Sunday, November 23, 2014

Canada's Fearless Tax Warrior



That intrepid capeless crusader for core Conservative concepts, Finance Minister 'Uncle' Joe Oliver, has found yet another weapon in his utility pouch to save us from the implacable clutches of taxation. Rather than rely on a bureaucracy that may be rife with 'fifth columnists', Oliver has decided to outsource fiscal analysis to those most acquainted with the scourge of taxation, lobby groups!

Our man's courage in the face of sneering opposition is a wonder to behold:
Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the government approved a $550-million tax credit for small business without conducting any internal analysis to find out how many jobs the measure would create.

The minister told the House of Commons finance committee Wednesday that such analysis was deemed unnecessary because it had already been done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group.
That 'analysis' claimed the credit would create 25,000 “person years” of employment, a figure quickly deflated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who concluded the credit would create only about 800 jobs over two years.

Perhaps sensing that his enemies ('the tax and spend crowd') were getting close to uncovering his alter ego, Oliver performed the perfect feint by taking on the persona of a village idiot. When asked by MO Scott Brison why the government didn't undertake its own analysis before granting the tax credit, he said:
“Because we didn’t think that we needed to do another analysis when we already had received one and we knew that this is a good news story for small businesses. The small business organizations have been asking us for a long time for this break”.
The colloquy, as reported by Aaron Wherry, continued:
Brison: So are you aware of the methodology they used?

Oliver: We are aware that they have expertise, they’ve spoken to their members and I have had an opportunity to speak to them and I’ve had an opportunity to speak to many small businesses in my riding in Toronto and elsewhere around the country. You know, you may not want to listen to small businesses. We do, and they are the biggest generators of employment in the country.

Brison: So you’re not aware of their methodology they used to come to that number?

Oliver: I am aware that they have spoken to their members and they do their regular type of analysis that you’d expect them to do. I mean, when you invest over half a billion dollars, there’s a macro-economic impact and we’re very comfortable there’ll be significant job creation.
NDP MP Nathan Cullen, part of the brigade attempting to derail Oliver's crusade, offered an observation that we can only hope deflected harmlessly off of the finance minister's protective shield. He said
that the minister’s comment shows the government is making major decisions based on ideology rather than evidence.

“They’re outsourcing policy to business lobby groups,” said Mr. Cullen. “Would they outsource policy to the Canadian Federation of Students? Would they outsource it to the national unions? They are now just allowing other people to write policy and spend employment insurance money.”
Fighting for one's faith can be a lonely endeavour, but if anyone can gird his loins and carry on, it is Uncle Joe.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

And Now, A Word From David Susuki's Grandson

Tamo Campos, David Susuki's 24-year-old grandson, was arrested Thursday for defying an injunction granted to Kinder Morgan, which is currently conducting drilling tests in preparation for the much-contested proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.

Back at the site on Friday, at the base of Burnably Mountain Campos gave an impromptu speech, the highlights of which follow:
“This is insane, why are we putting our economic system – the market – above the very ecology that we all depend upon? We’re more dependent on clean water, fresh air and clean soil, than the market! It’s the thing that keeps us alive!”

“We have to stand up to unjust laws – to make those the laws, because those are the laws that have always governed our lives. And indigenous people have had natural laws that pre-date colonial laws by thousands of years, and we need to respect that.”

David Susuki is undoubtedly proud of his grandson, writing a letter to and about him. Here is a brief excerpt:
All over the world, local citizens and communities are standing up to protect their ecological, social and economic interests against these invading entities that behave like thugs, intimidating with SLAPP suits and using every legal tool, anything to keep on their destructive path while avoiding the important issues like climate change and threat of spills being raised by protesters.

I say all this to set the action of Tamo and others in context. Tamo is fighting for the world that will be left to his generation in the future. I believe what Kinder Morgan and companies like it are doing is an intergenerational crime but there are no legal precedents to pursue criminal charges on that basis.
The following video contains Campos' speech:

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?



Plenty.
When construction crews begin digging a new canal this month across Nicaragua, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic, it’ll be a boon to global shipping and, the government says, to the economy of the second-poorest nation in the Americas. But activists, scientists and others are increasingly alarmed by the environmental impact of a 173-mile artificial waterway—wider, deeper and three and a half times the length of the Panama Canal
The grim facts include:
-The new canal and its infrastructure, from roads to pipelines to power plants, will destroy or alter nearly one million acres of rainforest and wetlands.

-The canal route lies in the middle of a hurricane belt. A storm like Hurricane Mitch, which killed 3,800 people in Nicaragua in 1998, would probably cause the canal to flood,
triggering mudslides that would breach locks and dams. Communities, homes, roads and power lines would be swamped.

Add to that the fact that the route canal will cut across Lake Nicaragua, which is the source of most of the country's fresh drinking water. As a consequence,
critics say ship traffic will pollute the water with industrial chemicals and introduce destructive invasive plants and animals.
All in all, this sounds like yet another of the many recipes for disaster that the world is currently contending with or awaiting.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Must Be A Form Of Tough Love



For a government that frequently and loudly proclaims its veneration of our military, the Harper regime has a strange way of showing the love:
Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 — cash that critics say should have gone toward improved benefits and services.
In what I'm sure is a mere 'coincidence,
Data tabled in the House in response to a written question shows roughly one-third of the so-called lapsed funds were handed back between the 2011 and 2013 budget years when the government was engaged in a massive deficit-cutting drive.
Asked by NDP MP Peter Stoffer about the unspent funds, Veteran Affairs minister Julian Fantino, drawing upon a talent undoubtedly honed through his various career incarnations, responded with a non-answer, saying that the government has spent a total of $30 billion for vets since 2006:
“It means improved rehabilitation for Canadian veterans,” Fantino said. “It means more counselling for veterans’ families. It means more money for veterans’ higher education and retraining. It means we care deeply about our veterans.”
If I know the law from watching television, one could characterize the minister as being non-responsive, which allowed Stoffer to offer his own interpretation of the withheld funds:
“The deputy ministers . . . have obviously been told by the higher-ups that, ‘This money has to come back to us in order for us to have our books balanced, and that way we can use that money for other purposes, like income-splitting.’”
Not to be outdone, Liberal veterans critic Frank Valeriote offered a trenchant assessment, saying that
ex-soldiers who’ve been denied benefits will look at the unspent funds and feel “hoodwinked, completely abandoned” and wonder why they’ve made sacrifices for their country.

“It is reprehensible and unconscionable what they’re doing so that the government can create an image of fiscal responsibility”.
Perhaps in light of what many would describe as a betrayal of veterans, the Kenora Legion might like to rethink the punitive measures it took against Rev. Sandra Tankard for speaking out on their behalf on Remembrance Day. They have clearly misidentified the true enemy here.