T Nation

Budget Excitement in Canada


#1

I don't know if this will get much interest here, but it's pretty amusing to see our own government pulling crazy stunts...

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1845&ncid=1845&e=2&u=/cpress/20050624/ca_pr_on_na/commons_same_sex

Although the conservatives are complaining, it does point to an interesting outcome. The minority goverment, while having to make deals to get things accomplished, is in fact having to listen to the voters, in order to work with other parties to accomplish their business.

In this case, particularly, the NDP was able to influence our government not to cut corporate taxes and to instead put that money towards social programs. People voting for the NDP should realize that though they didn't elect a government per se, their voices were not wasted in the election.

Excerpts for the lazy...

--
Paul Martin's Commons corps dusted off a rarely used procedural tactic just before midnight to bamboozle furious Conservatives and pass contentious Liberal-NDP budget amendments Thursday.

The immediate result was the stifling of any threat of a summer election and an acceleration of the vote on same-sex marriage. That vote could occur as early as Monday. The Conservatives could only sputter and fume after their unofficial partners in the Bloc Quebecois deserted them to join the Liberals and the NDP to cut off debate on the budget.

--
By contrast NDP Leader Jack Layton stood triumphant in the Commons while his jubilant troops tossed shredded paper and applauded one of the biggest coups in their party's history: approval of their $4.6 billion budget deal with the government.

The NDP budget deal, struck this spring when the Liberals desperately needed allies in Parliament, erased corporate tax cuts and replaced them with $4.6 billion for housing, the environment, education and foreign aid.

--
The realization of what had occurred only dawned on the Tories as they gazed around the shuttle buses that normally ferry MPs off Parliament Hill and realized there wasn't a Liberal in sight.

Every available Liberal MP was cloistered in the Commons lobby waiting to spring into a vote to cut off debate. The Liberals, the Bloc and New Democrats made extraordinary use of a rule allowing for cutting off debate on the budget if they agreed the Conservatives were being obstructionist.

--
The Liberals were taking a monumental gamble. A loss on the vote would force the prime minister to dissolve Parliament and call a summer election.


#2

I admit I may be missing something, but doesn't minority parliment involve making deals with other parties?

This is the most input the population of Canada (read: non-liberal voters such as myself) has had in over a decade! We're actually seeing majorities along ideological instead of just party lines (though I'm sure the party whip is still doing a brisk business). And assuming those different ideologies represent some of the many views of Canadians, I'm happy.


#3

BS.

and the bloc all of a sudden sided with the gliberals?... what did they receive? ....and smiling jack! just stole 4.5 billion dollars out of you tax payers' pocket for no good...... and you find this is something to crow about?

quebec again playing ottawa like a violin(i wonder what quebec got out of all this)....the socialists taking more of working canadians hard earned money.... and a crooked malfeasant gov't remaining in power a little bit longer...

i've seen it repeated over and over again over the years.
the real losers are you who delight in seeing your so called democracy used to keep the liberals in power again.... so now how many more billions of your money will they spend to buy your loyalty while we're a mite short of hospital equipment.


#4

Redswing,

I know, I know, education, housing, the environment and foreign aid are absolutely worthless places to spend money...

As has been said in support of the US system, sometimes there are improper activities in government, but the fact they get caught and are brought to light shows the system works.

Anyhow, as for the Bloc, I don't know what, if anything, they got -- other than a chance to shaft the conservatives. If you know, howabout letting us know.

Anyway, sounds like a lot of negative whining. You wouldn't be a conservative would you? Maybe if you get enough votes and actually represent the will of the people some of your policies will be put in place as well?

It isn't like the liberals up here wouldn't welcome finding reasonable ways to get votes from the conservatives also... too bad the conservatives are piss poor at playing nice and finding a way to work with the current government.

So, as I said, it's amusing. That isn't crowing. It's just interesting the way it works... and the way in which minority governments in general operate, though I wouldn't want to end up with minority governments all the time.


#5

Vroom, just like that..what party would you vote for?

