Saturday, January 07, 2006

All citizens need tax relief

According to the most recent statistics (pdf file), over a million children in Canada live below the poverty line. Of those, over 1/4 had at least one parent in the work force full time, but with employment that didn't bring them to the income tax cut off. The rest had parents who either worked all year, but only part-time, or were on some sort of social assistance. Either way, these parents were below the Low Income Cut Off -- meaning they would not pay income tax. Many of these children live in single parent families.

So -- over a million children live in families where no income tax is paid because they live below the Low-Income Cut Off --how will the Liberal tax policy benefit them?

It won't.

An income tax cut means nothing to people who don't make enough money to pay income tax.
Not making enough to pay income tax doesn't mean that families are not working. Many are. It simply means that their wages don't reach the poverty line due to things like lack of education, lack of training, or lack of Canadian experience or due to circumstances like location and job availability.

Do you only matter to the Liberals if you earn enough to pay income taxes?

A simple 1% cut in the GST will make a real difference to these families, where a 1% cut in the lowest tax bracket and an increase of the personal exemption won't.

So why should the working poor subsidize the those who live below the income tax cut off?

They won't.

A reduction in the GST will offset any minor benefit a worker would receive from the 1% cut to the income tax rate.

Poor families -- those below the income tax cut off and those in the lowest income tax bracket -- pay monthly bills. Their expenditures vary, depending on income, but most pay utilities, telephone etc. Lower income families who have the luxury of a car, have to pay insurance. Most renters pay some sort of rental insurance. Everyone needs clothing and boots. All are subject to GST.

It surprises me that Jack Layton and the NDP are against any tax cuts, but particularly the Conservative plan which will benefit their primary constituency -- children and families living in poverty.

Some conservatives lament that Harper's plan isn't conservative enough. My understanding of fiscal conservatism insofar as taxes go, is that money belongs in the pockets of the citizens, not in government coffers. The more money the people have to do with as they choose, the better for the economy. Although income tax cuts might spur investment, a cut in a consumption tax won't discourage it, so in that sense it's neutral. Conservatives should welcome any tax reduction, especially one that benefits all Canadians, not just those above the poverty line.

Over one million children live in families below the Low Income Cut Off. These people are citizens, too. Harper's plan enables them to share in tax relief. What has Paul Martin got against that?


Friday, January 06, 2006

What choice, Mr. Martin?

The Liberal's other new tv ad 'Choices' features Ujjal Dosanjh slamming Jack Layton for saying he'd work with Harper (which we all know isn't quite the case -- but anyway). In it he says:

"You either believe in universal health care, or you don't.
You either defend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or you don't.
You either keep Canada out of Iraq, or you don't.
You either want a Harper government, or you don't."

When asked about the two new ads, Dosanjh said that the Liberals were trying to define the ballot question as one of Canadian values:

"We stand for the state," said Dosanjh. "The state can do good in people's lives. Mr. Harper doesn't (believe that)."
I suppose the multi-billion dollar ballot question is -- who decides what role the state should play in people's lives?

Dosanjh represents a government that 'stands for the state' and myopically refuses to concede that individual choice should determine when the government will have a place in the lives of its citizens.

As it stands in this free country, we are not allowed to choose to pay for our own health care. This universal institution is not something we can choose to opt out of if we feel it is not meeting our expectations -- let alone some arbitrary bureaucratic expectations determined by the provinces.

And now the Liberal's new universal child care plan -- 'the first new social programme in 40 years.' It's another social programme that begins with a mandate to be of assistance to families and will become so entrenched in our psyche, that to consider using a childcare arrangement outside of the state purview will be deemed unCanadian.

Paul Martin criticises Harper for a 'fend for yourself' approach to social issues. He's got it wrong. Harper's is a 'decide for yourself' approach. Social safety nets are supposed to support you, not ensnare you. They should be there if you need them, should you choose to use them. They shouldn't be imposed by the state on its citizens.

Dosanjh has confirmed that the Liberals 'stand for the state'. And while they are standing for the state, standing for themselves, it is inconceivable to him that we, the citizens might have something to say about how close they stand to us.

You either believe in freedom, or you don't.


Give us your red Tories, your soft NDP & your Green

Here is the text of the new Liberal ad featuring Ujall Dosanj and David Emerson -- Get the Job Done:

BC is booming. We'll work hard to keep it that way.
We're leading the Canadian economy in job growth.
Defending charter rights for minorities and investing in child care.
And Paul Martin is standing up to the Americans to get the right deal for BC on softwood lumber.
The fact is British Columbia's interests count in Ottawa like they never have before.
There's much more to do with your support we'll get the job done.
Did the Liberal ad really say that?

"The fact is British Columbia's interests count in Ottawa like they never have before."

Well there you go, British Columbia -- looks like you're in.

