CTF in the News

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Booze isn't getting cheaper

If you plan on enjoying an alcholic beverage this weekend you might want to consider buying it before the GST cut. While you would assume the GST cut would make booze one per cent cheaper, that assumption would be wrong. You see, the federal government will not allow us to enjoy cheaper booze because...well...who knows.

Check it:

As part of their election platform, the Conservatives promised to cut a percentage point off the GST.

But the government's May 2 budget raised excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol in what it called a revenue neutral exercise to maintain so-called "sin taxes" at existing levels.

"Budget 2006 proposes to increase alcohol excise duties to offset the impact of the GST rate reduction," said the budget document.

That's where things get tricky.

The tax on beer and wine is to be charged on a flat, per litre basis at the source, meaning the same tax rate applies to premium-priced ale as buck-a-beer lager.

But the excise tax on hard liquor is based on the retail price per bottle. And since provincial excise taxes - Alberta excepted - are set as a percentage of the federal excise tax, the provinces get a windfall.

I know it's only a few cents, but it's the principle.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sask: This is encouraging

CJME:


Perhaps spurred on by the NDP loss in the Weyburn byelection, Finance Minister Andrew Thomson is hinting that if you feel you haven't benefited from the boom and it is about time you did.

In the form of a PST or personal income tax reduction.
We say start with school taxes by simply picking up more of the tab for schools, speed up the corporate tax cuts and cut income taxes. Dedicate half of surplus to debt reduction.

Bored of the Rings

Here's a fine example as to why governments should stop the flow of corporate welfare cheques - the Toronto stage production of Lord of the Rings.

The curtain will come down on this production earlier than anticipated - September. This is after Ontario taxpayers coughed up a precious $3 million for the production.

As Christina Blizzard of the Toronto Sun would say, good art doesn't need a subsidy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

There is no way this could have been anticipated

Sun:

Thousands of city employees are expecting a pay hike similar to the 13% boost councillors gave themselves, says a union official.

“Our members are looking at that (council raise), like police members are,” said Dave Loken, liaison representative for the Coalition of Edmonton Civic Unions.

“They’ll want us to deliver something around the same amount. But that remains to be seen.”

Loken’s comments came a day after the cop union slammed city hall’s latest contract offer of 3%, followed by boosts of 3.5% and 4%.

Staff Sgt. Peter Ratcliff, president of the Edmonton Police Association, said police should be paid on par with counterparts in the RCMP, who earn 6% more, and with Calgary.
Fools.

No end in sight

With approximately 800 outstanding native land claims, with an average resolution time of 9 years, it seems there is no end in-sight to end native land claim disputes.

It is time for a new system. As it stands today there is little incentive to settle land claims. Deadlines must be established in the process. If a negotiated settlement is not reached within the deadlines, then the federal government should impose a settlement.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wells on equalization

Some people just have a way of saying things that just get down to business.

This means that any premier who wants Ottawa to keep collecting the GST and then hand it over to provinces no-strings-attached — say, just f'rinstance, this premier — should be mightily careful about what he wishes for. Because it's asinine for one level of government to collect taxes on behalf of another, when that level of government could instead simply clear some space and permit — nay, demand! — that the other fill it.

Ed Gibbons to CTF: Bring it on!

Looks like City of Edmonton City Councillor Ed Gibbons doesn't like the fact that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is pointing out that he just voted himself a 21% pay raise.

In fact, he says "Let them bring it on."

Councillor Gibbons also claims that:

Edmontonians knew for months this was being considered, and had plenty of opportunity to do something about it.
He is correct that the five member committee who made the outrageous recommendations, did spend a couple of months figuring out just how they could help city council line their pockets, but Edmontonians had no idea this was coming.

Only 1 of the 52 callers to the City's Citizen Action Centre recommended the Commitee give raises to council.

And only 1 of the 12 submissions to the Committee recommended the Committee give raises to council.

When 98% of callers and 92% of submissions don't suggest the Committee give council a raise, why on earth would Edmontonians expect the Committee to ignore them and recommend massive raises anyway?

Edmontonians had a grand total of five calendar days between the release of the Committee's recommendations and council gleefully voting them in. Included in those five days was a weekend and games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

I'd hardly call that knowing "for months".

Know someone who lives in Edmonton, tell them to sign our petition asking Council to put this to a plebiscite.

Sask: Oyate safehouse continued...

Sask Party:

REGINA: Saskatchewan Party MLA June Draude today said NDP Premier Lorne Calvert must replace Community Resources Minister Buckley Belanger in the wake of the Provincial Auditor├é’s recent report into Regina├é’s troubled Oyate Safe House.

"This minister needs to be replaced by someone who takes this issue seriously," Draude said.

Draude said in light of the Provincial Auditor's recent investigative report into the Oyate Safe House, it is now clear that the Minister provided misleading answers to written questions asked by the Official Opposition during the Spring Session.


Here are some examples of the "misleading" answers giving by Belanger:
Sask. Party Written Question: Did the Department of Community Resources monitor how the money provided to the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council was being spent? If so, what steps were taken to ensure financial oversight of the Oyate Safe House?

Minister's Response to Written Question: Yes. Quarterly reports and the annual financial statements.

