Friday, February 29, 2008

Did David Duke donate $500 to Edmonton city council candidate?

According to the 2007 Edmonton election financial disclosure form filed by Ward 4 candidate, Adil Pirbhai, "David Duke K.K.K" donated $500 to his election campaign.

Check out the form HERE (page 2).

Mr. Pirbhai was the last candidate to file his financial disclosure form, and only did so after being hounded to do so by City of Edmonton staff. Read more HERE.

Obviously, Mr. Pirbhai (pictured below) never received a donation from the former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan.

So, what's Mr. Pirbhai trying to pull?

  • Did he do this because he thought it would be funny to suggest David Duke would donate money to a visible minority?
  • Is he upset he had to file these forms and when threatened with a whopping $100 fine he decided to intentionally make a mockery of his disclosure forms?
  • Is he trying to make a point about some racial barriers he has had to overcome when running for office?
  • Or, is he trying to draw attention to the lack of pre-election disclosure of campaign contributors by suggesting that someone as distasteful as David Duke could make a campaign contribution to a candidate running for city council and nobody would know about it until 100 days after people cast their ballots and nearly 1,000 days before they get another chance?

I don't know, but I hope it's the latter.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation attempted to get all candidates to disclose their campaign contributors before the vote, and a few of them did.

But far too few.

Until either our provincial or municipal governments understand that this is vital information that the public should have before they vote, candidates will continue to get away with hiding who is financing their campaigns until well after the election, when few voters care.

Feds May Cut Film Funding

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the federal government may stop subisidizing racy films not suitable for family viewing. A film such as Young People F*&#ing wouldn't get $1.5 million in tax dollars anymore. Already, directors like David Cronenberg are crying foul and claim these subsidies are a charter right. Ha!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Aboriginals 'oppressed' by extra $660 million from feds

Just ask the Saskatchewan chief of chiefs:

Joseph blasts budget as 'tool of oppression'
Lori Coolican, The StarPhoenix

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2008

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Lawrence Joseph delivered harsh words about the federal budget at a press conference Wednesday.

"This budget is a tool of oppression, and there is nothing in it that could lead to self-sufficiency or economic independence for the First Nations people of Saskatchewan or Canada," he said...

Harper's Conservatives would rather make welfare payments to aboriginal Canadians than support their business efforts, Joseph said, noting Indian and Northern Affairs Canada spent $173.3 million on social supports and maintenance programs in the last fiscal year, but only $11.7 million on economic development...

Conservative MP Carol Skelton, who represents the Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar riding, said she was disappointed by Joseph's remarks.

She noted the budget provides more than $70 million over two years for an aboriginal economic development framework, $70 million over two years to improve First Nations students' educational outcomes, $147 million over two years to stabilize aboriginal health programs, $43 million over two years for "prevention-based models of child and family services" and $330 million over two years to improve drinking water safety on reserves.

Biofuels: not so environmentally friendly

As the Washington Post explains, the U.S. mandate to create 36 billion gallons of biodiesel by 2020 will have terrible consequences for the environment.

The impact of these land-use changes is enormous. As the study from the Nature Conservancy warns, "converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia and the United States creates a 'biofuel carbon debt' by releasing 17 to 420 times more carbon dioxide than the fossil fuels they replace." There are other negative effects. Massive amounts of water are needed to irrigate cornfields, setting up potential competition between farms and homes. The runoff of pesticides and nitrogen-based fertilizers used by farmers could lead to increased pollution and oxygen-depleted waterways. The natural gas used to make the fertilizer adds to the carbon deficit created by biofuels.

Canadian Trucking Alliance Slams Carbon Tax

CEO David H Bradley tells us why the carbon tax is a poor idea with the same problems as all other fuel excise taxes. They have nothing to do with policy, and everything to do with killing jobs and creating revenue for the government.

The risk is that these taxes, like so many before, simply become a cash grab to fund all manner of other programs under the nebulous banner of "going green."

