Friday, September 30, 2005

Svend's Skinned Knee Costs Taxpayers $10,000

Okay, it wasn't a skinned knee, but it was a cut on his leg and a rip in his pants. Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Another reason to have someone watching your back.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Have a little faith people!

Before everyone jumps down David Dingwall's throat about his expenses, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. There are many reasonable explanations why he would have to expense items like gum, a newspaper, and a bottle of water.

Highly Likely Scenario:

(Setting: David Dingwall on a tour of the Mint's coin making factory in Winnipeg.)

Mint Worker: ...and as you can see this new coin punch...BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. Oh my goodness that alarm means that we are having a serious malfunction with our loonie sorting machine.

David Dingwall: What's the problem?

Mint Worker: Well according to this computer read-out, we have a loose reactor cable on the sorting machine.

David Dingwall: Can you fix it?

Mint Worker: Perhaps, but we would need some type of pliable, yet sticky material that could be used to keep the reactor cable from falling off. I only wish someone out there possessed a magical substance like this.

David Dingwall: Wait a minute, I've got a great idea. I'll be right back.

(five minutes later)

David Dingwall: I have returned, try this.

(Dingwall removes a freshly chewed piece of gum from his mouth and gingerly hands it to the Mint Worker).

Mint Worker: Wow! That adhesive substance you removed from your mouth appears to be working. You're a genius! I guess that's why you get paid the big bucks Mr. Dingwall.

David Dingwall: Don't thank me Mint Worker, thank my gum!

Nigerian governor caught laundering money

Police are waiting to drop the hammer. Can we send Paul Coffin to Nigeria?

Public Accounts of Canada 2005

The 2005 Public Accounts of Canada were released today.

The cumulative EI surplus: $48.5-billion

National Debt: $499.8-billion

Gas Tax Revenue: $5.054-billion
(excluding GST)

Total GST collected in 2005: $29.8-billion

Total Personal Income Tax Collected: $98.5-billion

For more information, access the Public Accounts here.

Centre for policy alternatives cries wolf on gas prices

The Centre for Policy Alternatives have put out a leaflet saying the oil companies have been gouging Canadians on gas prices. On major problem with their analysis: a portion of the price of gasoline is made up of the potential replacement cost of the fuel. So, if you are operating a gas station, and a hurricane threatens to wipe out a big chunk of gasoline production, you'd be smart to raise prices now to hedge against the possible shortage.

We're not letting the oil companies off the hook, but the real scam is the 30 per cent rate of taxation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Waste watch: Volpe's expensive ontario deliberations

Warren in Edmonton makes this observation:

"Did you know that in the period between Mar. 3 and May 17 - a period of 75 days, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Hon. Joe Volpe held 10 lunch and dinner meetings to discuss "Toronto" issues at a cost of $1443. During the same 75 days, he also held 15 lunches and dinners to discuss "Ontario" issues at a total cost of $3616.84. It should be noted that no other lunch or dinner meetings were held to discuss any other province's issues.

So, in a 75 day period, a Minister spends over $5000.00 (5059.00 to be exact) and all for the purpose of discussing Ontario. As an Albertan I have to wonder when will he come discuss some Alberta issues, but as a Canadian, i'm a little shocked and disturbed. So much for making sure the rest of Canada has their immigration issues looked after. "

The challenge: Go through the mountains of travel, booze and meal expenses charged to taxpayers by hundreds of politicians and mandarins that are listed here. Find the waste, look for conflicts, identify questionable expenditures. Take a moment to jot down your thought and email them to me. All of the worthwhile submissions will be posted here. The best submission, as determined by FFT contributors, will receive a copy of Tax Me I'm Canadian! and a free subscription to the Taxpayer magazine.

You can also post observations in comments.

Burton Cummings Theatre 220,000, Taxpayers 0

The bailout madness continues at Winnipeg City Hall . . .

EU to reduce red-tape

The European Union has launched a new "attempt" to reduce the amount of excessive regulation.


The EU hopes that a reduction in the regulatory burden on business will increase competitiveness and increase employment.

The EU get's it, too bad Canada doesn't.

No tax cuts - a Canadian trend

The government of Quebec recently announced the tax cuts promied by the provincial liberals in 2003 were not going to happen.

It's like deja vu....Goodale recently announced he will postpone the corporate tax cuts. Yeesh, this is starting to look like a trend.

BC: $640 million and no treaty

The province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada have been embroiled in treaty talks ever since BC joined confederation in 1876.

Approximately 12 years ago, the then NDP government of BC decided to create the BC Treaty Commission to help "expidite" native land claims and treaties within the province. Little has changed regarding the process for native land claims since the BC Treaty Commission was established - except for the money that has been thrown at the process.

Canadian taxpayers have spent $640 million on the process and still no treaties have resulted.

Dingwall going down

Trapped in a sucking vortex of government waste.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

10 years of success?

Rick in London, Ontario finds it funny that taxpayers spent $265 to send William Baker, the head of the gun registry, to a conference entitled "Ten years of success: Our foundation for the future" as a guest speaker.

The conference was part of something called "the midle [sic] management development program."

He's right, it is funny.

Sask: Just get it done

When the government announces yet another “public consultation” you can be sure of two things: very little “consultation” will actually take place and it won’t be cheap.


Impressive: Sask plays hardball with indian gaming authority


Saskatchewan's gaming minister released details of an imposed settlement Monday to resolve stalled negotiations between the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and Prairieland Park.

The settlement will see SIGA pay Prairieland Park $2.6 million annually for 30 years in exchange for closing its casino and also offer an assurance of employment for Praireland's casino staff.

The parties must comply with the decision before final approval is granted for the new Dakota Dunes casino to be built on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation on Highway 219 south of Saskatoon, said Eric Cline, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), during a media conference.

The announcement brings the project, stalled by the negotiations and changes to the size of the proposed casino, closer to fruition.

"The conditions require that all qualified Emerald Casino employees interested in working at the Dakota Dunes casino receive an offer of employment from SIGA," Cline said. "Fair treatment and compensation for Prairieland Park's employees has always been a priority and these conditions ensure that the employees will be treated fairly."

Monday, September 26, 2005

Waste watch: a submission

Dust my broom has a submisson.

Could be fun - this guy did a return trip from Ottawa to Calgary for $2,667.55! Too bad he didn’t fly WestJet as he could have saved us taxpayers at least $2,000. can surf through travel and hospitality expenses here...

Hogtown is Canada's Worst Business City?!?!

Toronto is the worst city in Canada to do business in.

High taxes, and large spending impede growth.

When David Miller et al realize this, maybe their city will fare better. Until then, more businesses will relocate to other parts of the GTA, and Canada where property taxes are lower.

Join the army of waste watchers!