Provincial Auditor's Report: "DCR did not regularly inspect or evaluate Oyate's programs ... In addition, DCR did not know if Oyate safeguarded the money it received from DCR and used it only for the purposes DCR intended." - Page 22 "Oyate has not given any annual audited financial statements ... without information on the financial position of Oyate ...or information on its cash flows ... DCR is not able to tell if Oyate is in a sustainable position to continue to deliver services." - Page 23

Next question!

Sask. Party Written Question:
Has the Department received any letters, or written or verbal reports from individuals or organizations concerned about the welfare of children at the Oyate Safe House? If so, when were these letters or reports received by the department?

Minister's Response to Written Question: Yes. All matters were referred to the Board of Directors

Minister's Comment: "We have no evidence there has been any problems, we have no evidence they did not respond to the issues." - Regina Leader Post, March 15/06
Auditor's Report: "DCR gave us numerous examples of 'issue papers' that described problems it was aware of at Oyate since November 2003 ... DCR was unable to show us who at DCR received these papers, what corrective actions were proposed, and what, if any remedies DCR took when Oyate did not correct the problems." - Page 25

This morning Buckley Belanger was on John Gormley Live taking questions on this matter. His answers were mostly incomprehensible government speak (obviously read straight off a piece of paper) but at one point Gormley asked him straight out why the Board of Directors was still in charge and Buckley eventually answered. You see, because we are dealing with an aboriginal government we have to respect they are a nation and they decide who is on the board (that's false -- the minister of education has the ability to fire an entire school board if required -- surely there something Buckley can do about a service that has been contracted to the File Hills - Qu'Appelle Tribal Council).

Regardless, lets pretend for a second our hands are truly tied and we have no say in who sits on the board. If tribal council leaders ONLY answer to band members, where the hell is the outcry from aboriginals?

When it comes to Perks and Privileges....


It's Liberal-Tory, Same Old Story.

Watch the CTF's John Williamson on CTV here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

DISGUSTING


As one of their last acts of the legislative session, MP's gave themselves a hefty increase in their expense account budget.

Let's break this down a bit:

Even though MP's make $147,700 - they still increased their meal per diem to $75.40 per day. Not bad.

They also increased their vehicle allowance to 47 cents per kilometre. (I guess the government is concerned with how high gas prices affect politicians)

This confirms it: There are two sets of rules in Canada - one for our politicians and one for everyone else.

Disgusting.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Alberta junket to Smithsonian to cost 150k

Sun:

EDMONTON -- Alberta's airlift to Washington, D.C. next week is going to cost taxpayers a whopping $147,600.

Premier Ralph Klein and 12 ministers and heads of Tory committees begin heading to the U.S. capital tomorrow to celebrate Alberta at the Smithsonian.

Klein said the cabinet ministers, who will be accompanied by staff, will take part in events during Alberta Week in Washington and attend private meetings with U.S. policy and decision-makers.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity to put Alberta front and centre in the capital city of our largest trading partner," said Klein, who just returned from a $58,000 trip to France and Ukraine.
I know what belongs in the Smithsonian to be preserved for posterity -- Alberta's fiscal conservatism.

Newfoundland -- polticians at the trough

For saskies, this sounds very familiar.

St. John's—Police have launched an investigation in a growing scandal that has already cost one Newfoundland cabinet minister his job and threatens to engulf other members of the provincial House of Assembly.

Auditor General John Noseworthy, who began his review of spending by provincial politicians last winter, met with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in St. John's yesterday as its probe got under way.

The first casualty in the scandal was Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne, who abruptly resigned from the Conservative cabinet earlier this week.

Byrne, who has represented the St. John's-area riding of Kilbride since 1993, is alleged to have overspent his constituency allowance by more than $325,000 for the fiscal years 2003 and 2004. The allowance —which is to pay for expenses including office rental, equipment, supplies and secretarial services —had been capped at just over $30,000 over the two-year period.

Three other MHAs, including a sitting Liberal, a retired Liberal and a current NDP member, are also being investigated by Noseworthy's office. He is expected to report on those files next week.

CPP

Interesting:

The report Thursday by the C.D. Howe Institute expresses concerns that the proposed funneling of federal surpluses into the public pension plan opens what could eventually become a two-way pipeline which politicians could use to siphon money out of the fund to pay other bills.

"With the Canada Pension Plan's reserve fund at about $100 billion and growing rapidly, it's time to reassert that CPP funds are for one purpose only to pay benefits to plan participants," the report urges.

It expresses suspicions that faced with demands to hike funding for health care, education and infrastructure, the federal and provincial governments will eventually be tempted to tap into the increasingly rich pension fund.

Friday, June 23, 2006

CTF on the air

I'll be on John Gormly live at 11:30, Saskatchewan time to talk about tax freedom day and other matters. Listen live.

The price of government

Here's an interesting article from National Review Online written by Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins.

The authors detail how much $1 in tax revenue and $1 in spending really costs. Here's a sample:

  • The secret is beginning to leak out — but only barely. Voters are still being misled and government is still taxing and spending on the false assumptions that $1 spent on a bridge-to-nowhere costs $1 in tax revenue, and that $1 in government tax revenue costs the private economy only $1.

Politics the City of Toronto Way


City of Toronto: "We need 234 new railway cars for the TTC."