The last thing the trucking industry needs are higher fuel costs and more fuel taxes. At 15 per cent to 30 per cent, fuel is the second largest component of operating costs, after labour. The current provincial and federal diesel fuel taxes are antiquated and regressive. Canadian fuel taxes are among the highest on the continent. With fuel prices and taxes where they are today -- even with fuel surcharges -- the trucking industry doesn't need to pay even more for diesel to realize that increased fuel efficiency is a good thing. We don't need a new tax to get that message.

Most tax policy practitioners also agree that taxes on business inputs, whether they are imposed on commercial fuel or equipment, are counterproductive and job killers. The trucking industry, particularly in jurisdictions with harmonized sales taxes -- already pays too high a share of tax on its business inputs compared to other industries.

Keep in mind the four-cents-a-litre excise tax on diesel fuel was introduced by the Mulroney government in the mid-1980s purportedly to slay the chronic budget deficit. We now live in an era of massive federal fiscal surpluses, but the tax still exists even though it serves no policy purpose.

Growing Support for Abolition of Indian Act

Rebecca Walberg of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy recently added her voice to the many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal voices who want to see the Act abolished. Her comments, posted in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix article follow the deaths by freezing of Kaydance and Santana Pauchay on the Yellow Quill reserve:

It is time to enfranchise aboriginal Canadians. Only the radical and lasting change that would stem from treating Natives as the equals of all other Canadians can break these chains of dysfunction that extend from one generation to the next.

Aboriginal people on reserves are trapped by poverty because they cannot own a home the way the rest of us can. Instead, the Indian Act creates a situation in which home ownership, as well as access to other higher education and other services, is at the mercy of undemocratic band councils.

Aboriginals are told again and again, by the federal government that administers to them, that they are not the same as other Canadians, that they cannot handle the same responsibilities, that they need special privileges simply to achieve the same goals as non-Natives.

Gross neglect is horrifying, but when the people in question have been told, all their lives, that they are dependent, unequal, and without real hope of improvement, we cannot be truly surprised.

It is time to give aboriginal people a shot at real equality, so they can share in the tremendous good fortune enjoyed by the rest of Canada.

Someone who lives close to Yellow Quill had his letter to the editor published in the same S-P issue. He agreed with previous comments from an elder that native administration is taking money that should go to others.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gord Bucks for BC, but only 100 of them

BC has the first official "revenue neutral" carbon tax in North America. No wonder we're known as the left coast. Soon, it will be the loony left coast, but I digress ...

To keep the squealing about the new carbon tax to a minimum, the government is bribing us with a $100 cheque.

Why the bribe? For starters, the budget rejected the main recommendation of the legislature's pre-budget consultation committee. A group of MLAs from both parties found that input from 5,800 British Columbians identified a growing economy and debt reduction as priorities, ahead of climate change spending. We got climate change spending.

In an effort to stop any grass-root objections to the carbon tax – especially when gasoline prices may top $1.50 per litre this summer – the government is giving every person in B.C. a one-time payoff of $100. These "Gord Bucks" are like the "Ralph Bucks" handed out in Alberta, except Albertans got 400 of them!

Of course, sending our own tax dollars back to ourselves costs even more tax dollars. We can expect to pay about $8.2 million to mail out the $100 cheques.

Ignoring us then buying us off is a bad way to head into the next election.

CTF Budget Coverage

Read some of the CTF's reaction to the budget in various newspapers/news organizations across Canada.

First, read the 2008 budget for full details...

Then, check out some coverage:

Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Canadian Press

National Post

Globe and Mail

Financial Post

Sun Newspapers

Read more at our Google hits page...

And last but not least - the CTF reaction!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Budget Backgrounder

CTV assembled this nifty set of resources on the federal budget that includes a tax freedom day calculator and a nifty interactive pie chart on how the government spends your money. Click here for that set, here for a timeline with basic info on budgets since '95, and here for this year's version.

The CTF's take on the 2008 Budget is here.

