Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wage disparity in Sask Civil Service?

Through Freedom of Information, the CTF recently did a reality check on the salaries and severance of top ranking civil serants in Saskatchewan. We confirmed the Sask Party government's assertion that they are paying roughly the same amount in total salaries for ministerial staff as their NDP predecessors. The NDP paid 97 people in 20 departments $5 million, whereas the Sask Party paid 77 people in 17 departments about $4.7 million. The average salaries were almost $62,000 for the Sask Party, but only $52,000 under the NDP. (Click here for the lists.)

The advantage of this disclosure is that citizens can find things others may never have thought to look for. Sharon Vanhouwe of CJWW radio in Saaskatoon found a large disparity between what men and women were being paid in the current executive council. Excluding one person (whose gender could not be concluded based on the name), she calculated that on average, the women were being paid $61,109, the men $117,739. The mean numbers presented an even bigger gap, with the women earning $48,972 and the men earning $115,200.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Proof Soviet-style Health Care Rationing is Failing Canadians

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA)has launched a new website and a new campaign urging Canadians to demand reform to our broken health care system.

5-million Canadians without a family doctor! Hardly universcal access.

That is the problem with a government-run system. Rationing care is absurd public policy. It has been said before and it will be said again - access to a waiting list is NOT access to health care.

And don't listen to the predictable union/special interest-driven dribble that calls any private involvement 'credit card' medicine, or another favourite, 'U.S style' health care.

Look not south of the border. Look to France, Germany, and Sweden where some services are provided just fine by the private sector, easing the strains and burdens on the public system.

Enough with the fear-mongering and dithering from our politicians.

Listen to the CMA and TAKE ACTION!

Your health, and the wellbeing of your loved ones is worth it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Olympic Spending Madness Hits Ontario

The Ontario government is giving $5 million to BC for the Olympics. The Globe and Mail reports that Alberta is in for $100,000.

Canadian taxpayers aleady are on the hook to help pay for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics through substantial federal contributions - not to mention the hefty BC and Vancouver government contributions.

It is unclear what Ontario taxpayers get back out of this 'own the podium' funding. We shouldn't be kicking in for this. First Ontario taxpayers were paying for a concert in Saskatchewan now it is the Olympics in BC.

I guess that now the premier has an excuse 'that he must attend the Olympics to showcase Ontario'. What's next, will Ontarions expect a bill for a suite in Whistler for the premier in 2010?

Canadian taxpayers be ware, the next time some Canadian city bids to host an Olympic contest not only will that city, province and the feds kick in, but the hat will be passed to every province to pony up more cash.

When is enough enough? Ontario only recently begun balanced budgets and now the Premier thinks we are so rich we should send Ontario cash to BC for the Olympics.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Investigate Trustee for Fraud

The front page of the Toronto Sun today is carrying a story about the CTF calling for a criminal investigation into Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustee Christine Nunziata and her expenses.

For years she has had very questionable expenses that merit a criminal investigation for fraud.

In 2004 she took a trip to the Dominican Republic at taxpayer expense during which she got married. Nunziata claims this as an 'education expense'. She alleges she was investigating some kind of partnership with their school system or something.

Last September on a trip to the Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos (which, it seems, she paid for out of her own pocket this time) Nunziata used her Board cell phone racking up over $800 in long distance charges at taxpayer expense.

In October, she was asked about this charge by the audit committee. So far she has refused to pay it back and has ignored requests to explain it.

Enough is enough already. This kind of practice in the private sector would be met with harsh discipline, likely including prosecution. It is high time she be held accountable for abusing the public purse.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Carbon Tax Hits Quebec Consumers

Quebec is the first Canadian jurisdiction to impose a carbon tax. Quebec's Liberal government imposed a .08-cent-a-litre gas tax and a 0.67 cents per cubic metre natural gas tax that starting Oct. 1. The government's spin was that oil and gas companies with deep pockets would have to pay it.

Didn't quite work that way. The price of gasoline at the pump has now increased and the gas company Gaz Metro's customers will now pay about $15 per year to cover off the carbon tax imposed on the gas company.

The cost of carbon taxes in the UK are also passed along to consumers, so the energy price increase in Quebec should be no surprise.

Stay tuned, more tax increases are on the way.

Saskatoon Police Chief Slated for Raise

I'd smile, too. Just 15 months after Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill signed a generous contract, the board of police commissioners wants his pay increased to $175,000 annually. When Weighill signed his five-year contract in September 2006, $143,000 per year seemed just fine. In fact, it’s what the Premier of Saskatchewan makes today. Why renegotiate Weighill’s contract after fifteen months while the city spends $91 million on a new police station?

