Friday, April 11, 2008

Jim Flaherty: Corruption’s constant cohort


Corruption takes many forms. Some more studied and subtle than others.

The most common form of corruption is that practiced by the likes of Brian Mulroney in which cash is exchanged for influence peddling. Stephen Harper’s attempt to bribe Chuck Cadman is another good example of this form of corruption

Then there is the form of corruption known as intellectual corruption. A good example of this would be the fraudulent notion advanced by Mark Carney that income trusts cause tax leakage. Jim Flaherty wasn’t the architect of this fraudulent concept, since it predated his arrival as Finance Minister, as Mark Carney had previously tried to hoist this false notion on Ralph Goodale in Mark’s first attempt to set the world straight for all of Goldman Sach’s best clients. Jim Flaherty was however a very eager and willing accessory-after-the-fact to the notion that income trusts cause tax leakage in what can be best described as Tax Unfairness 2.0

Then there is the third form of corruption, what I term as tangential corruption. This is a form of corruption in which the sun always seems to be shining in the place where the instigator is standing, and it isn't the result of serendipity.

Tangential corruption is also known as pigs feeding at the trough or pork barrel politics. Usually it is practiced with some finesse. However such is not the case with Jim Flaherty. To get ahead in society, one can do no better than to be a cohort of the Flaherty family circumstances. Cohort being defined as a group of persons similarly aligned. Oh to be the parent of a child in private school.

Better it is to be the parent of a child affected by developmental difficulties than childhood leukemia, since the former is a cohort of the Flaherty’s in a way that the latter is not. The former gets special tax dispensation in the way that the latter does not.

Jim Flaherty is the ultimate ambulance chaser.

I wrote about this very thing back in May of last year in a piece entitled The Self Benevolent Tax Policies of Jim Flaherty

Many more data points have since been observed, and this thesis is in need of an update. As such I ask the questions:

- Was it not strange that Jim Flaherty as Ontario’s Treasurer introduced tax credits for private school just as his children were entering private school?

- Was it not strange that Jim Flaherty as Finance Minister introduced income splitting for seniors, however just those with pension income like himself?

- Was it not strange the Jim Flaherty as Finance Minister introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan, and tax deductible contributions of up to $200,000, for persons just like himself and his family?

- Is it not strange that Jim Flaherty was going to resurrect the Ottawa to Whitby-Oshawa Via train service, even though it was considered highly uneconomic, yet beneficial to him?

- Is it not strange that the cars and trucks produced in the Oshawa assembly plants are free from the his Green Levy and yet could hardly be considered to be fuel efficient?

- And is it not highly suspicious that the recently introduced $45 million program to fund those with disabilities is tailor made for his his wife’s pet project?. This whole program was contrived, both in scope and timing, to be yet another bespoke tax policy to feather the Flahertys’ nest.

Meanwhile, here is a lead that some enterprising journalist may wish to track down. I am told that while Flaherty was part of the Mike Harris's Ontario Cabinet that a number of schools across the province were deemed redundant, including one in Whitby. This property was purchase from the province by Flaherty’s wife after the town declared it had no interest in purchasing the property. One year later, I am told, the town had a change of heart and purchased the land portion of the school from Flaherty’s wife at a price equal to what she paid for the land and the building, leaving her with zero investment and the sole owner of the building. No doubt land registry office records could verify or deny the veracity of this story.

This building was converted by Flaherty's wife from a school to a center for handicapped children.

Is this the project into which these federal funds will now flow? Who owns the facility itself that will receive federal funding? Flaherty's wife? Inquiring minds need to know.

11 comments:

Tootrusting said...

The guy has tunnel vision.

The in ability to see the big picture and the idea that his own narrow view of the world is all that matters.

A very dangerous quality in a politician.

Dr Mike said...

This is pretty heady stuff for Jim to figure out all on his own--lucky he has all those fine folks at Finance & at the Bank Of Canada to do his thinking for him.

I wonder if we have a deficit yet in this country--he is very nervous at the mere mention of spending any money at all.

I can remember the same reaction when he was finance Minister of Ontario & was hiding a 5.6 billion dollar shortfall.

More "For Sale" signs will be going out anytime as more Government assets will surely need to be sold--in Ontario it was Ontario Hydro & the 407 highway , with the LCBO to be next.

