By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
Like most everything interesting that Michael Ignatieff ever said, he probably should not have said it.
“I never want to raise your taxes; I pay them (the same way) as you do,” the former Liberal leader told a crowd in Mississauga on a July day in 2010. “But we pay them to express fundamental social solidarity, one with the other. This is the contract that holds us together.”
He had actually gone on at some length about this in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in the fall of 2009. “Back in July, after the G8 Summit in Italy, Mr. Harper gave an interview to The Globe and Mail, in which he said, and I quote: ‘I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes.’ Think about that for a moment,” Mr. Ignatieff begged. “It’s an astonishing statement for a prime minister to make. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, so that premature infants get nursing care when they’re born; so that policemen will be there to keep our streets safe; so that we have teachers to give our kids a good education. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, because we’re all in this together. It costs us something, but it makes Canada the place it is: a place where we look out for each other. But Stephen Harper doesn’t think that way. Stephen Harper thinks no taxes are good taxes because he believes that the only good government is no government at all.”
In fairness, Mr. Harper does not appear to be an anarchist. And even Ron Paul allows that the government might be of some use. And for all Mr. Ignatieff’s willingness to defend the social contract, he would move to loudly proclaim his opposition to raising the GST after being caught musing about the possibility.
Even if one does not accept Mr. Ignatieff’s larger premise, rare is anyone willing to suggest that taxes might be applied in larger quantities to anyone other than the wealthy or the faceless (corporations). Because even if no one is seriously calling for taxes to be eliminated—even if the debate is basically, if quietly, about the size, shape and execution of our fundamental social solidarity, or at least the precise number of services we would lament if they suddenly disappeared—we have generally come to Mr. Harper’s position. Taxes are bad. Mr. Harper has sworn that, so long as he is prime minister, there will be no new taxes. Thomas Mulcair has said no to increasing taxes (even if he also advocates for a price on carbon). Justin Trudeau has said he would not increase the GST, nor the corporate tax rate and he would not implement a tax on the rich. Taxing the earnings of corporations is a tax on job creators. Taxing pollution is a tax on everything. Tax Freedom Day is something that is proudly celebrated.
Possibly this is all Bev Oda’s fault, she and her $16 glass of orange juice. And at least so long as we are never in need of more general revenue, perhaps we will be fine. But this now drives us to distraction. The abject awfulness of taxes apparently now so deeply felt that one cannot even bring oneself to admit that one is responsible for the imposition of such suffering. Continue…
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 4:46 PM - 0 Comments
This week, Question Period has been consumed largely by questions about the government’s move to make changes to the General Preferential Tariff Regime. The opposition charges that the feds are hiking tariffs across the board on consumer goods, and they say it’ll cost Canadians $300 million a year.
The Liberals, led by new leader Justin Trudeau, have pushed hardest on the issue, relentless in their condemnation of the tariff changes. Today, the NDP’s John Rafferty, an MP from northern Ontario, got in on the action. He called the new tariffs, which could raise prices on fishing gear, a “bass tax.” Ted Menzies, the minister of state for finance, replied that Rafferty had it all “bass ackwards.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM - 0 Comments
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put…
MPs helped packed the ballroom of the Fairmont Château Laurier for a reception put on by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
This past week we also learned of the elimination of the Police Officers Recruitment Fund which was a major federal program designed to help municipalities and provinces recruit police officers. In a backgrounder on the program, Public Safety Canada and Emergency Preparedness Canada offers the following rationale; “The purpose of the Fund is to support the efforts of provinces and territories in recruiting additional front-line police officers nationwide who can target local crimes and make communities safer.” Taking this information into account then, the cancellation of this important fund must therefore mean that the Harper Conservatives have made a conscious decision to eliminate their “support the efforts of front-line police officers nationwide in their work to target local crimes and make our communities safer.“ Seems like a strange decision for a Conservative Party that claims to be the most committed to upholding ‘law and order’ wouldn’t you say?
There were similar concerns raised in Sudbury earlier this year. Alberta Premier Alison Redford called for the fund to be extended when she ran for the Progressive Conservative leadership last year. During the last federal campaign, the NDP proposed doubling the fund and making it permanent.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government’s bill to end the long gun registry passed the House last night by a count of 159-130. Two NDP MPs—John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer—voted with the Conservatives, as they had on second reading. Mr. Hyer explains his vote.
The reasons that I have voted this way include: Jack Layton and the NDP knew my position over almost a decade and 4 elections, and allowed me to run on that promise to my constituents; The NDP has never had an official policy on the registry. Then Leader Audrey McLaughlin, and all but one NDP MP, voted against the registry when it was introduced by the Liberals; This bill will maintain the registration of restricted firearms; and The most effective part of the remaining legislation is the requirement that every legal firearm owner must be licensed, and that the police will continue to know who they are. Before anyone can be licensed they must take a safety course, pass a difficult test, have spousal approval, pass a Canada-wide police screening, and wait at least 28 days for approval.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM - 6 Comments
Two New Democrats—Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty—have been sanctioned by interim party leader Nycole Turmel after breaking with the party over this week’s gun registry vote. Mr. Rafferty expresses some confusion and says it’s his constituents who are now punished. Mr. Hyer posted the following on Facebook today.
I’d like to thank all my constituents (on both sides of the registry issue) for the incredible show of support for me over the last day or two. It means a lot to me that people appreciate the duty of those elected to represent the wishes of their constituents in Parliament first & foremost.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 6:18 PM - 16 Comments
The Scene. In an attempt perhaps to preempt the Prime Minister’s dismissal, Bob Rae attempted a preface. ”The Prime Minister is constantly saying that those of us who quote the Auditor General are not telling the truth,” Mr. Rae posited. “So let me simply quote the Auditor General very directly with respect to the activities of the President of the Treasury Board and ask him one simple question.”