Bombardier: "We'll build them for you in Thunder Bay."

Siemens: "We'll build them for you in China."

Siemens: "We can save taxpayers $100-million!"

Bombardier: "But we donated to some members of the TTC board's re-election campaigns."

City of Toronto: "We don't care about saving taxpayers money. The winner is Bombardier."

Siemens: "This isn't fair!"

Taxpayers: "This isn't fair!"

City of Toronto (and my mom): "Life isn't fair...."

More Senate Seats Will Cure What Ails You!

Pierre Bourque calls this the "Kook Idea du Jour."

No mention of elections - just more seats available for appointment by the PM.

Has the Senate-reform debate ever seen an idea that's more of a non-starter than this?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sask: Provincial Auditor slams safe house for kids

I've seen a lot of criticisms from the Provincial Auditor, but never have I seen something like this. The Oyate Safehouse is a small operation intended to protect children aged 12-15 who are victims of sexual exploitation. The facility is funded by Saskatchewan Community Resources.

After allegations that clients of the safehouse were still involved in prostitution while living there, the Provincial Auditor was asked to investigate.

The his report released today, the Auditor makes a number of unnerving observations. What will be the fate of the Minister of Community Resources? What about the Members of the Board? The Minister should resign for allowing this to go on under the government's watch.

We found that DCR did not use adequate practices to supervise Oyate’s activities. DCR did not follow all of its established processes to select Oyate to operate a safe house for children. For example, it selected Oyate to deliver the services even though Oyate had no experience in the residential care of children.

(...)

First, its Board did not understand its roles and responsibilities and thus did not set clear direction or adequately monitor Oyate’s performance. Second, Oyate did not have the capacity or the necessary skills to care for at-risk children.

For example, Oyate often hired staff that did not have the required knowledge, skills, or abilities to care for sexually exploited children. Third, there have been several allegations of mismanagement and wrong-doing at Oyate. However, DCR did not closely supervise Oyate or take adequate corrective action when it became aware of the allegations.

Of course, the board members had to get their honorariums...even if they weren't doing their jobs.

Oyate received $136,000 as a ‘start-up’ grant from DCR in March 2003 to develop programming for specialized services for the client group. DCR told us it expected Oyate to use the grant for recruiting, training staff, and to develop a program and community partnerships. Appendix B shows the budget and spending from this development fund. Oyate has spent $100,000 of this money at March 31, 2006. We found no evidence that Oyate developed a program designed for children in its care. We found no evidence that Oyate has built community partnerships.

Oyate paid more than $10,000 ($1,800 from the operating fund and $8,250 from the development fund) for Board honorariums even though DCR’sservice agreements do not allow Oyate to pay honorariums. Also, Oyate’s bylaws do not allow board members to be paid for their services. The honorariums were similar to amounts paid by government agencies for board honorariums.

Oyate paid $6,000 (recorded as a purchased service) to a contract employee to develop a personnel-scheduling system. Oyate spent a further $3,200 in ancillary expenses for this contract employee to attend computer training and for travel expenses. Oyate could not provide us with evidence that this $9,200 in spending resulted in a functional personnel-scheduling system. Oyate paid a further $7,600 for consulting to various contractors. We could not determine what services the contractors provided.

And then there's the turnover...


Although Oyate operates with only six full-time staff, it has employed about 60 staff since 2003 (two employed continuously since it began operations). High staff turnover may be the result of staff conflicts as alleged by former employees. The turnover may also be due, in part, to the lower salaries at community-based organizations (such as Oyate) than those salaries paid by DCR to employees of Department-owned residential programs (such as Dale’s House and Eden House). The Government has an initiative to improve the pay scales in community-based organizations to help address this issue.

Throw in a little nepotism for good measure.

Oyate staff are employees of the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) and are governed by the FHQTC Personnel Regulations, March 24, 2005 (policy manual). The policy manual states that any person who is an immediate or extended family member of an existing employee and who is hired in a permanent or temporary position, or contracted, shall not be placed in a direct supervisor-subordinate relationship with that existing employee. We are aware that several employees at Oyate were relatives of people in supervisory roles.

The policy manual requires that where an applicant for a position is a relative of a member of the selection committee, the member of the committee shall excuse him/her self from any decision-making process.

We understand that several employees and contracted staff were relatives of Board members. As the Board minutes provided to us were incomplete, we were unable to determine if members of the selection committee appropriately excused themselves from the decision-making process.

Hiring of relatives is not in itself inappropriate. However, it can give the perception of inappropriateness if not done correctly. Several of the allegations of wrong-doing related to hiring and preferential treatment of relatives.

And now for some political correctness...

Another criterion was the inclusion of cultural values and traditional principles of treatment and healing for delivering services. RT/SIS’s proposal for this component was based on the First Nations Sacred Way of Life holistic healing model. DCR could not explain what this model entails. Oyate board members could not describe the nature and purpose of this model to us. During operations, Oyate did offer cultural healing circles to the children in its care.

Sask: Premier wants uranium refinery

Subscriber wall.

SASKATOON -- Premier Lorne Calvert and Industry and Resources Minister Eric Cline will be in Paris next week to make a sales pitch to the head of the giant Areva nuclear group, urging it to consider building a uranium refinery in Saskatchewan.

