CTF in the News

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

David Maclean Live on CJME!


The SK division of the CTF will be delivering pre-budget recommendations to the SK government.

Mr. MacLean will be live on John Gormley discussing these recommendations at 10:30 AM-SK time.

Listen live by going to www.cjme.com

Monday, February 27, 2006

Alberta continues to boom

Today Alberta posted a whopping suprlus of $7.4 billion. Strong oil and gas revenues are almost entirely responsbile for the huge surplus.

The CTF contunes to call for a legislated saving plan (similar to a legislated debt repayment plan), as well as to lower taxes for all Albertans.

DFO breaks spending rules

Surprise, surprise another federal department failed to realize the federal spending rules applied to them.

This time the culprit is the Department of Fisheries. According to an audit the DFO spend $160 million in 2000-2001 to buy fishing licences, boats and gear for Mi'kmaq natives in Atlantic Canada. DFO failed to keep proper records and following spending rules.

Alberta poised for a P3

What's a P3? It is a joint venture involving a public-private partnership. Usual the government works with the private sector to share the costs and risks in building an infrastructure project.

The province of Alberta recently announced it will accept bids for the city of Calgary's northeast ring road. The idea is to have a private company build and then maintain the road for 30 years. The cost of the project is estimated to be $900 million.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Red Pheasant votes again

The folks at Red Pheasant voted last April, however allegations of corrupt practices and vote-buying began flying around shortly after the ballots were cast lead to another vote.

After a Department of Indian and Northern Affairs investgation determined many of the allegations were true, the members of the Red Pheasant Indian Band in Saskatchewan went to the polls again Wednesday. This time the election sees a new Chief and several new councillors.

Harper: Don't hike income taxes

Calgary Sun:

"While cutting the GST is a politically popular move, it does not need to come at the expense of increasing personal income taxes," says Taylor. "There is ample room in the federal coffers to afford both measures."

Manitoba CTF: Privatize government insurance

Winnipeg Sun:

The CTF also wants to see the auditor general's office -- which has a mandate to ensure taxpayers' dollars are spent appropriately -- to receive an additional $500,000.

"We recognize it's a bit of an aberration to call on the government to actually spend money, but this is one area we believe more resources are needed," said Batra. Auditor general Jon Singleton welcomed the support.

"We have a pretty big backlog of allegations of inappropriate practices and many of them we'll never get to," said Singleton, noting a $500,000 increase would allow him to hire three new staff.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Probe away

A municipal audit of Winnipeg's photo enforcement program shows that taxpayers could be on the hook for nearly $50 million because of over-stated revenue projections.
Back in the bad old days when Glen Murray was Mayor, photo enforcement became a reality in Winnipeg - at the time the CTF took issue with this plan because the politicians bragged about how much money the city would rake in (and public safety, of course being a secondary result).

They were wrong - $50 million wrong. The only bright light in this saga is the program hasn't turned out to be a cash cow.

But to make matters worse, the company Winnipeg bought the cameras from is under investigation in Edmonton for alleged kick-back schemes. One city councilor wants the RCMP to investigate - he might be on to something.

Nice work - if you can get it

Seems in the dying days of the last Liberal regime, Paul Martin made an astounding 212 "patronage" appointments. And we're not talkin' small token jobs. Ambassadorships, senior Crown Corporation appointments and promotions in the RCMP.

To read more check out Greg Weston's column in today's Ottawa Sun.

Saskatchewan: Do budgets matter anymore?

It’s clear from the third quarter update of the province’s finances that government budgets are increasingly irrelevant in Saskatchewan. 2005-06 is shaping up to be a banner year for the Saskatchewan government. Turns out Premier Calvert and company are collecting tax dollars at a record pace. Revenues are a billion dollars higher than forecasted in their budget. What gives?

Read the rest...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Swing low, Nunavut!

CBC say:

Nunavut continually violated federal and its own territorial laws by spending money that wasn't approved by the legislative assembly, says Ottawa's auditor general.

The territory has failed to put basic financial controls in place, making it vulnerable to mistakes, bad decisions and fraud, Sheila Fraser says in a report tabled on Tuesday.

The Nunavut government has more than 2,300 employees and $1 billion in assets, and spends more than $1 billion a year. Most of its funding comes from the federal government.

