CTF in the News

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy End of Fiscal Year!


When the clock strikes midnight the books will close on fiscal 2005-06.

The competition bureau has again determined there is no price fixing amongst gasoline companies.

And, Newfoundland has recorded a surplus thanks to their offshore energy deal with the feds.

And one more thing...Support the CTF!

Stossel!!!

Just to remind those who think otherwise.

MYTH #8 — Republicans Shrink the Government
Republicans always trot out the slogan that they oppose big government and want to shrink the federal payroll. President Bush tells us that "big government is not the answer."

President Reagan told us, "Our government is too big and it spends too much."

But for more than 75 years, no Republican administration has cut the size of government. Since George W. Bush became president, government spending has risen nearly 25 percent.

And the spending increase isn't just tied to the war on terrorism. The Office of Management and Budget says spending at the Environmental Protection Agency is up 12 percent; it's up 14 percent at the Agriculture Department, 30 percent at the Department of the Interior; 64 percent at the Department of Labor, and 70 percent at the Department of Education.

And the pork keeps pouring out. Even the Peanut Festival in Dothan, Ala., got $200,000.

Alabama congressman Terry Everett, a Republican, got them the money. He wouldn't talk to us about it, but the locals said they like getting your money. "I think it's a waste of money, but if they're going to waste money, I guess it's better to waste it here than anywhere else," one man told me.

Economist Stephen Moore, a Republican, says, "We fought a war against big government and you know what? Big government won."

He noted, "You look at what's happened to the government in the 10 years since the Republicans took control of Congress, the government is twice as big."

Of course, these dramatic spending increases must lead to social justice and equality, right? No?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

CTF Warns of Olympic Nightmares

Off the front page of the Province newspaper:

Richmond signed tough deal for oval
No sponsorships or rent and city must cover litany of contingencies


Kent Spencer, With a file from David Carrigg
The Province
Thursday, March 30, 2006

The site of the speed-skating oval, the largest building for the 2010 Olympics, on River Road in Richmond yesterday.
No taxes. No rent.
And if Richmond's $178-million Olympic oval burns down, the Vancouver Olympic Committee will require Richmond to rebuild it in time for the 2010 Games.

Those are some of the details of a deal between the Olympic committee and Richmond to build the speed-skating venue, the largest structure being erected for the Olympics.
The contract was signed on Oct. 24 last year, just days before the municipal election. It was obtained by The Province through a Freedom of Information request.

Critics say the Olympic committee's negotiators squeezed Richmond even when it came to a simple thank-you. VANOC's appreciation of the city's $118-million contribution will be reflected with a permanent sign at the oval. But like just about everything else in the contract, the city will foot the bill.

Sara MacIntyre of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation called the contract "a nightmare for Richmond taxpayers." "Politicians get the Olympic blinders on and they want to catch the wave at any cost," she said. "No wonder Richmond beat out Burnaby . . . in their momentary haste to win the race, Richmond said they'd cover anything.

"The oval is going to be B.C.'s version of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The Big Owe," she said.


Richmond council decided secretly two years ago to pursue a bid for the oval in competition with Burnaby, which said it could build the coveted venue for $85 million at Simon Fraser University.
At the time, Olympic committee CEO John Furlong said the SFU proposal would cost VANOC
$78.6 million, compared with $60 million for Richmond's plan.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who believed the oval was stolen from under his nose, said the decision was short-sighted because low-lying Richmond was susceptible to floods and the oval would be difficult to keep cool.

Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend maintains that the city scored a "tremendous victory" with the 34,000-square-metre facility.

"We accepted a degree of risk, but we felt it was worth it for the amount of senior government funding," Townsend said yesterday on behalf of Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who was not available.
"We're getting a fabulous facility."

Richmond Coun. Rob Howard said: "Everybody's nervous when it comes to a project this size, but we're wringing every penny out of every dollar. I have a high level of confidence that this is a great deal for the city . . . a fire would be covered by the city's insurance."

Annie McKitrick, former chairwoman of the Richmond School Board and an unsuccessful candidate in last year's council elections, said: "The Olympic committee is not doing favours for Richmond, but Richmond is doing as much as possible for the Olympic committee. Taxpayers were not consulted. I don't think they mattered.

"Nobody understood what the city agreed to. If they had, it would have been different."

