Thursday, March 22, 2007

Random News

1) Andrew Coyne is waging one heck of a crusade against the Tory budget and I must say - give me a sword! When this guys picks an issue to feel passionate about, you do not want him against you.

-Tuesday's Column

-Wednesday's Column

-And a link to Jack Mintz's critique of the ever expanding tax code. Next year: tax rebates on dental floss!

2. Stockwell Day is in trouble again...

3. More reports on the new era of peace between provinces and the federal government.

4. The opposition parties pass Paul Martin's private members bill on the Kelowna Accord which the Tories plan to ignore. Of note, Brian Mulroney has spoken out in favour of the bill.

5. John Ivison has a good article on the potential of the Tories converting to Kyoto. He opens with a brilliant line: "The suggestion from this week’s budget is, if there was a sizeable voting population of Vikings in the country, he'd offer up a few villages in Newfoundland to plunder."

6. On the flip side, the Liberals are now not only backing Harper's crime bill, but trying to fast track it.

7. I'll leave the comments to those in Ontario, but Dalton McGuinty has brought in a pre-election budget of his own.

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  • You missed the best quote from the Iveson article, "It shouldn’t be hard to come up with a plan more realistic than the Liberal manifesto, which would have been deemed cutting-edge thinking in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union."

    By Blogger SMorrissey, at 6:52 p.m.  

  • Why are Harper and his conservatives dangerous?

    Because they are divisive. They create chasms in our society. Like Bush and the neo-cons, harper is driven by extreme ideology.

    Harper favors families (including metropolitan ethnic voters) and ignores single individuals (some of whom are gay). He boosts Quebec because he needs the votes, while penalizing BC where he has no additional momentum. He offers rebates to buyers of small cars (regardless of the mileage driven), and penalizes owners of Humvees because of the social stigma.

    Where are the principles that bind a society together; i.e. mutual respect, tolerance, fairness and equality? Harper’s policies create envy and distrust.

    People like harper and Bush embark on a never-ending series of crusades to destroy imaginary evils. They are likely to fracture a society by polarizing issues. They end up fighting unnecessary battles because there is an itch that they cannot scratch.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:03 p.m.  

  • Piggybacking on jimtan's post, it is all very remincant of the "good old" Harris/Eves days of the common sense revolution, where neocons didn't miss a potential wedge issue that they didn't exploit. Pitting one against the other - interest group, class, family composition and families - was done with glee and disdain. Oh yes, the good old days.

    By Blogger susansmith, at 7:15 p.m.  

  • Hmm. Methinks jimtan needs to take a few deep breaths and gain some real-world perspective.

    When you start talking about families as some sort of "extreme ideology" as jimtan does, you should be aware that you're "just a tad" outside the mainstream.

    And when you think that equal treatment creates envy and distrust, you may have been on the receiving end on one too many special program handouts - which create inequality, envy, and distrust.

    By Blogger Paul, at 7:28 p.m.  

  • For paul@odeda,

    Obviously, you have misunderstood what I have said whilst janfromthebruce has got the point.

    I suggest you read jan's post just in front of yours.

    It is sad that harper is making a choice between families and singles.

    I suppose that if the Liberals reduce the family tax credit and pass it to singles, harper will accuse them of favoring gays and homos.

    Such an ugly man!


    By Blogger JimTan, at 8:19 p.m.  

  • I'm single, and I do figure that families deserve more help in life than me. I don't have to buy new clothes every year, save up a portion of their education fund, put more food out at each meal, or even just pay for more hot water and hydro (not to mention more rent/or mortgage on far more living space).

    I don't see this is divisive between families and me -- heck, I'm glad to see families get a break, many of them need it.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 8:37 p.m.  

  • For Jason bo GREEN,

    harper just announced compulsory industry carbon targets. What do you think of that?


    By Blogger JimTan, at 8:47 p.m.  

  • "harper just announced compulsory industry carbon targets. What do you think of that?"

    I think jimtan is yanking your chains! The guy's a scream.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 9:14 p.m.  

  • I guess the part of the budget where it took away the so-called "married penalty" was lost on jimtan. Singles had been benefiting under the tax system more than 2-income families.

    And I would think it's safe to assume that a family that has children, that those children would be considered singles at some point, no?

    The comment on HumVee drivers is interesting. We are bombarded on a daily basis from the media showing the likes of Gore and Suzuki warning us of the disaster quickly coming from ghg emmissions. Taxing these vehicles is an enviromental matter. How you figure this is a wedge issue is beyond me. And I'm sure if it was a Dion idea it would be heaped with praise.

