By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
In a speech delivered yesterday, Pierre Poilievre explains why the Harper government wants input into collective bargaining at crown corporations.
It is a lovely principle. One that could be equally applied to comprehensive estimates reform, a fully independent and well-funded parliamentary budget officer, the independence of government backbenchers, the independence of parliamentary committees and the importance of government transparency and disclosure.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM - 0 Comments
The Privy Council Office tallies 15,000 public service jobs eliminated last year.
The report quietly tabled in the House of Commons last Friday shows that overall, the government cut its total number of employees from 278,092 to 262,902 from March 31 last year to Dec. 31. Of those, 8,000 of the more than 15,000 jobs that were eliminated were for fulltime “indeterminate” positions, a reduction of about three per cent. The remaining roughly 7,000 positions that were eliminated were for students and casual, or term, employees, the report says.
The document, an annual report to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) on the public service, shows the students and casual employees, often women and younger members of the work force, took the biggest hit. Of about 5,300 student positions, the government cut nearly 1,100, a reduction of just over 20 per cent, the report says. Out of about 29,500 part-time positions, the government eliminated 5,550, a cut of just over 18 per cent.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
Postmedia hears that as much as $800 million in funding for CIDA might have just lapsed.
But experts and critics charge letting hundreds of millions of aid dollars lapse is indicative of incompetence on Fantino’s part – or an intentional effort to reduce aid spending in the hopes no one would notice.
“We don’t find out until almost a year later,” said Canadian Council of International Co-operation president Julia Sanchez. “These are cuts in effect. Massive cuts without any transparency.” “The CIDA minister may spin this as prudent financial management, but the real fact is that the decision to not spend these funds was not debated in Parliament, not reported to Parliament or its budget office, and most obviously not debated publicly,” said Jackson.
Liam Sweet is concerned.
An anonymous former CIDA colleague of mine put it bluntly and suggested that several programs were indeed frozen in the same manner as Haiti, calling the Haiti freeze only the “tip of the iceberg.” Indeed, the official stated that as of early January 2013 Pakistan had been without a country strategy for going on two years, and therefore had seen no new bilateral project approvals in that time. Between January and the end of March, a single new project to support elections in Pakistan was approved – the first in two years. Other countries had been treated similarly. Still, requests for much-needed support – even those in line with CIDA priorities like maternal, newborn, and child health – pile up awaiting ministerial approval. Arguing that this suits the government of the day perfectly as their top priority is deficit reduction rather than aid, my former colleague paints a bleak picture of the priorities of the leadership within Canada’s aid agency. Through even the informal freezing of these programs, CIDA is wilfully under-spending its precious aid budget in some of the most complex and deserving of its recipient partner countries.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Officially, C-60, the first budget implementation act of the year, requires 128 pages to print. Government House leader Peter Van Loan gave notice yesterday that he’ll move a motion of time allocation today to limit debate at second reading to a total of five days.
We support efforts to help Crown Corporations manage public resources responsibly. We believe that this initiative may have unintended consequences on the successful operation of some corporations. It is important that these consequences are understood and addressed.
We will be writing to the Government to share our concerns about C-60, and to request a meeting to ensure that Ministers have accurate information on CBC/Radio-Canada’s record, both at managing public resources and delivering on its mandate.
The New Democrats, meanwhile, have tabled their proposal for splitting the bill. The motion was denied yesterday at the finance committee, but, for the record, here is what Peggy Nash proposed.
“That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures be amended by removing the following clauses:
a) clauses 136 to154 related to the Investment Canada Act;
b) clauses 161 to 166 related to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program;
c) clauses 174 to 199 related to the proposed Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act;
d) clauses 213 to 224 related to the National Capital Act and the Department of Canadian Heritage Act;
e) clauses 228 to 232 related to the Financial Administration Act and collective bargaining between Crown corporations and their employees;
That the clauses mentioned in section a) of this motion do compose Bill C-61; that Bill C-61 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology;
that the clauses mentioned in section b) of this motion do compose Bill C-62; that Bill C-62 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
that the clauses mentioned in section c) of this motion do compose Bill C-63; that Bill C-63 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development;
that the clauses mentioned in section d) of this motion do compose Bill C-64; that Bill C-64 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;
that the clauses mentioned in section e) of this motion do compose Bill C-65; that Bill C-65 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates;
that Bill C-60 retain the status on the Order Paper that it had prior to the adoption of this Order; that Bill C-60 be reprinted as amended; and that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.”
