Sunday, October 31, 2010

Readers' Comments on Globe's latest Income trust BS

Image: Globe and Mail's Harper government apologist David Parkinson

Readers’ comments here.

This reader comment from Albin for example:

Is the writer out of his bloody mind? Or maybe he was born yesterday and things just look pretty good since then, because he found a lot of financial services flunkies to provide happy talk quotes about future possibilities. Apart from the few REITs, a lot of good people lost a lot of good money solely for trusting this government in what it said in black and white it would not do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Judy Snake-Eyes

Katz wins third term as Winnipeg mayor

By Bartley Kives, Winnipeg Free Press October 27, 2010 11:03 PM

Sam Katz captured a third term as Winnipeg's mayor Wednesday by fending off a challenge from a New Democrat Member of Parliament, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, known to income trust investors as Judy Wasylycia-Lies, for the lies and deception she participated in as the NDP's Finance Critic in killing income trusts.

It started out as a tight race and at one point challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis pulled into the lead, but as poll after poll reported Katz began to pull away.

With 62 per cent of the vote in, Katz has amassed 74,611 votes compared to 57,031 for Wasylycia-Leis.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Green Party condemns Harper government over income trust policy

This is from the Green Party’s 130 page Vision Green policy document

Income trusts

Based on the Conservative Party’s 2006 campaign promise to allow income trusts to retain their non-tax status, more than a million Canadians invested in income trusts.  The Conservatives broke their election promise and these investors lost over $30 billion.  Many older Canadians saw their retirement savings disappear within hours.

The reason given for breaking the promise was that the government was losing revenue because the trusts did not pay tax. Finance Canada proceeded as if there was no tax revenue from income trusts.  This was wrong. The trusts made payments to their investors and those payments were taxed.

There are public policy reasons to constrain or even discourage income trusts. If it could be proved that, over time, such arrangements led to a failure to re-invest profits in modernizing and expanding Canadian operations, action would be appropriate. So far this reasoning is intuitive and not empirical. What is clear is that the stated reason for breaking the promise, tax leakage, was not justified.

Our Vision

The Green Party condemns the Harper government for breaking an election promise and leaving citizens and companies in the lurch. The decision to tax income trusts has left Canadian companies more vulnerable to foreign takeover. It will be years before we fully understand the damage caused by this decision.

Green Solutions

Green Party MPs will:

Review and redress the significant damage to Canadians caused by the broken promise and adjust tax rates in light of that error.

Instruct Finance Canada to complete a study sampling full-cost accounting of income trusts, including lost corporate revenues and personal income tax revenues from investors to determine a fair taxation rate on income trust incomes and dividends.

Push government to adopt these fair taxation rates. Ensure foreign holders of trusts are taxed at a higher rate. In the interim, tax trusts at 10 per cent.

Inform both companies and investors of the process to determine fair tax rates on income trusts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Potash Corp.: PM’s dirty little secret

I wonder to what extent Harper’s position on the takeover of Potash Corp by BHP is being influenced/lobbied by his neo-con soul mate in Australia, John Howard, whose speeches Harper would freely plagiarize from and is the home of BHP, which by the way stands for Broken Hill Properties. Is that Harper’s goal, to turn Canada into a broken hill property, with the killing of income trusts being his first big foray into disenfranchising Canadians from ownership of the country’s resources and business earnings?

Potash Corp.: PM’s dirty little secret
Toronto Star
Mon Oct 25 2010

Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week shrugged off concerns about the looming foreign takeover of Potash Corp., a major Saskatchewan mining company. “This is a proposal for an American-controlled company (Potash Corp.) to be taken over by an Australian-controlled company (BHP Billiton Ltd.),” he said.

The Prime Minister is wrong. Potash Corp. is a widely held company, and 49 per cent of its shareholders are Canadian compared to 38 per cent American. While the Potash Corp. CEO is American and lives in Chicago, the company is headquartered in Saskatoon and a majority of its employees and directors are Canadian.

Once these facts were out, the government abandoned that line of argument in favour of another: that the Potash Corp. takeover will be screened by Investment Canada, a federal agency, to ensure there is a “net benefit” to Canada.

In theory that sounds good. In practice, not so much.

“In every single takeover of a natural resources company in our country of late, promises have been made and promises are broken and Investment Canada has been letting the companies off the hook.” That is not NDP Leader Jack Layton or the Canadian Labour Congress speaking. Rather, it is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, a small-c conservative and normally a Harper ally.

Wall has effectively torn the cover off a dirty little secret: Investment Canada is a toothless watchdog. Its screenings of takeovers are feel-good exercises, nothing more. As evidence, consider the recent takeovers of Falconbridge and Inco. In both cases, the foreign buyers promised to maintain employment levels. Once in control, they laid off hundreds of workers, while the government stood idly by.

Harper may shrug off concerns about foreign takeovers. But working Canadians have reasons to be worried.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ken Dryden on Michael Ignatieff

If the Round Tables were Ignatieff’s finest hour, as Dryden claims in his new book, then he is in worse shape than he thinks.

Ignatieff personally invited me to present the Marshall Savings Plan to the Liberals at these round table gatherings only to have the invitation overturned by those in the party like Gerard Kennedy who are interested in pandering to Corporate Canada and kow towing to the Life insurance industry. The Liberals are grossly conflicted on matters like the income trust issue and have proven themselves clearly incapable of doing was is right for 99.9% of Canadians, including the 79.6% of Canadians who supported implementation of the Marshall Savings Plan as determined by an an Environics poll.

The Liberals are no better than the Conservatives on matters such as the trust tax fraud, as their record of total inaction demonstrates.

Goalie-turned-MP Dryden takes a few slapshots at Liberal captain

OCTOBER 23, 2010

OTTAWA — In a new book, hockey-great-turned-MP Ken Dryden delivers a blunt analysis not only of his own party's political woes but, more surprisingly, of those he thinks have dogged his boss, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

Becoming Canada, Dryden's fifth book, is meant as a rallying call for a better Canada. But the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender spends much of it analyzing the shortcomings of the federal Liberal party, which he says was bereft of ideas and direction by the time Stephen Harper's Conservatives won the 2006 election.

"It had been a long time since Liberals had acted and felt like Liberals," Dryden writes. "Perhaps the last best time had been in 1982 with the passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"Since the 2006 election, the Liberals have seemed always on the edges of the game and never back in it."

Dryden describes Ignatieff, who formally became party leader in 2009 after two lacklustre years of Stephane Dion's helmsmanship, as having yearned for the prime minister's job since his childhood.