Yet some of the territory's accounting is done by hand rather than on a computer, said the report.

Time's up, Nunavut. Get your act together.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It was a bad idea then...it's a bad idea now!


This trial balloon needs to be popped not re-filled with helium.

I repeat...studies continue to show a link between obesity and socioeconomic status. Making poor people even poorer by taxing their food will only work because it will force them to go hungry.

This once again shows that you cannot just tax every social ill away. If you could, people would not drink, smoke, gamble, or get in car accidents.

The world is watching

Sask. Fish Tales has a good post on international reaction to the modernization of health care in Canada.

Hand the GST to the provinces?

Canadian Council of Chief Executives say:

In a section called Hand the GST to the provinces, the business group notes that a Quebec commission called for a similar solution in 2002. This approach, it says, “has several important virtues.”

The $29-billion raised annually by the GST is roughly equivalent to the amount of health and social transfers Ottawa doles out to provinces, the group notes.

But its proposal to cut the tax and health transfers almost certainly will unleash concern about the threat to Ottawa's ability to maintain national standards in areas of provincial jurisdiction, including health and social programs.

Shifting tax room to the provinces in this manner would “encourage the federal government to focus on its core responsibilities instead of continuously looking for ways to intrude in provincial jurisdiction,” the CEOs say.

Very, very interesting.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Talking taxes

I'll be guesting on Michael Harris Live in Ottawa at 2:05 eastern time to talk about the Fortier Senate appointment. Not sure if you can listen live or not.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The saga continues with Winnipeg's fat cats


Now that we have learned it is at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to decide salaries for senior bureaucrats at Winnipeg's City Hall, one has to wonder why the CAO won't talk to the media?

In today's Winnipeg Sun, Tom Brodbeck asks this very question.

Private health care...in solidarity

Check out Charest's weird language:

"It won't be the private for the private. It will be a tool for solidarity, a partner and an ally for the public regiment to compliment it and support it and to contribute to its sovereignty and at the same time to preserve its values."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Alberta on it's way back into debt...

It's getting serious here in Alberta. Deadly serious.

When the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Fraser Institute, former associate Deputy Minister of Finance and economist Paul Boothe, and former Premier Peter Lougheed all say that the government needs to stop spending and start saving...you know things are bad, very bad.

We're not even talking about if oil and gas prices drop - Paul Boothe predicts that even if record-high oil and gas prices stay at the same level, Alberta will run a deficit in five years.

Five years! And this from a government that once was heralded world wide for it's fiscal restraint and ability to get out of debt.

If the govenment doesn't "right the ship" in their 2006-07 budget the only hope might be a change in leadership.

Let's hope that's not the legacy Premier Klein has in mind.

Tax cuts work

The U.S. economy is red hot, but nobody is talking about it.

The latest numbers from the Congressional Budget Office show a clear supply-side effect where lower tax rates and higher after-tax rewards for work and investment have expanded the economy and created a huge surge of tax collections. Dan Clifton of the American Shareholders Association first reported that actual revenues from the lower capital-gains tax rate came in $46 billion higher over the last three fiscal years and $62 billion higher over the last three calendar years than congressional estimates. The Laffer curve is alive and well.

The tale of two Daves

Saskatchewan political columnist of record points out that only the CTF and the Saskatchewan Liberals have spoken out against the $327 million pulp mill disaster (behind subscriber wall). The fact is that Mandryk has been doing some straight talking on this issue himself, which is in stark contrast to pretty much everyone else in the province.

Welcome straight-talking from the two Daves
Saskatchewan Liberal leader David Karwacki and Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) provincial spokesman David MacLean are about as unlikely a political pairing as you can possibly imagine.

Thing is, this isn't the first time the CTF and the liberals have agreed on issues. The CTF and liberal Jack Hillson were alone in opposing sweetheart government loans to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. More recently, I had the pleasure of hearing David Karwacki advocating a legislated debt-repayment schedule.

The liberals have nothing to lose by publicly espousing fiscal responsibility. It gives them a total different look. By any standards the last provincial election was a failure for the liberals. That campaign could have been helped by some good tax policies and solid messages around debt and deficits. Instead, they chose to spend a lot of time talking about cluster strategies for economic development, which had a voter resonation value of approximately zero.