The Conservatives have said they would like different parts of the bill sent to different committees for study, but we don’t yet have the details of their proposal.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
Here is Bill C-60, the first budget implementation act of the year.
At 125 pages—according to the page count on Adobe—it is the shortest budget bill tabled by the Conservatives since 2009, when that year’s second budget bill was 60 pages (the first budget bill tabled that year was 551 pages). It is still larger than all but three budget bills tabled between 1994 and 2005. See this short history of budget implementation acts for previous page totals.
After tabling the bill in the House, Jim Flaherty told reporters that the government will ask the finance committee to send certain parts of the bill to different committees for study.
The bill amends the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001, the Customs Tariff, the Trust and Loan Companies Act, the Bank Act, the Insurance Companies Act, the Cooperative Credit Associations Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act, the Investment Canada Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Pension Act, the War Veterans Allowance Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Citizenship Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the National Capital Act, the Department of Canadian Heritage Act, the National Holocaust Monument Act, the Salaries Act, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, the Financial Administration Act and the Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act.
It also enacts the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act, which allows for the amalgamation of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and CIDA.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 1:22 PM - 0 Comments
While the Finance Minister will table the first budget implementation act of the year later today, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has released a new report on the impact of this year’s budget.
The PBO’s latest estimates on the impact of the 2013 budget handed down in March show the cumulative impact will be to reduce economic growth by 0.12 per cent and job creation by 14,000 by 2016. Combining the latest budget measures with the cutbacks unveiled in 2012 means there will be 62,000 fewer jobs in 2016, rising to 67,000 fewer in 2017, than might otherwise be the case without the cuts.
The PBO cautions the estimates do not mean the cutbacks will result in a loss of jobs, but that employment will be lower than it might have been absent the measures. In economic speak, that means that government spending will act as a drag on economic growth, rather than a stimulus.
Rest assured that however much smaller the government is made as a result of these cuts, there will still be someone on hand to make sure Laura Secord’s attire is appropriately depicted.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
A statement from the office of Sonia L’Heureux, the parliamentary librarian and interim parliamentary budget officer, on yesterday’s Federal Court decision.
Sonia L’Heureux, the Parliamentary Budget Officer on an interim basis, is pleased that the Federal Court of Canada has rendered a timely decision regarding the questions raised by the PBO in responding to Mr. Mulcair’s request for analysis.
In its decision, the Federal Court has said that the statutory mandate of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) includes estimating the financial cost of any proposal that relates to a matter over which Parliament has jurisdiction when requested to do so by a member of the Senate or House of Commons.
In light of the Court’s decision, the PBO intends to request the information required in order to respond to the request from Mr. Thomas Mulcair, M.P. We expect that the requested information will be duly provided by the government departments and agencies. If a dispute arises, the Court has said it will be available to assist with its resolution.
This is the request that hadn’t been officially made—Kevin Page was asking the court to determine whether his mandate entitled him to such documents before making the request of the government. The court essentially ruled that it couldn’t rule in the absence of such a request. Mr. Mulcair’s reading yesterday of a larger victory might now be tested.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
This morning, the Finance Department says this was an “oversight.”
It has been brought to our attention that hockey helmets were not included on the list of products receiving tariff relief. This was an oversight at Finance and they will be eligible for tariff relief going forward.
Mr. Thibeault crows.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM - 0 Comments
“I don’t think it’s just a signal. I think it’s a bullhorn,” said Dr. Greg Marchildon, Canada Research Chair in public policy and economic history at the University of Regina and former deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs for the Saskatchewan government. “Both health reform and any kind of collaborative federalism are really off the agenda for the Harper government.”
“This is really a shame,” he added. “There are very few mechanisms that we have in this country that allow us to think about the large reform issues and the Health Council was one of them.”
