Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ottawa may have over spent on fishing licences

As part of the federal government's Aboriginal Fishing Strategy, the feds began a voluntary buy back program in 2000. The program was intended to buy back fishing licences from fishermen and transfer these licences into communal fishing licences for native bands.

As is becoming all too common, the federal government did not implement appropriate accountability measures and may have been over charged for the fishing licences.

To avoid this type of problem again, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation suggests cancelling the Aboriginal Fishing Strategy. Read more about the CTFs recommendations on our website.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fraser Institute health care report

Today the Fraser Institute released a report on Canada's health care system.

According the the Institute's report, Canada is third in the world for spending on health care yet ranks low for accessiblity to health care.

QB: Province considers tax increase for health care

A recent report on health care in Quebec suggests the province increase its sales tax by one percent. From 7.5% to 8.%.

This year, the Quebec Health Department received 43% of the provincial budget with expenses totalling $20.9 billion. Reports indicate that within 20 years the healt care budget will eat up 70% of the budget.

Just like any other jurisdiction, Quebec thinks through more money at the problem is the solution.

SK: Top civil servants receive raise

No sooner is Saskatchewan a "have" province - thanks to increased oil and gas revenues - and the top civil servants are "having" a grand old time. Saskatchewan's top civil servants will recieve approximately 19% wage increases over the next 4 years.

Hey Premier Calvert, with all that new revenue, how about some tax breaks?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SK: Information commissioner slams SaskEnergy

Information Commissioner Gary Dickson has ruled that a fee imposed by SaskEnergy to fulfill an information request from a taxpayer was unreasonable.

This is great news for taxpayers. The truth of the matter is that Crown corporations have used fees to dissuade people from accessing information four countless years. The ruling is a victory for transparency.

The sad part is the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is woefully underfunded. Ours is a two-person shop performing an increasingly important function.

MB: Winnipeg to vote on private trash collection

The City of Winnipeg will vote on whether to completely privatize garbage collection within the city. Currently, 60% of the city's garbage collection is done privately. If the council votes in favour of the motion, the city will save an estimated $2 million per year.

Let's hope they reduce taxes accordingly.

Calgary may become transparent

When city council resumes this fall, Craig Burrows, a City of Calgary Alderman, plans to propose posting council members expenses on the internet.

The CTF applauds this initiative as greater transparency leads to greater accountablity.

AB: Tories consider private medical coverage

The Alberta government is considering the idea of allowing patients to purchase private medical coverage that would pay for non-emergency health care. What actually is non-emergency health care is to be determined.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Alberta needs a loan?

Alberta's Transportation Minister Lyle Oberg wants to debt finance (borrow money) new highways, schools and health facilities and repair existing infrastructure to the tune of $7.2 billion.

Keep in mind Alberta is "debt-free", posted a $5 billion surplus and spends money like a drunken sailor.

Montana Madcow judge slammed

Trade issues are not under the mandate of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. So you maybe wondering why we have decided to post this blog.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation understands that many of our supporters were negatively impacted by the boarder closure. Therefore, we thought many our supporters would like to read the follwing post.

2010 Olympic grants

If you thought the 2010 Olympic estimated cost overruns for construction were bad; get a load of some of the grant requests.

Part of the funding for the 2010 Olympic games is ear-marked for organizations wishing to "host" viewing sites for individuals to watch the olympic games.

Point Ellice House - a historical home and tourist desitnation in Victoria BC - which is under the auspices of the Capital Mental Health Association has applied for $100,000 olympic grant. The folks at Point Ellice House are hoping to build a $200,000 facility with the money.

Gee, the grant wouldn't have anything to do with recent operational difficulties would it?

Here's an idea. Why not privatize the tourist desitnation and charge the going rate?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Canada's New Wait-list Czar

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's (WRHA) Dr. Brian Postl has been appointed Canada's new wait-list czar. Earning a respectable $352,000 plus at the WRHA, Dr. Postl has implemented a unique way to "reduce" hospital wait times in Winnipeg, the only problem is, he's forgetting to count the patients!

Sask: SFL delivers bitter rant to business tax committee

Got a hold of a copy of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour submisson to the Business Tax Review Committee.

True to form, Larry Hubich spends most of his time in the report taking shots at the business community and their advocates rather than communicating their own message (which was: "Everything is great in Saskatchewan, couldn't be better!)

Here are a few good excerpts from their written submission:

"The tax system should not be propping up operations that may well be bound for bankruptcy. And the tax system should not provide any more encouragement than is already there for company owners to “cook the books” in order to hide earnings and profitability."

(Instead, the SFL and the Canadian Labour Congress would argue in favour of propping corporations up through direct taxpayer the Ontario auto industry)

"We understand the urge that corporate executives experience, to have as much corporate profit as possible transferred to some tax free or low tax zone. But unlike some shills and apologists for oil companies we don’t believe they should be allowed to get away with it."

