Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Alberta!

January 1, 2009 will be the first time that Albertans won't have to pay a health premium to the provincial government. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation played a pivotal role in the elimination of the premiums, something that can be read about here. Below, ecstatic Alberta director Scott Hennig reacts to the Feb. 4, 2008 announcement that the premiums would finally come to an end. His prediction that it would happen sooner rather than later proved true in the 2008 budget.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What can $35 billion buy?

As Stephen Harper admits a $35 billion stimulus package will put Canada's budget in the deficit for the first time in eleven years, columnist Don Martin estimates what that amount of money could buy. Some examples: 2.3 million new cars, the Maple Leafs 85 times over, or the whole NHL 6 times over, twice the amount of alcohol consumed in Canada each year, the Olympics 16 times over, and roughly half the net worth of the richest man in the world (Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad).

As it stands, the figure represents $1,040 from every Canadian.

$117 million extra for helicopters

The Canadian government waived $36 million in late fees from a U.S. helicopter manufacturer. Instead, Sikorsky is actually charging the government an extra $117 million for improvements to the Cyclone helicopters ordered for Canada's military. However, details about the improvements are sketchy. Unfortunately, this scenario was predicted in 2004 by the company's rival, Agusta-Westland. They said that Sikorsky would not be able to meet the original timetable because the Cyclone was a developmental aircraft at the time. Too bad the defense department wasn't listening. More from CanWest.

Castro gets it

As Reuters reports, Raoul Castro is taking some appropriate steps forward during this time of economic turmoil. Now government workers in Cuba won't be eligible for retirement until 65, fully ten years after former Canadian MPs are eligible for their government pension.

Cuban President Raul Castro called on Saturday for austerity measures including fewer subsidies for workers and stricter management to pull the country out of an economic morass aggravated this year by three hurricanes and the global financial crisis.

He told a year-end meeting of the National Assembly the government would cut official trips abroad by 50 percent and eliminate programs that reward good workers with free vacation trips but cost the government $60 million a year...

Before his speech, the assembly voted to raise the age at which workers can retire with a government pension by five years, to 65 for men and 60 for women. Officials said the change was needed because Cuba's population was aging rapidly due to a declining birth rate and immigration.

Castro said Cuban managers need to demand more from their workers, who receive free education and health care and subsidized food rations but on average earn only $20 a month.

"I have arrived at the conclusion that one of our big problems is a lack of systemic demand," said Castro.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the system of subsidies for those who can work, but do not, saying government handouts discourage Cubans from being more productive.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why the Big 3 shouldn't get Big $ from Ottawa

Kevin Gaudet explains in this interview carried live December 23, 2008.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where are we going?

Anthony Boeckh, founding trustee of the Fraser Institute and president of a private investment firm, tells the Financial Post that the path ahead will be rocky. Boeckh, a former economics prof at McGill university who has a PhD in finance and economics, says the current crisis is due to flaws in the international monetary system.

Boeckh says in the days before 1971 when the U.S. dollar was tied to the gold standard, economic corrections were less severe than today. However, debt has now gotten out of control, and the current responses are only making private debt into public debt. Although he thinks we're not far from the bottom, he still expects a series of crises in the future. He says Canada is vulnerable if deflation is prolonged, but as a small and open economy, there's not much we can do.

Click here to read the full interview.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How did we get here?

Wondering how the "financial crisis" came about and how it might be solved? The website helps make things clearer, as well as provide a few laughs.

Small victory for CTF and taxpayers in Alberta!

Long story short, the City of Calgary recently passed a massive increase to the fees they charge non-residential property owners to appeal their property tax assessment.  Fees went from a $50 maximum to $5,000.  

The City of Edmonton followed suit and increased their fees from a maximum of $500 to $5,000, a few weeks later.

This was a clear tax grab, and was an attempt to force businesses from not appealing their assessment.  Particularly in Calgary, where 70% of appellants were successful in reducing their assessment.  This, obviously means that the City of Calgary was not doing a good job with their initial assessments.