Maybe this is the beginning of a more taxpayer-friendly version of the Saskatchewan liberals? Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Liberal MP files a complaint with ethics commissioner



Winnipeg South Centre Liberal MP Anita Neville has filed a complaint with the federal ethics commissioner regarding Portage-Lisgar Conservative MP Brian Pallister's use of federal resources (including staff) while he travels the province gauging support for a run at the provincial Tory leadership.
Hat tip to endlessspin.blogspot.com

Cancer patients dying while waiting for the government

The government just can't make up its mind on whether to provide a possibly life-saving drug. File remains with the Minister of Files, to be forward to Minister of Government Efficiency and copied to the Minister of Healthy Living. Minister of Government Relations should be notified.

Why did the government not mention this?

Regardless, the government should have no role in this decision. This should be between the patient and his doctor.

UPDATE: A careful reader points out that the drug in question doesn't cure cancer, but it possibly extends the life of those afflicted. Also, the government did notify the media that American clinical trials were having serious problems (as noted in the link above).

$42.8 million of your tax dollars down the drain...


Elections Canada has made the first of two payments to candidates in the last election to reimburse their campaign expenses.

That's right, your tax dollars are being used to reimburse candidates for the cost to purchase campaign office space, attack ads, those signs that litter our streets, and those annoying doorknockers that fall off when the wind blows.

All candidates who received 10% of the vote in their riding and file their expenses will be reimbursed 60% of their expenses.

The first payment of $10.7 million is only a quarter of what it will likely end up costing Canadians for these re-imbursements.

In addition to the fact that most Canadians wouldn't approve of having their tax dollars used to help candidates smear each other during election campaigns, it creates a potential for fraud.

For example, if you are a candidate and you pay your "friend" a $20,000 salary to "work on your campaign", providing you get 10% of the vote, taxpayers will send you a nice fat cheque for $12,000 to reimburse you that campaign expense.

Not that anyone would consider doing that...

The year was 1933

The Regina Manifesto:

Power has become more and more concentrated into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of financiers and industrialists and to their predatory interests the majority are habitually sacrificed. When private profits is the main stimulus to economic effort, our society oscillates between periods of feverish prosperity in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man's normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated. We believe that these evils can be removed only in a planned and socialized economy in which our natural resources and the principal means of production and distribution are owned, controlled and operated by the people.

Just a reminder to make sure you get your annual reading of the Regina Manifesto done for the year. It's like spring cleaning -- just get it over with.

Sask judges get 18 per cent pay raises

The facts:

  • Provincial court judges get 18 per cent hike from $165,000 a year to $195,000 a year
  • Just three years ago they got 10 per cent
  • Judge "union" says they deserve a huge raise to keep pace with judges in TO and Van
  • Government says they only want to give inflation
  • Government says they won't dispute the raise
  • Government gives them what they want

Monday, February 13, 2006

A conversation with Carlos Santana


RE: Che Guevara

(HT: Dust my broom)

Just because.

Making the Grade

The federal government is beginning to transfer the responsibility of native education on reserves to native band councils. The transfers are based on a recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) which states, “Aboriginal people should expect to see equity of results from education in Canada. This will not happen if the education system continues unchanged. For significant change to occur, Aboriginal peoples must have the authority to organize education and influence how their children are educated.”

But is it the right move?

To read more click here.

Nice

Edmonton Sun:

But the reason why the pre-budget report should be mandatory reading is because Alberta director Scott Hennig has crunched the numbers to show just how much the government has been overspending.

Hennig points out that since 1996-97, program spending in Alberta has increased by 113%. (Which means we don’t want to hear anyone in this province complaining about how social programs like health care and education have been “gutted” by the Klein government.)

Alberta pre-budget submission.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Someone in Alberta finally steps up

While all the heavy lifting on health care reform has been happening in Quebec and British Columbia, Alberta has been a bastion of the status quo. Now, you wouldn't know that if you listened to the unions or even our own government (remember John Nilson urging Saskatchewan residents to call their Albertan ex-pat relatives and ask them to oppose Ralph Klein's "radical" health agenda?).

Now a private clinic is stepping up to charge user fees. The Alberta College of Physicians says this is a no-no. However, given the Chaoulli decision from the Supreme Court, this will not last a day in the courts. Canadians have a right to buy their own medicine -- especially if the government is deemed unable to provide timely health care. "Timely" is in the eye of the beholder.

