Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sask gov gets its fingers out of private enterprise

It's a case of quit while you're ahead. The Saskatchewan government plans to divest of its holdings in private companies over the next two to three years. The sale of provincial holdings in SaskFerco helped Investment Saskatchewan post substantial profits. However, contractual obligations created by the former NDP government would have obligated the province to invest another $25 million annually in private Saskatchewan companies until 2014. Thankfully, the province is buying out such obligations and getting itself out of private enterprise.

CTF Endorses STV for BC

As it was with the last B.C. election, the CTF is endorsing the Single Transferrable Vote proposal. STV will be put to a referendum again in conjunction with the May 12 provincial election. In 2005, about 58 percent of a required 60 percent of those casting ballots endorsed the system. Should STV get 60 percent support this time, not only will B.C.'s electoral process be forever changed, but so might other provinces.

The STV system was encorsed by the B.C. citizens' assembly on voting reform in 2004. Visit the campaign for the STV here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fake, but maybe it shouldn't be...

Autoworkers Compete to Keep Jobs, Livelihoods on New Reality Show

Billion$ to save 4,400 GM jobs

GM's newly announced re-structuring plan calls for the Canadian workforce to be slashed by 60% over 5 years, shrinking it from 10,300 down to 4,400 by the end of 2014. Already 4000 job losses have been announced in Oshawa and Windsor, with another 1,900 to come. The Pontiac brand will be phased out, meaning 310 dealerships will be closed by the end of next year.

This has left Don Newman of the CBC defending the taxpayer more than the Liberals and Conservatives! On April 27, Newman said, "For each job that was saved, the cost has just gone up for the taxpayer. And is there some point where Canadians, or politicians and Canadians, say, 'Wait a minute--this is getting too expensive'?"

In response, the Conservatives are defending their loan plans and the Liberals are saying it's not enough! Meanwhile, the NDP say the government should bail out even more companies in various other sectors including forestry.

Meanwhile, the United States government will own more than 50% of General Motors if its bailout plan goes forward. This means all these Canadian taxpayer dollars will flow towards a company owned by Uncle Sam.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Earth day event postponed due to cold weather

Mother Earth froze out the Earth Day party in Edmonton over the weekend, according to a Canwest report. Organizers said party participants had been canceling left and right, but mostly left, because they didn't want to celebrate in a snowstorm like they did last year.

Hard hit taxpayers can only hope our political leaders wake up to the reality of climate change: climate changes, always has, and always will -- no matter how many billions of tax dollars are wasted trying to prevent it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did The Liberals Actually Read The Report?

After reading this Liberal Party of Canada news release, one has to ask if the Liberals actually read the CTF's Western Economic Diversification(WED) report or just looked at the cover and fired out a news release condemning the current government.

After all, the most stark examples of pork barrel spending by this department occurred in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006 - all years with a Liberal Prime Minister at the helm. (See p.9 of the report for details)

Instead of trying to pit this regional development department's activities with that of Quebec's, it would have been encouraging to have seen a response which shows the party understood the pitfalls of such an approach to economic development. Instead their news release included this troubling quote from Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal -

"Liberals favour federal funding for regional economic development that will protect the jobs of today, and support innovative initiatives that will create the jobs of tomorrow".

As the report showed, not only is there a strong correlation between spending increases and the timing of federal elections, there is a significant amount of overlap with other departments. While few would object to funding cancer research with tax dollars, why on earth are WED bureaucrats evaluating such projects? After all, these are the same bureaucrats who are reviewing requests for cemetery funding and airport lighting. Certainly department of health officials should be reviewing and funding worthy projects like cancer research.

Also of concern was the fact the Liberals continue to support corporate welfare. As the report showed, only 51.8% of funds loaned out actually were repaid. While that may be a good batting average, it's hardly a reasonable return on investment.

Perhaps most troubling about the claims made by such regional development agencies is the suggestion that they create jobs and drive growth. If they truly did then why don't such bodies keep track of the number of jobs created? Is it because the federal auditor slammed such job creation claims in the past, noting that thousands of the 'jobs created' were no longer in existence as the recipients had gone out of business?

