Tuesday, January 31, 2006

From Queen Adrienne to Queen Michelle

Two days prior to the announcement of her new position, Governor General Michelle Jean racked up a $7,750 bill at the swanky Chateau Laurier. Taxpayers picked up the hospitality expense claim for six adults of $1,300 or per adult. $1,533 was spent on meals, and $388 on wine.

The GG's role is to represent the Queen, not mimick the Queen.

Energy Probe blasts AECL

Energy Probe, an anti-nuke environmental group with a streak of free-market libertarianism says subsidies to Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) add up to 12 per cent of Canada's national debt. It also pours cold water all over nuclear energy as a viable option for Canada.

The question for Saskatchewan people who see nuclear energy as an important part of our province's future is simple: Is nuclear energy the problem, or is the problem AECL and their outdated technology?

One thing is certain: AECL needs a rusty axe.

(Via Coyne)

Say it isn't so...Another Scandal?

Yup. It looks like another $100-million (or so) of tax money was swindled from Canadians. Paul Champagne, a former Department of Defence contract manager has been charged with fraud and bilking taxpayers of approximately $105-million.

The RCMP laid charges after a 2-1/2 year investigation, and allege the breach of trust and fraud occured over a 10 year period.

If you privatize liquor stores...people will commit suicide

Denise DePape, manager of "healthy living" for the City of Toronto was on talk radio in Saskatchewan claiming that privatizing liquor stores leads to a variety of social calamities including an increased suicide rate.

Denise brings fear mongering to a whole new high water mark, I'm afraid. I thought I'd seen it all when I saw the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union ad campaign that said "who's minding the store is a matter of life and death." The image in the ad was of a late night highway accident with ambulances and police cares all over a deserted highway. The message, of course, was that privatizing liquor stores would lead to more drunk driving.

It appears these people never bother to look at the only Canadian province that has privatized liquor stores -- Alberta. There, liquor-related crimes have remained constant since before privatization. Liquor consumption has gone down and instances of drunk driving has been in steady decline despite (or because of) heavier enforcement.

The argument that privatization leads to more consumption is based on some very shaky statistics gleaned from Scandinavian countries in the 1980's and some flawed research in the United States. The "body of knowledge" around links between privatization and consumption boil down to a few 20-year old studies by a few researchers.

The bottom line is that privatization leads to job creation, better prices and better selection. The icing on the cake is that it saves taxpayer money.

Access Denied!

According to Statistics Canada, wait times is still the number #1 problem in our health care system.

This is unacceptable for a 21st century democracy, especially considering health care rates as Canadians' #1 social program.

This speaks volumes about problems associated with a monoplistic system.

Only in this monopoly you will suffer or even die before you pass GO.

Access to a waiting list is NOT access to health care.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Ministry of Small Business Harassment and Ratchet Up the Revenue

Milke opens up a can:

But wait, it gets worse. At the same time as the Ministry of Small Business Harassment and Ratchet Up the Revenue pursues you for trying to save a few bucks in tax -- even though you likely have the constitutional right to do so -- the B.C. Liberals offer up a pot of gold to public-sector unions: $1 billion if the unions settle their contracts before the end of March.

These would be the same unions who fought against the B.C. Liberals in 2001 and 2005.

Nice message there, Rick: Punish the small-business owners who support your government and hand over a billion bucks to government unions who tried to unseat you and your colleagues in the past -- and will do so again in 2009.

More Helicopter Nonsense

The helicopter saga continues.

It's been over ten years since the Sea Kings were supposed to be replaced.

Politicking, and dithering has led to even more tax dollars being flushed down the toilet.

Just get it done!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Layton should not have to apologize

Enough is enough. Cheers to the Supreme Court and Shouldice Hospital and Bravo Jack Layton – your actions speak louder than your words.
Read the rest.

New Government, Same Old CTF

Despite the change in government, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation will continue to blow the whistle on waste, and continue the fight for lower taxes and greater accountability in government.

Just like in hockey, when you're offside, you're offside.

Check out our accomplishments.

Go here to sign our petitions.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Markets can work to improve health-care

In a new book, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, authors Cogan, Hubbard, and Kessler argue, "The problem is not that market forces cannot work in health care, rather, public policies have precented health care markets from functioning properly."

That's precisely why the Canada Health Act needs to be reformed, to allow market forces to play a greater role in the delivery of health care. That said, any increase in market forces should not be accompained by greater government intervention.

To read Michael F. Cannon's take on this new book click here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

CTF on the air

I'll be guesting on the Adler program in around....10 minutes.

MLAs lose "tax-free" portion

The Nova Scotia government has taken away the one-third "tax-free" portion of the MLAs salaries.

Although the MLA base pay has been increased from $54,000 per year to $65,500 per year, the actual take home pay will be reduced by $900.

Let's hope other provinces will follow suit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

But officer, I was just trying to spoil my ballot...

I can't put my finger on it, but something makes me think this guy voted for the Marijuana Party...

I'm also doubting house arrest would be much of a punishment...he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who gets invited out to a lot of parties.

Entitlement calculations

Have a seat, because some of these numbers are shocking. For example, Jeremy Harrison of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River was fired after around 18 months of work and will receive a $74,800 severance. Now that is quite a deal.

