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Interesting piece in todays National PosJohn Ivison: Phase 2 of the Trudeau era — disappointment

‎Yesterday, ‎October ‎21, ‎2015, ‏‎5:09:42 PM | John Ivison

35,000 FEET ABOVE WINNIPEG — Writing this on the flight back from Calgary to Ottawa, after completing a coast-to-coast journey that felt like Frodo’s trip to Mordor, I gazed out across a country that is largely content with the outcome of the 42nd general election.

Even Conservatives will whisper privately that it was probably for the best — they remain a contender and all the messy business of trying to run another minority government, as two-thirds of the country reached for their torches and pitchforks, has been avoided.

For the rest, excepting perhaps a few New Democrats, there is a euphoria that feels on a par with VE Day, the moon landing or a Canadian Olympic hockey gold medal.

Such lofty expectations of the new Trudeau government will come back down to earth with a crash, needless to say.

I’ve heard from public servants, fed up of being muzzled and ignored, who were enchanted by Trudeau’s promise in his inaugural press conference that his government will “listen to, work with and respect the public service.”

There is no doubt that the chill of the last few years will begin to thaw, but the Trudeauvians have a $6.5-billion hole in their platform that they say will be filled by making unidentified cuts in public spending. It will be grimly ironic if some of the new regime’s bureaucratic cheerleaders find themselves surplus to requirements.

The comprehensive nature of the Liberal platform means, inevitably, some policies will be shelved in the short term. There is only so much money and legislative time to introduce such a broad raft of reforms.

But then there are the promises that Trudeau may decide are not in his interests to keep. Chief among those could be the commitment that the 2015 election is the last to be conducted under the first-past-the-post system. “We will convene an all-party parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting,” the Liberal policy document says. Legislation for electoral reform is to follow within 18 months of taking office.

However, this pledge was made before the Liberals won a thumping majority. In fact, under PR in its broadest form, the Grits would have won just 135 seats and had to manage a minority government, horse-trading with a Conservative party with 108 seats, the NDP with 68, the Bloc with 17 and the Greens with 10. Will the nearly additional 50 MPs elected under the current system be quite so enthusiastic to fundamentally change the central plank of our democracy? Perhaps a less dramatic reform than originally envisaged may emerge, after being talked to death in committee.

There are other areas of proposed reform that may seem less urgent or take on a different hue, now the Liberals rule the Langevin Block.

Such lofty expectations of the new Trudeau government will come back down to earth with a crash, needless to say

The Grits’ plan for the Senate is to create a blue-chip appointments panel to recommend non-partisan Senate nominees. Trudeau said he hoped his removal of his Liberal senators from caucus would be seen as a “downpayment on the values I will bring to the office of prime minister.”

But, if his legislative agenda is filibustered by the Tory majority in the Red Chamber, will he be able to resist appointing partisans to the 22 vacancies that currently exist?

On partisan advertising, the Liberals have vowed to end the days when taxpayer-funded ads endorsing Conservative policies appeared on heavy rotation during playoff hockey.

The plan is to appoint an advertising commissioner to review ads to ensure they are non-partisan and relevant. Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government in Ontario introduced a similar measure, but his successor later complained the rules were too tight. There have been moves more recently to loosen those restrictions.

On Access to Information legislation, the Liberals have said they will make information more accessible, eliminating fees and including information for Trudeau and his ministers. Trudeau may have a sober second thought about that one, once his new best friends in the press gallery go through the digital equivalent of his garbage.

The point is not that most of these things are not desirable — most are (although I have reservations about PR that would take another column to document).

But governments should be judged by their actions, not their intentions. Justin Trudeau is nothing, if not a man of good intentions.

Yet, as was once explained to me by a venerable and veteran Liberal, Tom Axworthy, “liberalism’s dirty secret is that government doesn’t seem to work well much of the time.”

