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September 2006 Archives

September 25, 2006

Ottawa to Trim Some Fat & Ideological Programs

Program Spending Down $1.1-Billion – First Decline in 9 Years
Structural Over-Taxation Results in $13.2-Billion Surplus

Ottawa: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) reacted today to the announcement that the federal government’s surplus for the last fiscal year (2005/06) will be $13.2-billion, up significantly from the $8.0-billion forecast by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the May budget. The surplus money will be used to reduce Canada’s debt, bringing it down to $481.5-billion. One reason for the larger surplus is that program spending was cut by $1.1-billion from the previous year. Mr. Flaherty and Treasury Board President John Baird also identified budget cuts totaling $1-billion over the next two years (fiscal years 2006/07 & 2007/08).

Budget Cuts Welcome, but Tax Relief and Additional Spending Reductions Needed –

“The majority of Canadians will applaud the government’s plan to pay down the federal debt and a $1-billion spending cut to some awful programs, like Technology Partnerships Canada, a corporate welfare boondoggle, and the Court Challenges Program, which paid tax dollars to the lawyers of special interest groups to fight government legislation in court,” said CTF federal director John Williamson. “But hold the champagne. Government spending restraint is not the cause of today’s big surplus announcement. Rather it is structural over-taxation by Ottawa that has created massive government surpluses. These surpluses existed under the Liberal regime and they continue under the Conservative government.”

“The federal government should collect in taxes only what is needed to fund its spending priorities. Annual surpluses represent over-taxation by government and the money should go back to taxpayers in the form of lower income taxes. Taxpayers will consider the 2007 Budget a failure if it does not offer Canadians broad-based income tax cuts,” said Williamson. “The 2006 Budget reduced some taxes, the one-point GST cut for example, but the tax relief was not nearly as dramatic as the Conservative government would like voters to believe. It is time to cut personal income taxes.”

“The spending cuts are welcome, but more reductions are necessary. A $1-billion trim is approximately half of one per cent of Ottawa’s program spending. In future years the Conservative government must ensure program spending is kept down and does not gallop ahead,” noted Williamson. “Still, it is encouraging that Messrs. Flaherty and Baird have taken steps to reduce funding to special interest groups and cut programs out of whack with the priorities of the new government, such as eliminating the Canadian Identity Grant and Contribution Program as well as the Medical Marijuana Research Program.”

John Williamson
Federal Director
Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Posted by John Williamson, Canadian Taxpayers Federation [permalink]



September 20, 2006

Sign of the Times

The Liberal-dominated Senate is in no great rush to pass the Federal Accountability Act, legislation intended to clean up Ottawa in the wake of the Sponsorship scandal. The House of Commons passed the bill in June with broad multi-partisan support. It requires approval in the Senate before it becomes law.

Senator Joseph Day, the Liberal accountability critic, says the legislation cannot be passed quickly: “We know these things do get drawn out … It could take some time.” Some time to hear from a plethora of “expert” witnesses — never mind the statement voters made in the last election. The Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee got down to work two weeks ago. But after only one week of work, the committee adjourned for a week of rest.

The Ottawa Citizen reported last week Senator Day was on a week-long parliamentary junket to the Philippine island of Cebu. Tourist literature describes tropical Cebu Island as “the perfect vacation spot for all seasons.” The brochure might consider adding “and Senators.” New Democrat MP Pat Martin observed, “They’re wasting a week of hearings on the legislation for this? They're jeopardizing the whole bill for this hog-trough junket.” Mr. Martin was speaking for the millions of Canadians fed up with business as usual in Ottawa.

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Taxpayers are not fairing much better over at Industry Canada. The federal department provides funding to Canada’s Digital Collections, which promotes Canadian content on the internet. The program’s online description is rather dull, “These fascinating Web sites range from treasures of federal institutions, such as the National Library of Canada, the National Archives of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, to the local histories and way of life of Canadian communities.” We can guess then, that The Little Black Book – A Book on Healthy Sexuality Written By Grrrls for Grrrls (sic) falls under “way of life” in downtown Toronto.

This guidebook (http://www.ststephenshouse.com/littleblackbook/#) is meant to offer teens insight on all manners of adult topics. Funded by government and written by teens themselves it offers the following advice: “Kids are growing up a lot faster nowadays (or so we are told), and it’s important that they be educated about sex, its risks, but also its pleasures and the act itself.”

The book teaches kids about sexually transmitted diseases in a cutesy way. Bisexual relations are good because they expand the dating pool. That sex without love is not always a good idea. But that’s OK because you can fall in love with someone in a week. Readers – young and old alike – will find the “gayness” chapter insightful: the author writes 80% of Canadians are bisexual, 10% are gay and 10% straight. Can taxpayers install a Net Nanny spam filter to protect their tax dollars?