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 4:45 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Glenn Thibeault has written to the chair of the standing committee on industry, science and technology to request a “study into the increased taxation of iPods and other goods.” (The full letter is here.) And, tomorrow morning, NDP national revenue critic Murray Rankin will visit Joe Momma, a bike store in Ottawa, to discuss the Harper government’s “bicycle tax.” Joe Momma was the backdrop for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement of C-45, last year’s second budget implementation bill.
The NDP has made up all this fearmongering dialogue about tax increases in budget 2013. There are no tax increases in budget 2013.
Somewhat similarly, Heritage Minister James Moore, responding to a question on this from Justin Trudeau this afternoon, ventured that “if we were raising the taxes the Liberals would be all for it.” Otherwise the government’s defence seems to be three-fold: assert that theirs is a “low tax plan,” claim a desire on the part of the opposition to raise taxes and allege that to not raise tariffs would be to give special treatment to China.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM - 0 Comments
The Canada Revenue Agency is reducing spending and staffing within two of its compliance programs. Passport Canada projects that a quarter of its staff will be cut. Elections Canada is putting off a pilot project on online voting. And seven Department of Fisheries libraries are scheduled to close.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats have released the motion they’ll have the House debate on Monday.
“That this House condemn the tax hikes introduced by the government in Budget 2013 on hospital parking, bicycles, baby strollers, coffee makers, iPods and other goods and services, which break the promise the Government made to Canadians during the last election.”
See previously: A tax on imported blankets, The Commons: Ted Menzies challenges everyone to find a tax increase in the budget, A tax on bicycles, baby carriages and iPods, The Great iPod Tax Crisis of 2013 and The iPod tax: The finance department responds
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:26 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday evening, after CP reported that Sony was concerned about the tariff requirements on iPods, I emailed the Finance Minister’s office to ask if there was any response.
Tonight, the Finance Department sends along the following response.
“iPods and other MP3 players have come into Canada duty free in the past under 9948. iPods and other MP3 players continue to be eligible to come into Canada duty free under 9948 in the future.”
Both CP and Mike Moffatt have reported that sellers must obtain a certificate from the final consumer to qualify for the exemption under 9948. I’ve asked the Finance Department to confirm that and will post the response as soon it is received.
Meanwhile, Moffatt reported earlier tonight that Sony has already paid this iPod tax.
I have just learned that Sony has already paid an iPod tax on a number of their Walkman MP3 products including their Sony 2GB Wearable MP3 Player (NWZW262B). These items entered the country under 9948.00.00, but were re-assesed after the fact, as Sony could not produce end use certificates.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, Mike Moffatt suggested that the tariff increases introduced in the budget would result in an increase in the price of iPods. The Harper government claimed otherwise. The Globe and Mail subsequently retracted Mr. Moffatt’s original post. And then Moffatt penned a second post to explain his perspective.
I take the Finance Department at its word that iPods have been imported using the 9948.00.00 code, but am uncertain how the CBSA came to this decision in light of the precedent set by the Jam Industries case.
It is hard to believe that on further scrutiny – especially given the potential future tariff implications that didn’t exist before the budget announcement – the CBSA would be able to justify a 9948.00.00 classification for iPods. This certainly warrants further review and clarification by the government, so that importers and consumers can have greater comfort about where they really stand.
The Canadian Press added its reporting.
The federal government is tightening up tariffs on imported products such as televisions and iPods that receive a special exemption when used with computers. Importers owe about $16 million from 2011 alone due to a reassessment of customs duties, according to a memo from the Canadian Border Services Agency, released under the Access to Information Act and obtained by The Canadian Press.
The memo from March 2012 — which includes a handwritten notation to keep “the minister” informed — says the crackdown “will likely result in a significant amount of customs duty being reassessed, and will not be well-received by the importing community.” The agency has ruled importers who use the computer exemption must get certificates from the end users — consumers, in most cases — that certify the product will be used with a computer. No certificate, no exemption, says the agency.
Today, Moffatt presents two CBSA documents and restates his position.
My position that importers cannot meet the requirements of 9948 rests on three straight-forward premises: 1. It appears that sellers of iPods and MP3s are required to collect “end use certificates” from the final consumer on each sale, and be able to present these to the CBSA if audited. 2. The 9948 requirement for “end use certificates” appears to be actively enforced by the CBSA. 3. Retailers cannot reasonably collect these certificates from consumers when they buy an iPod.
