Proud words in this week's Hill Times:
"I’m sure Flaherty would love to go a couple of rounds with these guys in a debate situation.” An Ontario Conservative told The Hill Times
If so, please name the time and place.
POLITICS with Don Newman?
BNN’s Squeeze Play?
Mike Duffy Live?
Just name the time and place Jim, we’ll be there.
Will you bring the blacked out documents or should we?
To confirm, just send an e-mail to us at bravewords@JimHadHisChance.ca
Income trust lobby not giving up, looking to next election
March 31, 2008
The Canadian Association of Income Trusts isn’t slowing down its attacks on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, renting out 25 large billboards in his riding of Whitby-Oshawa, Ont., and viewing the next federal election with some sense of opportunity. The billboards focus on Mr. Flaherty’s Halloween 2006 decision to tax income trusts after Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) promised that he wouldn’t do so in the 2005-06 election campaign.
They show Mr. Flaherty accompanied by captions such as “C’mon up to Jim Flaherty’s great Canadian giveaway sale” (a reference to the so-called hollowing out of corporate Canada); quotes such as “I don’t fix potholes” and “Too cute by half”; or the statement, “Jim Flaherty’s income splitting only benefits 14% of seniors ... himself included.” The billboards also direct viewers to the website JimHadHisChance.ca, which attacks Mr. Flaherty for having “not one but two chances to destroy the economy.”
The campaign is led by Brent Fullard, head of CAITI, which formed after the income trust decision, and it’s one of the most aggressive and well-financed lobby efforts in recent memory. The association, representing heavy-hitting trusts such as Acuity Funds Ltd., CI Investments, and Dynamic Funds, as well as the Coalition of Canadian Energy Trusts, a group of major oil and gas trusts, spent about $1-million last year between January and May, mostly on advertising and billboards. It’s now spending $30,000 per month on about 35 billboards that come in anticipation of a federal election.
Twenty-five of them are in Mr. Flaherty’s riding, and about another 10 are appearing in the ridings of Conservative MPs Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough, Ont.), both of who sit on the House Standing Committee on Finance. Mr. Dykstra and Mr. Del Mastro both won their seats by slim margins in the 2006 election (four per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively). The association hasn’t targeted Conservative MP Mike Wallace (Burling- ton, Ont.), also a member of the Finance Committee, apparently because it hasn’t got around to it—yet.
Mr. Fullard said he does not know whether the bill-boards are having an impact, but said they are contributing to people’s knowledge about the income trust decision. He pointed to a recent CPAC interview (which he distributed to reporters) with Deborah Meredith, the Conservative candidate for Vancouver Quadra, who said that as she was going door-to-door, she heard complaints about the income trust decision and that it could affect her fortunes in he March 17 byelections (she lost by 150 votes behind the winning Liberal candi- date, Joyce Murray).
Mr. Fullard said the interview is evidence that the issue is a latent one that will resurface in the next campaign. “It’s like an open wound that hasn’t healed,” he said. CAITI is likely to be active in the next federal election campaign, he said, but at that time it will be limited by Elections Canada’s third-party advertising spending limits. “The most that we can spend after the writ is dropped is $150,000 in total and I think it’s $3,000 per riding. That won’t get you very far,” Mr. Fullard said. He wouldn’t say what the association has in store during the election, but added: “We won’t be doing nothing, I can tell you that.”
Dan Miles, Mr. Flaherty’s communications director, told The Hill Times last week that Mr. Flaherty’s constituency office has not received any calls about the issue, and that the government stands strongly behind a tax decision that is now law and that leveled the playing field between trusts and corporations. “It’s regrettable that they can’t move on,” Mr. Miles said. When asked if the campaign is having an impact, he said: “There’s 25 billboards across the riding and we haven’t received one call ... It’s clearly something that is not top of mind for people in the Durham region.”
Another Ontario Conservative told The Hill Times: “I don’t think Jim’s losing any sleep over it, as a matter of fact I’m sure of it. I’m sure he’d love to go a couple of rounds with these guys in a debate situation.”
Mr. Fullard said that he’s not urging people to vote for a party other than the Conservatives. He said he’s “just trying to explain to people who it is who represents them in Ottawa and the many adverse positions he’s taken.” Critics have suggested that the attacks are too personal against Mr. Flaherty, to which Mr. Fullard responded: “Who else am I going to hold to account? His secretary? ... If you don’t hold people to account, what do you hold to account?”
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 10:41 PM