Friday, September 29, 2006

Why the state inflates

That was the topic of a recent roundtable tv discussion I was a guest on. You can catch it Wednesday November 8th at 8 pm on ichannel. In the meantime I am very interested to hear your theories.

Has anyone seen the Canoe?

Theft, Fraud and Losses cost taxpayers $100-million last year according to the 2006 public accounts.

Some of the losses include:

Loss of a Canoe (Department of Fisheries and Oceans): $390

Countless lost cell phones, blackberries, laptops and keys.

Some losses are legitimate. Hard to fault anyone for the loss of tables and kitchen articles following "explosion of butane container." Cost: $1,150.

Read the Public Accounts here (Volume III is where you'll find details on theft and losses).

Read CTF comments here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What would McGuinty do?

Via Proud to be Canadian...a telling admission.

“As an Ontarian, if I’ve got to choose between a privately funded doctor and no doctor, then I’d take the privately funded doctor,” McGuinty said.
Unfortunately, opposition leader John Tory stoops to a whole new level of demagoguery.
Conservative Leader John Tory showed McGuinty no quarter, describing the comments as “an astonishing admission of failure.

Are Ontarians who don’t have a family doctor being told by you that they should cross the border to get their medical care?” Tory demanded during question period.

“Are you saying they should be able to pay privately here to get that care?”

“I’m saying no to both those questions,” McGuinty responded.

The correct answer is "yes," Dalton. And the fact that you really mean "yes" is proven by your decision to hire a private company to run the emergency room in the first place.

Prying open the closed doors of government

In celebration of Right to Know Week in Manitoba, the NDP government announced Orders in Council (decisions not made in the legislature) will be made available online for those interested.

The CTF commends the Doer government for this move and encourges them to push ahead with other changes to access to information laws, most notably, releasing taxpayer-funded polling data.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Regina: Right to Know Week reception

A friendly reminder to those who are interested that the "Right to Know" week reception is happening tonight in the Window Room at SIPP. Drop by at 7:00.

More info here.

The Lieutenant Governor Gordon Barnhart will be in attendance and David Gollub, Vice-president of the Canadian Newspaper Association will be our guest speaker. I understand the theme for his talk will be "broken promises in Ottawa and the culture of secrecy that won’t die."

"Right to Know" initiatives have garnered some attention.

Toronto Star: The public's right to know
Knowledge is power
FYI Liberals: It's time to change FOI act
Campbell's openness test
Government clams up: Report
Hungry for the truth
Alberta government celebrates R2K
Globe and Mail: CNA says "right to know" is under attack
What right does the public have to know?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TPC: Slashed but not Killed

Yesterday, the federal government slashed funding to Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC), Ottawa's flagship corporate welfare program.

This is good news. Chronic rule-breaking, damning internal audits, and paltry repayment records have plagued TPC for years and it is about time something was done.

But if the government really has taxpayers interest at heart it will kill the program entirely.

$2 to $4-billion could be saved if Ottawa got out of the corporate welfare business. There is still much more fat to cut!

Read why corporate welfare is bad here.

Sign our petition calling for an end to corporate welfare here.

Rabble hyperbole


Do you hear that sound? That wheezing noise in the background is the sound of our rights being pulled out from under us. On the surface, the Conservative government's announcement of $1 billion in cuts may seem benign. If you were half asleep while watching the news last night, the gravity of the situation may not have hit you. But I know that I sat up in bed and couldn't sleep all night.

Sorry, I couldn't hear it.

Even though dozens of constitutional lawyers recently rendered a legal opinion that there is no constitional way that Harper could possibly overturn gay marriage without using the Clause, he might decide to move forward anyway, and dare us to scare up the resources to fight him in court — on our own dime.

On your own dime? Welcome to the real world.

Trimming the Fat

Jim Flaherty and John Baird have found $1-billion in savings by "trimming the fat."

Good on them. However a $13.2-billion surplus says one thing loud and clear: The feds still take too much money from taxpayers in the first place.

The next budget had better contain broad-based tax relief...Or else...

Monday, September 25, 2006


The main site, now has an RSS feed.

Right to know week

This week is Right to Know week. We have a number of events planned aimed at raising awareness around access to information issues.

This first event is tonight at the RPL Film Theater. I'll be serving on a panel with Gary Dickson, Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Regina City Solicitor Neil Robertson.