Then there is the corrosive influence of the first directive of all politicians, in all democracies, at all times: what will this decision mean to my prospects of re-election?

As Bill Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos once said so revealingly: “The President has kept all the promises he intended to keep.”

History suggests that finite resources and realpolitik will limit the transformative change espoused by the new kids in town. We will be watching.

National Post

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None of this should surprise anyone, it is politics after all, and writers must write. The National Post, given its origins and as observed when reading it, has a long tradition of right-wing editorializing. That's fine - it's how things work, even working without the need for fairness and balance. It is the energy behind the lively discussion about how to govern a diverse country. Reality will set in soon enough; one of the values of a connected world is the swift learning by almost an entire nation of how things look and how they work - an opportunity never before afforded the "unwashed". So for example, we can look south to the history of the Obama presidency and be able to judge statements of optimism, vision and patience against the harsh realities of daily push-and-pull politics. For me, the notion of "sabotage" by the Republicans isn't too strong a word for how they conducted themselves during the past eight years, but that is, I realize, just an opinion among millions of others. Who knows what Mr. Trudeau is in for and how the first scandal will unfold, for indeed it will - that is the game. Clearly, there will be no honeymoon, nor should there be. The scratch on the new car will come soon enough. What we expect to be different however, is the character behind the decisionmaking and how the inevitable set-backs are addressed. No editorial can advance time nor can any editorial predict how things will unfold. Such writing can only offer hope for a better way, or offer absence of same. And that appies to this "editorial" as well ! :lol:

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DEFCON & Don,

Does the tax system and its various brackets have to do with economic growth, or maximizing government's income? Otherwise, a realistic study is needed to determine the real expenses of families or individuals, even allowing some variation for their locality, and then make that (much higher than current $11,000) income exempt from income tax, above which a percentage should be paid in taxes. That would be a fair system. For instance basic accommodation, basic food and hygiene, basic clothing, basic transport, public schooling should be exempt from taxes, then pay say about 20% in taxes on the rest. This will create real economic growth as people will actually have some money to spend instead of borrowing to spend. Not to mention that the majority of this so called "rich" are actually corporations and small businesses that create jobs, and more money creates more jobs and economic growth.

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MD2

Everyone has a perspective as to what fair taxation policies should look like. I could easily agree with the concept you've described above, but most people seem to feel they're paying too much regardless of the bracket. I gave up on the notion there'd ever be anything close to fair taxation and have only one real beef with it all today; why are we incapable of demanding our governments operate in a fiscally responsible manner?

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I feel a fair way is for politicians to get pensions like everyone else. Based on their accrued service, not paid until they're 65. It's just a little ridiculous in my opinion that you get a pension for life that's better than the wage the majority of the population gets, and after only 6 years of service.

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MD2. The "Rich" does not include corporations or small businesses in the Taxations Scheme. The Tax increase proposed is 4% on any INDIVIDUAL that makes over $200K /yr. (sure isn't me).

Corporate and business taxation will be affected differently.

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That doesn't include me either, but why should they be forced to pay 4% more, do they breath more air, or go to the park more often? I'm not inclined to use my vote to punish the so called "rich" when even at the same rate they do pay more by the virtue of making more. This is one instance when the will of majority is not right imho.

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I tend to take a bit of an analytical view of things so I took a look at the increasing tax rate system of taxation that we use in Canada.


Let's compare someone making $50,000 and someone making $200,000. The low earner pays about $8000 in combined federal and provincial tax. The high earner will pay about $70,000 in tax. Seems odd that he would pay almost 9 times as much tax. but read further.


We'll put the low earner in a $1500/month rental apartment (pretty meagre in any major city) and give him $1000 for food for he and his wife. That eats up $30,000 of his $42,000, leaving him $1000 per month for "discretionary" items like transportation and entertainment and retirement savings.


We'll put the high earner in a $5000/month rental home and spend $2000 for food. That eats up $84,000. That leaves him $47,000 per year in "discretionary" spending... $3900 per month.