What the leader hadn't envisioned, Dryden suggests, were "the tactics and manoeuvrings that make politics function."

Instead, Ignatieff "was more confident in his understandings of the world than of Canada," writes Dryden.

By contrast, he argues, Harper is so politically skilful that the public spotlight has turned mostly on the Liberals since 2006.

"It is Dion and now Ignatieff, who have had their flaws so starkly revealed," he writes.

"Today, Harper seems less worn than Dion did, less worn than Ignatieff does now."

It's unusual for a politician to so bluntly describe his party leader while still working for him. Dryden, MP for York Centre in Ontario, was minister of social development in the Paul Martin government, and is now the party's national outreach adviser for poverty and working families.

"When Ignatieff was only ten years old, he didn't only dream of being Beliveau or even Rocket Richard or Gordie Howe, as other boys did, he dreamed of being prime minister," Dryden writes. "What would a prime minister say? How would he say it?"

Once Ignatieff became leader, he "seemed remarkably comfortable," Dryden wrote. But he says this didn't shield the former international journalist and scholar from Tory attacks that defined him as "just visiting" Canada.

"From his first boyhood imaginings, he had put himself inside the skin of prime ministers and presidents, living out their experiences with them, deciding for himself what he would have done, how he would have looked and sounded in their stead. He arrived in his new role 50 years experienced. But what were not in his boyhood fantasies, or much in his adult observings, were the tactics and manoeuvrings that make politics function," Dryden writes. "Here, he was not experienced."

Nonetheless, Dryden describes early 2010, after Harper prorogued Parliament, as a glimmer of hope for the Liberal leader. During that period, the Liberals held dozens of roundtables on ideas and policies, attended by experts and duly reported by the news media.

"This was Ignatieff at his best — listener, learner, ponderer, sense-maker, meaning-seeker, big-picture-finder. In those three weeks, his confidence growing, he seemed finally to realize: I can be good at this. It might even be fun."

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Liberals: Open data comes to Ottawa?

From: Randy Meyer

Hey Brent, I found the link to the Liberal’s prototype portal. The above is what I got when I asked about income trusts.

Open data comes to Ottawa

David Eaves
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 9:28AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 9:33AM EDT

On Thursday afternoon, the Liberals will announce that, if elected, they will adopt a government-wide directive in which “the default position for all departments and agencies will be for the release of information to the public, both proactively and responsively, after privacy and other legal requirements are met.”

There is much that both ordinary citizens and advocates of greater government transparency will like in the proposal. Not only have the Liberals mirrored the most aggressive parts of Mr. Obama's transparency initiatives, they are also promising some specific and aggressive policies of their. In addition to promising to launch a data portal – – to share government data, the Liberals propose the creation of two other sites:, where citizens can gain access to past information requests and see response times and, where information on all government grants, contributions and contracts can be searched.

The announcement brings to the Canadian political debate an exciting issue that first gained broad appeal in early 2009 when Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, called on governments to share their data . By May of that year the United States launched and in September, 2009, the British government launched , both of which garnered significant domestic attention. In addition, dozens of cities around the world – including Vancouver, Edmonton and, most recently, Ottawa – have launched websites where they share information that local charities, non-profits, businesses and ordinary citizens might find useful.

Today, citizens in these jurisdictions enjoy improved access to government information about the economy, government spending, access to information requests, and statistical data. The benefit however, not limited to improved transparency and accountability. An independent British study estimated that open data could contribute as much as £6-billion to British economy. Canada's computer developers, journalists and entrepreneurs have been left wondering when their government will give them access to the data their tax dollars paid to collect?

The Liberals are attempting to reposition themselves at the forefront of a debate around government transparency and accountability. This is ground that has traditionally been Conservative, but with the cancellation of the long-form census, the sole-source jet fighter contract and, more recently, allegations that construction contracts were awarded to Conservative party donors, accountability is once again a contestable issue.

It will be interesting to see the Conservative response. There have been rumours the government has been exploring an open-data portal but to date there has been no announcement. This is one area where, often, there is support across the spectrum. Indeed, in Britain it was Mr. Brown's Labour government that launched and Mr. Cameron's Conservative government that pursued it more aggressively still, forcing the release of additional and higher value data to the public. Of course, in Canada, between the census debacle and the muzzling of Canadian government scientists, any talk of open data may be frowned upon within government, which would be a shame. Open data and open government shouldn't be a partisan issue.

David Eaves is a public-policy entrepreneur, open government activist and negotiation expert based in Vancouver

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today’s Top News Headlines

Canada loses bid for UN Security Council Seat, Harper blames Ignatieff

Canadian dollar close to reaching US dollar parity, Harper blames Ignatieff

Bisphenol A officially declared toxic, Harper blames Ignatieff

David Arquette splits from Courteney Cox, Harper blames Ignatieff

Quote of the week:

"Perhaps Harper can get a seat on the Tim Horton's security council."
observed Robert Bothwell, an expert on foreign relations at the University of Toronto.

See: Doughnuts over diplomacy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Harper’s penchant for lies and fear tactics has gone global:

Abu Dhabi: The UAE said Tuesday it was disappointed over the Canadian government’s attempts to leak distorted information about commercial landing rights and described them as “fear tactics.”

“This deliberate leak with misinformation reminds us of the policies of fear tactics of the Neo Cons of not so distant past,” a UAE official source said.

He was commenting on Canadian media reports which claimed the UAE had turned away a plane carrying top officials with the Canadian government and military.

The world is a safer place

Today we learned the good news that Stephen Harper dropped out of the race to have Canada named to the UN's Security Council after the inevitable defeat was about to unfold, much like he dropped out of the University of Toronto when defeat was imminent.

See: Canada abandons UN bid in embarrassing turn for Harper

How do you spend your life maligning the UN and then expect to get elected to the Security Council, as Harper did?

The world is a safer place without Canada on the UN security council. After all, Harper would be calling all the shots in the name of Canada with less than 30% of Canadians supporting this tin pot dictator. This would never have been Canada per se on the Security Council, but rather Harper and his band of bozo thugs.

Count your lucky stars that Harper isn't invoking Canadians before the Security Council in the name of whatever personal vendetta he may be advancing behind closed doors at the UN. How mentally stable do you consider Stephen Harper and his band of thugs to be when they attempt to lay blame for this UN Security Council defeat at the feet of Michael Ignatieff?

Certified lunatics, these HarperCons. We don't need lunatics like these making decisions within the UN Security Council that's for sure. It's bad enough that they are confined to making decisions for Canada. Why spread that contagion?

Rob Ford for Mayor?

Apparently Rob Ford isn’t without his supporters.

