Thursday, August 31, 2006

If Alberta PC leadership candidate Mark Norris wanted to capture the hearts of CTFers....mission accomplished. (Well, except for the health care premium part -- we think they should be abolished entirely).

Norris said that, in addition to getting rid of health-care premiums for those earning less than $60,000 a year, he wants to raise the basic personal provincial tax exemption to $30,000 from the current $14,899.

Hop on the Saskatchewan way-back machine

It was the April, 2006 and the number one box office movie was RV starring Robin Williams. The Saskatchewan government had just tabled the largest budget in the province's history. The province announced a $1.5 million dollar handout to World Wide Pork in Moose Jaw and converted the debt owed by the pork plant to taxpayers into equity. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation were the only people in the province to criticize this corporate welfare. We argued that if the pork plant's business plan was so solid it wouldn't need an 11th hour government bailout. Ah, those were the days.

Tomorrow World Wide Pork will once again close its doors. Read about it in tommorrow's papers.

UPDATE: Agriculture Minister Mark Wartman to the Leader Post on June 8, 2006.

Agriculture Minister Mark Wartman, whose government stepped in a month ago with funding, said the commitment to restructure was incredible.

“I’m thrilled that this plant is up and running again in this next week,” he said. “Make no mistake, the investment here is well worthwhile.”

Corn ethanol in Ontario

The central planners have established a corn-fed ethanol plant in Ontario and it pleases the corn producers.

"The more ethanol plants we have, the better for corn producers," said Alexandria-area grower Robert Massie who'll begin expanding his corn acreage next year. "The plants will create more demand."

But wait...because of massive US subsidies for corn, Ontario producers can't compete. US subsudies created this problem, so how do we fix it? How about more subsidies!?
Massie, Glengarry County representative on the Ontario Corn Producers' Association, insisted there should be government incentives for processors to buy Ontario corn ahead of subsidized U.S. imports, which are causing Canadian growers to compete below the cost of production.

What if consumers want ethanol-blended gas at the lowest possible price? After all, they did pay for the ethanol plants with their tax dollars. Why should they pay more?

Well, that is the problem right there. We've propped up the ethanol industry with tax dollars already. It would be a waste if those plants can't compete and they shut down. So we must subsidize them more.

Monkland area grower Paul Vogel agreed, demanding an "Ontario First" policy when it comes to corn purchases by an increasing number of ethanol projects attracted by government grants.

"Taxpayer dollars are going into these plants." Vogel said. "There should be no imports permitted until after all the Ontario corn has been sold at fair market value."

I'm reminded of the commentary we wrote last week about Ignatieff's goofy enviro plan.

"Mr. Ignatieff’s subsidy game is corporate welfare by another name. Mr. Ignatieff promises to “protect” Canada’s biofuels industry from subsidized U.S. competition. That “protection” can come in two ways: biofuel producers will be forever propped up by direct government subsidies or Canadians will be forced to “buy Canadian.” Either way, consumers pay more. "

The Real Evil Empire

We sports fan here in Toronto refer to Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment as the evil empire. Maybe we are just bitter because the Leafs and Raptors have won about as much as the Hartford Whalers did during their tenure in the NHL. Ticket prices are up and the only thing MLSE is winning are bids for corporate welfare.

The federal government has pitched in $27-million and the provincial government $8-million towards building a soccer stadium which will house MLSE’s new Major League Soccer team. Both levels of government are quick to point out that they will recoup $10-million in stadium naming rights over the next 20 years.

Little did they know that the naming rights would go for $27-million over the next 10 years. Or did they? Maybe MSLE isn’t the real evil empire…

Transparency? Who needs that?

Word out of the Toronto Catholic School Board today is that the majority of trustees think transparency is unimportant. Trustees voted down posting their expenses online which was proposed in an attempt to avoid misconceptions that they are abusing their access to the public purse.

Do these trustees have a grip on reality? Do they not see the skepticism in public officials these days?

Kudos to John Del Grande and Oliver Carroll the two trustees who have opened a newspaper recently and realized the importance of transparency and accountability: They are posting their expenses online despite their colleague’s oversight.