As we know, most Ontarian used to vote for the Liberals (as us Quebecers votes mostly for Le Bloc) but now that the Gomery's commission is nearly over and everyone got a sight at the traitory of the liberals..

Of course i'd mostly vote for the Bloc but the most reasonable choice would be the NDP (with their standing on social/ecology and Jack Layton looks like a fine leader).

Anyway.. FYI redswingline, the tax payer money would be greatly used if there would be elections right now, that's something you don't seems to consider.
The liberals don't have alot of power right now if that can make you feel better about your tax money.


#6

Hekk,

When the conservatives focused on fiscal and business conservative issues, I was very much happy with their party. Now that they want to be a little more extreme with their conservatism, I don't like them so much.

The NDP has traditionally been way to socialistic for me. They are the party of the "liberal" view that government knows best and that big programs should be put in place to solve every problem. I certainly don't like that.

I don't live in Quebec, so I'm certainly not voting for some "I don't play well with others" party who's sole purpose is to screw the rest of Canada out of as much as it can get for itself. Quebec is turning this country into a nation of provinces more so than anything else. Everybody wants a special deal now, and I tell you, if I was in Ottawa I'd give the cold shoulder to the provinces and tell them to seperate if they don't like it. Enough of this bullshit already.

Anyway, yes, though they screwed up and put millions of dollars into the pockets of their friends, while trying to keep Quebec from leaving, it doesn't mean they are really any more crooked than any other politicians.

I'd probably vote for them. But holy shit, what a crowd of turkeys to choose from. Maybe the rhino party or the weed party would be better votes this time around.

I still think that they should have left the name as the Canadian Reform Alliance Party (acronym CRAP). I think they would have done better to be honest and just leave the damned name alone at that point -- the public would have had more respect for that...


#7

Oh and by the way..there has been a nice article in the Globe and Mail about politician having the right to lie.

"Toronto ? It's official: Politicians can break campaign promises with impunity.

An Ontario Superior Court judge has absolved Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty of breaking an elaborately signed contract promising not to raise or create new taxes, saying anyone who believes a campaign promise is naive about the democratic system.

If anyone who voted for a politician based on a particular promise later were to go to court alleging a breached contract, ?our system of government would be rendered dysfunctional. This would hinder, if not paralyze, the parliamentary system,? Mr. Justice Paul Rouleau said.

The judge was ruling on a request from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to quash the Liberals' new health premium on the grounds that it broke an election promise.

?Imposing a duty of care in the circumstances such as exist in the present case would have a chilling effect and would interfere with the concept of parliamentary sovereignty,? he said. ?To allow claims for negligent representation to be made based on these would raise the spectre of unlimited liability to an indeterminate class.?

With a broad smile and a much-televised flourish, Mr. McGuinty signed the written pledge during the 2003 election campaign as he stood on a podium with the president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, John Williamson, who signed as a witness.

Far from being an off-the-cuff act on the campaign hustings, the promise at stake was an orchestrated part of the McGuinty campaign.

It committed the province not to raise taxes or implement new ones ?without the explicit consent of Ontario voters.? Mr. McGuinty also promised not to run deficits and to abide by the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act.

However, the McGuinty government's resolve ebbed rapidly once the Liberals defeated the Progressive Conservative government on Oct. 2, 2003. Citing an unexpected deficit of $5.2-billion, the government said it was compelled to launch a health premium that would cost taxpayers who earned more than $20,000 from $60 to $900.

Last fall, the federation asked Judge Rouleau to declare the health tax invalid and order the return of almost $1-billion collected since it was implemented last July.

?It is hoped that, if elected, the politicians and their parties will keep their promises and will follow through with the pledges given,? Judge Rouleau said in the ruling.

?That said, however, few people would consider that all of the promises made and pledges given constitute legally binding documents between the candidate and the elector or electors to whom those promises or pledges were given.?

The ruling that politicians can break promises escaped notice when it came out shortly before Christmas, perhaps as those same politicians rushed off to their constituencies and as the tax federation contemplated its legal pounding.