The reason, we’re told, is one good raise deserves another. Last spring, city manager Phil Richards got a large raise. (On his watch, new lights on the Traffic Bridge cost twice as much as budgeted, a $462,000 bill that made taxpayers irate last September.) Because Richards gets a raise, so do other city bosses, and on it goes.

And why did Richards get a raise? Corporate services manager Marlys Bilanski points to Regina. Glen Davies was hired in May 2006 to run the Queen City for $187,000 a year. So Richards got a $30,000 bump last spring to make his annual salary $195,000.

Imagine--one hefty salary in Regina justified all these raises in Saskatoon! Ironically, it's another Regina wage that exposes all this foolishness.

Regina’s police chief Cal Johnston makes just $135,000 annually, despite having the role for ten years. Weighill was actually Johnston's deputy in Regina before taking the job as Saskatoon's chief. Yet, Weighill’s original salary was already higher than Johnston’s.

If Weighill’s wage hike stands—and truly it shouldn’t—only one sure outcome remains. When Regina hires a new police chief in March, s/he will be paid more than Johnston. And the reason, they’ll say, is Saskatoon. Citizens should fight this nonsense for all they’re worth.

If you'd like to comment, the Star-Phoenix has asked for response on this issue on their "sound-off" page.

Saskatchewan Rejects Sales Tax Harmonization

Saskatchewan decided not to harmonize the 5% PST with the GST. The province wanted $400 million from the federal government to ease the pain on those who would be hardest hit by the tax expansion. The feds said "How about $180 million?" so the province said "No." The province estimated the cost of new houses would go up $15,000 to $20,000 through the imposition of expanded taxes, something unwelcome in a market where housing prices continue to rise dramatically.

Sales Tax Harmonization was the only part of Jack Vicq's 2005 Business Tax Review that was not adopted by the Saskatchewan government. The changes turned the tide in the Saskatchewan economy, lending credence to sales harmonization as well. While harmonization would have created efficiencies and advantages for many businesses, it also created some problems for others.

The arguments against harmonization were succinctly put in a January 12 letter by Courtney Donovan, VP for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

That means consumers would pay far more tax on services, such as haircuts and snow removal, as well as on products currently exempt from provincial sales tax -- including reading materials, children's clothing and other family essentials, and restaurant meals.

It's called a harmonized sales tax, or HST, and would mean a $7.5-billion shift in taxes from businesses to consumers in Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia, according to the Canadian Tax Foundation.

The restaurant industry is in a uniquely unfavourable position when it comes to both the GST and potential HST because the products we sell are subject to the tax, while similar or identical products sold by grocery stores are not.

For consumers, this creates an unfair situation in which the bottle of juice they buy at a restaurant is taxed, while the same bottle at a grocery store is tax-free. Pizza from a restaurant is taxed, but a frozen pizza is tax free.

The GST itself could use some tweaking. Had this been done, tax harmonization could have been more palatable. Harmonization could have been a good move, had those facing more taxes been helped in some way. However, its rejection has restaurant owners and some consumers breathing a sigh of relief.

GM Owes Ontario $235 million

It is widely reported today that General Motors has scrapped plans to build some rear-wheel-drive cars at its giant plant in Oshawa, Ont., a move that could threaten the long-term future of the largest vehicle assembly plant in Canada and thousands of jobs. To see a report here is a Globe article.

GM has received at least $435 million in corporate welfare - $235 million from the government of Ontario and $200 from the feds. The deal was that they would create long-term sustainable jobs with this cash. While GM shouldn't have been given this money in the first place, as they continue to shed jobs, they have violated the deal and should pay back the money.

This is why corporate welfare should end. Cash goes to subsidize over-paid executives and it doesn't create jobs - as this proves.

So, GM, listen up...Give us back our money!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hypocrisy run amok

Newly elected Edmonton City Councillor, Don Iveson (left), recently returned from Bali, Indonesia where he attended the UN Climate Change Conference.

As we like to do here at the CTF, we plunked down our $25 and FOIP'd Councillor Iveson's travel expenses.

What we received can be found HERE.

The total cost of the trip to Edmonton taxpayers was $3,181.20.

