Australia gets it. Will Canada begin to offer more choice to native Canadians for homeownership? One can only hope.
After 10 years of negotiations, Australia has passed legislation that will enable indigenous Territorians the ability to obtain 99-year leases to own homes. It is thought this move will increase prosperity and improve accountability. True, a 99-year lease is not the same as owning a home in fee-simple. But hey, it's a step in the right direction.
Gee, the CTF has been advocating for private property ownership rights on Canada's native reserves for 10 years. Is Ottawa listening....
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Australia gets it. Will Canada begin to offer more choice to native Canadians for homeownership? One can only hope.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 10:09 AM
A scandal is brewing at Public Works. This time it is over the awarding of government contracts to assist federal government employees move.
Public Works awarded two 5-year contracts to Royal LePage Relocation Services even though two other companines claimed they had lower bids. The amount of taxpayers money involved, $650 million.
But fear not, Shiela Fraser and her auditors hope to have the program audit by November.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 9:37 AM
The Liberal Party of Canada is refusing to investigate leadership candidate Joe Volpe's fundraising practices.
Many have expressed concern that fundraising limitations are being skirted by having the teenage children of pharmaceutical executives donating the maximum $5400.
I am sure this is all above-board. I mean, what teenager hasn't donated their allowance to a political leadership campaign??
Joe Volpe is no stranger to controversy. Recall his penchant for taxpayer funded-pizza and limo rides. In fact, Volpe was rewarded for his efforts at this year's Teddies ceremony where he took home the federal Teddy.
Posted by Adam Taylor at 9:32 AM
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The Manitoba Floodway project was projected to cost taxpayers $600-million. Yet a huge Tsunami of red ink has hit taxpayers hard. The cost has risen to $800-million and construction is nowhere near complete.
One of the main culprits for the tidal wave can be pinned squarely on the shoulders of the provincial government. It is the current NDP government who passed and continue to enforce the oppressive master labour and forced union labour agreements.
When will governments learn to embrace the free market and utilize public-private-partnerships (P3s)?
Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun has a great column on the Floodway project.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 10:16 AM
Jack Mintz, in today's Financial Post, sheds some light on the equalization formula and makes some suggestions. People should listen to what he is saying.
The first point is that regional disparity has been on the decline over thae last quarter-century.
For example, back in the high oil price recessionary year of 1981, Alberta's per capita GDP was about 60% above the national average -- other provinces with above-average GDP per capital included British Columbia (10%), Saskatchewan (3%) and Ontario (2%). The Atlantic provincial per capita GDP was about 60% of the national average along with poorer provinces Quebec (85%) and Manitoba (90%).And Mintz identifies the problem:
By 2004, differences among provinces have generally become smaller, with only one really rich province, Alberta, whose per capita GDP is 145% of the national average (a smaller difference compared with 1981). Ontario's position has changed little, Saskatchewan is now at the national average and British Columbia has a GDP per capita that has fallen below the national average since 1983. The Atlantic provincial GDP per capita is now three-quarters of the national average with Newfoundland reaching a level close to Manitoba's at 85% of the national average.
So why are equalization payments out of sync with actual per capita incomes? The problem lies with the formula to determine equalization -- a dog's breakfast that involves 33 revenue sources -- which purportedly ensures that provinces can provide comparable public services at reasonable tax rates. If provinces use their resource revenues to reduce debt -- as New Brunswick has done in recent years -- they still lose equalization payments, even though public services have not increased. Measurements using tax definitions distort tax bases to reflect political choices rather than true economic resources, such as retail sales taxes, that exempt many services or personal taxes that exclude some forms of income.
And then the solution. Mintz says the equalization formula should not look at provincial revenues, but instead focus on per capita GDP. That would mean my own province of Saskatchewan, with a GDP above the Canadian average, would not receive equalization payments under current conditions.
The current formula has perverse incentives to keep taxes high, and keep the government growing.
As soon as a recipient province tries to grow, say by cutting taxes, it will be penalized by losing almost a full dollar in equalization payments for each dollar in increased tax revenues. A far better approach would use a formula that minimizes distortions and is less subject to manipulation, such as tying payments to per capita GDP.
What do you guys think?
Posted by David MacLean at 9:58 AM
Monday, May 29, 2006
The unlawful walkout of 800 that ended up inconveniencing 800,000 is over, finally.