The discussion will be moderated by Ian Peach of the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy.

I urge everyone interested in public policy to come out and join in.

For those outside Regina there will be a panel discussion in Saskatoon featuring CBC Investigative Reporter Dan Zakreski and Greg Marchildon, Canada Research Chair in Public Policy and Economic History, University of Regina.

Check for more details.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fresh air

Thanks to Janke. Take a deep breath of this:

Truth is, the 46-year-old's pro-business views are grounded in a belief that the only way forward for First Nations is to break the cycle of poverty and dependence on government handouts - that have plagued his people since the Indian Act became law in 1876 - through self-sufficiency and economic development. His track record as chief of the 420-strong Osoyoos Indian Band, now in his 22nd year, has garnered attention around Canada and abroad. The accolades are nice, and Louie's got the financial cred to back it.

The solution.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Want to have cheap generic prescription drugs for everyone? Well, it's all about supply chain management and purchase power!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A grim feeling creeps into the hearts of government bean counters.

85-million reasons to call in

I will be on Citytv's Cityline show at 12:30 to discuss the government waiving fees for returning Lebanese-Canadians during the recent conflict in the middle-east. CTV has etimated the cost at $85-million so far. What are your thoughts? My bit will be followed by a call-in portion so don't be shy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Congratulations, Health Canada!

Your $9.5 million campaign to make sure people have heard the term "primary health care" has been a success. That is, if you define success as improving simple awareness of the term by 10 per cent among responding Canadians.

The results of the latest survey show 70.7 per cent of respondents (an increase of 10.2 per cent over the 2004 survey) had seen or heard the term"primary health care" and 49.8 per cent of respondents (an increase of 9.9 percent) were able to provide an unaided definition that met at least a broad interpretation of the term.
Wow. What a feat! 70 per cent of Canadians can at least muster a vague description of primary health care.
The $9.5-million awareness strategy was designed to support provincialand territorial primary health care projects and related communicationsinitiatives. Messages focused on four pillars that underpin primary healthcare: health care providers working in teams; improved sharing of informationamong health care providers and patients; better access to the right servicesat the right time, and healthy living.

Even better, 17 per cent of respondents remember seeing one of the ads, at least they think they do (I don't). Of course it was really important for people to have this knowledge. Why?
"Our benchmark research showed there was a knowledge gap that needed to be bridged," she says. "The results of this latest survey indicate the NPHCAS campaign was a key element over this period in helping to heighten public awareness of primary health care, and its potential to help sustain our healthcare system and enhance the effectiveness of health care in Canada."
And so on and so forth, etc.

Coffee out of nose

If staffers would work to research issues instead of shilling for the corporate sector and worshipping the mayor, Regina's citizens would learn that Mayor Pat Fiacco is simply a patsy in the George W. Bush plan to create one North American empire of Mexico, Canada and the U.S.


Klein write-up

A decent piece on Ralph Klein although much of it is re-hashed.

This is hilarious:

Klein has already given five priorities to Stephen Harper, who is not only Prime Minister but the MP for his Calgary riding. He lists them on the meaty fingers of one hand. Gun control: "Get rid of it, it's goofy." Kill the Kyoto Protocol: "Let us design our own devices to address global warming, in that we are a resource-based, carbon-fuel based economy." Same-sex marriage: "That is an irksome one. Fine, I have a lot of homosexual friends, but honour the constitution of marriage." Senate: "For God's sake reform it. Elect it." Eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board: "Let our farmers compete fairly relative to the sale of their wheat and barley." Address these, he asked Harper, "because they're goofy, Liberal, socialist issues."
Of course, our own Scott Hennig throws some cold water on Kleins "goofy, liberal, socialist" spending.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I happened to watch the Regina City Council meeting tonight in which council passed a motion calling for a "Regina first" hiring policy. The idea is if two workers of similar qualifications apply for the same job, the individual from Regina would get the position. This, say the politicians, would help keep more of our young people here in Regina.

I'm wondering if this is an appropriate grounds for discrimination. Can the city really say you can't have the job because of where your mailbox is?

I know it's commonly practiced with visible minorities and people with disabilities, but can the city really favour local candidates over equally-qualified folks from Winnipeg?

I gots to get paid!

Greater Vancouver Regional District directors vote themselves a 15 per cent pay raise, even though they have been receiving inflation adjustments since 2003 -- the last year they voted themselves a raise. And some of the meetings last less than 15 minutes.

