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Duffy Trial Adjourned

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 11:15
Judge Charles Vaillancourt has adjourned the Duffy trial to Monday to allow counsel to sharpen their swords for the battle over whether some awkward Senate reports should be admitted into evidence.  The message is clear - the Tory dominated Senate would rather not have the public poking and prodding into what they've been up to.  The way they see it, what we don't know can't hurt them.

What I know of the proceedings is mainly what I get from the funny papers but I'm left with the impression that defence counsel, Don Bayne, is using the prosecution witnesses against both the Crown and the government of Stephen Joseph Harper.

Bayne also seems to be building a foundation that may make it possible to get Harper under oath.  The prime minister supposedly assured Duffy he qualified to represent PEI in the Senate.  It was "all good" according to Beelzebub.  Just get those campaign cheques pouring in and so the Cavendish Cottager did.

Mr. Bayne has also done a pretty good job on Crown witness Nicole Proulx, the former head of Senate finance.  On behalf of the prosecution she's accusing Duffy of having breached rules that she "understands" came out of a committee at some point.  Rules by hearsay?

What are your impressions of the trial?  How do you see Duffy coming through this?

Here's a rumour to whet your interest.  There's word in Ottawa that Nigel Wright may not be returning to town because the Crown could drop the bribery charge altogether which, by sheer coincidence, would take Wright, Ben Perrin and Stephen Harper off the hook.  Just a rumour.


Great line of the day

Cathie from Canada - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 11:09
From Liberal finance critic Scott Brison, remarking on the Auditor-General report: "A Liberal government will restore evidence-based decision-making and replace Harper's decision-based evidence-making," Brison said."Decision-based evidence-making. Yes, that's exactly what the Harper Cons have been doing.
Also, I have to say I was amused by the auditor general recommending that the government "assess a tax measure's relevance and appropriateness" -- for the Harper Cons, the only relevance for each of their picayune tax credits is whether an ad agency can create an Economic Action Plan TV ad for it.

They Get It. We Don't.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:31
California has set an ambitious target for greenhouse gas emissions.  Their target is to cut emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.  That's an ambitious target but, let's face it, 2050 is a long way off in the world of politics which means there's lots of time to duck any meaningful action, enough that it can be left until it's simply too late.

Apparently California governor Jerry Brown knows the best way to make that 80% of 1990 by 2050 target a reality is to trim the lead time.  What better way than to order an interim emissions reduction target.  And so he's ordered the state to cut emissions from 1990 levels by 40% by 2030.  

2030 is not that far off for reductions of the magnitude governor Brown has ordered.  Analysis, planning and implementation have to get underway almost immediately.

Mr. Brown’s order marks an aggressive turn in what had already been among the toughest programs in the nation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under the law put into place by Mr. Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state was required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 on the way to reach the 2050 target; California is already well on its way to meeting the 2020 goal, and may exceed it, officials said Wednesday.
So California is just five years away from reducing its emissions to 1990 levels and they might exceed that target.  Ten years after that, they have to cut their emissions a further 40%.  
Now remind me, what are Canada's targets?  What are we aiming for?  Oh yeah, a 17% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020.  And, what, we're not going to make even that?  Even as Ontario and Quebec make inroads on cutting their emissions, Alberta's are already far more than those two provinces combined and are set to soar even further.  Price of progress, I guess.  

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:17
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Louis-Philippe Rochon reviews the Cons' track record as irresponsible economic and financial managers. Statistics Canada looks at the debt picture facing Canadians and finds young workers and families in particular fighting against increasing debt loads. And Forum finds that no matter how many hangers-on trumpet the theme of budget management, Canadians aren't at all impressed by the Cons' choice to funnel wealth upward and leave everybody else to fend for themselves.

- Meanwhile, John Ivison writes that the Cons aren't even trying to pretend that their tax baubles serve any public policy purpose by bothering to follow up on their impact - though I'm sure they'd be able to provide polling numbers which would explain why public resources are being diverted from where they're more needed.

- Paul Krugman discusses how blind belief in the virtues of austerity in the guise of responsibility - particularly among elites who consider themselves above the expressed interests of the public - has led countries including the U.K. (and presumably Canada as well) to accept policies which are doing nothing but harming our economies. And Erin Seatter notes that the rest of Canada is well behind Quebec in demanding better from our elected representatives.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how the Cons have made pound-foolish cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency, preventing it from collecting far more money than it would cost to enforce tax laws. And Ian Hussey responds to some ill-founded spin about the effects of more fair corporate taxes in Alberta.