An illegal strike without warning that totally ruins people's day is disgusting. Even more so considering all the tax dollars given to the TTC everyyear.
I'd fire them all.
Posted by Adam Taylor at 1:44 PM
I suppose the Ontario government was having a nap while the Caledonia standoff was happening. They were incredibly silent on the issue. But, now that some of the barricades are down, the province is ready to help.
The province is preparing an assistance program for Caledonia businesses hit hard by the standoff with native protesters, including a blockade of roads and a blackout caused this week by a fire set in a transformer.
(Hat Tip: Josef from comments and Joanne's Journey)
Posted by David MacLean at 12:42 PM
Now that the U.S and Canada are mandating ethanol blends, there is an instant market for ethanol. But that's not enough for Iogen. They got flowers, dinner and a movie...now they want jewelry.
OTTAWA -- Canada's Iogen Corp. is the best in the world at converting plant fibre into ethanol -- today's hot alternative fuel -- but the biotechnology leader could end up building its first commercial-scale operation in the United States if Ottawa doesn't match support offered by Washington.
"Right now the United States has laid out a very attractive, five-course banquet," said Jeff Passmore, executive vice-president of Ottawa-based Iogen.
Hey Passmore, how about some mac and cheese?
Posted by David MacLean at 12:03 PM
Friday, May 26, 2006
This has to be unheard of, right? I mean....every single NDP MLA in Saskatchewan is padding their salary with extra duties.
Premier Lorne Calvert today announced the appointment of Saskatchewan Rivers MLA Lon Borgerson as Legislative Secretary for Organic Farming and Saskatoon Greystone MLA Peter Prebble as Legislative Secretary for Renewable Energy Development and Conservation. Last week, Calvert named Regina Rosemont MLA Joanne Crofford as a Legislative Secretary to examine the music industry. The position of Legislative Secretary pays an extra $12,000 on top of the MLA base salary of $64,816.
Secretary for organic farming? Can't organic farms be covered off by the massive department of agriculture? This is a joke. Shameless.
Posted by David MacLean at 12:22 PM
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Like most other provinces, Manitoba has a serious problem with a shortage of surgeons. Regrettably, politicians are engaged in a game of point the finger.
The opposition Tories believe the surgeon shortage is the fault of the NDP, which has been in power for six years. No surprise, the NDP blame the previous Tory government.
Here's a thought - try implementing real solutions to fix the ailing health care system. One simple solution would be to allow the Maples Surgical Centre, located in Winnipeg, to perform surgeries that require patients to stay over night. This might actually help reduce wait times.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 12:20 PM
In his report on government agencies the Provincial Auditor has delivered a scathing indictment of the Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) subsidiary Coachmen Insurance. Turns out Coachman lost $9.7 million in a failed deal with an Ontario company that later filed for voluntary receivership (page 133). Based on revenues of around $29 million, a $9.7 million hit is steep to say the least.
Which brings us to the broader issue: Whey is SGI getting their pants handed to them in Ontario in the first place?
Posted by David MacLean at 12:06 PM
The link provided is for a column written by Andrew Bolt for the Herald Sun, which is an Austrailian based newspaper. The title of the column is "The Nobel Savage is Dead and Gone."
Change the word Austrailia to Canada, and the word Aborigine to "first nation", and it sounds awfully familiar.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 10:56 AM
From Ambassadors to Assistant Deputy Ministers to Special Advisors. Ottawa's top 99 bureaucrats spent a whopping $14 million of taxpayers' money on travel and hospitality.
To read more, check out the latest MacLeans magazine. But, just in case you can't wait, here's a little snippet...
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 10:38 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Crofford will examine a range of issues from the role the music industry can play in fostering and promoting Saskatchewan's identity, to how to increase investment and expand production with respect to improving the industry's growth and opportunities. Crofford will be consulting with musicians, industry representatives, venues, provincial organizations and other stakeholders. Interim recommendations as a result of the examination will be completed by November 2006, with final recommendations provided to the Minister of Culture, Youth and Recreation by June of 2007.
A state-run music industry. Why not? I say we promptly put Theresa Sokyrka on the government payroll.
Posted by David MacLean at 1:45 PM
While the current Prime Minister repeatedly promised to cut gas taxes while in opposition, he's now singing a different tune. According to Finance Minister Flaherty, people should just suck it up.
