Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coyne: Dion's DEEP tax cuts

An interesting column by Andrew Coyne:

A Liberal tax opportunity

Last Friday, while the Tories were busy putting the finishing touches on the Speech from the Throne, the Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, was delivering a Throne Speech of his own. Okay, it was only a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto, and it only had one real bit of news in it, and it didn’t get nearly the press that last night’s prime time extravaganza did (“tonight, on a very special Speech from the Throne...”), but as an indicator of what’s on the party’s mind, it was every bit as intriguing. ...

It began with the ritual ticking off of Liberal “priorities” the party would like to see the government address -- “clarity” on Afghanistan, action on global warming, “a plan” to fight poverty, and, um, something on the economy. Only instead of the usual warmed-over hash about encouraging excellence and “investing” in this or that, the Liberal leader put forward a serious, substantive proposal, of a kind not historically associated with Liberals in general or Mr. Dion in particular. Indeed, he came perilously close to being specific.

In brief, he promised to cut taxes -- but not just any taxes. He promised to cut corporate tax rates, and to cut them deeply. How deeply? Here’s what he said: “The previous Liberal government reduced the federal corporate tax rate from 28% to 19%. The Conservatives took the “bold step” of going further… to 18.5% in 2011. I would go deeper than that.”

Okay, a little on the vague side, granted. But baby steps: this is a Liberal leader, making an unadorned and unambiguous commitment to cut corporate tax rates. No hedging about, no rider about cutting rates first for “the forgotten middle class.” As important were the reasons he offered:

“A lower corporate tax rate is a powerful weapon in the federal government’s arsenal to generate more investment, higher living standards and better jobs.” How? Three ways. One, “if you lower the corporate tax rate, you lower the cost of capital for Canadian companies. Therefore, these companies are induced to spend more on capital equipment.”

Two, “to create a new Canadian advantage,” in the competition for footloose investment capital -- specifically, “a much lower corporate tax than in the United States.” And three, “to strengthen Canadian companies against foreign takeover.” In case anyone missed his meaning, that’s “to strengthen our companies by taxing them less.” (Emphasis added.) I think we can say point three marks the end of the Liberal flirtation with the economic nationalists.

Well. Much will depend on precisely (or even vaguely) how deep Mr. Dion’s proposed tax cuts turn out to be. He would go further than the Tories have. Would he go further than they would? Is this part of a Liberal strategy, as some have mooted, to outflank the Conservatives on taxes?

If so, then federal politics is about to get very interesting. A radical tax-cutting agenda would not merely offer some much needed balance to the Liberal program, after a spring and summer spent chasing the NDP and the Greens further and further out to the left. It would turn the political spectrum inside out. It would be unclear just what “left” and “right” meant any more. As Mr. Dion put it, if corporate tax cuts are a right-wing policy, then “Sweden, with its low corporate tax rate, is the hot bed of neo-conservatism while the United States, with its very high corporate tax rate, is a socialist paradise.”

But it has to be radical. Conservatives are all about “incrementalism” these days, to allay fears of a hidden agenda. Liberals have to be radicals, just to convince people they have an agenda.

Fortunately, there is ample room for radicalism on the tax front. Liberals have a historic opening to propose deep cuts in tax rates, corporate and personal, without cutting a dime out of current (vastly profligate) levels of spending. Three factors combine to make this possible.

The first is the surplus. The long fight against the deficit, years of raising taxes and cutting spending, have given federal finances a virtually unstoppable momentum towards surplus. The Tories will likely draw down much of this to pay for tax cuts of their own, but Liberals could go further, if they also make use of factors two and three.

Tax reform is one. The tax code has long been cluttered with all sorts of useless, distortionary tax preferences, encouraging people to make decisions for tax purposes, rather than for productive purposes. Strike these out, broaden the base, and you can cut rates even more.