The CTF along with a long list of other organizations: (Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac), National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC),  the Retail Council of Canada, Southern Alberta Shopping Centre Association (SASCA), and the Calgary Apartment Association), we lobbied the Minister of Municipal Affairs to use the powers available to him to cap the fees across the province at $500.

Yesterday, the Minister smartly agreed to cap fees across the province at $650.  Read the release HERE.

A small but important victory for the CTF and for taxpayers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Taxes taking more from household budgets

Statistics Canada reports that Canadians spent 6% more on income taxes in 2007 than the year before. Tax relief remains a work in progress as CanWest explains.

Despite the tax-cut boasts of governments, Canadian families paid six per cent more on average in personal income taxes last year, which remained the single largest expense for families, even ahead of keeping a roof over their heads.

Households spent an average of $69,950 in 2007, up 3.3 per cent from 2006, Statistics Canada said Monday in its annual report on family expenditures, noting that the increase was also more than a full percentage point more than the 2.2 per cent increase in the cost of living last year.

But among major expenditures it was personal taxes that posted the steepest increase, rising by six per cent to an average of $14,450. As a result, taxes ate up 20.6 per cent of the average family budget, up from 20 per cent in 2006, and reversing a generally downward trend from an all-time high of 21.9 per cent in 1996.

Big benefits for CAW, big subsidies for Big 3

Canadian auto makers have succeded in getting a bailout despite a record year for sales. Maclean's estimates the newly announced government payout amounts to $2,300 per vehicle. Even so, the combined $20 billion or so from Canadian, U.S., and Ontario governments may still not be enough to keep GM, ford, and Chrysler in business, leading President Bush to talk about a so-called managed bankruptcy. Economist Mark Zandi estimates that the Big 3 would need $75 billion at best and $125 billion at worst just to stay afloat. While Japanese companies are earning anywhere from $1,152 to $2,051 per vehicle, The Big 3 are losing anywhere from $515 to $1,833 per vehicle.

Maclean's reports that on average, Canadian auto workers make $35 per hour--$72,000 per year. On average, a manufacturing job fetches $20.75 per hour, or $41,500 per year. The wage difference between Japanese car makers and the Big 3 is only $2.50 per hour ($5,000 per year) but the difference in benefits is enormous.

According to CAW data, workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler cost their respective employers about $77 an hour. This figure includes employer-paid benefits like health and dental insurance, the company’s contribution to a pension fund, and the payroll taxes it assumes when it hires workers. By contrast, assuming an 80-cent loonie, their counterparts at transplant car mills in the U.S. come in at a much cheaper $61.25 an hour. The biggest contributor to the disparity is legacy costs, i.e. payments and benefits doled out to former workers. These add $10 an hour to the overall labour costs at unionized plants, while better vacation and other wage-related benefits at union shops makes up the rest of the difference.
Other hidden benefits? How about $17 million worth of viagara for GM or up to 30 hours of free or discounted legal services for every auto worker?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Economic Stimulus Application Form

With an alphabet soup of groups lining up to beg for federal cash handouts as part of so-called economic stimulus packages there is a humourous 'application form' that can be seen on the National Post site.

To get a giggle while the federal government plans a $30 billion deficit click here.

Thanks to Terry Corcoran for giving taxpayers a laugh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sask Power cancels party for volunteers

Despite the fact that all incandescent bulbs will be illegal in Canada by 2012, Sask Power is giving $1.44 million to Project Porchlight. The dream of P.P., a self-described volunteer organization, is to change the world one compact fluorescent light bulb at a time.

Where did this $1.44 million go? At least some of it went to SaskPower parties for their volunteers in Regina, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon. Strangely, SaskPower cancelled the party in Saskatoon even though everything was paid for, including the plane flight of former Canadian Idol finalist Theresa Sokyrka. The reason was, according to a Star-Phoenix article, because SaskPower is raising power rates 13 percent, and it looks bad to have a party in that circumstance.

Perhaps another reason was that the CTF was about to receive information on SaskPower dollars for the project, via an access to information request. The FOI can be read by clicking here. It shows that Sask Power spent $472,500 on the bulbs, $209,925 for ads and promotion, $245,321 for distribution (basically staffing costs for a "volunteer" campaign) and $516,700 for everything, including getting office space for the project. In separate initiatives, SaskPower has spent an additional $893,000 to advertise the merits of CFLs.