(notice how everyone else, in the SFL's worldview, is a "shill" if they don't buy their line? I wonder if any of these dodgy corporations are in the SFL pension plan portfolio)

"We shouldn’t even be thinking of in any way putting that in jeopardy, simply because of the high-pitched rhetoric of some business lobby groups, whose members have in many cases never had it so good."

(Why do they spend so much time hammering other advocacy groups? Sour grapes? The goal is to pursuade the government, not take shots at everyone else)

"For almost a quarter century now – through the Devine, Romanow and Calvert administrations – there has been a preoccupation by our elected politicians with pandering to the constant calls by business lobby groups to rid employers of the nuisance of having to pay taxes."

(Oh those lazy, irresponsible corporate elites!)

"The business climate in Saskatchewan is so good you would think the Chamber of Commerce would be leading its members in Wal-Mart style cheers on a daily basis."

(Lousy use of humour in an important submission to an important committee -- classy)

And this is my favourite:

"Would zero tax rates be acceptable to the likes of the CFIB? Would the Chambers of Commerce be satisfied if wage earners paid for all the public services in society? Or would they at that point demand further subsidies and tax expenditures simply for opening their doors each day?"

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sask: Where to for FNUC news

Normally I would never plug this paper. Editorially, they are a bunch of tax-loving keynesian, bicycle-riding entitlementarians, but if you really want to keep up on what is happening with the FNUC crisis, the Prairie Dog is the place to go.

Province ready to act on Public Trustee file

As a follow-up to a previous post (June 29, 2005)with regards to the Office of the Public Trustee in Manitoba literally taking over people's lives, the province, after weeks of stories by the Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck, has finally decided to act. Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh and Health Minister Tim Sale have struck a working group to review all legislation with respect to the public trustee.

Is this too little too late?

Quebec Cancer Quota Suspended

A Montreal hospital's controversial "cancer quota" has been suspended by the Quebec Superior Court. The cancer quota required doctors to only treat the same number of cancer patients per day.

Only under the Canadian health-care system....

Sask has highest crime rate in Canada

Not only does Saskatchewan have the highest crime rate in Canada, but we have twice as much crime as other provinces.

I will only say this: When you drill deep down in to this problem, you'll find it's all about economic freedom.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

We have ratification!

NHL players have agreed to a draconian salary cap. Now all we need is for governments to agree to cap spending.

Tennessee city abolishes property taxes

Now THIS is the way to go...

"We're not naive here in the city," said Mayor Danny Leverette. "We realize somewhere down the road that might have to be addressed. But why not, during these bountiful times, can you not give it back?"

Spring Hill approved a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights two years ago. City leaders say eliminating the property tax falls in line with that. Property owners need to keep in mind this wouldn't effect the county property taxes they pay.

Here we go again - native logging rights

One day after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Mi'kmaq Indians in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick did not have a treaty right or an aboriginal right to harvest Crown timber for commercial use; the SCC announced they will hear two appeals involving Mi'kmaq Indians who harvested Crown timber for personal use.

The saga continues....

Supreme Court of Canada rules against native logging rights

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in two controversial native logging disputes in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The two cases involved native men charged with illegally taking and selling timber taken from Crown land. The men argued the taking and selling of the Crown timber was a treaty right and an aboriginal right.

The SCC ruled the pre-confederation treaties only granted the Mi'kmaq the right to continue to trade in items traditionally traded at the time the treaties were signed. Furthermore, the court ruled there was no evidence to suggest the Mi'kmaq were logging 250 years ago when they signed the pre-confederation treaties in 1760 and 1761.

Here's what the CTF had to say about yesterday's ruling.

MB: Taxpayers fund protesters

It's summer on the prairies. That means mosquitoes the size of jet liners. To combat these annoying creatures, the City of Winnipeg has begun their controversial "fogging" program, which has met with some protests.

The protests are largely conducted by Concerned Citizens of Winnipeg (CROW). Earlier this year, CROW received a $1,300 provincial grant.

What do you think of protesters receiving government grants?

Gov't Officials Don't Believe in Kyoto Plan

While the public have been left in the dark as to how the government will implement the Kyoto Protocol, it seems as though those in the loop have their doubts as well.

Demand the government reveal their plan. First it was going to cost taxpayers $5-billion. Seven weeks later, the costs were $10-billion.

Your CTF has been costing Kyoto and demanding a plan for years. Read more here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Say it aint so!

Newsflash: The CBC may go on strike. I'm going to miss all that great summer programming.

(Via Shotgun)

CTF out and about

CTF Ontario Director Tasha Kheiridin will be speaking at this year's Liberty Seminar in Ontario. Check it out.