Several Olympics-related costs are not shown in the venue agreement. The city will pay about $2 million to reroute River Road and is currently compiling a report on the amount of staff time that has been used on the project. City staff, volunteers and politicians have taken 17 Games-related trips that cost a total of $575,000.

Terry Wright, VANOC senior vice-president of operations, said the facility brings enormous benefits to Richmond.

Those benefits include the facility being an anchor for a part of Richmond that needed development, providing several needed indoor facilities under one roof and providing a possible base for the University of B.C. Sports Medicine department.

"It does a lot for the status of Richmond. Look at the net result for the people of Richmond," said Wright, adding many of those benefits have been largely ignored by critics.

Ok...but what ARE they spending it on?

This is good news, but would have it come out publicly if he hadn't appealed?

All expenditures should be up on a government website for the public to vet; after all it's not their money.

Newfoundland budget

I'm watching the budget speech in Newfoundland. The gist: No new taxes except a increase of the tobacco tax. The finance minister also says their tax rates are too high, and they are going to (gulp) undertake a review of their tax system.

Update: They are also applying money from the Atlantic Accord to public pension liabilities and bringing in balanced budget legislation. Nice work. The best news is they are heading for a surplus. Not sure when the last time they had a surplus, but it surely has been a long time.

No Need for Separate Auditor

Recently native leaders gathered in Gatineau, Que to discuss the idea of an independent auditor that would be responsible to audit the chiefs and councillors of native reserves. There is no need for a separate auditor. The move is essentially a pre-emptive strike by native leaders to avoid falling under any federal government accountability measures.

The new federal government has promised to introduce an Accountability Act shortly after the House of Commons resumes in April. If the ultimate goal is to provide all Canadians with a greater sense of accountability and transparency as to how tax dollars are spent, then native communities should be included as part of that legislation. If this were done, native communities would likely fall under the jurisdiction of the Auditor General of Canada.

Regardless of what happens with the proposed Accountability Act one thing is clear; creating a separate auditor would not be the best use of tax dollars. A separate auditor would only increase government bureaucracy and thereby increase the cost to taxpayers. A far simpler approach would be to expand the existing auditor general’s mandate to include native bands as this would not require as many tax dollars to operate due to the economies of scale, plus the added bonus that the standard of audits, mandates and scrutiny would remain consistent.

It is a positive step forward that native leaders are discussing ways to improve accountability and transparency on native reserves. However, creating a separate bureaucracy is not the answer.

To read the entire column click here.

Freedom Party of Ontario

The Freedom Party is running candidates in three byelection races and they have put forward a very interesting policy document.

Check this nugget:

A McKeever government will:

1. scrap Ontario’s taxation of property;

2. convert Ontario’s PST into a broader-based value-added tax, and lower the PST rate as necessary to make the conversion revenue neutral;

3. give to each and every Ontario municipality the discretion to add a municipal premium to the PST within its respective geographic borders. The province will collect each municipality’s premium through already existing provincial collection systems, and remit the revenues to the municipalities in which they were paid. To discourage abuse and ensure accountability, municipal and regional governments will be denied the power to undermine tax-rate competition between municipalities via legislative, contractual, or other methods.


Interesting. Read the whole thing. H/T London Fog.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sask population woes: Who's to blame?

Politicians, of course.

Oil and democracy

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft:

Taft said when oil wealth takes the place of taxes, “the full development of democracy is inhibited.“When you pay your taxes, you expect to be represented, so when you drill for wealth and thereby bypass taxes, you also bypass representation.”
Can someone please explain what the heck this means? Will this kind of meat-and-potatoes messaging get this guy elected?

Where is all that gas tax money going?


Have you seen any potholes like this? If you see any massive potholes in your neighbourhood, be sure to keep us in mind and send pictures of them our way. H/T London Fog.

Kudos

Nice.


The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has done this city a huge favour with its excellent report into the real salaries and benefits enjoyed by Edmonton's mayor and city councillors.

In fact, the CTF's Fair & Transparent Council Compensation report is so good, the city's Independent Council Compensation Committee should simply adopt its recommendations without further delay. The CTF hits upon every single point that we've been arguing for years when it comes to making council compensation more fair and transparent. And the CTF also proves that our city councillors are not underpaid by any means.

