Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Welcomed company in the fight against City Hall

The Edmonton Sun has joined us in the fight against Edmonton city council's massive pay hikes (21% for councillors, 14% for the mayor) and what could be a nearly 10% hike in property taxes.

They recently launched a coupon campaign, asking Edmontonians to fax, mail or e-mail back their completed coupon opposing both outlandish hikes.

Read more about the Sun's coupon campaign.

Edmontonians can get a copy of the coupon here.

Since June, the CTF has been circulating a petition to ask council to take their unjustified raises to a public vote. Edmontonians can sign-up here.

Happy Halloween!

Jack O'Lanterns Say: Support the CTF!

Also, beware ghosts, goblins, etc.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sask: Of course the PST cut is sustainable

I got around to reading Murray Mandryk's Saturday column, in which Murray is ringing alarm bells over whether last week's PST cut is sustainable, this morning.

After all, what makes great politics often makes for pretty bad government policy.

There are obviously reasons for the public to be legitimately concerned about how sustainable these tax cuts are -- especially given that the first thing the government did after getting re-elected in 2004 was to hike the PST in the 2004 budget to seven per cent from six per cent.

It's funny that Murray would suddenly start talking about sustainability when taxes are cut, but rarely when the government hikes spending by double digits.

The PST cut will save taxpayers $325 million per year. The government has increased spending by an average of $539 million each year since Lorne Calvert took over, or an average annual increase of 8 per cent.

How sustainable is that?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sask: Where to begin?

What a crazy couple of days in Saskatchewan. I guess I'll be short and sweet.

Bad idea

Good idea:

The CTF did find something to cheer about in the throne speech. MacLean called the province's plan to introduce legislation dedicating every fuel tax dollar it collects to maintaining roads "absolutely brilliant."

He explained gas taxes should be treated like user fees that are returned to roads. This year, the provincial government has poured roughly $375 million from fuel taxes into highways.

Very good idea.
But let's be very clear about the PST cut. It's great see some significant tax relief, and believe me it is significant. It will make Saskatchewan more competitive.

However, it would have been smarter for the government to cut school taxes or income taxes.

That said, we'll take it!

We're hoping there's more to come.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On the Air...

Talking municipal property taxes in Edmonton and Calgary on the Rutherford Show at 11:35 MST.

Click here to listen live.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dubai trip was a wasteful junket

We've got copy of the letter from Vice Chief of the Defence Staff confirming that the Senators were informed well in advance that a trip to Afghanistan was not possible.

High ranking officials from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces including myself and a representative from the Strategic Joint Staff met with the Honourable Senator C. Kenny in his office at 14:30 on Saturday, September 2 , 2006. During the meeting Canadian Forces officials provided an operational update explaining that for reasons of personal safety, the committee would no longer be able to travel to Kandahar as planned between September 12 and 15.

This certainly puts a bullet in the "Senators were set up by the government" conspiracy theory.

And don't forget about the receipts. Holy smokes!

Update: The room rate of $1,200 AED = $367.70 CAD per night, and a quick look at the Renaissance Dubai Hotel website shows that the Senators likely stayed in what's know as their "Executive Suite".

The hotel's website describes the executive suite as:

Executive suite, 1 king bed
living area with sofa, limousine transfers from
airport, access to private club lounge

The executive suite is second only to the "Presidential Suite."

Moving on...

It is with both sadness and delight I share this news with you. The sadness stems from knowing that after today, I will no longer work for one of the most thought-provoking organizations in Canada. The delight is caused by the excitement I feel for the new opportunity ahead of me. Shortly, I will begin employment as a Senior Public Relations Consultant with Hill & Knowlton Canada.

I will no longer post to this blog, but I will certainly provide comments.

Happy blogging!

Monday, October 23, 2006

My poll has been hijacked!

Apropos of nothing, Paul Wells is the most recent blogger bemoaning a hijacked online poll (in this case by the Ignatistas -- which seems to be a common way of smearing political types of all pursuasions these days -- ie. harperistas, dionistas, etc.) Give me strength.

By its very nature, an online poll cannot be hijacked. It exists free to anyone with a mouse pad. If friends or co-conspirators tell each other to go and register their opinion at an online poll there is nothing nefarious going on. It's the darn internet!

A more apt description for the phenomenon of a poll being flooded by a group of like-minded people would simply be "usage."

Do you think it's lame to complain about online polls being hijacked?
Yeah, it's really lame. It's an internet poll!
Flooding online polls threatens the solemn sanctity of the democratic process.
Online polls are dumb.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

UPDATE: Oh please! It looks like the "online polls are dumb" crowd is hijacking the online poll!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Did You Get the Memo?

Don't ever say Senators don't do their jobs. Don't ever say they aren't worth $122,700 a year.

While attempting to go on a trip to Afghanistan that military officials discouraged them from taking in the first place, four Senators and three staffers spent 7-nights in a luxurious Dubai hotel working on a "report."

Don't worry folks, it was only $500 a night and the total bill was only $30,000.

These guys work hard. Nothing to see here.

The last word goes to the NDP's Pat Martin:

"Maybe these guys didn't get the memo but the years of wretched excess is over in Ottawa."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Music to Taxpayers Ears

A Quote from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

" I can assure you that our government is by no means finished in our efforts to improve our tax system for the benefit of Canadian families and businesses. In the months ahead we intend to go even further to provide tax relief to deserving Canadian businesses and to the workers who make these businesses thrive."

Read more here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Racially based fishing

Seems the days of Canada's segregated commercial fishing fleet are numbered. The federal government is working on a plan to de-segregate the fleet. Meaning, enabling all fisherman - regardless of race - fish commercially on the same day.