- Finally, Colleen Fuller discusses the hard right's legal attacks against public health care. And Rosa Marchitelli reports on a new wave of gratuitous bank fees as an example of how businesses exploit individuals in the course of providing essential services.

Your Big Five Bank Account Needs a Condom…..

Left Over - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 08:28
New bank fees target kids’ accounts and allow ‘double-dipping,’ say customers RBC says new fees ‘cost of doing business’

By Rosa Marchitelli, CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 9:51 AM ET

 

 

 

Want a better deal and money directed where you want it to go? Join a credit union! Stop these banksters in their tracks..they make record profits, pay  almost nothing for interest on your savings, and now apparently their billions in profits aren’t enough..
This kind of idiocy is right up there with voting in the federal  Cons or BC Libs, despite solid proof that they will do nothing for anyone that isn’t part of the 1%…

The ‘cost of doing business’ is the  catchphrase that bites, the  ‘gift’ that keeps on giving…headaches, that is…why anyone anywhere still is willing to deal with these ripoff artists is beyond belief..

Imagine  that you are at a carnival, and  you give some huckster $5  to try your luck at winning a prize..congrats, you win, but no, there is an additional ‘fee’ for your  poorly-constructed,  thrown- together teddy bear..let’s call it a winner’s obligation…and it turns out, once you’ve proudly walked around the  carney ‘s booth with your ‘prize’ there is an additional charge to actually leave the grounds with it, not to mention taxation on your  winning…you’d scream bloody murder, wouldn’t you?

Your  bank takes your money, pays you nothing for ‘handling’ your cash, but in fact charges you to remove it from their premises,  loans it out and makes massive profits,and then tells you  that paying for  the privilege  of allowing them to make money with your money while you make nothing, despite their protestations that  the ‘cost’ of doing business  is going up. out of necessity, is  the good and proper way of doing business…

Anyone who continues to bank with the  Big Five here in Canada deserves, richly, what they are getting…you might want to point out to your bank manager that,  at the very least, they could take you out for dinner before you get screwed…..


Keeping the TPP Under Wraps

Northern Reflections - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 06:55

                                                 https://campaigns.350.org/

If there is one thing that distinguishes the Harper government from its predecessors it's an obsession with secrecy. And that obsession is glaringly apparent in Mr. Harper's refusal to release any information about the Trans Pacific Partnership. Tom Walkom writes:

Exact details of the proposed 12-country deal remain secret. Leaked draft chapters suggest that the pact, like most modern trade deals, will cover far more than trade.It will give foreign multinationals the right to challenge domestic laws and regulations that interfere with their present or future profitability.
It will give multinational pharmaceutical companies greater patent protection, thereby putting upward pressure on the price of drugs.It will promise environmental protection but include no real enforcement mechanism.
Like NAFTA and other trade deals the Harper government has signed, the TPP is a corporate juggernaut. But, it's also an octopus:
What distinguishes the TPP from other economic pacts is its sheer size and scope.Unlike the recently signed pact between Canada and the European Union, it will include both developed and developing nations.
Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Singapore, Brunei and Japan are parties to the TPP. But so are Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico and Peru.The new deal will also effectively replace the 22-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, as well as more recent agreements tying Canada to Peru and Chile.
NAFTA  has strangled Ontario's auto manufacturing industry. There will be other casualties. That's why the Harperites are trying to keep it under wraps.

It Grows Slowly, This Revenue Loss

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 06:27
...but it grows unavoidably and becomes very large over time.

So says the author of a study on the effects of TFSAs (tax-free savings accounts), Rhys Kessselman, a School of Public Policy professor at Simon Fraser University. As the money accruing in those accounts grows, the revenues losses to both federal and provincial coffers grow commensurately over time. You will find other facts of interest here as well:

Recommend this Post

The Duffy Trial Starts to Suck In Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 04:19


Ever since the Mike Duffy scandal erupted one question has never been properly answered.

How on earth did Duffy think he could get away with posing as a Senator from Prince Edward Island, when he had lived in Ottawa for decades?

And yesterday that question was finally answered.

