hike for all employees who are the top of the pay scale (85 per cent of employees qualify, which is a story for another day -- why are 85 per cent of civil servatns at the top of the payscale? Do they do any succession planning? Have they considered offering some retirement packages?)

The justification for the hikes is the fact that oil and gas revenues are very high for the province. So the province is giving civil servants a raise that will remain forever, with money that is only temporary.

Fear-Mongering, Sloganeering, and Politicians Stifling a Legitimate Debate

The myths of medicare are intellectually dishonest, misleading Canadians, and a slap in the face to the thousands of Canadians who suffer, and even die under the current laws.

Yesterday's ruling has blown this debate wide open, and the medicare apologists now have some questions to answer, and they won't be able to resort to the same old tired rhetoric that has propelled them to date.

Yesterday was a great day for taxpayers, and an even better day for the future of health care in Canada.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The magic of electronic media

Check the CTF in the news link and sort by date, and see how today's health story travelled around the continent.

Got my first health insurance quote!!

I just got off the phone from a representative from State Farm banks in Minot North Dakota. My plan was to pose as a North Dakota resident and obtain a quote on my fictitious family of four (there are actually only three of us). My goal was to get an idea for what health insurance might cost if Canada actually does get a private health industry and compare that to the taxes we pay here in Canada.

My fake family has two parents in their 30s and two children.

After talking for several minutes to the friendly state farm insurance agent, I spilled the beans and told him that this was all an elaborate ruse. He laughed and fully cooperated with my scheme.

Here is the deal on health insurance:

The standard package:
The agent told me that most american families who do not get health coverage through work (not common) get a standard insurance package with a $500 deductible. After the deductible, the patient is responsible for 20 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $2,500 per year.

Monthly premiums: $459, or $5,508

Option 2:
Another option is to get the exact same coverage, except a total family deductible of $3,200 per year. That means you would be responsible for costs up to $3,200 per year, but after that the insurance company takes over.

You might say that $3,200 risk is too great a hit to take in any year. There is a partial solution. President Bush has launched a tax credit for putting money into a Health Savings Account (HSA). So you could stash away money in an HSA, benefit from a tax reduction, and access that money during the year if required.

Monthly premium: $315, or $3,780

As it stands, health care currently costs every man woman and child $3,000 per year, or $12,000 per year for a family of four (44 per cent of every tax dollar collected).

Now all of this means nothing here in Canada, as it is illegal for anyone but the state to provide medically necessary services (I figure dental and eyecare aren't essential, because they are privately delivered). And for the purposes of the experiment I chose an American insurer, as opposed to a European one. Nobody is advocating the adoption of the American health system, it's too litigious and too expensive.

The point is to show the anti-American crowd that things aren't what they say they are. People need to understand that money left in the hands of the individual is always spent better than when it is absconded by the state and spent on their behalf.

CTF Federal Director, John Williamson's Scrum at the Supreme Court

Go here

Follow video-link and look for John Williamson from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reacts
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5:08

SK: Premier Calvert reaction

Be very, very afraid....DEVELOPING...

Update: From 980 CJME

Calvert Concerned About the Future of Medicare
Its disturbing news for Saskatchewan's premier.

Lorne Calvert says today's supreme court ruling could mean the beginning of the end for medicare.

Calvert doesn't like the thought of a two tiered health care system like they have in the United States.

The supreme court struck down a Quebec law banning private insurance for services covered under medicare.

Calvert's not sure yet how this will affect Saskatchewan.

The high court ruling means people in Quebec who can afford it can seek out private health care.

Calvert says the prime minister made it clear he supports the single payer health care system.

Mervin Brass reporting.

Conservatives missing the point

As I write, Peter Mackay is grilling the Prime Minister about "cuts" to medicare being the cause of today's decision. He says the PM has failed "publicly administered, publicly funded healthcare."

Either they don't get it, or they're lying to try to "out-left the left." Either way, this is pathetic.

Supreme Court Decision

Read it here.

Quebec reaction....

Considering use of notwithstanding clause...live on CBC

More CTF Commentary on Landmark Health Care Decision

It is official: It is unconstitutional to prevent people from obtaining the health care services they need. The days of an inefficient and ineffective government run system are numbered.

Read more here.

PM on THE DECISION

Paul Martin: "We're not going to have a two-tiered health care system in Canada -- nobody wants that."