John's Expenses can be viewed here

and Oliver's here

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Interventionist Alberta

Peter Foster at Financial Post:

As Claudia Cattaneo pointed out in yesterday's Post, Mr. Melchin's apparent desire to promote further resource upgrading in the province is particularly bizarre when Alberta is experiencing massive labour shortages, which are in turn driving up the price of new capital projects. In fact, many companies are planning to move oil sands bitumen upgrading outside the province. Mr. Melchin clearly regards this trend as undesirable and seemed to be suggesting "incentives" to keep upgrading within the province. This is a terrible idea.

Where resources are upgraded depends on economic logic, that is on the presence of expertise and capital, on projections of cost and on access to markets. To "promote" local upgrading with tax dollars is not merely to mess with market signals and breed corporate rent-seekers but to play beggar-thy-neighbour with other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the notion of some godlike "integration" of industrial ventures with ever-shifting government policies and the never-ending demands of so-called "civil society" (i.e. environmental NGOs) is sheer folly and/or a recipe for a further proliferation of well-expensed bureaucratic meetings.

Why Saskatchewan kids are in school today

I don't have a link, but I just heard a report on the radio about why Saskatchewan kids go to school today instead of after the long weekend -- as is the practice in the rest of the country. Turns out, school board trustees in Saskatoon wanted to start the year after Labour Day but the teachers union protested and killed the idea.

You see, if the school year starts after labour day, that time will have to be made up during the year. Teachers told the politicians they will accept nothing less than three consecutive weeks off at Christmas and 10 days in the spring. The school boards buckled.

That's why summer holidays end early for Saskatchewan parents.


On welfare reform

Via SDA, this needs to be repeated often and forcefully.

Crude initial reaction: The purpose of welfare reform wasn't to lower the poverty rate. It was to move people from welfare to work--out of an isolated, non-working subculture that had all sorts of bad social effects (fatherless families, crime, segregation, etc.). If welfare reform could have done that with a small increase in the poverty rate, that would have been a price worth paying. If reform had accomplished this goal--a near-60% reduction in the families getting welfare**--with no increase in the poverty rate, that would be a victory. That the poverty rate has actually fallen a full point from 1996 (13.7% then to 12.6% now--an 8% reduction) is a significant success. ... P.S.: The black poverty rate has fallen from 28.4% in 1996 to 24.9% in 2005, a 12% drop. In 1993, when Clinton took office, it was 33.1%. Since then it has dropped by almost 25%.
*** ... P.P.S.: And think what the poverty numbers might have looked like without the arrival of millions of hard-working, unskilled illegal immigrants bidding down the wages of those $7 and $8 an hour jobs....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Milgaard Inquiry

I just did an interview with CTV on the Milgaard Inquiry. The Inquiry is now forecast to cost at least $10 million -- which is a far cry from the original budget of $2 million. I'm not going to second guess the value of the Inquiry, but there is something seriously wrong here.

Is it a waste of money? Is there a problem with the inquiry process that needs to be looked at so we can tighten them up in the future? Are the lawyers running up the tab here? If so, what can be done about that?

McGuinty Swimming in Tax Dollars

Dalton McGuinty can quit talking about the "fiscal imbalance," and how it leaves Ontario shortchanged.

High Taxes. Rampant spending, and now finally, balanced books.

No shortage of cash here. The only people short of cash are Ontario taxpayers.

As McGuinty and Sorbara have shown consistently - the more money they have - the more they'll spend.

The answer? Give them less in the first place.

Read the CTF's news release here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Great news

They fail to mention that fewer people are recieving welfare these days. That said, we're on the right track when when the National Council of Welfare talks like this:

Council Chairperson John Murphy calls the present situation “shameful and morally unsustainable in a rich country” but also notes, “The generally favourable economic climate at the federal level, and in most provinces, presents a real opportunity for governments to take concerted action to end this kind of deprivation."

Wanna Read a Good Book?

From the CTF's Book Club - Move over Oprah!

Written by Mark Milke, former CTF director and author of the best-selling "Tax Me, I'm Canadian."

The best $27 you'll even spend. Makes a great gift!