It apparently wasn't Duffy's idea to pass himself off as the Senator from P.E.I., it was the fond wish, or the command, of his depraved patron Stephen Harper. 
Read more »

The Painful Re-Education of the Con Clown Rona Ambrose

Montreal Simon - Wed, 04/29/2015 - 01:06


The other day I told you how the Con clown Rona Ambrose was causing a frightful scandal in Vancouver.

Making herself look like an absolute idiot, by screaming that marijuana was a killer weed, and NOBODY should consume it. Not even sick people prescribed it by their doctors.

And loudly demanding that the city close its pot shops.

Before the devil weed, and Justin Trudeau, claimed more young victims.

So I was really glad to see that BC's Chief Medical Officer has taken on the challenge of re-educating the village idiot.
Read more »

Harper government uses rhetoric to ‘alarm the public’ against Indigenous rights, Bellegarde tells UN

Metaneos - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 23:07
APTN National News
Bellegarde said Ottawa’s favorite tactic is to use the word “veto” when describing why it continues to oppose the full implementation of the declaration in Canada. The Harper government has claimed, in its argument against supporting Saganash’s bill, that the declaration gives First Nations veto power over legislation and development impacting its rights and territories.
“The term veto is not used in the UN Declaration. Veto implies an absolute right or power to reject a law or development that concerns Indigenous peoples, regardless of the facts and law in any given situation,” said Bellegarde. “Canada then builds on this imagined frenzy of absolute power and declares: ‘It would be irresponsible to give any one group in Canada a veto.’”If only Canada's opposition party leaders were as tough on the Canadian government as Chief Perry Bellegarde. He's been doing yeoman's work since being elected, and mainly he's been doing the job he was elected to do, which is hold Canada accountable.
The major newspapers continue to bury him, but Canada will soon begin to hear what he's saying, because what he's been speaking is nothing less than the truth.

Hilariously ironic Harpocrisy from 2013

The Winnipeg RAG Review - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 19:22

Image Source: The Hamilton SpectatorNote: Late in the day, but part of a new commitment to have a new post out every Tuesday.
Amid the height of the first wave of the Senate Scandal in 2013 Stephen Harper took to the Conservative Party faithful to bash "elites". In a speech dripping with hypocrisy Stephen Harper wagged his finger at the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Liberals for his inability to get his own Senators to clean up the joint.




Prime Minister Stephen Harper struck out against a trio of defiant senators, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and the “elites” who have tried to stand in his way, in a sharply worded campaign-style speech Friday to the party’s rank-and-file.

[...]

He blamed the courts for standing in the way of Senate reform.
[...]

“In private life, you would be fired for doing anything ressembling this…and Liberal senators continue to block action.”

("Stephen Harper speech to Conservatives hits at embattled senators, Justin Trudeau and 'elites'". Canadian Press. Nov 1, 2013)The hypocrisy and buck passing is rife in Stephen's screed. At the start of January 2013, well before the Prime Minister's rant, the Senate had both a Conservative Majority and a majority of Harper appointees.

The Harper CONs mercilessly bashed Stephane Dion for his supposed inability to get "his own Liberal Senators" to pass Senate Reforms. Dion, by the way, had appointed ZERO of those senators and was portrayed as a weak leader with weak party discipline because of this.

Harper, however, received clear push back from his OWN Senators in mid 2012 when it came to his Senate Reform agenda.Weak party discipline would be bad enough for our Prime Minister given his attacks on Dion, but it turns out he also had weak judgement, too. This is so as some of the worst offenders in the Senate Expense Scandal - Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau - were appointed by him 

But the dark comedy of Harper's 2013 screed to the Party Faithful doesn't end with Senatorial hypocrisy. Our Prime Minister was also self-congratulatory about Canada's economy.

He touched on some of the same themes that were in the recent throne speech, suggesting the Conservatives are the only party capable of capitalizing on the country’s many assets.


“In a world that is struggling, Canada is rising, being steadily lifted by a rising tide,” he said.

“Our sound finances, our stable politics, our expanding network for trade relationships, our natural wealth and the growing demand for it worldwide.”

("Stephen Harper speech to Conservatives hits at embattled senators, Justin Trudeau and 'elites'". Canadian Press. Nov 1, 2013)
This boast may have worked in 2013, but unfortunately for the CONs that's not when the election is. Heading into the 2015 election season Canadians have a picture of the end results of  the Conservative economic strategy. The long term dividends of Harper's risky strategy of tying our national prosperity to the tar sands is now clear.

