Friday, March 30, 2007

Quote of the day

Mayor Fiacco referring to himself in the third person:

"If Mayor Fiacco says we need a tax increase, we need a tax increase pure and simple."

Well, that just settles it then! Mayor Pat says so.

[I updated the quote -- Neil Scott had it in the Leader Post this morning]

Working for Government Is a Ticket for the Good Life

Ontario’s Salary Report was issued today.
Over 33,000 employees at all levels of government earned over $100,000 in salary in 2006. This doesn’t include their many vacation days, many sick days, many personal days, or especially their gold-plated pension plans.
It seems that working for government in Ontario has become a ticket for the good life! Sadly, for the average Ontarian their income packages don’t compare.

The latest available data from StatsCan shows the average Male in Canada earns just over $40,000.
To earn over $100,000 puts a government worker in the top 2% of wage earners.
We keep hearing about the earnings gap between the rich and the poor. Who knew that the gap between rich and poor is really between government workers and the rest of us.
To see the salaries click here:
Ontario Salary Guide

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Danny Williams barking at the moon


But Mr. Williams' sweetheart deal with Ottawa is grandfathered. By any measure, this is not a province that is getting "shafted," to use the Premier's indecorous phrase. In fact, other Canadians, particularly Ontarians, might ask why they are subsidizing a province that has more ability to raise its own-source revenues than they do.

If Mr. Williams is not simply a mad dog -- and the evidence is, he is far more clever than the bellicose figure he cuts on television -- why is he foaming about a revamped equalization formula that probably won't apply to his province for the next 13 years?

It will come as no surprise to learn that Mr. Williams is facing an election this October. The Premier is already at 73% in the polls and seems intent on matching Saddam Hussein's record of 100% of the vote in 2002. Beating up on the provincial Liberals is seen as kicking sand in the face of a 98-pound weakling, so Mr. Williams has targeted an adversary who allows him to play the aggrieved party.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Alberta health tax

Alberta government spends $17 million on collection agencies chasing after unpaid health taxes.

Liberals Oppose Liberal Budget

The Conservative government's latest budget has won approval from parliament thanks to support from the Bloc Quebecois.

The Liberals and the NDP voted against it although it passed easily 176 - 119.

The most interesting development is the choice Conservatives have made. Given the choice between real Tax Relief and Big Government, the Conservatives chose the latter.

For months the CTF warned that failing to restrain spending would keep meaningful tax relief out of reach and guess what? We were right.

The federal government has opted for high spending over giving all Canadians some of their money back and this is a shame. Oh well - guess this is how politics works. Say one thing in opposition and do another in government. Same old - Same old. Nothing to see here you naive taxpayer.

But I guess this proves why groups like the CTF need to exist. Someone has to counter the big government, high taxes and high spending agenda that seems to plague this country and hold it back. We'll keep blowing the whistle and hope eventually taxpayers really do have a champion in Ottawa that can make real change. Clearly none of the major parties today are up to the job.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Diet Coke Conservativsm - 1 Calorie - Still not Conservative Enough!

The rise of the ADQ in Quebec sure is interesting.

Imagine running on cutting taxes, reducing spending, shrinking the size of government and countering the power of public sector unions? "You're crazy if you think that will work," Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty would say.

But that's exactly what Mario Dumont said and by golly, he almost won! Mr. Dumont gained 36 seats and had a massive increase in his popular vote. This shows that ideas of scaling back government and limiting people's reliance on the state resonate with voters - no matter what province. Cutting taxes and focusing spending on priorities isn't bad either.

Stephen Harper on the other hand is convinced that sprinting to the centre is the way to majority power. How defeatist is that? Big Government Conservatism is his plan A, while Mario Dumont has taken a page out of the Mike Harris playbook - tell it like it is.

Interesting times. Mario Dumont can sell his convictions while federal Conservatives seem content to sell Liberal ideas of spend, regulate and complicate.

Are we doomed? No, but we need more Mario Dumont's in politics. People will buy what he's selling while our status quo politicians seem to simply want to sell recycled goods.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The New Guy

Meet our new Ontario Director Kevin Gaudet.

Read his bio here

Kevin jumped right into the fray as last week was the Ontario budget. Read his first budget news release here.

You can reach him at

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The critics discuss whether the BC government's penchant for ordering pizza is at odds with stated government health policies.

Government credit cards were used to buy $84,703.03 worth of pizzas during the last fiscal year, according to figures assembled by Guy Gentner.
Gentner, who admits he isn't above an occasional slice, says there's a double standard at play in Campbell's government, given the high levels of fat and sodium in most pizzas. "I would say it's hypocritical," Gentner said.

