Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

York Back To School Monday

After the 5th days of emergency sessions of Ontario legislature the Liberal Bill 145 will force 3,340 striking workers back to class on Monday. The long mess has come to an end. The union dropped the threat of a legal challenge against the back-to-work legislation late yesterday. The bill is should have Royal assent by 4pm and make it law.

Budget, Budget, Budget… Coalition, Election, or More of the Same

Yes the leaks have been plentiful but Jim Flaherty will be delivering the budget today. I bet CPAC has never been some popular. It will be an interesting ride for sure.

Many commentators are sharp to note that even the previously promised Infrastructure spending has yet to flow (to Toronto and other cities). Will it this time? Downloading the burden on Municipalities (who would be forced to increase taxes) won’t cut it. Miller tried to tame the condo-flipping crowd with a tax increase and got stonewalled. There’s no where to “increase” taxes unless you simply CUT expenditures (i.e. give people less services for the same tax dollars paid). A shady tactic all too familiar by several levels of government. It’s happened far too many times and I’m hopeful that this time the lack of Federal investment in social and brick and mortar infrastructure has been addressed. Tax cuts and no investment (most all of our surplus serviced debt vs. a balanced approach) have swayed Canada to deficit even before a stimulus package.

Will the government fall on this latest list of spending promises? Will a Coalition take over or will an election get called? Judgement day is coming.

Blue Chip Finance Board Meets In Toronto

It’s been an interesting week if not due to a record number of Senators appointed (including Fabian Manning – a Conservative MP defeated in the recent election and Michel Rivard – a former Quebec MNA and Parti Quebecois who also ran as Canadian Alliance who wont be thinking too hard about Quebec separation now that he has a salary to age 75), $4 billion worth of public loans for the auto industry, and the Finance Minister naming an advisory council to advise him on an economic plan.

Not that Toronto is much of a stranger to a Board of Directors meeting but federal politics hits close to home again today with Mr. Flaherty’s council members meeting here in the city. The Board members read like a big business all-star team. The problem is this measure gain expert opinion is too little and too late. If these high profile respected business minds were already on speed dial, they were likely already considered respected council and resources.

Sad that Mr. Flaherty refused to listen to prominent economists from the Centre of Policy Alternatives or to the Independent Budget Officer in the first place. Public image was key so PR came before the public’s interest. Considering the passing of the Accountability Act was meant to put “truth in budgeting” and make ruling government’s more accountable for their actions is more than a bit ironic. There have been no federal deficits in over a decade and truth in budgeting has not come more into question than in recent days! Underestimating how well the economy is doing and posting surpluses is far less suspect. Underestimating a crisis, cutting government resources, selling assets off and still failing to break even is way too reminiscent of a Mr. Flaherty at Queen’s Park. The advisory council (scapegoat?) perhaps will abate anger over inaction and the momentum of the proposed coalition.

Anxious to see what the $1 Board accomplishes. The $2 billion plus worth of assets Flaherty has tabled to sell in the future have not been named or segregated out of his forecasts. Very creative accounting. These proceeds will hardly put a dent in a $30 billion deficit so why further cripple a government with limited resources? It hardly makes business sense to sell assets in a severaly depressed market so I would hope the council would push for scratching that plan. As for The Independent Budget Officer? He is getting his budget cut by a third. So Kevin Page has been rewarded for his Parliamentary Budget reports, especially the one that blew the whistle on the Conservative’s policy that would cause a deficit (despite advertising paid for to dispel any of these “rumours”). Happy Holidays, hoping for the best in the New Year.

Snow Tires NOT Mandatory In Ontario

Snow tires do work better in cold and snowy conditions. They are composed of a different rubber that freezes at a lower temperature. This means that braking performance is far better than all season tires in cold weather (snow or no snow). Quebec’s mandatory snow tire legislation kicked in this year and close to 90% of Quebecers already used them. The law is expected to cut accidents as much as 20%. Toronto doesn’t often get the amount of snow that much of Quebec receives BUT snow tires wouldn’t hurt in the winter. Premier McGuinty has listened to public opinion and won’t be mandating snow tire use and said that people should use good judgement.

No matter which tires you choose driver discretion and caution is often your best defense. With over 250 reported accidents being reported yesterday as a result of just 5 to 10 centimeters of snow some care and snowtires wouldn’t be a bad idea. As would riding the TTC or GO Transit instead (if at all possible). While delays are sometimes unavoidable on a heavy snow day, transit can be a time and life saver. Whatever fare you pay for transit it would be way cheaper than your insurance premium and car repair post-accident.

Rae Out Of The Race

Bob Rae has pulled out of the race for interim Liberal leader and will not be seeking the leadership at the Vancouver convention. This means that Michael Ignatieff, MP Etobicoke-Lakeshore, will now assume the role as interim leader as Stéphane Dion steps down.