How can they do this with a straight face? I know different ads play to different provinces because of their diverse needs -- but this comes out and says -- 'hey, you haven't been strategically significant until now -- but suddenly it seems we need you and guess what, we're really going to listen to you this time.'

Of course that's if the Tories' Quebec numbers keep moving up and the Libs keep dropping like a stone. Strike another one for the party of national unity.

Maybe I'm just being picky.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

I've caught the meme

Thanks to Angry for getting me with the latest "tag" meme: list five weird things about yourself, then tag five others to do the same.

1 My children always say I don't open my mouth when I speak. It's like words come out, but the lips don't move. I don't see it myself, but then, I'm not looking. My daughter thinks it's Freudian -- maybe I'm afraid of something I'll say.

2 I always buy ugly eyeglasses because they're cheap, and I figure that I'll never wear them anyway because I wear contacts. But then, invariably, I lose one of my contacts. And worse still, my glasses are held together with a twist tie ( you know where the little screw should go to hold on the arm). It used to be worse; it used to be with duct tape. No. I don't wear them in public.

3 I manage to burn myself every time I cook. I have a bunch of kids, therefore I cook every day and I have the scars to prove it.

4 There are four kids in our house -- and I went out and bought two puppies this summer. They are cute, but I'm almost convinced that I'm certifiable. When I want the kids to help out, I keep telling them that they wanted these dogs, but I think they know it was me all along.

5 I can't spell to save my life. All the while I'm posting, I'm turning to my oldest daughter (aka Human Dictionary) and saying "how do you spell . . ." If you see misspellings, it's because she wasn't around to ask.

Now I'd like to hear some weird things about:

Linda at The Great Pumpkin
Martin at The G-gnome Rides Out
Kateland at The Last Amazon
Jamie at Crittermusings
Bill at Strong World


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Having negative thoughts

I'm not sure how much effect election advertising has on voting intentions, but I believe it has had a serious affect the Liberals.

On December 30th, the Conservatives released their 'They'll Go Neg' ad.

On January 2nd, the Liberals released two new ads. Neither show much imagination or thought. Neither makes mention of any person or other party. One of them seems to be implying a negative (when it suggests that 'one leader -- will protect minority rights') but it's subtle enough.

The ad with Paul Martin dusting off his political record could have been pulled out of storage from the last campaign. He talks of the Liberal glory days of deficit slaying and debt reduction. If it isn't old, it had to have been cobbled together quickly because that record is simultaneous with the 'sponsorship years' and the 'transfer slashing years' which leaves him open to criticism for taking credit for the 'positive' things that happened on his watch, while seeing and hearing no evil at the same time. And of course, the 'positives' are all subject to interpretation. Many would say that the state of health care in this country is a direct result of Martin's transfer reductions to the provinces. Had he had time to think, Martin likely wouldn't have wanted to run on that record.

In the other ad they talk about Paul Martin as though he alone governed this country over the past twelve years:

'one leader' is responsible for the lowest unemployment in 30 years (because he changed the criteria for collecting EI and the method for calculating the unemployed skewing comparisons between pre-1995 and post-1995 numbers)

'one leader' reduced the deficit by $42 billion (by gutting tranfer payments to the provinces and creating a fiscal nightmare for all of them -- and all of us)

'one leader' had eight straight balanced budgets (I believe that's a lie. A balanced budget doesn't have a whopping surplus that can be used to line the party coffers or be given in perqs to Liberal friends. A surplus means over-taxation -- maybe that's why Mr. Martin isn't bragging -- because 'one leader' created many surpluses and put them in unauditable foundations -- so we'll never know how much or who's got it. Funny -- this party, which was in such debt last year, and which was forced to 'put aside' some money to pay back Canadians for their misdeeds, is now rolling in dough -- Steve MacKinnon, National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada . Coincidence?

'one leader' united the provinces to lower health care wait times.(after 12 years in office, they call this an accomplishment. Harper's answer to him said it all.)

'one leader' will protect minorities (except when it's politically incorrect)

'one leader' believes in a compassionate Canada (compassionate? He's still trying to impose himself and the rest of his myopic, pocket-picking miscreants on Canadians. That seems pretty harsh to me.)

The recent Conservative ads are being called negative by CTV (title link) but that's a matter of perspective. Besides, having made major policy announcements everyday, it isn't as though slamming the Liberals is all they have -- that's the gravy.

Martin is still trying to 'go neg' on the campaign trail, but I wonder how long the Liberals will restrain themselves on television and in print, just to try to prove the Conservatives' ad wrong.

I give them until the debates are over. Martin doesn't do well under pressure, and the pressure is buiding. I have a feeling he'll be trounced from all sides, and the Liberals will have no choice to drop the gloves.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Gordon Stamp and the unity vigilante

Someone writes a letter to the editor, name withheld. The person is venting about his employer, his country, his wife . . . whatever. Another person with the means, or through duplicitous actions, uncovers who this person is and 'outs' them -- is that fair? Is it right? I don't know, I'm really just asking -- but I do think it's particularly odd when the outter is anonymous himself.