Jim Flaherty for example.

Apparently Jim Flaherty thinks Toronto needs a wife-beating racist drunk for Mayor. Who else would have posted these signs on University Avenue, if not Rob Ford's supporters?

Lawrence Martin scoops the CBC

The expression “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is apt in describing the lame and incompetent nature of the CBC, except the expression would be more like “You can provide damning revelations about the sitting government to the CBC on a silver platter, but you can’t get them to report the truth.”

The CBC’s coverage of Stephen Harper’s income trust policy has been almost as fraudulent as the policy itself. During Harper’s second prorogation of Parliament, the CBC found itself with a potential void in political news reporting and so came up with the idea of “Ask a politician a question” in which viewers were given the opportunity to do what was being advertised, namely “Ask a politician a question”. The questions that were submitted by viewers that received the most votes from viewers was the premise upon which this segment was to be conducted. When the CBC found itself with overwhelming viewer response to the question concerning what was Stephen Harper’s proof of tax leakage (apart from 18 pages of blacked out documents) for his income trust policy flip flop that caused Canadians to lose $35 billion of their retirement life savings, the CBC attempted to renege on its promise to ask the most popular question in the minds of viewers and instead opted for a question (basically) of their own.

When confronted with this clear attempt to avoid asking this embarrassing question of the government, the CBC reverted to an equally contemptible action, by going through the motions of asking the question, while doing nothing of the sort. Instead reverting to repeating the government’s original patent lies about tax leakage by dredging up some sycophant professor from the U of T.

Now that the CBC has relinquished its responsibilities for uncovering the truth and exposing the patent lies of government, despite the vast resources that are provided to it at the expense of taxpayers, it is left up to journalists like Lawrence Martin to provide these revelations in books such as Harperland. All that Lawrence Martin is now revealing about Stephen Harper’s income trust policy and the lies and deceptions upon which it was based, was previously provided to the CBC by myself and others back in February 2010. I am speaking about the entire news organization of the CBC who was made aware of these patent lies and deceptions about Harper’s income trust policy ranging from the lowly reporter on the file, Havard Gould, all the way to the Head of the CBC News, Jennifer McGuire, and everybody in between, including the CBC’s supposed Ombudsman, Vince Carlin, whose job it seems is to run cover for the unseemly practices of the CBC.

What Lawrence Martin has chosen to inform Canadians about in his book “Harperland: The politics of control”, and that the CBC went out of its way to suppress, is:

(1) “In fact, the government's rationale for the flip-flop-the lost tax revenues was not the real reason for it.”

(2) “Tom Flanagan, still in Harper's good graces at the time, asked him the reason for the reversal. "Well, when I was in opposition," Harper replied, "no one told me that all the big corporations were about to convert to the income trust form of organization." He wasn't as worried about tax leakage, he explained to Flanagan, as he was about corporate governance.”

(3) “ But it was not the case Harper and Flaherty put to the public because corporate governance was too complex an issue.”

(4) Harper's cabinet was not informed of the decision until after the fact. It was taken with only four people in the room-Harper, Kevin Lynch, Jim Flaherty, and Flaherty's deputy minister. Owing to the sensitivity of the issue, Harper opted for even tighter secrecy than usual.

(5) “Before long, however, the evidence began to mount that the tax implications were significantly overstated. Revenue calculations by federal officials, it appeared, had been distorted to make the loss appear far more serious than it was.”

6) “Then, because of the controversy the policy switch engendered, the Harper team went into information-denial mode." The government, said Stanbury, interpreted the Access to Information Act in the most restrictive way possible. Many documents released under the act were completely blacked out.

How much of this have you ever learned by watching the CBC? All of these damning revelations, and then some, were provided by me to the CBC”s The National, when they came to my home to conduct was was ostensibly a segment entitled “Ask a politician a question”, which the CBC went out of its way to avoid doing, thereby compromising their journalistic integrity. Lawrence Martin has proven that the CBC had no journalistic integrity to speak of.

Lawrence Martin invites questions on his book Harperland

My question for Lawrence Martin is:

US political philosopher Leo Strauss and his neo-con followers (eg George W. Bush, Karl Rove) believe in something known as the Big Lie, in which they believe that society is often too ill-educated to make the right decisions when presented with the true facts. To overcome this supposed impediment, societies have to be lead to making the “right” decision (at least in the minds of those in power) by employing tactics such as the Big Lie. A perfect example of this philosophy in action occurred when George Bush employed the Big Lie argument of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction as his rationale for the invasion of Iraq, since without the element of fear mongering that the WMD argument entailed, George Bush would never have garnered the support for this invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, society remains completely in the dark about the true reasons for the invasion of Iraq, and never had the opportunity to debate their merits or exercise their democratic rights in judgment of the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq.

In your book you reveal that Stephen Harper’s income trust policy and reversal of the basis on which he was voted into office was a perfect example of the Straussian tactic of the “Big Lie”, since in your book you reveal that:

(1) The argument of tax leakage which was the main premise advanced by the Harper government for the income trust tax was in fact not true.

(2) The only proof that the Harper government provided to substantiate their claim of tax leakage was blacked out documents, which contained no such proof.

(3) Stephen Harper’s former Chief of Staff. Tom Flanagan confirms that Stephen Harper’s actions had nothing to do with the argument about tax leakage (that was being knowingly and falsely advanced to the public far and wide, including in your newspaper The Globe and Mail), but rather some other reason that was never revealed to the public and the public therefore had no opportunity to debate on its validity or to opine on its merit. Your book reads:

“In fact, the government's rationale for the flip-flop-the lost tax revenues was not the real reason for it. When the announcement came, Tom Flanagan, still in Harper's good graces at the time, asked him the reason for the reversal. "Well, when I was in opposition," Harper replied, "no one told me that all the big corporations were about to convert to the income trust form of organization." He wasn't as worried about tax leakage, he explained to Flanagan, as he was about corporate governance. The income trust concept was fine, he believed when used in a limited sphere. But when it was beginning to be adopted by big manufacturers and service corporations, he was persuaded that it was the wrong way to go. James Rajotte, who served as chair of the industry committee, was of the same impression. But it was not the case Harper and Flaherty put to the public because corporate governance was too complex an issue.”

Therefore my question to you is:

(1) Do you agree that the income trust tax in Canada is simply an example of Leo Strauss’ Big Lie in action and that Canadians were simply duped with totally false information to garner support for a government policy that if the true intent of the policy were made known, the public would never have supported?