And the other? Whisper it, Liberals, if you dare: a carbon tax. Conspicuously missing from both parties’ global warming plans, it is universally regarded as political poison. But what if the revenues from a carbon tax were used to slash -- and I mean slash -- income taxes? Then what you have is a cleaner environment, a more productive economy -- and maybe a winning political strategy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

YOUR blog, YOUR riding

Bloggers can improve the grassroots of the Liberals, help a newly-invigorated party connect with communities, and provide Canadians with a real government.

I propose that Liblogs' bloggers each commit to a federal riding. Be the eyes and ears of that riding over the next year.

There are enough of us to do this. Ideally, one would cover their own riding but no doubt there will be a missing blogger somewhere and too many glued to Downtown Canada City.

We need to be in touch with our communities. Be active and give the blogosphere insight into what is important in different ridings, the dynamics. Do some armchair research, email locals, ask questions of candidates. Engage the public.

Most importantly, matching blog-talk with our communities will engage people. It will demonstrate that Liberal party understands its public duties, and will create trust in Dion's plan for governing. All politics is local.

PS - I'm going to keep posting about this until Liblog Master Cherniak engages the idea and someone works out how to establish a riding-blogger matching system.

Michael Byers: Arctic Strength

Our North is shameful. Our future lies there and so its foundation must be rebuilt. A rich culture, amazing people, but living in conditions unacceptable for a wealthy nation.

Thin-walled houses, overcrowding, poor education and health.

Read Michael Byers' insightful article on

The Liberal Party must highlight this situation and demonstrate why our dollars should clean up our own backyard and care for our own citizens and environment.

The North is an opportunity for Mr. Dion to apply his three-pillar approach in a tangible, productive way that captures the imagination of Canadians.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Faceless Canadians in America

I was in the US when Paul Martin was kicked down to a minority. I voted in that election and I didn't show my face when I voted.

I sent in a photocopy of my driver's licence and my passport and I was mailed back an absentee ballot.

So, to create a "someone has to see your face on voting day" rule would likely disenfranchise the huge number of Canadians that live abroad but are actively involved in Canadian society.

Let's be honest, most people DON'T like the idea of women in our society covering their faces. However, to express this concern using voting laws is problematic.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where Conservatives' Energy Comes From?

Did anyone catch this picture link on the Tories' website?

"John, let's make the slogan reflect what we think of people who we crap on once elected."

Dion's Deep Throat: Aug 19th News Conference

Garth Turner pointed to the MPtv video of Stephane's news conference on the Liberal SPP Blueprint. Watching the video, I soon became bored and skipped to the questions that start at 15 minutes in, but the last five minutes is the real gold.

At first, the reporters seemed to want to make Dion say what he defined as a "combat mission" in Afghanistan. Not really the point of the news conference, and Dion gave wonky answers, not surprisingly.

But then, came the "who's the mole" stuff...

Romeo St. Martin asks:
Yesterday, [PM's Spokesperson] Sandra Buckler was here [...] She said there was no negotiation of bulk water. You said in french, that you have some information that the Liberals are receiving?
Dion interrupts:
We've heard some noise; we have some network of people telling us, 'be very careful cuz things are happening.' And we want put a marker very clearly, this should not be the case. [pointing to Blueprint]
St. Martin:
Why do you think the government would say we're not in negotiations about water; why do you think they are lying?
Oh, they are under pressure, coming from our American friends, to remove Canadian water, to help the problems with the shortage of fresh water. [...] I heared that many times, while I was in government. There is a strong lobby for that. We should be very strong to resist it. It would be a big mistake.
He goes on to explain how bulk water removal is not a solution to address shortages, when 2 billion people have inadequate supply.... But back to the juicy parts... Who's the mole?!

Norma Greenaway:
When [the Liberal government] started the SPP, were water exports on the table? [...] Were the Americans asking you to put it on the table?
By many networks we received requests of this kind. Not necessarily by the government of the US, though it may have happened. Each time I visited the US there was this view that water must be part of the negotiations.
Can you name some names about the people asking?
No, no, I will not give names but I may tell you that it happened many times, including when I was in California, for instance, speaking with the governor himself, not to say that he himself asked that, but there is a sense that California [...] is looking for another solution and Canada is very attractive.
But lobbying is different from negotiating. You are saying that you have information that there are talks?
There are talks, yes.
Then the moderator cuts in to end the questions, but Dion breaks in...