Emerson admits corporate welfare program a loss for taxpayers

As usual, the CTF is on on the scene:

Mr. Williamson and many other critics say TPC is simply "corporate welfare," and that too much of its money is spent on large companies. Longueuil, Que.-based Pratt & Whitney Canada Inc., for example, has so far received at least $484-million for seven projects.

Recent examples of TPC investments include $1.4-million to help GasTOPS Ltd. of Ottawa develop sensor technology for detecting metallic debris in lubricating oil systems, $3.4-million to help Toronto-based Integran Technologies Inc. research new nano-technology-based coatings for the aerospace industry, and $1.95-million for Luxell Technologies Inc. of Mississauga to develop flat-panel display technology for the aerospace and defence industry.

Sask: Small town hotels dying

The executive director of the Saskatchewan Hotels Association is reporting that 23 hotels have closed in the last couple years. For so many small towns this is really bad news. In modern-day rural Saskatchewan, hotels are often the grocery store, post office, and primary social gathering place.

They are also reporting that their market share of beer sales has dropped by some 20 per cent. The reasons for the decline of the rural hotel are many, but some of the big ones are policy related. The province-wide smoking ban has really had an impact on hotels, especially in areas near the reserves that allow smoking (not all do). Of course there are also significant challenges resulting from declining population, and there isn't a lot we can do about that.

But what we can do is give them a hand up by allowing them to grow and diversify their business. Privatizing liquor stores would do exactly that. When Alberta privatized theirs, some 40 communities came to have liquor stores that had no service under the public system. Across the board the number of liquor retailers quadrupled.

Short of privatizations, as both of our political parties are too squeemish to do it, they should at least give private beer stores a discount so they can compete on price with government stores.

Sask: Government legal fees soaring

CBC reports:

In the 2004-05 fiscal year that ended March 31, the province paid just over $5.6 million for outside lawyers – a 29 per cent increase from the previous year, when the bill was $4.3 million.

Victory for equality in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

A snippet of today's release...

CALGARY: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change responded today to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in two controversial native logging disputes in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

“The CTF believes all Canadians should be equal before and under the law, therefore, we applaud the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling,” said the Centre’s director Tanis Fiss.

In two unanimous decisions, the court found the pre-confederation treaties only granted the Mi’kmaq the right to continue to trade in items traditionally traded at the time the treaties were signed. Furthermore, the court ruled there was no evidence to suggest the Mi’kmaq were logging 250 years ago when they signed the pre-confederation treaties in 1760 and 1761.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Regina: The end of an era

Longtime city manager Bob Linner is retiring. Hopefully, he will bring along with him the City of Regina's administrative paralysis.

Linner is responsible for one of the most bizarre budget processes imaginable. Each year Linner would bring to council a proposal to raise taxes astronomically. Council would tell him to go take a walk, and come back with a more reasonable proposal. Linner's response would typically be to threaten to close swimming pools and fire people. Council would tell him to take another walk, and begin cutting his proposed budget by eliminating some of the proposed new positions the bureaucrats were creating.

Mayor Fiacco put and end to that process.

The City of Regina has never explored public/private partnerships. They have never looked at cutting costs in any serious way, with the exception of proposed library closures (our library system is considerably over-built) which they later backed away from. Linner is at least partially responsible for this.

Linner's exit could be very good for Regina taxpayers.

Expert Panel Says Ontario should get out of Booze Business

Ontario's Beverage Alcohol System Review unanimously concluded that Ontario should end its liquor cartel.

Greg Sorbara has plugged his ears and buried his head in the sand.

Beholden to special interests, the McGuinty Government will do nothing with this report, and that is the real shame.

Yet another reason to join the CTF!

SK: Opposition digs up more lax spending controls

After being rocked by several corruption scandals the government still hasn't learned its lesson, says the Saskatchewan Party.

"Today I'm bringing forward the case of a man who left the employ of the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority in January of 2004, and still had signing authority for an SLGA bank account in March of 2005," Morgan said.

"That's 14 months when taxpayers' dollars were left at risk."

Fortunately the individual was honest, and didn't grab the cash. Instead, he did the right thing and apparently blew the whistle.

What's with the Consumers Association?

It seems that the Consumers Association of Canada, and its various provincial branches, spend most of their time trying to prove state monopolies are better for consumers than the private sector.

In British Columbia, they defended state-run liquor stores as being best for consumers.

Doesn't it seem strange that a consumer group would advocate against choice and free markets? How come they are so silent on no-fault insurance that is such a rip-off for accident victims?

Why not tell us what the safest cars are, or how to get a good deal on a trip to Vegas?

PEI subsidy controversy ongoing

If this wasn't so sad for taxpayers, it'd be funny. The Premier of PEI is saying that he chose to subsidize Westjet over Air Canada because of the relative comfort of the seats. Talk about picking winners and losers.