It's about time somebody in supposedly free-enterprising Alberta stepped up and put it in writing.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Lorne Calvert: Lowering taxes won't make businesses more competitive

Perhaps this is a sneak preview of what is to come.

Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert says lowering taxes isn't the only way to make the province competitive.

He told the province's business community that it needs to offer competitive wages to retain staff and to better train young people.

Calvert says businesses should pay their workers more. According to the Business Tax Review Committee, Calvert is dead wrong.

Actually, I am coming around to The Party's point of view. Seriously, do you really believe having the highest business taxes on the continent hurts our competitiveness? Get with the program people! The responsibility for our lagging economy and shrinking population lies with the landowner class and the stingy salaries paid to workers. If only the owners would open the purse strings, Saskatchewan would be actually growing.

It's pretty rich that these comments come on the day that new StatsCan data shows Saskatchewan is bleeding jobs despite a "red hot" economy.

Northern MLAs push for tax cuts

A group of MLAs from Northwest Territories are pushing for the NWT Northern Resident Allowance, which is added to the basic person tax exemption, to be increased. The Northern Resident Allowance amount was set back in the 90s and has never been indexed to inflation.

The CTF has long advocated for increasing the Basic Person Tax exeption to $16,000. This would completely remove anyone working full-time for minimum wage from paying income tax.

Life of Reilly on the Taxpayer's Dime


In a story broken by blogger Craig Smith over at Conservative Life, check out CTV's latest Whistleblower, with commentary from the CTF's Tasha Kheiriddin.




Here are some examples from 2003/2004:

800 rooms in Cancun, Mexico
636 rooms in Barbados
523 rooms in San Jose, Costa Rica
290 rooms in Marrakech, Morocco
192 rooms in Casablanca, Morrocco
167 rooms in Montego Bay, Jamaica
107 rooms in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico
98 rooms in Bermuda
93 rooms in Nassau, Bahamas

Your Tax Dollars At Work.

Winnipeg's Culture on of Entitlement



In 2004, Winnipeg's CAO Annitta Stenning received a handsome salary of $204,000 - this includes perks such as a car allowance and a bonus. At this salary level, this puts Ms. Stenning in the top 1 per cent of income earners in Canada. As an aside, she rakes in nearly double the salary of the Premier of Manitoba, and more than the former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan.

Full commentary and copy of the report at www.taxpayer.com. Read Tom Brodbeck on the Hay Report in today's Winnipeg Sun

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Think of the ratings...

Move over Desperate Housewives, Dan Hays and his gang of cronies are looking to bump you off as #1 night-time drama.

Let's just hope they can get satellite feeds for all of those Senators who enjoy wintering in Mexico (as well as summering, springing and falling).

Canadians will literally be able to watch their tax dollars being wasted...oh happy day!

(HT:Bourque)

More superlatives needed

Ottawa Sun:

Adam Taylor, a spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, was "embarrassed" by the details of the junket.

"How can they justify sending so many people at taxpayers' expense?" he asked.

"Accountability and transparency are major buzzwords in Canadian politics. It's the height of arrogance for a Crown corporation like the CBC to spend tax dollars with little to no concern for accountability to the public.

"I'm dumbfounded. We have the right to know (how much is being spent)."

Saskatchewan's unfunded pension liabilities

Leader Post:

"We think funding needs to be strengthened. We've got a maturing system in Canada. We're seeing pension plans with two or three generations of liabilities in them...

"We've got plans that can't take much in the way of bad news.''

Other contentious issues include: who owns pension surpluses in DBPs and what happens to pensions in bankruptcy or insolvency situations.

Unfortunately, the atmosphere is "too hostile, too entrenched'' for any government to make needed changes to pension rules and regulations, he said. "Until we do, all we'll see is a slow and steady decline in DBP funds. I don't think that serves anyone's interest.''

Could the City of Winnipeg be debt free by 2017?


The City of Winnipeg has not borrowed money in years and in the most recent capital budget, debt payment cost was nearly doubled - all good news.
From the Winnipeg Free Press (subscribers only):

In 1995, when the tax-supported portion of the overall debt was $530 million, Winnipeg taxpayers were on the hook for $89 million worth of principal and interest payments, Steski said.