Here is a .pdf of all defeated or retired MPs.

They should be feeling the pressure any minute now


"I think this minority will last at least two years. Canadians will not tolerate another failed Parliament," Williamson said, adding Harper should put his GST relief "to a vote now, and see if the Opposition dares to vote it down."

The CTF also plans on pushing Harper to deliver on Paul Martin's income tax cuts, announced in the Liberals' fall economic statement and which gave Canadians an instant $325 income tax cut in 2005, followed by relief of $355 in 2006.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Election Day

Election day has finally arrived. Please make sure you get out and vote.

If you are still undecided, please take a look at the various party's platforms. Below are the weblinks in alphabetical order:


If you do not know where you are to vote, please contact Elections Canada.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Taxes "stink like microwaved diaper"

Cosh, over at Macleans, has posted a great discussion on consumption versus income taxes.

There's an uncounted deadweight loss from the forced maladjustment to my personal degree of time-preference. Consumption taxes don't just take money from us that can be given back at income-tax time; they create inefficiencies of allocation in your personal economy and mine, just as capital-gains taxes create inefficiencies in the big wide smoke-belching economy. The message is that taxes--all of them--stink like microwaved diaper.

Shocking government poll results released

The Saskatchewan government spent $75,000 dollars on polling in the third quarter of 2005-06 and obtained some important factoids.

First off, they found out that 75 per cent of respondents enjoyed the province's centennial celebrations (I did too!).

79 per cent of respondents said they have a computer.

One third of respondents said they watch state-run television programs (81 per cent of those that actually watch thought it was good).

Assuming the third quarter was an average one for government polling, isn't $300,000 each year a little steep for information of dubious value?

Cross-border shopping

As reported earlier this week, the province of BC is trying to crack-down on cross-border shopping. Not the Canada/US boarder, but the BC/Alberta boarder.

For years, tax weary British Columbians have travelled to sales tax free Alberta to buy various products. The BC government has taken the unprecedented step in pressuring Costco to reveal the names of BC customers who shop in their Alberta stores. Needless to say, Costco is refusing on the basis of privacy and has filed a petition.

Here's an idea for the BC government. If you want to 'level the playing field', lower your taxes to be more competitive with Alberta.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

CTF on air: "Relocation services"

I'll be guesting on CKOM radio discussing yet another story broken by bloggers.

Listen live at between 1:15 and 1:30, sask time.

50,000 and counting

Thanks to Bourque and SDA , we hit the 50,000 unique visitor mark this morning. In all honesty, we're still not exactly sure how our blog will contribute toward our mandate of lower taxes, less waste and accountable government. We aren't sure what our role is in the "blogosphere" as a non-profit and non-partisan advocacy group.

We are certain, however, that the blog is an important and dynamic tool. We're sure that it can help us get our ideas out in real time and provide a way to have a conversation about issues that are important to our supporters. This blog will continue to evolve in the years to come.

In the mean time, please consider lending us your support. Check out our site to learn how.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ottawa Stonewalling on Gomery Legal Costs

CTF news release:

In light of recent government stonewalling on Gomery-related legal expenses, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling on the next federal government to end Ottawa’s “culture of secrecy” and remove political interference from the access to information process.

On November 7th, 2005, and November 16th, 2005, the CTF submitted two access to information requests asking for the total amount taxpayers paid for lawyers fees at the Gomery Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program. These requests went to two government bodies – the Privy Council Office and the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada. On December 5th, 2005, both the Privy Council Office and the Department of Public Works replied saying an additional 60 days was needed for one request and an additional 100 days was needed for the other. Coincidentally, the election will be over by the time this information sees the light of day.

“While some requests legitimately require additional time, these particular extensions seem politically motivated,” said CTF federal director John Williamson. “Again the public’s right to government information has taken a backseat to politics.”

Read the rest here.

Read the letter from the Privy Council Office.

Private clinics coming to Saskatchewan

The birth place of "medicare" is in for a real shock as the Coperman chain of private health clinics is planning to set up shop in Regina and Saskatoon.

From CJME:

Private Health Care is coming soon to a major city near you, including Regina and Saskatoon.

Copeman Health Care is determined to have private clinics established across the country within two years. Founder and CEO Don Copeman set up shop in Vancouver last fall, and is about to have three more in Ontario this year.

Sask Health is still researching the operation, before commenting on whether it will allow it. Copeman says he looks forward to discussions with the department, but adds he doesn't see any legislation that could block an operation offering services that aren't insured by private health care.

This is going to get really interesting. This is the province where the Minister of Health urged NDP supporters to call all their relatives who left Saskatchewan to get jobs and tell them to "say no" to Ralph Klein's health reforms. To date, no meaningful reforms have taken place in Alberta. The real action is in BC, Ontario and Quebec. But the Premier of Alberta makes a great straw man for healthscare crowd -- much like George Bush does for certain political parties.

I expect a pitched battle on this issue. Not necessarily from the government (they might choose to stay above the fray), but from organized labour. The argument will be made that private hospitals will draw away much-needed nurses and doctors from the under-staffed hospitals. The problem is that this is already happening. For example, nearly a the third of our newly-graduated orthopedic surgeons practice in the United States. And we're talking about the cream of the crop. To a large extent Canada is left with the "average" surgeons.