Gilles Duceppe to Canadian taxpayers: Merci Beaucoup!

Need another reason to oppose Canada's political financing laws?

The Bloc Quebecois, the political party dedicated solely to breaking up Canada receives 95% of its funding from Canadian taxpayers, thanks to the $1.75 per vote it receives from the public purse.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

why we need transparent government

Via Instapundit -- Fuelner on waste in the american homeland security department:

How good is government at wasting our tax dollars? Consider the Department of Homeland Security.

It's not yet five years old, but it's already experienced at throwing away cash. A recent congressional report found that 32 DHS contracts "experienced significant overcharges, wasteful spending or mismanagement." Federal credit cards were used to buy beer-brewing equipment and iPods. Tax money was squandered on luxury hotels and "training" sessions at golf and tennis resorts.

Altogether, those contracts cost the government -- meaning you and me -- $34 billion. Sadly, a lot of that was wasted.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The crazy rants of Michael Ignatieff

What a card! That iggy cracks me up! mean he's serious?

Somewhere, far away...

a light bulb flickers on...

But looking at the pie graph on the side of the pump made me realize why filling up my car down south was less expensive than here in Canada: taxes.

Americans pay less in fuel taxes than we do, and that's the primary reason why gas is - dollar for dollar, litre for litre - cheaper than it is in Alberta, despite the fact that we "make" the stuff in our own backyard.

Friday, August 18, 2006

NB Liberals want to cut gas taxes

Specifically, the New Brunswick Liberals have pledge to stop the regulation of gas and replace it with a reduction in gas taxes.

Liberal leader Shawn Graham stated if elected on September 18th he would reduce the provincial gas tax by 4 cents a litre.

Seems the NB Liberals understand the free market. Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Trying to get fired???

This story about Stephen Callary, vice chairman and CEO of the Copyright Board of Canada doesn't make any sense.

From the beginning of 2004 all the way through the end of 2005, the guy takes ten trips. Two years, ten trips. Five a year, one roughly every ten weeks.

Sure the trips were a bit lavish, and the timing was a bit suspect:

He went to Tuscon, Arizona in the dead of winter in 2004, he spent $12,504 travelling around Europe for 18 days in the summer of 2004, and he went to Paris in the fall of 2005.

Wintering in the south, summering in Europe -- not a bad life.

But here's the kicker: in the first six months of 2006, he has taken eight trips, one trip every three weeks. He went to LA in January, Tuscon (again) in February, Kananaskis in June and then five days later left for Brussels and Barcelona for a week.

He spent $55,000 in the last 18 months traveling, but $25,000 of that came in the last six months.

View all the sorted details here.

But why would a federal bureaucrat appointed by the previous regime all of a sudden decide to ramp up his travel expenses?

Well, call me a conspiracy theorist, but if you know you're not likely to be re-appointed by the current government, you are tied into a job until 2009, and you now kind of want to retire, how best to end your unemployment?

Quit and leave quietly, finding a job in the private sector? Or out with a bang, travelling around the world on someone else's dime, praying that you get turfed when you return so that you can "pull a Dingwall" and collect a hefty severance?

Me thinks the later is more likely.

Somebody get these guys a Calculator

In its strategy to help cut costs at Public Works, the federal government awarded a contract worth $1.75-million. However, nine months later - it is worth $24-million.

Daniel Leblanc, at the Globe and Mail calls this a "shaky start."

Shaky start is right.

As the chief procurement department of the federal government, Public Works is an elephant of a ministry and NEEDS to cut its costs.

Hopefully the minister, er I mean the parliamentary secretary can explain some of this when the House resumes sitting in the fall. James Moore is going to be one busy guy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who is "Big Oil"?

You might be surprised to learn that really, really, "Big Oil" are nationally owned oil companies not companies like Exxon or BP. Check this out from this week's Economist:

  • Yet Big Oil is pretty small next to the industry's true giants: the national oil companies (NOCs) owned or controlled by the governments of oil-rich countries, which manage over 90% of the world's oil, depending on how you count. Of the 20 biggest oil firms, in terms of reserves of oil and gas, 16 are NOCs. Saudi Aramco, the biggest, has more than ten times the reserves that Exxon does. Those with misgivings about oil—that its price is too high, that reserves are running out, that it damages the environment, that it is more a curse than an asset for countries that produce it—must look to NOCs for reassurance.