Federal Budget: CTF vs CCPA

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives put forth two very different visions for the federal budget.

In an interesting episode of John Gormley Live, CCPA economist Armine Yalnizyan seemed to argue against herself. At first, she said paying off $10 billion of the federal debt this year put us on pace to eliminate it all in 45 years, so why bother. Neither would you pay it off "super-fast" when the house was leaking. When asked if a 45 year mortgage on a house was wise, she said, yes, if it was worth inheriting. She further said that $6 billion in the hands of taxpayers wouldn't do much, but $6 billion in government's hands could solve the problem of affordable housing. (Does anyone think the begging would end there?) The CCPA also wants a higher GST, greater taxes on the rich, plus carbon taxes.
By contrast, CTF Federal Director John Williamson called for spending restraint and opposed carbon taxes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bombardier's Blackmail

Perennial corporate welfare recipient Bombardier are threatening to move production and jobs to the U.S due to the high dollar.

Since they've received almost a billion dollars from Canadian taxpayers, we assume they'll pay it back in full before they dare move one job out of Canada.

Unfortunately, they've done this before. In October 2005, Bombardier announced it was building an assembly plant in Mexico that would displace 500 Canadian workers.

Question: Does using Canadian tax dollars to help create jobs in Mexico and the U.S sound like smart policy?

For further reading, check out our corporate welfare report 'On the Dole.'
And...Sign our petition here to stop corporate welfare here.


Another Liberal MP Bashes USA

Carolyn Parish, has a new twin in her American bashing. Remember her as a Liberal MP saying she hates 'those dumb American bastards'. Well, Maria Minna, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York, shamelessly bashes America in her latest householder mailout now landing in her Toronto constituents' mailboxes.

While she is trying to criticize Prime Minister Harper, she can't seem to do it without accusing him of the most heinous crime a Canadian Liberal can muster - basically accusing him of liking things American.

She apparently quotes a 1997 Harper speech deliverd in the US: 'America, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country [Canada] and across the world'. She follows this quotation with America bashing when she writes "That's not the way I see it. Canada has absolutely nothing to learn from the US model." Earlier in the piece she 'accuses' Harper of "moving Canada ever closer to a hard-right Republican style of government".

Minna is entitled to criticize Harper. However, America bashing at the same time she is using taxpayer-funded householders is the problem. Why is it that the Liberals are so argumentatively bankrupt that they resort to name-calling like this? More importantly, why is it that she and her ilk think America is so bad.

For the record, let me disclose my bias: I love America. I love Canada too, and I live in Minna's riding. Canada and the US are great allies. The US is our largest trading partner. America provides us with beneficial military cover by virtue of being our neighbour. America has lower taxes and higher productivity. America has a more can-do attitude.

These are good things that we may learn from America. Minna, America bash on your own dime.

No Ontario Carbon Tax - For Now

While BC is marching down the ill-guided road of silly-minded taxes with a so-called carbon tax, Ontario Premier McGuinty is ruling it out; at leat for now.

When one reads his carefully scripted comments here it seems that he has left the door open to a carbon tax. He says that a carobn tax works for BC because of the diretion it is pursuing but not for Ontario because of the direction it is pursuing.

It is really unclear what McGuinty means when he refers to 'the direction Ontario is pursuing'. It would be logically valid to conclude that if McGuinty decides to change the 'direction he is pursuing' that a carbon tax would be acceptable.

It raises the credible question as to what he means by 'the direction Ontario is pursuing'.

So, while it seems Ontarions are so far saved from a carbon tax, who knows when the 'direction McGuinty is pursuing' will change?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unions use CTF data in TV ads

A consortium of Alberta unions has been running negative TV ads during the Alberta election. Other than the fact that they are using forced union dues for political purposes, the ads are fairly well done.

Interestingly, the latest ad entitled "Money" (seen below) uses CTF facts and figures about the Stelmach government's pre-election spending spree.

In fact, it's hard to tell this one's even a union ad.