Maybe he can ask his wife for a couple of bucks--it appears she will have no shortage of cash.

Dr Mike.

Anonymous said...

What a shame that we have blogs like this that can hide the coward liberals.Like the Cowards they elect that spew venom & lie,s daily in Parliament because they know they are not liable in the house for what they say.But once the Coward Liberals get outside the house of commons ,not one of them has the balls,like their blogging freinds to state the facts in front of a Television camera or into a microphone.Wouldnt you just love to have these cowardly dorts backing you up in a fight.

Anonymous said...

April 11, 2008: Flaherty has the soul of a corrupt politician and the body to go with it.
He knows how to manipulate the system so that it benefits him or his family. He and his wife must have interestng dinner conversations. Probably much the same kind of talk we heard on the Sopranos. However, with two and one half million Canadian who own income trusts, I am sure he figures in their evening prayers!

Robert Gibbs said...

Program 'tailor-made' to send cash to Flaherty's riding: critics

Juliet O'Neill , CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2008 (Edit)

OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is in an apparent conflict of interest because his wife and his executive assistant sit on the board of a project in his riding that is applying for federal funds, critics said Thursday.

They said a $45-million government program appears to have been tailor-made to channel funds to construct an "abilities centre" in Whitby, Ont., whose board of directors includes Flaherty's wife, Christine Elliott, who is also the MPP for the provincial riding, and his executive assistant, Nancy Shaw.

Flaherty's spokesman said the minister will "avoid" the conflict by following instructions he received in a ruling from the ethics commissioner.

Spokesman Dan Miles said the commissioner told Flaherty in December to disclose that his wife is on the board and to excuse himself from any discussion of the application for a grant from the "enabling accessibility" fund.
The critics included Traci Walters, national director of the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres, who accused Flaherty of "pork barrel politics"; John Rae of the Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians, who said the Whitby centre has an unfair advantage; and Liberal disabilities policy critic Carolyn Bennett, who said the fund appears "customized for a pet project" of the minister and those close to him.

The $45-million, three-year fund announced in Flaherty's 2007 budget is being administered through the Human Resources and Social Development Department.

The first call for proposals to receive funds just went out last week and closes at the end of the month. Walters and Rae said that is too little time for almost any organization to come up with a proposal for a major project except for the Whitby centre, which has been on the drawing board since 2006.

The abilities centre website describes the plan for a world-class recreation, athletic and performing arts facility fully accessible to all persons with a varying degree of abilities and challenges.

It says the giant barrier-free facility will include a field house, a walking/training track, full-size courts suitable for wheelchair basketball, volleyball and movement education classes as well as a fitness facility, therapy rooms, performing arts components and more.

"I'm pretty naive politically but it seems like pork-barrelling to me," said Walters, who discovered the criteria for major projects, such as arts and recreational facilities, appeared tailor-made to ensure the Whitby application succeeds. "Mr. Flaherty directed this office for disabilities issues to create this program without consulting the disability community and the criteria matches perfectly to this big building he's building in Whitby."

Walters was upset at the prospect of millions of dollars going to building large complexes "when existing services and supports, some have closed down, some are barely keeping open" and many disabled individuals live in poverty.

"Every day people fight just to get enough hours for home care so somebody can help them get up in the bed every morning," Walters said. "Some provinces don't even fund wheelchairs unless you're on welfare or go beg at a service club."

"It would appear to have an unfair advantage, in terms of the design of this program," said Rae. "Based on the makeup of the board there would appear to be major conflicts of interest."

Jennifer Ayotte, administrative director for the abilities centre in Whitby, confirmed the application had been submitted but would not say how much money was being sought. She said she hoped the building would begin this year.

© Ottawa Citizen 2008

Robert Gibbs said...

Danielle Takacs: Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Conservative Logic: No One Has a Right to Criticize Us, Especially Those Most Affected by Our Bills!

So I haven't been following closely the discuss of Bill C-10, but from what I've heard some aspects of it sound like completely needless censorship and that the bill has the potential for stifling some good creative work by denying tax dollars to Canadian movie productions that would have gotten them in the past.

Bu today it's gotten more press as Sarah Polley (who is among many actors strongly opposing the censorship aspects of this bill) spoke out strongly against it.

Let's see what points she made:

Polley said that the bill's definition of "offensive" is "extremely vague and dangerous to be using."