We completely agree with the CTF's call that the confusing array of tax-free allowances paid to councillors be rolled into a fully taxable salary - the kind "enjoyed" by every other citizen in this city who doesn't have access to the kind of two-tiered tax exemptions available to civic politicians.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

End Toronto's Fiscal Incompetence!


OTTAWA: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling on the City of Toronto to live within its means by looking for innovative ways to reduce costs, return to basics and freeze property taxes in advance of Toronto's official budget debates that begin on Wednesday, March 29.

With an annual budget shortfall of over $400-million, Toronto must trim costs and focus on essentials instead of providing frills while relying on annual handouts from Queen's Park. Contracting out services such as waste collection, and landscaping would begin to reduce the city's rising labour costs. City Hall should also review city salaries which have increased 19% in four years, while also scrapping its union-only policy which prevents it from getting the best value for taxpayers.

Read more here

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sask: Spending surge predicted

Andrew Thomson says this is a "good time" to "significantly" increase government spending. When is it not a good time for this government? Since 2001, government spending has increased by 26 per cent. Budgets aren't worth the paper they are written on as ministries routinely exceed their already-bloated budgets. When is enough spending enough?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Liberal-style corruption in the UK

Surly Beaver has a good run-down of the Tony Blair scandal. As Surly say, it all sounds vaguely familiar.

A little while back I reported that Mr. Blair stood accused of appointing financial supporters of the Labour Party to the House of Lords. Since then more details have emerged. Blair initially claimed that there was no link between the honours, and the donations to the Labour Party. As it turns out, he appears to have been lying. It has since come to light that the three men in question had loaned huge sums of money to the Labour Party. You see, according to the political financing laws in the UK, any donation over £5,000 has to reported, but that rule doesn't apply to loans. The way the system operated basically was that one of Tony's Cronies, Lord Levy, would hit up wealthy Labour supporters for large loans, to be repaid post-election. After the election, the donor would write off the loan (in effect making it a donation but one that evaded the reporting rule). It appears that some of these donors at least were appointed to the House of Lords as a reward. The selling of peerages is illegal.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Questionable advertising


Is it really important to advertise a census? I mean, censuses (sp?) are valuable and all that, but do they need to advertise? And how effective would that advertising be? Usually a census just kind of happens, you don't actively seek it out so you can be counted.

This is a scan of a Rogers sugar packet. The kind you find by the coffee pot at the office. I'm curious how much this costs.

Boom-bust lesson lost in Alberta

Lorne Gunter in the Edmonton Journal:

In just the past 10 years, the Klein government's program spending has gone from $12.7 billion to $28.1 billion. The amount it spends, not including debt servicing payments, has increased by 121 per cent.

It is outrageously irresponsible.

Spot on.

CTF to CRTC: Say no to SaskTel

The CTF has asked the CRTC to deny SaskTel's application to operate a community channel.

Help wanted

If you, or someone you know is putting off making a major purchase until after the the GST is cut, send me an email or post a comment. There might be a media opportunity for you.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Post hoc ergo proctor hoc

Dust my Broom weighs in on the absurd fat tax push and the even more absurd Pat Martin.

What do you think? Can we social engineer smarter, healthier people through taxes on everything deemed "bad for you"?

Tory Prudence?

Remember the last election campaign? How Harper and the other Tory candidates talk about fiscal responsibility?

Take a look at what Greg Weston, of the Ottawa Sun uncovered:

  • "Nice to see the politicians representing Canadian labour showing their true measure of respect for the hard-earned taxes that pay their government salaries. Last week, the country's federal and provincial labour ministers gathered for their annual conference to discuss pressing issues such as whether a healthy workplace is a good thing.

  • Unfortunately for taxpayers, it seems there was not a single government meeting room and cafeteria available anywhere in any province in the country to host this important gathering.
    Instead, federal Conservative Labour Minister Pierre Blackburn co-hosted his provincial counterparts and their respective entourages for three days at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the most expensive hotel in the nation's most expensive resort during the annual Spring Break week when skiing is best and prices are highest.

  • The final press release stated: "Ministers emphasized that a change in the workplace culture is at the core of creating safe and healthy workplaces." Not to mention a week of spring skiing. "

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sask: CTF on the air

I'll be a guest on the CKRM phone-in show today around 12:15. I don't think they have online listening capabilities. Come on Harvard Broadcasting, this is 2006!!