There are talks. The line between official and unofficial should be clarified, certainly.
St. Martin:
Could you be more clear about that? You say that you have information that there are negotiations going on, sir. And, yesterday, the spokesperson for the Prime Minister said 'It is not on the table. It is not being discussed. There are no negotiations.'

So you are calling the government a liar, the Prime Minister a liar. You say you've got some secret information. Could you share that with us?
I have some information that I cannot share about talks about that, and these talks should not become negotiations. The line between the two is so ambiguous I want it to dismiss any ambiguity, and it's why as a Liberal opposition we came with this marker, today.

Then a french-language question along the same lines as St. Martin's, Dion replies that things are happening despite what the PMO says. Then another one in english.

(female reporter):
What level are the discussions at?
I will not say more.

The moderator ends the news conference again, and Dion again breaks in...

The interest to me is to protect my country, and I have done that today.

Wow, huh?! Dion is a bold Mofo. That's some good opposition, real opposition.

PS - Garth Turner, thanks for joining the Liberals, I have never felt more in touch with parliament than through your blog, honestly. I wish more MPs, my own Liberal included, were half as dedicated and outgoing as yourself, at least with respect to communicating with their constituents.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mulroney licks Harper's Wounds... Ouch!

As BCer in Toronto pointed out earlier today, Mulroney complimented Harper on his first abuses of the public trust. As Lyin' Brian said, Harpie will eventually come up with "some very attractive ideas."

"Aw, shucks, thanks Brian." replies Harpie... well, Harpie might if it weren't for an awkward news item about his big-chinned admirer the same day:

Mulroney ordered to pay $470,000 to Schreiber

Hmm, the optics don't look so good on that. I'd love to see a Quebec by-election right now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

From the Desk of Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat?! Holy F*ck! I almost sent them money. One cannot deny how powerful it is to have a real icon of Canada stumping for you. Farley Mowat recently wrote a letter of support for the Green Party.

There is such honesty and idealism of youth conjured when I read his words. Farley Mowat for me evokes the memory of an idealic Canada- an expansive, beautiful and preserved wilderness.

Its a powerful image for most Canadians and so when the author of that imagery raises the alarm, Canadians will react.

In case you didn't see it, I'm posting the original link. We really need to make sure that real action on the environment happens, at all levels of government, and more importantly, in our own lives.

Here is the letter (click here for the link):

Dear Green Party Friend:

Eighty-six years as participant and observer have convinced me we are facing an ecological and environmental crisis that could precipitate the greatest die-off in the history of our planet.

The current situation is so ominous and the potential for disaster so diverse and imminent as to threaten not just human life but all of animate creation. If this sounds like Chicken Little, it is because this time the sky truly may be falling.

The unwillingness of the powers-that-be to accept the scope and urgency of the threat convinces me that the cement-heads who currently control our destiny are incapable of responding to the approaching tornado. They will remain engrossed in their own self-interests, trusting that a consortium of super-science, technology, and the Entrepreneurial Gods will see them safely into Heaven on Earth.

I don’t believe it will. Which is why I am now giving my support to the Green Party, the only political entity demonstrating a real and potential effective concern for the planet and its myriad inhabitants.

All of its inhabitants!

For it is not just we human beings who are at risk. We are all in the same crucible together – and the temperature is rising rapidly, both figuratively and actually.

The Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, is the one political party clearly committed to averting the catastrophic consequences of our continuing to treat the Earth as mere dirt beneath our feet, so it is imperative that we elect Green Party members to our next parliament. This cannot happen without a lot of help from a lot of us.

