Saturday, December 30, 2006

For posterity

Must save this one. The Star Phoenix agrees with us.

We agree with the CTF that meaningful tax relief means Flaherty cutting income taxes and increasing personal and spousal exemptions in his upcoming budget. Another slew of tax "breaks" and promises of future tax cuts tied to federal debt reduction simply will not do.

Flaherty must resolve to do better.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sask: Liberal leader wants to force you to eat right

David Karwacki, Saskatchewan's no-seat liberal party leader, is selling his "charter of responsibilities" idea in his year end interview with the Leader Post.

If people don't take responsibility for themselves, Karwacki would stomp them with the taxation jackboot:

StarPhoenix: Is it [ed: Karwacki's goofy Charter of Responsbilities idea] encouraging responsibility or is it forcing responsibility?

Karwacki: I think in large part encouraging wherever government can. But sometimes government needs to step in and force responsibility.

StarPhoenix: What would be an example of that?

Karwacki: Well, I think around areas like health care, when you talk about what kind of foods we are eating and consuming you want to incent (sic) people to have healthy lifestyles. But then at the end of the day if people continue to eat junk food and trans fats, maybe those need to be taxed. And that would be really more forcing people to step to the plate.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

BC: CTF on the air

I'll be on the Bill Good show tomorrow (thursday) morning at 9:00 BC time, 11:00 sask time, to talk about fat taxes and how terrible an idea they are.

Put down that Mars bar and listen live.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sask: Government flouting FOI laws

The latest report from the Information and Privacy Commissioner confirms once again the experience the CTF has with access requests to crowns and government departments.

In a nutshell:

  • Crowns were found to not be able, or willing, to substantiate their reasons for extending the mandatory 30-day time limit for responses to information requests.
  • Crowns vetting their responses through the PR folks in Calvert's office and disclosing the name of the applicant (which is contravention of provincial privacy laws)

The commissioner writes:

It is unclear what value is added to the process of responding to an access request by consulting with the Communications Branch. Presumably the purpose is to enable the political sensitivity of the request to be assessed by the Communications Branch. Since the decision has not yet been made by the relevant government institution, there must be a substantial risk that the Communications Branch may suggest or require that disclosure of certain records be declined or delayed not because of legitimate statutory exemptions in the Act but because of wholly extraneous considerations.

For those that use the system regularly, this finding will come as no surprise. I've been told directly by high-ranking officials that information will not be disclosed because I will "just hit them over the head with it."

I think the way SaskPower defended itself against the request for review says a lot about how how they view the process. In this case, some may assume the "applicant" is a member of the opposition.

SaskPower takes its obligations under FOIPP [sic] seriously and has always replied to access requests by this applicant within the time permitted under the legislation and in our view this request is clearly frivolous and/or vexatious in nature.

You see, who the "applicant" is and how many requests they make should be completely irrelevant here. But any appearance of being impartial is thrown out the window the minute they run responses through the Premier's office for approval.

Sask: Government employees strike

Thought for the day:

So SGEU workers are starting to walk off the job. I have a hunch that they will not be striking on stat holidays when employes are earning double-time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

'twas a good year for Saskatchewan taxpayers

Saskatchewan taxpayers can rest easier over the holidays knowing that real progress was made toward lightening our tax load. In many respects, 2006 was a remarkable year for the province.

Read the rest...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Senators do the Afghanistan trip for real this time

After their expensive trial run a few months back, Senators' boots are on the ground in Afghanistan.

I loved this line in the story:

The entire trip cost close to $150,000, with $30,000 spent for the six days spent at the hotel.

A Senate committee later cleared the senators of any wrongdoing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A stiff Alberta breeze

Change is almost always a good thing. Alberta Premier-elect Stelmach is predicted to reduce the size of his cabinet to 18.

At long last, the ironically named "ministry of government efficiency" will folded into other departments. Good riddance.

The seven axed ministries - aboriginal affairs, innovation and science, government services, restructuring and government efficiency, community development, gaming and economic development - will be merged with other ministries.

Shouldn't taxpayers decide if MPP's get a raise?

Premier Dalton McGuinty has again shown complete disregard for taxpayers. He is trying to fast-track a 25% pay increase for himself and MPP's before the holiday season. Maybe he thinks people aren't watching him because they are busy buying gifts? MPP's will be singing Christmas carols all the way to the bank if something isn’t done. The proposed raise will increase their pay annually by $22,000.