These three, put together, make retail sales of iPods and MP3 players ineligible for 9948 and therefore subject to an iPod tariff.
Unchallenged so far are any of the other tariff increases that Moffatt has identified which will increase the price of imported bicycles, baby carriages, school supplies, wigs, USB drives, coffeemakers, rugs, paintbrushes, plastic tableware, sandals, scissors and carving knives.
Update 4:46pm. And now, via the Canadian Press, Sony claims the existence of an iPod tax.
Sony of Canada says Canadian consumers could soon face higher prices on some electronics, such as televisions and iPods, because it’s all but impossible for importers to apply for exemptions from a controversial tariff.
Mark Trylinski, logistics director at Sony of Canada, says importers are being asked to jump through too many hoops in order to qualify for a special exemption from the tariff on the popular products. Trylinski — who predicts a price spike of about five per cent — says companies may also decide the customs duties on some items mean it no longer makes financial sense to import them.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM - 0 Comments
The information commissioner raises concerns about the impact budgets are having (and will have) on the access to information system.
Suzanne Legault, information commissioner of Canada, says her office has seen a sharp rise in complaints about departments that take too long to answer requests under the Access to Information Act. The increase in such complaints over the last six months is likely linked to budget cuts that will remove 19,200 public servants from the federal workforce by 2015, Legault says in a new report.
“If this trend continues, it could seriously stretch our investigative team,” says the document. ”We suspect … that budget cuts may be a factor, since a jump in administrative complaints suggests that institutions are struggling to meet their basic obligations under the Act.” Legault’s office is itself caught in the same budget squeeze, with funding reduced by five per cent as the number of complaints coming through the door rises, to 1,596 in 2012-2013, up by eight per cent from the previous year.
The commissioner’s full report is here.
Somewhat relatedly, David Eaves considers the commissioner’s investigation of the handling of government scientists and the cultural question of transparency.
The actions of the information commissioner are to be applauded; what is less encouraging are the limits of her ability to resolve the problem. The truth is that openness, transparency and accountability cannot be created by the adoption of new codes or rules alone. This is because even more than programs and regulations, an open government is the result of culture, norms and leadership. And here the message — felt as strongly by government scientists as any other public servants — is clear. Public servants are allowed less and less to have a perspective, to say nothing of the ability to share that perspective.
This culture is driven right from the top. No single act epitomized how poorly the rules serve us and how damaging the current culture is than when Foreign Minister John Baird handed the parliamentary budget officer — and thus Canadian taxpayers — boxes of documents on stimulus spending rather than a simple digital spreadsheet that could be searched and analyzed. In that moment he made a mockery of what rules around transparency and accountability mean in the absence of culture and norms. Nor was this approach to “disclosure” an outlier.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 1:15 PM - 0 Comments
Scott Clark and Peter DeVries explain how to fix the estimates process.
Ask the President of the Treasury Board about whether spending will be going up or down in 2013-14 and he’ll tell you that it’s going down. Ask the Minister of Finance and he’ll say it’s going up. Who is right and why the conflicting answers? The Minister of Finance will likely be more accurate than the President of the Treasury Board. But why the confusion and why can’t Canadians and Parliamentarians get a straight answer?
See previously: Do you know how your federal government is spending your money?, ‘The fact is no one in Parliament can tell Canadians what the government is planning to spend‘ and ‘Parliament has lost control of the estimate process’
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:36 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government is withdrawing from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
The Conservative government is pulling out of a United Nations convention aimed at fighting droughts and desertification in Africa, making Canada the only country in the world to leave the agreement. The withdrawal from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was ordered last week by the federal cabinet on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, but only made public Wednesday…
Sources told CTV News that the decision was made more than a year ago as part of the government’s plan to cut the deficit. It was announced to the affected departments a few months ago and there was little, if any, consultation, they said.
Julian Fantino’s office apparently won’t say how much this will save. CTV says we were providing $350,000 per year to the convention. The Canadian Press says we were providing $283,000.
