Thursday May 23, 2019
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Next up for the Trudeau Liberals: a plastic tax?

by Aaron Wudrick

They say misery loves company and for the Trudeau Liberals that apparently includes miserable tax policy.
It hasn’t even been a month since Ottawa imposed its hated carbon tax on much of the country and lo and behold, it already has another new tax on the table.
Last year, Environment Canada commissioned accounting firm Deloitte to undertake a study of Canada’s $35 billion plastics industry. The resulting report, released earlier this month, noted that only 9 per cent of plastics are recycled.

Most people don’t expect their governments to be perfect. But they do expect governments to make some effort to honour commitments, be straight with taxpayers and make the best of circumstances as they come.
In the 2015 election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised he’d run “modest” deficits for a few years, then balance the budget in 2019.

Protest convoy highlights jobs calculus

by Aaron Wudrick

When a recent convoy of trucks rolled into Ottawa, it kicked up a cloud of controversy, but one core issue at its heart: jobs.
There are two sides to the jobs question.
On one side, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants to build pipelines the energy sector desperately needs. On the other side, the prime minister also promises carbon taxes and similar measures will stimulate a surge in so-called green jobs. But the convoy is a clear illustration that Canadians don’t trust Ottawa to gamble with their livelihoods.

Like a character in a Greek tragedy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suffering for perpetrating an anti-democratic abomination he once decried: an omnibus bill.
Keeping that promise may have saved him from accusations that his office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who suddenly resigned from cabinet on Tuesday, to let SNC-Lavalin negotiate a so-called remediation agreement instead of facing full prosecution for millions of dollars worth of corruption in Libya.

It’s time to tear down 24 Sussex

by Aaron Wudrick

Imagine your house was 150 years old, and hadn’t seen major renovations in 50 years.
Imagine it still had asbestos in the walls — that are also cracking in at least six spots — and that there’s water damage throughout. Imagine ancient electrical wiring and deficient plumbing. Imagine it being too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. Imagine spending hundreds of thousands of dollars just to keep the heat and lights on, and the snow in the driveway shovelled.
Welcome to 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of Canada’s prime minister.

Will governments ever learn their lesson on corporate welfare?

by Aaron Wudrick

There’s an old saying about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Never has this been more true than governments in Canada when it comes to wasting your money on corporate welfare.

This week, General Motors announced out of the blue that it will be mothballing its plant in Oshawa  and eliminating 2,800 jobs in one fell swoop. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for thousands of GM workers and their families who had no clue whatsoever that such devastating news was coming. They’re furious, like so many other Canadians from coast-to-coast.

After all, this was the same company that, together with Chrysler, begged for a bailout in 2008 at a cost of more than $13 billion taken from taxpayers’ pockets. Then-industry minister Tony Clement argued such a massive bailout was needed in order to “achieve a viable industry.”

Have you ever had a job that comes with a generous expense account? How about one where you get to keep your expense account even after you leave the job?
If this sounds too good to be true, you haven’t heard about the great deal Canada’s governors general have been getting for the last 40 years.
As the Queen’s representative in Canada, serving as governor general is arguably the most prestigious appointment in politics, with most serving for between five and seven years. While often described as a “figurehead,” there is no denying that, constitutionally, the governor general plays an important ceremonial role in our system of government.

National pharmacare is not the slam dunk its proponents claim

by Aaron Wudrick

Back in February, the Trudeau government announced the appointment of former Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins as chair of its “Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.” As the council’s name suggests, the mission is to come up with a proposal for a nationwide program that will address the cost of prescription drugs.
Consultations wrapped up last month, and Hoskins is expected to report his findings sometime in spring 2019. For a government facing re-election next year, the timing is fortuitous, and it’s widely anticipated that his recommendations will form the basis for a major plank in the Liberals’ 2019 election platform.

The sun needs to set on Policy Horizons Canada

by Aaron Wudrick

If you’re like most Canadians, you’ve probably never heard of Policy Horizons Canada. It’s a taxpayer-funded government think tank made up of thirty or so ostensibly smart people tasked with deeply pondering the future and proposing cutting-edge, outside-the-box public policy ideas.
Unlike most government departments, which beaver away at implementing real government programs, Policy Horizons is a $3 million blue-sky, anything-goes outfit. It’s all about conducting “strategic foresight on cross-cutting issues” or as one former employee put it, “setting up a mental model for being aware of the future.”

Getting the Trans Mountain expansion back on track

by Aaron Wudrick

For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Federal Court of Appeal’s recent decision to overturn approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was a political thunderbolt that instantly derailed progress on one of his government’s most critical files. Luckily for the purveyor of sunny ways, the storm clouds came with a silver lining: a careful reading of the decision also offers some guidance on how his government can get Trans Mountain back on track.
There has been no shortage of twists and turns on the pipeline front for Trudeau. Having directly or indirectly killed off alternative pipeline proposals and under immense pressure to get one built, he proceeded to buy a way out of the problem, and in so doing shifted the project’s risks from Kinder Morgan shareholders onto the backs of Canadian taxpayers.

Labour Day Reality Check: public versus private sector pensions

by Aaron Wudrick

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) recently released an analysis of federal pensions based on data compiled by Statistics Canada, which shows that risky defined-benefit pensions are vanishing in the private sector, but remain overwhelmingly common within government.
This data provides support for a widespread sentiment: that government employees get very risky, very generous pensions, paid for by people without pensions. Government employee unions like to crow about their success in cajoling government into enriching their members – but always avoid mentioning it comes at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.
In 1997, 83 per cent of government employees had defined-benefit pensions, while the private sector figure stood at 23 per cent. Today, the figures are 80 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

Canada Doesn’t Need Another Tax – This Time….a Death Tax

by Aaron Wudrick

These are challenging times for the Canadian economy. An unpredictable president to the south has contributed to uncertainty around NAFTA, while American business tax cuts have erased Canada’s longstanding competitive tax advantage as we struggle to attract foreign investment.
Even the Justin Trudeau government, which as recently as its spring budget was content to pretend all was well, finally seems to be acknowledging there’s actually a problem that needs to be tackled.
But how? Would you believe that against this depressing backdrop there are still those who argue that what we really need are even more taxes?

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