Since we began this weblog a few months ago we've seen our readership steadily increase. All weblogs have a purpose. Ours, of course, is to advance the cause of lower taxes, less waste and government accountability.

Now that so many of you come back and visit, it's time to put all of you to work. The CTF works hard to uncover waste and publicize it. What if...just imagine if all our readers were also doing the same thing? We think that no stone would go unturned.

Our challenge: Go through the mountains of travel, booze and meal expenses charged to taxpayers by hundreds of politicians and mandarins that are listed here.

Find the waste, look for conflicts, identify questionable expenditures. Take a moment to jot down your thought and email them to me. All of the worthwhile submissions will be posted here. The best submission, as determined by FFT contributors, will receive a copy of Tax Me I'm Canadian! and a free subscription to the Taxpayer magazine.

Now stop reading and get to work.

What's another $1 billion?

To go along with the $8 billion we spend on aboriginal affairs every year...

Canada's business taxes are second highest

The country with higher taxes? China.

Hat tip: Warwick News

Sask: Province denies pulp mill decision is political

From today's Leader Post...

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been a fierce critic of the government's continued ownership of a share in the mill.

The lobby group has criticized both the governing NDP and the Opposition Saskatchewan Party for not clearly advocating a sale out of fear of offending local interests in the key Meadow Lake seat ahead of the next provincial election.

Veteran NDP MLA and cabinet minister Maynard Sonntag won in 2003 by just over 400 votes.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fast-food style health care: Why not?

An interesting innovation coming from, you guessed it, the MARKETPLACE.

And let's face it, how many of us (especially those of us with kids) have gone to see a doctor knowing full well what they are going to prescribe? For a bacterial infection anybody could go to the pharmacy and grab some anti-biotics. Instead, we are forced into the over-priced public health system.

It's health care, fast-food style.

A flu shot goes for $30. Treating athlete's foot or an ear infection will run you $49 apiece. Treatments will take 15 minutes, with no appointment necessary.

It's all inside a tiny clinic crammed into the corner of the CVS pharmacy at 96th Street and Allisonville Road, one of seven clinics set to open Monday at local CVS stores.

The clinics, owned and operated by Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic, have no doctors on site but are staffed by nurse practitioners trained to diagnose and treat common ailments, from bronchitis to pink eye, and to provide basic services, such as vaccinations.

(...)If all this sounds like a push to make health care as easy as getting a take-out meal, even some clinic workers agree.

"I kind of thought it was fast food for illness," nurse practitioner and new MinuteClinic employee Melissa Chriswell said of her first reaction to the approach. "You know what the cost is up front."

The idea intrigued her, as a nurse practitioner and as a mother who has trekked to the emergency room seeking treatment for minor ailments such as a child's ear infection. So she left her small-town practice in Camden to work in MinuteClinic's Zionsville location.

(...)Some business heavyweights are impressed by the concept of bringing fast-food efficiency into health care.

Many current methods for treating patients "just plain overshoot customers' needs," Clayton Christensen, a noted Harvard Business School professor, wrote in his recent book "Seeing What's Next." It's overkill to treat a child's earache in an emergency room, for example.

He has called MinuteClinic's approach a "disruptive innovation" -- an innovative change that fundamentally can change a marketplace or its pricing structure.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Manitoba PC MLA jumps to Federal Grits

Fort Whyte MLA John Loewen, former CEO of Comcheq, has decided that Paul Martin's Liberals best fit with his views and values. The Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck does a mini autopsy on Loewen's decision . . .

Friday, September 23, 2005

“Hosed at the Pumps” Rally on Parliament Hill

Excerpt from Clarkson's Tell-All

Outgoing Governor General Adrienne Clarkson is poised to write a tell-all book about her life and times as Canada's highest spending Governor General.

Here's a likely excerpt:
"Oh, you should have seen Paul's (Martin) face when I told him over dinner at Rideau Hall that I was taking 50 of my closest friends with me on a "state visit" to Europe, I thought he was going to choke on his glass of 1945 Chateau Petrus Bordeaux.

I told him if he even thought about cutting my budget I was going to call the Queen. Well that settled that. I have no doubt he remembers the tongue lashing Jean (Chretien) got from Her Majesty when they started stocking my powder room with two-ply instead of three-ply."

Rumor has it she will be receiving a $250,000 advance for her book. Perhaps our government could impose a "Former Governor General book writing tax" of say...90%. That way taxpayers might be able to recoup a few of the dollars she wasted.

Health fraud rampant

Survey finds false and inflated claims costing $3B to $10B a year

Letter to the Regina Leader Post re: city workers strike

Nobody can organize a letter-writing campaign like the unions. For weeks the letters page of the Leader Post has been dominated by union members, organizers and supporters making the case for Regina city workers.

There has been scant mention of the most important stakeholder in all of this – the Regina taxpayer. The average taxpayer doesn’t spend a lot of time writing letters to newspapers because she is too busy working, driving the kids to soccer practice, or putting in over time to afford that much-needed home renovation.

The average taxpayer spends most of his time saving up for a down-payment on a house or struggling to make his car payment. For the most part, he or she is disengaged from the city labour dispute, except for the added hassles the strike brings.

This year city council hiked property taxes by four per cent, which is a bigger raise than most people will see this year. For most residents, this year’s reassessment brought an even bigger tax hike. Taxpayers are feeling the pain but seeing no gain, looking in despair at their pothole-filled roads knowing they won’t be fixed in this decade.

The unions say the dispute is about respect but where is the respect for the taxpayer who constantly pays more?

Union members often say “we’re taxpayers too” and they’re right.

However, their jobs are only made possible through the hard work and prosperity of all taxpayers. This should never be forgotten.

David MacLean, CTF Saskatchewan Director

Polish election: Voters to choose lower taxes

This is a really bad sign: If the polish election goes the way everyone says it will, Poland will have lower taxes than Canada...MUCH lower....

Both parties promise lower taxes, more jobs and less corruption.

But the Civic Platform, favored by financial markets and backed by majority of business leaders, wants to move faster with a bold 15-percent single tax rate, deregulation, privatization and budget cuts needed for quick euro adoption.

The conservatives led by combative twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski offer a tough line on crime and corruption with promises to flank economic reforms with welfare guarantees.

If only Allstate would do this for humans

MARKHAM, ON, Sept. 20 /CNW/ - Allstate Insurance Company of Canada has created an alliance with Pethealth Inc. and its PetCare Insurance Programs to bring economic accident and illness care to the 55 percent of Canadian households who own dogs and cats. Designed in consultation with leading veterinarians, PetCare Insurance Programs are currently the fastest growing family of pet insurance programs in North America, due to the variety of programs offered, the flexible coverage, and low monthly premiums.