Personally, from all I've read, what Gord Stamp said was a fairly typical Albertan response to frustration with having no voice in confederation. Now, even the voice of frustration is being silenced. The guy was working for the Conservatives, so my guess is that he felt Canada was worth his spare time -- he was willing to take action to make it work because despite private reservations about the outcome of the upcoming election, he must believe in Canada. Feelings, reactions, thoughts, opinions and ideas are all still legal in Canada. Each of them is subject to change, to circumstances and, if they are subject to scrutiny, they shouldn't be treated as toxic unless they are advocating something illegal.

Was his talk treasonous? Was it illegal? or was it the bravado that comes from the relative anonymity of venting on a forum or a blog?

Is there nowhere that people can say what they think anymore without it becoming more than what it is?

I've read through much of what Stamp wrote and I have to say I believe the reaction is over-blown. There were no personal attacks. He called Ontarians 'stupid eastern voters'. He suggested that others in Alberta also feel ready to bolt when they contemplate the idea of five more years of Liberal hegemony -- and that some of those people have ties to the Conservative Party. Big whoop!

Has no one ever had a family fight, walked out, slammed the door, and shouted 'I'm outta here'. In a family, you try to understand what drives a person to speak like that -- you don't bolt the door behind them. In Canada, we seem to only have that kind of compassion for Quebeckers.

There are a good many Quebeckers working in government, taking a Canadian paycheque, who have now, or in their past, entertained the notion of an independent Quebec. Canada has survived. Paul Martin has embraced them -- one lives in the Governor General's mansion, another is his Quebec Lieutenant and a Cabinet Minister. But a volunteer in a party that hasn't even formed a government gets fired?

Yes, people have the right to react to Stamp's comments as they see fit -- and I suppose the Conservative Party wants to distance itself from people who use what is considered 'extreme' rhetoric -- but let's face it, Quebec has been separating since I was a little kid. Everyone listens. Everyone cares. We hold up banners that say 'my Canada includes Quebec'. An Albertan suggests that the Liberal status quo -- imposed on him and his province by Ontario -- would feed separatist forces in Alberta and he's treated like a traitor. We listen seriously to avowed separatist Gilles Duceppe -- allow him a voice in federal election debates -- but this volunteer -- who is working for a party that has no intention of splitting up the country -- he must be punished because he is the voice of extremism? Give me a break.

I've been thinking about Stamp a lot since yesterday when I went to visit
Candace on Planet X. Through her post, I was led to LackofGreyMatter or BucketsofLostBrainCells or maybe it was Bouquets of Grey, the anonymous stalker blogger who seems take perverse joy in twisting daggers and dancing on graves as a public service. In the comment section, he tells Candace:

That this matter may have caused Mr. Stamp some personal pain is not anything that I take any pleasure in. I do believe, however, that I've done your party a service by exposing him and allowing you to do the right thing.

That was about 12 hours after having written a post entitled: More Stampy Goodness where he continues to do '(y)our party a service' and trying to flush out more operatives in the thriving and nefarious Alberta separatist movement.

It continues today, the newest post slamming 'contingent Canadians' -- those who say there are limits to what they can put up with from government. Buckets goes into a 'my country, right or wrong' soliloquy that brought tears to my eyes. No, really. He speaks of his love of nation and says "I like who we are and what we're becoming" vowing only to vote for people who feel the same:

"no matter what mistakes its people or governments make."

It's unconscionable that in a free country anyone might feel differently from Mr. Bucket -- and then have the audacity to actually express that feeling. You'd think we were living in a bloody democracy or something. Mr. Stamp and his separatist ilk don't love the fact that waste, sleaze, corruption, lies, and arrogance are being normalized by an autocratic regime, which through a decade or more of manipulation have managed to vilify any religion, philosophy or political thought-process that doesn't fall into line with their own? For shame, Mr. Stamp. For shame!

It isn't only that I don't find Mr. Stamp's opinions offensive, or even very shocking (which I don't) given the political climate in this country. Heck, if the Liberals get in again, I want to separate -- It's that -- rather than listening to what Stamp was saying, the Conservative Party and or/ Peter Goldring, his MP, allowed his fear of public sentiment to drop the axe without even giving a nod to the fact that what Stamp said resonates with a lot of people -- not all of them Albertans but all of them Canadians.

Buckets admits that the sum of Gord Stamp's work in the Alberta separation movement has been talking separation ‘after the next election’ since the early Chretien days. And while Stamp loses his position, the phantom Bucket slithers and trolls and gossips, looking for fresh meat to skewer in his smug, creepy way.

We woo Quebeckers who threaten separation and shun Albertans who even think of it.

Liberal Canada. Like it or shut up.