UPDATE: Humble apologies to CKRM...you can indeed listen live.

Regina: The Big Mistake

The failure to implement the "Renewing Regina Public Schools" plan will have consequences long into the future. As we told the the Board last night, the bill for inaction will be paid by students in the form of reduced educational opportunties, by ratepayers in the form of higher taxes, and by school staff in the form of deteriorating working conditions.

Waste-watch

Once again is appears taxpayers have been hosed. Taxpayers have been on the hook for providing some pretty fancy digs for federal court chauffeurs in Ottawa. Private lounges, washrooms and even a car wash.

Speechless

This is definitely a first:

In the short term, the federal government will temporarily contract out water services to private companies.

According to Prentice, the problem with drinking water on reserves is not money. It has to do with accountability and standards, he said.

First Nations will be expected to meet federal or provincial standards, whichever is higher, or risk related funding, Prentice said.

"The water systems that this department will fund will be obligated to live up to the standards that are being put forward in this protocol."


Like a deep breath of cool mountain air.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Regina: Submisson to the public school board

We'll making a short submission to the Regina Public School Board tonight at around 7:30. Feel free to drop by the RPS building at 1600 4th Ave. The meeting begins at 7:00.

Ottawa Sun Editorial


You cannot help but admire the tenacity of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. When the consumer watchdog group sets its mind on a goal, it's not easily dissuaded.

For years the CTF has been trying to convince the federal government to give motorists a break by reducing the amount of tax it charges on every litre of gasoline sold in Canada.

And the federation isn't letting up with a new Conservative regime installed and getting ready to draft its first-ever budget.

Monday, March 20, 2006

We'll Scream it Until We're Blue in the Face


CUT GAS TAXES!

The new government can cut gasoline taxes in three major ways:

1. Scrap the deficit elimination tax. The deficit has been eliminated. (savings: 1.5 cents)

2. End the GST tax on tax bite. (savings: 1.5 cents)

3. Bring gas taxes in line with roadway spending. (savings: 2 cents)

TOTAL SAVINGS: 5 cents per litre. Everytime we fill up.

And...sign our petition here.

Manitoba taxpayers losing at the film subsidy game

CBC reports:

The Prairie Production Centre began in 1999 as a private operation, with the help of $1 million in federal and provincial cash.

The centre, which provided all-weather studio space to film and television producers, was used by several high-profile movie productions, including Hollywood feature Shall We Dance? and Guy Maddin's Saddest Music in the World – but it was still mired in debt.

The NDP government bailed out the financially troubled facility in April 2005, paying nearly $1.8 million for the facility and forgiving nearly $1.3 million in loans taken out by its former owner.

But a year after the government buy-out, the centre, is still losing money. Now called the Manitoba Production Centre, the facility will lose nearly $60,000.
###

This is actually chump change compared to the losses at the Regina soundstage. BTW, has anyone seen "Shall We Dance?" Shall we puke?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Regina Mayor wants libraries added to infrastructure program

We've got a better idea, Pat. Fix the damn roads.

Leader Post:

Mayor Pat Fiacco added his support and provided a report on the work of a Federation of Canadian Municipalities committee that is working on the issue.

Fiacco said that committee agreed "that municipal property such as parks, libraries, recreation and child-care facilities ... should be treated as infrastructure for the purposes of federal infrastructure investments.''

The Regina Public Library needs a total of about $10 million over the next five years to do all the needed repairs and renovations to library facilities, Hincks said. She noted some of that money can be raised through fundraising, such as the library's home lottery.


Of course these are the same empty and crumbling libraries that should have been closed long ago. The city needs to stick to core business and fix the pathetic streets in Regina instead of buying shiney new buses that will roam around the city mostly empty.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Come on, people!

What are you thinking? Or are you thinking at all? I think I smell a Teddy nominee.

After the Supreme Court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, the Liberal government, recognizing marriage leave was too narrowly defined, decided to remove it from new collective agreements and replace it with "special leave," a one-off, five-day vacation that could be taken at any point in a worker's career.

Special leave is open to all federal employees, whether they are married or not and even if they have previously taken marriage leave.

The new provision promises to cost much more than the old one. On average, 2,586 federal workers availed themselves of marriage leave annually over the past 13 years. It would take nearly 100 years for the government to spend as much on marriage leave as it has committed to spend on special leave.