Mr. Binns defended his government's subsidies for rival WestJet Airlines Ltd., saying the discount carrier's 166-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft carries passengers in greater comfort than Air Canada's 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200s.
The best the Liberal opposition could come up with on this file was that the Premier "offended" Air Canada.
Opposition Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz said the Premier and his Progressive onservative government must take the blame for offending Air Canada by taking sides with WestJet.

"PEI is losing year-round service from Toronto because Pat Binns made the decision to subsidize WestJet, which is in direct competition with Air Canada," Mr. Ghiz said. "Unfortunately, the Premier made a mistake and this will hurt the PEI economy in the long term."

Monday, July 18, 2005

There is a fight brewing

According the CPC, the government has listed CO2 as a "toxic substance" by Order in Council, clearing the way for a carbon tax.

Bob Mills says in a release:

“It is clear to anyone watching this government’s ridiculous and expensive Kyoto fiasco that a viable implementation plan never existed. The Liberal government has committed tens of billions of dollars with no guarantee that Kyoto targets will be met. And now they are imposing a hefty carbon tax on large industries that will have a trickle down effect on consumers. The faster we can put this phony government out of its misery the better off Canadians and the environment will be,” finished Mills.

Sask: This must be said one more time

All political oppositions do it, regardless of stripe. When times are good for government revenues (not necessarily for taxpayers) oppositions decry "government low-balling" of revenues , arguing that government of the day does this to deny certain demands during the year -- whether they be for increased spending or tax reductions.

Low-balling, if indeed it happens, is a good thing. It's good financial management. It defends the budget process from sudden downturns. It's not rocket science.

Nonetheless, oppositions try to turn surpluses into bad things by impugning the motives of the government of the day. In Alberta, the Liberals have been doing this for years, accusing the province of "starving" social programs (which is laughable, as Alberta has the richest social programs outside of Quebec).

The opposite of low-balling is a really bad thing. Like when the province projected a laughable 6.8 per cent GDP growth in budget 2003. That growth never happened, and it was foolish to project it. That year Saskatchewan ran up a $654 million deficit. But hey, it was an election year, and people wouldn't know the impact until after the election. They also forecast a balanced budget that year.

Given the choice between the two, we would take "unanticipated surpluses" over the lies of Budget 2003.

Corporate welfare cat fight

Air Canada, a veteran of corporate welfare is really mad at Westjet, a relative newcomer to corporate welfare, for being a corporate welfare bum. Oh yeah, they are really mad at the Taxpayers of PEI for not giving them more welfare.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Union Dues Go to Huge Stash of Booze?!?!

Workers of the world - bottoms up!

Whether your poison is beer, wine, or the hard stuff, the Langley chapter of the United Steelworkers (Local 1-3567) has what you need:

2,548 bottles of beer on the wall=106 24's.

124 litres of hard liquor, "including pricey bottles of 12-year old Chivas Regal scotch."

200 bottles of wine, and "an electic selection of coolers."

Not bad eh?

Join a group that fights for the common interest

Friday, July 15, 2005

On the lighter side...

This has probably been linked to or borrowed (read: stolen) a thousand times in the blogosphere (darn I hate that word) but I don't care. It's been a tough week, and we need to laugh it off...

From Rick Mercer (thanks Rick):

Letter from Paul Martin to reluctant liberal supporters...

Our records indicate that you were once an active supporter of the Liberal Party but no longer send cheques or answer the phone when we call. Your request for a lawn sign in the event of the coming election seems to have been lost in the mail.

As you are no doubt aware a Cabinet Minister was in your area recently and dropped by your residence to speak with you directly about this situation. Unfortunately you were otherwise engaged at the time, choosing instead to lie on the floor with your family with the lights off.

I understand the importance of family time and suggest you call us and tell us when an appropriate time for such a visit would be.

Many of you have voiced concern about corruption inside the liberal party, and have specifically mentioned being turned off at the notion of so called “envelopes of cash” being passed around sleazy MontrĂ©al Diners.

As your leader, I understand that if mysterious envelopes of cash are being passed around, you the rank and file, the former supporters, the backbone of the party, would feel angry and left out at not receiving one.

That said let me tell you about our new donor program that will soon replace the Laurier Club of Canada; The Laurier Party of Canada Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!From now on when you donate $1000.00 to the Liberal Party you too will receive a fat envelope which may or may not contain one or more of the following.

Membership in the Laurier Club of Canada.
Valuable Marks Works Warehouse coupons.
Ten Thousand unmarked dollars in twenties and fifties.

This time everyone gets an envelope! I hope that you will consider this carefully. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,Paul Martin, LeaderLiberal Party of Canada
P.S. Please pick up your phone.

Gas tax rage coming to a boil

Toronto Sun has started a gas tax petition. Sign ours here...