Didn't the government chase a uranium refinery out of Saskatchewan 10 years ago or so?

Say what...?

The federal government sent $50,000 worth of designer goods for $8,000, to turn around and sell it for $4,000.

Uurgh!

Ridiculous

What more can be said?

OTTAWA -- The Conservative government spent $56,200 to give the official
government website a Tory blue hue and, according to critics, some partisan
flavouring, B.C. Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal charged Wednesday.

MLAs and councillors

First, there's the City of Edmonton council salary boondoggle (see Scott's post below), then there's this whining from a Saskatchewan MLA:

"When MLAs are elected and move into elected life, they give up employment. It's a very high-risk job; you have a four-year cycle, you're not eligible for unemployment allowances when you leave.

The political climate in Saskatchewan being what it is, it may not be easy for an individual to move back into a job of equivalent value very quickly." Yates said while Wakabayashi cannot make recommendations on areas such as the transition allowance or per diems, he can consider their impact on MLA pay as a whole.
You tell me: Has it ever been a bad career move to become an MLA? (Successful lawyers, doctors and Shipping magnates aside)

So, let's say we agree with Yates that is really tough to get a job after you are an MLA, and that losing an election is not termination with cause. Let's give them the severance ONLY when they are defeated and not when they just up and quit (Bakken) or retire (Crawford, Prebble).

Then there's Alberta Cabinet Ministers and their staffers flying all over the place this summer.
The Sun has learned that a host of cabinet ministers are off to Washington, D.C. next week to participate in events at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

The airlift comes on the heels of opposition criticism of flights earlier this month by Premier Ralph Klein and cabinet ministers Greg Melchin, Gene Zwozdesky and Iris Evans to Europe.

Melchin, Alberta's energy minister, is also heading to New York Sunday to participate in an energy investment conference before flying to Washington to hook up again with the premier.

The D.C. trip also includes Agriculture Minister Doug Horner, Advanced Education Minister Denis Herard, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Pearl Calahasen, Community Development Minister Denis Ducharme, Intergovernmental Relations Minister Gary Mar and Finance Minister Shirley McClellan.
Something in the water? One last harah before a new leader?

Put council raises to a vote

If Edmonton city council thinks Edmontonians are in favour of them giving themselves a 21% raise for city councillors and a 14% raise for the mayor, they should take it to the people and ask them to vote on it.

630 CHED put that question on their news poll yesterday and the results are not surprising:

What do you think about city councillors approving a 13-percent raise to take effect after the next election?
80.69% - outrageous!
8.47% - worth every penny
10.83% - What's a raise?

If you live in Edmonton, sign our petition here to have council put it to plebiscite.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Laugh/Rant du Jour


A report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) states that other levels of government are to blame for all municipal problems and that they need more money to deliver services.

What a crock. Municipal governments are the worst offenders of abusing tax dollars in the country. Look at the City of Richmond, BC, London, ON and the elephant of fiscal incompetence - the City of Toronto.

Junkets all over the world. Out-of-whack pay increases. Totally beholden to special interests.

Municipal governments are the least accountable to taxpayers in the country. Property taxes soar that force seniors out of their homes and local governments don't bat an eye.

Giving municipal governemnts more taxation powers or more money is like giving a pyromaniac a jerry can and a pack of matches.

If municipalities need more money to pave roads and fix bridges they should focus on core priorities, un-chain themselves from the selfish demands of unions and quit demanding/relying on handouts from other levels of government.

Sask: Reform MLA salaries

Submission to the Saskatchewan MLA Indemnity Review Committee.

News release.

Too Much Tequila?


Shelia Copps says: "Taxes are Good!" The More the Merrier, etc.

What balderdash!

Of course she loves high taxes. Recall her former staffer Charles Boyer who garnered a federal Teddy nomination at our 2004 awards ceremony.

Edmonton city council not listening to taxpayers


Edmonton City Council has just voted themselves a massive pay raise.

14% for the mayor, 21% for city councillors.

This is in addition to their annual adjustment they receive each year in line with the change in the Average Weekly Earnings of Albertans, which happened to be 5.76% this past year.

Talk about double dipping!

The whole purpose of introducing the annual adjustments was to eliminate the need for interim, arbitrary adjustments.

But what's even worse is that one-third of their salaries and allowances are tax-free. The one-third tax free status was originally intended to act as an "expense allowance".

How does it make sense that you have an expense allowance on your car allowance? IT'S ALREADY AN EXPENSE ALLOWANCE!

But moreover, council voted for this with no public debate. The committee recommending these insane increases ignored the public input they received.

The committee received 12 submissions from the public, only one called for any increase to compensation. The city's "Citizen Action Line" received 52 calls on the issue, only one suggested there be an increase to pay.

We're not alone on this issue; check out the comments on this story

Council held no public hearings on the issue and even denied all requests from the public to address council (including one from the CTF). The report was released to the public on June 15th; it was approved by council on June 20th.

Feel free to express your opinion here...because it looks like they're the only ones listening.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tories Gut Accountability Act

When the Accountability Act was first introduced in the House this spring, it would have grant the the auditor-general the ability to audit the financial statements of native bands.

The CTF praised this move, since as it stands today roughly 80 percent of the Department of Indian Affairs budget is transferred directory to native bands and the auditor-general has no authority to audit how and where the money was spent.