See previously: The quiet cuts
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 5:53 PM - 0 Comments
Megan Leslie stood to plead confusion. Within the budget, she said, were tax increases. But the Prime Minister, she recalled, had promised not to raise taxes. So why, she wondered aloud, had the Prime Minister allowed the Finance Minister to contradict him?
“Mr. Speaker,” declared the Prime Minister, “it is quite the opposite.”
Mr. Harper did not then explain how so. Instead, he alleged a number of tax increases that the NDP was apparently proposing.
Ms. Leslie tried again. “Why,” she wondered, “did the Prime Minister not keep his promise?”
The Prime Minister again insisted on talking about the NDP. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I know very well that the NDP favors higher taxes and taxes to finance larger deficits and higher expenses.”
Ms. Leslie was unimpressed. “Mr. Speaker, I understand why the government’s backbench is frustrated,” she responded. “Answers like that have been frustrating me for quite some time.”
The New Democrats laughed.
This is, most immediately, Ted Menzies’ fault. It was the minister of state for finance who yesterday pronounced that there were no tax increases to be found in last week’s budget. More specifically, he said “no one would find” tax increases in this budget. As a wager, this was a poor one. As a challenge, it had the unfortunate quality of having already been met—Mr. Menzies making it in response to a question about tax increases that had been found in the budget. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
“You know, there’s two schools in economics on this,” Mr. Harper once said, “One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I’m in the latter category. I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”
“I give you my word: As long as I will be prime minister … there will be no new taxes,” Mr. Harper had said two years before that.
Perhaps that was merely a commitment to refrain from inventing entirely new taxes that had not previously existed. But otherwise it is to wonder if the Prime Minister was a touch disappointment when he opened the budget book last Thursday and found that, not only hadn’t the Finance Minister eliminated all taxes, but he’d seen fit to budget for several increases in the cost of civil society. If he was heartbroken to read as much, it is surely a testament to Mr. Harper’s commitment to party loyalty that he has not yet gone rogue and pronounced the budget to be unworthy of his support.
As it is, it must have been rather odd for the Prime Minister to have to stand in his place this afternoon and defend such a document.
First for the opposition this afternoon was David (Furious D) Christopherson, the NDP deputy whose floppy hair has a way of bouncing in time to his indignation. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 10:38 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP wants the RCMP to investigate the leak of a particular item ahead of the budget’s release last week.
I am writing to you about potentially criminal actions related to a breach of budget secrecy. Details appeared in the media of new tariff cuts on hockey equipment, details which were officially released in the budget document at 4:00 pm on March 21, 2013. The information released was outlined in a Globe and Mail article by Steven Chase and Bill Curry on March 20, 2013. The article described the tariff cut as part of “a pilot project to see whether the money the government loses in customs revenue is recouped in sales tax.”
The leak and availability of this information, prior to it being made public in the budget, gave those with this information an opportunity for personal financial gain.
Three years ago, the CBC proclaimed the “demise of the secret budget.”
The Conservative government is taking a novel approach to secrecy concerning the January budget: it is announcing everything ahead of time. So far, Canadians know the federal deficit will be about $34 billion in the next fiscal year and $64 billion for the next two years. There will be $7 billion in public works spending, $1.5 billion for jobs training, $2 billion for social housing and a raft of permanent income tax reductions, likely aimed at the middle class…
Indeed, the new approach in Ottawa could mean that measures such as the electronic encrypting of budget documents at the Department of Finance and the slightly-demeaning escorting of reporters to the washroom by security officials during the budget lockup will be relegated to the dustbin of parliamentary history. None too soon, say some Ottawa watchers. “[Budget secrecy] hasn’t mattered in 10 years,” said one former finance official who has been involved with past budgets.
Last year, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield claimed budget secrecy kept him from discussing cuts to the Department of Fisheries with the government of Newfoundland before the budget was tabled.
The idea that the information might have been used for personal financial gain perhaps attempts to draw a line between benign leaks and bad leaks.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 25, 2013 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
The impact on Canadians will likely be higher prices on a wide range of goods, including imported food. Some examples include an increase on the tariff on bicycles to 13 per cent from 8.5 per cent; venetian blinds to 7 per cent from 3 per cent; table fans to 8 per cent from 2.5 per cent; tableware to 6.5 per cent from 3 per cent; umbrellas to 7 per cent from 5 per cent, and potato starch to 10.5 per cent from 5 per cent.