Private hospitals with their flexible hours and near limitless OR time will actually keep our best and brightest surgeons in Canada and the same goes for GPs and nurses. It will also cut wait times for the public system.

We look forward to a healthy debate on this.

High Gas Prices Driving Inflation....Again...

Rising fuel costs continue to ramp up inflation.

Read the CTF's 7th annual Gas Tax Honesty Report.

Sign our Petition.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Big Brother in BC

If you are British Columbian who shops at Costco in Alberta, the government wants to track you down and send you a new tax bill.

A Real Live Limousine Liberal!!

Meet Joe Volpe and read all about his Magical Mystery Tour at taxpayers' expen$e....

What's next? Charging taxpayers for two dinners in one night? (oops, he already did that)

$138 on pizza for two? (oops, he already did that too...)

This is what Gomery calls the Culture of Entitlement...

Sounds like Teddy-esque behaviour to me....

New tax on new homes in Calgary

The City of Calgary has voted in favour of a new levy (read tax) on new homes built in the city. The new tax, of approximately $3,500, will be applied to the purchase price.

NHLer suing MP

As a hockey fan I'm annoyed that Denis Coderre accused the good-as-gold Shane Doan of making ethnic slurs in a hockey game. As a taxpayer I'm furious they we'll have to pay for Coderre's legal defense.

Doan also demanded that Coderre make a public retraction in the motion filed in Quebec superior court.

Coderre had asked Hockey Canada in a letter on Dec. 22 to expel Doan from Canada's Olympic hockey team unless he apologized for reportedly uttering an ethnic slur to referee Stephane Auger at the end of a Dec. 13 game between the Coyotes and the Montreal Canadiens. Copies of the letter were released to the media.

Doan denied making the remark and an investigation by the NHL found no evidence that he used an ethnic slur.

The motion said Doan was seeking reparations for damages to his reputation over "false and defamatory" remarks made by Coderre, both in his letter to Hockey Canada and to the media.

The player asked for $200,000 in moral damages and $50,000 in punitive damages. The motion said Doan, who is earning $3 million US this season, would donate any money he is awarded to charity.

Liberal party misquotes CTF

Just in case there is any confusion, please find below the CTFs media advisory.

  1. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today responded to a news release issued by the Liberal Party of Canada that misrepresents statements made by its federal director John Williamson on the subject of the Conservative proposal to defer capital gains taxes when savings are re-invested. Mr. Williamson is erroneously cited as stating investments will never be taxed.

    “We wish the Conservative Party capital gains tax plan meant a $6-billion tax cut and the outright elimination of Canada’s capital gains tax. But it does not,” stated Mr. Williamson. “For the Liberals to suggest I said anything to that affect is absolutely false.”

    The Liberal press office issued a news release on Jan. 16th entitled, Conservative Finance Critic Contradicts Platform on Capital Gains. It states the Conservatives “are back-pedalling on their tax cut” because Finance Critic Monte Solberg “said the Conservatives are not planning the ‘elimination’ of the capital gains tax: ‘We’re talking about a deferral.’ Fellow Conservative MP Jason Kenny (sic) also told Don Newman on CBC’s Politics today that the Conservative proposal is only a deferral.”

    The governing Liberals attempt to bolster their case by inaccurately referencing Canada’s foremost taxpayer advocacy group. The release continues: “[Kenney] in turn was contradicted by John Williamson, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who said the plan features untaxed inter-generational transfers. ‘With our demographic changes, as assets are passed off from one generation to the next, individuals will have the chance to sell them and re-invest them for their retirement rather than these assets being taxed,’ said Williamson.”

    This is only half the story, and just the first half of Mr. Williamson’s quote. Canadian Press journalist Tara Perkins reported on January 13, “But he [Williamson] pointed out that the move only defers the payments of capital gains tax. Those taxes will still be paid at the point when the assets are sold without being reinvested. ‘At some point people need to check out, the need to take out those investments and live off them,’ Williamson said. ‘There's nothing here that will help individuals who are checking out.’” This significant qualifying remark appeared nowhere in the Liberal news release.

    Williamson concluded today: “Notwithstanding the Liberal spin, the bottom line is the capital gains deferral is the most pro-growth tax policy to emerge in this campaign. It will encourage Canadians to save more, expand Canada’s capital markets and improve the nation’s productivity. But Ottawa still needs to bring down marginal tax rates. Whichever party forms government on January 23rd, the CTF will continue to press for lower rates so Canadians are taxed less on their income and retirement savings.”

Manitoba's Auditor has field day with WCB

The former CEO Wally Fox Decent was unco-operative, but Manitoba's provincial auditor managed to make his way through WCB's twisted tale, which has ties to the failed Crocus Investment Fund.

Non-aboriginals deserve a say too

With less than a week left, all the major political parties have released their platforms on aboriginal affairs. Each platform sets forth great promises intended to “fix” the “aboriginal problem”. However, there is one promise that has eluded the final drafts of all the platforms, votes for non-aboriginals living on native reserves.