So, the high earner spends more than 3 times than the low earner in accommodation, spends twice as much on food and still has 4 times more discretionary spending money... $3000 per month more. He makes 4 times as much, lives quite a bit more comfortably and has 4 times more discretionary money available.


How much more we take away from the low income earner to make it "more fair" for the higher income earner and still allow the government to meet its budget? If you have a flat tax number that you think would work, work it through.


BTW, the proposed 4% is just another marginal tax bracket starting at $200k... not on the whole amount. Someone with taxable income of $250,000 will pay an extra $2000 per year. Someone making $500,000 per year will pay an extra $12,000. Frankly, I don't see how this will cause people to leave the country, especially since all of their savings will decrease by 30% as soon as they convert it to US$.

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Why can't there be the same income tax rate regardless of income? Why do lower income deserve to be taxed less and why do higher deserve to be taxed more?

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I for one will be eating out much less, going to more grocery stores when on layovers, pickup a 6 pack instead of going to the pub. I will also stop tipping the so called low income earners for their "service" and hand them liberal tokens instead. Sorry we all have to pay now.

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Again that the way it has ALWAYS worked. the bracket system allows the lower income earner to pay less taxes in order to maintain some manner of discretionary spending. Higher income earners pay more tax because they can support it in the same economy and still have plenty to spend. Many dont end up paying their full tax allotment anyway due to having the ability to shelter some of that income, which is far easier when you have the income to shelter.

Is there a better system? Maybe. do I know what it is? nope. Are we over taxed in Canada? some say yes some say no. Personally I think our return on our tax investment is pathetic. If the Tax revenue was managed better then perhaps everyone could pay lower taxes. I'm not holding my breath

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Why can't there be the same income tax rate regardless of income? Why do lower income deserve to be taxed less and why do higher deserve to be taxed more?

If you just want to talk in easy concepts, pick a rate. I'll work it through for you.

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Hmmm, if one works with the assumption that X number of dollars have to come in, then it almost seems ok to do what is necessary to arrive at that figure. However, if a fair system is used and whatever taxes are generated is the amount, then it might be more fair and make more sense. Plus, it will hold the government to account as well to be fiscally responsible. After all, we don't just spend as much as we like and expect for some one else to pay for it. The government has to lead by example so that families too control their budget and spending better. Therefore, a balanced budget is essential. Sure, we as families borrow too from time to time for major purchases, and so too it shall be with the government. Deficits are decided by a referendum requiring the advice of by a bi-partisan committee which includes financial experts. One government cannot be allowed to simply run deficits if it wishes as it affects generations to come.

On the issue of taxation, a fair system would be to allow much more realistic (higher than 11000) exemption amount that includes basic accommodation, basic food and hygiene, basic clothing, basic transportation and basic education, then the rest is taxed at 20% whatever is left over. And that is the amount the government has to work with, that is its income. And if that is not enough, maybe the government should get a part time job! That is not a joke, the part time jobs are essentially fund-raising plans including devising initiatives to increase income from natural resources, or inviting policies for foreign corporations' investments and such. More money in families hands increases spending and creates more jobs, thereby taxes, etc.

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"How much more we take away from the low income earner to make it "more fair" for the higher income earner and still allow the government to meet its budget?"

But isn't the size of the 'budget' one of the top ten 'true' fiscal problems of government Inchman?

Every time a government, no matter the level, determines it ‘needs’ to become responsible in every meaningful way for a particular issue, the public is giving up a little bit of freedom and incurring ‘unsupported’ costs.

Wouldn’t it serve our collective purpose to have a hard list that provides a precise qualification and maybe even quantification of the services the public has decided by referendum(?), that meet the democratically determined ‘needs’ of the people; discretion during legitimate emergencies would be allowed of course. Adopting a newer more responsible model of democracy / government would place pork barrel politics, lobbyists and all the other corrupt attachments to the public purse on the Endangered Species List.