Spending promises during the Alberta election

Last week, the CTF released a list of each of the four main parties' spending promises. We've been updating them regularly through out the campaign HERE.

The real issue is that the parties have not been costing out their promises (except the NDP).

Fortunately, we've seen some improvements in the past couple of days, as the Alberta Liberals are starting to cost out some of their promises.

Unfortunately there's still 38 Liberal promises un-costed, 22 PC promises un-costed, 5 Wildrose Alliance promises un-costed, and 3 NDP promises un-costed.

We will continue to wait.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Indian Act Red Tape

Chief Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band in BC's Okanagan has brought prosperity to his area, no thanks to the Indian Act. As our interview with him shows, non-Aboriginals used to getting things done in business can't believe how hard it is to do anything on reserve. A band near Calgary has had the same problem.

For rankings on which First Nations are doing well (and not so well) in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, click here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cost of election promises

There's an election going on here in Alberta. As such, the CTF has been attempting to track the spending promises of each of the main political parties.

On Wednesday, we released 4 lists of spending promises made by each of the four main political parties in Alberta. The updated lists can be found HERE. We also sent letters to each party leader asking for them to cost out these promises.

We were critical of the Alberta Liberals the most, for only costing out 1 of their 40 promises, with three others costed by the CTF. Meanwhile, we praised the NDP for costing out 11 of their 14 promises.

The attention we heaped on the lack of costing has paid off. Today the Alberta Liberals released THIS - a news release referencing their earlier promise to increase per-capita funding to municipalities for police services.

It included a cost breakdown of this promise:

This is a good first step, and a decent first attempt.

However, it does strike me as a bit odd the numbers are equal for the total funding in years 1 through 3. These are per capita funding numbers, so are they assuming no population growth in Alberta from 2008 to 2010?

That seems highly unlikely as Alberta has been the fastest growing province in Canada over the past few years.

Nevertheless, at least they are attempting to provide some numbers, which is certainly a step in the right direction.

One More Reason for Senate Reform

CTV News is reporting that next week the senate committee on Agriculture and Forestry will be travelling to the North.

I'm no agriculture expert but I suspect they'll find the soil frozen and largely un-farmable (is that a word?) I know my tomato plants don't do so hot this time of year!

Nevertheless, the trip will cost an estimated $318,131 and will include senators, and a laundry list of staffers - translators, clerks, etc.

Conservative senators plan to boycott the trip. At least some in the unelected senate see this for what it is: a waste of time and tax dollars.

If you wish, send an email to the committee list and tell them they are out to lunch.

EnCana Doubles Dividend At Taxpayer Expense

EnCana Corp. is doubling its quarterly dividend to 40 cents a share after fourth-quarter profit rose 63 per cent to $1.08-billion (U.S.) on higher oil and gas production, it says. Oh yeah, I guess the $150 million tax bailout by Ottawa helped a little. Given the firm made $3.96 billion this fiscal year, taxpayers should get back this $150 million. Our tax dollars should not be increasing shareholder dividends with this kind of corporate welfare. Don't blame EnCana: blame the feds for this ridiculous handout.

The Harper government in Ottawa recently handed out a special $150 million tax benefit to EnCana according to The Halifax Daily News. It was reportedly for an oil and gas project in Atlantic Canada. 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.

EnCana should be made to pay back taxpayer cash!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good Riddance

This past Monday, the Toronto Catholic District School Board voted to remove Trustee Christine Nunziata.
Nunziata, an 11-year veteran had come under fire recently for alleged abuse of tax dollars after it was discovered she had repeatedly used her $18,000 expense account for food, booze, coffee, and a trip to the Dominican Republic.

But that is not what forced the hand of the school board. What did her in was her missing 4 straight meetings - apparently a no-no under their rules.

No doubt, the CTF's criticisms in several media stories played a role. Another victory for us and for all who oppose abuse of public money.

Let this be a lesson to all public office-holders at all levels of government: When you abuse tax dollars you will incur the wrath of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation!