If someone is a full-time resident of a municipality, voting rights are assumed. Under aboriginal governance however, non-aboriginals living on reserves have no democratic right to participate in the local political community, even though they may pay property taxes to the local native band.

To read more check out the CTFs website at www.taxpayer.com

Entitled to his entitlements

That's right folks, David Dingwall is back in the news. Dingwall is the former head of the Royal Canadian Mint. He's most famous for claiming, "I'm entitled to my entitlements." It seems the little bit about his severance pay is still under negotiations.

To learn more click here for Licia Corbella's insightful column.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Another NDP scandal??

First there was Crocus, now it is the Workers Compensation Board. Tomorrow Manitoba's Provincial Auditor will release another scathing report that will see Gary Doer's NDP government doing back flips to distance themselves from. Wally Fox-Decent (pictured above) was a Crocus Board Member and former chairman of the WCB. Big hat tip to bloggers the Black Rod.

Reality check: Layton's claims that Shouldice Clinic is "non-profit"

Turns out the Shouldice Clinic is not exactly what Jack Layton says it is. According the Dr. Brian Day of the Canadian Independant Medical Clinics Association, Shouldice is indeed a for-profit clinic with shareholders. It also charges user fees and people can pay to jump the queue.

Just saying.

Update: From the Shouldice FAQs....(don't they check into these things?)

4) How much does the surgery cost?

The accounting staff will provide an estimate of charges, once you have either been examined at the hospital, or we have received your completed medical questionnaire. Residents of Ontario who have a valid health card are covered by the provincial health care system for the cost of surgery.

5) Do you take XYZ insurance?

We deal with many insurance companies. While many companies will pay us directly, some will only reimburse the patient. In that case, the hospital would complete all paper work and have it ready for you on discharge from the hospital. You could pay for your medical services by cash, personal cheque or credit card.

Update: Just got off the phone with the Shouldice Hospital. The hospital itself is indeed non-profit, but the group practice withing the hospital is for profit, like all other group practices in the country. You can pay cash for services above and beyond what is covered by public health care.

INAC rules in Peguis Band election

The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ruled - when they denied an appeal - there was no corruption in the last community election held at the Peguis Native Band.

If only the First Nations Governance Act had passed. This act would have set strict guidelines and regulations for native band elections, thereby increasing accountability and transperancy.

Be very afraid

Doug Cuthand has a tinfoil hat surgically tied into to his brainstem.

"But the Conservatives make the disturbing statement that they will create the First Nations Land Ownership Act and transfer land ownership from the Crown to the First Nations, effectively privatizing Indian land. This has never been a request by the First Nations leadership nor is it even on the radar internally. Our leaders have made it clear that First Nations land is owned collectively and is not real estate.

This is a policy statement that has been circulated by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and now it's been picked up by the Conservatives. The taxpayers federation is a right-wing organization that serves as a de facto policy developer for the Conservatives."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A parody to rule them all

In the past few days, Canada's bloggers and news papers have been creating their own parody of the Liberal Party's military attack ad, but perhaps the most creative of these comes courtesy of stephentaylor.ca "dubbed the most desperate Liberal attack ad yet."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Elect a liberal and your Canada Day celebration will be a lot fancier

Some great digging by the Ottawa Citizen, via Coyne. So, less than half the constituencies get 80 per cent of the funding. Yeah, that's fair.

A disproportionate share of federal funding for celebrations of Canada Day and other national holidays was given to organizations in ridings held by Liberal MPs, according to an analysis done by the Ottawa Citizen.

A little more than 79 per cent of the $7.5 million provided since the last election through Canadian Heritage's Celebrate Canada program funded projects based in Liberal ridings, the newspaper says.

As well, projects based in Quebec received more than half of the total amount spent by the national program.

Friday, January 13, 2006

What Taxes will they Cut? What will they Spend?

Read the fiscal backgrounder to the Tory Campaign Plan.

Read the fiscal backgrounder to the NDP Campaign Plan.

Read the Liberal Campaign Plan.

Just for fun

Annoyed with politicians? Give them a whack . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Layton used private hospital

All the things that Layton says to excuse himself are actually good arguments for private health care.

Layton had hernia surgery at the Shouldice Hospital, a private facility in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, while he was serving as a Toronto city councillor.

The NDP leader said he wasn't aware the clinic was private when he went for his surgery in the mid-1990s.

"It's just part of the system,'' Layton said in an interview. "The doctor says, `Go there.' You pay with your (Ontario health) card. It never occurred to me (it was) anything other than medicare, which it is."

[That's exactly the point Jack, private health care is not the bogeyman you make it out to be]
"I can tell you now if my doctor ever refers me anywhere, I'll ask him that question. It never occurred to me at the time, it wasn't a controversy at the time. It wasn't something on one's mind.''

Layton stressed that the Shouldice facility is a not-for-profit facility that has been part of the Ontario medical system for decades.

[It's not for profit, but it's private, and you've promised to ban them or at least prevent public money going to them for services, as was the case with your surgery]
Earlier in the campaign, Layton criticized Conservative Leader Stephen Harper who said he would send a loved one to a private clinic if it would ease their pain.