The breakdown is as follows:

Return Airfare to Bali - $2,044.94
Hotels - $585.38
Per diem - $450.00
Taxis - $61.00
Exchange of foreign money - $29.28
Wi-fi access at hotel - $10.60

First the good news: Councillor Iveson flew economy class! Generally speaking most politicians refuse to fly at anything less than business class, especially if they are traveling internationally. Iveson should be commended for looking out for the taxpayers by flying economy. A quick check on suggests Iveson probably saved taxpayers $2,200 by not flying Business class. Kudos to him.

Second, the confusing part: It's unclear how the hotel situation worked, as page 2 shows Mr. Iveson booked into a $405 USD per night villa for the entire trip (including December 7th - the night he was flying), page 4 shows him booked into a $259 USD "deluxe suite" for the whole time, page 7 shows a night at the Grand Hyatt for approx $213 CDN, page 9 shows a $100 USD charge from the Oasis Resort & Spa marked as "Hotel #2," and page 10 shows a one night stay at the booking from page 4.

Regardless, taxpayers paid out $585.38 in the end for 3 or 4 nights in Bali (his flight home was at 11:55PM on December 11th, so not sure whether he kept the hotel room that evening). For 3 nights that's $195/night, for 4 nights that's $146. Either way, it's not outrageous.


What on earth is the City of Edmonton doing spending over $3,000 to fly a brand new city councillor half-way around the world to attend a international climate change conference?

For starters, the City of Edmonton is not responsible for the environment in Canada or Alberta. Environmental regulations, carbon taxes, carbon trading schemes, etc. are determined by the federal government or the provincial government. Whether or not Canada signs onto a climate change treaty is not going to be decided or influenced by a civic politician from Edmonton.

Further, isn't it just a tad hypocritical that the City of Edmonton is so concerned about climate change that they would fly someone half-way around the world to talk about it? Most man-made climate change advocates believe CO2 is contributing to the change of the climate. By their argument, isn't putting someone on a plane to fly to Bali creating CO2 and thereby causing more climate change?

According to the UN's own estimates, 42,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other pollutants were pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference in Bali. According to environmental author Chris Goodall: "their emissions are probably going to be greater than a small African country."

In fact, according to Don Iveson's flight alone to Bali sent 3.308 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere. Could Mr. Iveson not have stayed in Edmonton and watched the proceedings via a web-conference? In fact, could not the entire city council have done the same? It would have not only saved taxpayers money, but not put 3 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Moreover, isn't it completely hypocritical for the City of Edmonton to be spending $140,000 on a campaign to tell people who live in the northern-most major city in Canada not to let their cars warm up in the winter, while agreeing to send one of their own on a CO2 spewing plane around the world?

Iveson's trip put as much CO2 into the air as 30 compact cars idling 5 minutes a day for year!

And, isn't it hypocritical of Councillor Iveson to even agree to go on this trip?

He's so concerned about the environment that he wants to make it illegal for Edmontonians to let their frozen cars warm up in -30C weather.

From his website (SEE Magazine - September 6, 2007):

SEE: You'd support a ban on pesticides. Would you also support a ban on idling?

Don Iveson: Yes. I think it was silly that we had to pay for the idling campaign because it would have been a lot cheaper to simply pass the law.... Enough other cities have done it and the sky hasn't fallen.

To his credit he agrees the $140k is a complete waste of money, but when it comes to spewing CO2 his stance is completely hypocritical.

It's not ok to let Edmontonians warm up their cars in the winter because it's harmful to the environment, but it's ok to fly to Bali to attend a conference where the City of Edmonton has no legitimate function?

It seems once again, there's one set of rules for the taxpayers and another for the politicians.

Taxpayers Pay for Trustees' Wedding in Caribbean

The Toronto Sun has reported details of the most obvious gross breach of public trust and abuse of the public purse seen in a while. To read about it click here. It reminds one of David Dingwall and his 'I am entitled to my entitlements' speech.

Toronto District School Board Trustee, Christine Nunziata, used her Board credit card to pay for things like a trip to the Caribbean, lingerie, jewelry, and a coffee and danish a day. She refused to pay them back and refused to respond to queries from the Auditor at first. She is reported to have paid some back but not all.

She should be dumped and criminally investigated for theft or fraud.

The chair of the Board is saying that this is being taken out of context and that no money is being taken away from education; just more evidence these elected officials don't get it. When publicly funded and/or elected groups waste money there is less availabe to go towards necessary spending and taxes stay higher than they otherwise would.