    Perhaps a look back at some comments from the Liberal MP's during the leadership convention should show wedge issues are not just something used by right-wing parties. Liberal MP John Godfrey warned against voting for Iggy because it would remove Afghanistan as a wedge issue, wedge issue being the words he used. Imagine that, the men and women putting their lives on the line and he's worried about losing a wedge issue.

    By Blogger paulsstuff, at 9:50 p.m.  

  • CG, you've got to keep up!

    Coyne is way ahead of you. Time to update.

    He's added a bunch of blog posts on the mess of a budget:

    Mess in the making, Trudeau-style

    Spot the conservatives

    How did it come to this? - now this one is a classic must read

    Peace in our time

    Committed to helping lacrosse

    And so as we slide ever lower down...

    Stay tuned. No doubt there is more to come!

    And this one:

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 10:02 p.m.  

  • smorrissey; That is a pretty good line...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:27 p.m.  

  • For paulsstuff,

    You are right. Liberals have used wedge issues, for example asking for votes against a right-wing majority. However, Liberal budgets have tried to be/seem to be fair. Something for everyone!

    It is a matter of opinion whether families need more tax breaks at this time. Education and health care are heavily subsidized by taxpayers, including singles.

    Remember! Parents may get support from their children in their senior years. Bachelors will not. So, they need to save more for retirement.

    Could the harper government have given more to families, but some to singles too? Why not? It is the nature of harper’s character. He sees the world in a dichotomy; four legs good, two legs bad. In the end, the extreme right is no different from the extreme left.

    The harper government (like most right-wing regimes) shows contempt for certain minorities whether they are gays or aboriginal. Therefore, they extol the virtues of the opposite. Seil Heil! Pure and blonde Aryans are better than swarthy Slavs.

    You might say that it is unfair to compare harper to fascists. Harper’s not like that! You should tune into the parliamentary debates. Frequently, harper rants when he is cornered. That is the true harper.

    What is the result of this hate-mongering (against minorities) and stroking the majority? Do we want a fractured society like America?

    You brought up the matter of the Hummers. Why should owners of Hummers or Porsches be penalized? Surely, Canadians should have the right to buy what they like. They earned the money!

    The issue is usage, not ownership. Someone may buy and park three Porsches on their lawn. That generates no carbon emission. The real villains are the heavy producers of emission, and that is best addressed by usage penalties. However, attacks on symbols of social status generate good PR.

    Harper is more cunning than the average nut. For that reason, he should be feared.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:49 p.m.  

  • Coyne was hopping mad on The National tonight.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:11 p.m.  

  • Islandliberal said

    “Coyne was hopping mad on The National tonight.”

    Not surprising. Harper’s government is looking a lot like Mulroney’s. BTW, well done Ontario Liberals! They managed to eradicate the Conservative deficit; and without O-I-L revenues.

    Quote from CBC:

    Ontario's Liberals delivered a balanced budget a year earlier than expected Thursday, while earmarking billions in spending for low-income families and committing to raise the minimum wage.

    "We leave behind the deficit that we inherited," Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said to applause in the legislature, referring to the $5.5-billion deficit inherited when the Liberals ousted the Conservatives in 2003.

    "Today, we begin an era of balanced budgets and sustainable surpluses."

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:33 a.m.  

  • CTV Poll has Conservatives at 39% and Liberals at 31%.

    And the same poll puts them tied in Ontario and Quebec, which, at best, might give Harper a somewhat stronger minority or, at worst (or at best, depending on your point of view), could lead to a Liberal minority.

    What we will NOT see is any sort of Diefenbaker/Mulroney-style majority.

    By Blogger JG, at 1:06 a.m.  

  • MP - IF the polls stay at the level for more than 2 days after the budget, you might have something. or did you forget that polls had the liberals way ahead of the conservatives after the leadership convention.

    Polls like this are pretty meaningless. It will be interesting to see the long term affect the budget has on the numbers.

    The media are commissioning poll after poll. I still believe the media really want an election - and why not. There has not been this much interest in politics for about 15 years or so. The media will be the biggest beneficiaries of another minority government.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 1:13 a.m.  

  • Yeah, Coyne came pretty close to saying that things were better off with Chretien in charge and a strong Reform opposition than what we have today.

    Very interesting...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:26 a.m.  

  • I'm starting to like Elizabeth May's odds against Peter McKay.