Campbell's call for the province's residents to enjoy five daily servings of fruits and vegetables has become a familiar line in his speeches.

Forget the healthy eating stuff, why the heck is the government spending $85,000 on pizza in the first place? I can only imagine what they're spending on chinese....

Sask: They're not going to take it

Fed up with the provincial government subsidizing their competition, Mission Ridge speaks out.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sask: Chamber of what?

It's getting really hard to tell if the Regina Chamber of Commerce actually supports free markets and smaller government. Leave it to the Chamber to give city council a blank cheque for a Regina tax increase when the city revenues are soaring.

John Hopkins, the chief executive officer of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, said it's too early to say if it is realistic for the city to hold the line with no property-tax increase this year.

If city council does propose an increase, the chamber will want to consider exactly how big an increase is being proposed and what the reasons are for that increase, Hopkins said.

The city does face pressures, related to inflation and pay raises for civic workers, Hopkins said. He noted the growth experienced in the city -- while positive -- can result in some increased costs.

But Hopkins said he hopes any property-tax increases approved will be modest and would for the most part simply be designed to keep up with increased costs associated with inflation.

Provincial revenue sharing grants are as high as they've been since the 70's, Ottawa forks over millions in gas tax money and picks up the tab for most major infrastructure projects yet the chamber still believes a tax increase beyond inflation may be necessary.

Let's review some of the chambers' recent policy statements.

1) While the chamber explicitly says on the web site they don't think the government should run businesses, if the government happens to be aboriginal it's OK.

2) They think it's great the government imposed another statutory holiday on chamber members even though Saskatchewan workers are already entitled to more vacation days than most (if not all) other provinces.

3) They support the discriminatory practice of tax preference for post-secondary graduates announced in the provincial budget.

4) The chamber says a Regina property tax increase is alright, so long as the reasons are clearly explained to them.

I have a lot of respect for the chamber and its members and it does a lot of great things for the community. However, it's hard to understand some of the positions they have taken over the years.

At a time when the size and influence of government is on the rise, taxpayers need all the help they can get.

Jim Dinning's Campaign Contribution List now on-line

Former PC leadership front-runner, Jim Dinning, has released his campaign contribution list.

You can check it out on his website (for the time being) here.

Or, you can check it out on (for good) by clicking here.

You can also check out who has disclosed and who has not, by checking out the PC Leadership Donation Disclosure website hosted on

Also, click here to read the Edmonton Sun story on Jim's disclosure, and an admission that it would have been much more detailed had he won. This story embodies why we need not only laws detailing how the disclosure must be made to the public, but why it needs to be pre-election.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A must watch video

Yet another gem from Stuart Browning on what happens when you have government rationed health care.

For some reason, youtube isn't allowing me to imbed this video in this post, so you'll have to click this link:

It's only 4:32, and well worth it.

Saskatchewan budget 2007

The Calvert government is continuing to build a dismal balanced budget record by introducing it's fourth deficit budget in the past six years.

This time, the forecast deficit is $700 million. Saskatchewan is now the only province in western Canada currently running a deficit and one of the few remaining deficit provinces in the country.

All this when revenues, forecast to approach $8 billion, are higher than ever.

The government has created a budget that, for all intents and purposes, dooms the province to years of increasing debt.

Every budget envelope has been stuffed to capacity. Health spending is up another $300 million this year.

They've found money for a prescription drug plan for seniors, even though most of them are doing well enough on their own. There already is a program for low-income seniors. This is a blatant vote buy -- pandering to the Tommy Douglas generation.

They've found money to offer a substantial tax cut for recent graduates of post-secondary programs. The program effectively increases the basic personal exemption for grads to $20,000 per year for five years. What about that guy who had the terrible misfortune of graduating last year? The new guy in the next cubicle is $5,000 richer than him.

The rest of us pay high taxes to subsidize education to the tune of 80 per cent, subsidize the student loan program, and now work hard so philosophy grads can wait tables tax-free for five years.

Oh, did I mention they are running a $700 million deficit this year?

PS: For perspective, this may be the largest deficit since you-know-who.

UPDATE: Just heard Finance Minister Andrew Thomson say on CJME that "That's what the Fiscal Stabilization Fund is for -- to help pay for tax cuts."

First off, the premise of this statement is false. The government doesn't need "help" paying for anything. Government revenues are higher than they ever have been.