(2) Why are these totally damning revelations of yours concerning the fraudulent nature of tax leakage not made known by you in real time in the Globe and Mail, but rather are only brought to light in a book published by you at a point in time when very little can be done about it and the negative consequences to the Stephen Harper government are minimized? Were you suppressed by the Globe and Mail (and/or its corporate owners. BCE, Teachers. Torstar and Woodbridge) from making these facts known to the public, since it was contrary to your corporate owners interests?

(3) When will you be informing Canadians at large (via the Globe and Mail) about the fraudulent nature of Stephen Harper's tax leakage argument, a fraud that saw over 2 million Canadians lose $35 billion of their retirement savings based on the hoax argument of tax leakage?

Friday, October 8, 2010

CON MP James Rajotte hypocrisy Part 2

Lawrence Martin's book Haperland reveals that CON MP James Rajotte supported Stephen Harper's income trust betrayal on the basis that income trusts were bad for the economy or some equally non-quantifiable esoteric and wholly subjective argument, which totally contradicts what he had argued in Parliament in the past, as follows:

From Hansard

September 29th, 2005 / 10:45 a.m.

Conservative James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague's question gives me the opportunity to explain. I know it is not related specifically to Bill C-55, but it is related to income trusts.

The member mentioned that the United States does not have income trusts. That is true. However, it also do not have double taxation on dividends. If double taxation of dividends were not done in Canada, then we would not need income trusts. Income trusts allow the company to pass on the profits to their investors. People say that is evading taxes. What it does is pass on profits to the investors and thereby companies do not pay the double taxation to the government.

It is interesting, but it is a fundamental difference between the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party. If we look at productivity and competitiveness, I do not believe the path to productivity and competitiveness is by double taxing those people who are taking their hard earned dollars and investing it in companies in Canada. That is what investors are doing.

By double taxing companies, we are not increasing our productivity and competitiveness. We are in fact lessening our productivity and competitiveness by giving more resources to the government, by double taxing those people who are taking their own hard earned capital to invest in our companies in Canada. That is exactly the wrong path to go down.

If the finance minister wants to come forward and say that the government will stop double taxing investors who take their hard earned money and put it into companies in Canada, we in the Conservative Party would probably say that we should look at that. That is what the United States does and maybe that would be even a better way to go than the income trust angle.

If we want jobs to be created, whether it is in northwestern British Columbia, on the east coast or anywhere else in Canada, we need Canadians to use their excess capital to invest in companies here.

Our biggest problem in Canada with productivity and competitiveness today is a lack of access to capital by small and medium size companies. If we go to any research institution in any field across the country, talk to the head of the NRC, the ARC or whomever else, they will say that our number one issue in Canada is productivity and competitiveness.

The forestry sector has been hit by unfair trade practices by our colleagues. It has had to put up $5 million in duties. This sector has actually made profits because it has responded by becoming more efficient and more competitive. The forestry sector has not done this by evading taxes. I think, frankly, it has been by trying not to pay double taxation to the government and passing on some gains to investors. The investors can then use the surplus money to reinvest back into the communities across the country.

Lawrence Martin reveals CON MP James Rajotte to be a complete hypocrite

Whatever support exists amongst Canadians for Stephen Harper’s income trust betrayal derives almost exclusively from the (false) belief that income trusts cause tax leakage. Meanwhile 95% of Canadians are unaware that Stephen Harper’s proof for such an allegation ONLY takes the form of 18 pages of blacked documents and that the argument of tax leakage is a complete hoax according to groups no less credible than the Royal Bank of Canada and PricewaterhouseCoopers. We have the Canadian media and totally lame and ineffective Opposition MPs to thank for this complete policy disconnect between true fact and public fiction.

Lawrence Martin’s book Harperland: The politics of control, does provide a glimpse into these matters.

Speaking of the politics of control, what better way to exercise control than to deny access to information as Harper did when he denied Canadians any proof of his allegations of tax leakage. What do you think Harper move on undermining the Census is all about if not to deny others with the facts. Martin writes:

“Many documents released [as alleged proof of tax leakage] under the [Access to Information] act were completely blacked out.”

In reality, all the documents that dealt with alleged tax leakage by the Harper government under the Access to Information were blacked out, and subsequently recalled by the Department of Finance, as Martin fails to report (despite the fact that such a “redacted recall” was to that point unprecedented in Canadian history)

We also learn from Lawrence Martin that CON MP James Rajotte from Edmonton played a behind the scenes role in Harper’s income trust betrayal, and Martin writes:

“But when [the income trust model] was beginning to be adopted by big manufacturers and service corporations, [Harper] was persuaded that it was the wrong way to go. James Rajotte, who served as chair of the industry committee, was of the same impression. But it was not the case Harper and Flaherty put to the public because corporate governance was too complex an issue.”

Persuaded by whom, one might ask, given that no public discussion took place apart from Harper’s election promise of that year to “never tax income trusts”. Harper surely must be referring to the likes of Gwyn Morgan and those CEOs with privileged access to the PMO and the PCO, as Canadians were completely left in the dark and out of the loop.

Meanwhile Canadians would have to be duped into supporting Harper’s massive flip flop on some basis or another.

So instead of revealing their true intentions behind this massive policy reversal and allowing Canadians and Parliament to debate the true intent of the policy, these politicians gravitated to an artificial argument that had no substance, but was sure to rally the necessary support of Canadians. This is pure political manipulation and deception. Rajotte along with Harper were prepared to hide their real reasons for their action (which would never have been sufficient to justify their actions) and manufactured what amounted to a completely bogus argument. This is exactly the same type of devious and deceptive and totally dishonest conduct that George Bush employed when he concocted the WMD argument to invade Iraq, a parallel that I drew for Canadians in a London Free Press Op Ed in November 2006 and which Lawrence Martin is now confirming to be true, courtesy of insights from Tom Flanagan, no less.

Therefore not only do we learn that James Rajotte was a participant in a massive deception and lie about the real intent of this policy, we also learn that he is a total hypocrite, since when James Rajotte first entered Parliament in 2000 he had this (lofty nonsense as it turns out) to say about the importance of accountability and transparency, which we subsequently learned meant issuing 18 pages of blacked out documents as proof of tax leakage, which the Conservatives were using as their manufactured rationale to kill income trusts for folks like Gwynn Morgan et al:

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton Southwest, Canadian Alliance):

It is an honour and a privilege to stand here today in our national parliament on behalf of the people of Edmonton Southwest. Since this is my first address in this distinguished Chamber, I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the people of Edmonton Southwest. They have bestowed upon me a tremendous honour, but also a tremendous duty and a tremendous responsibility.