If these trustees were in the private sector they would be fired and prosecuted.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Raise basic exemption, not minimum wage

In our pre-budget submission this year, the CTF advised the province of Saskatchewan to raise the basic exemption on income taxes up to $15,000 and to implement a single tax rate of 11 percent. The article "Tax Cut Beats Hike to Minimum Wage" by Peter Holle demonstrates that this hike in the basic personal exemption is as beneficial to a minimum wage worker as earning an extra dollar, without hindering the ability of employers to offer such jobs.

A recent study for the Frontier Centre, Which Best Helps the Poor: Minimum Wages, Tax Credits or Tax Exemptions? by Winnipeg social activist David Pankratz looked at the powerful impact of reducing taxes on the poor.

Looking at Manitoba, it found that simply raising the provincial and federal tax-free threshold by $6,000 (to match the bottom threshold at which Alberta starts to tax) effectively increases the take-home pay of a minimum wage earner by the equivalent of a minimum-wage increase to between $8 to $9.18 per hour.

Raising the tax-free threshold targets those most in need -- that is people who work long hours for low wages. It does not help teenagers who work a few hours a week, because their income is already below the current annual tax exemption threshold.

But to leave minimum rates at current levels encourages job creation. And, unlike the federal tax subsidy program, it doesn't require more paperwork to allocate benefits. It is simple to implement, and that is key.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lower, Simpler, Flatter

Today, the CTF released a groundbreaking study urging the federal government to enact a multi-year tax reform/relief plan. The report calls on Ottawa to reduce personal income taxes and cut the number of tax brackets from four to two while maintaining only a handful of deductions like RRSP, spousal and child allowances. The goal is to both simplify the tax code while lowering the personal income tax burden in a manner that strengthens the Canadian economy.

Coles Notes Version: The tax code should be simpler and the tax burden should be lower!

Read the rest here.

Note: This plan is not likely to be endorsed by CRA bureaucrats, lovers of incentive-based tax policy, or the entire accounting industry.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Regina Libraries Overfunded


Four years ago, a library task force recommended that three of Regina's nine libraries be closed. It noted that Regina was second highest in per capita library funding in Canada ($61, with Oshawa, ON first at $65) and that Regina spends $9 for materials per capita, second only to Richmond Hill, Ontario. The task force further said that the Dunlop Art Gallery (which cost $1000 per day) be axed. These changes were necessary just to keep the libraries from taking on further debt. Yet, none of this happened.

Friends of the Library bought time and promised to raise $10 million in private capital within five years. With a year to go, they're nowhere near that target and can't hope to reach it. So, the CTF wants the task force recommendations to finally be enacted. Further, library funding should be cut by 40%. If the task force is right, Regina will still have more libraries and library funding (per capita) than Winnipeg. It will also save $114 million by 2025, enough to offset the costs of the new wastewater management facility to be paid for by a 27% water rate hike.

In its 2007 report, the library board noted that although programming is up 26% over the past five years, program attendance is down 20%. Even though about $1 million will be spent on books in the next year, the average one of them will only be read three times annually.

A recent article noted that 31% of Canadians haven't read a single book in the past year, and the average prairie reader only reads 15 annually.

The 2004 task force recommendations make more sense than ever.

Ontario Cash to Quebec Firm - Competing with Ottawa Business

Thanks to a CBC Radio reporter's call and interview with a heads-up, here is an article in the Ottawa Business Journal about a $2 million subsidy from the Ontario government for a Quebec firm to build a water park in the Ottawa area. The Quebec company will end up competing with an existing business in Ottawa using money from all levels of government with a questionable business plan.

Mr. Guy Drouin, the company's CEO, says the park will generate 12,000 visitors per day. Hmmmmm.....a quick check of the IAAPA site (Intenational Assocations of Amusement Parks and Attractions) shows that the average site generates just over 1,000 visits per day and the larger facilities at 1,700 per day. This makes 12,000 a day seem exaggerated.

Thanks to The Gazette we learn that the feds have been approached to pony up a few million as well. Of course, this is on top of the amount of subsidy being provided by the City of Ottawa to provide access services to the location on top of the cut-rate value of the property the city sold.

It appears that all levels of government are working together here to use taxpayer money to subsidize a business to compete with a successful incumbent in the area. This is corporate welfare of the worst kind.

When will governments learn it is not their job to pick winners and losers in industry? That is the job of the consumer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Little Mosque on the Taxpayer Dime

In my recent appearance on the John Gormley radio show, we talked about Little Mosque on the Prairie, the Canadian program that obscures its place of origin in hopes of being aired in the U.S. The CTF doesn't care how the show markets itself or how Canadian it is or isn't. What we do care about is the high amount of tax dollars going into these shows.

