Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Balanced budgets and promises kept: the Conservative record is clear

Yesterday Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled Economic Action Plan 2015: Strong Leadership: A Balanced Budget, Low-Tax Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Security. This budget is only the latest in a long string of Conservative promises that have been made and kept, a proud record that will be easy to defend with an election only months away.


The budget is balanced with a small $1.4 billion surplus, including a $1 billion contingency. That surplus is projected to grow to $4.8 billion by 2019-2020. Future budgets will be required, by law, to be balanced, but for exceptional circumstances. And in that case, cabinet and the Finance Minister will be required to table a plan to return to balanced budgets within a specific timeline. Canada’s debt will continue to be paid down until a 25 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is achieved.


The majority of the budget is clearly focused on middle-class Canadians, the same group of people Justin Trudeau can’t define but claims to be a part of. Canadians will be able to save more in their Tax-Free Savings Accounts: up to $10,000 per year. Families will be supported with a suite of tax breaks: children under age 6 will receive $160 per month; children between 6 and 17 will receive $60 per month; couples will be able to transfer a portion of their income up to a $2000 benefit per year; and the Child Care Expense Deduction will be increased to $8000. In fact, the average Canadian family of four will save $6600 in taxes between Budget 2015 and all previous Conservative Government initiatives.


On top of the $2.6 billion seniors have received from the Conservatives since 2006, Budget 2015 also pledges $42 million to create the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. Compassionate Care Benefits will also be drastically extended from six weeks to six months, allowing families to stay with their loved ones for longer periods of time. Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) rules will be changed to allow seniors more flexibility in choosing when to withdraw their money. And a new Home Accessibility Tax Credit for seniors and persons with disabilities will give a 15 percent tax credit for up to $10,000 of home renovations.


Students will also receive significant support. Young Canadian entrepreneurs will receive $14 million to support their businesses. $184 million will be committed to grants for students in short-term programs. Perhaps most significantly, however, is the $235 million being invested to change the student needs assessment for student loans, allowing students greater access to loans in order to complete their education.


Finally, the environment – which already boasts one of the Conservatives’ strongest track records – continues to receive additional funding. Budget 2015 announced $75 million to implement the Species at Risk Act, $2 million to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and $10 million for the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (RFCPP). Those investments are on top of the Conservatives’ $252 million National Conservation Plan – the largest federal investment in Canada’s environment in history.


Not surprisingly, the ink was barely dry before Liberal leader Justin Trudeau pledged to vote against the budget. He also promised to cancel the increased Tax-Free Savings Accounts limit, and rambled something about “middle class.” In response, former Liberal insider Warren Kinsella said Trudeau should stop talking about something he knows nothing about: “He may know how to say those words, but he’s never lived those words.” Kinsella went as far as to label Trudeau as “just visiting the middle class,” just as Michael Ignatieff was just visiting Canada.


Luckily, an overwhelming flood of endorsements of Budget 2015 has largely drowned out the Liberals’ complaints. The Canadian Home Builders Association, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, the University of Calgary, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Federation of Business, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Music Canada, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, and dozens more all support Budget 2015. Credit unions, chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and local mayors and councillors are in favour of Budget 2015. Even former Liberal cabinet ministers are off-side with Trudeau’s complaints. It seems the only organizations against such a great budget are the New Democrats and Liberals themselves.


But if those endorsements are not enough, Canadians should take to reading the budget for themselves, seeing how the Opposition always likes to feign outrage over not knowing what’s in the budget.


With an elections less than six months away, Canadians and their families will have to ask themselves why they would choose the New Democrats’ and Liberals’ plans to raise taxes over the Conservative Government’s fulfilled promises.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ontario Liberal scandals continue to pile up with no sign of slowing down

One year ago, Liars: The McGuinty-Wynne Record was released. Liars is a compelling narrative on how the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals run Ontario. It is the only book on the market – positive or negative – that seeks to define and explain the Ontario Liberals’ record of mismanagement under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.

Also one year later, the Liberals have given us no shortage of continued scandals and mismanagement to report. In fact, on several occasions now I’ve been asked how big the second edition of Liars will have to be to account for Kathleen Wynne’s legacy. It’s funny for a moment, then it’s sad.

As of September 2014, Ontario’s debt is $304.4 billion, an amount that has more than doubled in the 12 years the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals have been in office. That’ll be $22,382 from each Ontarian, please. We pay $10.56 billion every year just to carry that debt, which remains the third-largest budget item, behind only health care and education. And the Liberals plan to add another $26.7 billion to the debt with another three years of deficit spending.

Ontario’s economy continues to struggle. We’ve seen job losses some months and modest job gains others. But despite huge tax increases and a struggling economy, we are still apparently affluent enough to pay for a newly-announced Liberal carbon tax, because, uh, Quebec is doing it too. Don’t worry about the details – Wynne will move very quickly to make you poorer before you even know it. And if you don’t recall the Liberals ever campaigning last year on implementing a carbon tax, you’re right.

The Ontario Provincial Police’s endorsement of the Liberals continues to hang over both organizations’ heads. You may recall that the endorsement came at a time when the police had open investigations into potential Liberal crimes (cancelling gas plants at a massive $1.1 billion public cost for partisan gain and deleting records about cancelling those gas plants). Only recently were three senior-ranking OPP officers (including one who was a Liberal candidate) suspended over shady dealings including fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering. The investigation that led to that arrest was conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). With such serious accusations and a record of being public bedfellows, one must wonder whether the OPP can ever again be trusted to investigate or comment on anything the Liberal government does.