I am pleased to speak today to the official opposition motion. This motion speaks to the broad themes of democratic and parliamentary reform, accountability and transparency in government.

While this motion is specifically related to the ethics counsellor, it does relate to the broader themes of parliamentary and democratic reform, fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency, and members of parliament themselves.

During the recent election, people in Edmonton spoke passionately about the need for accountability from the government to ensure they were respected as citizens and that their taxpayer dollars were treated as funds in trust.

A common frustration I encountered from people was that public officials did not seem accountable to them as citizens. They felt the only control they had was the opportunity every four years, or three and a half in this case, to walk into a polling booth and mark an X on a ballot.

One of the most serious problems facing Canadian democracy today is the concentration of political power within the Prime Minister's office and the lack of checks and balances to that power.

Blah blah blah...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Michaëlle Jean = Useless trinket

A trinket is a small showy ornament or something that is a mere trifle.

Siddiqui: How Michaëlle Jean was bullied by Harper

By Haroon Siddiqui
Toronto Star

On Michaëlle Jean’s legacy as governor general, we are being spun, mostly by her.

She will be remembered not for her telegenic talents but for the one defining moment of her tenure — her Dec. 4, 2008, decision to grant Stephen Harper’s wish to prorogue Parliament. His sole purpose was to dodge Stéphane Dion’s agreement with the NDP, supported by the Bloc Québécois, to replace the Conservative government.

While public reaction to her decision ran mostly along partisan lines, constitutional scholars have been divided over her ruling.

A majority said she should have asked the Prime Minister to go to Parliament and prove that he still had the confidence of the House. Others said that Christmas parliamentary breaks being routine, she did the right thing by granting a timeout. Moreover, she had acted on the advice of experts gathered at Rideau Hall while keeping Harper waiting 2 1/2 hours.

That’s where matters stood until last week when she looked back on the issue. And Peter Russell, constitutional expert at the University of Toronto who was among the advisers present that fateful day, spoke to Susan Delacourt of the Star and revealed some of the thinking behind Jean’s decision.

In a farewell letter to Canadians, Jean said this about the prorogation crisis: “A moment in our political history that very likely made the population question our system and how our institutions function.” But more than questioning the institutions, Canadians had doubted her role in them.

In an interview with Canadian Press, she suggested that she had taken long in deciding Harper’s fate because “the idea was to send a message, and for people to understand that this warranted reflection.” That sounds as though he was made to wait not to weigh the constitutional pros and cons of what was at stake but rather to draw public attention to the drama.

This dilutes the importance of what transpired and also demeans the office. That would suit the Harperites just fine.

They have downplayed the GG, arguing, for example, that he/she is not the head of state.

Ever since the 1947 Letters Patent transferred the powers of the Crown to Canada and made the GG commander-in-chief, every GG has made the office more Canadian. The Queen, while our monarch, has never interfered in our affairs.

Outside Canada, the GG is received as head of state, entitled to the full 21-gun salute and 100-person guard of honour, just as the American and French presidents, the only two G8 leaders so entitled because they are both the head of government and head of state. But in Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia, the two jobs are separate. Our GG, therefore, is as much a head of state as, say, the president of Germany.

Russell revealed that Jean’s deliberations included worries over how the crisis could get out of hand, given demonstrators outside Rideau Hall echoing Harper’s outrageous denunciations of the Liberal-NDP coalition as a “coup d’état” to overturn the results of the fall election.

In other words, the GG, who’s supposed to be above politics, fell for Harper’s politics of bullying. She blinked — and set a bad precedent.

We have since learned that should Jean have denied Harper’s request, he would have gone over her head to the Queen or attacked Jean and the legitimacy of her office.

If so, that would have been just fine, exposing him as too power hungry to respect parliamentary traditions, and he would’ve had to face the music from Canadians.

What transpired on Dec. 4, 2008, was bad enough. In trying to whitewash her role in it, Jean belittles the highest office in the land.

The job of the GG is far more than cutting ribbons and eating seal heart. It is to encourage, advise and warn the prime minister that the constitutional buck stops at Rideau Hall, not 24 Sussex Dr.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harper’s top 10 self-inflicted political wounds

Harper’s top 10 self-inflicted political wounds

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s much-touted skill as a political tactician may be over-rated.

The Hill Times
October 4, 2010

As a serious hockey fan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper knows the importance of not scoring on your own goal. However, he has been responsible for a surprising number of self-inflicted political wounds. My list of self-inflicted wounds (roughly chronologically) provides evidence that suggests Harper’s much-touted skill as a political tactician is over-rated.

Reversal on Income Trusts

On Oct. 31, 2006, the Harper government imposed a massive tax on most income trusts, and created a public policy “train wreck,”(Stanbury, The Hill Times, Sept. 22, 2008). The decision is important for several reasons (i) The decision and its justification was cloaked in secrecy (although some corporate executives got their oar in), and the PM made the decision; (ii) the huge size of the losses inflicted on trust holders ($35-billion) who relied on Harper’s promises during the election campaign; (iii) the reasonably predictable follow-on economic costs that were ignored and later denied (increased foreign takeovers, loss of an essential retirement investment vehicle, and reduced tax revenues); (iv) the main reason given for the action—“tax leakage”—was shown to be grossly exaggerated as being based on methodology known to be faulty by officials in the Department of Finance; (v) the sheer effrontery of the move resulted in the creation of Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors, which mounted a vigorous, but unsuccessful, campaign against the tax and has made the finance minister the target of criticism ever since, (see Stanbury, The Hill Times, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, and Dec. 2, 2009).

Hyper Control Over Information:

The PM’s intense efforts to control all aspects of the information created by his government since coming to power has been the subject of vast amounts of reporting and commentary in the news media. The strategy is questionable (dumb?) for several reasons: (i) It has made enemies of journalists who provide an important conduit to shaping the perceptions of voters. (ii) The degree of control has raised questions about the PM’s psyche (key word: obsessive). (iii) It has also raised question about whether the PM is undermining basic principles of democracy. (iv) The control efforts have resulted in cover-ups—and those suggest that greater political damage follows from the cover-up than the original act. (v) The PM has broken his party’s 2006 election promise to reform the Acceess to Information Act. (vi) Much of the effort to control information drives the PM to acts of monumental pettiness and waste, for example, counting the 8,500 signs relating to the stimulus program. (vii) The new photo and video unit Harper created in the PMO smacks of a cult of personality.