The judge noted that Mr. McGuinty was far from the first politician to renege on a promise made.

?From the record, it is apparent that upon taking office and assessing the situation, the government believed that it would be contrary to the public interest to keep the promise made during the election,? the judge said. ?This decision not to keep the promise does not mean that the promise, when made, was untrue, inaccurate or negligent.?

Judge Rouleau said it is up to voters, not the courts, to punish governments who fib and fabricate.

Sean Hamilton, a spokesman for Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, welcomed the ruling and said the tax was necessary.

?We are pleased that the court has confirmed the government's authority to introduce legislation implementing the Ontario health premium,? Mr. Hamilton said.

?The Ontario health premium...will raise essential revenues to support and improve health care for all Ontarians. The government made a difficult, but necessary, decision last year that this objective justified amendments to the Taxpayer Protection Act to allow introduction of implementing legislation.?

The federation, a non-profit lobby group opposed to taxes and government waste, argued in court that the premium was illegal on the grounds that a provincial law required the government to hold a referendum before it attempted to establish a new tax or raise an existing one.

Former premier Mike Harris passed the referendum legislation in 1999. However, the McGuinty government passed a bill effectively exempting the health-care premium.

?If we're told something on the campaign trail, we should be able to assume it's true,? Mr. Williamson told reporters during the proceeding. ?If we accept lies from politicians and they go on and win elections, they're just going to go on lying to us.?

Judge Rouleau concluded that nothing prevents the government from exempting the health-care premium from the requirement in the 1999 Taxpayer Protection Act for a referendum.

Nor, the judge said, did the requisite ?special relationship? exist between Mr. McGuinty and the federation that would allow its legal application to succeed. With a report from Caroline Alphonso"


#8

Just to be clear with my position, i would like Quebec to separate from Canada for the only reason of loosing that Federal tax (we have both provincial and federal taxes).

Getting only 50% of my salary because of the taxes with such piss poor social services is what makes this whole 2 taxes thing a problem.


#9

You know Vroom, it might be just me, but Quebec isn't the problem, it just makes the problem more appearent. Although I admit to voting for the Bloc and pq in the province, I'm not one of those furious separatists. A victory of the yes wouldn't mean instant separation, but a lot more leverage to deal with the faderal, that's for sure. And for the record, I do think we don't get our fare share of tax return from the gov', but it's not like I'm gonna argue with that on the net. We're both biased here, since Ontario is the prima dona of province, and Quebec the black sheep so opinions, even based on facts, are only worth so much to me.

For every wrong I can claim, I'm sure you can oppose a right. For every responsibility you think Quebec have in Canada's situation, I can can tell you of one obligation the Fed screwed us over. The only thing I'm sure of, is that Canada is a good country, but I'm Quebecer first, and Canadians second, and for that the rest of Canadians will not forgive us.


#10

Redswingline:
"BS.

and the bloc all of a sudden sided with the gliberals?... what did they receive? ....and smiling jack! just stole 4.5 billion dollars out of you tax payers' pocket for no good...... and you find this is something to crow about?

quebec again playing ottawa like a violin(i wonder what quebec got out of all this)....the socialists taking more of working canadians hard earned money.... and a crooked malfeasant gov't remaining in power a little bit longer...

i've seen it repeated over and over again over the years.
the real losers are you who delight in seeing your so called democracy used to keep the liberals in power again.... so now how many more billions of your money will they spend to buy your loyalty while we're a mite short of hospital equipment. "


Is this guy for real?


#11

Guys, I don't have anything against Quebec per se. I just wish it would stay or go, instead of sitting on the fence forever. It isn't a decision that should be used to try to force the rest of Canada to agree to your viewpoint.

From what I've heard, Quebec was originally half of Canada, back when Canada was primarily Ontario and Quebec, but now it is unhappy that it is not given the same weight in affairs.