Sask: Province spending $93 million for firefighting aircraft

Saskatchewan Party says they could have done better by entering into a contract with a private supplier.

"Instead of spending $93 million more on upgrading aircraft, runways and mechanics, this government cold have looked to SEAT (Single Engine Air Tanker) programs now operating in Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario," says Yogi Huyghebaert, the Saskatchewan Party MLA for Wood River."
The saskies have an excellent point here.

What was most appalling about this huge expenditure is that the provincial government refused to open it to a public tender. They had a consultant write a report saying that it would be cheaper to do it in-house, but refused to make the report public. I recall one nothern politician commenting on television "it's better to do it this way, because private business are interested in profit."

CTF gets props from CUPE

This is CUPE's submission to the Saskatchewan Business Tax Review Committee, which includes this gem:

At the behest of the business community and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the provincial government also introduced deep cuts to personal income taxes starting in the 2000 budget. Personal income taxes were de-linked from the federal system, which resulted in a flatter system of three tax brackets with little difference between the lowest rate of 11% and the highest rate of 15%. This personal income tax "reform" was accompanied by an expansion of the personal sales tax (PST). High income earners benefitted disproportionately from this tax cut. According to the Department of Finance's tax calculator, a single person with no children making $30,000 would save a modest $240 in provincial income taxes a year when fully implemented. But a childless single person making $150,000 would end up saving a whopping $6,863 in provincial income tax annually.

It's great to get some credit once in a while, and CUPE does make a valid point. Low-income earners in Saskatchewan pay one of the highest tax rates in the country. We need to increase the Basic Personal Exemption (the amount you can earn without paying taxes on it) to $15,000 for starters. Did you know that the the 1917 Basic Personal Exemption would be worth more than $19,000 in today's dollars (courtesy of Tax me, I'm Canadian)? The Canadian BPE currently stands at $8,148.

Then, in the CUPE submission there was this:

The revenue forfeited as a result of the above tax cuts has been significant. The personal income tax cuts have cost the provincial treasury $260 million annually, while the small business tax cuts have amounted to a $150 million annual loss in revenue.
Funny how they consider leaving more money in people's pockets a "loss." Disconcerting how little they value individual choice. Dissapointing how they ignore the positive effects those tax reductions had on the Saskatchewan economy. Outrageous how they ignore the fact that government revenues are higher now than they ever have been -- even in the personal income and business tax categories.

But of course, it's not about the "public interest" at all. It's about the union interest, and the membership dues.

Gas prices creating shock waves

New Brunswickers are driving to Maine to fill up their tanks to escape high gasoline prices.

For every dollar a motorist spends on gasoline in New Brunswick, 42 centsis paid to the taxman.

The average Canadian pays 38 cents per dollar of gasoline.By comparison, he said, consumers in Maine resident are paying about 23 per cent in taxes for their gasoline, the same as the U.S. average."

We have a number of taxes here which are encouraging motorists to go across the border where taxes are a bit cheaper," Mr. Williamson said.

Irving Oil spokesperson Jennifer Parker says the price of gasoline in Maine and New Brunswick "is actually very similar" when you take taxes out of the equation.

42 per cent of the price of gasoline is tax. We can't control the world price of oil, but we CAN control the taxes. Come on people now....

Grapes on Hockey and Socialism

Read Terrence Corcoran's latest article, called 'Marx on Ice' (re: the latest collective bargaining agreement reached recently between the owners and the players).

With hockey set to come back next season, does this mean Texas Hold Em is finished?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fuelling a tax fight

Edmonton Sun's Kerry Diotte with a piece on Canada's over-the-top, freedom limiting tax burden. Of course, a friendly CTFer is on the scene with some handy facts.

It’s pay day for Edmonton refinery worker Peter Demers.

He heads to the bank to deposit his cheque and notes the federal tax is $606.24. Peter stops to pick up a litre of rye and 12-pack of beer for the weekend. Included in the price of the bottle is $13.30 in taxes. There’s $4.01 in tax on the case of beer.

He stops at a convenience store to fill up his SUV with 100 litres of premium fuel as recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. That price includes a 10-cent-a-litre tax levied by the feds, nine cents from the province, plus 7% GST. With premium fuel hitting $1 a litre in Edmonton yesterday, those combined taxes total $26.

While in the store the refinery worker picks up a carton of smokes for about $75. For that purchase he gets tagged with $32 in provincial taxes, $15.85 in a federal excise tax, plus the GST on top of everything. That adds up to $53.10 in taxes! So the grand total in government taxes paid on just one day for Peter is $702.65.

He curses under his breath at the crush of taxes – using Prime Minister Paul Martin’s name in vain.

Tax me, I’m Canadian.

In this country it’s always a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

As an otherwise proud Canadian it makes me ashamed and angry we’re so overtaxed – and it’s time to speak up.