“If I was making that little in my business, I wouldn’t be doing very well,” he said.

You know what? You aren't in business -- you are a public servant. Give your head a shake.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sask: No accountability

We concur.

Saskatchewan VS. Sweden

I came across this piece in the Economist via Cosh's indispensible world news roundup, and I was surprised by the similarities between Saskatchewan and Sweden. I've long known that Sweden is stagnant, but the data in the article is stunning.

A few of those statistics I'd like to see replicated in Saskatchewan. For example, when was the last major corporation established in Saskatchewan? I'd guess it was before 1990.

Did you know that if a swede is laid off from work, she is entitled to three years of welfare at 80 per cent of the previous salary? Why would anyone work?

The Sport of Bad-Budgetting

The auditor general in BC says the Olympics are already over-budget.

If organizers and government don't get things under control they'll rival Montreal for the worst-planning medal.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

out and about

Hey guys, tommorrow I'll be in Humboldt giving a speech at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Contact the chamber if you are interested in coming out.

Oh the sweet, sweet irony

This is rich.

First, the City of Calgary raises property taxes, and then they strike a committee to figure out what kind of program they need to help seniors who are being hurt by these high taxes.

In fact, they raised municipal property taxes last year by almost 10%. Yeah, inflation is rising in Calgary and the growth is substantial, but those new homes that have been built are adding to the tax base, and the developers are paying a new home levy on top of the new tax base they just created.

Inflation is hovering around 4% a year, yet taxes went up by 10%! Uh, hello! Of course seniors are going to be hurt by this, what did you expect?

Perhaps if the City quit wasting tax dollars on pancake breakfasts for people in Washington, DC, glitzy housholders telling Calgarians that they don't pay enough in taxes, TV, print and radio ads -- advertising said householder, public opinion polls on said householder showing that 79% of Calgarians didn't even look at it, trips for the Mayor and an aldermen to travel to London, England to have a look at some blueprints, etc, etc, etc -- perhaps they wouldn't have to raise taxes and then spend even more money trying to figure out how to help those people hurt by the tax increases.

Bonus irony: Alderman Gord Lowe, chair of the finance committee, and deputy head cheerleader for higher taxes (next to Mayor Bronconnier), is also the guy in charge of figuring out how to help seniors cope from this higher taxes.

I'm sure he'll be a lot of help.

Hey Gord, here's some free advice, courtesy of the CTF:

How about you start by not jacking up taxes by 10% each year. How about you put in a cap on how much taxes can go up each year.

Start there and you wouldn't need a committee to navel-gaze on the taxpayers dime.

The elephant in the room?

Hysteria in Ontario:

"We have an elephant in the room in health care . . . and it's posing a grave threat to our values and to our economic competitiveness," he said. "That elephant is represented by one Dr. Brian Day."

I've met Dr. Day. I have a sneaking suspicion he's having a good laugh about that.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Angry takes apart the glowing Hickling Arthurs Low report on TPC. Would it surprise you they just love ACOA too? And pretty much every other subsidy program that's out there.

Saskatchewan "Right to Know" week

I'm going to be writing more about this in coming weeks, but the Information Commissioner has set up a web page outlining our first annual "Right to Know" campaign.

From the site:

The purpose of this series of events is to celebrate the right of Canadians to access information in the possession, or under the control, of public bodies, as enshrined in ‘freedom of information’ laws. Such laws reinforce the accountability of governments and public bodies by ensuring that they must operate as transparently as possible. Canada is one of more than 50 nations that have an access to information law. Saskatchewan was the first province in western Canada to enact a comprehensive access and privacy law.

The steering committee is comprised of several community organizations including your CTF, Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, Regina Public Libraries, and the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner.

I urge all of you to come out to the events. For those non-Saskatchewan readers, check with your information commissioner for events in your area.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I'll be guesting on the Murray Wood Show just after the news at the bottom of the hour at around 12:30 to talk about crown corporations and government debt. Listen live.

Bob Rae -- welcome to 1998

Because that is when the Alberta government passed Bill 11 -- a bill allowing contracting medically-necessary surgical procedures to the private sector. When this law was being debated (endlessly, I might add) in the legislature, millions were spent on advertising by CUPE and the gang to kill it. They were partially successful, as the bill was watered down and neutered beyond recognition. The goal was to increase capacity of the health system and reduce costs. The revised bill accomplished neither.

