Thursday, October 25, 2012

Conservative MP keeps Etobicoke Centre Seat

The Supreme Court of Canada has released its ruling which rightly allows Conservative Member of Parliament Ted Opitz to retain his seat in Etobicoke Centre.

It is essential to note, before the media or Opposition attempts to weave this into an issue which it is entirely not, that this had nothing to do with the fake “robocalls” scandal.  This massive mishandling of the election is completely the fault of Elections Canada, due to rampant “procedural errors, record-keeping, how people registered to vote when they weren't on the list” and questions on whether records were properly kept.

The Liberal candidate asked the Supreme Court “to disqualify the votes of several Canadian citizens on account of administrative mistakes, notwithstanding evidence that those citizens were entitled to vote.”

The Supreme Court refused, saying “There is no allegation in this case of any fraud or wrongdoing.”

The full text of the split 4-3 ruling is available online.  Interestingly, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote the dissenting opinion suggesting the election be overturned.

These are a few other interesting points in the ruling:

  • Why did the Chief Electoral Officers of British Columbia and Alberta act as interveners on behalf of the Liberal candidate, Borys Wrzesnewskyj?  The case involves an Ontario riding and both the Conservative and Liberal candidates are from Ontario.  Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer was also a respondent, so what business or interest does the Alberta or B.C. CEO’s have in this case?

  • If voter registration certificates were never completed, that would constitute an “irregularity.” However, since the certificates were completed but lost, this is not an irregularity.

  • Registration certificates not signed by the person registering to vote is an irregularity, but did not affect the election result.  This could simply be a “clerical mistake.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's time to abolish the Indian Act

Every once-in-a-while political parties, regardless of their position on the spectrum, propose policies that are long overdue and just make sense.

Today, the Liberal Party did exactly that by proposing the IndianAct be outright repealed.

Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Clarke introduced Bill C-428: The Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act back on June 4, 2012.  This Act proposes, in its own words
“… To require band councils to publish their by-laws and repeals certain outdated provisions of the Act.

It also requires the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to report annually to the House of Commons committee responsible for Aboriginal affairs on the work undertaken by his or her department in collaboration with First Nations organizations and other interested parties to develop new legislation to replace the Indian Act.”

But today the Liberal Party suggested the Conservative government should go further than Clarke’s bill and repeal the Act altogether.

Bob Rae called the Indian Act “an international embarrassment” for Canada.  Some would go further to call it what it really is: Canada’s apartheid system.  A system which blatantly says certain people – depending on their race – should receive special privileges and should live distinctly separate from the rest of us.

Former Auditor General Sheila Fraser was clear in her report which stated that aboriginals were in their present position for reasons beyond their personal control: she said “structural impediments severely limit the delivery of public services to First Nations communities and hinder improvements in living conditions on reserves.”

What’s more, aboriginal reserves have become a magnet for financial abuse: creating starving, dilapidated communities which seem better suited for a third-world nation rather than Canada.  Dozens of reserve chiefs made – and continue to make – over $300,000 per year while their communities struggle to maintain dry houses and adequate schools.

It is clear that repealing the Indian Act is welcome news.

But what would we replace the existing Indian Act with?

Why not nothing?

The Indian Act was passed in 1876 and is a relic of that time.  It was a time when Europeans felt it was their duty to grant special protections to the “others” with whom they were sharing the land.  Among other affects, it creates:

·         The reserve system.  S. 18 creates reserve lands which are owned and managed by the Crown, but lent out to aboriginals while also giving them healthy, unaccountable subsidies to remain destitute on those lands.
·         Permanent reliance on government.  S. 20 states that no aboriginal ever owns his own land, unless the band’s council has specifically allotted him that land.  And under subsection 4, even if the band has allotted this land, the minister can overturn the decision.  Every Canadian should have the right to her or her own private property.
·         A lack of ambition or desire.  When aboriginal lands (er, government lands loaned to aboriginals) are located above valuable resources such as oil, their communities see none of the profit.
·         A double standard for law enforcement.  Trespassing under the Criminal Code is a summary conviction, yet the Indian Act says trespassing on a reserve is only punishable by a $50 fine or one-month jail term.
·         A dangerous black market, or no market at all.  Under s. 32, aboriginals in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta are not allowed to sell or barter cattle, animals, grain, hay, or root crops, unless the minister personally exempts them.  Yet if you travelled outside those reserves to Saskatoon, Winnipeg, or Calgary, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same laws.
·         Undue interference in private contracts.  S. 46(1) allows the minister to void all or part of a person’s will or last testament if it is “against the public interest.”  But the rest of Canada has a court system in place to try wills and estates, and they seem to usually do an okay job.
·         Unfair red tape.  An aboriginal wishing to take out a loan must submit a request to the minister, who in turn may request money from the Minister of Finance in order to make loans to aboriginals.  But at any one time, the minister is not allowed to have loaned out any more than $650,000 to all aboriginals.  Ridiculous laws like this prevent aboriginals from owning their own private property, especially important investments such as houses.