That is why the CTF is now appalled that the Tories would gut the Accountability Act and remove this important clause.

Read more of the story from the Globe and Mail here

The CTFs response here.

Another Reason to Abolish or Reform the Senate


Liberal Senators are threatening to delay the passage of Bill C-2, also known as the Accountability Act.

They claim it will hamper their fundraising efforts in the leadup to their leadership convention.

Let's recap:

1. Corruption and scandal drives Liberals from office.
2. Tories elected to clean up and propose legislation to do just that.
3. Liberals don't want to change and attempt to use un-elected Senate to keep
politics as usual.

Between this and accepting $5000 from 11 year olds, these guys could be on the opposition benches for a good while.

Gun Registry Petition Drop



Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day looks over the CTF's 28,000 petitions that call for the abolishment of the long gun registry.

All in all, it was a good day for the CTF, for law-abiding gun owners and of course, taxpayers.

Tell your MP to support legislation to abolish the long gun registry!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Calling the shots

“Duck hunters, farmers and law abiding gun owners do not pose a threat to public security, but criminals do.”

CTF news release this morning

"Duck hunters, farmers and law-abiding gun owners do not pose a threat to Canadians. Criminals do."

Public Security Minister Stockwell Day this afternoon

This ain't Monopoly Chuck. This is the Real World.



Chuck Guite is off to the slammer.

Let this be a lesson to politicians and rogue bureaucrats who treat tax dollars as their personal slush funds and use the public purse to feather the nests of their cronies and themselves.

When you cheat the people - you go to jail!

What's that banging sound?

The sound of the National Post hitting the nail on the head.

More Transparency for Indian Gaming Needed

Casino Rama rakes in millions of dollars each year in profits. The profits are to be distributed among various native bands throughout Ontario, as well as, native charities. Unfortunately, taxpayers and even some band members do not know if the profits are indeed being spent on there intended purposes, because Casino Rama profits are not truly transparent.

Feds set to De-register Gun Registry?


Is the gun registry on its last legs?

Hope so. It is a complete waste of tax dollars and hasn't done a bit of good in reducing gun crime.

Not shocking, considering gun crime is usually committed with stolen or unregistered weapons. Rarely, does one register their gun before committing a crime.

The long gun registry esentially keeps track of duck and deer hunters. Hardly, an effective public safety tool.

Bill C-68 which created this huge boondoggle fired blanks from the start. Let's hope it is finally put down as soon as possible.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tax cut good? Well...


This is very interesting.

Alberta PC Leadership candidate Jim Dinning has put forward a proposal to cut Alberta's provincial income taxes in half for people under the age of 30.

Tax cuts are good, but this one is not well thought out.

In his release Dinning suggests that this will attract people to Alberta to fill our labour shortage. (probably true)

He also suggests that this is better than the government creating some complicated program:
Government could design all kinds of programs targeted at young people. Or, we could cut income taxes in half for everyone under 30. No government spending programs with forms to fill out and staff to hire. (again probably true)

However, social engineering through the tax code is only slightly better than social engineering through social programs. Just ask us what we thought of the last federal budget.

But the question begs asking, why should some 28 year old earning $100,000, pay 5% tax when some 32 year old with a family earning $40,000 is paying 10%?

It's not fair, it's discriminatory, and it's confusing.

But at least it's a tax cut. And we'd much rather talk tax cuts in Alberta, than more spending.

Tell you what Jim, make it up to age 130 instead of 30 and we'll support it.

Sask: Well, isn't this just great

Draw your own conclusions. Leader Post:

WEYBURN -- Just days before a byelection vote in the Weyburn-Big Muddy constituency, the NDP government has struck a major deal with the City of Weyburn to determine the future of the old provincial mental hospital.

The province will give to the city the title and liability to the vacant Souris Valley Extended Care Centre to allow it to better market the facility to potential new users.

The government has also agreed to give at least $4.5 million to the city.

The money is to help cover the costs of demolition if a new user for the facility isn't found but Weyburn still gets to keep the money if it reaches an agreement with a tenant.

At the announcement of the deal at Weyburn city hall Thursday, Mayor
Don Schlosser and NDP Deputy Premier Clay Serby both praised the NDP candidate, Southeast Regional College president Graham Mickleborough for serving as a middle man to bring the two sides together.

Caledonia: Taxpayers buying out Henco?

I just heard on CJME that Henco Industries, the legal title holer to the land near Caledonia, is being bought out by the Ontario government. I don't want to rush to conclusions, but if this is so it set a dangerous precedent. Developing....

Tax freedom day

Congratulations PEI, Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and B.C -- you've reached tax freedom day! As for the rest of you, well, you'll just have to keep paying.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Makeover Madness


Manitoba has a new slogan and logo that will no doubt bring back the thousands of people who have left and put a stop to all of those that plan on leaving. If you believe any of that, I have a bridge to sell you!

The branding Manitoba campaign was launched yesterday and the best slogan the New York ad firm Interbrand could come up with was "Spirited Energy." In total, the entire re-branding exercise cost $2.1 million, only $500,000 of that coming from the private sector.

The challenges Manitoba has cannot be fixed with a coat of paint, a long-term economic plan to lower taxes, cut waste and become business friendly are what will attract and retain people.