Band tries to kick widow off reserve home

A Saskatchewan court had to step in to block a chief's widow from getting kicked out of her own house. Gratia Bunnie, a member of Cowessess First Nation, was married to the chief of Sakimay until he died in 2004. After that, the band tried to evict her because, under the Indian Act, the house isn't really hers.

Gratia Bunnie was married to Samuel Bunnie, a former Sakimay First Nation chief and a senator of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. He died in June 2004.

Since then, Sakimay's chief and council have tried to evict her five times. The band's housing policy states that houses are to be allocated to band members only. . .

Communal living and ownership of land is upheld by a section of the Indian Act and supports the Sakimay First Nation's housing policy . . .

Bunnie applied to have the house allocated to her, but the First Nation contends that since she is not a member, she has no right to be in the house. No level of the court has the power to decide who gets a Sakimay First Nation house, [Sakimay lawyer] Barrington-Foote said.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants the Indian Act abolished and matrimonial property rights established as this report explains. Should a chief's widow, Aboriginal herself, get kicked out of her own house by the chief's own band?!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

TransLink secret meetings derailed

Metro Vancouver's public transit system and roads are managed by a government organization called TransLink. It is structured like a municipality; it has the power to both tax and spend on local transportation. This is why the lack of accountability to taxpayers of the board of directors is so disturbing.

In January the board chair Dale Parker said the once-public meetings would now be held in private. Then, during that first secret meeting, it approved a 500% increase in meeting fees, a 150% increase in the retainer paid to the Chair, and the establishment of a $25,000 retainer paid to each director when none existed before.

If this is any indication of the size of TransLink's future property and gasoline tax hikes, hold on to your wallets!

One way to enhance accountability would be for the provincial government to follow through on a 2001 election platform commitment to hold a referendum before imposing any new TransLink taxes or levies. Transportation decisions must be made under the spotlight of public scrutiny, not rubber stamped in secret meetings.

Canadians want health care change

The umpteenth survey has confirmed what politicans refuse to face: citizens want health care reform. Pollara's 10th Health Care in Canada Survey not only shows citizens want change, it shows health care professionals also want it. "Sixty-nine per cent of nurses felt the system needed significant change, while 62% of doctors favoured 'some fairly major repairs.'"

Health Care in Canada Survey highlights:
- 68% of Canadians think the system needs major repairs or complete rebuilding.
- 57% of Canadians rate their health as good or excellent.
- 57% feel they are receiving quality health care.
- 37% of Canadians reported being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
- 48% believe access to good quality, timely health care will improve in the next five years.
- 49% think access to family doctors has worsened.
- 30% strongly support giving Canadian access to private clinics if wait times guaranteed for certain procedures aren't met in the public system.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Regina vs. Winnipeg

In the November/December 2007 issue, The Taxpayer highlighted the tax-cutting, red tape destroying measures of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. That had Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco asking when we were going to feature how the Queen City has made itself better. Fiacco hired an outside consultant to recommend ways to make delivery of city services more efficient. It also went to citizens to get feedback. The results, according to the mayor, are that the city saves $3-$4 million each year. They even hired the consultant to become city manager.

So, when Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz came to town, it seemed a good time for good-natured banter as to who ran their cities better. The mayors weren't biting, except to say something we've heard them say a lot lately...

Friday, February 08, 2008

David Suzuki and Alleged NDP Fraud

Both find their way into the same newspaper commentary. To Saskatchewan radio host John Gormley, Suzuki's call to imprison those who don't fight climate change smacks of religious inquisition. Gormley also wonders how a case never went to trial after "an admitted con woman and thief inveigled her way into the NDP caucus, doctored cheques worth nearly $6,000 and then skipped town -- but not before leaving a detailed confession letter."

AFN wants Chavez

The Assembly of First Nations wants to bring Hugo Chavez to Canada and lauds him as a 'visionary'. The invitation comes as the AFN condemns Canada's federal government and calls for it to be taken off of the UN's human rights council.