Layton pointed to family illnesses, such as his wife Olivia Chow's cancer treatment and his own attack of appendicitis, as instances where he has had to make the choice to support the public system. He didn't mention his hernia operation.

[Um, Jack, the best way to "support" the public health system is to not use it. It's not like our over-crowded public hospitals are screaming for more patients.]

Corporate Welfare Rides Again

Even in Tory-land, the corporate welfare gravy train continues to roll... and the track runs all downhill, from the taxpayer's perspective. Check out this story about Harper supporting ACOA funding.

Why is corporate welfare bad? Let me count the ways....

read the rest of this story at www.macleans.ca/kheiriddin

"There is no surplus in the EI fund!"

So says the Minister Responsible for the Treasury Board, Reg Alcock. Unfortunately for him, Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun points out that the Canada's Auditor General has a differnt opinion.

More controversy at SIGA

The board of SIGA has placed their president on "administrative leave." There has been no indication that an investigation is underway.

Here's some background on SIGA:
For those unfamiliar with Saskatchean, SIGA, or the Saskatchewan Indian and Gaming Authority, was established in 1995 under the Non-Profit Corporations Act. The operators of SIGA are the FSIN and its Tribal Councils.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority licenses SIGA, through the Casino Operating Agreement, to operate and manage table games. Under this agreement SIGA is to use the net proceeds from the operations of licensed table games for aboriginal charitable or religious purposes.

Liquor and Gaming owns and manages the slot machines located in the SIGA casinos as required by section 207 of The Criminal Code of Canada. SIGA is able to deduct reasonable costs of operating the casinos from the slot machines and is required to remit the net profits to Liquor and Gaming. The revenue from the slot machines belongs to Liquor and Gaming. In other words, it is public money.

So it goes without saying that the CTF has long advocated for more accountability and transparency for SIGA. Why?

An 2002 audit report concluded SIGA spent $14 million of the public’s money outside the rules. For example, two payments that the auditor believes are not authorized under the 1995 Casino Operating Agreement total $550,000. Of that $400,000 was paid to the FSIN and $150,000 to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Licensing (SIGL). In addition, SIGA spent approximately $3,100 for golf club memberships for certain staff, and paid approximately $1,400 in accommodation costs and golf course fees for some individuals.

This election has jumped the shark

Very rich:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is brushing off Liberal arguments that his call for charter-protected property rights would open the door to striking down laws that protect workers, children, unions and the environment.

Speaking of Cleaning Up Government....

The CTF's latest article in its Accountability Series is hot off the presses, penned by the CTF's Saskatchewan Director David MacLean.

January 12, 2006

Accountability Requires Expanding the Role of the Auditor-General

The Auditor-General of Canada provides taxpayers an objective and professional bird's-eye view of how tax dollars are spent. And while good work occurs under its current mandate, it remains that billions of tax dollars are excluded from the auditor's watchful eye. If the next government is serious about improving accountability and transparency, the scope of the auditor must be expanded so that all government money is subject to proper oversight.

Canadians were shocked when Auditor-General Sheila Fraser released her report on the sponsorship program in early 2004. The aftershocks are still reverberating in today's election campaign....

Read the rest here.

Cleaning Up Government

During this election campaign, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has unveiled its Accountability Series. These commentaries include advocating the need for better Whistleblower Legislation, greater powers for the Auditor-General and greater accountability in the picking of judges. You can read them all by going to the CTF's main website

Bottom Line: Structural Changes are needed. It is not enough to simply change the party and the players - we have to change how the game is played.

It worked for the NHL and it can work for Canada's democracy. It is time to move our political institutions out of the 19th century and into the 21st century.

We demand to know

This says it all.

"I'm very confident that SIGA will continue to be managed and led in the appropriate manner. Zane is an accomplished leader and negotiator and has the ability to meet the needs of our stakeholders and the SIGA business. Under his direction our business will continue as usual," she said.

Cook said she can't comment on whether there is an investigation at the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, nor would she say how long Bellegarde will be on leave.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Liberal Fiscal Forecasting

For 10 years the federal government has lowballed federal revenues and surpluses.

For 10 years.

In 2003-04 they said the surplus would be $1.9-billion. It was actually $9.1-billion.

We're not making this up.

Liberal attack ad parodies

Well everyone else is doing it....

The Saskatchewan NDP government said they would cut taxes in their 2003 platform.
But they raised taxes in their first budget.
In Saskatchewan.
The very next budget.
They raised taxes.
For every taxpayer.

We're not making this up.
OK that was lame.

Private health clinics coming to Ontario

Three private health clinics are scheduled to open in Toronto, London and Ottawa by this summer. The private health clincs offer similar services to their members as a 'regular' family doctor, however, provides patients with more one-on-one time.

SK: Tax relief, bring it on!

Faced with a growing tax revolt in rural Saskatchewan, the ruling NDP party has indicated they may provided property tax relief. The relief may be worth close to $50 million.

The change of heart by the Calvert governemnt, may have a lot to do with Santa's (aka David MacLean's) stunt late December 05. To read more, check out the CTF's website at: www.taxpayer.com.

ACOA and the virtual university

The Surly Beaver has an interesting story of ACOA gone tragically wrong.