"It's the job of artists to provoke and to challenge. Part of the responsibility of being an artist is to create work that will inspire dialogue, suggest that people examine their long-held positions and, yes, occasionally offend in order to do so."

"I know very few filmmakers that would risk trying to try to make a film that was controversial or pushed the envelope or was even interesting in any way if this bill was in place"

Polley said the whole concept of guidelines imposed by the government is dangerous.
"I guess the question here is: who has the right to decide what is offensive?" said Polley.

"In this case, I think it's really dangerous to lay that responsibility in the hands of the minister of heritage. I think we have arms-length organizations that make these decisions very rigorously."

She also noted that the bill includes a double standard when it comes to American films made in Canada. "American productions would actually not be affected and their tax credits would be safe," said Polley. "Which, I think, is pretty problematic and I think shows how sloppy this bill was."

So surely the Conservatives addressed each of Polley's points forthrightly no?

Well of course they did:

In the press release (in response), the Conservatives took specific aim at Polley. She has been a vocal NDP supporter and once lost a pair of teeth when the riot squad aggressively broke up an anti-Mike Harris demonstration outside of the Ontario Legislature.

"Individuals with vested personal and political interests should be honest with Canadians on what their true intentions are,'" said Pierre Poilievre, an Ottawa-area MP.

"Hard-working Canadians are growing increasingly tired of special interest groups telling them what to do."

Seriously, does Pierre Poilievre ever think before opening his mouth? And what goes through Stephen Harper and Sandra Buckler's minds as they approve of him saying things like this?

Basically the message is "how dare you actors who this bill affects most speak against it! You're just a bunch of lefties so your opinions don't matter!"

By Conservative logic if there's cuts to education in the future, we don't need to hear from any teachers. If there's cuts to health care, doctors and nurses shouldn't be allowed to speak. They're all just a bunch of special interests (who are probably too left wing to be taken seriously). Very twisted logic by this Government indeed.

Can any Conservative please tell me how it matters in the slightest that Sarah Poley is an NDP supporter? Why is that worthy of mention in a press release? Are the Conservatives really saying that means her opinion doesn't matter? Is Sarah Poley not also a hard working Canadian who pays her taxes?

And how is Sarah Polley telling Canadians what to do as Pierre claims anyway? She's giving legitimate criticisms of a government bill and virtually all actors and movie producers seem to be behind her on this.

It just seems the Conservatives these days can't stand to be criticized for anything, especially by those who feel the brunt of their worst policies. And they have absolutely no shame in hitting back resorting to the most irrelevant of personal attacks. It's absolutely appalling.

Does it not make sense that those groups most affected by any bill would have a right to speak against it? Do they not have a right to receive a logical response from the government to each of their concerns?

But I guess common sense and decency has never applied to this Conservative Government since Day 1.

Posted by Danielle Takacs at 10:41 PM
Labels: Conservative nonsense, Pierre Poilievre, Sarah Polley

Robert Gibbs said...

Heritage minister 'hates' C-10, says Conservative senator

FEDERAL POLITICS / Senator caught on tape after he forgot to turn off his microphone during committee

Brent Creelman / Xtra.ca / Thursday, April 10, 2008

Heritage Minister Josée Verner "hates" Bill C-10, a Conservative senator was caught on tape saying in committee Apr 10.

Senator David Angus' comments were recorded by C-PAC at the Senate's banking committee, which is studying a controversial clause within Bill C-10 that would revoke tax credits for films that are "contrary to public policy."

Angus called for a two-minute break between hearings around noon Apr 10, but for a short time after he adjourned the meeting, Angus' microphone was left on. His conversation with an unidentified man was broadcast over the Senate's live internet audio feed.

"The government has to bite the bullet," he was heard saying. "The minister agrees, she told me she hates the law." (watch the video below)

Angus was heard on the internet audio feed for another few seconds before his microphone was cut off, but his comments were hard to make out.

Representatives from Verner and Angus' offices were quick to downplay the claims.

"He's wrong," says a spokesperson for Verner, reached at the minister's office. The minister herself had no comment when contacted by xtra.ca.

A representative for Angus defended the senator.

"The context is that I don't think that anyone realized it was going to cause such a controversy," he says. "Probably the minister is just tired of dealing with the bill."