The column goes on to point out that these state owned oil compaines are very similar to other state owned companies; they are often poorly run and inefficient. Thus, these true "Big Oil" giants should be privatized.

Province must enforce law

Earlier this week, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Albert Clearwater struck down a section of Manitoba's province-wide smoking ban that exempted Indian reserves. The ruling is a victory for equality.

Since Justice Clearwater's ruling, some native leaders are fuming mad calling the ruling stupid and clearly wrong.

In October 2004, the smoking ban under the Non-Smokers Health Protection Act took effect. But the piece of legislation exempted lands reserved for Indians. Meaning, native owned businesses operating on native reserves did not have to comply with the provincial legislation.

You can read the CTFs response to the ruling here.

The Mythology of Minimum Wage

A column by Whitney Blake in this week's Weekly Standard debunks three population misconceptions about minimum wage.

Myth No. 1: Millions of "working poor" are trying to feed a family of four on a single income of $5.15 an hour.

Myth No. 2: Increasing the minimum wage will help poor people and minorities.

Myth No. 3: If Congress doesn't increase the minimum wage, the "working poor" will continue to work for slave wages and be oppressed by greedy corporations.

You can read the entire myth busting column here.

Janvier update

The Janvier crisis is getting a little more serious, with band members occupying the band office for a time.

But I'm sure Chief Janvier's house is doing just fine.

The youth here know all about their hamlet’s problems. Andrew Janvier, 16, describes how it took the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation five years to finish building his father’s house while a two-storey log house for the chief, Walter Janvier, was completed within a year.

Subsidy Sinkhole

Read John Williamson's Op-Ed in today's Financial Post regarding the corporate welfare sinkhole known as Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC).

And while you are at it, send Industry Minister, Maxime Bernier a note telling him to put this wasteful progam out of its misery once and for all:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Archives soon to be just memories?

The Toronto Star has reported that the Ontario Archives are declining in value by $36 000 a day while it sits in a "mould-infested firetrap". So why not find a new home for them you ask? Well the previous government did but in 2004 when the Liberals came into power, Premier McGuinty squashed the deal. Boy is he regretting that!

It looks like there aren't too many suitors lining up. The only bid left on the table is from York University. Unfortunately, if accepted, the bid will cost Ontario Taxpayers $3 million more a year than the deal McGuinty killed in 04.

Even if they wanted to sign the deal with York University and get the Archives into greener pastures they couldn’t. Bud Perves, the president of the York University Development Corp also sits on the board of the Ontario Realty Corp., the organization in charge of the bidding process. The conflict of interest has left the Government scrambling for new bids.

At the rate the McGuinty Government are moving they may be in the collection themselves before a new home is found.

Bad Trip

This bad trip has nothing to do with illicit substances. Rather, it is a story of two government officials on business in London.

Missed meetings, cut and paste reports, misleading info, etc. A junket through and through. But it gets worse.

Still no idea how much this cost taxpayers.


Friday, August 11, 2006


Taxpayers, via the federal government, will plow $1.5 million into growing the international market for wild blueberries.

That's a lot of blueberry pies.

Getting petty over a shed?

It is frustrating when the federal government builds on your land without your permission. This frustration is precisely the reason why organizations like the Alberta Property Rights Initiative started. But his case seems entirely different.

From today's Globe and Mail:

  • SACHIGO LAKE FIRST NATION, Ont. A remote northwestern Ontario native community is evicting a Ministry of Natural Resources water monitoring station. The equipment shed, which measures just under four cubic metres, is located on territory claimed by the community.

    Ministry spokesman Bob David says it was built in partnership with Environment Canada in an attempt to help predict both flooding and drought conditions.But Chief Alvin Beardy says the Sachigo Lake First Nation wasn't properly consulted and they want it removed by the end of the week.