The OECD and IMF are is slashing their forecasts for Canada's economic growth. Outside of very high oil prices the destructive process of tar sands exploitation just doesn't sustain the jobs and is certainly less job-creating than the Green Energy sector is. Due to the destruction of manufacturing capacity that occurred during the oil driven days, manufacturing job growth has failed to rebound significantly during a falling dollar. Harper lost the bet on oil and we're losing our prosperity because of it.

All told, his 2013 speech and subsequent events show the broken promise of the Harper CONs. Stephen Harper went Ottawa under promises of being a bold moral reformer and antidote to the corruption exemplified by AdScam. Now his own Senators have led to some of the most disgusting escapades in SenScam. Stephen went to his diehard partisans in 2013 blaming others for his inability to control his own Senators but soften the blowby emphasizing his economic stewardship. That promise, too, has rung hollow. What more excuses will he have to stay in power past 2015?


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Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 17:35
Cats with toys.




Stephen Harper's Grotesque Birthday Card to Himself

Montreal Simon - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 17:02


If we needed any more evidence that the Con regime is some kind of freakish cult, and that Stephen Harper is desperate, now we have it.

On Thursday it will be Great Leader's 56th birthday.

And his PMO monsters are actually sending out birthday cards for people to sign, tell him how much they love him. 

And wish him a happy birthday AND a happy majority !!!! 
Read more »

The Face of God - Why It Looks Just Like a Circuit Board!

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:38

If there is a Supreme Being out there in the multiverse, it's probably a "mind-blowingly intelligent super computer."

Many scientists believe the human race is only decades away from being able to download and upload experience to and from human consciousness.

This is essentially a game-changing and mind-bending shift moving the human race from a carbon-based organic life-form to silicon-based, probably electronic, one.

And the highly-respected group of boffins – which includes astronomers like Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program, NASA Astrobiologist Paul Davies, Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick, and Susan Schneider, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut – believes this is the first step towards the creation of a fully-fledged hyper advanced super-being.

And, as any other life-form is likely to be hundreds of millions of years more advanced than life on earth, this is expected to be the dominant being in the universe.

Some even liken the super-being to God.


According to Dr. Schneider, “As soon as a civilization invents radio, they’re within fifty years of computers, then, probably, only another fifty to a hundred years from inventing AI.

“At that point, soft, squishy brains become an outdated model.


The philosopher said many advocates of the super-intelligent AI robot model have also pointed out that humanity’s search for alien life tends to favour worlds where water exists.

However, given the suggestion that humanity is about to shift from biology to technology, the requirement that water be available is no longer relevant.

Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s SETI program said: “So far, we’ve pointed antennas at stars that might have planets that might have breathable atmospheres and oceans and so forth.

“But if we’re correct that the dominant intelligence in the cosmos is artificial, then does it have to live on a planet with an ocean?”

“All artificial life forms would need is raw materials.

“They might be in deep space, hovering around a star, or feeding off a black hole’s energy at the centre of the galaxy.”

Putin Signs Military Pact with Argentina

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:26


Well this is bound to piss off David Cameron.  Badboy Vlad Putin has inked a military pact with Argentine president Christina Fernandez backing her country against Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) dispute.

“The new agreement on military collaboration and data protection will enable the considerable increase of practical cooperation in this field”, Mr Putin said.

The posturing risks tipping the war of words between London and Buenos Aires into full-blown conflict, as tensions heighten over sovereignty of the remote south Atlantic outcrop.


Meanwhile in the Baltic the Finns say they've spotted what they believe to be a Russian sub in Finnish territorial waters.  Sigh.

Yes They Do. Of Course They Know.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:54
Canada's Auditor General may not be very good at casting bones and reading entrails at least not when the offal comes from Steve Harper.

The AG is complaining that, "The Conservative government doesn't know whether its first-time homebuyers tax credit is working as intended, and kept the evaluation of the child fitness tax credit hidden."

Hey Fergie, lighten up.  Those tax credits were designed, not for what they could do for the Canadian people, but for what they could do for the Conservative government - buy votes.  Who cares whether they work anywhere but the ballot box?  Sheesh.

Smoking Gun, What Smoking Gun?