"We are receiving more questions from consumers concerned about the costs of
treatment for unexpected illness and accident suffered by their pets," said George Hill, Vice President of Allstate Canada. "We are in the business of providing peace of mind to our customers and their families when we insure their homes, lives and cars. We felt this was meaningful protection which augments their household protection needs. Having the right type of insurance to cover the family pet will alleviate a great deal of stress for many families."


Urban reserves don't make sense

For years the CTF has advocated for the dismantling of the Indian Act and the native reserve system in Canada.

The City of Winnipeg is currently toying with the idea of creating an "urban" reserve within the city. Regardless of what name you call it, a reserve is a reserve. Like any other reserve, urban reserves are subject to the Indian Act - and yes, are exempt from taxation.

Check out what the Ottawa Citizen had to say about Winnipeg's plans.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Aboriginal policy change: Ottawa Sun "gets it"

For CTF supporters, this is a must read...

Tanis Fiss, CTF’s expert on Native policy, and John Williamson, federal director of the group, dropped by the Sun’s office this week to sit down with members of our editorial board to discuss the paper and a number of issues relating to life on Canadian reserves.

Some of what she had to say was shocking. Most of her recommendations make perfect sense.

As Fiss pointed out, current federal policy, with few exceptions, is not improving the prosperity of Native Canadians. Study after study illustrates the failure of the aboriginal reserve system.

CTF slams Ralph's "prosperity bonus"

From the Edmonton Journal...

He argues health care premiums are a regressive form of taxation. For a family earning $35,000 a year, the $1,056 cost of health care premiums works out to three per cent of their annual income. For a family earning $100,000 a year, the $1,056 premium amounts to only one per cent of their annual income, he adds.

"While we support the intent to put more money back in the pockets of taxpayers, Albertans want long-term prosperity," he says. "Eliminating health care premiums altogether would be much more prudent in the long-run."

NCC on Layton's Law

From Gerry over at the NCC...

Plus by trying to push this bill, Layton is implicitly saying there will soon be a demand for private health care – else why would you need this law?

And the reason there will be a demand for private health care is because Canadians are sick and tired of second-rate service, of waiting for eight months to get certain kinds of treatment.

Yet Layton would rather Canadians suffer or die than admit that socialist health care isn’t working.

What’s next?

Is he going to propose a ban on anyone going to the United States for health care treatment?

Saskatchewan government supports gas price controls

From the Star Phoenix:

REGINA -- The federal government should be thinking hard about regulating gasoline prices, which have reached record levels in recent months, says the provincial government.

But pressing for such a policy would require a consensus among the provinces, and that has been elusive, said Frank Quennell, who as the NDP's justice minister is responsible for consumer affairs.

This is the most absurd notion I have ever heard. Cap gas prices and suppliers will export gasoline to higher priced markets to the south, creating shortage. If you want to bring prices down, you have to encourage supply, cut taxes and reduce consumption. Simple economics, but this government has never been strong in that area.

Sure, cap gas prices, but don't say you weren't warned. Regardless, this is likely a diversion tactic. The government must appear to be doing something, rather than addressing their own tax grab.

Great editorial on the subject here...

Should Have Filled up Yesterday.....

As Hurricane Rita speeds toward Texas, gas prices are soaring everywhere.

With prices this high, a fill-up requires an arm and a leg, and two co-signers.

Tell Ottawa to Cut Gas Taxes

Surplus squandered -- where is the old Paul Martin?

“Ottawa’s program spending jumped over $21-billion in a single year and the surplus has been squandered,” said CTF federal director John Williamson. “Over the previous three years, the period between 2000-01 and 2003-04, program spending increased by $22.7-billion or 19 per cent. A 15 per cent annual increase can only be described as utterly irresponsible. As Brian Mulroney might have said of the surplus, ‘They pissed it all away.’”


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sask: Liquor store fraud

From the Leader Post:

The managers of government liquor stores in Biggar and La Loche have been fired and the RCMP has been called in to investigate $247,000 in financial irregularities, the province announced Tuesday.

The two unrelated cases raise the number of major incidents of financial misappropriation within government over the last year to four and the total amount at stake to over $1.75 million.

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority spokesperson Stephanie Choma said she could not provide details such as the nature of the irregularities since the cases are under criminal investigation and have been referred to the provincial auditor.

There are so many reasons for taxpayers to be concerned about this issue, and so many reasons to be angry. First off, the provincial auditor warned in no fewer than two reports that Sask liquor stores had improper financial controls and the government ignored him. But this isn't the first time the auditor's concerns have been ignored.

For several years the auditor warned of possible fraud in the welfare department. Lo and behold, taxpayers learn they are out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The auditor has repeatedly warned about the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority and problems continue.

Last but not least, it's time to privatize government liquor stores. The CTF has submitted recommendations to government that would create new businesses, lower liquor prices, provide better selection and service AND save taxpayers $8 million a year.

We commissioned Sigma Analytics to poll Saskatchewan residents on liquor privatization and the results were surprising to many (but not to us). It was about as big a sample you can get in Saskatchewan (1500). 72 per cent of respondents said that government should have NO role whatsoever in the liquor business, or that the role should be limited to wholesale.

Read the report.

It's like sending the fox back into the henhouse . . .

The former CEO of the scandal plagued Hydra House has resurfaced at the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities.

Some background:

Auditor General Confirms Hydra Incurred Questionable Expenditures

CTF Responds to Auditor General's report on Hydra House

Props from the Ottawa Sun

The Sun likes our long-term proposal for helping cope with rising energy costs.

One suggestion that should be considered as a more far-reaching, practical solution comes from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. John Williamson, federal director, said a better way to put money back into taxpayers' pockets would be to increase the basic personal income tax exemption -- now at $8,000 -- to $15,000 by 2010, and to bring down personal income tax rates across the board, not just for lower-income Canadians.

Not only would this bring our personal taxation rates more in line with those of other developed countries, it would give consumers a little more wiggle room when it comes to sudden, unavoidable expenses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Coffins's ridiculous sentence

Small Dead Animals has some observations on Coffin's non-sentence, and brings us back to the 80s when Saskatchewan had it's own corruption scandal.

Joe Volpe Eating Tax Dollars for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has quite the appetite for taxpayers' money.

Note how many times he's had "working dinners" to discuss Toronto issues.

Hopefully for taxpayers, he will decide to go on a diet and reduce his intake of tax dollars.

High Gas Prices Force Batman to Downsize....

Tell the federal government to Cut Gas Taxes!

Even Batman is feeling the heat!

Dosanjh delivers stern warning

Federal health minister dosanjh has delivered a stern warning that the provinces ought to have their surgicial waiting list guidelines ready by the end of the year. This is almost as serious as the threat that PM would look Ralph in the eye and say "no."

They are really, really serious this time.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Giant pig greets politicians at 2:00 a.m

That'll learn for trying to vote yourselves a pay raise at 2:00 in the morning on the last day of session.

Memo to government workers . . . use your vacation!