Funding entertainment is not the role of government. Yet, Canadians keep getting told the main reason we're told for the massive subisdies, tax credits, and even our public broadcaster is to have "Canadian" programming. The Broadcasting Act that mandates the CBC says the network's programming should "be predominantly and distinctively Canadian" and "reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences."

When a program intentionally obscures that in order to have foreign sales, it shows how empty the Canadian content argument is. The conclusions of this is not that Little Mosque on the Prairie should market itself any differently. It's that the 'Canadian content' argument is hollow, and that these subsidies should stop.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ontario pays for Saskatchewan Party

While Estevan, Saskatchewan gears up to celebrate Flick-fest, a "national carbon neutral music festival," Ontario taxpayers are flicked-off. They paid $500,000 to the Flick-Off organization that sponsors the festival. The first ever Flick-fest, to be held this summer, will be so far away only a handful of Ontarians will enjoy it.

The campaign was already controversial in itself, as the video below demonstrates. Profane rebellion meets party activism.

Good for Ghiz - Ending Patronage Goodies

To the victor go the spoils - no more in PEI.

The revolving door of patronage in PEI is being slowed down by new PEI Premier Robert Ghiz. The Globe and Mail reports that Ghiz will not fire hundreds of government workers hired by his predecessor.

This patronage is not just about high-profile public appointments to boards and agencies. It is patronage of hiring friends and family and friends and family of friends and family of party supporters and contributers for jobs at any level of government. On an island where jobs have been scarce, government jobs of any kind have been precious. So, it has been a historical practice for incoming premiers to sweep clean the losing party's government-employed supporters and contributers, replacing them with his or her own. Ghiz's father was no exception to this when Premier.

My family is from the Island, my granddad was Mayor of Charlottetown for a time and I have lived there. This is a practice widely known and only grudgingly suffered.

Good for Ghiz for planning to put and end to this practice. Merit, not party affiliation or friendships, should be the primary driver in any employment placement. It is about time Canada's red-soiled Island got rid of this red-communist practice.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Media Storms Surest Prediction for '08

The hype about global warming is more man-made than the weather itself, according to John Tierney of the New York Times. "In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm" he predicts wacky weather will inevitably occur and will be blamed on global warming, whether rightfully or not. The precedent of recent years demonstrates that viable alternative explanations for such phenomenon will be ignored. Equally obscure will be phenomenon that seem to contradict global warming, such as more ice in Antarctica. In an era of global paranoia about an overheating planet, Tierney's prediction is one of the surest for the new year.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cut Library Subsidies: We Don't Read Anyway

A Regina Leader Post editorial that encouraged people to read also revealed how all the library funding in the world can't convince three tenths of Canadians to read ONE SINGLE BOOK!

A survey done last autumn brought to light some intriguing reading trends revolving around books. Done by Ipsos Reid and commissioned by CanWest News Service and Global TV, it found that fully 31 per cent of Canadians had not read a book in the last year. In that respect, Canada aped the U.S., where a similar poll found 27 per cent of Americans had failed to read even one book in the preceding 12 months....

On average, we Prairie-dwellers went through only 15 books a year, compared with 33 in B.C., land of coffee-shop culture, and 22 in Atlantic Canada. These figures were reported despite Saskatchewan having an excellent local and regional library system, a special tax exemption for books -- and more attention than ever to locally produced books, as typified by the annual Saskatchewan Book Awards.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Demand full disclosure from municipalities

We often hear municipal governments complaining they only receive eight cents of every tax dollar. However, municipal politicians fail to mention the billions of dollars municipalities across Canada receive from the federal and provincial governments. Municipal politicians use this lack of disclosure to bolster their demand for higher taxation. It's time to demand transparency from municipal governments and limit municipal claims on our tax dollars.

Since 1990, municipalities across Canada have received over $20 billion from federal and provincial governments. B.C. municipalities can access over 50 different grant programs. For example, since 2003 the province has contributed about $170 million to municipalities for policing under the Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant Program. The number of police officers in Surrey rose by 36% between 2003 and 2007, but only by 9.5% in Vancouver. The per resident cost of protective services in Surrey is $29 but in Vancouver, it is $108. Instead of whining about a lack of funds, municipalities must learn to spend more efficiently.

Municipalities are creations of provincial governments. Provincial governments must rein in the activities of municipal politicians, limit municipal claims on tax dollars, and improve municipal accountability.