Iggy Muses about a Carbon Tax


This is the type of politician that scares taxpayers. Musing about new taxes and not offering specifics.

Not the sign of a savvy politico. Heck, even Stephane Dion, who has a dog named Kyoto is against a carbon tax.

You know what they say about judgment - you either have it or you don't.

Can't teach it. Not even at Harvard.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Want Access to Information? Better have Millions...


An Access to Information request for RCMP data was contingent on the journalist making the request coughing up $1.6-million!

No doubt any reputable media outlet has millions salted away in the Access to Information Fund - sounds like no big deal to me.

I always liked the Mounty uniforms but how much do they cost? Maybe it's time to feed the horses oats and apples instead of caviar and lobster...

It is time to bring Canada's democracy into the 21st Century and reform our outdated Access to Information laws which have remained largely the same for over 20 years.

Alberta: Dinning speaks (sort of)

This certainly caught my eye. When was the last time you heard a politician talk like this?

For openers, if he becomes the next premier, Jim will put 30% of oil and gas dollars the province receives as royalties into the Heritage Fund, except in boom years, when half of the billions in petrobucks will go to the Fund. He wants the money saved for the future. He wants the income from the Fund to stay in the Fund.

He doesn't want to see bonus bucks blown in good times.

"I'm going to take a tough line on the Heritage Fund. I can't do anything about yesterday. I can do something about tomorrow. We can't be junkies to $60 oil. We have to keep some of the money out of the hands of those who want to spend it, so those resources will be locked in and not spent on today's problems," says Jim, pledging "a clear, purposeful agenda."

"You don't spend lots of money because you've got lots of money. Our rate of spending growth can't be sustained. We're on track to be headed back into red ink."


No mention of tax relief? How about getting rid of the health tax? And why only 30 per cent?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

London, Ontario: Canada's worst municipal government?

Those of us who read London Fog get the clear impression that the City of London has one of the craziest, most interventionist, sloppiest governments in the country.

The latest scheme is to spend $50,000 to find out how happy everyone is -- in an election year.

"You never really know how people feel, how they perceive our organization, how they see the services we provide and whether they're getting value for their tax dollars," said Jeff Fielding, the city's chief administrative officer.

"So, you can expect some surprises."

City council has approved development of a new customer service strategy. The aim is "to reinforce a public service attitude" with employees and improve service.

Lisa puts it into perspective (and doesn't hold back):
The roads are crumbling, the garbage is piling up, the tax bills are soaring, the guns are a firing and yet the city decides to hire a consulting firm to confirm the obvious. London is run by a bunch of buffoons who care more about hockey, aging rock stars and crumbling relics than they do about delivering essential services. Remember, they aren't investing their own money into the Corporation of the City of London. Unlike legitimate businesses that suffer the consequences of crappy and irresponsible investments, the gang running the show with the plunder can make a quick exit through the backdoor, as usual, leaving the plundered with the debt.

This common sense brought to you by the CTF

Edmonton Sun:

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation believes it has hit on a fair way to adjust the salaries of provincial court judges.

The CTF says the salaries should be linked to Statistics Canada's average weekly Alberta earnings - the same as provincial MLAs and city council members in Edmonton and Calgary. Scott Hennig, CTF's Alberta director, made the suggestion yesterday in a letter to the Judicial Compensation Commission.

"Using an impartial third-party number that accurately reflects the change in the taxpayers' ability to pay is in our opinion the most fair way to adjust judicial compensation," he wrote.

[But this is definitely the best part]

NDP MLA Ray Martin said it seems like a good idea.

"It's not often I agree with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, but on the surface it would be a better system to pay them the way MLAs are paid."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hypocrisy Watch

Tories double the corporate welfare.

MONTREAL - The Conservative government has spent almost $90 million on Atlantic Canada since taking power more than double what the Liberals spent in the same period last year through a program they once decried as corporate welfare, a CanWest News Service investigation has revealed.

(...)

The accusation comes after MacKay was quoted telling Tory supporters at a Nova Scotia election rally May 19 that, once elected, the local Progressive Conservative candidate will have easy access to the agency's funding.

"There is money that the people in Preston are entitled to, and I can tell you he's going to come knocking and we're going to deliver," MacKay said at the rally.

MacKay's comments appear to have undermined the Harper government's pledge to "ensure that regional development agencies are depoliticized," opposition critics charge.

"You say you're taking the politics out of ACOA, but you're giving the impression you're going the other way," Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms said in a recent interview.

CanWest reviewed the funding commitments contained in hundreds of little-noticed news releases on the websites of the ACOA, the economic development agency of Quebec and the Western Economic Diversification program.

All together, Harper's Tories have doled out $196.5 million in the four months since the prime minister swore in his cabinet on Feb. 6.

Forty-five per cent of the funds $88.2 million have gone to Atlantic Canada, while the West has received $62 million and Quebec $46.3 million.

How to get health care in Canada

Step 1: Get sick
Step 2: See a doctor
Step 3: Find out you will have to wait a dangerous amount of time to get treatment
Step 4: Go to the media and complain
Step 5: Get treatment

The latest story:

Vander Schelde had to fight hospital scheduling to get her daughter’s surgery within the two-week time frame recommended by a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Because Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario and other London Health Sciences Centre hospitals do not staff operating rooms on long weekends, Olivia was going to have to wait for three or more weeks for surgery on a tumour discovered a week ago.