Peter Demers is fictitious but he’s the Canadian Everyman – paying astronomical taxes to three levels of government.

“Basically we in Canada lose almost half of our wealth to three levels of government,” said Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta director John Carpay.

The director of the tax-fighting group notes greedy politicians viciously a-tax us from all angles.

“Canada has one of the highest income tax rates in the world,” said Carpay.

Sask: Regina unions withdraw threat to disrupt games

Friday, July 8: Unions threaten to disrupt Canada Summer Games. Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich calls on all 80,000 SFL workers to respect picket lines -- even the volunteers.

Monday, July 11: CTF says if the unions want a fight, then a fight they shall get -- bring on the replacement workers and privatization!

Thursday, July 14: Unions withdraw hollow, selfish, fear-mongering threat, saying they value their community more than their contract negotiations (yeah right, we will remind you of this statement the next time you shut down our garbage or bus service).

Now THAT'S how you get things done.

Business Leaders Give Thumbs down to City of Ottawa Tax Proposals


Business Leaders Protest Ottawa Tax Changes

Josh Pringle Tuesday, July 12, 2005 9:20 PM

"Ottawa's business community is encouraging the City of Ottawa to rethink proposed changes to the City of Ottawa Act.
City Council will vote on 58 changes to the act on Wednesday, including giving the city more powers to increase taxes and fees across Ottawa.
Ottawa Chamber of Commerce President Gail Logan says the City of Ottawa already has enough revenue coming into its coffers.
Logan says businesses don't need City Hall looking for an additional "tax grab."
The Ontario Government needs to approve any taxation changes. "

Nadeem Esmail on Alberta's non-reformative reforms

In today's National Post....

It seemed, for a while at least, that the Alberta government was prepared to recognize there was a better way -- one that would take its lessons from the health care programs found in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland. The programs in those nations deliver superior health outcomes to Canada's, or deliver access to medicare without waiting lists, or both. And while each is unique, all have some very important fundamental policies in common.

Most importantly, all of them revolve around competition and financial incentives. Each of those countries requires patients to be responsible for at least some of the cost of their care, allow care to be delivered competitively by private hospitals and allow patients the opportunity to seek care on their own terms if the public program is unwilling or unable to meet their needs. As a result, these programs make better use of their resources and deliver services in a more patient-focused and patient-oriented setting.

It is these policies, and the fundamental concepts of competition and financial incentives, that should have been at the core of Tuesday's announcement. Klein and Health Minister Iris Evans should have been talking about implementing a cost-sharing arrangement, introducing competitive private provision of publicly funded services and withdrawing all rules and regulations restricting Albertans' freedom to seek all health services (even medically necessary ones) on their own terms. Instead, the government turned away from the promising vision hinted at in Klein's previous discussions of the Third Way, and all the benefits that would have accrued to Albertans as a result.

Highway Robbery in Newfoundland/Labrador!


Pricey Gas in Rigolet, July 14, 2005

"It costs $1.31 a litre, but at least people in Rigolet have gasoline. Some 80,000 litres were delivered to the town this week to help it get through to the fall. A private company pulled out a couple of years ago, leaving the town to continue the service. On VOCM Niteline with Linda Swain, Mayor Richard Riche said the town will run the system until it can make other arrangements. Riche says he hopes the Metis Nation and LIA will get involved to help take the pressure off the town."

Save "medicare" -- Phone a friend!!

For absolutely no reason, the Saskatchewan health minister is calling on Saskatchewan residents to call their relatives in Alberta and urge them to oppose Alberta's "maverick" health reforms, even though he himself notes that most of these "maverick" reforms have already been done in Saskatchewan (and we have the worst waiting lists in Canada, go figure!)

First off, it's none of Nilson's business what Alberta does with its own tax dollars. Second, why does he care? What Alberta does has nothing to do with what Saskatchewan does (which is pretty much nothing).

I'm sure it's really great for relations between our two provinces when a high-ranking Saskatchewan minister is trying to stir up political opposition in another province. Minister, mind your own failing health system.

Every government needs a strawman and, in Saskatchewan, that straw man is Ralph Klein.

Here is the amusing article from Today's Leader Post:

Saskatchewan's Health Minister is passionately asking the province's residents to lobby Albertan friends and relatives to urge policymakers to "operate as Canadians, not as mavericks" when reforming health care.

John Nilson is concerned that Premier Ralph Klein's new health care reforms, dubbed "the third way" because they fall between the existing public health-care system and a privatized one, will endanger universal medicare.

Health care in the mid-90s took a huge hit when the federal government pulled back a lot of funding, Nilson said. "We're just now getting things back into appropriate balance and I encourage Alberta to operate as Canadians and not as mavericks in the health-care system.