Secret Manual:

On May 17, 2007, National Post columnist Don Martin revealed that the Tories had created a 200-page secret “obstruction manual” for the chairs of Commons committees to help them offset the power of opposition parties whose members constitute a majority on each committee because of the minority government. “Conservative committee chairs were instructed to choose Conservative-friendly witnesses, how to rule motions out of order, and what to do if things do not go in favour of the government’s agenda,” (Bea Vongdouangchanh, The Hill Times, May 28, 2007). The manual made it clear that Harper had no desire to negotiate and cooperate with the opposition parties. He made most bills a matter of confidence knowing that the opposition parties did not want an election—they didn’t have the money (unlike the Tories), and the polls were not favourable. The manual became a symbol of Harper’s anti-democratic tendencies.

Cuts to Arts Agencies

The PM announced cuts of $45-million to arts entities in August 2008—a month before the general election was called on Sept. 7. There was an enormous adverse reaction—aggressively promoted by the arts community. The opposition parties promised to salve the wounds in high dudgeon. It is said that the cuts cost Harper a majority government, although the Tories increased the number of seats from 124 to 143. The cuts were a dumb move for several reasons: (i) they were made about a month before Harper called the 2008 election—giving time for opponents to organize their response; (ii) they saved only a tiny fraction of the large amount of direct subsidies to artists and arts organizations; (iii) the arts community was known to be extremely well-organized in terms of lobbying precisely because it is so dependent on government subsidies and regulatory measures; (iv) artists are articulate and inclined to be vocal—the mere threat of any reduction in government “goodies” had in the past led to massive outcries; (v) the cuts were presumably aimed at pleasing the Conservative base, but these supporters were most unlikely to defect absent the cuts. James Travers argues that “In 2008, a wholly unnecessary tilt at arts funding, coupled with bizarre advice to invest in a tumbling stock market, cost Harper a more decisive victory at the expense of the most vulnerable Liberal leader in decades, Stéphane Dion,” (The Toronto Star, July 31, 2010).

Missing Start of Big Recession

Despite all the economists in the Department of Finance, the government failed to appreciate that Canada had entered a major recession in the summer/fall of 2008—some time after the U.S. The fiscal measures in the “Economic Statement” of Nov. 27, 2008 were wrong. The Victoria Times-Colonist (Nov. 29, 2008) noted that “Most governments have accepted the urgent need for stimulative measures to prevent a dramatic slowdown. Harper agreed with that approach at the recent G20 meeting. [However], there were no such measures in the economic statement. The government is apparently willing to delay its response until the budget in February.” Maclean’s magazine columnist Scott Feschuk later described the “Economic Statement” as “the single-most inaccurate and widely mocked economic update in the history of both Canada and math,” (, Sept. 22, 2010).

Proposed Cut of Per-Vote Subsidy

The PM personally decided on the announcement (in the “Economic Statement” of Nov. 27, 2008) that the per-vote subsidies for the five major political parties would end March 31, 2009. It had been introduced by the Liberals in 2004. The Victoria Times-Colonist (Nov. 29, 2008) called the PM’s move “an undemocratic—even thuggish—attack on the opposition parties… . It is a move worthy of some Third World strong man.” The provision was part of a triple whammy (the other two were the temporary suspension of federal public servants’ right to strike, and a curb on public servants’ ability to make pay-equity appeals through the courts). All had to be withdrawn within a few days in the face of a proposed coalition that would have defeated the Harper minority government. Harper then abused his power to advise the Governor General and persuaded her to prorogue Parliament on Dec. 4, 2008, until Jan. 26, 2009 when the massive stimulus budget was introduced.

Prorogation #2 in Dec 2009

This too was an unprecedented act, contemptuous in its casualness (prorogation was requested by telephone), and the literally unbelievable rationales offered to justify it. The Toronto Star (editorial, Jan.15, 2010) noted that the PM’s rationale for proroguing kept shifting. The first version was that the government needed time to “recalibrate” and “consult” before bringing in a throne speech and budget in March. Then the PM said: “I don’t think it makes sense for a session of Parliament to go on and on.” That morphed into the government needing time “to continue to deliver the economic measures that are being delivered here and elsewhere across the country as part of the economic action plan.” Finally, in early January, Harper said that if he had allowed Parliament to continue sitting through the winter, there would have been continuous votes of confidence and election rumours. “That’s the kind of instability I think that markets are actually worried about.” However, the real reason for the second prorogation was spelled out by Tom Flanagan, Harper’s former campaign manager. “Everybody knows that Parliament was prorogued in order to shut down the Afghan inquiry, and the trouble is that the government doesn’t want to explain why that was necessary.” He referred to the government’s explanations for prorogation as “childish talking points.”

NOFAR on Key Policy Issues:

In the Sept.13 issue of The Hill Times, I summarized the criticisms that the Harper government has taken as a no-facts-analysis-or-research (NOFAR) approach to its numerous and expensive anti-crime measures. Maclean’s magazine’s Andrew Coyne argues that “the Tories habitually ignore the expert consensus on a wide range of issues—crime, taxes, climate change—[and] they want to be seen to be ignoring it. It’s the overt antagonism to experts, and, by extension, the educated classes, that marks the Tory style. In its own way, it’s a form of class war…. To whip up popular hostility to intellectuals is to invite the public to jump on its own funeral pyre,”(, Aug.17, 2010).

Mismanagement of GiC Appointees:

The PM’s management of governor-in-council appointees has produced much commentary to the effect that he is intolerant of any criticism. Linda Keen, former head of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, was demoted after shutting down the Chalk River nuclear-based reactor on the advice of experts concerned about safety. Peter Tinsley, head of Military Police Complaints Commission, and Paul Kennedy, head of the RCMP Complaints Commission, were not reappointed. Both had acted and spoken independently, but within the bounds of their responsibilities. The budget of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page—a new position touted by Harper as bringing “truth to budgeting” was cut after he produced reports critical of the numbers put out by the Government. The budget has since been reinstated, as promised.
Columnist Susan Riley (The Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 20, 2010) described as “ laughable [the] explanation for the sudden transfer of the RCMP’s most prominent defender of the gun registry (sudden-onset unilingualism).” And “Veterans Ombudsman [Pat] Stogran’s position will not be renewed, after he complained about red tape and other problems. The same thing happened to Steve Sullivan, the crime-victims’ ombudsman, after he was critical of the Conservatives’ vaunted “tough-on-crime” agenda. A president of the Canadian Wheat Board, an ethics commissioner, leaders at Rights and Democracy, the list is growing impressively long,” (The Montreal Gazette, Aug. 20, 2010, editorial). Harper is said to be considering limiting all such appointments to a single term of four years (Don Martin, National Post, Sept. 23, 2010).