    Nova Scotia, and the rest of Atlantic Canada gets screwed, and Quebec is the big winner.

    If Charest loses on Monday, and his chances seem to be trending down, he won't be the only loser.

    R.O.I. on $1.6 Billion = zero

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 6:52 a.m.  

  • Coyne also thought the world was going to end after Harper put Emerson in cabinet.

    Wouldn't want to be a horse on his farm.

    By Blogger molarmauler, at 8:18 a.m.  

  • Wouldn't want to be a horse on his farm.

    Okay, THAT'S a funny line.

    What's so divisive about this budget, exactly??? If you're not a diehard partisan ideologue, I mean?

    Much of it bugs me, but hey, I didn't write it, so that's the case each budget. If the only people screaming about it are SDA and Jason Cherniak, then I think the PM probably hit the nail pretty well.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:12 a.m.  

  • May beat McKay? I'd love to see the look on his face, but I'm not sure. Would be funny to see, though. Ugh, but just the thought of her victory speech already makes me want to change the channel, a full year in advance.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:14 a.m.  

  • (I do agree with Coyne's assessment that each party's budgets are full of number-shifting double-speak, and this should absolutely stop.)

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:16 a.m.  

  • what Coyne is happier with Libs in power? Quelle surprise!

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 9:58 a.m.  

  • Actually, Coyne did not come close to saying it - he said it. Also interesting was Chantel Hebert's comments about how the budget may be affecting the Quebec election - an not in a positlve way for Harper. You have Charest trying to distance himself from Harper, and the ADQ shaving off more liberal support, wit a possibility of a PQ victory by coming up the middle.

    If the PQ win, can the liberals argue Harper bought a separatist victory in Quebec?

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:58 a.m.  

  • Andrew Coyne's measurement of "fiscal conservatism" is retarded (as I pointed out on his blog).

    1. he does not account for other contextual variables. I am sure he would be crapping his pants in 1940 about how much government spending had gone up over 1939.

    2. Think about how people budget. Who is stingier? A guy who makes $10/year and spends $12 a year, or a person who makes $100/year and spends $20/year. Zimbabwe is not fiscally conservative by virtue of the fact that spending per capita is lower there. You need to account for the size of the economy, making spending/GDP a much better basis.

    2. Lets look in greater detail. In their two budgets, the Tories increased spending 7.9% in the first one, and 5.6% in the second one (why wasn't he going crazy the first time?). So they have increased government spending 14% over their first two budgets.

    But wait, there has been inflation - prices rose, on average 4.29% over the past two years. So in real terms, the Tories increased government spending about 9.3% in real terms.

    Oh, and wait again, there has been economic growth. Growth was 3% in 2005 and 2.75% in 2006 (I don't have projections for 2007 which is what the government really budgets on, unfortunately but this gives a good picture. So the economy grew by 5.8%.

    In other words, this is a relatively small increase compared to the historical record, which I have posted on Coyne's blog and will repost here. Of course subtlety and nuance don't make for good copy.

    Mackenzie (1873-1878)
    1873: $86/capita
    1878: $114
    Macdonald II (there were some cuts but they were rollbacks of war spending)
    1891: $141
    1896: $153
    1911: $302
    1921: $408
    King I
    1930: $420
    1935: $407 (he tried to increase spending, and did the first few years, but presumably double-digit inflation is not good for government revenues)
    King II
    1948: $659
    St Laurent
    1957: $1197
    1963: $1463
    1968: $2042
    Trudeau I
    1979: $3263
    1980: $3300
    Trudeau II
    1984: $3640
    1993: $4216

    All figures are in 1986 dollars.

    Here is how much spending as a % of GDP was increased (so if you went from 20 to 30% of GDP, that would be a 50% increase). The Queens historical dataset doesn't have Chretien in there - he may be the sole non-Great Depression spending cutter.

    Alexander Mackenzie (1873-1878) +51.1%
    John A Macdonald (1878-1892) -18.9%
    Abbot/Thompson/Bowell/Tupper (1892-1896):
    + 19.1%
    Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911): +7.5%
    Borden/Meighen (1911-1921): +58.9%
    WLM King (1921-1930): -25.4%
    Bennett: (1930-1935): +17.1%
    WLM King (1935-1948): -9.7%
    Louis St. Laurent (1948-1957): +45.3%
    John Diefenbaker (1957-1963): +9.6%
    Lester B. Pearson (1963-1968): +15.6%
    Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979): +13.7%
    Joe Clark (1979-1980): +.9%
    Pierre Trudeau/Turner (1980-1984): +5.3%
    Brian Mulroney (1984-1993) +6.9%

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 11:38 a.m.  