In 2005, when tax-supported debt declined to $264 million, principal and interest payments went down to $56 million.

In other words, Winnipeggers paid $33 million less in taxes to service debt last year than they did a decade earlier, which is enough money to pay for most of this year's road repairs, or all of Winnipeg Transit's new hybrid diesel-electric buses.

"We've cut the principal so much, we've been able to allocate those resources to other areas," beamed Adrienne Batra, spokeswoman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"Today's debts are tomorrow's taxes. We're happy this (mayoral) administration has maintained the principle of previous ones in their commitment to stop borrowing." The utility debt, meanwhile, has shrunk dramatically due to the 2002 sale of Winnipeg Hydro. Between 2001 and 2002, utility debt dropped by $232 million, with $166 million of that red ink wiped out by the hydro sale.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Recommendations for Alberta

Hennig lays it out:

  • Restricting all in-year unbudgeted spending, and hold program spending to no more than $26.3 billion for 2006-07;
  • Roll back the Fiscal Responsibility Act to 2003 levels and only budget to spend the first $3.5 billion of resource revenues;
  • Increase the size of the Sustainability Fund from $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion and index it to inflation starting in 2007-08;
  • Link public sector workers (nurses, teachers, doctors, MLAs, government employees) wage increases to what the private sector gets;
  • Quit stalling on health care reform, and remove any legislative barriers necessary to allow private competition and address the findings in the Chaouilli decision;
  • Stop spending all of our resource revenues and start banking them, so that Albertans can begin to see sustainable long-term tax relief rather than one-time payments;
  • Reduce corporate income taxes to 8% as promised;
  • Amend the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act so that any new tax or increase in taxes must first be approved by Albertans in a referendum;
  • Require transparency in the reporting of any reduction of provincial education property taxes.

It's Time to De-Register the Gun Registry


Is the Gun Registry on its Last Legs?

Three points to make:

1. Duck hunters aren't criminals.

2. Criminals don't register their guns.

3. The gun-database hasn't done one shred of good in combatting gun crime.

Couple of things

Calgary Alderman Barry Erskine thinks he can help run the city yet he can't even manage his own communications budget.

We hope the Prime Minister isn't surprised about this.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

CTF on the air

Kheiriddin, Hennig and I will be on Charles Adler talking about the cabinet. We'll be on around 3:00 eastern.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The ballooning budget

CBC reports:

Regina's new federal government building is overdue and over its original budget by about $15 million.

Federal officials say high construction costs have hiked the bill for the redevelopment of the office tower and shopping centre known as the Galleria, located downtown at the corner of Hamilton Street and 11th Ave.

When the project was announced in 2004, it was supposed to cost $29 million.

However, officials now estimate the price tag will be $44 million.

Officials are blaming inflation and high steel prices for the budget bloat. But is that really the reason? We recommend taking a look at the constant changes to the plans during construction and the required architectural and engineering revisions. I received a tip on this a year and a half ago.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Disgusting


It seems David Dingwall is entitled to his entitlements afterall.

Paul Martin and the outgoing government mislead Parliament and Canadians when they said Dingwall resigned. He was actually fired.

The entire Dingwall affair was handled badly from Day 1. Now taxpayers will pay even more.

Disgusting.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Karwacki: From Cypher to Hero

Liberal leader with no seats and little support tells it like it is on the boondoggle pulp mill.

He said the NDP government is worried about holding on to the seat in the region, so it doesn't want to make any tough decisions.

The Opposition Sask. Party, which nearly won the last two provincial elections, covets the Meadow Lake seat and is not making any hard choices either, Karwacki said.

"They're not prepared to touch this issue. Nobody seems to want to talk about it," he said. "This head-in-the-sand approach just doesn't work when you have a serious problem."

The NDP should have come up with a plan to "stop the bleeding" at the mill years ago, he said.

Sask: Meet the new Finance Minister


Major cabinet shuffle today. Andrew Thomson has been named Finance Minister.

Closed door appointment process; OK

Or, at least that's what Canada's Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin thinks. With the ink barely dry on Gomery II, it seems a bit odd for the Chief Justice to make such a statement.