Census Long Form:

The PM personally made the decision to make the mandatory long-form of the census voluntary in 2011 (announced June 26, 2010). This was done over the advice of several ministers, DMs, and the Clerk of the Privy Council. The ex post facto explanation by Industry Minister Tony Clement was that complaints to Tory MPs about the intrusiveness of certain questions was the basis for the decision. Yet, the proposed change was not discussed by the Tory caucus. Further, it will increase the costs by about $30-million, and compromised the integrity of the data. “The long-form census debate has been the most grotesque miscalculation by a Canadian government in years… (Michael Den Tandt, The Toronto Sun, Sept. 9, 2010). Jeffrey Simpson argued the census decision “turned almost every respectable and respected institution in the country against [the Conservatives],” (The Globe and Mail, Sept. 21, 2010). Between July 11 and Sept. 28, 2010, The Globe and Mail published what must be a record 13 editorials critical of the change in the census.


These examples of self-inflicted political wounds reported by the media were selected from a surprisingly long initial list. There are items pregnant with possibilities that could form the basis of a second list, e.g., the accelerated sole-source purchase of the F-35 fighters for $16 billion; the huge costs of the summits in summer 2010; and the failure to broaden the support of the Conservative Party.

W.T. Stanbury is professor emeritus, University of British Columbia.
The Hill Times

Harperland: Lawrence Martin's cursory take on Harper's income trust betrayal

Are all Canadian reporters incapable of getting to the hard truth, even when it involves numbers and hard constructs, such as alleged tax leakage?

Here’s Lawrence Martin’s lame attempt to uncover the truth about the biggest fraud (ie tax leakage) in Canadian history.

Harperland: the politics of control

Lawrence Martin
pp. 88-90

Harper's Quebec decision was the second stunner of that month. It had been preceded by Jim Flaherty's announcement that the Conservatives were reversing a campaign promise to leave income trusts-tax shelters used by investors both large and small-intact because of their importance to small investors and retirees. Now, just eight months later, the finance minister announced that income trusts would be taxed. It was a bid to stop the increasing number of companies from converting to trusts, an act that Flaherty argued was costing the economy hundreds of millions in tax revenue. Only three weeks earlier, Bell Canada Enterprises had proposed the biggest trust conversion in Canadian history. Turning its Bell Canada subsidiary into a trust would cost Ottawa, according to defenders of the Flaherty move, an estimated $800 million in taxes over the next few years.

Critics wondered why a government that was in favour of trusts just a short time earlier was so opposed to them now. It had been evident during the election campaign that the trusts were a revenue-draining problem. Could it be that the Harper team waited until after the election to announce the policy to avoid antagonizing Conservative voters, many of whom were seniors voters who had come to rely on income from the trusts?

In fact, the government's rationale for the flip-flop-the lost tax revenues was not the real reason for it. When the announcement came, Tom Flanagan, still in Harper's good graces at the time, asked him the reason for the reversal. "Well, when I was in opposition," Harper replied, "no one told me that all the big corporations were about to convert to the income trust form of organization." He wasn't as worried about tax leakage, he explained to Flanagan, as he was about corporate governance. The income trust concept was fine, he believed when used in a limited sphere. But when it was beginning to be adopted by big manufacturers and service corporations, he was persuaded that it was the wrong way to go. James Rajotte, who served as chair of the industry committee, was of the same impression. But it was not the case Harper and Flaherty put to the public because corporate governance was too complex an issue.

As in the case of the Quebec surprise, Harper's cabinet was not informed of the decision until after the fact. It was taken with only four people in the room-Harper, Kevin Lynch, Jim Flaherty, and Flaherty's deputy minister. Owing to the sensitivity of the issue, Harper opted for even tighter secrecy than usual.

Initially the response was measured. The government was taken to task for the flip-flop, but many people agreed that something had to be done about the lost tax revenue. Before long, however, the evidence began to mount that the tax implications were significantly overstated. Revenue calculations by federal officials, it appeared, had been distorted to make the loss appear far more serious than it was. The Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors launched a ferocious campaign against Flaherty, arguing that the tax change had cost Canadians $35 billion in retirement savings. William Stanbury of the University of British Columbia initiated an in-depth study of the matter for a book he was preparing. He found that faulty work by finance department officials and pressure on Harper by big-time CEOs were likely the real reasons for the new policy. The shroud of secrecy over the issue was inexcusable, he added. The government "did not hold any form of consultation process in 2006, as the previous government did in 2005. Then, because of the controversy the policy switch engendered, the Harper team went into information-denial mode." The government, said Stanbury, interpreted the Access to Information Act in the most restrictive way possible. Many documents released under the act were completely blacked out.

There were defensible reasons in some cases for the government's furtive way of operating, but there was no good reasons in others. On the question of Quebec nation status, it had cost Harper a promising young cabinet minister. In the environment file, it had created, as Mark Cameron suggested, confusion and doubt. On income trusts, it would become more of a problem. And there were other issues, not the least of which was the Afghan detainee affair, for which the price paid for stealth would be steep.

Why does Ottawa seem intent on keeping seniors down?

OCTOBER 6, 2010

I am a senior and would like to know why the Conservative Party of Canada is against seniors.

It went back on its promise not to touch income trusts.

Thousands of seniors had invested in income trusts based on the Conservative promise not to pass legislation affecting them.

We lost thousands of dollars, money that was supposed to provide for us in our later years.

It was only with a lot of outside pressure that this government decided to help our veterans -- many old and suffering from injuries and disease as a result of battles.

Also, the Conservatives persuaded the B.C. Liberal Party to implement the harmonized sales tax, increasing the cost to us seniors on fixed incomes.

The Conservatives refuse to support any legislation that would help pensioners.

Bill C-501 is such a piece of legislation.

It's a private member's bill that proposes to give pensioners priority over junk and vulture bond dealers, many of whom are not Canadian, in the distribution of monies when the assets of a bankrupt company are wound up. This bill would result in pensioners getting a bit more money, without any impact on taxpayers, yet the Conservative party is against it.


Clyde Brown


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ottawa Sun calls for Paradis’ dismissal over Access to Information (ATI)

So Sun Media claims that Paradis’ actions amount to “Blocking the public a major foul”?

Paradis leaned his tricks about non-disclosure from Jim Flaherty and yet we didn't see the Sun's Editorial Board calling for Flaherty's dismissal. Why is that? Do we have two standards at play here?