The Harper Conservatives boast of their war chest of $15 million, and their War Room from which they will send out their Attack Ads and fire their Media Barrages. The Green Party and its leader, Elizabeth May, have only the Green Hope Chest, which at the moment is virtually empty. Nevertheless, they are promising a peaceable campaign focused on the survival of a peaceable kingdom.

I very much want them to succeed and I hope you do too, so I invite you to join me in making it financially possible for the Greens to vanquish the vandals and thereby help re-establish a viable future for life on Earth.

Signed Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Poll: A BCer is now happy.

No, not that blogger, but me, another BCer.

From the latest Ipsos-Reid poll:

"In British Columbia, the Liberals stood at 34 per cent, while the Tories trailed at 30 per cent, dropping nine points."

So, while nationally the Tories lead the Liberals 39% to 29% according to this poll, I'm wondering what happens when we remove the Tories' 70% polling in Alberta.

It's amazing how the Liberals are so unpopular in Alberta (17%) and Quebec (20%). What's up?

And in Quebec, what does a seat projection look like if the Tories take over some Bloc ridings? Is Tory popularity in Quebec coming at the expense of Liberal seats? I imagine Liberals could not be any less popular in Quebce than they were last election.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Harper: A Gun To Our Heads

Yesterday was another sad day in the tale of North American gun crime. It is the opportunity for Liberals to reflect citizens' concern and by showing, as representatives, the Liberals are serious about doing their part by seizing the moment to push the government to finalize the gun registry.

Last week, MP Marlene Jennings accused the government of attempting to "confuse people even more, so that they erode support among Canadians for the gun registry and they weaken the registry."

As Ken Dryden said "I hate guns".

To quote this Ottawa Citizen article:

"The Harper government proposed to extend an amnesty for unregistered rifles and shotguns, but at the same time warned gun owners they could be charged if they don't register the weapons and renew licences."

"Following up on an election pledge, the government last June tabled a bill that would repeal a law requiring gun owners to register rifles and shotguns, although a previous registry for handguns and bans on other weapons would remain."

I hope the government and opposition seize this opportunity to limit gun crime in Canada. The Registry is paid for, let's use it!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Congratulations, Dion and May!

I am proud to see Mr. Dion putting his money where his mouth is. Progressive voters can be more comfortable voting for the Liberals from this day, knowing that it's not just the same old boys' game of promising action but never delivering.

As a progressive voter, I am always split at election time in a riding that swings between Tories and Liberals. Do I vote for Liberals who won't rock the boat but (unless forced) won't take action? Or, do I vote for a progressive party like the Greens to show where I want the country to go, but risk letting a Tory win?

Today, I can vote Liberal with a clear conscience. I hope the Liberal family realizes that I represent a good proportion of the voter pool.

Alarm bells are ringing at the Tory Fear Factory!

PS - Greens who oppose this move either don't believe in their most effective leader or are smoking crack. They are established as a political party, they have to win a seat and must be pragmatic about how to do that. If they want to be a political action group then stop running candidates.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What does 30 mean to you?

What does the -30- at the bottom of press releases mean?

I use to think it was an internal reference, like Page 30 in this year's volume of press releases, but my brain slowly realized that everyone can't be on the same page.

Please help.

By-election Fever!

Oh, here it is... I noticed this at the bottom of a Canadian Press article today:

"The Tories will wait to call an election in order to gauge their support in Quebec through federal three byelections, said a report published Wednesday in Montreal La Presse.

Two ridings — one in Montreal and one east of the city — are currently vacant. Another riding in the Lac St-Jean region, north of Quebec City, will open up in June when Bloc Quebecois MP Michel Gauthier steps down."
So we, political junkies, who need something when playoff games are not on, can start getting excite about a Quebec mini-election. Oh, better than any SES poll, how exciting.

Sinestra's blog entry has already beat me to it in getting the party started.

Friday, March 30, 2007

King Leonidion's 308

BCE: Harper, the Wolf from 300

I read an article by the National Post's chief business correspondent entitled "Election first, takeover later".