In addition, today the CTF received a call from a Sask Power employee who wants to explain why they believe this campaign will be cost-effective for the company. Apparently by lowering demand for electricity, it will require fewer capital costs to provide supply. Hmmm...

Bettman was "Best-washed"?

NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, was in Edmonton yesterday to tell Edmontonians a big, fat lie.

As reported in today's Edmonton Sun, Bettman said "there is no way an arena can be built 'without a significant public investment.'"

Either Mr. Bettman is lying to Edmontonians, or he gets his information on how arenas are financed in Canada from Lyle Best and the rest of the City of Edmonton "Leadership Committee."

You will recall that the CTF discovered the City Shaping report authored by Mayor Mandel's committee conveniently left out the fact that all new NHL arenas built in Canada in the past two decades were virtually 100% privately financed. 

Unless Mr. Bettman shows up with a cheque in hand to pay for a new arena, he should avoid telling Edmontonians how much they should be willing to pay.  And stop lying while he's at it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The U.S. itself needs a bailout

The D.C. Examiner asks, "Who will bail out Uncle Sam?" Federal obligations for social programs, etc., exceed the total household worth of every household American. And the U.S. was only $100 billion in the black before the bank bailout!

Federal obligations now exceed the collective net worth of all Americans, according to the New York-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Washington politicians and bureaucrats have essentially mortgaged everything We the People own so they can keep spending our tax dollars like there’s no tomorrow.

The foundation’s grim calculations are based on Sept. 30 consolidated federal statements, which showed that Americans’ total household net worth, diminished by falling stock prices and home equity, is $56.5 trillion. But rising costs for unfunded social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security increased to $56.4 trillion – and that was before the more recent stock market crash, $700 billion bank bailout, and monster federal deficits chalked up in October and November.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sask Camping Fees: Now that makes more sense

Minister Christine Tell explained the case for higher camp fees much better the second time around. It actually makes sense and lowers taxpayer subsidies to keep parks going.

She [Tell] said Monday that she had done a poor job of explaining what the government is doing.
"I don't think for one minute that it stopped people from coming," she said of the old fees.
The aim with the fee increases is to "rebalance" the percentage that government pays for the parks, versus the park users.
"The traditional percentage is 60 per cent user pay and 40 per cent government. We are not -- even with the increases in the camping rates -- we are not even there at the 60 per cent user, 40 per cent government," Tell said, adding the user portion will be 56 per cent.
The Sask Party, which complained vehemently about the $3 firewood fee introduced by the NDP in 2004, still hasn't changed its tune. Unfortunately, Premier Wall is still calling it "the wiener roast tax." This was a user fee, not a tax. If it was a tax in the truest sense, the Sask Party's moves would be three times worse. That's why the Opposition NDP is returning the favour and calling the new fees, "the unhappy camper tax."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santas Harper and McGuinty Deliver Auto Coal to Taxpayers

TORONTO: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) reacted with dismay to the announcement of a $3.5 billion federal and Ontario government bailout to Ford, Chrysler, and GM. CTF federal spokesperson, Kevin Gaudet, said “throwing good money after bad won’t fix big auto but it will drive Canada and Ontario further into deficit.”

“The big three are a bottomless pit, having already burned through $782 million of taxpayer cash in Canada over the last five years,” Gaudet continued. “Each announcement of government cash support was followed by downsizing, layoffs of Canadian workers, and the demand for even more cash by the big three. Be assured, these companies will be back for more before spring.”

Last week at Congressional hearings in the United States Mr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s, testified that the big three will require between $75 billion and $125 billion to avoid bankruptcy.

“Going into deficit to hand tax dollars to US-based companies that may still go bankrupt is absurd. It prolongs the inevitable restructuring the industry must go through to become profitable again and, it establishes a precedent for other industries. The new policy in Canada appears to be one of ‘run a successful company and your government will tax you excessively, run your company poorly and your government will come running with buckets of other peoples’ money.’ Shame on both these governments.”