Anyway, you have to know, that Ontario is one of the provinces that has been feeding money into Canada since nearly the dawn of time. It would hurt Ontario in no way for any province to leave Canada... hell, Ontario could do it and be better off.

So, we all pay way too much damned tax, that is for sure. I can't argue there either. I don't know what you think that has to do with what province you live in, unless your province has higher provincial taxes, which leaving the country won't help.

Seriously, tell me about what is wrong with the relationship between Canada and Quebec. I have no illusions that Canada is perfect in this... but you should know that everyone hates the fact that the federal government takes from them, it isn't just a Quebec thing. It's the same reason the western provinces wanted to cut and run -- when Ottawa extracted money from them.

It's not like the budget discussion is going to go anywhere.


#12

Lol, good then we agree on something else :slightly_smiling: J/K

Man, you're heading into stormy waters here. Just like I said in my first post, we all have facts to prove our views, so no point arguing here. To me, the wisest thing that's ever been said about Quebec/Canada relationship is that no one understand the other. That's the whole damn problem to me. Heck come into an history class in Quebec in see how history is taught, I'm pretty sure you won't be sure we're talking about the same country, and the same can be said of the way history is taught in the rest of Canada.

Let's face it, we are two different groups of people, and I challenge you to find a place on earth where being confined together hasn't started some sort of conflict. Maybe we can mesure how we are civilised by the way we solve this conflict.

You are right in saying that we're sitting on the fence there. First referendum was a clear sign, the latest one was crooked, and we all know it.

As to Ontario putting lots of money in Canada, I'm not sure how it's taught on your side of the fence, but Quebec, which le Bas-Canada (lower Canada??) at the time was richer than the Haut-Canada (upper-Can???) at the time of the fusion, even though market and business in general was in the hand of the british invader. The fusion occured to spread the debt, as they didn't have any interest to before, because of the language and religion chasm (I know that's not the term, but it's appropriate to the discussion at hand, isn't it:) And it continue to this day. Consider the money the government gets from Quebec, and consider what it gives back.

Ok, you can argue that Canada being a CONfederation, that money can be used anywhere there is the need to, but than why holding back the funding for health, scholarship, etc they're supposed to give us, balanced tax return notwithstanding? As a matter of fact, look at the past Conservatives gov'. They were always more fair than the Liberals. In fact, the referendum occured under two diiferent Liberal administration, both of which were headed by a Quebecer. We never had problem when Conservatives were in power, if you take out their obsolete policies.

And We always were more content when a Canadian was PM. In fact, I'm pretty sure that hadn't it been for Quebec, never would Pierre-Elliot Trudeau nor Jean Chretien would've been elected.

Gees, am I saying that we're better off with the Conservatives? Of course not. I'm pretty sure Stephen Harper is against the very idea of the wheel, he's such a stick in the mud. But the lesser of two evil doesn't make it good, either. That's why I'm voting for the Bloc, and if worse comes to worst, than NPD.

You know, I think that's my longest post ever on T-Nation:) Understand that this is not a rant, I'm merely exposing things as they are here. Hope that others will do the same, for the sake of mutual comprehension.


#13

Zen, I appreciate the chance to hear some things first hand, because honestly, I don't have much opportunity to. I'll put together some sort of reply or more questions later on.


#14

Vroom:

Please take a look at the Conservative's platform and tell me what exactly you find extreme about it.

http://www.conservative.ca/media/20050319-POLICY%20DECLARATION.pdf


#15

I'd be glad to hear from you, Vroom. I can honestly say the same here, and it goes to prove my point: the two parts of Canada don't know each another. Maybe we'll start a trend here. Sorry while I day-dream......

JPbear, good input, really, but it's not like any of the other parties political statements are bad either, its the means they take to achieve it. That might be the scariest part in it all: under the best of intentions is the will to achieve them, no matter what it takes. And the Conservatives have proven themselves to be particularly reticent to social changes to which a majority of citizens is open to. Stephen Harper is not the most charismatic of leader, but it wouldn't be a problem if he didn't have so much issues.