Second, that is NOT what the stabilization fund was intended to do. It was meant to help cushion against sudden drops in revenues due to fluctuations in resource prices.

The government has been saying this for years, and Thomson's own web site clearly lays out what the FSF is for.

Short-term drops in revenue and exceptional expenditures lead to pressure for tax increases and program reductions, which may be inappropriate over the long-term. A fiscal stabilization mechanism helps governments pursue long-term objectives in the best interests of the public by reducing the pressure for stop gap solutions to short-term volatility.

It has always been a rainy day fund. Who's lying now, Minister?

Saskatchewan budget day

Today is the big budget day. And I mean BIG budget day. I'm expecting the largest budget in Saskatchewan history. If the rumours turn out to be true, we'll see a shiny new prescription drug plan that nobody can afford and will ultimately lead to some form of supply management. That means more of the latest drugs will be off limits because the government thinks they are too expensive.

We expect nothing in the way of permanent tax relief, but we always love surprises.

I'll be back later with some news.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'll be a guest on 620 CKRM's Newsline at noon to talk about all things budget. Listen live.

Update: Here's the show from CKRM's audio vault. The very first caller claimed that federal taxes are illegal under the BNA or some such nonsense.

Note to all people who think taxes are illegal: You're wrong. Taxes are perfectly legal.


I never thought I'd live in a country where the government penalizes me for the kind of vehicle I choose to drive.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tories Deliver Liberal Budget


Saturday, March 17, 2007

The emerald miracle

For those Saskatchewan residents who think this is about as good as it gets for the province...this is how it's done.

However, the key to Ireland’s success has been its excellent tax climate for business. In 1980, Ireland established a corporate tax rate for manufacturing of just ten percent. That low rate was subsequently extended to high-technology, financial services, and other industries. More recently, Ireland established a flat 12.5 percent tax rate on all corporations — one of the lowest rates in the world, and just one-third of the U.S. rate.

Low business tax rates have helped Ireland attract huge inflows of foreign investment. Given the country’s modest size, it boosts a high-tech industry second to none. Intel, Dell, and Microsoft are among the island’s biggest exporters. Ireland also hosts booming insurance, banking, money management, and pharmaceutical industries.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Listen to the Leprechaun

Lephrechaun's say: Support the CTF, Canada's leading taxpayer advocacy organization.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sask: Empty answers, guilt by association

Let's figure this out. The official opposition pursues the issue of government paying $270,000 to civil servant who was fired and convicted of assault. They pursue this issue from a typical "what did they know and when did they know it" approach.

The response from the Premier and Minister Atkinson is to suggest that the opposition called for Murdoch Carriere's dismissal and therefore shares the blame for being sued.

Yeah, we're all happy Carriere was fired for cause but nobody suggested that he be fired in a manner that exposes taxpayers to a lawsuit. Yes, fire the guy, but no, don't break provincial laws in doing so.

The second response from government we heard in Question Period today is...well it's not really a response. The government's fall back is to remind us all that Opposition Leader Brad Wall once worked as a political staffer for the Devine conservative government.

That's right -- the disastrous administration that was in power during the 1980s. You know, back when Miami Vice was all the rage and the Culture Club dominated the charts. I've spent a lot of time in a few provinces, and have never encountered one where issues from the 1980s come up so often and with such intensity.

It's time to move on, people. What constituency is really motivated by the misdeeds of the 80s? Certainly not the one that moved to Alberta over the past 20 years. If your best argument is to presume guilt by association, you are in serious trouble.

PS: Someone should explain to me how Sandra Morin's bitter rant (March 15, 58 minute mark) does anything to make Saskatchewan a better place to live, work and do business.

(Sandra Morin: Status of Women budget cuts are "tragically regressive"? You know what's truly tragic for low income single moms? "Tragically Regressive" school taxes on property -- save your outrage for a policy that takes food off the table, not cuts to aimless bureaucracy. Don't confuse lavishly spending money with actually doing good deeds.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Brunswick Opts for the Bonehead Approach

Some highlights from the Liberal government in New Brunswick's first budget:

Scenario 1: Population not growing. People aren't relocating to NB

Solution 1: Raise Income Taxes!

Scenario 2: NB needs to attact business

Solution 2: Raise Business Taxes!

Scenario 3: Government needs to raise funds to pay for "essential" services

Solution 3: Add to the debt so more public money is consumed by debt interest!

What's next? We're not catching enough fish - Cut holes in the nets?!

This should turn things around. Well done.

