Friday, July 28, 2006

The Liberals seem to understand

Regulating gas prices doesn't lead to lower prices.

The Nova Scotia Liberals seem to understand that this won't work, why doesn't the government?

Granted, it does create consistent prices -- consistently high prices.

It's time to end this poorly thought-out plan and de-regulate gasoline in Atlantic Canada.

Read more here.

Sask: Photo radar

Just posted a photo radar commentary on on the web site.

Subsidizing video games

"The latest edition of Grand Theft Auto brought to you by the taxpayers of Manitoba"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sask: Deficit on the horizon?

The province's first quarter update shows revenues are forecast to be $73 million higher than expected. Great news, of course. Problem is, every extra penny is already spent, and then some. The province lists highway construction, CAIS, corrections and a downed plane as reasons for the increased spending. As a result, a razor-thin $62 million surplus is forecast.

Think about that for a second. This is a $7.81 billion budget, and they have a margin of error of $62.5 million.

Imagine running a deficit with revenues running higher than ever before. It helps reinforce our argument that double digit spending increases can't be sustained. If we squeak by this year, what happens next year?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Newsflash: health care wait times hurting people!

Al expresses his amazement at what makes front page news these days. Here come the cries that the health care system has been "starved" funding by [insert one of the following demons: Ralph Klein, Stephen Harper, Grant Devine, Gary Filmon, or Mike Harris; but do NOT include Glen Clark, Roy Romanow, Gary Doer, Mike Harcourt, David Peterson or Bob Rae].

I am continually amazed by the apparent lack of perception on the part of the MSNM (mainstream news media) and its resistance to reporting the facts.. The headlines in Friday’s Calgary Herald read “Medic crunch raises alarms”. The article goes on to discuss some concerns on the part of aldermen and women of the city of Calgary pertaining to the fact that, on at least six occasions this year, no ambulances were available in the city of Calgary for emergencies. In Edmonton, this situation arose 18 times this year in the month of June alone! But “crunches” in health care should no longer be front page news; healthcare usurping all other public funding, should be.

Scandal on the Rock

Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general is looking deeper into a spending scandal that involves its House of Assembly.

Like in other parts of Canada, when an AG speaks people listen. These offices are taxpayers' last line of defence and without them who knows what would be swept under the rug by politicians.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Use Google?

Well you are not alone. The federal government recently paid $65,000 to The Strategic Counsel to determine the "impact and recall of vanity URL's". The report said people use search engines like Yahoo, Google, Lycos, etc. Shocking.

Is this government waste? You decide...

Sense of entitlement continues

Jim Karygiannis is a liberal MP who must not like his job much. Seems this well paid MP doesn't show up to work all that often. In fact, this spring's session saw 32 votes, but Karygiannis didn't attend one of them.

So what has he been doing while coellecting his taxpayer funded paycheque? Working on Joe Volpe's liberal leadership campaign. Nice...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Saskatchewan income tax cuts: A look back

In 1999, the province was edging back in to surplus budget territory after years of deficits. Then-Premier Roy Romanow, in response to public pressure from groups like the CTF, established a committee to create a more efficient and competitive income tax system. They hired Jack Vicq, a former deputy minister of Finance under the Devine government, to head up the initiative.

Lo and behold, Vicq found Saskatchewan income taxes were way too high and recommended a series of tax reductions and realignment. Not all of the recommendations were accepted (harmonizing the PST) but the income tax-related recommendations were adopted in large part.
The government launched a three-year plan to cut taxes:

2001 Taxation Year
11.5% Up to $30,000
13.5% $30,000 - $60,000
16.0% Over $60,000

2002 Taxation Year
11.25% Up to $30,000 Basic/Spousal $8,000
13.25% $30,000 - $60,000 Per Child $2,000
15.50% Over $60,000 Senior supplement $750

2003 Taxation Year
11.0% Up to $35,000 Basic/Spousal $8,000
13.0% $35,000 - $100,000 Per Child $2,500
15.0% Over $100,000 Senior supplement $1,000

All in, the proposed tax reforms would save taxpayers $260 million per year -- a pretty significant cut. Of course, the usual suspects objected to the plan with overblown rhetoric. The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour was the most shrill. In a campaign brochure the SFL said the tax cuts would result in hospital closures.

This is really touching.

Did those dire consequences materialize? Did those tax cuts bankrupt the government, forcing it to close hospitals and kick little old ladies out on the street? Take a look at income tax revenues for the province since 2000:

$1.255 billion
$1.196 billion
$1.429 billion
$1.246 billion
$1.329 billion
$1.448 billion
2006-07 (forecast)
$1.494 billion

If income tax revenue growth had tracked inflation since 2000-01 (The first phase of the tax cuts took effect on January 1, 2001), and taxes had not been cut, we would expect forecast revenues for 2005-06 of $1.404 billion. Inflation over that period came in at 11.87 per cent. Instead, we saw Saskatchewan income tax revenue growth of 15.4 per cent.

It's like those tax cuts never happened.

I'm waiting for the apology from the SFL for the senseless fear mongering.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

School Vouchers

Choice for students and parents is the main idea behind school vouchers. Recently, congressional republicans introduced a bill to provide $100-million for school vouchers.