You see, Mike Gaffney used to be the President and CEO of Learnsoft Corporation, a company based in Kanata Ontario. In September 1999, a virtual university was founded in Fredericton, New Brunswick to grant “E-MBA’s.” The university was given $600,000 in taxpayers money - $375,000 from Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and $225,000 from Human Resources Development Canada. This private, for-profit university was and is a subsidiary of Learnsoft Corporation. Sometime later, Mike Gaffney sold his shares in Learnsoft for - you guessed it - $600,000.

So lets recap. Michael Gaffney, son of a Liberal MP, Ontario resident and President of a company headquartered in Ontario, applies for and gets a grant from a among others, a federal funding agency whose purpose is to support businesses in Atlantic Canada. He then sells his share in the company for a tidy profit.

Liberal leak!

Guess what folks - the Liberal platform has been leaked and thrown up on the web in living color. Leaker Ezra Levant had some fun with it, and challenged his readers to "wordsearch" different words and see how often they came up. Typical Ezra, he searched "notwithstanding clause" (zero appearances), "western alienation" (zero) and "democratic deficit." (also zero). So I searched "tax cut", and found only 4 lonely little matches at pages 50 and 51 (the whole document is 85 pages). Here they are, with an attendant Taxpayer Reality Check for good measure.

For the rest of this blog, please visit www.macleans.ca/kheiriddin

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bet he's glad the feds get 10 cents/litre

Ottawa will collect $6 billion in taxes on gasoline this year, yet this guy is filling in his own potholes. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Sign our petition.

CTF Puts Tax Relief on Federal Election Agenda

With less than two weeks to go in the federal election campaign, it is nice to see both major parties talking tax relief. This is a testament to what groups like the CTF are able to accomplish.

Regardless of who wins the federal election, we will continue to fight for lower taxes, less waste and more accountable government.

Taxpayers deserve to have each loonie they send to Ottawa budgetted and accounted for in an open and transparent manner. We will continue to fight for taxpayers to ensure this happens.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Government crying wolf

Debunking the deficit threat.

Ottawa: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) today responded to concerns raised by the Liberal Party that campaign promises made by the Conservative Party will result in chronic deficits. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Paul Martin said, “I know these numbers and I know that we’ve got a very strong economy because we stayed out of deficit and I will be very, very interested in how all [the Conservative] numbers add up.” The Liberals say the Conservative plan will produce deficits “of at least $12.4-billion over five years.”

Read the rest.

The real threat to our balanced budgets my lie in the historic 2005 spending binge.

CBC "reality checks" tax and spend promises

And does a reasonably good job of it.

One addition we think should be made is the liberal spending promises in the lead up to the call of the election.

Sask learning minister making it up as he goes along

Remember back in the last provincial election when the NDP platform said they "had room to receive the recommendations of the Boughen commission on k-12 education"? You'll recall that they did in fact raise taxes in their first budget after the election in direct contravention of their campaign pledge to "continue to reduce taxes."

When asked about the fact that the province raised the PST, Learning Minister Andrew Thomson is now telling us that tax increase was for health care, and not to offset school tax reductions.

Using a sales tax, as was suggested by the Boughen Commission on Financing Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education, is more fair, said Blakley. Commissioner Ray Boughen recommended hiking the provincial sales tax by one per cent.

The PST did go up to seven per cent in the 2004 budget, but the money was to be used to fund health, not education. Learning Minister Andrew Thomson said then that the government did not want to raise the sales tax again and the money raised by the hike could not be redirected to education.

It seems whenever the government wants to engage in a mindless tax grab it's really, really necessary for health care. Let's be clear -- that money was not for health care. That money was to balance the budget as the government was sinking deeper into deficit with a number of public sector unions intentionally left to negotiate contracts with.

Don't let politicians revise history for us. And don't let them frame the debate.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Blog accountability questioned

Murray Wood, 980 CJME news director:

The ‘bloggers’ like to portray themselves as more crusading than what they call the ‘main-stream media.’ But a lot of the blogsites I see are people with a clear axe to grind. No pretense of objectivity. Hey, that’s fine…I take them for what they are. But take the piece on Donald Black this week. Black is a friend of Ralph Goodale’s, and has supported the Liberal party in the past. He also heads an investment firm and is a director with the Investment Dealers Association. It was in that capacity that he met with Goodale the day of the income trust announcement.

That was enough to prompt at least one blogsite to insinuate Black is implicated in the scandal.

In fact…if you look in the piece for any clear suggestion of wrongdoing, you won’t find it. No indication Black or his company profited from any insider information. Suspicions aren’t enough to fuel accusations.

Some of the blogs have been playing a bit fast and loose with facts and reputations. Keep it up and they’ll find out libel laws apply just as harshly in the cyber world, as in the real world.

Taxpayers' heads are exploding

This kind of thing drives people absolutely nuts. A sports shooting group spokesperson says it best:

"It is inappropriate for the federal government to hire a private lobbyist with taxpayers' dollars to lobby itself," they complained to the RCMP. "It is also very inappropriate for an employee of the Liberal party to profit from funds granted by the government of Canada."

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch...

But apparently there could be such thing as "free" post-secondary education...or at least almost.