Romanow: "This is not an opening of the floodgates for the destruction of health care in Canada."

(both sticking fingers in their ears shouting "I can't hear you, I can't hear you, I can't hear you")

Update: Canadian Medical Association: Governments can no longer ignore mounting evidence saying we need health reform.

(Paul Martin still has fingers in ears)

Update: CBC Newsworld sound like they are announcing the death of Pierre Trudeau.

(Paul Martin still has fingers in ears)

One Small Step for Patients – A Giant Leap for Health Care Reform

OTTAWA: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today responded favourably to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that legal restrictions on private health care services and insurance violate the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutional challenge brought by Dr. Jacques Chaoulli to laws forbidding Quebec residents from purchasing a full range of private medical services and private medical insurance.

“This decision confirms that there is something fundamentally wrong with Canada’s status quo on health care,” stated CTF federal director John Williamson. “Although today’s ruling directly applies only to Quebec, it will have ramifications for the rest of the country. It takes a stand against a state health care monopoly that denies patients adequate and timely care.”

In its judgment, the Supreme Court wrote: “It cannot be concluded from the evidence concerning the Quebec plan or the plans of the other provinces of Canada, or from the evolution of the systems of various OECD countries that an absolute prohibition on private insurance is necessary to protect the integrity of the public plan.” (page 5) “While the government has the power to decide what measures to adopt, it cannot choose to do nothing in the face of a violation of Quebeckers’ right to security.” (p. 5) “The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care.” (p. 6) “It does not appear that private participation leads to the eventual demise of public health care.” (p. 7)

“The court has recognized that a system which forces patients to suffer and die on waiting lists does, indeed, violate a person’s right,” continued Williamson. “This decision is a message to our politicians, both federal and provincial, that the status quo needs to change. Ordinary Quebeckers have now acquired the right to spend their own money on the health care services of their choice. That right should be extended to all Canadians from coast to coast.”

“Even before this decision was issued, nothing prevented Parliament from amending the Canada Health Act to allow more choice, quality, competition and accountability. But today’s decision will help Canada follow the example of other countries, such as France, Sweden, and Germany, which have better health care because they allow a parallel private system to co-exist alongside the public system,” concluded Williamson.

Williamson on the BIG DECISION

''This is the end of medicare as we know it,'' said John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. ''This is a breach in government monopoly health care in this country.

Live from the birthplace of "medicare" (and mediSCARE)

All is quiet here in Saskatchewan. We're waiting to hear official responses from the province and the official opposition. This is going to be really interesting.

Health Care Monopoly is Unconstitutional!

Finally, common sense has emerged to counter fear-mongering, sloganeering, and tired talking points, with respect to the health care debate in Canada.

Today's Supreme Court decision is welcome news for taxpayers, and will greatly improve accessibility to basic health care services.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New on taxpayer.com: Punt corp. welfare

If there was ever any doubt that corporate welfare is a bad idea, this week’s headlines confirmed it. “GM likely to slash work force in Canada,” cried Wednesday’s Globe and Mail. That would be the same GM that just two months ago wheedled $435 million dollars in corporate welfare out of the federal and Ontario governments.

Read more...

SK: What are these brochures all about?

As we speak every single Saskatchewan household is receiving a full-colour brochure with the smiling face of Crown Investments Corporations (AKA the mother crown) Minister and Deputy Premier Pat Atkinson.

The stated purpose of the brochure is to tell us what a great job the government is doing in managing our "portfolio" of taxpayer-owned businesses. The pamphlet also tells us that our utility package came in one dollar cheaper than Manitoba's, giving us the cheapest utility prices in Canada (a 2003 NDP campaign promise). Of course, they achieved this by rebating back on our phone and power bills. The cost of that service probably eliminated the savings realized. And there's the costs of printing and mailing hundreds of thousands brochures.

Of course, they couldn't resist putting in a plug for government ownership of pretty well everything...

"Public ownership of our Crown corporations allows for the expenditures
that are important to Saskatchewan citizens while providing safe, reliable, high
quality services at the lowest rate in the country."

Do the "important expenditures" Atkinson refers to include the useless brochure I am currently reading?

(For our readers across Canada, you should know that Saskatchewan taxpayers own the only bus company in the province. We actually have a minister of buses.)