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If those of us who are lucky enough to be affected by the increase think for one second that someone's going to host a tag day to help us cope with this terrible burden the increase is going to place on us, we're dreaming in 4K HD.

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For pity sakes... Imagine a flat 50% tax rate.... the poor folks are screwed and the rich folks are hardly phased. Think about it for a moment!

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For pity sakes... Imagine a flat 50% tax rate.... the poor folks are screwed and the rich folks are hardly phased. Think about it for a moment!

Seems to me that a 50% hit on disposable income would hurt both groups..... "Life style" is after all a very important component of life.

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....or a single mom who makes $40,000... you think "hurt" is a good enough descriptor for taking 20 of that?...

Anyway, that's exactly why the rates are different for higher earners.... because they (we?) can bloody well afford more!

Is it that hard to understand?

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Costs are the same for EVERYONE. We all pay the same price for milk, bread etc.

To Mitch's point the ability to buy the basics is stifled if you take the money away.

Our tax system IS broken just due to the fact there are far too many taxes. Tax my income, then tax the rest every time I spend a dollar.

In reality (in Ontario) if you live pay cheque to pay cheque You pay your income tax on your income so say (for arguments sake) the government takes 40%. Now you go spend the remaining 60% Well the government is grabbing 13% of that so now your taxes have gone up to 53%.

Now in certain cases the government taxes the tax you paid on something. Like you buy a shiny new car and pay the tax. Then you decide you want to sell said car. Thee guy that buys it from you pays tax on the value of the car. Hold on.....The tax on that product was already paid once. Stung again.

I am sure someone has done the actual math to figure it all out but at the end of the day the government gets more money than you do.

Good thing that when you have the heart attack or stroke from worrying about it, the hospital wont cost you anything

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"If those of us who are lucky enough to be affected by the increase think for one second that someone's going to host a tag day to help us cope with this terrible burden the increase is going to place on us, we're dreaming in 4K HD."

I'm very comfortable, but not in the 200K + per annum crowd JO.

There’s no reason to expect that too many of us poverty level income types would jump up in support of the cause of the 200 K crowd, but as one that does, just because I like the unholy idea of fair taxation, I'm open to the concept of percentages, but only if they're applied equally. I’ll even agree to taxing away 50% of of a mans hard earned income if that's what the democracy' decides is necessary, but to continue as we are leads the wealthy to seek seek haven in offshore accounts and with no appreciable savings interest rate available, cash and other investment holdings will be either hidden, or otherwise protected from the long arm of the CCRA. Heck, realistically, the only people that earn over 200K that are susceptible to the higher taxes will be the lazy, the naïve and the T-4 income earner, but not the self-employed.

"So you think a guy earning say 10 mil a year is going to "hurt" with only 5 mil?"

If you take away a man’s wealth, you’re hurting him. Using the majority card to forcefully deny the man of the product of his efforts leaves him less capable to do whatever it was that he was doing with his money before it was confiscated and for me, that makes taxation policy vindictive, short-sighted and contrary to the true concept of a society where everyone is treated fairly, never mind equally.

I’m always suspicious of and often hold an opinion contrary to the interests of the 1%ers, but in the case of taxation, not so much. I think we’re getting the cart before the horse when we discuss / debate how much & who should pay what percentages before we know what kind of budget is necessary. Again and it’s only my opinion, but the nation absolutely needs to agree on a fixed list of items that government should be responsible for before it can determine a budget that’s appropriate to the wish list. Being envious of others good fortune is one thing, but to use our democracy and taxation policy as a tool to rally against their success just doesn’t serve the national collective interest very well at all; I remind of Wolfhunter’s beer analogy.