Read the deets.

The thin edge of the wedge?

Hope so. Alberta is making it easier to opt out of the public health monopoly.

"This is a housekeeping thing to reduce paperwork and to reduce the amount of forms that need to be filled out," said Howard May.

In Alberta, 255 people opted out of medicare this year. Opting out means you don't have to pay health-care premiums in Alberta, but that you will pay the full cost of any health service.

Bill 5, introduced in the legislature on Thursday, will not only make it possible for Albertans to exempt themselves from medicare once every three years, but allow them to opt out at any point in the year.

Tax cuts or more welfare?

We hope Ivison is wrong in his analysis.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Perhaps we should reconsider this...

We need to think long and hard before we proceed with goofy carbon sequestration schemes with public money.

And more than 125,000 people need see that video. I'm not a climate scientist, and neither are you.

Computer glitch

Judging by the near-daily horror stories I hear from people having the misfortune of having to deal with Canada Revenue Agency, I have my doubts that CRA would be as patient with us if we told them our tax filings were late because of a "computer glitch."

Perhaps the government should consider extending the tax deadline by a week?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

CCPA skullduggery

I'm sorry I missed this from last week. Andrew Coyne dismembers the latest CCPA opus...

Final point. All of the above figures are for pre-tax incomes, before the tax-and-transfer system goes to work. What do the figures show after tax? They show the system redistributes more from rich to poor than ever before. The richest 10% of families earned 31 times as much as the poorest 10% before tax in 1976; by 2004, they were earning nearly 82 times as much. But after tax, the ratio barely moved: from 8.1 to 9.9. Put another way, the tax system compressed the earnings gap by a factor of 4 in 1976. In 2004, it was working twice as hard, compressing the earnings gap to less than one-eighth its pre-tax ratio.

This is a remarkable finding. If there is one thing the CCPA believes to its soul, it is that the last three decades have been pretty much one long neo-conservative nightmare of deregulation, free trade, tax cuts and the like. Yet their own figures show the system has grown more redistributive, not less, in that time. You’d think that would have been the headline.

Sask surgical wait times

Can anyone tell me how this information is useful? The government tells us there are 1,000 fewer people on wait lists than there was 9 months ago. That's good to know, but we don't know why there are fewer patients waiting for government surgeries. For all we know, they died waiting in line.

On the surgical wait times web site, they say the number of surgeries performed actually went down.

What's New
The number of patients waiting for surgery continues to drop. About 1,000 fewer people are waiting for surgery in Saskatchewan hospitals than at the beginning of 2006-07.

The wait list has declined more than seven per cent since December 2005.

Surgical volumes from April to December 2006 are down slightly (about 340 cases) from the same period a year earlier. Fewer procedures were performed in the first quarter (April to June), but more in the second (July to September) and third (October to December) quarters.

They have reduced wait times for surgeries while, at the same time, reducing the number of surgeries actually performed? There's likely a lot more to this, but at first glance you'd have to assume that patients cancelled their own surgery, fled to other jurisdictions and paid to get it done, or they actually died before they could get their surgery.

Or, perhaps, 1000 fewer people needed surgeries last year (doubtful).

Moreover, they lump all orthopaedic surgeries into the same category which distorts reality. Getting a bunyon removed is treated the same as getting hip replacement surgery.

We don't even know what period of time they are measuring -- does the clock start ticking from the GP or from referral by specialist?

This points to the absolute uselessness of the sasksurgery web site.

Health care reform is possible

Via SDA....there is one political party fighting for health care choice.

There's a political party in this country, Mario Dumont's Action democratique du Quebec, that is currently running -- in a real election, in Canada's most statist province -- on a reformist platform in health care. It's not a very detailed platform and Mr. Dumont might run away from it if he ever gets near power, but, for the time being at least, the program says: - The Supreme Court's Chaouilli decision was right: People should be allowed to spend their own money on their own health.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

BC: Hypocritical green-eyed monsters

Hollywood, Al Gore, David Suzuki and now the BC’s New Democrats have all joined the ranks of green hypocrisy. As one NDP critic calls for immediate greenhouse gas reduction targets, another introduces a private member’s bill to regulate and cap gasoline prices. Gasoline—the fossil fuel used for most vehicles on the road—emits greenhouse gases, right? The NDP wants to cap gas prices so motorists can continue to fuel up and emit nasty greenhouse gases affordably! Hmmm, something just doesn’t make sense here: cap emissions and gas prices?