If all that doesn't convince you that the department needs to be discontinued, consider this question - if the government still believes that Western Canada needs "diversification" after 22 years of operating the WED department, isn't that in itself a telling sign of failure? How many years and dollars will it take?

Most Canadians oppose auto bailouts

Just over half of Canadians oppose auto bailouts, the Toronto Star reports. Find out the latest news on the auto bailouts here or via RSS feed here. Don't forget to see what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has done on this issue by clicking here and by going to

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cruise ship accomodations for Olympic cops

When the RCMP 2010 Olympic Security unit first announced it would house its staff on cruise ships, eyebrows raised.

But eyebrows lowered when we realized it was not that bad an idea, in theory at least, because the International Olympic Committee had already booked up most of Vancouver's hotel rooms.

Then reality hit.

The first deal, for ships at a cost of $55 million, fell through. Lawsuits ensued.

Now, the RCMP have announced another deal, costing $76 million. This would house 1,100 from Jan. 12 next year rising to 5,300 from Jan. 28 to March 2.

But for $76 million, almost 9,000 people could spend 60 days on a cruise from LA to Australia!

Once again, the blank cheque approach to the Olympics, at every level of government, is sinking the taxpayer.

Quitters Big Winners in Severance Jackpot

In the pay hike and gold-plated pension outrage in 2007, B.C. MLAs approved a severance package for themselves that no taxpayer could hope to get in the private sector.

MLA's, even those who only served one four-year term, are eligible for a full 15 months of severance, putting taxpayers on the hook for more than $127,000 per MLA who is either defeated, decides not to run again or quits.

As 12 MLAs have already announced they would not be running in the election on May 12, taxpayers are already on the hook for $1.5 million in severance payout. If 41 seats change hands as they did in the 2005 election, taxpayers are on the hook for $5.2 million.

Not only that, no waiting period means MLAs can go on the dole on May 13, one day after the election -- no two week waiting period for them.

If an MLA gets a job that pays less than their base salary, that went up to $101,859 on April 1, taxpayers will top it up. If the MLA decides to quit that job within the 15 month severance period, he can go back on the taxpayer dole!

This is a blatant pocket-lining exercise that must end.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recycling tax grab undermines recycling

B.C. already has an electronic recycling tax grab that has destroyed jobs, now the government wants to extend that tax to even more products to undermine exising - tax free - recycling efforts. The last thing needed in B.C. is more bureaucracy charging more taxes that do nothing to encourage people to recycle.

BC's recycling bureaucracy's good intentions have already hurt small business and could further hamper existing recycling efforts. Electronic recycling, already underway in the private sector, had been growing considerably – all at no cost to taxpayers.

It put a Victoria company, Breakdown Recycle, out of business. The recycling bureaucracy had concerns about electronic handling at the facility. It sent used computers to a schools program in Pakistan, but the bureaucracy doesn't allow its recyclers to send material to non OECD countries -- so much for reuse.

Now, BC's recycling bureaucracy wants to muscle in on an area where voluntary, tax-free electronic recycling already exists. The cell phone industry, under the industry-led Recycle My Cell program, collected over 800 cell phones in 400 drop-off sites in B.C. over the past two years – all at no cost to taxpayers. Starting to see a pattern here?

Recycling is a great idea for many reasons and businesses are fully capable of recycling without a heavy-handed bureaucracy -- funded by taxpayers. Government is increasing our tax burden and at the same time, undermine existing programs that didn't cost taxpayers anything. It's time to stop the recycling tax grab.

Regina public pensions in deep doo-doo

Bill Tufts has the numbers and explains in this excellent post. He estimates the pension liabilities to be $141 million. Look out taxpayers! Contribution levels are going to skyrocket and you will be paying through the nose to give city bureaucrats pensions when their salary is already higher than yours.

Pension reform is needed at all government levels across Canada.

University of Saskatchewan gets $456 million

As our Western Economic Development report came out, I noticed that the University of Saskatchewan had lobbied them for cash. A further search dug up the following public dollars for the U of S last fiscal year for a grand total of $456 million. The U of S is expected to get money from each of the following once again in fiscal 2009. Students wanting a tuition freeze need to realize how much their education is funded already!