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:26
The oh so Conservative Senate is trying to prevent the audit into senators' residency qualifications from being exposed in court in the Duffy bribery/corruption trial.

What's that?  There are more Mike Duffy's in the Senate?  Perhaps even including the Harper henchwoman sent to tar and feather Duffy and drive him out of the Red Chamber?

Duffy's lawyer Donald Bayne and Crown prosecutor Mark Holmes briefly discussed the fact that a lawyer for the Senate is claiming parliamentary privilege to keep the audit from becoming public.

Neither Bayne nor the Crown have seen the audit, but it was referred to during a 2013 police interview with Gary O'Brien, who was then clerk of the Senate.

"Before Christmas 2012, the internal economy committee requested that senators provide four specific documents to support their residency locations," reads the report of the interview.

"Using those indicators, an internal audit would be done by (administrator) Jill Anne Joseph, on all senators."


In February 2013, the committee put out a brief report saying that only two additional senators initially raised flags during the audit — Liberal Sen. Rod Zimmer and Conservative Sen. Dennis Patterson.

"Both explained to the complete satisfaction of the interviewers that their travel claims were in order," the report said.


Now, what if someone steering that very internal economy committee, the same individual already identified as one of two Conservative senators who initially intervened to launder the Duffy expenses audit on instructions from the PMO, was actually in the very same position as Duffy, if not worse, on the residency issue?  
Would the honourable senator from New Brunswick please stand up?

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:24
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Peter Ladner discusses why our tax and fiscal policies should be designed to reduce inequality - rather than exacerbating it as the Cons are determined to do:
Right now, the richest 20% of Canadian families hold almost 70% of the country’s wealth. The bottom 20% are in a debt position. A CCPA study found that Canada’s wealthiest 86 people have the same net worth as the poorest 34%.
Those of us with capital are adding these new breaks to existing tax breaks for capital gains, taxed at about half the rate of income; an $800,000 lifetime capital gains exemption for business owners; trusts that allow capital gains exemptions to be spread among family members; and a capital gains exemption on windfall real estate gains from a primary residence.
Lest we forget, to quote the U.K. Equality Trust: “In more equal societies people live longer, are less likely to be mentally ill or obese and there are lower rates of infant mortality. Inequality increases property crime and violence. Unequal societies have less social mobility and lower educational scores. 
High levels of income inequality are linked to economic instability, financial crisis, debt and inflation.”
A March 2015 U.K. Office for National Statistics report said “what makes the most difference to personal well-being is the level of an individual’s income relative to those around them.” In other words, less spread between the richest and poorest.
Why aren’t we designing tax policies to close the wealth gap, not widen it?- But Ian Welsh offers what's surely part of the answer, as some subsets of the wealthy are particularly motivated to drive down the income of the society around them no matter what harm it causes to everybody concerned.  And a needless extension of monopoly control over copyrighted materials and the negotiation of corporate-friendly deals to the exclusion of the public surely serve as prime examples - while symbolic votes against executive pay at the firm level won't do much to help.

- Meanwhile, Terrell Jermaine Starr identifies just a few of the ways in which the U.S. has criminalized poverty.

- Finally, both the Senate and the Cons are doing everything in their power to make sure Canadians don't find out how Mike Duffy fits into wider problems of systemic abuse and oil-sponsored corporatism. But fortunately, Alison is tracking down what they want to keep hidden.

Swing batta swing

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:12
Needless to say, the range of potential outcomes in the Alberta election (along with the continued flow of news battering the Prentice PCs as they try to regain some type of footing) has made for a fascinating campaign. But it's worth pointing out that single polls and seat projections may miss important parts of the picture - meaning that the actual state of the race is far less certain than it might appear at first glance.

Take for example this important explanation of Election Almanac's methodology:
Election Almanac uses a proportional swing model for its projections based on the latest election poll results. For example, if a poll gives a party a greater (multiplied by a factor greater than 1) share of the vote than they received in the last election, the projector assumes the party’s vote has gone up by the same proportion in every seat. Conversely, if a poll gives a party a smaller (multiplied by a factor less than 1) share of the vote than they received in the last election, the projector assumes the party’s vote has gone down by the same proportion in every seat. No projection model is 100% accurate. Now, a presumption that all seats will see identical swings between parties might make for a useful initial assumption. But the last Alberta election was based on a radically different set of party strategies and goals.

