What kind of country has a Finance Minister who can’t even count?
That might have something to do with Jim Flaherty’s background and profession as an ambulance chasing insurance litigation lawyer, where numbers could be inflated with impunity, if it helped win the case and reach a settlement. But why should Canada settle for a Finance Minister who first denied that Canada was even going to be caught up in the world’s economic downdraft or even run a deficit (September 2008) and then faced with the loss of confidence of the newly elected Parliament delivered the largest deficit budget in history at $34 billion in February 2009, only ti proclaim yesterday that...ooops...it’s actually going to be a mere $50 billion deficit, with none of the $15 billion increment being what would qualify as “stimulus”, but rather just keeping the lights on in Canada.
Speaking of keeping the lights on, there is that other exercise over which Jim Flaherty has become infamous, and that involved his income trusts tax. That was another exercise where the election promise proved fleeting. Just like the deficit we were told by Jim Flaherty he would never run, the income trust matter was another promise broken. A promise that just made the difference for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, mostly retirees and seniors, between keeping the lights on and not keeping the lights on. This was another instance of Flaherty being unable to even count. Somehow, Jim Flaherty is of the belief that the taxes that are mandatorily paid on RRSP and RRIF withdrawals are worthless to the government. Flaherty can’t count, as he assigns zero value to these deferred taxes? And yet when Teachers’ seeks to buy BCE in a junk bond laden LBO, Flaherty is the first one to rush to his own defense by pointing out that “Yes... And there is taxation, of course, when pensions are paid out.”
Had Flaherty been able to count, he would have realized that Ottawa would have collected $793 million MORE PER YEAR, had BCE been allowed to become a trust rather than an LBO, and $550 million MORE PER YEAR than remaining as a corporation. Ditto for income trusts at large. But who's counting?
The real question however is whether Flaherty can count, and whether his analysis of tax leakage can stand up to the scrutiny that it deserves, but has yet to formally receive. The answer to that becomes glaringly obvious when we witness a $35 billion deficit figure proffered up by Flaherty in February morph into a $50 billion deficit number in the space of three short numbers. Clearly Flaherty can’t count, and he has no business or qualifications to be Canada’s Minister of Finance. He cause harm where none otherwise existed.
At least as a lawyer, Jim Flaherty should understand that one of the basic tenets of a civilized society is the concept of “duty of care” to one’s fellow citizens.
The best way for Jim Flaherty to exercise his duty of care to Canadians, at this long overdue juncture, is for him to resign, before Canadians rename the Peter Principle as the Jim Principle, as Flaherty clearly has risen to a level far beyond his shallow competence.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Posted by Fillibluster at 7:54 AM