Questions arise over Winnipeg's urban reserve proposal

From the Winnipeg Sun:

A Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) aboriginal affairs analyst -- who has long questioned the accountability behind the establishment of reserves in urban areas -- suggested the Roseau River housing situation should convince the 'Peg's municipal officials to take a hard look at any deal they're about to make.

"Regardless of where it's located or what you call it, a reserve is a reserve," Tanis Fiss told The Sun from the CTF's Calgary office.

"It's a leadership and accountability issue, regrettably, the way the native reserve system is set up. There are no opposition parties. There's no one standing up for the common man, the common citizen."

Mayor Sam Katz refused to comment directly on whether the rural reserve's internal dispute would prompt him or other city officials to think twice about striking a deal with Nelson for the old Packers property.

Katz pointed out he hasn't seen the homes or talked to their owners about the conflict, so he shouldn't wade into the spat.

Brandon Sun opens up a can of Castro

Of course, says the Sun, lower gas taxes would never benefit consumers. In fact, we should increase gas taxes, because that wouldn't hurt anyone either.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

anti-porkers unite!

In light of the $200 billion Katrina price tag, citizen journalists are taking it upon themselves to find where to cut. Their first target are the offensive pork bills passed by Congress earlier this year.

(via instapundit)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bombardier screws us again

Let's never forget how bombardier left taxpayers on the hook for $3.7 billion.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Danish taxpayers pay for disabled people to have sex with prostitutes

This has to be read to be believed.

Sask: CTF picking up the garbage

Striking city workers touched off a bit of a firestorm by placing a bag of garbage on top of the I Love Regina sign in front of city hall. I drove down and grabbed the garbage, put it in my car and drove it to the dump.

When I told the people managing the dump what I was up to they let me drop off the garbage for free.

The funniest part was I was live on CJME at the dump when I dropped it off. The unions say they were making a statement by leaving the garbage on top of the sign. I think we made a bigger statement.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sask NDP: Before and after

Back in the 1980's, the opposition NDP were downright vicious when it came to abuse of government aircraft. A quick search of hansard brings up literally dozens of question period interrogations relating to the aircraft. They even invoke the word "taxpayer" to describe the concerned citizenry. Oh those were the days.

Here's an example from April 13, 1984:

Mr. Lingenfelter: Well, Mr. Minister, on the issue of the exective aircraft (I believe this falls under your purview) and you will know that what has been the option of the government – not the option of government but the tradition of the government in the days of Tommy Douglas and Ross Thatcher and Allan Blakeney was to issue a report on the number of flights taken by various people within the government. And since you have come back to office, I don’t believe that one of these reports as been released.

I wonder if today would be an opportune time to issue that report so that the public would have an idea of the number of aircraft, the type of flights that are being made, and the people using them. I wonder if you could deliver that to us today.

Well, 21 years later and the government still doesn't provide a report on aircraft use. Nowadays they just brush it off as a non-issue.

Today from the LP:

Premier Calvert:

"We've taken some steps and recent figures would show only a very, very modest increase in travel. Some of that is related to fuel costs and so on. We've been taking steps to try and co-ordinate travel internally as best we can. We need to travel -- both elected and unelected need to travel in the service of the province. We have a vast geography in this province as we all know and there are going to be travel costs," he said in a conference call with reporters.

My how things change.

CTF in the news...

This time on abuse of government aircraft.

"It's easy to say the use of these aircrafts is excessive. What really jumped out at us was the fact that most of the times these flights are back-and-forth to their ridings," said MacLean in an interview Wednesday.

"The Saskatchewan government is always trying to get us to reduce our consumption of energy. Well there's nothing more egregious, nothing more harmful to the environment, than flying a jet back and forth by yourself to your riding," he added, saying politicians could meet the federal government's one-tonne challenge on emissions simply by cutting back on their flights.

Five easy steps

Story in today's Leader Post on CTF recommendations for aboriginal reform.

You've gotta spend money to make money

One persons guess on how $66,000 of taxpayers money can disappear in an instant:

City of Calgary Accountant: Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor! It looks like we blew our budget for this year and are going to have to raise taxes next year.

Mayor: Oh, that's not going to be good. I don't want to go out and ask our taxpayers for more money.

City of Calgary Accountant: Don't worry, we've come up with a solution. You know both the feds and province seem to be running a surplus...

Mayor: I see where your going with this...we should ask them for some financial advice.

City of Calgary Accountant: No, your Worship, we should ask them to write us a cheque, not a big one, just a couple billion.

Mayor: That's even a better idea. Yeah, that way we don't have to be accountable or responsible for how we spend the money. But wait, since there is absolutely no way in a million years they are going to go for it, so what's your back-up plan?

City of Calgary Accountant: Raise property taxes.

Mayor: Are we really in that desperate need of funds?

City of Calgary Accountant: Oh, of course Mr. Mayor, we always are.

Mayor: Well, what can we do to to soften up our ratepayers to that they aren't mad with us?

City of Calgary Accountant: I don't know Mr. Mayor, perhaps we could put a picture of a cute puppy on the front of their property tax bill.

Mayor: Or how about a picture of a police officer?

City of Calgary Accountant: That's a great idea, no one can say no to a tax grab if they think we're going to use the money for more police officers.

Mayor: Wait, I've got even a better idea, why don't we send out a mailout blaming the feds and the province for our problems and...wait for it...put a picture of police officers on the front!

City of Calgary Accountant: Brilliant! You've done it again Mr. Mayor.

Mayor: Hold on, what happens when people actually read the householder and realize that we are trying to transfer blame to other governments rather than trying to solve our own problems?

City of Calgary Accountant: We can make the householder 20 pages long with lots of words, nobody is actually going to read it.

Mayor: Great idea. Hey, with how tight the budget is this year, can we even afford to send out a householder?

City of Calgary Accountant: Of course we can, we can always find money for a good cause.

Mayor: But is this really a good cause?

City of Calgary Accountant: You need to think about this as an investment. This householder will make it easier on you when we raise taxes, and when we raise taxes we will have lots of money...until the next year when we send out another householder blaming...let's see...maybe, the weather, for our financial woes and raise taxes again. I think we'll use firefighters on next years cover...

Mayor: Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

$500 million in federal subsidies innapropriately spent?

Some people think so...please get angry.

OTTAWA (CP) - A massive audit into a federal technology fund is expanding as independent investigators uncover new problems in companies receiving almost $500 million from Industry Canada.

Recently disclosed documents show Industry Canada has already spent at least $755,000 probing 52 companies to determine whether they inappropriately paid middlemen to secure cash from Technology Partnerships Canada.

But the investigation so far has been unable to come up with answers in about 30 per cent of the cases studied, so Industry Canada has begun a fresh round of audits to dig deeper into the firms' books.

The department also plans a further phase of audits beyond the 52 companies that have already come under scrutiny, the documents show.