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DEFCON & Don,

Does the tax system and its various brackets have to do with economic growth, or maximizing government's income? Otherwise, a realistic study is needed to determine the real expenses of families or individuals, even allowing some variation for their locality, and then make that (much higher than current $11,000) income exempt from income tax, above which a percentage should be paid in taxes. That would be a fair system. For instance basic accommodation, basic food and hygiene, basic clothing, basic transport, public schooling should be exempt from taxes, then pay say about 20% in taxes on the rest. This will create real economic growth as people will actually have some money to spend instead of borrowing to spend. Not to mention that the majority of this so called "rich" are actually corporations and small businesses that create jobs, and more money creates more jobs and economic growth.

Studies have shown that this is not necessarily the case. More money in the hands of the lower income earners does lead to more spending and thus economic growth. However more money in the hands of the wealthy generally does not lead to more spending, it generally leads to more personal savings. The wealthy generally have enough discretionary cash on hand already to meet their discretionary spending desires, so giving them extra cash doesn't result in them spending more. There is sound economic theory and evidence behind the idea of increasing marginal tax rates.

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DEFCON,

I agree that the first problem that needs to be solved is spending. But after that, it's not possible to come up with a taxation system to which a single flat tax, with or without a large basic exemption that will allow the government to have enough money to provide even the most basic services... military, police, transportation, healthcare... the waste is frustrating, and widely reported but is actually a relatively small component of overall spending.

I suppose we could come up with a basic exemption of $40,000 then 25% on every dollar over that. So, the guy making $40k pays nothing (less than today), the guy making $50k pays $2,500 ($3,500 less than today) and the guy making $100k pays $15,000 ... ($1500 less than today)... The guy making $150,000 pays $27,500 ($2,000 less than today). And we know that people making more than $150 have a current marginal rate of 29%, so their tax would be less, too. So where is all of the money to come from?

Anyone who thinks it would be anything less than 25% is dreaming in technicolor, especially once the small but widespread $6000 from all of those minimal earners is removed. If anyone saves money, someone else has to pay for it.

I'm not keen on paying more taxes, but our social system keeps people from becoming desperate and that is all part of the public security aspect of our lifestyle here in Canada.

Mitch,

Exactly... the problem is that people just keep saying "flat tax", "flat tax" and don't bother to do the math. For people to suggest 20% of income is folly.

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Bluntly stated; there are tens of thousands, maybe millions of ordinary hard working people who know they have a job simply because rich guys can afford to buy expensive toys like business jets and other 'equally' unnecessary perks that come with the territory; I was one of them at one time.

Should we bring them down, consequences be damned?

Boestar’s post above hints at one of the taxation policies I despise most, the GST / HST refund cheque program. Can anyone say that this ‘program’ is anything but a tax & re-distribute the wealth scheme, much like the wasteful Baby Bonus program that just won’t go away.

Before anyone speaks to the issue of human need and the related justification for these programs, stop and look at the consequence to society, any society, when the programs of government become hand-outs versus a hand up. Things are so bad now, too many social programs, governments have come back to re-inform the taxpayer and his expectations, those things like the CPP that you worked and paid for are now referred to as ‘Entitlements’ with a really big E and subject to claw backs.

While Canadians go about pretending to be a free people, their governments remain continuously engaged in the crafting of more law to make your life better, but which always have the effect of taking away, or restricting personal freedom one nail at a time. In the end plan we’ll probably morph into what the Soviet Union once was, a miserable unproductive people living in a dangerous failed State where everyone was ‘considered’ an equal, well, at least everyone that didn’t count for anything.

The Marist claims to motivated by the quest for a fair & equalitarian world, even though the movement’s leaders are well aware the notion is a noble, but impossible pipe dream regardless. I guess they’re comforted knowing that they would become the new 1%ers in their version of the new world order just as the French revolutionist did following the execution of their 1% class in the late 1700’s.

Those that advocate for government involvement in every matter of everyday life must come to understand the fact the 1%ers truly appreciate the effort too right along with all the benefits of said social engineering that flow exclusively to them.

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