" . . . It's important for each and every Saskatchewan citizen to phone their relatives in Alberta and make sure that publicly in Alberta the Canadian perspective around community responsibility for health care remains at the forefront of what the policymakers are doing."
Update: Venerable talk show host John Gormley has taken up this topic for most of this morning (friday)...

Sask property taxes soaring

Here is part of the release we sent out this morning...
2005 Saskatchewan Property Tax Review
· Property taxes soaring
· Re-assessment gouges taxpayers

REGINA: Taxpayers across the province are noticing a significant jump in their property tax bills in this re-assessment year and it’s no accident, says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

An analysis of property tax data since 1985 released today by the CTF shows that municipalities use re-assessments to hike property taxes. In the two most recent assessment years – 1997 and 2001 – property taxes jumped an average 6.9 per cent, which is double the average increase in non-assessment years.

Local taxpayers have recently paid their 2005 property taxes, which includes this year’s re-assessment. CTF phones are ringing off the hook with concerns about soaring tax bills.

“Re-assessment is not intended to be a tool for municipalities to rake in more tax dollars,” said CTF Saskatchewan director David MacLean. “The data clearly shows that municipalities are taking advantage of re-assessment to top up government coffers. One can only guess how steep the tax hike will be for 2005, but there is no reason to believe this year will be any different than the previous two re-assessment years.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A reserve torn apart

A great piece from the Frontier Centre on the tragic status of our reserves. Check out our Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change for our work on aboriginal policy.

In person, Arthur and Donna Gabriel are a quiet, unassuming couple. After years of hard work and sweat, by dint of only their own funds and effort, they built a business, a cattle ranch, valued at half-a-million dollars. They sought financial independence, but what they got was a never-ending legal nightmare. They lost it all because, unlike most citizens, the Gabriels had the misfortune to reside on an Indian reservation, at the Waterhen in central Manitoba.

Unfortunately, what happened to the Gabriels and their ranch is not unique. It is a template for the fate of thousands of aboriginal Canadians across the country. Why do residents of First Nations seldom improve their homes or start businesses? They have little or no security of possession for the value they create.

The political machinations that form the backdrop for the Gabriels' catastrophic loss are long, messy and confusing. The trouble started in December, 1992, when some residents of the Waterhen reserve, the Gabriels among them, demanded more financial accountability from their leaders, who had cloaked their dealings in a blanket of secrecy. The following year, the dissidents elected a majority of councillors to the band's government who promised to address these issues. Arthur Gabriel, who had never before served on the band council, was one of them.

That precipitated a long tug of war between the chief and reformers on the band council. Most of the information for this report came from the dissident faction, who vehemently defend their actions over the following four years. The lesson that emerges from the eventual debacle does not depend on who was right or wrong. The problem is a system of aboriginal governance that cannot resolve such disputes peacefully.


SK: Government opens a union-sized can of worms

For readers across Canada, a little background. In the 2004 budget the province raised our provincial sales tax by one percentage point. It was a "tough budget," the government said. Restraint was required, it was said.

Most pundits and analysts agree the last election was the Saskatchewan Party's to win. Out came the medi-scare and crown-scare, and poof went the Saskatchewan Party advantage. The NDP won on a platform that was everything to everyone, even promising to "continue lowering taxes."

Barely 6 months later the NDP's budget raised the sales tax and introduced, for "balance" we suppose, a 0-1-1 three year wage mandate for public sector unions. Since that time oil and gas revenues have soared and the province has torn up the 0-1-1 wage mandate. The PST hike remains.

We supported the 0-1-1 wage mandate because public sector wages have been rising faster than inflation for more than a decade. Making matters worse, since Calvert took over the government has been on a serious hiring binge -- growing the civil service by thousands.

In the Star Phoenix interview linked previously, I also commented on the danger of committing one-time oil and gas revenues to salary increases that we have to pay forever, but it didn't make the story. Once we pump the oil and gas out of the ground and exchange it on the open market for cash, it's gone forever. Using windfall revenues as justification for salary increases is asinine.

The only ethical use of one-time revenues is for debt relief, tax reductions or savings.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Alberta to allow for more choice

Nothing much of substance here, but it may be a start. Bottom line is they are allowing health authorities to charge user fees. More to come...

Monday, July 11, 2005

CTF "the skunk at the garden party"

Saskatoon Star Phoenix lead editorial says the CTF is "wrong for the right reasons" on corporate welfare.

Regina: Unions threaten Canada Summer Games

Regina City Unions have issued a formal threat to disrupt the Canada Summer Games if they don't get the raise they want. If they are spoiling for a fight, using taxpayers as pawns, then a fight is exactly what they should get. Bring on the replacement workers and privatization initiatives. Nobody should have this kind of power in our society.

US: Corporate welfare sweet deal

American consumers of sugar - or products made with sugar - pay a "tax" on their sugar due to an artifically inflated price for sugar. Yet, this "tax" does not go into the government's bank account, but goes directly to US sugar producers.