In June 2004 Stephen Harper told the Toronto Board of Trade, "It was an NDP leader, David Lewis, who coined the term corporate welfare bums in 1972. Unfortunately, in the past 30 years, too many corporations have been drawn into this trap by the available plethora of government loans, grants, and subsidies."

Does this make any sense to you?

Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Christine Tell says her government raised fees in Saskatchewan parks by $1.25 million. In this video she explains that if prices are low, people won't think it's worth going(?!).

and the Leader-Post have more, including the biting irony that the Sask Party, which campaigned on eliminating the NDP's "weiner roast tax" has now implemented measures that will cost campers more than three times as much. It's a good idea to have user fees reflect real costs, but the "psychological" argument truly falls short.

The daily camping fee is going up by $2 a night, while the cost of some seasonal campsites will increase from $830 to $1,500. The previous cost for those seasonal sites was “far below market value,” Tell said.

“The indications that we had in talking with people was the fact that we’re under-valuing our parks from a financial standpoint,” Tell told reporters.

Other changes include a doubling of the fee for the site reservation service from $5 to $10 and a new $7 charge to campers who change their reservation.

“We’re charging for the time that is required for our parks people to manage the system,” she said.

The changes follow the government’s elimination earlier this year of the $3-a-day “wiener roast tax," which was introduced under the previous NDP administration and frequently blasted as a bad idea by the Saskatchewan Party.

But Tell said the fee increases now being introduced by her government aren't the same.

“We have to remember that the cost of running a provincial park has increased,” said Tell.

She said Saskatchewan still has among the lowest camping fees in the country, and noted the government has also made investments to improve facilities.

Other increases include the trailer storage fee increase from $85 to $150, and a doubling of hall rental fees.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dub Arena for Edmonton?

I know this is probably stale news for most who have been following the Oilers arena debate in Edmonton, but it's worth revisiting regardless.

Renowned Edmonton architect Gene Dub has created a design and potential location for a new arena for the Edmonton Oilers. He made his design public late last month with a presentation to Edmonton City Council. A video of his design can be watched below...

The Edmonton Journal's Todd Babiak has his take on it in today's paper.

Some people were a bit shocked by it (both the design and the timing of the presentation). In fact, many City Councillors were unprepared to respond and discuss the design. This, is a very, very good sign.

No, it's not that I care whether a new arena is built for the Edmonton Oilers. Although, I attend a few games each year and find the current arena suitable. Yes, I've been in newer, fancier arenas (like the ACC in Toronto and the Staples Center in LA), but I've also been in much worse arenas (like The Palace in Auburn Hills where the Detroit Pistons play). But, again, I don't care whether or not a new arena is built, what I care about is whether taxpayers are footing the bill.

If Daryl Katz or others want to plunk down $5-bil to build a new arena hovering in the clouds made out of diamonds and shaped like a giant pill bottle, they should go right ahead. Katz owns the team, he should be able to tell them where they can play.

The City Council should have very little say over the matter. Of course, because of the LRT and buses that may assist in getting people to the new arena, the city should be open to dialogue about the location, but that's it.

So, it is very encouraging that they were not privy to Mr. Dub's plans, and hopefully they are not privy to Mr. Katz's plans yet either.

The less involvement the City Council has with these people the better for taxpayers.

Oh, and just to weigh in on Mr. Dub's design, I think it looks very cool. And for $300-mil, Katz should jump on it. But nobody should listen to me, I'm not paying for this thing... yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gift Gate

When Manitoba hosted the Western Premiers Conference in 2006, visiting politicians were given so many gifts, they had to be given bags to carry them all home. Although details are still coming forward, the event is shaping up to be yet another example of government extravagance and waste.

Golf shirts, denim shirts, fishing reels, chocolates, jackets, scarves and scales for weighing fish were some of the “mementos” handed out using public dollars. Some attendees received $185 “ Hyde Port garment bags” while others had to “get by” with $15 bags.

As it stands right now, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has obtained government documents that showed at least $25,907 was spent on gifts for the conference’s 105 “dignitaries”. If you do the math, that’s an average of $246 per attendee -- and counting.

