As we struggle to contain COVID-19, virtually everyone is paying the price while the economy faces an unprecedented storm. Many members of Parliament are sharing in that sacrifice by donating their automatic pay raise to charity. The rest need to not only follow that example, but go one step further by taking a pay cut.
It has been a good couple of weeks for Bombardier.
That might sound strange, given that last week the company announced it was selling off its commercial aircraft business and this week it did the same with its troubled train division, both with a view to focusing its efforts on its private jet unit. But it’s also a clear sign the company is finally behaving like — gasp! — a normal business and doing a normal business thing: realizing parts of its operation are not very profitable and selling them off to focus on what is.
For Canadians who endured an election that often felt like a stomach flu, here’s something to make everyone feel better: the overwhelming majority of MPs agree we need an income tax cut.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to save the average family about $600 every year by increasing the basic personal income tax exemption from $12,000 to $15,000. Except for the high-income earners he leaves out, it’s a broad-based and truly helpful break for Canadian families. In his first press conference following the election, Trudeau confirmed the tax cut is coming.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation released its policy wish list in advance of the 2019 federal election.
“We believe these 19 policies – some small, some big – will leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, give them better value for tax dollars spent and hold our politicians more accountable,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick “We encourage all parties to steal any and all of these proposals as part of their 2019 campaign.”
Last week, before any Canadian was debating dubious prime ministerial dress-up hobbies, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s came out with a pledge to eliminate $1.5 billion in federal corporate welfare spending.
It’s only scratching the surface of the issue, since by some estimates total annual federal subsidies to business are in the range of $14 billion. But $1.5 billion is also nothing to sneeze at – it’s the equivalent to the tax bills of 100,000 average-income Canadian households put together.
The pundits will be chattering about the political impact of federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion’s bombshell report into the SNC-Lavalin affair until election day. But this is also an opportunity to strengthen government accountability to prevent a repeat of the circumstances that gave rise to the scandal. Dion concluded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke conflict-of-interest laws by pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a decision not to defer criminal prosecution of the firm.
Whichever party forms government after Oct. 21 must implement two key reforms: separating the roles of the attorney general and minister of justice; and, putting an end to omnibus bills, which prevent proper parliamentary scrutiny.
We all want Kawhi Leonard to keep playing basketball for the Raptors. We want him to stay so much badly that even Canadian politicians are getting into the polite pleading.
“I see lots of businesses offering Kawhi Leonard free food, an apartment and even a houseplant if he stays with @Raptors. So I feel that I should do my part. Hey Kawhi, if you stay we’ll give you free health care!” tweeted Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor.
Imagine pouring billions of dollars into a business and not being able to tell if you got anything back in return.
That’s the real-life story of Canadian taxpayers’ relationship with Bombardier, the hapless Montreal-based aerospace company, which last week announced it was selling off its money-losing regional jet business to Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for $550 million.
In early 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins to chair an advisory council on the implementation of a national pharmacare program.
This week, the council issued its final report recommending a top-to-bottom overhaul of prescription drug coverage that would effectively wipe out the existing workplace and private drug plans that cover more than two-thirds of Canadians, and replace them with a one-size-fits-all government plan for everyone, at a cost of $15 billion per year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?