Countless thousands of taxpayer dollars for arguably partisan advertising becomes tomorrow's bird cage liners.

Update: I'm told that last year's brochure cost $75,000

PEI business asked to pay PST before opening

Via Small Dead Animals, the PEI government wants businesses to pay up front BEFORE they earn a dime, saying taxpayers lose $2 million a year when businesses go bankrupt. Government has to get their pound of flesh before those other creditors of course.

Winnipeg politicians big travellers

Batra on international travel: "How about an international conference on making Winnipeg's roads driveable"

Ordinary Shareholders Fly Second-Class at Bombardier

The rank and file shareholders at Bombardier are upset at the company's inequitable voting structure.

As Canada's premiere corporate welfare bum, Bombardier has grown dependent on government handouts, yet still won't let ordinary shareholders have a say in the company's destiny.

Check out the CTF's corporate welfare primer for further information.

Health Care Reform on the Way?

Canada's monopolistic health-care system, that denies access to the most basic of services may be judged as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

SK: Auditor raises another flag

In his latest report released today, the Provincial Auditor raised a new flag around how the First Nations Trust spends our money. As part of a 2002 agreement, the government pays money to a First Nations Trust, as well four Community Development Corporations (CDCs) – Painted Hand, Bear Claw, Gold Eagle, and Northern Lights. This money is intended to be spent on community development initiatives in First Nation communities.

Last year the government provided the Trust and the CDCs with $38 million. It appears that the Trust and the CDCs are not providing the documentation to the province that is required under the law. The Auditor puts it succinctly in his report: “Because of the deficiencies noted, the Department does not know if the Trust and all the CDCs spent public money as the law intended.”

Alright folks, consider this your first warning. Here is the Provincial Auditor’s official recommendation for all to see:

“We recommend that the Department of First Nations and Métis Relations follow all of its processes to ensure the First Nations Trust properly protects public money and spends it as required by law.”

Read more....

SK Auditor: Poor controls led to misuse of public money

The Auditor is slamming the Saskatchewan government for not having proper business controls in place to prevent fraud. The Department of Community Resources and Employment was defrauded of a $1 million, and Environment lost $500,000.

What was happening is that in some cases, a single bureaucrat was able to approve and expenditure, sign a cheque, and then cash it.

This is first year business training folks, get with the program. Most frustrating is the Auditor continually reminding government to improve business practices, and they refuse to follow through.

MacLean's Poll

Check it out here

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dryden's quixotic pursuit of state-run child care

From the Regina Leader Post:

A national early learning and child- care system must become rooted in Canadian society in order to make it irreversible in the future, says the federal minister of social development.

"We must have it so strong, so entrenched, so understood that nobody dares touch it," Ken Dryden told more than 600 members of the child-care field. Dryden was in Regina Saturday to address a national early learning and child-care conference being held in the city.

Roughly 70 per cent of children under the age of six have both parents working, said Dryden, noting the importance an early-learning and child- care program would have on the majority of Canadian children. "It is the way in which we live, it is the way in which our kids live," he explained.

Yes, I'll take a one-way ticket, please

$2,300 for a ticket to 'Club Medicare'
B.C. clinic offers boutique-style service Health-care chain plans Toronto outlet.
More:
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1118009416270&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154&t=TS_Home&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes

Attention Paul Martin: Rampant Spending is Bad for Business

Canada's business leaders are less than thrilled with Paul Martin's recent spending spree, in particular the NDP budget ammendment.

While Paul Martin was once regarded as a fiscally responsible politician, his actions since becoming PM have thrown that reputation to the wind...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Arrogant political parties the real threat to our democracy

A political party that has been in power too long is the root cause of scandal, arrogance, and corruption.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nurses: Raise taxes to save "medicare"

I've never seen a tax increase solve a single problem, even it's "only" $50 a year.

Here comes the big push for "universal child care"

Big unions are planning a rally to have institutional daycare foisted up on all of. Oh yes...it's not about union dues and public sector wages, it's for the good of the children.

"Demand care, respect and equality for our children," the SGEU says. "Join us in achieving a child care system that ensures high quality, universal care for children (up to age 12); is publicly funded and regulated to meet quality standards; provides training and resources to child care providers, and addresses the child care wage crisis by increasing wages and benefits of child care providers."

Winnipeg Free Press -- The OPPOSITION leader should resign

Biggest scandal in Manitoba's history...and who should resign? The leader of the opposition, of course. Go figure.