Taxpayers already pay around 70%-80% of the cost of a post-secondary education and the Liberals want to make it closer to 90%.

While a well-educated work force does benefit all Canadians, being well-education greatly benefits those who receive the education.

Statistics continue to show average earnings of those who receive a post-secondary education are much higher than those who opt not to seek out post-secondary education.

In fact, on average across Canada in 2001, those people who received a university degree, certificate or diploma earned $48,648 a year while those who only had their high school degree earned $25,477. A difference of $23,171 a year!

Do the math, if you work from age 25 to age 65, the constant dollar benefit if you received your university degree is a gain of $926,840. I think most people would enjoy a 4,600% return on their $20,000 (4yrs x $5,000/yr tuition) investment. If the Liberals implement their $8 billion/year plan that return will increase to a nearly 6,200%.

Even if students were to pay the full shot of university ($20,000/yr) they still would receive nearly a 1,200% return of their investment.

I don't know about you, but if I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a house today for $80,000 knowing that it will likely be worth the equivalent of $926,840 (2001 dollars) when I retired, and I would be able to receive the value in annual payments, it wouldn't take a lot of thought, especially if the gov't was willing to loan me the money (interest free for the first 4 years).

Furthermore, funding "soon to be rich people" with the tax dollars of "not soon to be rich people" is completely unfair. Why should a janitor earning $10/hour have his tax dollars used to pay for the education of a lawyer who will end up earning $200/hour after he graduates?

It's no different than using our tax dollars to provide corporate welfare to large corporations.

It's a bad, desperate policy.

Saskatchewan job numbers in a death spiral

For four months in a row Saskatchewan has seen net year-over-year job losses in a time where oil is in the $60 range and uranium is sky high. Over the past year Saskatchewan's work force has shrunk by nearly 9,000 people or 1.8 per cent. For the record there are only two other provinces that have seen job losses over the same period -- Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

Meditate on that for a while.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Clouds of suspicion brewing

The Globe and Mail has confirmed that the RCMP
are in fact looking into a suspicious $4.8 million
grant given to Option Canada, a pro-Canada group
during the 1995 referendum.

More on this from the Globe & Mail:

Another day, another Liberal scandal?

This is courtesy of Captain's Quarters:

A source within Canadian political and media circles informed CQ earlier this afternoon that the media will break a story on an almost-forgotten scandal involving Options Canada, where $4.8 million disappeared without much oversight from the Liberal government in 1995.

Read more from CQ here:

Toronto city budget: Theatre of the absurd

A doozie of a column in today's Toronto Sun on the city's budget crisis. I'm going to borrow liberally but you should read the whole thing.

While 150 bureaucrats sat glued to the unfolding spectacle, Hoy patted herself and her officials on the back for the bang-up job they've done controlling staff growth.

This, as her own budget documents showed that it costs $300 million more each year just to maintain city services ($100 million of that to pay for employee wage hikes!) -- and the city plans to add $501 million more to the operating budget bottom line this year.

Then came the ultimate insult: Soknacki and Miller -- insisting their hands are tied because the province has downloaded so many programs on the city -- presented no remedies to balance the books other than more "conversations with the province" for a permanent funding fix, more draws on their reserve funds and a possible 6% residential property tax hike.


Hoy's massive efforts to control staff growth? According to her own budget documents, the city has added 2,410 new positions since amalgamation (which was supposed to be a downsizing exercise) and they've all been in soft social services (560 alone in public health) at the expense of "hard" services like garbage and transportation.


[And then the coup de grase...]

Tasha Kheiriddin, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, called yesterday's budget presentation a "theatre of the absurd" and the mayor the "chief clown."

Who Was in the Loop??

The RCMP investigation continues....

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Finally, some real accounting practices

After years of the CTF calling on the Manitoba government to change their accounting practices, the province will finally fully adopt Generally Accepted Accounting Principles by 2008. More on this at www.taxpayer.com

Fiscal federalism in Fort McMurray

Paul Wells has a great piece for Macleans on my home town.

Let's pause to tally a few of the issues at play in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. Natural resources. The environment. Public infrastructure. Canada-U.S. relations, because who do you suppose buys most of that oil? The rise of China, because it's a burgeoning secondary growth market. Immigration. "We need another million people in Alberta and certainly 30,000 or 40,000 in Fort McMurray," Jean said.

What else? Fiscal federalism: at the sprawling, otherworldly Syncrude plant north of town, company spokesman Alain Moore pressed into my hands a study showing that the federal government already gets about 41 per cent of the revenues from the oil sands, compared to 36 per cent for the Alberta government.

Stop Ignoring Indian Affairs

Below is the latest commentary provided by the CTFs Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change. The column asks the federal politicians to enter in a debate on Indian Affairs.

Stop Ignoring Indian Affairs
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell may be remembered for suggesting elections were no place to discuss issues, but the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) believes it is precisely the time to discuss issues. The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Canada for the Third World living conditions on native reserves. Yet, the issue of Indian affairs has received little attention in this election.

For a decade, the CTF has advocated for the abolition of the Indian Act and the entire system of Indian affairs. Here’s why:

In 1876, the Indian Act was enacted to grant the federal government control and management of Indian reserves in Canada. Until the late 1950s, the federal government’s paternalism was all-encompassing; it funded, delivered and administered all aboriginal programs and services.