    Mr. David noted it would be difficult for the installers to remove the equipment before Aug. 21, since they are on holidays. However, Mr. Beardy said he couldn't guarantee the safety of the facility until then. Sachigo Lake is a fly-in community with 732 residents, located more than 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay near the Ontario-Manitoba border.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Another Dingwall?

Andre Ouellet is suing Ottawa - read taxpayers - for $3.2 million in damages. The amount includes $417,000 for severance pay even though Ouellet voluntarily resigned. Ouellet's suit charges Canada Post with breach of contract.

What's that I hear...."I'm entitled to my entitlements."....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Book Review: The War on Fun

Slightly off topic, but nonetheless worthy of a blog post.

While away camping this past weekend, I had the pleasure of reading Ezra Levant's "The War on Fun".

It is a short read (142 pages), but it is jam-packed with tales of how the "anti's" - those people who want to see all adults treated like children - fresh off their win against "big tobacco" are now setting their sights on "big food" (McDonalds), "Detroit" (SUV's), and "big beer" (Miller, et al).

Rather than allowing individuals to make consumer choices for themselves, these busybodies are trying to have governments and juries make the decisions for us.

It also discusses how individuals are being made to feel like victims for their own bad choices (eg. you didn't want to eat those three Big Mac's, but McDonalds brainwashed you to do it).

Of course, Mr. Levant puts it much more eloquently in his book.

It's chock full of interesting stats, shocking tales and some scary hidden truths.

Anyone worried about losing their right to choose should pick it up, it's a great read.

Accountability crisis in Janvier

80 per cent of band members sign a petition to get rid of their chief. The result? The Chief stays!

The Fort McMurray Today is on the scene:

For many on the reserve, which comprises part of the community of Janvier 120 kilometers southeast of Fort McMurray, the chief hasn't been doing his job.

"The conditions of the houses are really poor," said Agnes Duke, a 53-year-old band member and an organizer of the petition. "It's sad to see. This is our traditional land and with all the oil around us, our children are hungry." Some houses on the reserve lack running water, something the chief denies. A tour of the community seems to run contrary to his assertion, however.

And what would a band political action be without veiled threats and intimidation.

Several people, in fact, said they've already felt the repercussions for being involved with the petition. A Today reporter listened to a cellphone message from a man who identified himself as Walter Janvier to one person helping with the petition telling him to "stay off the reserve" for "opening your f---ing mouth too often."

The man, Rob Galloway, is an employee of one of the main petition organizers, Vern Janvier.
And as for the housing problem, the Chief says he is focusing on the most needy in the community -- like single moms. Those who have oil sands jobs can do it themselves. Would you believe that the Chief is one of those "most in need" on the reserve?

While the band gets money from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for water and housing, officials prefer to focus repairs on the neediest households, many of which are run by single mothers, Marcel said. The band is, in fact, constructing new housing -- 18 homes are set to go up this year -- but the best home, residents say, belongs to the chief himself, a two-storey A-frame log house. The building, which was built a few years ago, is nice but it has structural problems, Marcel said. Asked if it's the nicest house, he said, "I don't think so. It looks good from the outside."

Photo radar

Letter published in the Regina Leader Post on photo radar.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Caledonia: Tough Talking Judge

Judge David Marshall has ordered the native protesters off the occupied land in Caledonia. He is turning it over to the Attorney General to get them off. Judge Marshall also ordered the Government to halt all negotiations until the protesters have been removed from the housing development site.

Ottawa to override military spending controls

I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye but man, this reminds me of Brian Mulroney.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sask: Yet another lie

The government just posted a news release boasting their latest credit rating improvement from Standard & Poors, which is fine.

But once again they are perpetuating a lie.

This is the fifth credit rating upgrade for the province under PremierCalvert's leadership, arriving just four months after Finance Minister AndrewThomson delivered Saskatchewan's 13th consecutive balanced budget.

The reality is that, since Calvert took over, there have been more deficit budgets than surplus. The Provincial Auditor lays it out in his 2005 Volume 2 report. Calvert became Premier in February, 2001. His first full budget cycle (2001-02) saw a $483 million deficit. In 2003, he managed to increase the deficit to $654 million. In 2004, when oil prices saved the day, the deficit was reduced to $100 million. In 2005 there was surplus, and you can bet the auditor will show another surplus this year.