In it, there is a hint of the Harperites' policy moves post-winning a majority. Let's call it a paw showing out from under the sheepskin.

It of course dovetails nicely with Harper's kick in the balls to income trusts. The article describes how BCE was lobbying Ottawa to allow it to recover money via an American takeover of it.

This push has now stopped and BCE is holding off because it would be bad politics for Harper to have to defend, during an election, the GIANT takeover of a Canadian iconic corporations under his watch. Nevertheless, as Theresa Tedesco writes, Maxime Bernier, has mused "about deregulation and busting down protective barriers in the telecom industry".

Somewhat related...

King Leonidas' analogy of Xerxes as the wolf fits my Harper reference well. If one remembers, Xerxes in the film believes himself a god. Enough said. Harper isn't as camp or as large (height-wise if not by weight) as 300's Xerxes but he definitely has the same moral compass.

Let's hope that Dion's Liberals manage to get close to the Spartan's 300 soldiers to defeat this Canadian Xerxes. Hmm, 308 soldiers has a nice ring to it... I'll have to figure out how to use Photoshop to make a graphic of that!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

GG: Libs invited to form government?

This Quebec election has me thinking more about minorities. If the Harperites lost a non-confidence vote, is the GG not obliged to ask the Liberals and other opposition parties to form a government? Liberals plus NDP would fit; is that enough seats?

I'm too lazy to look up the federal history on these things, but shouldn't that be what happens?

And back to Quebec... Wouldn't it be funny if the Liberals and the PQ formed a coalition government? It is not in the ADQ's interest politically and as opposition to support the government. The ADQ would win the next election for sure, now that people scared of the PQ feel confident in not having to vote Liberal.

PQ + Lib = Love, how ironic.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Huge Loophole" - Lobbying for Lobbyists - Thanks, Toews!

The Accountability Act is weak; I have no doubt about that. With so many government backroom mid-weights wanting to scrape something out of their influence, the government must oblige their buddies and allow lobbying. Also, how else would government know what it should do to help big companies and fat cats. It's wrong.

What's more wrong is the latest crap in the news, that rules whose ink is barely dried and only half signed into law are now going to be made weaker!

The more awful part is that the government is the one pushing for the watering-down.

Canadians deserve respect from their government. This new move is disgusting. People should register their dissatisfaction:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Take a F@cking TAXI!

It is disgusting that cabinet ministers are hiring limosine services for transportation (to say nothing about the waiting charges, with the engine on no doubt!).

Dion has proved for more than a decade that a high-profile, controversial cabinet minister does not need special transport privileges that come at a huge and wasteful expense to taxpayers.

The government should ban such waste as a policy to be implemented immediately.

Billion-dollar companies have strict rules about transport/travel perks. Canada's government should be no different. Why do shareholders get more responsibility and accountability than taxpayers?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Social Justice: Healthcare

I took a step back from this week's news and saw the following forest from the trees:

1. Dion took his sustainable development policy to its most seemingly infertile ground and came away with positive growth.
2. He went to the Prairies to meet and greet shortly after defending the Wheat Board.
3. Overall, he's a player on the Prairies and his policies sell.

(4. The Wajid Kahn stunt blew up in Harper's face.)

So, I'd say that's the "Environment Pillar" box ticked. What about the other three pillars? Dion needs to sell a unified policy platform, and quick.

Next up, SOCIAL JUSTICE: Healthcare should be the focus.

Jeffrey Simpson often gives me my thoughts on the federal government:
  • thoughts

  • As Simpson suggests, BE REAL! Address not the retail healthcare politics of "wait times" but show you can do more. Healthcare issues affect everyone and addressing issues of drug costs, provincial patchwork and healthcare management will have max resonance. The federal government has a HUGE influence on drug costs.

    There is not a family in Canada that is not concerned about care for the elderly and costs for that care. They worry about their own retirement as well as their elderly parents. The below-35's worry about having to pay for everything themselves these days.