By the 1980s, Indian bands received considerable administrative autonomy and were able to deliver federally funded (read: taxpayer funded) services without government oversight or audit. All Ottawa did was replace one bureaucracy run in Ottawa with another less accountable bureaucracy run on reserves.

Under the current system, the delivery of programs is in the hands of the chiefs and councils. Since there is no separation between politics and administration on reserves – and there is no requirement to do so – everything on a reserve that is in any way related to band administration is politicized. This scenario provides the chief and council with tremendous power and control over community members.

The federal government currently spends almost $8-billion annually on Indian affairs. Under the Indian Act there is no requirement for native governments to reveal their financial records to their members, let alone to the federal auditor general or to taxpayers. Clearly, this loophole must be closed. As a start, the auditor general’s mandate must be expanded to included native bands.

So why does the federal government not put an end to a system which clearly has little or no accountability? In a bizarre twist of fate, the “Indian Industry” needs the reserve system – with all its faults – to justify its existence.

The “Indian Industry” is comprised of a massive amount of consultants, lawyers, researchers, administrators and managers. In addition, Indian lobby groups are funded by taxpayers to lobby for more money and special rights for Indian communities.

If the federal government abolished the system and the Indian Act, the entire “Indian Industry” would cease to exist. In other words, the impoverished Indians living in Third World conditions are essential to the existence of the “Indian Industry.”

Aboriginal issues are a growing area of public policy and perhaps the most important moral dilemma facing Canada. There is still time before January 23rd for politicians to begin the debate. Federal politicians have an opportunity to stop ignoring the issue of a perverse system that keeps down the very people it was intended to help.

Big buses, or small buses? Taxpayers want to know!

For readers outside the province of Saskatchewan, this requires a little explanation. In Saskatchewan we don't have Greyhound or Red Arrow running bus lines. In Saskatchewan, the government owns and operates the bus company and there is a actually a minister responisble for buses.

The bus company is doing terribly, and has been for years. In fact, it's losing around $20 million a year and this year they plan to lose even more. What's really funny is when our elected politicans start debating minutiae of running a bus system.

Check out this exchange:

Eldon Lautermilch, the minister responsible for STC, said the company expects the number of riders to drop this year as two special centennial programs will no longer be in effect.

"We're looking at some options right now to see what we can do to support seniors and young people with the operations," he said in an interview on Tuesday.

The Crown corporation is also budgeting for higher fuel costs in the year ahead.

Lautermilch said that while the company has increased efficiencies in recent years, the NDP government expects STC will lose money.

"We are expecting we are going to be subsidizing its operations because we're trying to provide service in areas that wouldn't otherwise be provided," he said.

Before 2003, the government subsidy to STC had been declining each year since it hit a high of $8.3 million in 1996.

Saskatchewan Party MLA Ken Krawetz said he's concerned about the upward trend in STC's subsidy.

"We have to look at changes. The buses that are currently used on many, many routes are old, they're built for when there was tremendous usage by people. What we're seeing now is that the freight that is being hauled is what's making money for STC and a smaller bus transporting 12 to 15 people pulling a trailer behind it can still provide that same service. So we need to have those kinds of studies, those kinds of experiments looked at," he told reporters at the legislature.

STC spokesman John Millar said the company already utilizes smaller buses and trailers but it must provide vehicles that will meet peak demands on each route.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What about those who don't pay any taxes? Huh? What about them?

Abramovitch over at the CBC forum thinks Harpers sports tax credit plan isn't any good because it's not inclusive enough. The plan is flawed for several reason, but a lack of inclusion is not one of them. For Marcie, all government tax plans and programs should be measured against the interests of those who earn LESS than the basic personal exemption every year.

Also, a significant portion of the population does not pay taxes. These Canadians' incomes may be so low that they don't need to use tax credits beyond the basic exception, and thus would not have their income taxed at all. Or, because they have enough tax credits already available, they would be paying no taxes. A new tax credit would not make any difference to the taxes they pay, and so would be of no benefit.

You can check out Marcie's othere thoughts over here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Waste watch: Moving a government employee more expensive than you think

Conservative Life has dug up some interesting nuggets. Who would have thought bureaucrats might have to stay at Hilton Disney World Resort when they change cities.

Ottawa Citizen: If it's on a blog, it's news

The Citizen:

News stories regularly quote bloggers commenting on the latest political issue -- not just famous bloggers, or those involved in the game, but ordinary guys with blogs, sometimes even anonymous guys making postings on other peoples' blogs. If these ordinary guys were shouting on the street corner, their views would go unmarked, but because they are contained in blogs, they become news, quoted in the same story as the views of Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

This is compounded by the fact that the anonymous foot soldiers of political campaigns, the so-called backroom boys, have discovered that they need not be anonymous. They put together their own blogs and shout on the street corner, somehow forgetting that people might hear them; they shout rude things that are then reported by blog-smacked media, happy to find anyone saying anything colourful in a time when the leaders are careful and under wraps.

A Happy New Year??

Today's Winnipeg Sun editorial discusses the CTF's caluculations on the small tax savings you can expect in 2006.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box