Or consider the Liberals’ sex education scandal. What is being implemented now is basically the same curriculum that was introduced in 2010. In that year, massive public outcry from thousands of Ontarians caused the Liberals to relent. But now the curriculum has been re-introduced and appears ready to be implemented with pleasure by the Liberals; they have a majority, and you must be homophobic or Conservative if you disagree with their sex agenda.

Ignore, for a moment, the actual curriculum, which is publicly available for anyone to review. The fact that it is being implemented without any consultation with parents is appalling. And then there is that small inconvenient matter of the former Deputy Education Minister Ben Levin (who served under then-Education Minister Kathleen Wynne) recently pleading guilty to child abuse crimes, including making and possessing child pornography and counselling a person to commit a sexual assault. The agreed-upon statement of facts demonstrates Levin’s sick fascination with sexually abusing children, including suggesting to the users of an online incest chatroom that they perform sexual acts on their children and take photos.

Parents are owed every opportunity to give input into how their children are taught at school. That is especially important when the man formerly in charge of the education department has since been convicted of pedophilia. Rather than pledging to review whether a convicted child sex offender had his fingerprints on the Liberals’ sex education agenda, Kathleen Wynne has outrageously dismissed all her critics as “homophobic” or Conservatives.

The Liberals have rampantly abused the parliamentary process. Kathleen Wynne sued two Conservatives for questioning her role in the gas plants scandal. Wynne is also happy to bribe an election candidate with government positions to step aside so her preferred candidate could run and ultimately win in Sudbury (another current OPP investigation). Just last week, when NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked why the Premier wasn’t showing up to Question Period, she was thrown out of the House by the Liberal Speaker. Yes, really; you can do all of these things in McGuinty-Wynne Ontario when you have a majority government and not a care for what anyone else thinks or says.

Kathleen Wynne had the opportunity to put Ontario back on track, to right the wrongs of almost a decade of mismanagement, scandal, and corruption under Dalton McGuinty. She has only continued Dalton McGuinty’s legacy. Their legacies are one in the same.

For the future of our province, and with the hope of never again repeating the same mistakes, this is a book every Ontarian needs to read. And I hope Ontarians remember this record when Justin Trudeau comes knocking on their doorstep this fall.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Democrats’ missteps allow Liberals to continue to get away with vacuous nothingness

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s political slogan has been “building the team and the plan.” So far, his “team” will be forced to be pro-choice and pro-marijuana, and his “plan” is legalizing marijuana, being against fighting terrorism, and placing a price on carbon.
Seriously. That’s where the Liberals are at two years after electing Trudeau as their leader. The Liberals have still yet to release a platform, or express any coherent plan about anything really. The scant positions they have released - being against fighting terrorism, implementing a carbon tax, and cancelling tax cuts for families and seniors - have gone largely underreported and unappreciated.
All Thomas Mulcair has to do for the left-wing vote is not be Justin Trudeau, which we has done quite well and quite capably. The Liberals’ position of vacuous nothingness should be garnering far more attention than it has been – the Press Gallery has only started to actually seriously question Trudeau – but Trudeau has been ably abetted by a series of New Democrats’ missteps.
First came the revelation that the New Democrats had spent millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money mailing partisan materials. Taxpayers’ money is provided to MPs for parliamentary mailings, not partisan mailings. The House of Commons pegged this cost at $1.3 million. Those included pro-NDP mailings into ridings undergoing a by-election, meaning Elections Canada is now investigating too. (I won’t hold my breath for a Council of Canadians campaign against the NDP’s “electoral fraud,” though.)
Then came the revelation that the New Democrats had spent millions of dollars creating beachhead partisan offices in Quebec City, Montreal, and Toronto under the guise of being “satellite” parliamentary offices. The House of Commons pegged this cost at $2.7 million, and divided the cost between the 68 NDP MPs who were participating in this scam.
The bill for the illegal satellite offices came due on March 31, 2015, making the NDP MPs’ salaries eligible for wage garnishment. Surely it would be record-breaking – perhaps for the first time in Canadian history? – that an Opposition MP’s salary would be garnished in order to make taxpayers whole again following the MPs’ allegedly illegal behaviour? For all the recent talk about a $90,000 cheque, why isn’t the media talking more about an amount 45 times larger – the $4 million the NDP took from Canadians?
Most recently, we’re finding out that New Democrat MPs have been using their parliamentary email accounts and riding offices to stage partisan re-election canvassing events. The use of parliamentary resources – staff, printing, and phones, for example – for political activity is prohibited. Every time someone mentions this, Mulcair screams “conspiracy” or “kangaroo court” or something else that doesn’t change the fact that his party has become mired in scandalous rule-breaking behaviours that have cost Canadians money.
All of these scandals demonstrate that the NDP is not serious about respecting its position as Official Opposition, let alone being a “government-in-waiting.” Thomas Mulcair has already arrogantly refused to testify again before a House of Commons committee to answer questions on his parties’ allegedly illegal activities.
With allegations and errors like these, Canadians have to ask themselves why the New Democrats believe they deserve to form government in 2015, let alone why they deserve to remain as Official Opposition. Until the NDP answers that question, the Liberals will continue to get away with their platform of vacuous nothingness.