The Conservative government stands by the arrangement negotiated by the
Liberals.

March 17, 2006


Leprechauns Say: "Support the CTF!"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

School taxes going up in Manitoba


When the Manitoba government eliminated the Education Support Levy from the property tax bill, the CTF raised concerns the school boards would come in and make up the tax room vacated by the province. Now that the budgets are in, our concerns have come true.

From today's Winnipeg Free Press (subscribers only):

ST. James-Assiniboia School Division homeowners are facing a 13.9 per cent increase in property taxes -- the highest hike in school taxes in Winnipeg this year.
Elsewhere, the increases in school property taxes range from 3.4 per cent in Winnipeg School Division to 4.4 per cent in River East Transcona, 4.9 in Louis Riel, 5.5 in Pembina Trails, and six per cent in Seven Oaks. Winnipeg's St. Norbert neighbourhood will be paying 13.2 per cent more in local school taxes to Seine River School Division.

"We're really going to have to revisit how we fund education in Manitoba -- the province is going to have to start bearing more of the burden," said Adrienne Batra, of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Taxpayers Still Running on Empty



While gas prices recently drove down inflation slightly, they are still way up from a year ago.

Tell the new government to keep their promise to reduce the taxes on gasoline! Email Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at: Flaherty.J@parl.gc.ca

And...Sign out gas tax petition here

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Twisted Logic

Some bar owners must be "sampling the product" a little too much to believe this is actually going to stop people from getting excessively drunk.

Minimum drink prices do not result in less drunken people. If bar owners are concerned about people getting excessively drunk perhaps they should stop over-serving people who are on their way to getting excessively drunk.

Over-serving at $2.25 a drink or over-serving at $1.50 a drink makes no difference. If someone is bound and determined to drink excessively, raising the price of a drink to $2.25 or $3 isn't going to make any difference if you continue to over-serve. If it did we wouldn't see any drunken people in Manitoba or Victoria.

Perhaps the brain trust that thought up this one should focus their efforts next at drunk driving; I mean any old person can scrape together $15,000 for a car! Perhaps if cars had a minimum price of, say, $50,000, drunken people wouldn't be able to afford them, and hence wouldn't be able to drive drunk.

The sooner we're all living in government mandated poverty, the better. That way we won't be able to afford to do anything bad.

McCallum on the GST cut

Liberal finance critic John McCallum has what he probably imagines to be a scathing critique of the government plan to cut the GST in today's National Post. He says all the right things about the economics of tax cuts.

I suspect that -- with the exception of the Prime Minister himself -- Canada's economists all believe the Conservatives' proposed GST cut, financed by reversing the former Liberal government's income tax cut, is anti-growth.

(...)
The reason this is correct is that a GST cut provides no incentive for individuals to save or to invest in their further education and training. An income tax cut, on the other hand, is good for productivity and growth because it generates additional investment in both equipment and skills. As a result, people will not necessarily work more, but they will work smarter. That's why a GST cut financed by higher income tax is anti-growth.

On this, McCallum is right. Cutting income taxes, as a general rule, is better for the economy. While McCallum speaks eloquently about productivity and incentives, his own party got it completely wrong. The liberal plan to cut income taxes was directed at the bottom tax bracket, and would save taxpayers about the same amount as the GST cut. Problem is, it would do nothing to boost productivity, incent savings and generate investment. In order to achieve that goal, you must cut the top brackets.

And a critique of the GST cut wouldn't be complete without invoking some sort of class warfare.
The Liberal income tax cut, by contrast, is much more focused on lower and middle income Canadians. No single individual, no matter how rich, saves more than $359 per year under our income-tax reduction plan. By contrast, with a 1% GST cut, if you buy a Porsche for $100,000, you save $1,000 in GST with that one purchase alone.

Yes, the GST cut will only help those conservative wealthy elites, leaving the rest of us in the cold working for chunks of coal.

Neither the conservative nor the liberal tax cuts are good for increasing productivity or growing the economy, but both are good at saving tax payers a few hundred bucks. The best thing the government could do is keep the liberal plan AND the GST cut. Now there's something we can get behind.

McCallum talks a good game about productivity, but his party failed to walk that talk when they were in power for however many years. That's part of the reason he's sniping from the sidelines.