Or, perhaps, it makes perfect sense. It seems commonplace for those all aboard the green bandwagon to preach one thing but practice another.

Read the rest.

Sask: Bamboozled!

Yesterday's "historic" $5 billion highways announcement was really only $1.5 billion. Turns out, most of the announced money was nothing more than the annual highways budget.

Of course, you wouldn't know that from the government press release:


Premier Lorne Calvert today announced an unprecedented $5 billion investment over the next 10 years in an innovative new strategy, Transportation for Economic Advantage, to fundamentally realign Saskatchewan’s transportation network to meet the current and future needs of the province’s thriving export-based economy.

And how did the local paper report it? How about this for a headline?
$5-billion promise made for highways

And then, in just the second paragraph, they get around to the facts:
The Saskatchewan government will make a fundamental change in how it spends money on its long-suffering highway and transportation system, with a new strategy based on nurturing the province's export-based economy, NDP Premier Lorne Calvert announced Tuesday.

And there will be a lot more money to spend, with the government committing $5 billion over the next 10 years, about $1 billion to $1.5 billion more than would have been expected based on current budget numbers.

I'm thinking a more interesting story, perhaps as a side bar, would have the following headline:

Government fudges numbers on highways announcement

That's just me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wisdom from Chief Louie

And then a little more from the Leader Post...

There's no room for blaming the government or slacking in the world of Clarence Louie, who brought his uncompromising vision of how First Nations people can achieve economic success to Saskatchewan at the weekend.

Speaking to an economic forum organized by Carry the Kettle First Nation, Louis spelled out the basics, from getting a good education and working hard to strict budgeting. Louie says First Nations people have to build their own future and not rely on government handouts.

"If the biggest employer on your reserve is your band office, something's wrong there," Louie says.

While the tough talk is aimed firmly at a First Nations audience, Louie's message has lessons for all of us.

In Regina, for example, the provincial government is the "band office", employing thousands of people in departments and Crown corporations. Restrictive, union-friendly labour laws have long dimmed this province's appeal to outside investors.

A sense of entitlement leads many to believe all our problems will be solved if Ottawa just sends us more money.

And for decades, while Alberta rolled up its sleeves and built a boom, Saskatchewan stagnated in envy.

Louie's plea for First Nations to rediscover the work ethic of their ancestors can equally be applied to non-First Nations people applying the determination of Saskatchewan's agricultural pioneers.

"Get off your butt," is a universal message.

Sask: An historic announcement

According to local media reports, the government will unveil an "historic announcement" later this morning regarding highways. I expect it will entail a great deal of dollar signs. Remember, they are already forecasting a deficit budget next year -- which will be the third deficit in the past six years.

UPDATE: Yup, $5 billion over 10 years. What exactly will be built? It's hard to tell.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Saskatoon property taxes

Saskatoon needs to wake up. And that includes the school boards.

Friday, March 02, 2007

For no reason at all

I thought I'd take a break from my weekly, line-by-line memorization of Saskatchewan public accounts to bring you this image of a young Tony Blair.
Now THAT'S a hat!

Do You think it's Easy to Stick to a Position?

Dion's latest flip flop

Coles Notes Version:
Dion: I am against a carbon tax.
Dion: No wait, I am for a carbon tax.
But it's not easy to make priorities don't ya know? exclusive home of Mark Norris campaign dislcosure document

During the Alberta PC leadership race, Mark Norris was the only candidate to disclose a list of his contributors pre-election. The rest either disclosed post-election, are planning on disclosing post-election or have decided not to disclose at all.

Frankly, Norris didn't get as much credit as he was due for his transparency in releasing his donor list pre-election.

While this should be the rule for all elections, it turns out to be quite the exception.

Due to the lack of rules or laws regarding these contributions, there is nothing taxpayers can do if the campaigns decide now not to disclose at all. Obviously this is a giant gaping hole in public policy that the new government must now fix.

But in the mean time, and since Mark's campaign website is now down, is now the exclusive home to Mark's campaign contribution list.

This list was originally released in October 2006, and is now back on the web for the world to view.

Click here to check it out.

Or click here to see whose disclosure statement is up on our site.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dave Hancock's campaign expense/contribution report now on-line

Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness has now posted his expense and contribution disclosure documents from his run for the leadership of the PC Party of Alberta on-line.

They can be found on Dave's website here.

Or you can find them on the CTF website here.

If you're looking to see who has disclosed and want to look at other records, you can visit the CTF PC Leadership campaign contribution disclosure webpage here.

CTF You Tube Channel

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