Unfortunately, we still don’t have all the details. The government informed the CTF that it would have to pay $600 in order to get all the expense information. As a non-profit organization, that’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’ll continue to do what we can to get to the bottom of this.

However, what we do know is that MPI, Manitoba Hydro and the MLCC picked up the $25,907 gift tab. That’s right, when you paid your Autopac and hydro bills in 2006, you actually helped buy bags full of “mementos” for Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and the bureaucrat posse he brought with him to the conference.

Surprisingly, documents revealed that although MPI’s board was only asked to donate $8,000 towards buying gifts, they decided to top it up to $10,000. How nice of them to throw our Autopac premiums around with such a care free attitude. Little wonder why they recently fought to hide their expenses from the public utilities board.

Not to be outdone, Manitoba Lotteries kicked in $10,000 for a private concert for the guests which featured Doc Walker, an award winning band. Nothing against Doc Walker, but do these guests really need a private concert? Couldn’t someone have put on a DVD for them or encouraged them to go and spend some money in the local community?

If you can’t think of the connection between crown corporations and sponsoring conferences like this one, don’t worry, there isn’t one. Crown corporations should not have contributed a cent towards the conference as it has nothing to do with their respective mandates.

Most disappointing about the whole issue was Premier Doer’s response in the legislature. When questioned about the expenses, the Premier responded:

“I know that other premiers have had similar criticism. I know that when we went to the Canadian premiers' meeting in Alberta a couple of years ago, there was criticism about some of the investments made in that meeting that Premier Klein hosted and the costs of the meeting.”

If Premier Doer knew Alberta taxpayers were upset over expenses from when the conference that was held there, why wasn’t anything done to protect Manitoba taxpayers when it was our turn?

Besides, when he saw everyone walking around with matching jackets, denim shirts and bags, didn’t he wonder who was paying for it all?

Taxpayers deserve all the details from the conference. However, more importantly, we need some policy changes on Broadway to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Domed Stadium, $140 million and counting...

CTF says no to stadium without referendum

REGINA: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is urging the City of Regina and the provincial government to show caution and consult widely regarding any renovation or replacement of Mosaic Stadium.

“The Roughriders and the private sector need to carry the bulk of the financial burden for an upgrade or replacement for Mosaic Stadium,” said Lee Harding, Saskatchewan Director for the CTF. “This is a major capital investment with debatable returns.”

“Given that taxpayers are already dishing out for a $60 million expansion of Evraz Place, should they also be on the hook for a stadium expansion?” Harding asked. “If Regina wants the next higher tier of artists, wouldn’t they perform there instead of a football stadium? As for soccer, isn’t the former Queensbury Downs enough? The Riders are the only ones who fill the stadium we have, and that’s only 10 times per year.”

In July, the City of Regina released its Recreation Facility Strategy to 2020 that called for 12 new capital projects to cost a total of $90 million. On page 50, the report’s authors said they “could not support” a stadium expansion, as it would do little to facilitate more sporting and cultural events, but instead “would divert limited available capital from real community recreation needs and limit the City’s ability to meet them.”

“As for economic spinoffs, politicians should think twice. Economists such has Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys have shown that there’s no correlation between stadiums, arenas and sports franchises and more jobs, income, and tax revenues.

“This started out with Mosaic Stadium needing $5.8 million of renovations. Then it became a few more seats and amenities for $100 million. Then Riders President Jim Hopson thought for that price, it might as well be a new stadium. Then Mayor Fiacco said, if it’s a new stadium, it should have a dome. Where will this end up?” Harding asked.

“No capital undertaking of this magnitude involving tax dollars should go forward without first obtaining voter approval,” Harding concluded.

***UPDATE*** Click here to listen to Harding discuss the issue on John Gormley Live. He will also be on 620 CKRM at 12:10 Friday Dec. 12 to talk more.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cow Tax To Lower Greenhouse Gases?

The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. has proposed taxes to prevent Greenhouse Gas Emissions. , as the Associated Press reports.

But the American Farm Bureau Federation said, based on federal agriculture department figures, it would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.
The executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Ken Hamilton, estimated the fee would cost owners of a modest-sized cattle ranch $30,000 to $40,000 a year. He said he has talked to a number of livestock owners about the proposals, and "all have said if the fees were carried out, it would bankrupt them."
Sparks said Wednesday he's worried the fee could be extended to chickens and other farm animals and cause more meat to be imported.