  • Under the new legislation, the vouchers would mainly go to students in poor schools that have failed to meet their progress goals for at least five straight years. Parents could get $4,000 per year to put toward private-school tuition or a public school outside their local district. They could also seek up to $3,000 per year for extra tutoring.

The voucher system should be tried in Canada too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CTF Petitions

Tired of high gas prices?

Think our basic personal exemption (BPE) is too low?

Do you think corporate welfare is bad policy?

Does our health care system need reform?

Check out our many petitions and add your name today!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's good to be King

Let them eat cake! Is a statement forever tied to Marie Antoinette, but can also be worn by King Ralph. Er, Primer Ralph Klein.

The Alberta legislature is scheduled to sit beginning August 30, however Ralph would like the schedule change to he may enjoy a fishing trip.

CTF Alberta director Scott Hennig is not amused. "Switching around for a guy who probably doesn't really want to come back for it anyways seems very silly, just ridiculous," said Hennig.

Victoria spends $13 million on advertising

BC taxpayers shelled out $13 million on BC government advertisement.

  • Most of that money was spent on routine communications activities, such as translating the budget into different languages and placing want ads for government jobs. But it also shelled out nearly $300,000 to get its message out during last fall's illegal teachers strike.

The health monopoly dilemma

Al over at What's wrong with health care boils it down.

The problems in cancer treatment reflect the problems in our health care system as a whole. Costs continue to rise as treatments improve, decisions (which we are not a party to) are being made to control costs, and patients are not fully informed as to the basis of those decisions. Since we are not fully informed, we are not fully aware of our options. Not being fully aware of our options can lead to erroneous decisions on our part. Some people may feel that their life is worth twenty five thousand dollars a year or more, but are not given a choice.

(emphasis mine)

Two very different cities

Strange how the City Alderman salary review process can go so very wrong in Edmonton, and play out nicely in Calgary.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Problems Abound at TPC

The Lobbyist Registrar is investigating 5 companies that paid contingency fees to its lobbyists - something that's forbidden under TPC rules.

Industry Canada officials have vowed to fix the problems that consistently occur at TPC.

How about putting this program out of its misery once and for all?

These problems exists because these programs exist.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sask: All is quiet on the pulp mill front

It has been eerily quiet on the pulp mill front. The Meadow Lake mill continues to bleed money -- Saskatchewan taxpayers picked up a $70 million tab last year. How much will be putting up this year? Nobody will say.

However, the bigger threat is the Prince Albert mill. I suspect we will be hearing something about this very soon.

So what will it be? Direct government ownership? A massive grant program to sweeten the pot for a private investor? Tax credits? Subsidies forever?

Probably all of the above.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Elected cabinet ministers

Belinda Stronach, Liberal leadership contender, would like the Liberal Party of Canada to consider adopting a motion to elect cabinet ministers. Stronach believes this approach will provide backbench MPs an opportunity to shape a cabinet.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Greg Thompson is King of the Skies

From March to May 2006, New Brunswick MP and Veteran Affairs Minister Greg Thompson has racked up $20,000 in travel expenses.

It sure didn't take long for these guys to get comfortable. If this is a sign of things to come it looks like the new boss is the same as the old boss.

The Manitoba cow tax

This is sheer idiocy. Taxing cows to subsidize slaughterhouses? The Manitoba government will never let go of their planned economy fantasies.

Of course, Kate has the best line:

If it moos, tax it!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is the end near for the Aboriginal only fishery?

In a letter to the Calgary Herald Prime Minsiter Stephen Harper recently indicated, "...In the coming months, we will strike a judicial inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River salmon fishery and oppose racially divided fisheries programs.

If you liked Adrienne...You're gonna love Michaelle...

Governor General Michaelle Jean is addicted to the Challenger's jet fumes.

She's the most frequent flyer of the government-owned aircraft. She even took her family to the Bahamas in the taxpayer-funded plane but don't worry folks that was for "security reasons."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Another day, another roadblock

And, as usual, it's about money. Earlier today a band member said the highway that runs through the reserve is indian property. Therefore, they can shut it down whenever they want.

He said the band would have to provide a detailed financial audit and a plan for the future to regain financial control. It has failed to provide the department with a consolidated audit report for its 2004-2005 fiscal year.

"We have impose third-party management when we've lost confidence in the first nation's ability to manage that debt," Sutter said.

"It's very basic what we're asking from the first nation. And we're willing to work jointly with them to help them take the next steps," he said, adding the band has been unwilling to co-operate with the department.

Cappo said he has no intention of backing down. "We want out of third- party management. I don't care what type of conditions or criteria they put forward. That's not an issue."

Lower tax incentives work

Here's another excellent example as to why the Canadian Taxpayers Federation will continue to advocate for lower taxes as a way to spur the economy. Of course the US government still needs to reign in its bloated spending.

  • Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland, and Belgium.
  • This is an extraordinary fact, although you may be reading it here first. Most in the mainstream media would rather tout the faults of American capitalism than sing its praises. And of course, the media will almost always discuss supply-side tax cuts in negative terms, such as big budget deficits and static revenue losses. But here’s another suppressed fact: Since the 2003 tax cuts, tax-revenue collections from the expanding economy have been surging at double-digit rates while the deficit is constantly being revised downward.

What took so long?

Well, those all expense paid,..orientation seminars for federal public servants have been axed by the Tories. No longer will every new federal public servant recruit be flown to our nations capital for an orientation seminar at taxpayers expense.

What took them so long to kill this wasteful program...?

If this is a surprise to anyone, you weren't paying attention.

Now let me think, did anyone, anyone, predict this?

Oh, that's right, now I remember - we did. (and here)

Regulating gas prices doesn't work. It never has, it never will.

Word to the wise: this is what happens when government's feel that they need to be seen as "doing something."

More on this debacle here

Let Them Buy Their Own Sandwich

The Toronto Star and the CTF agree that MP's should not get a $75 dollar per-diem for meals. These guys make $150,000 a year, let them buy their own sandwich.

Read the TorStar's editorial "One Perk Over the Line."

It's time to bring MP entitlements and perks in line with public expectations.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Help wanted

The department of restructuring and government efficiency has a job opening to help manage their web site:

Web Coordinator, Program Services 2
Alberta Restructuring & Government Efficiency
$44,916 to $58,908 per annum

Of course the fact that the department is charged with making government more efficient doesn't stop them from having a full blown PR department. They also have a FAQ section. Of course, they don't feature the most common question/comment "efficiency" employees actually get: Isn't it ironic that the government established an entire ministry to help make the rest of government more efficient?

Some positive changes at TPC but...

As minister, Maxime Bernier is doing some good work over at Industry Canada.

First, he released the paltry repayment records of companies that receive TPC funding, although they did not release how much each company received - only what was paid back. Only half of the puzzle but more than the previous government.

Now, they are making guidelines stricter for lobbyists, etc. for companies that receive funds.

There's still a long way to go to get it right in this elephant of a wasteful ministry but not bad for 5 months on the job.

Sask: CTF on the air

I'll be guesting on 620 CKRM's noon hour talk show guessed it...noon.

Listen if you dare.

UPDATE: CJME has an online poll asking "Do Saskatchewan MLAs deserve a 10 per cent raise?"

Vote your conscience. ho ho.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Conservatives more frugal

The money saved isn't as important as the attitude change. You have to give credit where credit is due.

The rookie Conservative government has reined in wining and dining on the public dime, with some cabinet ministers opting for working lunches in Parliament Hill boardrooms instead of fancy restaurants.

Lists of hospitality claims, publicly disclosed on the Web, show most senior staffers and ministers are frugal when billing taxpayers for meals. Some cabinet ministers -- including Heritage Minister Bev Oda, Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Environment Minister Rona Ambrose -- have not claimed expenses for a single meal since they took office in February.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Go Garth Go!

The lonewolf. Actually doing his job. In Canada.

A GTA Conservative MP is calling for the immediate end to a little-known perk that allows MPs to put their $75 daily meal allowance towards their mortgage on an Ottawa residence.

Halton MP Garth Turner said yesterday it is bad enough that House of Commons members, who make almost $150,000 a year, get a per diem for meals, but says the latest twist, quietly approved at the end of the session by the Board of Internal Economy, with members of all political stripes, is going too far.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Newfoundland spending scandal

Some bizarre spending and breach of trust has occurred in Newfoundland. The provincial auditor allegedly was physically barred from examining the financial records:

  • HALIFAX -- Among the long list of items unaccounted for in the political spending scandal that has gripped Newfoundland and Labrador are about $3.5-million in taxpayers' money, plus 70 missing gold rings valued at $750 each.

Read the entire column here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Deep thoughts on property taxes

Coyne has an excellent column today on property taxes. The time has come for property tax reform. Or has it?

Real reform of municipal finance would start by charging user fees wherever it was feasible to do so. A beneficial side effect of this would be to open up possibilities for privatization and contracting out: if it is possible to make users pay for a given service, it is ipso facto not a “public good.”

Some services, of course, like fire and police protection, cannot be financed in this way. At any other level of government, these would be paid for out of income or (better yet) sales taxes -- taxes that, whatever their faults, are manifestly simpler, fairer and more efficient than the property tax. So why shouldn’t cities do likewise?

A combination of user fees and a municipal sales tax -- or a dedicated share of the provincial sales tax -- in exchange for an end to the property tax, and with it decades of confusion, unfairness and acrimony: If the Liberals aren’t willing to run on this, perhaps the opposition might.

MPs using meal allowances to pay for mortgages

Well, not only to MPs make absurd salaries, but they can use their $75 per diem to play around in the Ottawa real estate market.


The secret board of MPs that manages internal House of Commons affairs is allowing MPs who own a house or condo in Ottawa as their second home to pay down
their mortgages with a $75 per diem intended for meals, the Citizen has learned.

The per diem is in addition to a $25 daily accommodation allowance MPs receive year-round if they own a second house or condominium in the capital, and using it to buy a home is allowed despite a rule forbidding mortgage payments from a separate $24,000 expense allowance.

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