Bottom line: Calvert racked up massive deficits for three years before he turned a surplus. They tell the "13 consecutive balanced budgets" lie with a straight face because of the "fiscal stablization fund." Funny thing about that fund -- there is no fund. Unlike Alberta, there is no actual account with money in it that can be used for a rainy day. When the government "withdraws" money from the "fund" the government debt goes up by the exact same amount.

I wonder how they can say the budget is balanced, and then turn around and sell government debt bonds the next day. I'm more shocked they don't get called on it by anyone in the media.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Prediction for 2008

In 2008 the Federal Government, hot off their 2006 launch of the "free" dial-a-weather-and-traffic-update (511 on your dial) will issue the "free" 311 service for instant sports scores, the joke of the day and your horoscope.

Plus they will launch their new slogan:
Government of Canada, doing what AM radio does, just worse.

Can someone please tell me why the Government of Canada decided Canadians weren't getting good enough service from radio stations and "had" to launch a taxpayer-funded telephone service to find out the weather and traffic?

Newsflash: If you can't get AM radio where you live, you're not likely going to get cell coverage either.

Fiscal Imbalance Garbage

Notions of a "fiscal-imbalance" between Ottawa and the provinces is rubbish.

The only imbalance that exists is the one between governments and taxpayers.

Read John Williamson's latest commentary on this subject here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Canadian Magazine Fund?

First off, I've never heard of the Canadian Magazine Fund and I had to read it a couple times to ensure I wasn't hallucinating. As Cosh points out, the lengths to which bureaucrats will go to define what is a magazine -- a point system of all things -- are hilarious.

One Pricey Move

Moving the 'Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness' offices has cost taxpayers $24-million.

But don't worry folks - nothing wrong here:

"It is normal practice in the federal government to get everyone under the same roof."

-Spokesperson for Public Works

Perhaps when the House resumes sitting in the fall, the minister, er, I mean the parliamentary secretary can further justify this expense.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Health Insurance Needs Choice

Check out the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's website at There is a great new column advocated choice for health insurance.

Here's a little sample:

  • Imagine if the Canadian government opened a chain of grocery stores and outlawed any competition. The government, through its monopoly, would dictate the types of goods and services sold and the price. For food, Canadians would be completely at the mercy of their government. Imagine further, if some Canadians, lucky enough to live near the border, had money and/or connections could “cross-border-shop.” Canadians would rightly be outraged and demand greater choice if such a scenario were to take place. So why are Canadians not outraged over their government’s monopoly on health insurance?

"Welfare to Work" - Works

Ten years ago, democrat President Bill Clinton, introduced his controversial welfare reform known as "Welfare to Work". Not only did the reform face criticism at home, it faced more aboard. But after a decade, it seems Clinton's reform works.

  • America's welfare rolls have fallen by over half as existing claimants have found work and fewer people have gone on benefit in the first place. A strong economy, generating plenty of jobs, has undoubtedly helped; but the main reason for the steep decline in caseloads is the reform itself. Furthermore, there has been no upsurge in the poverty rate; in fact, it has fallen over the period. Most of the jobs taken by former claimants are poorly paid, but in general they are doing somewhat better than when they were on welfare.

Census 2006: Half a billion and counting

I have to admit, I don't understand what the purpose of a census is. Sure, they want to find out how many people there are in the country but I already pay all kinds of taxes, have a social insurance number, etc. Don't they know I exist?

Why exactly do they need to spend at least $567 million to count everyone? I did not submit census form on the assigned deadline (tisk, tisk), so a census worker came to my door. I gave him the information at that time. Just a week later, another census worker came to my door. How many times have they knocked on my door when nobody was home?

Lisa has a great rant over at DMB.

And I'm still curious how much they spent to advertise the census on sugar packets. Weighty matters, indeed.

New guy

There is no release on the site to link to yet, but the CTF has a new Ontario director. Neil Desai will be a thorn in the side of Dalton McGuinty, David Miller and the rest of the Ontario gang.

Welcome aboard.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box