Your Thoughts on Senate Reform?


Read an interesting story about ideas of Senate reform here.

Straw Poll: Should we elect Senators or abolish the Upper Chamber altogether? Cast your vote in the comments section....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Manitoba's Aiyawyn Corporation gets knuckles wrapped by Auditor

First there was Hydra House and now there is the Aiyawyn Corporation. Another scathing report from Manitoba's Auditor has shown "the risks to public monies and public services that can occur when external service providers, whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit, operate with inadequate board governance, a lack of policies and procedures, and poor management practices combined with insufficient oversight by the province."

By way of background, the Aiyawin Corporation was a not-for-profit native housing organization that received funding from both the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation (MHRC) under the
Urban Native Non-Profit Housing Program.


Aiyawin Corporation was established in 1983 and receives nearly $2 million a year in public funds.

McGuinty Pork Barrelling

Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy is in Ottawa today to announce funding for rural schools.

Is it a coincidence that there is also a by-election in the very same constituency that is receiving the cash?

Funny how the money flows during election times eh - Premier McGuinty must be taking notes from Paul Martin who went on some of the largest pre-election spending binges in Canadian history.

In the past politicians would throw salt pork at voters in a shameless attempt to gain their votes. Today's public officials are content to using tax dollars as their pork barrelling weapon of choice.

Trying to buy your vote with your own money. Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mr. Speaker: My question is to the Premier

Tomorrow the Saskatchewan legislature is in session and we're looking for some big issues to be addressed. First off, will the government commit to NOT funelling more tax dollars into the Meadow Lake Pulp Mill? The $70 million put into the mill last year could have cut school taxes for everyone by more than 10 per cent. It could have repaid some debt which, until recently, was rising fast. All told, taxpayers have lost $804 million on the mill.

When have we put enough money into the mill? How much will the government inject this year, next, and the year after and to what end? When will this end and how?

I have a sneaking suspicion this will not be addressed.

Oyate Safe House

Raskolnikov takes out the ball peen hammer again. It must be Monday.

The mention of accountability brings us to the yearly requirement of justifying their continued existence, a requirement which, in this case, should have set off alarm bells in the first year they were in operation and reported that only a handful of youth were using this taxpayer-funded home. Thirty-four youth in two and a half years is roughly 14 per year. That is about one per month. That tells me that the demand is simply not there, and this funding is unjustified. Why does it not seem unreasonable to assume that for most of the last 30 months, there have probably been more Staff and Admin than youth? And more importantly, with one youth per month, on average, utilizing the facility, exactly what were staff and admin doing all the time? Working the kinks out, obviously.

He should be careful with that thing.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Government says no to life-extending cancer drug

But, if cancer patients really want the drug, they can pay out of pocket for it. Your five months of living aren't worth $36,000 to the government.

Taylor said the government made the decision on Avastin based on the cost of the drug -- which would increase costs to the province's health plan by about $6.5 million -- versus its effectiveness.

In conjunction with chemotherapy, Avastin has been shown in clinical trials to add an average of five months to the lifespan of patients with incurable colorectal cancer.

The government will allow patients to pay for the pricey drug themselves at a cost of about $36,000 a year.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wanted: More politicians?

Because of Edmonton's population growth, some politicians think we should hire more politicians. Surprise, surprise.

Call for matrimonial property rights on reserves

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is calling on the federal government to improve property rights for women who live on a native reserves.

The Indian Act is the ultimate piece of legislation that governs what occurs on Canada's native reserves. As it stands, the Indian Act is mute on the subject of matrimonial property rights. On many native reserves it is the man who retains title of the family home after a divorce, thus forcing many women to leave the reserve.

Last fall the CTF released a study, "The Road to Prosperity". One of the recommendations of the study was to amend the Indian Act so that applicable provincial/territorial property rights would apply to native reserves.

Although the AMC is merely calling for improved property rights for women, it is nice to see that an aboriginal lobby group is on the same page as the CTF. Now the ball is in the federal government's court.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Michael Moore needs you


Michael Moore is looking for health care "horror stories" to feature in his upcoming "documentary" on the American health care system (he is not looking for success stories of course).

We're thinking Canadians can probably share a few horror stories to give the film a more global perspective.

Moore promises to personally read every submission. Tell him your story.

Feel free to leave your story in the comments.