Lessons from Katrina on government intervention

Reason makes some observations.

Had there been a futures market on buses in New Orleans, the value of the buses would have skyrocketed as Katrina approached, signaling their increased utility in the emergency. But even without such an overt market signal, any private owner of the vehicles would have exhausted all opportunities to save his or her property. Nobody who owned such a potentially valuable product would have done what New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did: let it all go to waste on the assumption that drivers would be impossible to find. Greyhound, after all, did not leave hundreds of its buses to be destroyed.

Holy ego!

Clarkson names a women's hockey trophy after herself.

Sask politicians using government aircraft as personal mini-vans

REGINA: Saskatchewan politicians took more than 2,038 flights on government aircraft between April 2002 and March 2005, averaging nearly 58 flights per Cabinet Minister, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) through Freedom of Information.

Buckley Belanger is most frequent flyer, Sonntag flies solo
Of all Saskatchewan Cabinet Ministers, Buckley Belanger is the top flyer. During the three years surveyed, Belanger took a total of 261 flights, or 7.25 flights per month or a trip every four days. Maynard Sonntag came in a close second with 247 flights, nearly seven flights per month.
Of Sonntag’s 261 flights, 68 were solo trips (Sonntag and flight crew were the only passengers) to his constituency of Meadow Lake.

“Buckley Belanger has been recognized by the CTF as the King of the Skies in the past, but Belanger’s consumption of aviation fuel continues unabated,” said CTF Saskatchewan Director David Maclean. “Perhaps it would be cheaper if we moved the entire department of Northern Affairs to Prince Albert.”

Eric Cline bringing up the rear
Third place goes to Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline with a total of 189 flights or just over five flights per month. The vast majority of Cline’s flights were to Saskatoon and back (Eric Cline represents the constituency of Saskatoon Massey Place.) Cline also took 17 solo flights. All but one of these flights were to Saskatoon.

“If the key to growing the Saskatchewan economy was found in a King Air 350, Eric Cline would have Saskatchewan roaring,” added MacLean. “It seems like a lot, considering the premier took only 60 flights over the same three-year period.”


Manitoba Public Insurance - the NDP's Piggybank

Via the Neepawa Banner written by Jeff Niederhoffer:

In the wake of media reports a month ago, Manitoba motorists undoubtedly were interested to learn that the Doer government is using Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) premiums to pay for non-MPI programs and to pay the salaries of non-MPI bureaucrats.

Our Premier and his Cabinet apparently see MPI as a slush fund. From a taxpayer's standpoint, this diversion of MPI monies is a questionable arrangement in its own right, but the situation becomes even cloudier once you 'follow the money'. The Doer government seems to be going to great lengths to encourage an unusually cozy relationship between MPI and other government agencies. The provincial Justice Department is a case in point. This year alone, MPI funds have been used to pay the salaries of fourteen probation bureaucrats, two Crown Attorneys and even a member of Attorney General Gord Mackintosh's executive staff. In other cases, MPI monies are used to underwrite government programs and even the existence of whole agencies. The Doer government funnels MPI monies into such agencies as the Public Utilities Board (PUB), the Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Compensation Appeal Commission and the Claimant Adviser Office, as well as the entire Winnipeg police auto-theft unit.

It is striking the extent to which the Doer government seems to view MPI as an all-purpose piggy bank. What is even more striking is the extent to which the Doer government is turning a blind eye to the serious conflicts of interest generated by this arrangement. PUB approves MPI's rate increases; the Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Commission hears appeals of MPI decisions. Is anybody going to seriously dispute there is something amiss in allowing MPI formal control over the budgets of the agencies which oversee and regulate it?

Although an important question, the more important question is why the Doer government would choose such an awkward, questionable and frankly unnecessary means by which to fund salaries, programs and agencies.
Nobody disputes the need, for instance, for a PUB or for an Automobile Injury Compensation Appeal Commission. Nobody disputes the need to have these agencies fully funded, and Doer & Co. would have no problem securing funding for them through Treasury Board, if they were so inclined. So why the need to have these agencies funded through MPI, unless, arguably, the purpose is to give MPI subtle leverage vis a vis these agencies?

This question is unlikely to be answered anytime soon, as both Attorney General Mackintosh and representatives of MPI predictably are staying mum. Their silence is deafening. The lack of a vigorous defence from the provincial government speaks to the fact that having MPI directly fund programs and agencies is, ultimately, indefensible. Opposition Leader Stuart Murray has called the Doer government's raid on MPI funds "outrageous". It is difficult to disagree, just as it is difficult to escape the conclusion the provincial government is not leveling with taxpayers. In the wake of these revelations, MPI ratepayers are no longer innocent. If nothing else, we now know that, while our premiums may go to MPI, they will not necessarily remain there.

Jeff Niederhoffer is a Winnipeg lawyer and political activist.

Pettigrew takes his chauffeur to europe

(via SDA) From the Globe....

OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew took his chauffeur to Europe and South America in 2001 and 2002 at a cost to taxpayers of at least $10,000, even though the driver did not transport the minister during the international visits.

As Mr. Pettigrew's personal chauffeur, Bruno Labonté usually drives his boss around Ottawa and back and forth between Ottawa and Montreal. Mr. Labonté's services are not regularly required during foreign trips in which Canadian delegations are taken under the wing of local officials or Canadian embassies.

Mr. Labonté, however, accompanied Mr. Pettigrew on two official trips abroad, stating on one of his expense claims that his role was "escorting the minister," according to documents released to The Globe and Mail under the Access to Information Act.

The visits included trips to Lima, Paris and Madrid.

Goodale digging heels in on gas taxes

On the way to the office this morning I heard Ralph Goodale refusing to cut gas taxes, saying it would be a waste of time, and the the only people who would profit would be oil companies. Think of what he is really saying. He's saying oil companies are gougers. He's saying there is no competitive market for gasoline. Of course Goodale can't explain why the difference between gas prices in Canada and the US is precisely the difference in taxation.

Is Goodale doing his best impersonation of a communist just to get himself out of sticky situation?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Weird: Government incompetence leads to pleasant results

Rich with irony.

Note: The government says the culprit is none other than EDS -- the author of our friend the gun registry, and for Saskatchewanians -- the disastrous land titles system.

New on Sask spending

Certainly an $800 million payment on the debt is great news for Saskatchewan taxpayers. But if you dig a little deeper into the most recent report from the provincial auditor the picture isn't as rosy as it seems.

AB: Klein pledges energy cheques

The Alberta government announced Albertans can expect to share in the province's windfall revenues. Klein promised to hand out a "prosperity bonus" of an estimated $100 to $300 to Alberta residents next year.

But like most political announcements, there's a catch.