List of Government Funding
-Province of Saskatchewan $315,918,000
-Other Provinces $15,512,000
-Canada Foundation for Innovation $47,544,000
-Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) $30,593,000
-Other Federal $30,490,000
-Canadian Institute of Health Research $9,661,000
-Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) $2,101,000
-Canada Research Chairs $1,627,000
-Health Canada (HC) $1,418,000
-Municipal $568,000
-Foreign Government $557,000

The office of the commissioner of lobbying of Canada website reports the following regarding the U of S' lobbying. They're hitting up everyone for cash...

Federal departments or organizations which have been or will be communicated with during the course of the undertaking: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Privy Council Office (PCO), Consulate General of Canada, National Defence (DND), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Industry Canada (IC), Health Canada (HC), Senate of Canada, Canada Labour Relations Board (CLRB), Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Transport Canada (TC), Members of the House of Commons, Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Senate of Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Treasury Board of Canada (TBS), National Parole Board, Environment Canada (EC), Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), Statistics Canada , National Research Council (NRC), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Canadian Pension Commission (CPC), Finance Canada (FIN), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAITC), Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

Hospital staff call ambulance for man lying in their parking lot

It happened in Saskatoon and is the most popular story on the Star-Phoenix of late. The hospital insists the $300 ambulance pick up is standard practice, but the way this was handled has witnesses disgusted.

Finally some stadium common sense

The conclusion of Bruce Johnstone's article on a proposed new Regina stadium is missing in the Leader Post's online version. That's really too bad as it was well-put. So, I am typing out the conclusion here, with bold type added.

Premier Brad Wall suggested "innovative partnerships" with the private sector or other partners.

How many companies headquartered in Regina have deepe nough pockets to partner on such a project? And partner with whom? The municipal, provincial and federal governments, that's who.

In other words, the taxpayers will be on the hook for most, if not all, of the cost of building and operating such a large-scale facility.
If that's what taxpayers want, so be it.

But let's at least go into this with both eyes open, not blinded by visions of sitting in air conditioned comfort, watching the Riders, or Mick Jagger, or AC/DC, while it's 50-below outside.

Besides, that's what hockey arenas are for. Wouldn't the money be better spent enlarging and expanding Brandt Centre and fixing up Mosaic Stadium?

When asked about the prospects of a new domed stadium in Regina, Rider CEO Jim Hopson admitted the question would have seemed crazy a few months ago.

"I'll be honest. If six months ago somebody would have said to me, there's a shot that you'll be playing in an indoor stadium in a few years, I would have said, you're smoking something..."

Now, Hopson says the possibility of playing ina new stadium has him excited. But, he added, "it would change our business plan." It would mean a new practice field, new office and training facilities, essentially a new economic model for the Riders.

In other words, the Riders would like -- make that love -- a new stadium, but they can't pay for a new stadium. Someone else will, and that someone is you and me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Justice Gomery: Freedom of Information is broken

Retired Quebec Superior Court Justice John Gomery says that access to information requests are being delayed, denied, obstructed, censored, and restricted unneccesarily. Click here to read a CanWest article.

Climate deviance is...normal

As this video explains...

Friday, April 17, 2009

CBC: Native Candians demand accountability

A CBC Sunday Report episode shows how Broken Head First Nation is having protests over the lack of consultation. There hasn't been a band meeting in more than a year. Don Sandberg of the Frontier Centre and Ontario regional Chief Angus Toulouse debate the state of Native governance in Canada in this video. Toulouse agrees the Indian Act is not the answer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are high taxes good for Canada?

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says so. Its recent study suggests that Canadians get good value for their tax dollar. In the video above, CTF Federal Director Kevin Gaudet says that Canadians should question this idea as they drive over pothole-ridden roads to the medical appointment that they waited six months for. Besides, taxes have been dropping since the 90s, yet the federal government's revenues have never been higher.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Would Ignatieff Raise Taxes or Not?

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation asked the question publicly in a news release. The answer is far from clear, as these clips from Don Newman's "Politics" reveal.