In 2012, the Redford PCs veered left in order to paint themselves as a relatively moderate alternative to a perceived Wildrose government-in-waiting - so most of the province's seats were decided by the allocation of a two-way split among 78% of Alberta voters. Meanwhile, the NDP's primary focus was on holding onto beachheads rather than expanding its support throughout the province.

Today, we can say with some certainty that the situation has changed. Rather than fighting primarily in the few most friendly Edmonton ridings, the NDP is looking to sweep the city, while the PCs are turning to the right and chasing a larger share of right-wing voters to try to stop the orange wave. And the rest of the campaign will determine which seats actually are the swing ridings - with surprises likely to pop up along the way.

For all the news in the headline poll numbers, though, there's relatively little means for the public to figure out exactly how those will translate into seats. And that goes doubly in a three-way race where (for example) ThreeHundredEight's seat projection sees the PCs' seat count potentially ranging from 5 to 31 based on a swing of under four points in popular support.

In theory, it might be possible to try to use more sophisticated means to generate seat projections - for example, by also comparing regional and seat-based polling to the 2011 results to test the assumption of a uniform swing. But increased complexity is no guarantee of greater accuracy, especially when subtle shifts (particular in the last-minute choices of undecided voters) can swamp the effect of any further adjustment.

Meanwhile, it's also worth keeping on eye on the parties' plans, since they'll likely have the best information as to which seats are close. But the parties themselves face a range of goals which may include maximizing votes, maximizing seat totals, and maximizing the possibility of a plurality or majority government. And I'm particularly curious as to whether the PCAA will bet heavily on a high-variance strategy, preferring to exhaust every hope of maintaining hegemony over Alberta politics rather than making any substantial effort to rebuild from the opposition benches.

To summarize, we should be hesitant to draw overly precise conclusions from the poll results generated so far: while it seems safe to say the order in party support is currently NDP 1, Wildrose 2 and PC 3, the noise far outweighs the signal when it comes to projecting the seats which will ultimately determine who forms government. And so no party should be resting on its laurels as the campaign draws to a close.

His Waterloo

Northern Reflections - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 06:48


The chattering classes are praising Stephen Harper's political smarts. He has set the agenda for the next election, they say, and he has delivered  a budget that the opposition parties can't fight. But Scott Clark and Peter DeVries disagree. Harper's budget, they write, is too clever by half:

The pundits are letting their cynicism blind them to two important facts — that this budget is based on fantasy math, and that not all tax cuts are equal. We covered off the first point in our last piece. Mr. Oliver is basing his ‘balanced’ budget on asset sales and extremely optimistic economic and revenue forecasts; his government is also indulging itself in many spending promises that aren’t due to take effect for years. The media has swallowed the government’s budget message largely without criticism, but let’s be clear: Much of what Mr. Oliver is promising may never happen, no matter who wins the election.
But, more importantly, if the election is to be about tax cuts, there are much better ways to cut taxes and create economic growth. If the opposition parties supported restoring the GST to its previous level, all kinds of things are possible:

Starting with the GST, the opposition parties could then eliminate income-splitting for high-income households — a costly sop to the rich that does nothing for the average taxpayer or for economic growth — and save another $2 billion for broad-based tax relief. Eliminating the increase in the Tax-Free Savings Account limit would bring in another $1 billion; overturning the many petty, unfair and unnecessary “special” tax breaks introduced by the Conservatives would net another $1.5 billion.

Add it all up and you’re looking at about $18.5 billion in revenues that can be deployed for broad-based tax relief — not just tax gifts for demographics the government is hoping will help it to another term in office. This would be tax relief for everyone — not just the rich. It would, in fact, be the biggest income tax cut for middle-income families in Canadian history. The campaign speeches write themselves.
Of course, the Harperites would call such a plan a tax hike. However:

Here they’d have the facts against them — and they’d be fighting against a political message that’s appealing and easy to deliver. The overall tax burden wouldn’t rise by one thin dime. Neither would the debt or deficit. The plan simply would change the tax mix: much lower income tax revenues, higher GST revenues — a mere $2 for every $100 spent. Broad-based tax relief for all, instead of costly gifts for the already-comfortable.
In short, the opposition could argue that they are better economists than Harper. The budget could be his Waterloo.

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