Klein said his government will divide any "windfall" above the $2.8 billion surplus predicted for the current fiscal year almost evenly between spending it on government projects, investing in endowment funds and refunds to taxpayers.

If energy prices remain near current levels, Alberta's total surplus this year could climb to $6 billion, which would leave a windfall of $3.2 billion or more.

EI surplus - still

Yesterday, federal finance minister Ralph Goodale was in Winnipeg. Yes, there will be yet another federal surplus this year, including yet another surplus in the EI "account".

Of course as Goodale pointed out yesterday, there is no EI "account" because all the money employers and employees pay in EI premiums go into the consolidated revenue fund - read general revenue.

If the federal government receives approximately $3 billion per year more in EI premiums than it pays out, shouldn't some of that money be returned to taxpayers? The CTF certainly thinks so.

Enough of the gouging in EI premiums!

CTF releases new aboriginal study

The CTF's Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change announced today the release of its latest study, "Road to Prosperity - Five Steps to Change Aboriginal Policy."

The current study advances five recommendations the federal government can implement by a simple act of parliament, to increase accountability, governance and transparency.

To aid the federal government along the path of change, the CTF has provided the government with five simple first steps to achieve greater prosperity for native Canadians.

Recommendations are:
1. Reallocate Funding
2. Expand Auditor General's Mandate
3. Establish an Ombudsman for Aboriginal Affairs
4. Better Utilize Certificates of Possession
5. Amend Indian Act to Include Matrimonial Property Rights

To learn more, explore our website at

Update: Edmonton Journal picks up the story

BC: Voting reform

In its throne speech, the BC liberals announced they will give British Columbians another crack at replacing the current "first-past-the-post" voting structure in 2008. The referendum will be whether to keep the current system or adopted a "Single-Tranferable-Vote" or STV.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Great Canadian

Mark Messier has decided to call it a career.

Mess was the ultimate team guy, kind of like your CTF, only we take on the biggest goon of them all - the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!!

It's good to have someone watching your back....

Scottish indian reserves?

Surly Beaver calls it the "Canadianization of Great Britain"

I chuckled...

Close to a gas tax deal . . .

With some creative accounting, Winnipeg just might be able to fix some roads.

Sask: NDP trying to sell pulp mill

The province is trying to sell off Meadow Lake Pulp, which would close the book on the biggest boondoggle in Saskatchewan history.

Problem is, it's not exactly a seller's market.


Those brits really know how to protest gas taxes

Watch out for those nation-wide slow-downs.

(via surly beaver)

Binding arbitration for civil servants?

With a Regina city worker strike in it's second full week, there are calls for binding arbitration. Does that really make any sense? We have our democratically elected mayor and council taking a position that taxpayers should only pay a certain price for labour. That position, whether you agree with it or not, is that the city will provide workers with no more than a 5 per cent raise over then next three years.

Does it make any sense whatsoever to bring in an unelected arbitrator to impose upon us all a settlement that our elected leaders are refusing to offer?

Japanese election a "referendum on privatization"

Japanese PM turns election into a referendum on his bid to privatize the post office and wins.

Lies and greed at Toronto City Hall

A judge recently blasted the Toronto government for lies and greed as the courts investigated how/why a $40 million dollar computer contract with MFP Fiancial Services ballooned to $100 million.

New statscan data on government debt

Saskatchewan, with all its natural wealth, is not in good company here.

National Post Advocates a Flat Tax

According to the National Post, Canada should adopt a flat tax.

Sounds like just the thing to kickstart Canada's economy, and remedy the income stagnation that has plagued Canada for too long.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Goodale now open to Gas Tax Relief?

Ralph Goodale is now saying he'll look for ways to reduce the highway robbery of taxpaying motorists. Funny how politicians only listen when things become a potential political liability.

Whatever gets 'em moving though eh?

Sign the CTF's petition demanding lower gas taxes here.

AB:Torys to debate what to do with surplus

Next week the Tory Caucus will meet in Bonnyville to discuss what to do with Alberta's large surplus.

Financial planners will often tell clients, who have recently come into money (for example an inheritance), to do two things:
- pay off debt; and
- invest.

Alberta doesn't have a debt. So what to do, what to do.

How about invest a portion and return the rest to the taxpayers of Alberta?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Breathtakingly absurd

Dust my broom has some thoughts on a Winnipeg Free Press's worth a read.

Apparently “acting like an Indian” is the missing ingredient needed to end all of our misery and suffering. Buy a buckskin jacket, grow your hair, move into a home filled with zonolite and suddenly you will see what it’s like to be an indian.

Can I ask, exactly how different is this from putting on a headress and warpaint at Halloween and going around saying ‘How” to everyone?

Minstrel racism is OK when Indians say it’s OK, I suppose. Ditto for lip-service.

Also, in order to get cred with the constituents, does this mean that the Agriculture minister should don overalls and rubbers, hit the field and shovel shit? Or the Justice Minister grab a shotgun and kick down the door of a crackhouse?

Breathtakingly absurd.

Sask: Provincial finances on thin ice

The provincial auditor is reporting an $800 million debt pay-down -- which is fabulous news for taxpayers. Problem is, Saskatchewan's finances are a house of cards. Since Lorne Calvert took over in 2001 provincial spending has increased by 26 per cent.

The bottom line is if we didn't get a $700 million one-time handout from the feds and experience a $333 million increase in oil revenue, we'd be staring square in the eye of a $244 million deficit.

While oil prices are forecast to remain strong, we know for sure that $700 million aint coming coming back.

Fraser Institute and Cato rank economic freedom

Vancouver, BC - Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict between nations, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2005 Annual Report, released today by The Fraser Institute.

“Researchers have long known democracies go to war about as often as other nations but tend not to go to war with each other. However, stable democracies typically have strong levels of economic freedom, leading to the question of whether it is democracy or economic freedom that affects the probability of violent conflict,” said co-author of the report, James Gwartney, Professor of Economics at Florida State University.

Interesting stuff...Canada ranks 7th...

Just to be clear, the feds don't want Alberta's money?

Ezra Levant points out otherwise . . .

If you pay them, they will come...

Did you hear the terrible news? (subsciber only)

No, not about Huricane Katrina. No, not about the war in Iraq.

Alberta book publishers are leaving town because the Alberta government isn't writing them big enough cheques from taxpayers.

Apparently some (Dennis Johnson - publisher of Red Deer Press & Ruth Linka - president of the Book Publishers Association of Alberta) think that those businesses that fail in Alberta should be rewarded with our tax dollars...interesting.

I wonder if these same people would like to donate a few of their tax dollars to help prop up adult video stores that might shut down because of poor sales. Or perhaps they would like to see their taxes raised to help keep this company in business.

Now call me crazy, but if perhaps our corporate taxes were lower these book publishers would be able to keep more of their earnings. And if our personal taxes were lower those who buy books might have a few extra dollars in pockets at the end of the month to...that's books. What a novel idea (bad pun intended).