According to the government’s own calculations, the elimination of duties on sports and baby clothes will cost $76 million a year, but it will gain $333 million annually by its other measure. ”They are basically giving us a dollar and taking back five. It’s a bit of a shell-game,” Moffatt said.
The Harper government expects to take in $1 billion more in revenue as a result.
If the New Democrats were proposing this, the Conservatives would almost certainly—using the same logic they’ve employed to deem the NDP’s cap-and-trade proposal a “$21-billion tax”—describe this as a $1-billion tax.
Mr. Flaherty promised in his budget speech that the Harper government would not raise taxes.
By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Canadians will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars more on everything…
OTTAWA – Canadians will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars more on everything from food to bicycles because of a little-noticed change in tariffs Ottawa places on imports from emerging nations like China and India, say analysts.
The change comes from a notice in Thursday’s federal budget that starting in 2015, Canada is “graduating” 72 countries previously classified as developing to full developed status for the purpose of tariffs.
In essence, the move is the flip-side of the coin of the much-hyped removal of all import duties on sporting and athletic equipment for such things as hockey pants and gloves — as well as baby clothes — that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he hoped would help close the Canada-U.S. price gap.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
Just before QP this morning, Conservative MP Scott Armstrong explained how the budget should be viewed.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the veterans and legions across my riding to thank the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for increasing the funding envelope of the last post fund. The last post fund is the fund we use to show respect to our veteran soldiers, the ones who fought at Juno, Normandy, the ones who fought in the jungles of Burma, the ones who liberated millions of Europeans in World War II, a generation that is coming to the end of their lives. Our government has answered their ask to respect them by increasing the last post fund from $3,600 to help and support their families with the funeral to $7,300 to help their families and support them with the funeral.
We need to show these veterans respect, both in life and in death. Our government has answered that call. I call upon the opposition to stand and vote in favour of this budget. If it votes against budget 2013, it will be voting against every veteran across our country.
Opposition MPs have been pressing for changes to the Last Post Fund and the Royal Canadian Legion has campaigned for improvements. In its response to the budget, the Legion celebrated the increase to the Last Post Fund, but also noted other concerns.
Of course, as a young Reform MP once noted, the trouble with omnibus legislation (of the sort that has been used to implement the budget over the last several years) is that it forces MPs to give a single answer to many different questions. So perhaps Mr. Armstrong will ask the Finance Minister to ensure that the increase in funding for the Last Post Fund is made a separate and distinct bill so as to ensure that no votes are cast against the nation’s veterans.
Otherwise, the phrase “voted against” loses all meaning.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:58 AM - 0 Comments
Steve Chase notes the hikes in tariffs.
The federal government is hiking tariffs on 72 countries in order to help retire the deficit faster – a measure that will cost Canadian consumers $330-million more per year in higher prices.
The measure, contained in the 2013 budget, will mean higher prices for a variety of goods. It will take effect in 2015.
Paul McLeod notes how little has been explained about cuts to Defence, Fisheries and the Canada Revenue Agency. Scott Gilmore considers the merging of CIDA with Foreign Affairs. Stephen Gordon questions the Canada Job Grant. Colin Horgan looks at funding for aerospace. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries consider Jim Flaherty’s chances of balancing the budget by 2015.
Ultimately, much depends on what comes next.
Flaherty’s office won’t say yet whether the budget proposals will be stuffed into another omnibus bill, an unpopular tactic with opposition parties and Canadians who want MPs to spend more time reviewing key measures separately. Highly controversial changes to how bodies of water are regulated, for example, did not come to light until the actual budget bill was tabled last year.
“I’m getting used to the modus operandi of Stephen Harper and it makes me feel that nothing can be said about this budget until we see this implementing legislation,” said Green party Leader Elizabeth May. ”Until we see if we’re facing another omnibus bill, one that we fear will take an axe to the Species at Risk Act, we have to wait and see.”