Bovine belches have been a bizarre fixation in many countries in the world. Alas, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada is no different. Even more surprising, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association co-sponsors the research and thinks it's great!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Commentary - Deficit Brinkmanship

The decision by Governor General Michaëlle Jean to suspend the House of Commons until January 26th may be the smartest decision to come out of Ottawa since the Senators picked up Dany Heatley.

An Ipsos-Reid poll suggests 7 in 10 Canadians support the Governor General’s decision to give our 308 lawmakers a collective “time-out.” This extended Christmas break will hopefully allow our parliamentarians to cool down the rhetoric, give their heads a shake, and come back in the new year ready to work. Importantly, the country needs to design a fiscal direction through precarious times.

If we are to take the proposed coalition partners at their word, their willingness to defeat the government was precisely because of the government’s inability to map-out this fiscal direction. In a nutshell: their view was that the current government was not running fast enough or far enough into a deficit position in the name of bolstering the economy through increased government spending.

They proposed a $30-billion “stimulus package” that includes more funding for infrastructure, bailouts for the automobile, forestry and manufacturing industries, more money for the arts, more money for regional corporate welfare programs, a new childcare program, and other goodies longer than Santa’s wish list.

Considering the razor-thin surplus outlined in the Economic and Fiscal Update, their “stimulus package” would put Canada into what TD Bank economist, Don Drummond, suggests would be a structural, prolonged deficit.

Yet, what strangely has not been asked, is from where does this near-crazed urgency for massive deficit spending come?

Does it come from promises made during the recent election? Hardly. All three national parties campaigned on balancing the budget. Stéphane Dion told CTV News on September 22nd, a “Liberal government will never put Canada into deficit. Period.”

How about an outpouring of public demand for huge deficits? An Ipsos-Reid poll taken at the height of the “world financial calamity” in October revealed 82 percent of Canadians support the federal government cutting spending to keep the budget balanced. 57 percent of Canadians oppose running deficits and 83 percent oppose raising taxes.

Maybe the urgency for massive deficits comes from policy successes in other nations? Multi-trillion dollar “stimulus packages” and interventions by governments in the United States and elsewhere have, if anything, worsened economic conditions by creating more – not less – uncertainty in markets.

The unparalleled debts piled up as a result of these policies are very real. As one Canadian lawmaker put it: “I believe in balanced budgets … I don’t like paying interest to banks and investors when you could be putting money to better use.” Who said that? Jack Layton on September 30th.

To follow media reports one would think the Canadian government was utterly rudderless when it comes to economic management. This is not true. The Economic and Fiscal Update contained direction on taxes, cost containment (including civil service salaries), more infrastructure spending, asset sales, improved management, and the like.

Projections in the recent Economic and Fiscal Update suggest that Canada is going to see small negative growth in the real GDP for the next four months, and then recover and see positive growth through the end of 2009. In comparison to the United States, Canada’s recession will be much shorter with smaller negative growth, and larger positive growth following.

Unemployment is also projected to increase next year by less than one point to 7 percent, still significantly lower than the double-digit unemployment rates seen in through most of the 80s and early-90s.

Canada faces economic challenges but our situation is – thankfully – not as bad or severe as it is in the United States and other parts of the world. We need not – and should not – overreact with reckless policies or politics.

The Economic and Fiscal Update is not a budget, but appropriately addresses fiscal issues consistent with what many leaders of all the parties were saying during the recent election. To be sure, there will be disagreements, but it’s not impossible that lawmakers could try and build a consensus either. The Governor General was correct in allowing the government to at least present a budget before allowing a confidence vote.

What lawmakers might consider between now and then is the most recent polling indicating 72 percent of Canadians suggest they’re “truly scared” for the future of this country because of what is going on in Ottawa. Tough to blame them.