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The Conservative government passed an important test in August by yanking a contract with David Rotor and Douglas Tipple. These consultants were hired to advise the Public Works Department on how to cut government costs. On a fact-finding trip to London the pair flouted government expense rules, skipped meetings with British government officials, and submitted “trip notes” cribbed from websites without attribution.

Messrs. Rotor and Tipple defend their actions. Government mandarins recommended the consultants receive strongly worded reprimand letters. Public Works Minister Michael Fortier balked at this limp-wrist punishment and ordered instead they be fired. Mr. Fortier’s decisiveness will help change Ottawa’s culture of entitlement. Public Works employees will be more respectful of tax dollars … or else.

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Bob Rae’s self-flogging has finally stopped. In a Globe & Mail profile article the Liberal leadership candidate discussed his disastrous tenure as premier of Ontario. Mr. Rae admitted to making some mistakes, such as relying on advisors’ rosy economic forecast and also being overly ambitious. “I’m the wiser for it today, but I don’t think I’m going to beat myself up forever,” said Mr. Rae of his record.

Fair enough. Politicians can live and learn from experience. The problem is that Mr. Rae has never taken responsibility for his policies. Under then-New Democratic Premier Rae, Ontario’s tax rates soared, spending ballooned, the province’s debt tripled and the state expanded while the economy shrunk. Mr. Rae’s government drove the economy into the ground. He still does not understand that economic ruin is largely the result of lousy public policies. He’s the wiser for it — so too are those Ontarians voters put out of work during his tenure in office.

John Williamson
Federal Director
Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Posted by John Williamson, Canadian Taxpayers Federation [permalink]

September 9, 2006

Alberta Patient Stands Up to Government Prohibition of Health Insurance

OTTAWA & EDMONTON: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) responded favourably to the court case launched today by the Canadian Constitutional Foundation, on behalf of Calgary resident Bill Murray, challenging the Alberta law forbidding citizens from purchasing private health insurance.

Mr. Murray was not only denied the opportunity to receive a Birmingham hip replacement, Alberta law denies all Albertans the right to purchase private health insurance that would have helped cover the cost of his surgery.

“We applaud Mr. Murray for standing up against this injustice rather than simply going quietly into the night. Denying an individual medical treatment while also making it illegal to purchase health insurance is unconscionable and completely unacceptable in a free and democratic society,” said CTF federal director John Williamson.

The Murray v. Alberta case seeks to replicate the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec, which struck down a Quebec law forbidding the purchase of private health insurance on the grounds that it violated the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The Alberta government recently scrapped plans to allow Albertans to purchase complimentary private health insurance. The Chaoulli ruling is only applicable to the province of Quebec and the Murray case will seek to enshrine similar rights in the rest of Canada, beginning in Alberta.

“The Chaoulli case properly ruled when the medicare monopoly system results in waiting lines, Quebecers have the right to spend their after-tax dollars on their own health care,” said CTF Alberta director Scott Hennig. “Albertans can’t be blamed for wanting those same rights.”

“Canadians are well ahead of their government when it comes to health reform,” stated Mr. Hennig. “Enough is enough. How many more people must sit and suffer on government waitlists before politicians remove this archaic ban on private health insurance? Canada’s health care system must change. The only other nations that ban private medical services and private medical insurance are Cuba and North Korea.”


John Williamson
Federal Director
Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Posted by John Williamson, Canadian Taxpayers Federation [permalink]

September 5, 2006

September issue of Alberta's Tax Notes

Alberta Finance Tax and Revenue Administration has released its September issue of Tax Notes.

In this issue:
Why change the Fuel Tax Act?
What is the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act that will be reintroduced into the Legislature early next year?
Some IFTA changes will make it easier to comply.
How to avoid a Marked Fuel pitfall.

You can view Tax Notes at:
http://www.finance.gov.ab.ca/tax_notes/Publication/2006_0901.pdf

Posted by Taxes.ca Editorial Team [permalink]

September 1, 2006

contribution agreement with Nova Scotia charity

The Canada Revenue Agency announced the signing of a contribution agreement with the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia (LISNS) "that will see charities create educational programs to support other charities in their efforts to meet their regulatory obligations." The announcement was made by Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore-St. Margaret's, on behalf of the Honourable Carol Skelton, Minister of National Revenue.

According to the CRA web site, "this is the first contribution agreement signed under the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) Charities Partnership and Outreach program, which will support compliance-related education and training projects for charities."

The Charities Partnership and Outreach Program is an important part of the Canada Revenue Agency's efforts to modernize the regulation of charities.

For more information on this news release, please see the CRA web site at:
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/newsroom/releases/2006/august/nr060831-e.html

Posted by Taxes.ca Editorial Team [permalink]