Shouldn't taxpayers be the ones who decide if the premier and MPP's deserve a raise? Maybe Premier McGuinty isn't confident that they would say yes you deserve 25 per cent more. He did say he would balance the books and freeze taxes. He failed at that. He's also the guy who's been crying poor to the Prime Minister for months. Where does he plan to find the millions of dollars it is going to cost taxpayers to pay for this pay raise?

If you want to have a say in your MPP's pay raise then sign the CTF's petition here.

I wonder why Premier McGuinty didn't extend sitting hours to discuss the $127-million missing at Hydro One or the exec's at Children's Aid who were buying luxury SUV's and taking lavish vacations on the public dime...Those issues were obviously not as important as the MPP pay raise?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Senate vote

I just got off a stakeholder briefing/conference call on the proposed legislation to elect Senators. We'll certainly have more to say down the road but at first blush this proposal looks very promising.

The best news is Senators will be "nominated" via STV. And once we start "nominating" Senators, it will be very difficult for a government to take that process away.

Interesting times.

Peter Kormos: Taxpayers' Champion???

As the provincial Liberals and Conservatives get set to vote themselves a hefty raise before Christmas, the NDP, particularly, Niagara-Centre MPP Peter Kormos are rightfully labelling this "thoroughly repugnant."

Kormos even got kicked out of the legislature for his vehement opposition to the pay increase.
Dalton McGuinty - A Timeline:

Promises to not raise taxes and pledges to balance the books every year if elected. Wins the 2003 provincial election.

Raises taxes in first budget (a regressive tax no less). In the most deceptive of labels, it is called a "health premium" even though it goes into general revenues (to be spent on whatever Premier McGuinty and Minister Sorbara see fit - apparently including pay raises).

While a small surplus was run last year, another deficit is expected this year - the 4th in 4 years.

With the books still in the red, Premier McGuinty decides a hefty raise is needed for all MPP's. The Conservatives agree. Only the NDP, particularly Peter Kormos slam the move.

If taxpayers are looking for someone to watch their wallets, don't bother talking to Premier McGuinty. Ditto for John Tory and his Conservatives.

Peter Kormos has emerged as a principled and hard-nosed Taxpayers Champion. Props to Mr. Kormos. Too bad there weren't more like you at Queens Park.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hydro One petition to fire President and CEO

We here at the CTF do not look highly on individuals in the public service who funnel $50,000 worth of expenses through their assistant's corporate credit card. When I heard that Ontario Premier McGuinty was going to accept Hydro One CEO and President Tom Parkinson's resignation and pay him 2 years salary and bonus ($3-million) as severance I tasted my lunch for the second time.

If it doesn't sit well with you either then sign the petition to have a full audit of Hydro One and fire Tom Parkinson with cause here.

Here are some facts from the Auditor General's Report

*Parkinson's salary was $1-million with an annual bonus of $500,000
*He also used the Hydro One helicopter for personal use
*Part of his perk package included first class airfare to Australia every year
*Under his watch $127-million was charged to Hydro One corporate credit cards without receipts
*Parkinson approved his assistant’s expenses. Thus avoiding internal audit

Tobacco kills AND it heals

I hope this is next in the federal government's series of "mean spirted" spending cuts. (via Cosh)

Friday, December 08, 2006

The state has no business in the refrigerators of the nation

For too many politicians and bureaucrats most problems can be solved with a healthy serving of taxation and a side order of regulation. The latest? Taxing and regulating “bad foods” to tackle the obesity epidemic!

Those very smart persons in government and academia conclude that if we taxed Big Macs and Eat More bars that we’d all reduce our consumption of “bad foods” and fill the streets with Lance Armstrong look alikes. The concept is nothing new.


Senate question: The 100 per cent "scientific" poll

Alright folks, we're posing the question: Should the senate be elected, abolished or kept the same?

Register your vote at (lower left-hand side)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

News flash: Centre for Policy Alternatives wants higher taxes

I want to let all my "big government" friends know that I have a copy of the CCPA report arguing that higher taxes make a country better. I haven't read it yet, and I can't really say I will, but yes I am aware of it. So you need not send me an email.