Currently, the appointment process for supreme court justices is made by the prime minister with assistance from his/her justice minister. The CTF has advocated for a more open and transperant process. Specifically, enabling parliament to question/vet candidates for the top bench.

It is time to shed more light on the appointment process, not maintain the status quo.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The fat cats at Winnipeg's city hall


The Winnipeg Sun exposes the ridiculous salary increases and bonus structure that is alive and well at city hall. Fortunately for taxpayers, in his state of the city address on Tuesday, Mayor Sam Katz has said they will immediately review all salaries and move to eliminate the bonuses.

Union complains about political aid cleaning up diarrhea mess

(Via Dust My Broom)

CBC:

Depending on who you talk to, a political aide who cleaned up a non-political mess deserves either a gold star or a slap on the wrist.

Ottawa Public LibraryMike Patton took on extra duties last Thursday when he mopped up what he called a "poo apocalypse" in a downtown public library.

Thursday afternoon, Patton got a call from a frustrated patron who opened the men's bathroom door in the Ottawa Public Library to discover a toilet seat and surrounding floor covered in feces.

"Clearly someone was not feeling well and had a bit of a diarrhea issue, and it was all over the seat and the floor and the toilet, in the stall area," said Patton, who revisited the scene of the grime with CBC on Tuesday.

The patron first reported the mess to library staff, then to the acting
branch manager. But three hours later, when no action was taken other than to block off the bathroom, he called the office of Coun. Rick Chiarelli, chair of the library board.

"When the call came into the office, I asked him how he wanted us to proceed, and he said, 'Just fix it,' " said Patton, Chiarelli's assistant.

"So, I came over to see if the situation had been remedied and, unfortunately, nobody had had a chance yet to get to it, so I cleaned it up myself."

He found a mop and bucket in the basement and went to work.

The response? Library officials complained the aide took work away from unionized workers and suggested he mind his own business in the future.

Officials say because the cleaners work for the city, they are responsible for a number of buildings. When the problem happened, they were busy at another building

This situation reminds me of the Duck Mountain flower scandal:
Community residents in Duck Mountain Provincial Park mobilized after budget cuts prevented staff from planting and maintaining flowers as they had in previous years at the entrance to Kamsack Beach. Cottage owners rolled up their sleeves, bought hundreds of flowers, and planted them. Members of the group tried to contact park officials to give them a heads-up, but their calls weren’t returned.

How did provincial park staff react to this spontaneous expression of community pride? The very next day they uprooted every single flower. Why, you ask, would they do such a stupid thing? To protect their own jobs.

Gag: Saskatchewan Style

With all that has gone wrong the the Meadow Lake Pulp Mill, the Official Opposition chooses to criticize a crown corporation for wanting to get paid. Sure, there is room to discuss whether SaskPower's rates are competitive but clearly the Saskatchewan Party has missed the point. This mill has lost more than $800 million since 1990. A $7.5 million power bill did not suddenly put the mill over the edge.

SASKATOON-Saskatchewan Party SaskPower critic Donna Harpauer is questioning the actions of the NDP government after a crown corporation almost forced a government business into bankruptcy, while another government entity was then forced to bail them out.

In November, SaskPower threatened to cut off the Meadow Lake Pulp Mill's electricity if it did not pay an outstanding bill. That forced Investment Saskatchewan to come up with a $15 million loan, as the mill entered into bankruptcy protection. Some of the $15 million was used to pay SaskPower. The provincial government owns half the mill and has already lost $800 million on the venture.

"The actions of this NDP government don't make any sense. There's something seriously wrong when SaskPower is the sole creditor making ultimatums and Investment Saskatchewan then being forced to come up with a loan to satisfy those ultimatums," Harpauer said. "What this amounts to is government threatening government, all the while workers, the community and taxpayers are left hanging in the balance."

King Ralph's Big OOPS!


An Ontario man received his Ralph Bucks cheque recently, despite never having lived in Alberta.

I wonder how many pet rocks, corpses, and non-Alberta residents also got a cheque in the mail??

This goes to show that these rebates schemes, while politically popular (who's gonna turn down money?) are more often than not riddled with problems.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bill Black...so close once again

Taxpayers should be happy to hear Nova Scotia PC Leadership candidate talk about privatizing liquor in Nova Scotia.