Put an end to scare tactics

Some municipalities, like Vancouver, use the threat of cuts to core services such as policing to scare citizens into accepting ever increasing property taxes to cover revenue shortfalls. The city of Vancouver sends out a survey each year asking people about their service priorities. The city's 2007 budget pullout box dramatically highlights "what happens if city services are cut?" The first item highlighted is public safety and cuts to police and firefighters. This is a scare tactic.

Policing is a core municipal function and ratepayers rightly expect protective services from their local government. Police forces are getting bigger and so are their budgets, so why the spin? In 2006, the crime rate fell to its lowest level in 30 years. In fact, the BC Progress Board reports that for crime to fall further, B.C. needs to work on the primary causes of crime and criminality. It doesn't mention the need for more police but does recommend a review of police activities to determine whether law enforcement dollars are being spent efficiently.

Vancouver's cost per resident for protective services is one of the highest in the lower mainland. Maybe instead of scaring people into agreeing to higher property taxes, municipalities should spend more efficiently.

Provincial governments must rein in the activities of municipal politicians, limit municipal claims on tax dollars, and improve municipal accountability.

Cap property taxes

Federal and many provincial politicians have successfully lowered taxes and balanced their books. But taxpayers are losing many of these gains because some municipalities are raising taxes at alarming rates. The problem is the creation of spending wish lists before the consideration of available revenues.

The local budgeting process is backwards. Instead of looking first at revenue then making spending decisions, they decide how much they want to spend first to determine how much tax revenue has to be collected to cover it.

Budgeting in the real world is about limitations. No one creates a household budget with new vehicles, vacations and maid service and then determines what salary their employer must pay them each year to make it all work. Taxpaying households have a limited budget to work with each year, and so should municipal governments.

A property tax cap would give local politicians the tools to say ‘no’ to incessant demands to increase spending with every proposal that crosses their desks. It turns local budgeting right-side-up by putting taxpayers in control rather than spend-happy local councils.

Friday, January 04, 2008

MLA backs out two months after election

Former Saskatchewan NDP cabinet minister Joan Beatty has left her riding less than two months since she was re-elected on November 7. She will now run as a federal liberal in a March 17 by-election for the vast Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River north of Prince Albert. We're not sure if Irish eyes will smile on her on St. Patrick's Day. Voters, some of which were in her old provincial riding, may not take kindly to someone who backed out on them so quickly before. The only mitigating factor is that the seat only became open because Liberal MP Gary Merasty resigned in August. Voters will have to choose between a party whose last candidate backed out of a federal seat, a candidate who switched parties to vacate a provincial seat, or another option.

Is it any wonder voters are cynical about their leaders?!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some Good New Year Reading

With Stephen Harper recently pouring cold water on further tax relief in 2008, some insight into that issue has sprung up in today's newspapers. Take some time to have a look if you are interested.

First, read Terence Corcoran's piece in today's National Post.

Next, in the spirit of balance read Thomas Walkom's piece in today's Toronto Star

Isn't it interesting how they both essentially arrive at the same conclusion?! And both disagree that in an economic downturn, the government should lay low.

And finally, read a piece written by the CTF's federal division yesterday that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, the Calgary Herald, and the Vancouver Sun. (Warning: Shameless Self Promotion)

Does Liberal Lobbyist Score Big for Big Oil?

Liberal lobbyists still appear to be scoring big wins in Ottawa and corporate canada is the beneficiary.

The Harper government in Ottawa is handing out a special $150 million tax benefit to EnCana according to The Daily News for an oil and gas project in Atlantic Canada. According to its last annual report, EnCana had net earnings of $5.6 billion (US) in 2006. Do they really need a government handout?

It turns out that Earnscliffe Strategy Group (ESG), with notorious Liberal ties, represents EnCana. The Federal Lobbyist Registry lists a Paul Martin Liberal organizer, Andre Albinati, as the registered lobbyist for EnCana for a few matters including tax issues since August of 2005.

Mr. Albinati came to national attention after questions were raised in the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe and Mail when he left the office of Pierre Pettigrew to join ESG just prior to Pettigrew handing out a $17 million grant to the Forest Products Association of Canada; $800,000 of which went to ESG. Andrew Coyne outlines the Albinati connection with ESG here in his post from May 24, 2005.

Anyone who thinks Tory lobbyists are the only lobbyists making good in Ottawa these days fail to understand that the Liberals really have figured out how to work Ottawa. This, arguably, shows that 'who you know in the PMO' is increasingly less the case than "which 'crat holds the decision bat".

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