Editorial - Mr. Murray should go
Fri Jun 3 2005

THE writing is on the wall in letters too big to ignore -- Stuart Murray should seek a dignified way to step down as Conservative leader so that the party has time before the next election to find a more astute, more credible and more adroit leader than he is proving to be.
Mr. Murray remains today what he was five years ago when he became leader by default -- a bright, personable man with skills that served him well in his previous pursuits in business and promotion.

But politically his arc has been all downhill, and now, when he should be in the catbird's seat over revelations that the Doer government failed to protect the financial interests of 34,000 investors in the Crocus Fund, he is on the defensive, his credibility shattered.

In recent days, Mr. Murray has admitted that three years ago his finance critic had information that could have led to the exposure of questionable management practices at Crocus, including strong suspicions that its evaluations of assets were questionable, which is exactly what Manitoba's auditor general reported this week. But instead of pursuing the leads, he succumbed to partisan pressure and abdicated his duty as opposition leader by calling off further inquiries, declaring his satisfaction with Crocus on the strength of pleadings from Crocus officials including a former key adviser of the previous Conservative administration. He went so far as to humiliate his finance critic by demoting him rather than promoting his efforts to dig deeper.

Mr. Murray now seeks to hold the government's feet to the fire for failing to act on "red flags" raised over Crocus beginning in 2001. He is correct to condemn the government for failing to act on the red flags. But his charges that the government was too cosy with the labour leaders who directed Crocus appear hollow in the context of his admission that as leader of the "business" party he was too easily influenced or perhaps intimidated by business pleadings and threats. At this point, when the government should be quaking at the prospect of facing investor wrath, Premier Gary Doer instead makes headlines by referring Mr. Murray's actions to authorities for investigation.

Mr. Murray has lurched from one error in political judgment to the next, including his secret decision to hire disgraced party functionary Taras Sokolyk as an adviser and his fumbling of the school tax issue in the last election, in which his party's support and his personal support both slipped. Events have served up a series of scandalous lapses by the Doer government -- Hydra House, Seven Oaks School Division property development, adult education, Waverley West -- and yet Mr. Murray has made little of them.

Manitoba needs a premier in waiting if it is to have a government in waiting. Mr. Murray has had his chance -- his chances, in fact -- and has fumbled them. It is time for Mr. Murray to consider a dignified way to pass the torch to a new leader.

Today's health care horror story

45 per cent of Saskatchewan tax dollars are dedicated to health care, and we still can't get the results we want.

Health apologists say "we don't want credit card medicine."

I say, where do I sign up?

Taxpayers' worst enemy set to strike again?

Dalton McGuinty reinstated the health premium abolished in the late 1980's, and there is talk that he may also re-introduce the hated and ineffective tire tax.

Remember in October, 2003 when Dalton McGuinty said, "I won't lower your taxes, but I won't raise them either?"

If you can't trust a politician vying for power, who can you trust?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Beleaguered university taking on water

The First Nations University of Canada embodies millions of taxpayer dollars...and now it's in serious trouble.

New on taxpayer.com

CAPC director Tanis fiss on residential schools:

Were Indian residential schools perfect? Of course not. But what was the alternative? Should the federal government not have provided an education for aboriginal children?

If crimes were committed in the schools – and some were – the victims of the crimes have the same right as any other citizen to seek redress through the courts. Compensation should be paid for legitimate claims – not out of guilt.

Health Care in Canada not even accessible from a hospital parking lot!

This story is outrageous, and adds further proof that a monopolistic system cannot meet the health care needs of Canadians.

It is high time to transform health care in Canada from a basic right to a deliverable service...

SK: Surreal responses to oil windfall

Saskatchewan's opposition Saskatchewan Party criticizing the government for "low-balling" oil and gas revenues and not cutting taxes and increasing social spending.

And Sask. Party finance critic Ken Cheveldayoff urged Finance Minister Harry Van Mulligen to spend that money eliminating income tax for low-income earners or commit to funding the province's share of the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program for farmers.

First off, the spending. They're calling on the government to increase spending because of the one-time oil revenue. A pretty dangerous path to go down.