Forget the roads, let's fix the fountains!



It never ceases to amaze the ideas that some city councilors will dream up just so they can get some face time in the media. Councilor Jenny Gerbasi wants Winnipeg taxpayers to pay $566,000 to fix up the Waddell Fountain (which looks pretty nice to me!) in Central Park; it's a nice idea except last year we cancelled street repair because there wasn't enough money in the budget - this is hardly a priority.

More in the Winnipeg Sun:

Time for reform

The First Nations Governance Act was not a perfect piece of legislation - there is no such thing. However, the Governance Act (had Paul Martin not killed it) would have implemented more accountability and transperancy for native communities across Canada.

Check out what is currently going on in Norway House, Manitoba. A duly elected band councillor is "finally" allowed to see band documents, such as the financial statments. Unbelievable.

Wait Times, Wait Times, Wait Times


Like Double-Double, Eh, or Heh if you're from the West, "wait times" is becoming a Canadian linguistic staple.

A recent study shows that while the number of tests and surgeries increase, wait times do not decrease.

Is it possible that the health-system in its current form and structure just isn't getting the job done?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

McGuinty

Shallow. Dishonest. Opportunistic. Cunning. Manipulative. Crafty. Contriving.

Sources say Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will use his first budget to announce the $1.5 billion, 6.2-kilometre extension of the Toronto Transit Commission's Spadina line from Downsview station to York's campus.

(...)

"Put it this way, (the province) is having a hard time showing a deficit this (fiscal) year," said one source, noting Duncan prefers to eliminate the budget deficit in dramatic fashion next year — just in time for the Oct. 4, 2007 provincial election.

As disclosed by the Star on Saturday, Ontario has an estimated $1 billion corporate-tax windfall in the treasury. By law, that money has to be spent — or earmarked for spending — by the end of the fiscal year on March 31 or else it must go toward deficit reduction.

A little tax relief in Manitoba

(Saskies: take notes)

Globe say:

Middle-income earners will reap the bulk of $32.3-million in personal income tax cuts, with a family of four earning $60,000 paying about $319 less a year in 2007.

But all homeowners, no matter what their income, will benefit from the long-promised elimination of a property tax used to fund education, accounting for a total savings of about $34-million.

CTF takes to the airwaves

That's right folks. The CTF's own Tanis Fiss is the new host of a radio talkshow based in Calgary.

"Aboriginal Forum" is the name of the show and will focus on aboriginal success stories. In other words, aboriginal Canadians who have succeeded in spite of the Indian Act, reserve system and aboriginal policies.

"Aboriginal Forum" is a media partner with the Western Standard Newsmagazine that airs every Tuesday evening on AM1060.

"Aboriginal Forum" is a show that offers listeners an information and entertaining source for news, views and analysis on aboriginal public policy, arts and culture and business.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Post of the week

OK, it's only Monday, but this is the best post of the week by far. Did you know that the government of Canada spends 35 per cent more on education for aboriginal kids than what is spent on non-aboriginals? Well, the educational outcomes on reserves are so bad that the data isn't even being released to the public.

And here's what the CTF has said on the subject.

Sask labour relations board refuses to disclose information

Just came across this. Turns out that the Saskatchean Labour Relations Board refused to even respond to information requests made by the Fraser Institute for their Labour Watch study. With the information that was available, Saskatchewan's LRB ranked very low in terms of transparency and responsiveness.

I think the very least taxpayers can expect from the LRB is for them to actually answer questions. Absurd.

Richmond, BC politicians not happy with the CTF

But Sara MacIntyre lays it down.

The taxpayers federation has criticized the city for its oval expenses before.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Sara MacIntyre said the mayor is focused on construction costs and not all the peripheral costs of building it—including the trips overseas.

“I could have drawn them a picture,” she said. “The mayor and the people that were on these trips, they’re not actually going to be constructing the oval so what is the purpose of going and viewing them first hand?”

MacIntyre said the volume of the trips is something she’s never seen with any other capital project.“Unfortunately the spirit of the Olympics is misused and perverted by politicians that want to go on basically junkets. Even the trip to Turin, what are they bringing back besides Olympic souvenirs?”

Making the case for fixed budget dates

This is an interesting article in general but I found this particularly interesting:

Tory and New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton both accused the Liberals of timing the budget one week ahead of three March 30 byelections for political gain.