It's about time!

The CTF has been a leader on this file. To read more about the CTFs position on this subject click here.

Public v Private

The CTF has long advocated free market solutions and supported consumer choice. So it is no surprise a recent Fraser Institute study concludes, public insurance programs in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are inferior to private insurance programs in other provinces.

Time to bring on the free market and consumer choice in the BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba insurance industries.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Revoke Councilor Benham’s line of credit

Hair cuts, liquor runs, pizza, KFC, books on how to win elections and songs by Captain & Tennille - these are just a few items Winnipeg city councilor Donald Benham charged to the taxpayers of our city. Although he did pay back over $4,000 he owed, it took him 18 months to do so.

The CTF believes the councilor from River Heights - Fort Garry cannot be trusted with a credit card (he doesn't have a personal one) and should return his taxpayers funded one immediately.

More details at http://www.taxpayer.com/main/news.php?news_id=2404

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

...and a politician who's not fighting for the taxpayer

... but at least he's being honest about it.

Kudos to Edmonton City Councillor David Thiele for being honest and upfront about his distain for Edmonton ratepayers.

Recent news stories in Edmonton are pegging this year's city budget to include a property tax increase to be in the 7% range.

Thiele is quoted in today's Edmonton Sun as saying:

"I'm willing to go to 7%, you've heard me say 10% in the past."

With Edmonton's annual inflation rate sitting at 3.53%, 7% is nearly double the inflation rate, and 10% is nearly triple.

Councillor Dave Thiele might be a lot of things (tax-hungry, big-government loving, self-interested pocket-lining, union puppet, who could care less about seniors who are struggling with fixed incomes and might be forced out of their homes by rising property taxes), but no one, no one, can call him a liar.

Friday, October 06, 2006

CTF: This Stinks!

CTV's Whistleblower has uncovered some murky details about a contract awarded for a London-based Canada Day celebration.

Read the details over at CTV.ca

To summarize the CTF's comments: "This Stinks."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A politician who's fighting for the taxpayer

A big thanks is owed to the City of Airdrie city councillor Shawn Howard who called the CTF with a concern about a session being offered at the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention in Edmonton.

A session entitled "Promises, Promises - Developing and Running a Successful Campaign."

This session offers incumbent elected officials a session on how to get re-elected. Granted, it was technically open to the general public, but unless you went to the AUMA website, and searched through the session schedule of the AUMA convention (a convention only open to civic officials), you'd never know about it.

Shawn's concern (and our concern after he told us about the session), is that many municipalities cover 100% of the costs for their elected officials to attend AUMA sessions.

So taxpayers were going to foot the bill for many of the incumbent attendees to teach them how to run an election campaign. What's next, asking taxpayers to buy incumbents election signs and TV advertising during the campaign?

It's questionable in the first place why the AUMA (a taxpayer funded entity) felt the need to put on such a session, but it's just plain wrong for elected officials to stick the bill to taxpayers.

If you want training on how to get re-elected pay for it yourself!

Thanks again to Shawn Howard for blowing the whistle on this disgusting waste of taxpayers money.

Check out the Edmonton Sun's coverage:
Pre-session and post-session.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pay taxes? Then you also made a hefty political contribution this year too

Elections Canada just released the third quarter update on how many tax dollars we provided to five of Canada's 15 registered political parties.

Bloc Québécois

Conservative Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

New Democratic Party

And that is only this quarter. These five political parties are in-line to requisition over $27.4-million combined from taxpayers this year alone.

If the new government is looking to cut the fat, here's a great place to start.

Sask: Cost of state-run liquor soaring

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) show the cost of running government liquor stores has soared by 33 per cent over the past four years.

Salaries for liquor store employees have jumped by 23 per cent since 2003 with largest increase (13 per cent) taking place over the past year. Salaries for head office workers have risen by 13 per cent since 2003. Labour costs account for 65 per cent of all expenditures.

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) spent $3.6 million on liquor store construction in 2005-06 – nearly five times the amount spent the previous year.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sask: More forestry layoffs

While Weyerhauser is laying off more workers, Lautermilch continues to tell us the Prince Albert Pulp Mill is still viable.

Remember the last time Lautermilch told us a business was viable?

UPDATE: Opposition Leader Brad Wall is demanding a plan to re-open the Prince Albert mill

“The future of the Prince Albert mill is crucial to the survival of Saskatchewan’s entire forestry sector,” Wall said.

“A concrete plan of action and clear progress on getting that mill up and running would be a shot in the arm for Prince Albert as well as Carrot River and Hudson Bay.”

“Anything less than a timetable for reopening the Prince Albert mill will amount to a failure on the part of the NDP.”
Okay, Mr. Wall. What do you suggest? Subsidies, tax credits, forgiveable loans or direct government ownership? All of the above?

Offering no details on what exactly the Saskatchewan Party would do to re-open the mill is perfectly intentional. It sets up the government for failure so the Saskatchewan Party can score cheap political points.

The unintended consequence may be to pressure the government into doing exactly what most people don't want it to do -- fork over hundreds of millions of tax dollars to re-open a dead-end mill.

Don't tempt them. The government has the money right now to stroke a cheque and make that mill instantly re-open. That's something we'll all regret.

Two Thumbs Up!

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is pledging to reduce income taxes in the next federal budget.

"We want to have further tax reductions in Budget 2007 and in the years after that. We think Canadians are overtaxed," Flaherty said.

Won't get any arguments here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sask: SaskPower rate hike

Reason #132 why commercial crowns are less efficient than private enterprise: Equity stripping.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box