Bill C-10 passed through the House of Commons last fall in one day, with unanimous support from all parties. But when news broke in February that the bill contained a clause that amounts to censorship, arts groups and opposition MPs were outraged.

The Ministry of Canadian Heritage has been on the defensive since then. Verner appeared before the Senate committee Apr 2 to defend the bill, saying that it would close "a loophole" that theoretically would allow illegal material like hate speech and kiddie porn to qualify for the credit.

She repeatedly tried to pass the buck to the Liberals, since an earlier version of the film clause appeared in several bills between 2002 and 2006.

Witnesses at the Senate committee Apr 10 said the bill would discourage banks from financing edgy film and television productions, because tax credits are awarded late in the production process.

"The very existence of such provisions creates financial uncertainty," said Sandra Cunningham of the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association.

Most witnesses have called on senators to remove the "contrary to public policy" section of the bill, or at least establish the guidelines before the bill is passed. As it stands, the specific guidelines are not contained in C-10, and would be open for change at the whim of the ministry of heritage.

"We have already seen that there has been enormous controversy and censure of some of the most important Canadian films ever made," said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Apr 9. "There were calls not to fund films about abortion and gay youth. Should these too have been suppressed in the name of public policy?"

"If we give the government a free hand to pick off certain movies and chill our artists, how many more innovative films on controversial topics will get made?"

The Senate committee will hear two more days of witnesses' testimony Apr 16-17. Among them is Charles McVety, the founder of rightwing group Canada Family Action Coalition, which promotes the idea that homosexuality can be "cured." Last month, McVety took credit for the clause, saying it represents conservative values.

— with files from Marcus McCann

Robert Gibbs said...

Tory MP regrets 8-year-old 'overheated Sikhs' comment

Last Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 | 1:17 PM ET

CBC News

Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney apologized Friday for comments he made eight years ago in which he postulated that "overheated Sikhs" may be playing the race card during the general election that year.

Asked about the comments during question period in the House of Commons, Kenney acknowledged he made the remarks.

"I did use those remarks in a particular context and I don't think they were appropriate. I expressed regret at the time and I do so again," said Kenney, who represents the riding of Calgary Southeast.

But Kenney said he found it unfortunate that the Liberals and the Ottawa Citizen, which published a story about the comments, were "resorting to using eight-year-old material from Canada's version of the National Enquirer, called Frank magazine, for question period material."

Back in 2000, the satirical magazine obtained a copy of the recording of the comments and published a transcript. On Friday, the Citizen reported that the recording has recently resurfaced.

During a 2000 conference call about a Toronto-area riding, Kenney, an MP at the time, was discussing a rumour that a member of the Canadian Alliance riding association might be a member of the Heritage Front, a Canadian white supremacist group.

"The whole national campaign could go down on that alone," Kenney said, according to the transcript.

"Now, this notion that there's somebody tied to the Heritage Front on the executive. How do we know that and how do we know that this isn't overheated Sikhs using the race card, which they so often do when their credentials are being questioned?"

Liberal MP Bob Rae, who questioned Kenney about the comments, said he accepted his apology, but asked if he could "explain a pattern in which things are said behind closed doors which are very different from what is said in public."

Rae was referring to a videotape that surfaced earlier this month that featured Tory Saskatchewan MP Tom Lukiwski making homophobic slurs.

Dr Mike said...

anonymous said : "But once the Coward Liberals get outside the house of commons ,not one of them has the balls,like their blogging freinds to state the facts in front of a Television camera or into a microphone.Wouldnt you just love to have these cowardly dorts backing you up in a fight."

Speaking of cowardly Dorts , what is your real name--I hope it is not anonymous--my name is Dr Mike Popovich & I accept you challenge to debate anytime , anywhere.

Mr Fullard of CAITI has offered to debate Mr Flaherty wherever the minister sees fit--any tv venue is fine.

Mr Flaherty has been silent despite a Conservative saying that he is willing to debate at any time.

We have the facts & they have been presented to parliament & to the media---it is you who is a coward.

We are ready to come out to play at any time---actually , we have been waiting in the yard for some time--there is just no one with the cojones to debate.

So get a life--if this is all you have to offer , don`t bother coming back.

Dr Mike.

Bruce Benson said...