"This is about trying to schedule a budget so that the McGuinty government can try to buy a byelection," Hampton said.

But insiders say the timing of the budget has nothing to do with the byelections -- particularly since the Liberals don't expect to win the ridings previously held by two Tories and an NDP member before all three ran federally last month.

Duncan has said he wanted to hold the budget earlier than usual -- last year's was in May -- to give hospitals, schools and municipalities more time to prepare their own budgets.
Last year's Ontario budget was in May??? That's totally irresponsible. So the government was basically run on "special warrants" (cabinet decrees that are NOT debated in the legislature) for two months. Meanwhile health authorities are twiddling their thumbs waiting to see what the province is going to do. And then, of course, there is the little matter of the byelection. We're sure there will be plenty of "targeted" goodies in this budget.

Taxpayer-funded Tommy Douglas movie set to air

And it pleases The Union.

Now, with the election over, the pro-CBC Liberals gone and the anti-CBC Tories in power, the network seems to have decided it can risk telling Douglas' story.

To say the least, it's curious behaviour for a public network whose viewers, by the millions, voted Tommy Douglas the "Greatest Canadian" of all time in a contest that ran for nearly eight months in 2004.

[Wait, there's more. ]

"Vision, eloquence, wit and passionate commitment to social causes made Tommy Douglas an unstoppable force," says Kevin De Walt of Minds Eye Entertainment in Regina, the company that produced the miniseries."

[Ed: This is the same Minds Eye that has filed for court protection from its creditors and is partly owned by the NDP government of Saskatchewan. Taxpayers are also on the hook for a $600 thousand subsidy to make sure the film was made.]

"Now more than ever, this story will inspire generations of Canadians to preserve his precious legacy - the legacy of a spirited champion of the people." NUPGE

Friday, March 03, 2006

The dreaded parking tax

Sign our petition to kill the BC parking tax.

McGuinty Making Sense??


Impossible you say?

Well, Dalton "Gepetto's Lad" McGuinty is criticizing the inequity of the Senate and is calling for it to be abolished.

The CTF has called on the new Conservative government to either reform or abolish the Red Chamber.

Sask: Victory for taxpayers?

Later this morning, the province is announcing something "of importance to agricultural producers." Of course, everyone is speculating this is the much-anticipated school tax relief announcement. The usual rule with government is that only bad news comes out on Friday. With the SARM convention next week, it's possible the government is doing a bit of a roll-out to gets lots of friendly headlines for the next week.

I can't decide if I smell victory, or the pungent odor of spectacular disappointment.

Update: The government is confirming today's announcement is related to school taxes. We'll be looking for substantial and permanent tax relief.

Upperdate: Victory.

CTF reaction

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Monthly Teddy nominations

Hollywood has the Oscars and Ottawa has the Teddies. On March 17, 1999, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation held its first Teddies Waste Awards at a Parliament Hill news conference. The annual black tie ceremony honours the best of the worst in high taxes and government waste.

The awards are named for Ted Weatherill, a former senior public servant, who was terminated in 1998 for living high on the hog at taxpayers' expense.In that tradition, The Teddies are awarded annually to a government, public office holder, civil servant, department or agency that most exemplifies government waste, over-spending, over-taxation, excessive regulation, lack of accountability, or any combination of the five. A beautifully adorned golden sow is awarded in the following categories: federal, provincial, municipal and lifetime achievement. A Teddy may be awarded on the basis of past accomplishments or on the basis of a proposed initiative.I

This year the CTF announced a monthly Teddy would be awarded in any of the three categories federal, provincial or municipal and welcomed nominations from CTF supporters and taxpayers at large. Each month the winning nominee will be announced and fed into the annual awards ceremony held during Oscars week each year. To send in your nomination Click here.

Adscammer Pleads Guilty


Jean Brault, of Groupe Action has plead guilty to 5 sponsorship-related charges.

Too bad, the politicians aren't going to jail...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Watch 2006 Teddies News Conference

You can watch the 8th Annual Teddies Awards Ceremony here

More Teddies Pics!


The ballots are counted and the winners (or losers) are in!


The CTF's 8th annual Teddies Waste Awards were handed out in Ottawa today.
Check www.taxpayer.com for the worst examples of government waste and mismanagement.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box