    "E-Health" fits nicely with streamlining through innovation. While Conservatives might sell "cuts" and such, Liberals can sell "sustainable healthcare". Better technology improves diagnosis, better patient info management streamlines care. The more digital we get, the less waste - both of money and resources. This all dovetails nicely with the work Dion has done already.

    The Liberal record on healthcare is easily defendable. The Chretien and Martin governments put huge quantities of money into both research and provincial transfers. Meanwhile, Canadians still don't trust the Tory agenda on Health and Harper's ridiculous announcement on a Friday afternoon (no surprise there) is such an easy target.

    So, let's get talking!

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Revisited: Martin's View of Dion's Potential

    This was from Dec. 14 's Globe:

    Dion's defining moments

    The image is being set now. In the next few fortnights, Canadians will decide whether they have finally found something fresh and noble in a political leader or whether it's the same old carnival act that can never be changed.

    There is a suspicion out there that Stéphane Dion is a man of honour, a politician of dignity with true character.

    True character is the reverse of trying to be all things to all people. It means not seeking others' approval. When, as a political leader, you stop doing that, and just be the essential you, people want some of what you've got, some of that core. You're the magnetic field.

    But politics is about selling, reaching out, pandering. And so here was Stéphane Dion in his first week as Liberal leader, already in the grip of the ugly claws of the enterprise. He was faced with a middling controversy over whether he should maintain his dual French citizenship. It was a sensitive issue for him, one that cut to his heart and, in responding, he got testy.

    His answer was sound enough, but he couldn't help thinking of the political equation. Well, if maintaining my French citizenship loses me votes, he said, he might have to reconsider. In other words, let's cast aside the principle involved here and make a decision on the basis of politics.

    That wasn't the man of honour talking. It was hardly the new politics. It was an example of him looking over his shoulder, seeing the dark shadow of pollsters in pursuit, about to smother the light within.

    If Canadians see more of that, they will lump Stéphane Dion with the others and his advantage will disappear. Opponents sense his appeal, his self-contained piety. They see it in the polls and are out to drag him down to their level. No one can remain unsullied in this game, they think. We'll get him.

    So here was Stephen Harper in the House of Commons Tuesday, coming at Mr. Dion with a calumny almost in league with Richard Rich's slandering of Thomas More. Your record on the environment, the Prime Minister hollered is “no different than the record of Alfonso Gagliano on accountability.”

    The cerebral Quebecker turned his head away in despair as the acolytes on the government benches — forgetting that their own global-warming record is one of shamefaced foot-dragging — bellowed their approval of their PM's odious comparison.

    Stephen Harper has an impressive skill set. He had a chance, himself, to bring more honour to governance. But since the opening bell when he elevated a floor-crosser and an unelected senator to his Cabinet, he has shown himself to be a leader whose abiding imperative is political opportunism. His Senate reform, announced yesterday, which would allow voters at last some say in Senate appointments, is a step forward that he need not have framed in the context of political partisanship. His brazen approach in this regard has cost him, as voters, turned off by this kind of politics, have responded with declining approval ratings.

    Hence the Dion opening is all the greater. The Leader of the Opposition must find a way to resist the temptation to respond in kind to the cheap attacks and slanders. To succeed, to avoid being dragged down into the brothel, the rules of engagement are many: He must be a champion of principle. He must remain stoic, keeping the level of discourse high and noble, holding to his true character. He must, while letting other caucus members tackle the seamy questions, be seen as frequently as possible with the other tower of integrity in the Liberal thicket, Ken Dryden. Mr. Dion must avoid overexposure and he must avoid the big type of position change — remember John Turner's accepting Pierre Trudeau's list of patronage appointments in 1984 — that can be so damaging to the stature of a leader.

    There have been others who have come to the big job unsullied, only to be pulled down into the sludge. They stopped being themselves.

    Few have had the opportunity Stéphane Dion now possesses. He can do something greater than score a win for his party. He can bring respect to what Liberal Stan Keyes once fittingly labelled “a whore's game.”