By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Scene. Thomas Mulcair charged into the afternoon with a litany of concerns.
“Mr. Speaker, last quarter, Canadian economic growth slowed to a rate of just six-tenths of one per cent,” he reported. “Conservatives have now missed their own economic growth targets three quarters in a row. They have had to downgrade their economic growth forecast for 2012 by nearly a third and it is now widely expected that the Bank of Canada will have to downgrade its own economic forecast as well. The Minister of Finance announced new economic numbers just three weeks ago. Does the minister still stand by those numbers today, or will we have to downgrade his economic projections yet again?”
The Minister of Finance was not in the House, so John Baird stood to handle this one. But first, a nod to the expectant royal couple.
“Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not first stand up and extend our congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the announcement coming from Burn’s House earlier today,” enthused the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Conservatives duly applauded.
At the far end of the room, Bob Rae leaned forward and put his head in his hands. Ralph Goodale patted him on the shoulder.
A mostly—particularly—dull and witless afternoon proceeded with little or no progress to report on much of anything. There was though at least one reasonable question. Continue…
By From the editors - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
This government has been very aggressive about announcing free trade deals–not so much about closing them
Listen to his critics and you’d think a blinding “neo-conservative ideology” is what motivates Prime Minister Stephen Harper these days. Yet in sifting through his six years in power it’s much easier to find evidence of opportunistic pragmatism than any specific ideology.
Regardless of this week’s budget, the Harper government has already proven itself to be the biggest spending government in Canadian history. And while it talks a lot about taxes, Ottawa is actually creating a more complicated and less efficient tax system through its creation of myriad tax credits aimed at tiny slices of the population for such things as children’s dance lessons, team sports, work tools or public transit.
The federal government has also been quick to remove the right to strike from unionized workers—the widespread animosity of the current Air Canada labour dispute is directly attributable to this instinct for control over letting negotiations take their course. It has, as well, interposed itself into deals between interested buyers and sellers, such as with the Potash Corp. decision. None of this is the stuff of standard economics textbooks.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM - 28 Comments
Most geeks have a sense of humor about being geeks. They wear the term with pride, knowing that these days it connotes expertise and passion as much as it does obsessiveness and poor seduction skills. Geeks are the biggest creators and consumers of geek humor, and as a tech journalist with a geek-heavy audience, I rarely think twice about tweaking the nerds a little. They usually giggle and tease me back. It’s a cute thing we do, and everyone seems to have a good time.
Then there are the gamers. Continue…
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:20 PM - 4 Comments
Oh that Jesse Brown. He’s at it again. Regular readers probably remember our spirited back and forth recently about Apple’s relative level of importance to technology over the past decade. Now, with his latest post, Jesse has me frothing over another topic: video games.
In his post, Jesse takes issue with the big tax breaks and other financial incentives that video game companies have received in many countries to set up shop there, especially Canada. As Jesse puts it, it’s a highly profitable industry that’s also one of the most subsidized: Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM - 65 Comments
The New York Times has published an exhaustively reported piece exposing the cocktail of deductions, write-offs and tax credits that make the video game business one of America’s most heavily subsidized industries. This level of government cheese is usually reserved for enterprises presenting some kind of clear social benefit in terms of education, health, environmentalism or the like. Heavy subsidies like this can also be put in place to nurture fledgling industries.
Without engaging in the ever-annoying debate on whether video games are good or bad for us, I think we can all agree that they’re not as sympathetic a cause for hand-outs as, say, clean energy tech or funny costumes for puppies.
And the health of the industry is inarguable—sales of video games reached $15 billion in the U.S. alone last year, eclipsing the music industry, if that still means anything—and it would likely do just fine without the charity. So why the corporate welfare?
The reasons are many, but underpinning them all is the dodgy notion that video game jobs are somehow more valuable than other jobs, and that video game technology is somehow a crucial area that America should lead. I’m not sure how making BoneTown can be equated with the space race, but the magical thinking that has convinced American legislators they are in desperate need of unshaven game devs in funny Internet t-shirts has also mesmerized our own Canadian policy makers.
Name-checked in the Times piece are Canada’s video game industry subsidy schemes. Each province is elbowing the next in the neck in a hyper-competitive battle to lure foreign game-makers to their soil. The objective? Jobs for coders. Seduced by sexy talk of information workers and creative economies, provincial governments have collectively handed billions to game makers. Quebec, for example, contributes as much as 37 cents for every dollar on a coder’s paycheck.
I suspect that once the magical silicone dust settles, both governments will learn that coders are the grunts of gaming. Companies like Ubisoft and Electronic Arts will exploit our tax breaks for as long as it serves them. When developing workforces in, say, Bangalore train enough skilled code-monkeys to undercut local coders, the jobs will quickly migrate to India, leaving little of the creative economy behind.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 3:56 PM - 35 Comments
Kevin Milligan critiques the fitness tax credit proposed by the Conservatives.
Boutique tax credits benefit those who can afford accountants to arrange their financial affairs, and lard our economy with extra burdens of filling in forms and shuffling paper … Those Canadians struggling most with their budgets don’t benefit, since non-refundable credits only help those who pay tax. This is not a trivial concern – more than eight million Canadians filed non-taxable returns in 2009.