Scott Hennig & Troy Lanigan
Alberta Director National Communications Director

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

News Release: Coalitions are fine, but they must have a mandate

CTF calls on Canadians and CTF supporters to appeal to Governor General for election if government defeated

EDMONTON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has sent an urgent call to action to its 60,000 supporters encouraging them to contact the Governor General’s office to demand she call an election if the current government is defeated next Monday.

“CTF supporters from across the country have been contacting our offices over the past couple of days rightfully concerned that a coalition of parties with no mandate to impose their agenda may be running the country in a week’s time,” stated CTF-Alberta director Scott Hennig.

“Since the decision after a non-confidence vote will lie in the hands of the Governor General it’s only appropriate that Canadians contact her to let her know how they want her to act on their behalf,” continued Hennig.

In a TaxAction to CTF supporters, the CTF highlighted three reasons the Governor General should opt for an election:

Coalition governments are perfectly democratic – indeed, they exist in stable democracies through-out the world – yet this particular arrangement lacks both legitimacy and accountability. A majority of Canadians may have voted against the Conservatives (62%). But a majority did not vote in favour of a coalition imposing billions in deficit spending, propped up by separatists. An election with this understanding allows Canadians to make a clear and transparent decision at the ballot box;

While the Bloc has been given a veto on all matters pertaining to the proposed coalition government, only those privy to backroom dealings know what that translates into in terms of both policy and cost. An election would force scrutiny and transparency of any governing agreement with the separatist Bloc; and
The NDP and Liberals have no mandate for a grandiose "stimulus package." Both parties campaigned just two months ago on costed and balanced budget platforms.

The CTF is particularly concerned with a radical new policy agenda put forward by the proposed coalition government that runs directly contrary to repeated commitments made by those leaders in the recent election campaign.

Stephane Dion told CTV News on September 22nd: a “Liberal government will never put Canada into deficit. Period.” Similarly, Jack Layton told the Sun Media on September 30th: “I believe in a balanced budget … These are not weasel words. I don’t like paying interest to banks and investors when you could be putting money to better use.”

The CTF has consistently opposed costly and failed “stimulus packages” regardless of what party is in power.

“We doubly oppose them where governments have absolutely no electoral mandate to proceed. If the opposition parties believe this is ‘what Canadians want’ then they should have no hesitation in earning public support at the ballot box,” concluded Hennig.

Copies of the CTF’s TaxAction to supporters can be viewed here.

Call the GG!

This morning, the CTF sent out an urgent TaxAction to CTF supporters.  Click on the image below to read the TaxAction.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Study slams civil service salaries

According to a study by the CFIB, federal civil servants make 17% more than private sector counterparts, and 30% more if you count pensions and other benefits. Click here for a Globe and Mail article and here for the report itself. Federal crown employees were most overpaid in Saskatoon where they made 29% more than their private sector counterparts.

Monday, December 01, 2008

$85M to prepare Canadians for global warming

The federal government is ready to spend generous amounts of taxpayer dollars to prepare Canadians for climate change. The first $8 million will prepare people for a heat wave, says the National Post.

Jim Frehs, manager of Health Canada's climate change and health division...Mr. Frehs heads a program whose goal is to develop "more heat-resilient individuals, households and communities," part of an $85-million federal program to help Canadians adapt to global warming....

But Ian Clark, one of the small minority of Canadian climate scientists who does not believe the Earth is undergoing a warming trend, said even if one believes the temperature will rise by the few degrees that others predict, the health effects would be minimal.

"It's absolutely absurd," the University of Ottawa earth sciences professor said of the program. "It sounds like people looking for things to do."

TSX soaring despite lack of "stimulus"

Because the federal government chose not to dole out extra umpteen billions of dollars, the economy has actually rallied. Banks are expected to lower their interest rates, since more public dollars from Canadian taxpayers aren't forthcoming, at least for now. The result? A six day rally on the Toronto Stock Exchange that amounts to a 20 percent gain.

It is welcome news for taxpayers. Spokespeople for the Canadian Pension Plan announced the CPP lost 8.5% from July 1 to September 30 this year. Managers of other public pension plans aren't saying much, but likely took a severe hit as well.

Ironically, the choice to not bail out corporations may have saved taxpayers from having to bail out pension plans as well.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box