After Vander Schelde took her story to the media, the hospital arranged to find time for the operation Tuesday.

The good news is the child got the surgery she desperately needed. The bad news is that someone else had to be bumped back in the line in order to make it happen.

That sound you don't hear is the silence of the health care demagogues.

$500,000 in Fort McMurray

Gets you this. I remember this scary old shack very well.

CBC yanks taxpayer-funded propaganda movie (UPDATED)

Wow. This disaster was subsidized to the hilt. There was a one-shot $600,000 grant from the government to make it happen. It was also produced by the government-owned and money-losing Minds Eye. Then there is the Film Employment Tax Credit, which allows movie companies to write-off their labour costs.

UPDATE: I just heard a Saskatchewan politician on the radio (does it really matter with the current crop who it is?) saying the government doesn't regret spending at least a million bucks on the dud movie. He says the project provided "experience in film making" for Saskatchewanians. Right. The movie was full of lies and was blatantly partisan, but it was just a make-work project. Great!

This is the ultimate indictment. This is CBC, after all.

On Monday, members of the Gardiner family received an e-mail from CBC Television's executive vice-president Richard Stursburg.

He said the CBC hired a historian to assess the way Gardiner was depicted and the conclusion was the the character created for the film does not reflect the historical record.

Rolling Stones Watch

With the Stones rumoured to be coming to Regina in the fall, keep your head up for some sort of massive subsidy from either the city or the province. Remember SARStock or whatever they called it?

Alberta: What's going on?

Here's evidence showing just how much the Alberta government has drifted over the past decade.

Alberta's high-flying politicians racked up the air miles in 2005 with more than 50 out-of-country trips at a cost to taxpayers of more than $620,000.

Washington, D.C., was a popular destination, but cabinet ministers and a few Tory MLAs visited China, Taiwan, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, London, the U.K., Finland, Mexico, Sweden and Israel.

Premier Ralph Klein didn't travel the most, but his trips to Europe, South Africa, Colorado, New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston rang up the biggest bill, at a cost to taxpayers of $108,857.48.

What's that old cliche? Culture of what?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Nova Scotia election

With an election just around the corner, Nova Scotia politics are heating up. There is, however, one thing all the politicians agree on -- they don't want to decide on their own salaries before the election.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blogger

Well, I don't know about you guys but I have about had it with blogger. Let me know if you have any suggestions. Who wants to host this thing?

I'll start looking at different options when things slow down around the office.

Big travel and big arrogance

Winnipeg Sun:

City council is reporting its highest annual travel expenses in the past five years.

Overall travel bills racked up by Mayor Sam Katz and councillors, and paid from the public purse, hit $107,936.37 last year -- up nearly $40,000 from their tab for 2004, according to records obtained by the Sun.

"Spending this excessively, and especially during an election year, is irresponsible," Adrienne Batra, Manitoba head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told the Sun yesterday.

Check out the reaction of one of the Councillors when he's told he broke the bank on travel:

Pagtakhan, Katz's deputy mayor, surpassed Steeves this year to become the heftiest spender with a bill of $17,909.96.

"I actually beat Gord this year -- oh my God," Pagtakhan said, noting Steeves racks up big airline tabs as a vice-president with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).


Doesn't that seem a little glib and sarcastic for a guy who's flying to Manila, Mexico and the Middle East on taxpayer dime?

Pagtakhan goes on...

"I sort of feel bad that it's so high. From a public perspective, it may look bad. But we're learning and we're benchmarking. Overall the travel is good, as long as it's above board."

You know what "from a public perspective, it may look bad" is code for? What he means is that the rubes, the unwashed masses, the monkeys in the electorate may "think" this is bad...but that's because they aren't capable of understanding how important I am, and how important my "professional development" is.

When politicians dismissively say "it may look bad" they are showing their contempt for the electorate.

But there is always a bright light...
Steeves and other councillors defend the travel as necessary for their jobs, though Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) charges the bills for 2005 have gone overboard.

"This is a travel club. They should stay in Winnipeg and do their jobs as councillors, not just travel all over the place," said Smith, who took a single trip to a St. John's, N.L. conference at a cost of $1,927.68.

"They should tone it down. And they should remember that this is an election year."

Adscammer Headed to the Slammer


Chuck Guite who was found guilty of fraud for his role in Adscam is likely headed to jail, says a judge.

Finally, some justice for taxpayers.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Proposition 13 turns 28

Today marks the 28th birthday of proposition 13 -- a law that capped property tax increases in a time of runaway assessment values. I think its time is coming here in Canada.

From wiki:

Under Proposition 13, the real estate tax on a parcel of residential property is limited to 1% of its assessed value, until the property is resold. This "assessed value", however, may only be increased by a maximum of 2% per year.

Guite Guilty

A Montreal jury found Chuck Guite guilty of all five charges related to defrauding the federal government through Sponsorship contracts.

Guite is now in custody, but he vows to appeal the decision. Sentencing will be on Friday.

BC: Scrap translink

Vancouver Sun:

TransLink should be scrapped so that the provincial government can no longer pass the buck over transportation, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said.