The irony could not be more brutal, considering Chavez' assault on human rights in Venezuela documented here and here. But, for starters,

Since winning a national referendum on his presidency in 2004, Hugo Ch├ívez and his majority coalition in Congress have taken steps to undermine the independence of the country’s judiciary by packing the Supreme Court with their allies. They have also enacted legislation that seriously threatens press freedoms and freedom of expression. Several high profile members of civil society have faced prosecution on highly dubious charges, and human rights defenders have been repeatedly accused by government officials of conspiring against the nation. Police violence, torture, and abusive prison conditions are also among the country’s most serious human rights problems.

After all this, the AFN wants the federal government to drag its heels on changing matrimonial and other human rights on reserve. This may be consistent with supporting Chavez, but it sure undermines the AFN's condemnation of the federal government for its stances on human rights.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Canadian tax collection

While defending the merits of harmonization between the GST and provincial sales taxes, the head of the Canada Revenue Agency confessed the CRA's largesse:

"This isn't about being bigger. We're already the biggest federal institution there is, except for the military,'' [William] Baker said. "It's about what makes sense.''

With 46,000 employees, an annual budget of $3-$4 billion and annual collections of $350 billion, CRA "is a big organization,'' said Baker, who joined CRA's predecessor, Revenue Canada, in 1987 after launching his public service career in Saskatchewan in 1979.

With more than 10,000 financial experts and 4,000 IT professionals on the payroll, CRA is better equipped to collect and dispense billions of dollars of revenues and benefits than any provincial or territorial government.

Our government spends a lot just to get more from us. Not only does this defend tax harmonization, it also defends tax simplification. Ontario's harmonization of corporate taxes to federal rates saved that province $100 million. How much more could simpler systems slash government budgets and save taxpayers?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Getting Past Chief's Rhetoric

While at a provincial gathering of urban municipal leaders, the head of Saskatchewan Federated Indian Nations (FSIN) took a shot at white government. In reference to the deaths by exposure of two little girls on a reserve, FSIN chief Lawrence Joseph said, "Yes, I fully put all the responsibility on the parent for that tragedy...But, no, I do not accept that governments--provincial, federal and municipal--took any time to look at the fact where did that come from, why did this happen."

In fact, Joseph seemed to imply that some vested interests enjoyed the status quo of Aboriginal crime and poverty: "We fill up your jails to create employment, and the list goes on and on."

That inspired a published response from columnist Murray Mandryk, where he as much as asks, "What about your own vested interests?"

Sadly, what First Nations leaders need to acknowledge, but seldom do acknowledge, is that the very system that contributes to the poverty benefits them.

The FSIN derives its strength from the chiefs that elect its executive. The chiefs derive their strength from controlling all aspects of the lives of those who inhabit the reserves -- up to and including food and shelter.

Why shouldn't we expect problems with drugs, alcohol and unemployment when we force people to live in an environment with no economic opportunity? Would the results be any different if we shackled rural white kids to their communities and didn't allow them to own their property or business?

Pardon my Eurocentric view of the world, but why in the 21st century do we still prevent people on reserves from getting jobs and holding mortgages? What gives us the right to declare that First Nations should be frozen in time -- forced to adhere to a system of governance developed in the century before the last one?

Yes, we still need to hear the inflammatory rhetoric we heard from Joseph this week. It's a reminder that we bear a huge responsibility for this system -- which doesn't work.

But we also need to hear more from the First Nations' leadership. We need to hear its commitment to reconstruct the entire system. We need to see its willingness to move away from the rural reserves that just aren't working.

Looking for Work?

The CTF is looking to hire someone for our Manitoba division.

Imagine waking up every morning and exposing government waste, fighting for lower taxes, and proposing reforms that make government more accountable - what could be better than that!?

Sure, you could be the sun screen guy for a team of Brazilian bikini models, or the quality assurance guy at the Bud Light Institute but really, who gets jobs like that?