Lloyd Snelgrove's rants

Alberta MLA Lloyd Snelgrove made quite the speech in the legislature a month ago. He gave a surprisingly insightful commentary on the auto industry and CAW, then followed up with bizarre comments on his own province. After acknowledging that Albertans don't want deficit budgets, he attacked the Canadian Taxpayers Federation--the very group that defends this principle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Heritage Minister Copps' Bollywood Shenanigans

CTV research dug up another scandal from the Chretien era. Sheila Copps overruled her bureaucrats and program guidelines to fund the premiere of a Bollywood-style film. The film starred now-Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, who, until now, has succeeded in preventing the production from ever being released. Regardless, CTF Director Kevin Gaudet protests the politicized subsidy made with taxpayer dollars.

TransLink to spend $100-million to save $6-million

TransLink, B.C.'s Lower Mainland transportation authority, announceed $100-million in spending to install turnstiles in Skytrain stations to stop fare evasion -- but the fare evasion costs $6-million annually, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

"Spending $100 million to save $6 million is just typical of government," said Maureen Bader, BC Director of the CTF. “What’s next, a $50-million study to determine how to save $1-million worth of overtime pay?”

According to an independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, fare evasion in 2007 averaged 2.5 percent and was decreasing. TransLink's own study showed that the public perceived evasion to be about 23 percent of customers, far higher than actual cheating. In today's TransLink news release, Tom Prendergast is quoted saying "the belief that the system is losing revenue due to fare evasion is very often cited as a reason not to support additional revenue measures needed to sustain and expand the transportation system."

"Mr. Prendergast is using his organization’s inability to communicate properly as justification for new taxes on cars and higher taxes on property and gas to sustain its unaffordable system," said Bader. "This is utterly dishonest and self serving, and it highlights the complete lack of accountability all levels of government are showing to taxpayers."

TransLink said in the past a turnstile system would cost more than the increased revenue it might generate. In addition, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report showed that those who evaded fares were unlikely to be caught under the current system.

"The solution to this problem is to create disincentives to cheat," said Bader. "Higher fines and better enforcement would be more effective and wouldn’t cost taxpayers an additional $100-million."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Corporate Welfare to Pratt & Whitney: $1.5 Billion. The Look On a Politician's Face When He Hears of 500 Lost Jobs in Lay-Offs: Priceless

Corporate welfare giant Pratt & Whitney demonstrated today what a great "investment" our taxdollars are making, by announcing the planned layoff of 500 workers in it's Montreal plants.

P&W received $1,495,509,079 in "financial assistance" between 1982 and 2005, with that number climbing steadily since. I can't wait to see what our investments in GM and Chrysler have in store.

By Derek Fildebrandt

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Alberta $4.7B in the red

It's bad.

NDP Broken Tax Cut Promises: Peek-a-boo We See You!

Cancelling tax relief is never a good news item, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

In 2002, when the Government of Ontario delayed previously announced business tax cuts, it made the decision public by noting the change in a news release on budget day. In a June 17, 2002, budget news release, the Ontario government noted:

"While the government remains committed to cutting education property tax rates, personal income tax and the general and manufacturing rates of corporate income tax, the Budget proposes to implement these reductions one year later than currently scheduled."

Although it was disappointing news, at least the government was upfront with taxpayers about the change.

Consider the Doer government's approach here in Manitoba. In the 2007 provincial election, the NDP committed to increase the education property tax credit to $625 in 2008 and $700 in 2009. See here for a CBC story on the announcement.

However, when the 2008 budget was released, the tax credit had only increased to $600, short changing Manitoba taxpayers by $25 a household (and $25 per renter). As you'll see in this Winnipeg Free Press story, Finance Minister Greg Selinger committed to make good on the promise by increasing the tax credit to $700 by 2009.

Fast forward to budget 2009 and again the promise has been broken. As you'll see in this finance department news release, the government only increased the credit to $650 and made no mention that it broke its promise by $50.

As noted in this Let's Talk Taxes article, the 2009 budget also cancelled previously announced personal income tax relief for 2010 and 2011 without so much as a mention in any of the government's six news releases on budget day.