"Transportation is the provincial government's responsibility," the federation said in its submission to the TransLink governance review panel. "Delegated boards, special districts or municipal agreements do not absolve Victoria [of] responsibility."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ottawa rolls out the corporate welfare

And it only takes a few months to kick into gear. Here.Here. And here.

Big hat tip.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Canadians Ok with some Private Medicine


A new poll suggests over 50% of Canadians approve of some private health care delivery.

This is in direct response to the failings and inadequacies of the current system.

Canadians want to be able to get health care services when they need it.

Access to a waiting list isn't access to health care. The majority has spoken loud and clear.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A user's guide to private health care

There must be a demand for private medical care in Canada. Why else would more and more private medical clinics keep popping up all over Canada.

Check out Macleans magazine's website. They have produced a comprehensive "User's Guide to Private Health Care".

Stossel!


Stossel say:

"It takes a long time for socialist systems to break down," he said, noting that Canadians are already travelling to U.S. cities like Buffalo for medical treatment that they can't get in a timely way at home.

"At first they work . . . but it's a slow breakdown."

The U.S. health-care system isn't perfect either, Stossel noted -- government intervention has bogged down a system that he believes should be left entirely up to private enterprise.

Hawaii - Don't Do It!

The State of Hawaii is considering passing a bill that will create race-based laws. In Canada, we have seen how this has been a miserable failure. For example, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended so Justice in no longer blind. A judge must now consider a criminal's "Indianness" before sentencing.

As Alston B Ramsay of the National Review points out, bad history makes for bad laws. Here's a sample

  • Bad history inevitably makes bad law, and the Akaka bill is a case in point. When it is opened up for debate, proponents will cite three findings of “fact”: that the United States, in violation of national and international law, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893; that the Hawaiian people have never ceded the right to govern themselves; and that, as Senator Akaka put it back in 1993, the “deprivation of Hawaiian sovereignty, which began a century ago, has had devastating effects on the health, culture, and social conditions of native Hawaiians.” There’s nothing quite like misplaced charges of racism and imperialism to move a piece of legislation. But alas, few if any of these allegations are true, at least according to most standard historical sources, including Ralph S. Kuykendall’s definitive work on Hawaiian history. Before the demagoguery commences on the Senate floor, it’s advisable to examine the relevant allegations.

To read the entire column click here.

Duncan Currie of the Weekly Standard also weighs-in:

  • BESIDES BOASTING ONE OF THE great names in American history, Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani holds a unique distinction. She is the only foreign monarch to have been deposed with the apparent help of U.S. armed forces and then asked to resume her throne by a compunctious U.S. president (Grover Cleveland). Alas, things didn't pan out for Liliuokalani, who eventually abdicated. Her overthrow in 1893 paved the way for U.S. annexation of Hawaii five years later. To mark the 100th anniversary in 1993, Congress passed and President Clinton signed a resolution apologizing to the indigenous people of the Aloha State.
    The Apology Resolution vastly overstated U.S. culpability in somewhat murky events, whose interpretation was distorted by politics both at the time and since. As a result--and because of the balkanizing implications of the resolution--some 34 senators, mostly Republicans, voted against the measure, including Arizona's John McCain and former Washington senator Slade Gorton.
    "The resolution accomplishes one goal," Gorton argued. "It divides the citizens of the state of Hawaii--who are of course citizens of the United States--into two distinct groups: Native Hawaiians and all other citizens." According to Gorton--and despite the disavowals of the bill's Senate cosponsors, Hawaii Democrats Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka--"the logical consequence of this resolution would be independence."

To read the rest of the column click here.

The problem with social engineering

When the government starts selecting "preferred behaviours" this kind of stuff happens. Frankly, I sympathize with the art lover.

David Scott has suggested that the government's concept of helping parents cover the costs of putting their children in sports organizations should be extended to parents who pay to put their children in artistic and cultural organizations. To seek support for his position, Scott, a member of the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, has established an online petition. He has already collected the names of thousands of supporters.

Off the rails

The construction budget of the new north-south light rail line in Ottawa has soared by almost $125 million.

Seems the cost of building a bridge for the rail line across the Rideau River, sewage upgrades and widening several roads wasn't factored into the original costs.

Mayor Bob Charelli has shrugged off concerns. This indifference may be due to the fact it is not his money, but the money of taxpayers at stake.

Enough with the bureaucracy

It never seems to change. If there is a problem in Canada, the solution always seems to be; "Let's strike a committee," or my personal favorite "Let's create a new 'decision-making' body".

So no surprise that native leaders in Manitoba are calling for the creation of a "First Nations Education Authority" to come up with solutions to get more native children to graduate from high-school. There is even a call to build and operate more on-reserve schools.

Sure we can do all these things, but as long as the reserve system continues to exist, these temporary measures will do little to improve graduation rates and cost taxpayers millions of dollars more per year.

Why? The current reserve system offers young native Canadians very little opportunity and choice. On many reserves unemployment is high, therefore, many students give up and drop out.

Solution: let's end the reserve system and provide all native Canadians the same opportunities to join the mainstream Canadian economy and society. Perhaps then, Canadians will see the socio-economic statistics improve for native Canadians.

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