Mr. Rae made a lot of union enemies today.

The good news is the debate has finally shifted. It's only the died-in-the-woolers who still believe in a monolithic soviet-style health system. The question is not IF there should be private sector involvent, the questions are how much and where.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 hear the lamentations of taxpayers...

Oh those crazy NDP resolutions....via Stephen Taylor. I'm just not sure that tongue-in-cheek works well in resolution form. That said, this says a lot about this particular riding association's contempt for taxpayers:

Whereas Statistics Canada reported that 10 per cent of the population pay 50 per cent of income taxes; and

Whereas commentators and experts conclude from this that the wealthiest Canadians are paying more than their fair share of taxes; and

Whereas the New Democratic Party is emphatically in favour of equitable treatment for all Canadians, with respect to both taxes and incomes,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the New Democratic Party pledge to support the highly vocal element in society that languish loud and long about the burden of taxes by advocating the more equitable distribution of incomes so that all Canadians not only pay their share of income tax, but have incomes which enable them to live in dignity while doing so.

Bits and pieces from Ontario

News has it that it costs $6-million to scrap a G and move some circles and a triangle a few centimeters in the new Ontario Lottery Corperation logo.

They used to tell me in elementary school that I wasn't artistically gifted. Many of the all-time great artists were not appreciated in their time but there was no mistaking I was not destined to be commissioned to redo the Sistine chapel. Apparently that doesn’t mean I couldn't have become a multimillionaire graphic designer accepting contracts from the Ontario government.

Rumor on the street is that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and Rogers are joining forces in an attempt to bring the NFL to Toronto. Let me tell you that I'm so excited for the NFL kickoff today. I would be even more excited to see an NFL team in Toronto. It would add even more to our already world-class city.

While this is a long-shot that Toronto will get a new NFL franchise I'm glad to see David Miller has weighed in on the issue and stated that MLSE and Rogers should not expect public funding for this endeavor. NFL fans may not appreciate his stance but they have to remember deals like $600-million of public money poured into the Skydome which was ultimately sold to Rogers for $25-million. Should this potential Toronto NFL franchise come to fruition they would most likely play at the Rogers Centre. Looks like the taxpayer has already made a hefty contribution!

Finally, the proposed City of Toronto legislation to restrict lobbyists from abusing their access to politicians and bureaucrats seem to be coming up short. This is a rather unfortunate turn of events. Hopefully, the committee in charge of this new legislation will realize the public skepticism over political motivations and make the proper amendments.


Someone got the ball rolling.

CALGARY (CP) - Alberta's ban on buying private health insurance for medically necessary procedures is being challenged by a constitutional watchdog group.

The privately funded Canadian Constitution Foundation said Wednesday it is funding a class-action lawsuit and a statement of claim will be filed in Calgary on Friday.

Calgary accountant Bill Murray, who was forced to pay for two state-of-the-art hip replacements, is acting as plaintiff.

The group says Murray was told by health officials that he was too old at 57 to enjoy the full benefits of the so-called Birmingham hip, so he would have to settle for a cheaper alternative.

The lawsuit will argue that Murray and other Albertans have a charter right to buy private insurance that could be used for things such as high-quality hip replacements.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

When the government stops moving

Sometimes the people start moving.

He began Aug. 28, picking up a load of cold-mix asphalt with his 1985 Ford half-ton from the Department of Highways and paving over the potholes and cracks that dominated the highway starting at the west side of the hamlet of Westview.

From there, he pitched, packed and paved his way west, intending to patch the pavement to a point eight kilometres west, to his farm turnoff.

Along the way, he was joined by two neighbours -- Brian Hoffman and Leonard Dales -- who were just as annoyed as Schindel and pitched in to help.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ottawa on the move

I’m sure this is just a coincidence. OK maybe I’m too optimistic after the long weekend. This is just a blatant misuse of taxpayer money for political gains. Mayor Chiarelli should look for a new campaign slogan before his opponents find one for him. Maybe something like Ottawa on the move towards accountable government?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pink Slip

Two high-level consulants hired to help the federal government cut costs have been fired by the Department of Public Works.

This is good news for taxpayers and a good message to send to all those whose salaries are paid by the public purse.

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