The reality is we have to get used to paying more for gasoline. All of us in the world have to get used to that," he said.
"There are no plans . . . to have a specific measure to gasoline prices other than the GST reduction."
Flaherty's stand comes after the B.C. wing of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation last week called on Ottawa to reduce the federal taxes on gasoline.
The group noted that, as opposition leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to reduce the "gas tax bite," and that "a promise made in opposition should be a promise kept in government."
But, you remember that little promise made by the Liberals while they were in opposition? You know, the one about scrapping the GST. The conservatives never let them forget about that one.
And then of course there was free trade....
Posted by David MacLean at 1:20 PM
Friday, May 19, 2006
Conservative news release from May, 2004:
“The fastest and easiest way to give Canadians relief at the pump is for the federal government to stop charging GST on top of gasoline excise taxes. It’s time to axe the tax on the tax.”
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Posted by David MacLean at 1:40 PM
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Read this year's report here
On October 5, 2005, then-Opposition Leader Stephen Harper accepted 35,000 petitions from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation calling on Ottawa to reduce gas taxes.
UPDATE: CTF wants gas tax honesty
From today's event in Regina...
I like this one from the Leader Post.
Posted by Adam Taylor at 9:38 AM
Today is Gas Tax Honesty Day.
The Thursday before the Victoria Day holiday weekend marks Gas Tax Honesty Day and kicks off the CTF’s annual Gas Tax Honesty Campaign. This year’s campaign focuses on pressuring the newly minted Conservative government to honour their election promises on two fronts: to lower fuel taxes and second, allow municipalities to dedicate federal gas tax dollars to roads and infrastructure.
Taxpayers are getting hosed at the pumps and running on empty as government revenues soar. It is highway robbery!
Sign our updated gas tax petition here.
Stayed tuned for this year's full report which will be posted at www.taxpayer.com after our press conference at 11:00 am EST.
Posted by Adam Taylor at 8:25 AM
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
Great post over at On The Fence Films.
When the average Canadian becomes sick and is put on a long waiting list, they don't have the money to go to the U.S. to buy health care because they've already spent it in the form of high taxes! They don't have private health insurance because it's been outlawed. And - they don't have savings earmarked for health care expenditures since the government has assured them that they are covered.
I especially liked this bit about the myth of 46 million americans being without health coverage.
The socialized health care folks keep repeating the "46 million without health care" mantra in the hope that a lie repeated enough times becomes conventional wisdom. They've been remarkably successful in this regard. However, according to U.S Census Bureau Health Insurance Data, more than one third of all the uninsured are members of households with over $50K in annual income. Indeed, nearly one fifth hail from households pulling down more than $75K a year:
Posted by David MacLean at 3:34 PM
It looks as though many of the accountability and transparency issues that were part of the failed First Nations Governance Act, may be on the table again. The Globe and Mail reports the Indian Affairs Minister, Jim Prentice is being pressed to adopt many of the ocntrobersial policies.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 11:22 AM
Sunday, May 14, 2006
At that point, the admirals and the Liberal politicians could have bitten the ballast, admitted they had made a terrible mistake, and consigned the whole sub fleet to the scrapyard, at least saving taxpayers a fortune in good money after bad.
Alas, bureaucratic butt-covering triumphed in the defence department once again -- supported, we should add, by the collective genius of Paul Martin's administration -- and the decision was made that there is nothing other people's money couldn't fix, including a bunch of lemon submarines.
While defence officials publicly estimated repairs to the Chicoutimi wouldn't cost more than about $50 million, internal government documents obtained by Sun Media suggest a sub salvage sailing towards an ocean of bills several times that amount. Last August, for instance, the government issued the second of two contracts totalling more than $15 million, not to actually repair the Chicoutimi -- just to draft the plan to fix it.
Posted by David MacLean at 11:24 AM
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The CTF has long opposed the creation of urban reserves. The reason, is the CTF believes that in a free market system all participants must be on the same playing field subject to the same rules. This is not the case with native reservations, therefore, native reservations do have an unfair competitive advantage.
In today's Winnipeg Sun, Tom Brodbeck points out many of the reasons why the unfair advantage exists.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 11:23 AM
Friday, May 12, 2006
Cat Print in the Mash alerted me to this great post on gun crime by the Blogging Party of Canada.
As Lance points out, gun registry lobbyists are starting to argue that the gun registry actually works.