Sweet deal!

No choice for parents

In what can only be described as Orwellian-like language, the Province of Manitoba has refused to assist those parents that stay home with their children. Manitoba's NDP government prefers to "focus on funding regulated spaces and wages and benefits for workers." Choice is clearly not on option in "Friendly Manitoba."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

More $ down the ACOA Toilet

The federal government is doling out more tax dollars in the name of "economic development."

The only thing subsidies develop is dependency. Whether it's money for Bombardier, General Motors, or PEI, it is bad policy.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pay or Wait, Canucks Choose PAY!

Canadians are willing to pay out-of-pocket for some health care services, especially if it means speedier, and better treatment.

Are you listening Ujjal? Unplug your ears Paul!

The system is broken and more money ain't gonna fix it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Saskatchewan: Where pork and corporate welfare meet

About a month ago I mused about the probability of the province bailing out a failing pork operation in Moose Jaw. That missive garnered a this over-reaction from Agriculture Minister Mark Wartman.

Contrary to what Mr. MacLean suggests, the Government of Saskatchewan is not planning [ed: yeah right, just like they never "planned" on raising our taxes in the 2003 election] on a "bail-out" for Worldwide Pork. However, we will continue to work with the owners in an effort to see the plant resume operations and its 270 staff return to work.

So the Minister strongly rejects the idea that his government could possibly bail out a failing pork operation in Moose Jaw. Perhaps his certainty comes from his advance knowledge that his government was giving $35 million to Maple Leaf Foods. There is no money left to hand out!

The silence from the unions is deafening.

High hypocrisy from the NDP

Taylor calls it straight.

Want to join the fight?

We're looking for an Alberta Director.

Communications Director – Alberta

Working out of the Federation’s Edmonton office and reporting to the national communications director, the communications director is responsible for CTF communications in the province of Alberta.

The director oversees day to day communication with staff, board members, supporters, the media and public, as well as setting and implementing public policy objectives and strategies.

The director should have leadership experience in politics or public policy related work. A degree in political science, commerce, economics or related field is an asset. Experience with media, public speaking, writing and campaign organization is a must. The director must be a flexible and creative individual, prepared to work long hours and take initiative in a dynamic and often unpredictable work environment. Above all, the director must be enthusiastic and committed to the mandate of the CTF.

Compensation will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

2010 Olympic update

As reported earlier this week by Adam Taylor, the construction costs for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics are sky-rocketing.

Construction costs are expected to increase 25-40%. And yes, it will be taxpayers who pick up the tab.

CMA to debate private health care

At their meeting next month in Edmonton, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) plans to debate the issue of private health care. The CMA then plans to deliver a report on how to reduce wait times. No surprise our federal health minister Dosanjh scoffs at the idea.

Check out why the CTF supports a parellel public private health care system.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Workers of the World, Pony Up!!

The NDP are funded by special interests?

Get involved with an organization that works for the common interest!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Election financing

It would appear the federal Liberals are on the loosing end of their campaign finance reforms.

Check out what the CTF had to say about Chretien's campaign finance reforms.

If only Canada's "Supremes" faced the same scrutiny

The United States is currently in the process of selecting a new justice to sit on their Supreme Court. The candidates will face a barrage of questions and scrutiny before public senate hearings. Unfortunately in Canada, new appointees to the Supreme Court of Canada are determined behind closed doors by the Prime Minister.

It's time to bring true accountability and transperancy to Canada's appointments to our highest court.

New powers to tax and borrow

Since 1997, the CTF has shown the lack of property rights on native reserves is a huge barrier to investment and growth. In British Columbia, many native bands are utilizing their new powers to tax and borrow to spur economic growth within their communities.

Mugabe says, "Thanks Bob!"

Debt relief and increased foreign aid will help Africa's leaders before it will help ordinary Africans.

Western pressure would be better spent urging the entrenchment of the rule of law, among other things. Writing a fat cheque to a dictator is short-sighted and miles from justice.

Read the CTF's Live-8 commentary here.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Puttin' in some O/T

The Senate is workin' overtime (no joke).

At $116,000 per year, a few extra sessions won't hurt them eh? After all, the rest of us lowly taxpayers have to work the whole year!

$148 Billion Down the Drain

Well, not down the drain exactly. Most likely Mugabe added another Mercedes to his fleet, and was able to re-decorate the 89 rooms in his palace.

Africa's leaders spare no luxury, while ordinary people struggle to provide basic human needs to their children and families.

Read more here.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Who gets the Medal for Bad Budgeting?

Vancouver's Olympic organizers are having a difficult time staying on budget.

Who will be on the hook for extra costs? Taxpayers of course! (Grrrr!)

Another reason to have someone watching your back.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box