I can actually predict what the report will say. It will say that people are happier in Sweden and they have lower incidents of child poverty than marginally lower-tax Canada. They will ignore that fact that Sweden hasn't created a net new private sector job since the 50s and their unemployment rate is probably quadruple that of the US.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is a public health care system really more compassionate?

Equal access to a waitlist is not equal access to health care.

We can continue to stick our fingers in our ears and pretend that people aren't waiting and dying on these waitlists or we can realize that we already have a two-tier system in Canada. It's called the USA.

Check out this short (5:36) video by On the Fence Films on an Ontario man's dealing with Canada's public health care system.

The Norwegian Tax Free Brass Pole

In Norway, stripping is considered art, and as such, is exempt from taxes.

What's Next? Tax Credits for Visits to the Champagne Room?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Billion Dollar Black Hole

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), a national statistical agency projects total health spending to hit $148-billion this year. This is an increase of $8-billion over last year.

Yet wait times persist, doctor shortages continue and medical equipment is still scare in hospitals.

Yet the system runneth over with bureaucrats and bloated ministries. The state positions itself as the champion of health care and repeatedly states that only the government can effectively manage and deliver services.

What a crock of bull plop. Health care in Canada continues to be a billion-dollar black hole where all the extra billions fail to improve the delivery of services.

Demand Health Care Reform!

Would "foodcare" be a good idea?

I was reminded by Mike's brilliant sendup of the of a CP story on the proposed private hospital in BC of an excellent commentary written by former CTF Alberta director John Carpay.

If the production and sale of food in Canada were managed like health care, governments would have a monopoly on “foodcare.” Politicians would declare that all Canadians, regardless of income, have a fundamental right to free food. After all, we need food even more than medicine, because without food a person will surely perish, whereas without medical care a person might live for weeks or months or even years.

If food were managed like health care, everyone would be given a “food-card,” with which they could walk into any grocery store or restaurant, taking what they need, for free. People would take steaks before they took ground beef, thereby creating a permanent shortage of good steaks. Highly paid bureaucrats would be assigned the impossible task of deciding how billions of tax dollars should be spent on foodcare. Possessing both intelligence and sincerity, these bureaucrats would do their very best to spend our foodcare dollars wisely and efficiently. Nevertheless, demand for new, different and better foods would always exceed supply, creating chronic shortages and long waiting lists.

If food were managed like health care, access to free food would be considered the defining feature of what it means to be Canadian. It would be blasphemous to speak of food as a commodity, or to refer to foodcare users as consumers. It would be “obvious” that the private sector could not be trusted to do a good job with something as important as food. Those who wanted to introduce choice and accountability into the the food industry through market forces would be denounced as “trying to profit from someone else’s hunger.” People working in the food industry – on farms, in factories, and in stores – would be well-paid members of powerful public sector unions.

If food were managed like health care, wealthy Canadians would be prevented from spending their own money on better food; this would be considered as unfair to lower-income and middle-income people who had to rely on the public food system. Nevertheless, the wealthiest Canadians would always have the choice of going to the U.S. or elsewhere to spend their money on the food of their choosing. In spite of this fact, politicians would still pretend that two-tier foodcare did not exist.

If food were managed like health care, provinces who wanted to innovate with their public food service systems would be prevented from doing so by the Canada Food Act. The Friends of Foodcare would complain of “chronic underfunding.” Even after spending on foodcare had doubled, some politicians would still claim that foodcare would work well if only more tax dollars were spent on it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sask: Environmental tax for electronics

Looks like Saskatchewan is the first out of the gate with an electronics recycling program. Trying to reduce the amount of electronic waste in landfills is worthwhile but I wonder if this program will get us there. Unlike bottles and cans, there is no incentive to take the old TV in to the recycling depot. As of February we'll be paying up to $45 more for TVs, but we don't get any of that back if we bring in the carcass 10 years later. Will we be paying more for electronics only to see the old stuff in landfills anyway?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Liberal convention

I just watched Ken Dryden's speech live on CTV. I never got past the fact that Dryden said, no less than twice, that we live in a "global world."


Q & A with the Finance Minister

Just saw this on the Dept. of Finance website...

Got a question for the Minister?

Email him here

Ottawa Mayor does about-face

A little bird just told me the Mayor of Ottawa has backed down from his enormous pay raise. We'll have more on this, including linkage, as it comes available.

Score one for the CTF.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box