Wendy Cukier, a Ryerson University academic and president of the Coalition for Gun Control, said cost overruns from years ago are no justification for doing away with the registry at this late date.It's not just that it was horribly mismanaged. It should be sacked because it doesn't work.
"They will try to use the fact that there was mismanagement in the past as an excuse to dismantle a system that's currently working very well and is cost effective," said Cukier.
"It makes no sense, but they've been leading up to it for months."
Posted by David MacLean at 3:25 PM
The Mayor of Winnipeg likes to call it an "economic development zone" but apparently some city councilors didn't get the memo. As reported in today's Winnipeg Sun an urban reserve may be close at hand, and it's not just the tax exemptions that are at issue, it's also the smoking ban.
Posted by Adrienne Batra at 3:03 PM
Today's National Post reports a Tory MP has obtained documents through Access to Information that indicate the costs of the controversial gun registry continue to soar.
Next Tuesday, the Auditor General of Canada is set to release another scathing report on the gun registry.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 7:45 AM
Thursday, May 11, 2006
When the Saskatchewan government announced a $1.5 million subsidy to the bankrupt World Wide Pork in Moose Jaw, the news was received with open arms in many circles.
The employee union was happy because it gave them hope that 200 workers might continue to work in Moose Jaw at jobs they knew and liked. The government was happy because the deal essentially threw a lifeline to one of the biggest private employers in Moose Jaw. The Opposition Saskatchewan Party applauded the move saying it helped maintain jobs in the much-loved agri-food business.
But it is really a good move?
Read the rest...
Posted by David MacLean at 12:37 PM
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
This is probably a good move.
In fact, I can't recall a day that Ontarians weren't complaining about the headaches caused by too much democracy.
"Ah man, do I really have to vote again??? But I just finished voting, THREE YEARS AGO".
Strangely, not all people are happy with this move:
Toronto Sun article
Posted by Scott Hennig at 9:37 AM
Queue the whining about how MLAs have such a rigorous schedule (and other hijinx).
Santos, who is the deputy speaker for the government, declined comment yesterday.
The MLA has made headlines for quirky behaviour before.
Last year, he was reprimanded for bringing a paring knife into the house for shredding papers into bits and pieces. House speaker George Hickes confiscated the weapon and issued a stern warning at the time.
Also, while Santos slept yesterday, Liberal MLA Kevin Lamoureux got himself into hot water for name-calling in the chamber.
The feisty Grit was asked to retract his comment after calling the premier's actions "cowardly."
"I would withdraw those comments even though it might be true," said Lamoureux, who believes Doer is acting cowardly for not calling a public inquiry into the Crocus fund fiasco."
Lamoureux was scolded once again by the house leader before finally conceding and withdrawing the comment from the government record.
In the hallway, however, he happily put the comments back on public record.
"(Doer) is a coward. I can't say it inside the chamber because they say it's unparliamentary. But the bottom line is he is being a coward on the Crocus file," said Lamoureux.
Posted by David MacLean at 8:58 AM
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It always starts with the little things.
OTTAWA -- Accepting gifts, including free Ottawa Senators playoff tickets in luxury corporate boxes, continue to be acceptable for Conservative MPs in Stephen Harper's government, despite criticism of the practice when the Tories were in opposition.
The practice means a double standard regarding the acceptance of gifts still exists between politicians, such as government whip Jay Hill who attended last Friday's Senators playoff game, and federal rank-and-file bureaucrats who continue to be prohibited by rules overseeing their conduct.
Posted by David MacLean at 1:35 PM
Of course Adam Smith never said "greed is good", that was the character Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. However, as Clive Crook points out in today's National Post, Smith would marvel at how well the "invisible hand" works. In other words, the free market rocks!
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 12:26 PM
They never learn...
The island state whose drivers pay the highest pump prices in the nation has given up on price caps after an eight-month, first-in-the- nation experiment. Some complained that the restrictions actually led to higher prices, because oil companies knew they could charge up to the maximum allowed.
"In a lot of people's minds, they thought the gas cap wasn't working," said Republican state Sen. Paul Whalen, a strong supporter of the price controls. "It was hard to generate lots of support for it because we're paying more than we ever were before."
Gas is particularly expensive in Hawaii because of high state taxes and because of the costs of transporting oil across the Pacific. Last fall, Hawaii became the only state to cap the cost of fuel to try to give some relief to motorists.