Flaherty told Canadians (after promising the opposite) that he would have to start taxing income trusts (actually double taxing income trusts) because he claimed they caused tax leakage. Flaherty's only proof of tax leakage made available to Canadians under the AFI was 18 pages of blacked out documents. This after Canadians lost $35 billion of their retirement savings! Some proof! Meanwhile why did Flaherty demand these documents issued under the ATI be returned? What was he hiding, in both th first instance and the SECOND instance? Where was Sun Media?

Blocking the public a major foul

Last Updated: October 5, 2010 2:00am
Ottawa Sun

It was well and good for Government House Leader John Baird to rise in question period Monday and tell the Liberals he needed "no lecture" on the ethics of subverting our federal access to information laws.

The Liberals wrote the book on it.

This is not to say, however, that Baird does not need to be lectured. Because he does.

And, just as Baird needs to be lectured, Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis needs to either resign -- to fall on his sword like his senior aide did when caught subverting the ATI laws -- or tell Canadians that his Conservative government couldn't care less about our legal right to know.

Otherwise, one's no better than the other.

Documents obtained by Sun Media prove at least one department under former Liberal PM Paul Martin interfered with the release of politically-toxic documents -- all which was laid out in a briefing book left behind by international trade minister Jim Peterson's office, which showed a system had been developed to ensure prior approval by political staff.

But the Conservatives are just as bad. And the sole resignation of one of Paradis' political aides doesn't quite cut it when the issue is the right of Canadians, including the media, to get legally-entitled information that ensures Big Brother isn't running amok.

The CBC, which takes a billion dollars a year from taxpayers, and is therefore accountable to them, has been dodging that accountability for more than three years now by fighting ATI requests regarding its operation.

Our ATI laws are a mess, but their value is undeniable.

One has to look no further than the case of retired military intelligence officer Sean Bruyea who, once he got his file, discovered thousands of pages of his personal and medical history were being passed around in one of the grossest invasions of privacy imaginable.

Having any politician slough off our ATI laws as minor inconveniences that can be blocked at the first whiff of trouble is nothing short of contempt.

Just because the Liberals are hypocrites for calling for Paradis' head when their own ethics record stinks, doesn't give Paradis any right to continue with the subversion.

His resignation must be tabled.

And accepted.

James Daw of the Toronto Star has become Flaherty's latest apologist

What kind of selective account of Flaherty’s record in office is James Daw of the Toronto Star trying to feed us, in the article below that reads:

"Jim Flaherty Canada’s minister of finance has introduced major innovations to the nation’s tax and savings system during his four years in Ottawa. The Oshawa-Whitby MP has ushered in tax-free savings accounts, registered disability savings plans, pension income splitting and the working income tax benefit, nicknamed WITB."

What about Flaherty's disaster policies like HST, his income trust tax (that blew up $35 billion of Canadians hard earned savings and Flaherty's elimination of withholding tax paid by foreigner investors on debt? (and the leveraged buyout ramifications of that inane policy that folks like BHP are taking full advantage of in situations like the leveraged buyout of Potash Corporation, to name but one).

Looks like James Daw has become Flaherty’s latest apologist. Must have been the chance to rub shoulders with Jimmy at Jimmy’s garden party that won James Daw over.

4 tips Jim Flaherty is giving his three sons
By James Daw
Toronto Star
Oct 04 2010

Jim Flaherty Canada’s minister of finance has introduced major innovations to the nation’s tax and savings system during his four years in Ottawa. The Oshawa-Whitby MP has ushered in tax-free savings accounts, registered disability savings plans, pension income splitting and the working income tax benefit, nicknamed WITB.

Meanwhile, the federal member for Oshawa-Whitby and his wife Christine Elliott, the provincial member, have been preparing their 19-year-old triplets for a life on their own. Galen, a McGill University varsity football player, spent the summer at broker GMP Securities LP in Toronto. Brother Quinn, a varsity soccer player the University of Western Ontario, worked in the research department at Macquarrie Capital Markets Canada also in downtown Toronto. (The federal Ethics Commissioner cleared both jobs.) Their brother John attends Anderson Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Whitby.

I pulled Flaherty aside during a garden party at his historic stone farmhouse and asked him what advice he’s giving his boys. Here’s what he said:

1. Education is vital

That’s the first and most important thing. Once you have a good education, the world is your oyster; really. You can live anywhere in the world and move from job to job. You can retrain and be trained.

Half of the jobs that people will work at in the next 10 or 20 years don’t exist now. So the idea of having some focused, narrow education, to go do this particular job for the rest of your life is unlikely.

Once you are well educated, and you are not afraid to work – because work is important, not just to make money, but to have character and to feel good about yourself – then save. Employing one’s skills and aptitudes creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Being useful is good for the soul as well as the pocketbook.

2. Spend less than you earn

I am a big Warren Buffett fan, and understand the miracle of compound interest. I think my sons are starting to as well, making money at summer jobs and so on. They are starting to see they can invest and earn interest and have that interest multiply.

These are the fundamentals and it will help later when they save for retirement. I try to encourage them to use tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), because a dollar saved now is worth such a multiple over a lifetime.

TFSAs or registered retirement savings plans? Tax free accounts are more flexible. Then once you do that you go RRSP. But it is virtually an open field with TFSAs. In 20 years, most capital gains should be immune from tax if people use them properly. And governments will do nothing but raise the (annual contribution) limit over time. No government will abolish tax-free savings accounts now we have created them. They wouldn’t have the nerve.

3. Buy property

Real estate is a good long-term investment. But pay off your mortgage as soon as you can. Investing in the purchase of a principal residence early on is a tax-free way to accumulate capital. Then move on to another principal residence. Renting doesn’t produce capital gains.

The (boys) have grown up on a large piece of land in a fairly large house. I expect their experience (as adults) will be smaller and greener, probably more urban and transit focused. (Galen and Quinn were up early this summer to catch the GO train to get to summer jobs at Bay Street investment houses by 7 a.m.)

4. Be frugal

(There are) risks with debt, especially credit cards. We have given (the boys) credit cards in the hopes they will learn to manage them, because so many people get into so much trouble with credit card debt. The tendency some young people have is to over-extend themselves on credit to buy fancy houses and cars which they can’t really afford if, for example, interest rates rise. So, it’s important to avoid over-extending on credit, especially on depreciating assets such as cars.

I would also really discourage them from buying expensive homes and cars.

We will see what they actually do when they get out of university, whether they buy expensive cars. (Flaherty senior drives a Chevy) I consider that such a waste; money you could use doing other things.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Statement to New Governor General from Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Thank you David Johnston for limiting the scope of the Mulroney inquiry to exclude possible Airbus bribes arguing that to be "well tilled ground". Huh!

Here’s your personal pay day: Governor General.

Try not to laugh too hard.