It will be interesting to see how the prorogued session will play into January. I doubt this will lessen the resolve of the coalition but we shall see.

Rally, Rally or Write???

Stephen Taylor Tory Blogger and fellow of the Manning Centre is organizing rallies in 11 cities (maybe more) to insure that “democracy is heard”. Stephen’s Rally For Canada (and against the proposed coalition) hits Toronto at Queen’s Park this Saturday from 12-2pm.

Ken Georgetti of the Canadian Labour Congress has “re-tuned” his rallies. Originally the CLC was to rally to press Mr. Flaherty and the Harper government for action on the economy, the safeguarding of jobs and pensions. The CLC will also throw their support for the Accord on a Cooperative Government to Address the Present Economic Crisis. The CLC rally, “Coalition YES” hits Toronto this Saturday from 12-1pm.

Personally, I’m going to try and talk to contact my MP or MP’s office. (I encourage everyone to do the same) Your viewpoint and vote count just as much between elections as during them. Let’s hope that the longest a Yes or No hopeful has to wait is this Monday. There can be no justification to prorogue Parliament. The Governor General will have a lot to think about upon her return. Having the House do nothing in the face of an economic crisis by delaying a vote in the House of Commons amounts to criminal negligence. If our elected MP’s are to govern they should vote and work together toward solutions, not cut and run.

Rally For Canada (against a Liberal-NDP Coalition)
Saturday December 6th
Queen’s Park
from 12pm to 2pm

Coalition YES!
Saturday December 6th
Nathan Phillips Square
from 12pm to 1pm

United In The Fight

It’s official. The opposition has united to defeat the government and the policies presented by the Minister of Finance. Uncharted territory here. Amazing to see how fast differing viewpoints could draft an agreement and proposal to stimulate the economy over the weekend. Mr. Flaherty has called it “a deal with the devil”?

Canada is stronger together, perhaps a coalition government might actually work together toward rebuilding Canada during these trying times. I think that we are in for more concrete action than the Conservatives are willing to admit since ALL opposition parties have committed to unite until June 30, 2011! (The Bloc are supportive of this coalition for 18 months and can extend support after that time since they are not formally part of the coalition). The economy and the environment are front and centre. The coalition will pursue prudent policies to stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, boosts to struggling economic sectors as well as home construction and retrofit (low income housing? green tax breaks?). Most important, long term deficits are not in the interest of the coalition.

“Today we respectfully inform the Governor General that, as soon as the appropriate opportunity arises, she should call on the Leader of the Official Opposition to form a new government, supported as set out in the accompanying accords by all three of our parties.

Respectfully,

Hon. Stéphane Dion
Leader, the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Jack Layton
Leader, the New Democratic Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe
Leader, the Bloc Québécois”

– from the agreement signed by Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Monday Dec. 1, 2008

It will be interesting to see how the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada reacts.

A Privilege Earned

Let the madness stop. The “privilege to govern must be earned, not taken”. No truer words can be said. The Conservatives are in damage control mode and have sent out an appeal for donations today. This after leaking a “secret deal” between the NDP and the Bloc.

After stopping to listen to the “Conservatives eavesdropping” clips of Jack Layton at an NDP caucus meeting, (Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3) I expect delusional paranoia must be taking hold. The scare must be on after Jim Flaherty’s update and the resulting tide of opposition called. From the selected clips, in my opinion, Jack Layton appears to be briefing members on what has transpired to date with respect to coalition negotiations and what it would mean for the NDP going forward. I’m hopeful Mr. Layton will clarify his position and the context of comments made. Talk of any opposition party stealing the house so close to an election are far fetched. If that were the case it would have happened sooner, perhaps right after the election votes were tallied. All parties have been in consultations regarding the economy and have had face to face meetings with the PM since the election. When none of the oppositions recommendations were headed it’s not surprising see the actions of the opposition. Even less surprising is that the NDP may pursue criminal charges with respect to how these audio clips were acquired and distributed. Think of what consequences would be if someone leaked a private corporation’s conference call to the press.

Are memories that short? Harper, as leader of the Opposition, held lengthy discussions with Layton and Duceppe aimed at ousting Paul Martin’s Liberal government in the fall of 2004. The context of any meetings that may or may not have happened between any parties (other than the Conservatives) looks like less of a conspiracy or “backroom scheme” and more like a way of forming consensus in an ineffective parliament. Ignorance and inaction by key Conservatives on the economy were the tipping point to advance these meetings.

To run away from your own battle cries of “confidence motions” and tactics is puzzling. To pout, delay and filibuster is not what Canadians need right now. The crisis is here, ACT!!! The privilege to govern must be earned not taken, for granted.