Read more about this exciting job offer here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

High marginal tax rates punish success

A high marginal tax rate system means the more a person makes, the more the government takes. Plenty of evidence shows high marginal tax rates distort peoples' willingness to work hard to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. Why work harder if the government is just going to take most of it away?

In the US between 1980 and 2005, the highest marginal tax rate halved, and the amount of revenue collected from those paying the highest marginal tax rate doubled. Even here in B.C., marginal tax rates have fallen and the tax take from the highest income earners has increased. All those people with apartments in Alberta no longer have to claim Alberta residency to protect their hard-earned cash. We have a much fairer system here now, but it could be even better.

The evidence is clear - when high marginal tax rates are cut, governments get more money from high income earners. By cutting high marginal tax rates now, the government can make future tax filing a lot easier and help cushion the blow of any upcoming economic slowdown. By encouraging the most entrepreneurial and hardest working people to work harder instead of punishing them, the government can boost its revenues without raising taxes. Let's face it, the last thing we need as we move into a period of slower economic growth is more taxes.

Premier at Grey Cup on Taxpayer Dime

As Patriots fans lick their wounds after yesterday's SuperBowl, Saskatchewan taxpayers can consider their bill for the Grey Cup. Thanks to a CTF Freedom of Information request, the cost to send Premier Brad Wall and his delegation to Toronto last November is now known.

Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz, Chief of Staff to the Premier Reg Downs and Executive Assistant to the Premier Everett Hindley accompanied the Premier on the trip to Toronto for the Grey Cup. In addition to attending various Grey Cup events as an official representative of the Province of Saskatchewan, the Premier also attended scheduled meetings with Premier Gary Doer of Manitoba and Grand Chief Phil Fonatine.

The total cost of the trip was $12,487.37 and is comprised of the following expenses:
-Airfare $8,822.40;
-Meals $180.00;
-Lodging $3,337.92;
-Taxis $116.70; and,
-Telephone calls $30.35.

Also, on November 27, 2007 a reception was held for the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Legislative Building. Refreshments for this reception cost $85.50 and phtographer costs were $866.25.

Trips taken in provincial jets to football games are usually quite suspect. However, a significant act of charity documented here mitigates this:

After the Roughriders defeated the B.C. Lions in the West Division final on Nov. 18, Kelly Schermann launched a fundraising campaign in the hope that enough money could be generated to fly [cancer patient Chris] Knox and his loved ones to Toronto for the game. Trevor Lowey of Kelvington quickly joined forces with Schermann to organize the excursion.

More than $100,000 was donated or pledged in a matter of days. As a result, there were sufficient funds to send 10 young Saskatchewan-based cancer victims and 20 chaperones to the Grey Cup, along with Knox.

The province offered this gesture at a time when booking flights to Toronto for such a large group was virtually impossible. However, let it be remembered that it was Saskatchewan people, both privately and through their taxes, that made this possible.

The official response for the Freedom of Information request is here. My response to the Grey Cup win is below!

Election Time: When Government Gets Bigger

Every U.S. presidential candidate is promising to spend more than the current administration--except one. According to the National Taxpayers Union calculations, Republican longshot Ron Paul would decrease government spending by $150 billion annually. Other Republican candidates would dish out an extra $7 billion-$56 billion each year, while Democrats would increase spending from $218 billion (Clinton) to $287 billion (Obama).

Friday, February 01, 2008

Rethinking the Reserve

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants to see the Indian Act scrapped, and those on reserves receive property rights. To date, the Indian Act remains, even though it's hard to find anyone of any ancestry who thinks it's good legislation.

Whether the Indian Act changes or not, Canada will. Baby boomers are approaching retirement, and high birth rates are making Aboriginals an increasing percentage of the Canadian population. This wave of change has been billed a demographic tsunami. Therefore, health funding and Aboriginal issues will become increasingly important in coming years.

The National Post's series Rethinking the Reserve proposes innovative solutions to Aboriginal issues. Plus, its online multimedia components make it even more engaging than the print version. It's worth a look.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box