Say, do you think that to show his open-mindedness, he'll do something new? I don't know, evolve his haircut to a mullet or something:) J/K I'm pulling your leg here. But I do believe that in order to bring prosperity, and dare I say it, a mesure of contentment?, Conservatives are not the way to go, at least not in their present incarnation. I'd willing to vote for them if they had a leader I could look up to, and a smoother way to deal with social policy.


#16

"I'm pretty sure Stephen Harper is against the very idea of the wheel,...."

I don't think Harper is a loon by any stretch; I just don't agree with his view of Canada. Nevertheless, that quote made me laugh my ass off.


#17

Bump


#18

Zen, this thing drifted down off the page and slipped from my mind just as easily...

I'm certainly not going to suggest that Quebec hasn't also contributed a lot of funding to Canada, but this is how Canada works. Provinces that have money give to the provinces that don't.

However, I certainly don't have any current numbers with respect to Ontario or Quebec and their relative contributions. If anyone feels like digging all that up it would be interesting.

Now, I'm not convinced the government is holding back funding. There are transfer payments that the provinces are asking for, as they all want more money. However, I don't think that a federal government wanting to not increase its expenditures to the provinces qualifies as holding back. There are agreements in place which need to be honored. Whether or not the federal government is able to turn a surplus and pay down some debts doesn't change things.

I'm not sure I'm really discussing the point you raised. Again, I have no current numbers in hand for these issues at all.

LOL, nice!

Anyway, I'm not disagreeing with your assessment, honestly I just don't know the details. However, I do know that no matter how things were a couple of hundred years ago, for many many years Ontario has been a huge source of funding for the rest of Canada.

Assuming Quebec is still a source of funding in this respect, it isn't as if it has been singled out or treated unfairly as far as I know.


#19

I can't agree with you Vroom. The federal government consistently takes far too much money from Canadians so that it can brow-beat the provinces into doing what it wants. It's about power and control, and money gives them both. (over 40 billion SURPLUS over the past few years...money that they then use to pit the provinces against each other as they try to get a piece of the pie)

What they should be doing is lowering the federal taxes and allowing the provinces to raise provincial taxes as necessary (IMHO). This would allow the provinces to decide where they are spending their money, not the feds.

I agree.

I'm not sure what you are getting at, but I read this as "Ontario has been a huge source of funding for the rest of Canada therefore cut us some slack". (May not be what you meant, but that's what I interpret - clarify if it's not)

This I can't agree with, see part above where I agree....you can't with one side say that you have to share, then get all mad cause you feel you are sharing "more than anyone else".

This is what pisses the other provinces off to no end, Ontario deciding they know what is best for everyone in Canada.

Ontario has the largest population, but you certainly don't know what makes the other provinces tick.


#20

Towner,

Interesting points. However, nowhere was I suggesting that Ontario needed to be cut some slack. I was referring to the discussions concerning Ontario and Quebec, such that Quebec should not feel that it is shouldering an unfair burden.

On to the other topic, whether or not the government should reduce taxes. What about paying down the national debt? Then none of the provinces get to squabble over the money going to the government. Sounds fair to me.

However, nowhere in this is the idea that Ontario needs to decide what is good for the rest of Canada. I suspect that is political material spewed out by politicians that are angered when economic decisions are made based on populations and existing infrastructure requirements.

Nobody is ever going to get everything they want. People need to stop crying about how much everyone else is getting and focus on defining a fair way to distribute funds that are above and beyond existing agreements.

Personally, I'd like to see the excess funds used to pare down the national debt and at the same time to see ongoing minor decreases in taxes as that happens.

I'm surprised that everyone is outraged that the federal government is now finally running a surplus when only a few years ago everybody was crying that Ottawa had to curb its spending and stop running a deficit.

A surplus is better than a deficit, that is for sure. I don't know, I guess I'm just rambling, but quit looking for excuses to jump down my throat or blame Ontario for whatever Ottawa is doing.

Rightly or wrongly there are huge population centers in central Canada and there are have not provinces in eastern Canada.