An Interesting Editorial…BUT

The editorial by Alberta premier Ed Stelmach in the Toronto Star peaked my interest. Not because it tries to re-stoke the tired Ontario vs. Alberta debate. Not because it overlooks the reality of oil sands and the disruptive environmental damage that continues. That may be considered offensive but is not unexpected considering the source. Alberta is an economic engine, as is Quebec, Newfoundland,… etc. Alberta has and continues to carry some heavy baggage.

Mr. Stelmach talks of some efforts to lessen enviromental impacts and carbon capture and storage. Yes there have been some small steps in Alberta to reduce emissions and environmental impacts but not enough to change the downward spiral. Carbon capture and storage research and development is in its infancy. It remains to be seen if a solution of “hiding” CO2 underground will work. American big coal have touted this as a potential solution for years. The safety of storing massive amounts of an odorless gases that can asphyxiate seem daunting or near impossible at best. New technology, the geology of the storage sites and time will tell.

Ralph Klein was not a poster child of sound economic development nor is Ed Stelmach. By having no plan for oil sands development, up to 50%+ of Albertas economy demanded most of if not all of employment and other resources. With only modest reinvestment in infrastructure like roads and housing the tide slowly started to turn. The modest royalties during the boom period looked to be eclipsing demand for services. With several years worth of surplus at risk the Alberta government saw this and Stelmach helped to implement an increases to Alberta royalties last year. Now with the price of oil falling and the viability of Tar Sands expansion in jeopordy we have calls for special “royalty discounts” and high profile editorials. Mismanagement of the royalty program alerted the public to the problem at hand and created the pressure to increase rates in the first place. During the period from 2004 to 2007 it was found that Alberta was short paid about $1 Billion per year in royalties. Stelmach wasn’t concerned then since $22 Billion in government debt had been repaid under the old system. Continuing under this flawed logic not paying your taxes would be OK as long as you bought goods and services in Canada rather than while vacationing abroad (the money is still spent in Canada right?) Whatever?!!!

Stelmach misses the point once again. It matters not which province is in the economic lead, we are on the same team. TEAM CANADA. By squandering surplus funds, allowing growth without planning, and failing to protect the business and living environment the premier shows he has little to offer Alberta let alone Ontario. Hmm, what could he and his colleagues at The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships be lobbying for? Surely the runaway blank cheque approach should not form the basis of Public-Private Partnerships as well.

Taxpayers feel the pain of industry windfalls or shortfalls and elected officials should be more mindful of this than anyone. How much tax revenue will closed industries pay into the government? What are a governments costs of benefits paid to those put out of work and who are paying less or no income tax? How real is a deficit in these trying circumstances?

Am I calling for the end of the Tar Sands, the closing of Ford or a planned economy? No, no, and no. Your opinion is welcome Ed but your bias is a little bit transparent. Personally when it comes to infrastructure, resources, and industry I like to see return on my investment. The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships’ Toronto event, which Mr. Stelmach is attending, focuses on Canadian, U.S. and Mexican perspectives on infrastructure. Mr. Stelmach you seem to be running Alberta like a thirsty bloated furnace rather than well tuned engine. Thanks but no thanks. Canadians are calling for a much needed rebuilding of our infrastructure, not another puff of hot air.

Dion Listens to his Conscience and Colleagues

Last week Toronto MP Joe Volpe was the first party member to publicly call for Dion’s resignation after the weak Liberal election result. Today Dion was man enough to admit his failings to sell Canadian’s on his platform of income tax cuts and taxes on pollution, “The Green Shift”. Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett won her seat despite despicable vandals but Dion felt the most damaging instrument this election campaign was the Conservative ad machine. (Sad that it seemed there was no denouncement of the vandalism but it was good to hear some people from the community banding together and asking for signs even if they were not planning on voting Liberal).

Dion will stand the course as leader until the next convention. The speculators can only guess as to whom will succeed him but at least he has accepted his fate and is moving on in the interest of the party. As the dust settles one can only smile not to cry. We still have spent massive amounts of taxpayers money to re-elect a minority government. About $300 million!!! Talk of a coalition continues and Canadians are still quaking in fear over the prospect of another dysfunctional parliament. An economic crisis is looming. It’s not the best time for MP’s to be distracted from the needs of Canadians.

Mr. Harper called this election to cement a Conservative Majority, the third swing at the plate as leader of the Conservative party in just four years! Harper, like Dion, has put forth an strong effort but perhaps he should consider stepping down as leader as the Conservatives regroup for their Convention in November. Reviving the Reform Party talk of Senate reform in the midst of recession is insulting. Perhaps some Conservatives will talk sense into to the PM? He’s a hockey lover and Toronto Maple Leaf’s fan and all but…Whoa??? Hasn’t he pissed off Quebec enough to invigorate the Bloc (and lose all chance for a majority)?!!!

Get your sticks on the ice and giv’er people. Canada expects more from it’s “all-stars” no matter what colour their home jersey is. You guys actually have to DO something more than call an election and send money to ad agencies every couple years!

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