It’s time for the Indian Act to go – not just amended, but abolished.

Abolishing the Indian Act would mean Canada would no longer handle certain races separately than others.  It would, gasp, mean all Canadians are equal.

And that’s something all Canadians should agree on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dalton McGuinty’s Legacy: The Tax-and-Spend Liberal

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation yesterday, putting his 9-year record of contempt, frivolous spending, mismanaged projects, and incompetent government to bed.

The Liberals insist his legacy will be the “positive” changes McGuinty forced onto brought to health care and education.  And in a completely expected farewell salute, the Toronto Star praises McGuinty for leaving a “solid legacy” in education and health care.

Luckily, most Ontarians have a vivid memory of McGuinty’s actual record.  McGuinty’s legacy should be rightly be remembered as your typical tax-and-spend Liberal premier, drunkenly spending extreme amounts of money without a care for the consequences.  Here’s the record most Ontarians will and should remember:

  • Over $1 billion wasted on eHealth.  McGuinty favoured his buddies’ companies over others, and rewarded them with $100,000+ bonuses and cookies (paid for by you and me).
  • Strategically cancelling power plants in Oakville and Mississauga just days before the 2011 election.  This has cost us $733 million and the number is still growing.
  • Over $1 billion given to ORNGE over 5 years.  Health Minister Deb Matthews admits she simply can’t account for at least $25 million of money sent to ORNGE.
  • The largest deficits in Ontario’s history, including a $14.1 billion deficit for 2009-2010 alone (if you don’t remember, this record beat even Bob Rae’s socialist government in the 1990’s).  Projections indicate that Ontario may be bound to over $136 billion in deficit spending over the next 6 years.
  • Adding $133.4 billion to Ontario’s debt while paying down none of it.  Today’s debt stands at $272.2 billion, or $21,180 for every Ontario man, woman, and child.
  • Over $35 million in bonuses for public servants, after promising the public sector would face a wage freeze.  The Sunshine List – public servants making over $100,000 per year – is up 10% in just one year.
  • The “health premium:” a tax which costs up to $900 per person per year, which supposedly helps with lowering hospital wait times.  But wait, according to the Auditor General, only 10-15% of patients are actually seen within the recommended wait time.  In fact, the Auditor General acknowledged it was not uncommon to wait 10-26 hours before getting a bed for your urgent medical issue.
  • According to the Auditor General in 2009, “electricity prices for the average Ontario consumer …are projected to rise 46 per cent in the next five years.”
  • Ontarians are paying $4.4 billion more for our hydro to be produced with McGuinty’s friend’s solar and wind farms.  And while McGuinty has tried to claim these exorbitant amounts of money have created jobs, in reality most of the jobs created will be for short-term construction jobs.  In fact, the drunken throwing of money at green energy experiments has created some jobs.  And those jobs have been created due to $100,000-300,000 per job in government subsidies.
  • And finally, just to limit this to a relatively short list, McGuinty’s Samsung deal.  The same deal the Auditor General condemned McGuinty for, since it was done “with no formal economic analysis” and “neither the Ontario Energy Board nor the Ontario Power Authority was consulted” about the proposed deal.

But let’s not forget other “promises” by McGuinty which today can be best described as sick jokes.  “I won’t raise your taxes” McGuinty promised in 2003.  And 2007.  And 2011.  Yet, as we all well know, Ontarians saw their taxes raised time and time again: the HST, the health tax, increasing corporate and small business taxes, the eco tax.  And best of all, the surtax on high-income earners which was first proposed by NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

This is the true legacy of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government after 9 years in office.  Corruption, job-killing taxes, ridiculous spending, routine job losses, and horrible investments in green energy experiments.

This is indeed a “solid legacy” for McGuinty: no one will soon forget the last 9 years of Ontario Liberal governance.

Follow Daniel on Twitter at @DDickin

The worst jokes after 9 years of Liberal government

"I promise not to raise taxes"

"We will not raise taxes one cent on Ontario families"

"We will not be raising taxes. Families are carrying enough of burden as it is.”

"We're not going to raise taxes. That's just not on the table."

"I, Dalton McGuinty, leader of the Liberal party of Ontario, promise, if my party is elected as the next government, I will not raise taxes or implement any new taxes without the explicit consent of Ontario voters and not run deficits. I promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act."

After 9 years of Liberal government, Ontarians are laughing whenever a Liberal opens their mouth about not raising taxes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Voter turnout in Canadian elections

What needs to be done (if anything) to encourage voter turnout at Canadian elections?

(Click for full-size view)
Data from Elections Canada.