Sask: Auditor's report due out this morning

The Provincial Auditor will release his report "understanding the finances of government" this morning. Last year's report called attention to the province's debt which, at $9.3 billion, is very high for a province of 1 million.

Last fiscal year the province will come out in the black, and the Auditor's report ought to confirm that. But in a year where revenues were higher than ever before, a significant debt pay-down ought to have been made. That wasn't the case. The province ratcheted up spending.

I'll be heading down to the news conference, and I'll fill you in when I get back.

In the mean time, for some thrilling reading, you can peruse the Auditor's previous reports.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Reform is needed, and is needed now"

Volcker report casts a shadow on the UN and Kofi Annan.

Gas Prices Soar

The national average for a litre of gas is now $1.26 per litre.

Sign the CTF's petition calling on Ottawa to lower gas taxes today!

Sask: Government air terminal under fire

When the Saskatchewan Party blew the whistle on a $1 million air terminal for NDP politicians, the government said that all available options had been considered and this was the best way to go for taxpayers. Private terminal operators say otherwise.

How many times must we go through this with this government?

Granny's bingo game NDP's next target

It is almost too absurd to be true, but the Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck spells it out rather nicely . . .

Botched land deal

One would think that a Minister of the Crown would know his files, or at the very least know what is in breach of the Public Schools Act. Such is not the case in Manitoba where our Education Minister's incompetence has landed the former chair of the Public Schools Finance Board in hot water.

FNUC budget under fire

The First Nations University of Canada is in the news again. The university's board of governors recently increased its budget to $612,957 for the new year.

This amount is 4 times higher than Saskatchewan's other universities.

  • The University of Saskatoon with 19,000 students spends about $87,000
  • The University of Regina with 13,000 students spends about $70,000

FNUC only has about 1,200 students.

New twist on gas taxes

The Sask Party is advocating for an adjustable gast tax that would fluctuate with oil revenues.

Specifically, the proposal would decrease the per litre price by 1% whenever the price of crude oil were to rise above $60. According to the Sask Party, at current crude prices, consumers would save approximately 7 cents per litre.

Ottawa confirms plans to shake-up civil service

Treasury Board is now confirming previous rumours that Ottawa is indeed planning to overhaul the civil service.

According to the Globe and Mail, "an internal study found 41,000 employees are providing administrative services such as IT and human resources support that could be centralized. One of the officials involved in the study said it was too early to say how many jobs the new plan would create. But the official said that it would be fewer than the 41,000 jobs that would be lost. "

Apparantly this news isn't making things easy for Liberal Ottawa/Hull area MPs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Alberta's Premier says hands-off our surplus!

In no uncertain terms, the premier of Alberta, (also known as "King Ralph") told the feds and others to keep their hands-off the Alberta surplus.

To date Alberta's estimated surplus for this year will reach at least $2.8 billion. Although a reincarnation of the disastrous National Energy Program is not expected, don't rule out the feds implementing a "carbon tax."

Saskatchewan Chamber: Open up crowns to public share offering

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce would like to see Crown Corporations be true public companies. Provincial Chamber President Ted Hillstead says, “If the public owns the Crowns, thenthe provincial government should make them truly public through a plan of issuing shares to the taxpayers.”

Hillstead says the provincial government has always stated that the Crowns are owned by the taxpayers. He adds that, “If these Crowns then are truly public companies owned by the taxpayers, then they should be shareholders. The taxpayers should own shares in these companies and elect the Board of Directors. This would make the Crowns more accountable to their ultimate shareholders - the people of the province.”

Hillstead says a plan could be used that is similar to Cameco, or the Potash Corporation, where the government continues to own a minority position (49% or less) of the company, and the taxpayers are either issued shares or allowed to purchase shares at a preferred rate. Hillstead says, “This process could be even done with a smaller Crown or Treasury Board Crown, such as Liquor Board Stores as a pilot to prove the process will work and be beneficial to all.”

This is really great stuff. It's great to see the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce has a handle on that "vision thing."

Milke: Bureaucrats have been the key architects of Israel's economic renewal

Mark Milke for Business in Vancouver

When Benjamin Netanyahu resigned recently as Israel's finance minister in protest over the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip, economic reformers lost their public face. While not the creator of reform in Israel, Netanyahu helped to sell economic changes to the Israeli cabinet and market the same to the public.

He also helped those who wanted to break up Israel's monopolies, deregulate, privatize chunks of the economy and free the state from its past approach to economic development.Ironically, the people responsible for Israel's new economic approach come from a sector where one would least expect to find radical economic transformers.

Who are they?"

Government civil servants," replies Jim Lederman in a recent conversation over dinner in Jerusalem.

Lederman, an Israel-based Canadian journalist for over three decades and analyst for Oxford Analytica, recounts Israel's economic challenges and recent responses to them.

Israel's political situation is reported on daily. But go back 30 years and imagine the task of an entrepreneur in a country with an 85-per-cent unionization rate. Back then, to get a job or obtain health-care insurance, most people were forced to join the labour movement. The result was that the national union, Histadrut, was "the country's biggest conglomerate, employer and health maintenance organization," says Lederman.

When in 1995, the Israeli government took away labour control over health-care insurance for good, "that was the coup de grace to the unions," Lederman notes.

And that, along with previous changes, dropped unionization in Israel to about 40 per cent, according to the Journal of Industrial Relations.

But if that monopoly was tackled, others remained, including a monopoly on access to capital. Lederman says that at one point, "97 per cent of credit came from just two banks."

But the need for reform of Israel's underlying economic structure - the social democratic thinking of which predated Israel's statehood and can arguably be traced to the 1930s - became critically apparent with the collapse of the Oslo peace process when the second intifada began in 2000, and the worldwide collapse of the high-tech bubble. Both events added to the impetus for change.

Enter the civil service.

In their 30s and 40s and educated at the University of Chicago, MIT and Harvard, "five or six" bureaucrats, Lederman argues, took aim at the dead hand of the state and laid the groundwork for deregulation, monopoly breakups in the grocery and banking sector and privatization.

Over the last three years in particular, Netanyahu and the economic reformers began to privatize the nation's ports, the electricity provider, some oil refineries, the state-owned telephone company, shipping line, two airlines and a bank.

The top marginal tax rate was dropped and reached 49 per cent this year from a high of 64 per cent. To reform pensions, Netanyahu sacked the pension fund's union management and replaced them with professionals; he also - note to Paul Martin and status-quo types on the Canada Pension Plan who only raise rates but veer away from the spending side of the CPP - raised the retirement age.

The results of those and earlier reforms (Israel liberalized trade in the 1990s, for example) combined with a resurgent high-tech sector and relative lull in suicide attacks, have revitalized the Israeli economy. This year alone, Israel's stock markets are up 11.8 per cent and its GDP grew by 4.8 per cent compared with this point in 2004. Inflation has been tamed; it now runs at 1.6 per cent.