Second, the province has a spending problem like Kirsty Alley has an eating problem. In the most recent provincincial budget, spending was forecast to increase by 6.8 per cent while revenues will increase by only 6.3 per cent. The disporportionately high spending increases have been happening since Roy Romanow left office, and Lorne Calvert was elected leader.

In the last few years, through the worst drought in 100 years, grasshoppers and BSE, the province has steadily increased spending. While the province cries poor when it comes to tax cuts, the reality is quite different. Revenues are at or near historic highs.

Of course, the Saskatchewan Party is perfectly justifed in calling for tax relief, and raising the Basic Personal Exemption is something we've been advocating for a long time. The problem is that the Saskatchewan Party's stated policy is to divide surplus revenues in three, and distribute funds equally to tax relief, spending increases, and debt. A noble pursuit, no doubt, but it completely ignores the province's spending problem (which is akin to that of the Grant Devine era, in case you're keeping track).

As the old saying goes, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't increase spending and cut taxes at the same time.

And as for using one-time oil and gas revenues to fund ongoing social programs, we need to seriously re-think this (is Alberta listening?). As the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies' Brian Lee Crowley effectively argues, there are only two ethical uses of oil and gas revenues -- debt reduction or long-term savings.

Oil and gas are finite resources that are the birth right of all Saskatchewan residents. Once we extract the oil, it can never be put back in. We take the oil out of the ground, and we exchange it on the open market for cash. To use that money to fund programs that benefit the current generation while steadily increasing the debt for future generations is an historic injustice.

Chiming in on the issue is Karwacki the Cypher, the leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party that has no seats, and is on the verge of being de-listed as a registered political party:

Liberal Leader David Karwacki said "it's not a bad thing to be conservative in our (revenue) estimates" but agreed with the Sask. Party that the NDP government needs to produce a plan for spending the additional revenue.

However, Karwacki argued one-time money shouldn't go to annual program expenses like CAIS or income tax decreases. Instead, the oil windfall should go to specific one-time projects like a Health Sciences Centre at the University of Saskatchewan or value-added industries for agriculture.

Huh? In Karwacki's world, one-time expenditures include university expansion and agriculture subsidies. We think he has been sniffing too much bio-diesel.

There is only one way to get what everyone wants. We need to cut and prioritize spending, eliminate the debt, and cut taxes.

Attention Wedding Planners: Book The Mounties Today!

The RCMP is under fire for sending officers to Justin Trudeau's wedding

Complete with commentary from your CTF!

Calgary Mayor racks up air miles

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier's taxpayer-paid travel bill exceeds the travel tabs of four other big city mayors combined.

But it isn't just the mayor. It appears the entire council are globetrotters.

Sleazy politics the norm?

According to Greg Weston, the sleazy politics on display in Ottawa on an almost daily basis should not shock anyone - it's just business and politics as usual....

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

SK: You heard it here first

How long will it be before Saskatchewan taxpayers are the proud owners of a money-losing pork operation? Not long. My taxpayer senses are tingling...

The province already has a stake in the operation of $1 million. The Moose jaw seats are important ones for the government. The ingredients are there for a bailout.

I hope we're wrong.

Americans celebrate tax freedom day in April

In Canada, the average taxpayer works until June 28th for some level of government. The Fraser Institute's Tax Freedom Day -- the day workers pay off all their taxes -- provides an excellent measure of what is happening with our total tax load.

In 1981, Canada's Tax Freedom Day fell on May 30th. In 2004 we worked for the government until June 28th.

American's celebrate on April 17th.

New on taxpayer.com

Fiss on "new deals" for aboriginals.

The agreements signed with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, Native Women's Association of Canada and Congress of Aboriginal Peoples promise the government will no longer develop aboriginal policies without aboriginal input.

“The agreements set out no timelines or cash. All they do is drag out talks on how to change a broken system rather than actually fixing the system,” said the Centre’s director Tanis Fiss.

A Threat to our Democracy

The "Grewal Tapes" add further proof to just how sick our democracy is.

The CTF is just what the Doctor ordered for Canada: a badly needed second opinion, and new presriptions!

Crocus saga continues . . .need for a public inquiry is now!

With allegations of shakedowns, and threats, not to mention the close ties the NDP government has with labour unions, there is no better time than now for a public inquiry into the Crocus scandal. Kathleen Martens from the Winnipeg Sun has also reported that Crocus' former Chief Investment Officer had been disciplined twice in the past for breaching the rules of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box