It's great that the NDP government proceeded with some of their previously announced tax cuts in 2009 despite the economic slowdown. As an organization, the CTF has given them a pat on the back for that decision many times. One only needs to look here and here to see that.

However, when it comes to communicating import tax changes to the public, the government leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Perhaps it's time to bring out the Fibber costume.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The latest on GM & Chrysler bailouts

Want to know more about the auto bailouts? Check out the latest Google alerts here. You may also want to read Bankruptcy protection is a stated possibility, something George Bush said while still president. So, why the bailouts?

Sign our petition at

Monday, April 06, 2009

Greenpeace slams carbon capture

They say that Alberta's $2 billion carbon capture project is an unproven waste of money that takes $600 from every Albertan. Click here to see their campaign.

Regina: tax stadium?

New money from the province means Regina will freeze property taxes and still increase spending by 8.6 percent. But, look out, the province is looking at the feasability of a new Roughrider stadium (a.k.a. "entertainment complex"). More here from the Leader-Post and here from a CTF press release.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

New Winnipeg Stadium

It looks like the Bombers will have a new stadium in Winnipeg on the University of Manitoba Campus. Here's what we had to say about it. Our comments also appeared in the Canadian Press and on So, what will David Asper pay for "Fair Market Value" for the coveted land at where the current Bomber stadium sits?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Frugal Flyers or Free Spenders?

According to a November, 2008, Toronto Star story, (click here) the Prime Minister's office suggested the government was considering a requirement for all flights expensed by employees to be economy class.

Fast forward four months later and it looks as though most high ranking bureaucrats in the federal government have been flying economy. However, as the posted expense documents on the government's web site only includes the cost of air fare, not actual copies of flight receipts, one can only guess as to whether or not officials are flying economy or not.

Keeping that in mind, here are a few that caught our eye:

1) Associate Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage
Air fare cost: $3,659.84
Destination: Vancouver
Date: Jan 14, 2009 to Jan 17, 2009

2) Assistant Deputy Minister, International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Sport, Canadian Heritage
Air fare cost: $3,235.71
Destination: Vancouver
Date: 2009-01-14 to 2009-01-17

3) Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage
Air fare cost: $1,814.54
Destination: Halifax
Date: 2009-02-19 to 2009-02-20

4) Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency
Air fare cost: $5,634.63
Destination: Kyoto, Japan
Date: 2009-01-09 to 2009-01-14

5) Associate Assistant Deputy Minister - Industry Sector, Industry Canada
Air fare cost: $3,470.26
Destination: Calgary
Date: 2009-01-18 to 2009-01-19

6)Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Canada Revenue Agency
Air fare cost: $3,620.06
Destination: Victoria, B.C.
Date: 2009-02-10 to 2009-02-11

7) President, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Air fare cost: $3,422.29
Destination: Calgary
Date: 2009-01-13 to 2009-01-15

8) Assistant Deputy Minister, Meteorological Service of Canada
Air fare cost: $1,975.36
Destination: Miami, Florida
Date: 2008-12-07 to 2008-12-09

9)Deputy Minister, Environment Canada
Air fare cost: $3,096.54
Destination: Calgary
Date: 2008-12-16 to 2008-12-18

10) Senior Deputy Commissioner of Competition - Competition Bureau - Mergers Branch, Industry Canada
Air fare cost: $3,147.15
Destination: Paris, France
Date: 2009/02/11 - 2009/02/23

Support magazines with tax cuts

The best way the government could fund Canadian magazines is through tax cuts to all Canadians.

If we didn't pay almost 50% of our income in tax, we would have more money to spend on magazines, so magazines would have a bigger marketplace. Then, magazines that produced a product that people valued would have no reason to grub for handouts. Magazines that didn't produce what people want would die a deserved death.

When the State steps in to fund cultural activities that overtaxed citizens can no longer afford, the State 'invests' in the activities it chooses - like flying bananas, canoe museums, and freeze-dried poop machines.

As both subsidies and taxes fall, magazine producers will be encouraged to produce what people want instead of government.

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