Still, future challenges remain, including high defence and debt payments and the need for increased competition in a country with a small population and where the main players in a sector know each other too well. In addition, while high-tech is again booming, the need for more diversification with an expansion in the service and manufacturing sectors is crucial lest Israel be a one-trick economic pony.

If Netanyahu returns either as finance minister or as prime minister one day, the public face of Israel's economic reforms will again be more visible.

But Lederman has no hesitation about where a good chunk of the credit should go for getting Israel through the recent five years: "The real heroes of the economy are five or six civil servants."

Welcome aboard, Saskatchewan Party

The Official Opposition is following our lead on gas taxes, even though they don't want to admit it...

Wall also joined with the Canadian Automobile Association in calling on the federal government to end its 1.5 cent a litre "deficit reduction" gas tax and stop the practice of applying the GST as a "tax on tax" on gasoline.

"Preferably, the federal government would drop the GST on gas altogether, but if they won't do that, at least they can start applying the GST to the pre-tax price only," Wall said. "That change, coupled with getting rid of the so-called deficit reduction tax, would drop the gas price by another three cents a litre."

CTF policy (six years running):

It is time Ottawa ended its gas gouging. This can be accomplished with three easy steps. First, Ottawa should end its GST/HST tax-on-tax bite. This will lower the price, on average, by 1.5 cents a litre. Next, scrap the deficit elimination tax, which will save another penny and a half. Lastly reduce the federal levy by 2 cents, bringing the total saving to motorists to 5 cents a litre.”

Better late than never, and you know what they say about imitation.

Link to CTF coverage on gas taxes.

Canada's oppressive tax regime

Today's Vancouver Sun editorial weighs in on the bloated tax legislation in Canada and BC.

Do you think Canada's tax laws should be simplified?

Ontario: Pushing for voting reform

From the news release:

“The goal here is accountability. Ontarians are sick and tired of politicians who don’t keep promises and don’t represent their constituents’ interests,” said Tasha Kheiriddin, CTF Ontario Director. “We need a Parliament that more accurately reflects voters’ intentions, and allows for less party discipline and more democracy.”

The current government holds 70 per cent of the seats in the Legislature, yet garnered only 46.5 per cent of the popular vote. These kinds of disparities have manifested themselves over the past six elections; the lowest percentage of votes obtained to form a majority government was 37.6 per cent by the NDP...

Read the report...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Aboriginal officials get house arrest for stealing $2.8 million

From the Leader Post (subscriber only)...

A former chief and two other officials with the Saulteaux First Nation were sentenced Friday to two years of house arrest for plundering $1 million of their own band funds.


The trio also signed cheques for another $1.8 million to friends and relatives in excessive of their legitimate wages.


"I'm very sorry, but I only have my Grade 8 and I didn't understand what I did was wrong. Now I know there are some things I should not do," [Archie Moccasin, former band trustee] said.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Basic morality isn't taught until Grade 9.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What to do... hmmm... what to do? Hey! I've got a brilliant idea

I love radio hosts who carefully consider what taxpayers want to do with Alberta's overtaxation (aka surplus). Sure why not, it's only a billion dollars!

I guess it is now up to the Alberta Government to save the world.

When in doubt, call in a commission

Give a province a fish...

I wonder how many commissions need to be called in to determine whether McGuinty lied to voters when he said that he wouldn't raise taxes...and then did anyway?

One Premier in Canada earns more than school board superintendent . . .

The Winnipeg Sun's Tom Brodbeck follows up (with some help from the CTF) on yesterday's story about the bloated salaries at Winnipeg's largest school division.

For western Canadians..,

Pierre Trudeau mocking Peter Lougheed...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Splitting hairs

From the Kenora Daily Miner:

Some groups, like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, have started a lobbying campaign aimed at getting governments to reduce their take to lower the burden on consumers. But calls on holding the line on taxes are coming from an unlikely source, the provincial Progressive Conservative transportation critic.

John O’Toole said the provincial government should not have to roll back the 14.7-cent flat rate it collects at the pump. O’Toole points out that the province doesn’t benefit from higher gas prices because their take doesn’t increase when the price goes up.“It doesn’t matter if the price is 80 cents a litre or over a dollar a litre, the province still gets the same amount,” O’Toole said.

The provincial coffers could even be hurt by a price increase if people react to the high prices by reducing consumption.


“It’s the federal government who should be cutting (taxes),” O’Toole said.

OK...let's do away with this "our take doesn't increase with the price increases" nonsense. Why can't O'Toole understand that it makes no difference. Bottom line is people are feeling the hurt with gas prices, and the province should help out by not skimming as much of our gas money.

The feds are "back in the housing business"

Tip of the hat to London Fog for this one

For London, 145 new units will be funded for $10.15 million and supplements for 210 units will amount to another $2.9 million.

Fontana, who's also the federal labour minister and the MP for London-North-Centre, and Ward 7 Coun. Susan Eagle, a housing activist, described the funding as positive but overdue.

"This is good news for London, especially the 400 or 500 families who have been waiting a long time," Fontana said yesterday.

"We're back in the business of housing," he said, noting $24 million has been set aside to fast-track the development of 500 affordable housing units immediately across Ontario.

He noted Ottawa has re-entered social housing after long negotiations with the province. Ontario got out of the social housing business after the Mike Harris-led Conservatives swept to power a decade ago.

Ed: Yeah, because social housing is so effective, don't you know?

Johnny Rotten speaks out

Just for fun:

SEX Pistols singer John Lydon isn't impressed with Bono's political activism. The aging anarchist snarled to "Every time I see Bono in those big fly glasses and tight leather pants I just can't hack it. I can't see that as solving the world's problems. He's crushing his testicles in tight trousers for world peace."

Happy birthday Saskatchewan and Alberta

On behalf of the CTF, congratulations to Saskatchewan and Alberta on their 100th birthday. It merits a Mick Jagger quote:

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio

McGuinty, est-ce toi?

Today in the Toronto Star:

Ottawa should cut the federal taxes on gasoline to bring some relief to motorists, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday. 'I know the federal government has rejected that just a few days ago, but I would urge them to revisit it, especially given the dramatic increases in prices,' McGuinty said, in a highly unusual comment. Richard Brennan reports.

"The CTF is right on this"

You don't say!

Madness, thy name is Winnipeg School Division No. 1

As school divisions continue to raise school taxes every year in Manitoba (some years it has been triple the rate of inflation) the superintendents of Winnipeg's School Division No. 1 have been living large on salaries that would make any one of Canada's Premiers envious.

So do you think that Jan Schubert, the Chief Superintendent, earning $171,000/year improves the education of Johnny and Janie student? Likely not.

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