But just like last time it sounds like he might be backing away from taking real action, stating that: "the issue of privatization of liquor sales is not a priority and he wouldn’t advance any proposals unless cabinet and caucus believed they were beneficial."

A look at Alberta's example shows that it has been very beneficial for taxpayers and for the government.

Pre-privatization government liquor revenue: $402 million
2005-06 estimated government liquor revenue: $564 million

250% increase in available products
269% increase in store locations

It's what we call here in Alberta a "win-win" for every one.

At the very least kudos to Mr. Black for raising the suggestion that the government doesn't always know best.

What's another $15,000,000?

Court documents obtained by the CBC say the Saskatchewan government loaned another $15,000,000 over the Christmas to keep the Meadow Lake Pulp mill open. This loan happened while the mill was filing court documents seeking protection from its creditors.

The document shows that since 1990 taxpayers have lost $804 million. The current value of the mill is described as "nil."

I'm going to PDF the court documents for everyone to read. There is certainly more to come.

UPDATE: Here is the court document. Not a great scan, but it works.

UPPERDATE: Sorry...I just fixed the link to the doc.

Where are our political leaders on this? Silent.

Reader comment: Quote from Maynard Sonntag in May, 2003:

"Minister Sonntag congratulated Millar Western on the performance of the mill, noting that it had played an important role in strengthening the community. “As a major employer and generator of economic activity,” said the Minister, “the Meadow Lake pulp mill has been a great success since opening its doors 11 years ago.

Yeah, some success. Let's keep in mind that it was only last April that the province injected another $52 million into the project to relieve the mill of two of its biggest creditors. Surely they could have known 9 months ago that it was headed for creditor protection. Taxpayers are 50 per cent owners of the mill. And what of the $15 million loan over Christmas?

Gomery's 2nd Report

Read it here.

Banana Republic North

From Globe: (via DMB)

Shell Lake, Sask. -- Residents of a northern Saskatchewan Cree reserve were offered the chance to win prizes to get them through the polling station doors for the Jan. 23 federal election.

Fletcher Greyeyes, head councillor for the Ahtahkakoop First Nation, said everyone who voted was entered into a draw for a TV, portable stereo and a DVD player. He denied allegations that the raffle was limited to those who voted Liberal.

The reserve is in the northern riding of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, where Liberal challenger Gary Merasty defeated Conservative incumbent Jeremy Harrison by 73 votes. Mr. Harrison said he has applied for a judicial recount. CP

Words can't describe...

Judge Gomery's Bad Judgment


Check out Warren Kinsella's blog . It seems that the official spokesperson for the Gomery Inquiry has written an insider's tale.

Judge Gomery himself has reportedly written the preface!

The fact that an official public inquiry could spawn a behind-the-scenes tell-all book calls into question the integrity of Justice Gomery and his entire findings.

Is the entire report a farce? While it may have "exonerated" Paul Martin, (HA!) it seems it has convicted Justice Gomery and his entire staff of extremely poor judgment.

Since taxpayers have footed the Inquiry's entire bill, it seems ridiculous that any insider will now profit from its existence.

Can we assume all proceeds will be returned to taxpayers? Anything less and Jean Chretien and his lawyers will have a field day with this one.

You thought he burned Gomery with his golf ball stunt, 'bbbbaby, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

Developing.....

Manitoba last . . . again

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada entitled Healthy Provinces: Healthy Canadians puts Manitoba dead last for healthcare system performance. On the other end of the spectrum, BC placed first.

Nearly 44 cents of every tax dollar collected in Manitoba goes towards paying for healthcare, leaving little left over for education, highways, environmental initiatives and tax relief.

The system is not working and the Conference Board's report highlights that more money is not necessarily the answer.

Read more here, here and here.

Finally

Alberta musters the courage to take the next step.

EDMONTON (CP) - Alberta appears to be heading for a showdown over health care with Stephen Harper's new government as the province prepares to allow queue jumping by patients willing to pay cash for treatments.

The prime minister-designate said recently through one of his officials that Alberta's "changes should be made within the Canada Health Act." Two provisions of the act specifically discourage direct payments by patients, either through user charges or extra-billing, for services covered under provincial health-care insurance plans.

On Tuesday the Alberta cabinet was presented with a nine-point health reform plan that would allow doctors to practise in both private and public systems - charging some patients directly and billing medicare for others.

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