  • I would add that Coyne's notion that it was better under the Liberals is politically retarded - that is, it fails to comprehend the context under which the Liberals were fiscally Conservative. Namely, that the deficit was a big issue in the mid-90's and the Reform party the main threat to the Liberals in English Canada.

    How would the Liberals react to a close election in Quebec? Gee, I wonder. How would they react to having a minority government? Gee, I wonder.

    The only meaningful comparison is what would the Liberals do in 2006-2007 versus what the Tories would - and not "what did the Liberals do in the 90's versus the Tories today.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 11:40 a.m.  

  • Polls are snapshots, pure and simple. It is often quite misleading to compare a poll from Company A with another released two days later from Company B. Each polling firm has its own methodology, built in biases and imperfections, and possibly unique way of asking the questions (for example, does the firm just mention each party's name, or also include the name of its leader?)

    The only meaningful analysis will compare poll after poll from Company, then do the same for Company B, and Company C, etc. That is the only way to get any idea of any trend.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 1:25 p.m.  

  • "I would add that Coyne's notion that it was better under the Liberals is politically retarded - that is, it fails to comprehend the context under which the Liberals were fiscally Conservative. Namely, that the deficit was a big issue in the mid-90's and the Reform party the main threat to the Liberals in English Canada."

    Actually, I think his point was that a liberal majority, with a Reform minority keeping them in check, was the best financial management. So you are actually making his point.

    That said, I agree with brian.

    It will certainly be interesting to see how Ipsos Reed comes out. Weren't they the ones who said that a third of liberal supporters would switch to the conservatives if there was a good budget?

    By Blogger Gayle, at 1:49 p.m.  

  • It will certainly be interesting to see how Ipsos Reed comes out. Weren't they the ones who said that a third of liberal supporters would switch to the conservatives if there was a good budget?

    You're close, gayle. Ipsos-Reid said that they might. Here's a link to the story on GlobalTV's webpage that has the full story.

    But you're bang on about one thing. The next Ipsos-Reid poll (or two) will be most interesting.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 3:41 p.m.  

  • Damn - I KNEW I spelled it wrong.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 3:58 p.m.  

  • "What's so divisive about this budget, exactly??? If you're not a diehard partisan ideologue, I mean?"

    Former Liberal cabinet minister Joe Comuzzi is voting for the budget. Sheila Copps raved about the Canadian National Trust created in the budget. The BQ is voting for the budget.
    Only partisans are really complaining. The NDP government of Sask. cuts their provincial sales tax from 7 to 5 per cent and then complains about not getting enough money? Who cares?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 5:30 p.m.  

  • For nuna d.above

    I wish the regular posters would come back. There are people who do care. Quote from the CBC

    A Tory MP called Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert a liar Wednesday as the Harper government defended its budget against howls of outrage in some provinces.
    “The premier's lying through his teeth,” outspoken Saskatoon MP Maurice Vellacott said in an interview.
    Moreover, Mr. Vellacott said the NDP premier is a “socialist” who can't handle economic prosperity and would be more comfortable keeping Saskatchewan “on the federal dole.”

    However, Mr. Calvert pointed out that the budget also imposes a cap on equalization payments which renders the choice of formulas moot in Saskatchewan's case. Regardless of which formula is used, the province will get only $226-million this year, not the $800-million Mr. Calvert had hoped for, and it's slated to get nothing next year as the province's fiscal capacity improves.
    Mr. Calvert pointed to a fundraising brochure sent out under Mr. Harper's name prior to the last election, which stated that a Conservative government would ensure provinces get to keep “100 per cent of your oil and gas revenues. No small print. No excuses. No caps.”
    “That's the promise that has been betrayed,” said Mr. Calvert, pointing to the cover of the brochure, which cites a Gaelic proverb: “There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.”

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:28 p.m.  

  • Saskatchwan is the richest of all Canadian provinces in natural resources. The fact that they even think they need money from Ottawa is a testament to the incompetence of the NDP government.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • For nuna,

    That is not the point. harper made a specific promise and broke it. He made Calvert look bad because Calvert's budget was based on the promise.

    Harper favored Ontario and Quebec in order to buy votes. Western alienation? How is this different from the Liberals.

    Why would you support a man who doesn't keep his word?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 4:56 p.m.  

  • Thank you for your article, really helpful material.

    By Anonymous, at 11:53 a.m.  

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