Anonymous said...
What a shame that we have blogs like this that can hide the coward liberals. Like the Cowards they elect that spew venom & lie,s daily in Parliament because they know they are not liable in the house for what they say.But once the Coward Liberals get outside the house of commons ,not one of them has the balls,like their blogging freinds to state the facts in front of a Television camera or into a microphone.Wouldnt you just love to have these cowardly dorts backing you up in a fight.

April 11, 2008 4:52 PM

Looks like you have bought the Conservative lies and distortions hook, line and sinker. You must have just graduated from the Cultist University "Reform of the Brainless and the Further Cultivation of Morons". Oh, I am not anonymous.

Robert Gibbs said...

The Chronicle Herald

Call him ‘Allan J.’ Flaherty

By JIM MEEK
Sun. Apr 13 - 5:20 AM

GEE, I DIDN’T think they made finance ministers like Jim Flaherty anymore.

Flaherty, the guy who is supposed to watch over Canadian government spending, is diverting it to his Ontario riding instead — at least, that’s what opposition MPs say.

And it’s hard to argue with Flaherty’s foes after he introduced a budget measure, the $45-million Enabling Accessibility Fund, which seems to be a perfect fit for a project in his beloved riding of Whitby-Oshawa.

All things considered, the fund is a nice match for a pet Flaherty project: a proposed Abilities Centre in Whitby.

To say the government is fast-tracking this process is an understatement.

Two weeks ago, guidelines for applications to the $45-million fund were announced. And lo and behold, it now appears that applicants to the fund only have a month or so to put everything in place, including long-term property leases.

Guess who is ready to go right away? You’ve got it: the Whitby group backing the Abilities Centre. And guess who sits on the board of directors of the centre? None other than Nancy Shaw, the finance minister’s executive assistant. And Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, who happens to be married to the federal finance minister.

Let’s face it. The audacity at work here is nothing short of astounding.

In fact, I don’t think Canadian politics has witnessed a conflict of interest this blatant since the heyday of former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein.

Back in the 1990s, Klein escaped execution after promoting an Alberta high-tech firm, Multi-Corp, to audiences from Hong Kong to Edmonton.

While Ralph sang the company’s praises, the value of Multi-Corp stocks soared to nine bucks in 1995 from a dollar in 1993. Then it was discovered that Ralph’s wife, Colleen; Colleen’s brother; and several prominent Tories had stakes in the company.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, the Klein story looks like an example of blatant (greedy) self-interest.

The current Flaherty story looks like blatant (political) self-interest, which isn’t quite as bad but still smells like last Tuesday’s fish.

Flaherty defends himself by noting that he will not take part in any cabinet discussions concerning the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

But given that the fix appears to be in, this hardly matters.

The only way cabinet can properly deal with the issue now is to offer the Whitby gang a one-way train ticket out of Ottawa.

And I don’t mean a ticket on the slush-fund express that Flaherty has also proposed — a commuter train connecting Toronto and Peterborough.

This was another budget goodie. No one seems to know exactly what this commuter service would cost, or who would use it, or why Flaherty wants to revive the rail link the Mulroney government killed because no one used it.

But it sure looks like local politics, pure and simple.

As I said, I didn’t think they made finance ministers like this — like Allan J. MacEachen — anymore.

MacEachen, the legendary Cape Breton Grit who served in the Pearson, Trudeau and Turner cabinets, was famous for looking after his own backyard. He insisted on keeping those Cape Breton heavy-water plants alive long after the market for their product was dead, and he never apologized for protecting jobs close to home.

"If it moves, subsidize it. If it doesn’t move, pave it."

I don’t know if that phrase was coined to honour Allan J., who served as finance minister in the last Trudeau government, but it should have been.

Come to think of it, there’s something very 1980s about the "new" Harper government in general.

In the past few weeks, the Harper crowd has started to sound very Trudeau-esque on issues like foreign investment. For instance, it has vetoed the sale of Canada’s premier space-related company to U.S. interests.

In Trudeau’s day, the government was determined to beat back foreign multinationals and encourage Canadian ownership in the energy sector.

Members of Harper’s cabinet have also been muttering gently — almost under their breath — about re-opening the constitutional wars, with the aim of "accommodating Quebec."

None of this back-to-the-future stuff is good for the country, of course. But it might make politics more interesting.

After all, who needs a boring, reliable finance minister like Paul Martin when you can have a mercurial, combative, unpredictable one like Jim Flaherty?

( jmeek@herald.ca)