Posted by David MacLean at 10:06 AM
Monday, May 08, 2006
The federal government is poised to settle outstanding Indian residential school claims with a huge one-time payout costing taxpayers roughly $2 billion. Each former student of an Indian residential school will receive a $10,000 "common experience" payout. But it seems the real winner here are the lawyers.
The federal government will pay lawyer fees totaling $80 million. This is one of the highest legal bills Canadian taxpayers have ever paid.
Posted by Tanis Fiss at 10:48 AM
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I'm all for the Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc doing their thing in a minority parliament -- that's what they were elected to do. But using the unelected, bogus, waste-of-time senate is another thing all together.
The Liberal majority in the Senate can be counted on to slow Prime Minister Stephen Harper's right-wing agenda while the Liberal party rebuilds with a new leader, says Bill Graham, the party's interim chief.
"Today, we currently have 102 MPs and 65 senators all mobilized to defend the values that everybody in this room believes in — values that we share with most Ontarians and other Canadians," he told the weekend convention of the Ontario wing of the federal party.
Posted by David MacLean at 11:32 AM
Friday, May 05, 2006
Air travelers should be pleased to read this .
And the government hasn't bailed any airlines out recently using our tax dollars.
Coincidence? Me thinks not.
Posted by Scott Hennig at 10:12 AM
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Former Alberta Energy Minister Murray Smith is living in an $8,000 per month apartment on taxpayer dime. He is supposedly there to act as Alberta's representative in Washington. Sounds like a sweet retirement gig to me. I do recall that Klein closed all international offices to save money in the mid-90s.
Posted by David MacLean at 10:07 AM
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Rest in peace. Some thoughts on his work.
An early advocate of Keynesian ideas he lived long enough to know Keynes personally and see his ideas debunked by both the Chicago School and the Stagflation of the 1970s. Galbraith had confidently predicted in testimony before a 1956 Congressional committee that another Great Depression was inevitable. His ideas, despite their wide acclaim in liberal circles as challenging and original, were largely derivative of the early 20th century economist Thorstein Veblen. A professor at the University of Chicago, when the school was known for its statist inclinations, Veblen coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption" and argued that the emphasis placed on the accumulation of great private wealth by the free market harmed society in general by depriving the public sector of needed resources, an idea echoed in Galbraithline about 1950s America having "private splendor next to public squalor."
Posted by David MacLean at 10:00 PM
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I don't have a link yet. But the conservatives are delivering on the GST cut, keeping the liberals income tax cuts, introducing a $1000 working tax credit (more later), and bringing in the $1,200 baby bonus. Looks good so far.
UPDATE: Here's a good run down.
The BAD: Increasing the lowest tax rate from 15 to 15.5 this year. Scratch that, it will be increased to 15.25 this year, and then 15.5 next year.
— A two-year budget
— 29 tax saving measures
— $35-billion in overall spending/tax relief
— $8.67-billion in two years for 1 percentage point GST
— $8-billion surplus
— $3.6-billion for child benefit ($100 a month per child) effective July 1
— $3.3-billion to provinces for post-secondary education, housing and other issues.
— $1.6-billion on community security, border and health
— $1.5-billion for agriculture
— $1.4-billion for policing, border security and public safety
— $1.3-billion for infrastructure
— $1.12-billion in the next two years for defence for recruitment and buying equipment
— $460-million for pandemic preparedness.
— $450-million for aboriginal communities
— $370-million for public transit tax credit
— $200-million for the RCMP
— $250-million a year toward creating 25,000 child care spaces.
— $164-million in funding for the Accountability Act
— $104-million Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control
— $100-million for armed border presence
— $50-million for Canada Council for the Arts
— $520 tax credit on textbooks for full time students
— $500 tax credit for physical fitness
— $500 employment credit on income for work expenses
— $490: the new immigrant landing fee, from $975, effective today.
Look at all the tax credits. The good news is that INDIVIDUALS will keep more of their own money. But think of the flip side. As my boss said a few minutes ago, the message from the government is "behave the way we want you to behave and you will keep more of your money. So, shut up and buy your bus pass."
Posted by David MacLean at 2:13 PM
Monday, May 01, 2006
It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.
In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.
It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand. The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.
During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.
There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history. Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.
Posted by David MacLean at 11:30 AM