With the parameters thus set, the interim Liberal leader proceeded. ”The Auditor General said that he found what the government did ‘unusual and troubling,’ ” he reported. “I would like to ask the Prime Minister, is the Auditor General telling the truth when he says those words?”
Would it surprise you to learn that the Prime Minister sidestepped the specifics of this question? If so, you should be commended on the open-hearted naïveté with which you approach the world. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Special Olympics Canada held a reception on the Hill. (Left to right) Olympian Mark…
Special Olympics Canada held a reception on the Hill. (Left to right) Olympian Mark Tewksbury, Government House Leader John Baird and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
Steven Fletcher, Minister of State for Democratic Reform.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Niki Ashton will disclose tomorrow how she plans to vote on C-391. Peter Stoffer, previously committed to voting in favour of C-391, says he’ll have something to say on Monday. John Rafferty, another yes vote, says his mind hasn’t changed. Bruce Hyer says he won’t vote for a Liberal motion that would effectively scrap C-391.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
There may ultimately be two votes on C-391. Two days after the House returns, there will be a vote on a Liberal motion to scrap C-391. If that fails, C-391 will proceed to a vote at some point later this session.
On that note, an update. New Democrat Bruce Hyer says he won’t vote to scrap C-391 on the initial vote, though he reserves the right to ultimately change his mind on the bill before it comes to a final vote. Meanwhile, John Rafferty, another of the NDP dozen, says he intends to vote in favour of C-391. As does Nathan Cullen.
That shifts the advantage back to supporters of C-391 by a count of 151 to 149.
Four NDP votes (Allen, Ashton, Gravelle and Hughes) remain undeclared. One no vote (Jean-Yves Roy) remains in question.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 2:23 PM - 0 Comments
The resignation of Maurizio Bevilacqua became official last week. Postmedia reports Inky Mark’s departure will follow this week. That subtracts a single vote from each side of the C-391 debate. The declarations of Charlie Angus and Glenn Thibeault though add two votes to the no side.
From our last update then, the count has flipped: 149 votes against C-391, 148 votes in favour.
Seven NDP votes (Malcolm Allen, Niki Ashton, Nathan Cullen, Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty) remain undeclared. And one no vote (Jean-Yves Roy) might soon be vacated.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MPs John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer talk to the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal about the vote on Bill C-391. Neither are quoted explicitly stating an intention, but Hyer at least seems to be talking like someone who wants to vote yes.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 1:03 PM - 0 Comments
Postmedia finds three NDP MPs who are committed to voting in favour of C-391: Peter Stoffer, Dennis Bevington and Jim Maloway. Carol Hughes is undecided. A spokesperson for John Rafferty, the NDP MP for Thunder Bay, says Mr. Rafferty will only comment on his stance to the local media. (The hilarity of this position aside—the invention of the telegraph in 1794 making it relatively easy to transmit news from one city to another—it should at least compel someone from the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal to give Mr. Rafferty a call sometime today.)
Nonetheless, while we wait to see to which media outlet Mr. Rafferty will reveal his decision, nine NDP votes now remain in play, or at least unaccounted for. Those belong to Malcolm Allen, Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Nathan Cullen, Claude Gravelle, Hughes, Bruce Hyer, Rafferty and Glenn Thibeault.
The potential math of this vote has previously been laid out. But for the purposes of keeping score—including the votes of Messrs Mark and Bevilacqua for now, with only Judy Wasylcia-Leis’ seat officially vacant—the known tally at this moment is 149 votes in favour, 148 votes against.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, May 3, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 3 Comments
The Dairy Farmers of Canada held a reception at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Below,…
The Dairy Farmers of Canada held a reception at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Below, Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan.
NDP MP Peter Stoffer.
Tory MP Ted Menzies, parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance, shows off a real “butter” tart.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, January 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM - 8 Comments
Folks from all parties packed the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government…
Folks from all parties packed the Hill Helps Haiti fundraiser organized by the government relations firm Summa Strategies. The event raised over $32,000. Below, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (left) and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.
Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay.
Green leader Elizabeth May.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 2, 2009 at 6:18 PM - 29 Comments
The entirety of yesterday’s debate on the Liberal motion of non-confidence is likely worth a read this weekend, but here we’ll excerpt the final submissions from the Liberal and NDP sides, Bob Rae and Thomas Mulcair pitted against each other.
Unfortunately, the motion went to a vote at the end of Mr. Mulcair’s remarks, likely depriving us of further battle between the two. Some media outlet or think tank might find a Conservative to include—maybe Chuck Strahl—and make a traveling show of it. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:53 PM - 47 Comments
The Scene. Dominic LeBlanc was speaking in his grand stage voice, the sound of his second question filling the chamber, when the shouting started.
In the first row of the north visitors’ gallery, three nuns, or at least three women clad in the outfits of nuns, were chanting something unsavoury about the seal hunt, each holding a banner that read “The Seal Slaughter is a Bad Habit.” Get it?
The Speaker called for a pause in proceedings and all turned to gape at the spectacle. While security officers struggled to contain the invaders, Conservative Steve Blaney stood and held aloft a binder, apparently wrapped in seal skin. MPs stood to applaud their colleague’s brave choice of office supplies. Liberal Gerry Byrne crossed the floor to happily shake Blaney’s hand.
Security eventually gained control of the situation—the nuns handcuffed and carried away, each still yelping their protests as they were shown the door—and the Speaker called on LeBlanc to continue his casting of aspersions on government efforts to ease trade between Canada and the United States.
It has only been three days and already it has been a fine first week back for our 40th Parliament. Continue…