The Accountability Act remains a fixer-upper


Yeah this looks good:

The Home Renovation Tax Credit will provide a 15-per-cent tax credit to homeowners who undertake home improvement projects by Feb. 1, 2010. The government expects the program to cost $3 billion over the next two years, and 4.6 million families to take advantage of the measure.

But one of the members of Mr. Flaherty’s 11-member panel is Annette Verschuren, the president of Home Depot Canada and Asia.


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The Accountability Act remains a fixer-upper

  1. If it makes you feel any better, I think that panel was mere window dressing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had very little influence on the final budget .

    • honest?

  2. Ummmmm. It is a small world isn’t it.

  3. 1) There are houses in every province in Canada.
    2) Lumber is Canadian, and the forestry industry is one of the hardest hit sectors.
    3) The labour is Canadian.
    4) The money isn’;t going to buy baubles made in China.

    I don’t think one has to be a big wig from Home Depot to figure out that encouraging home renovations is a good idea for a stimulus that has large multiplier effects within Canada.

  4. “If it makes you feel any better, I think that panel was mere window dressing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had very little influence on the final budget .”

    That shouldn’t really matter. She was in a position where she potentially had influence over something that could benefit her employer.

  5. Last month, Mr. Flaherty announced an 11-member advisory panel — mostly prominent business leaders — who were to advise him on the federal budget and the economy on an on-going basis. He said the members would be paid $1 a year each for their insight.

    Chisholm Pothier said that the finance minister consulted the ethics commissioner about the advisory panel and “there were no problems identified. The key thing is the minister asked them, they did not ask the minister. They did not lobby the minister.”

    • It’s an interesting question, actually, because everybody has an interest in the economy, so whoever you look to, there can be concerns about conflict of interest.

      Of course, that the plan is one that seems designed to very specifically benefit Ms. Verschuren fails the political smell test, and if Mr. Flaherty wasn’t smart enough to spot that ahead of time, he deserves to wear the stink that’ll come with it.

    • Repeating the assurances of interested parties. Now that’s critical reasoning.

      • Well, fair enough. I was just pointing out that I don’t think this is some kind of scandal in the making, based on the consultation with the ethics minister.

        Still, just because it was all above board does not mean that Flaherty made a competent decision by including her on the panel. As T Thwim and others point out, the optics are bad and it seems like Flaherty should have seen this coming.

        • based on the consultation with the ethics minister.

          That’s if we assume that even happened.

          • Well, if they didn’t consult with the ethics minister and then lied about it, now we have a real scandal. As you said, the conflicts of interest were unavoidable, and apparent from day one. Consulting the ethics minister is such an obvious move that I’d be surprised if they didn’t.

            Good point about the panel’s make-up mainly representing mainly corporate interests.

  6. Im curious to know why Chianello stopped at two people potentially having conflicts. Most of the 11 member panel could be said to have conflicts of interest with this budget and I would like to know why we barely ever read about Power Corp/Desmarais when he is widely influential.

    The only way there would be no conflicts with this type of panel is if you picked 11 economists who work at universities or somesuch. I prefer to have panels made up of people who actually have experience in business and understand how the economy works. I would have much more of a problem with Verschuren’s conflict if there weren’t numerous companies selling home improvement items.

    • Don’t kid yourself. This budget is going straight to her bonus calculations.

    • I prefer to have panels made up of people who actually have experience in business and understand how the economy works.

      Those two things are mutually exclusive, I believe. People who understand business are mystified by economics and people who understand economics think business is irrelevant.

  7. Potential conflicts of interest were apparent when the panel was first struck. It was brought up at the time, so I don’t see why it’s all of sudden become an issue.

    Commerce is nothing but the promotion of and competition among interests so to believe that there haven’t been any conflicts of in interest in this circumstance is exceedingly naive.

    The only reason we don’t get unnerved about them anymore is that we have a whole demographic of exceedingly gullible/credulous people who are convinced that whatever the market does is evidence of the market working well; if it creates wealth, it’s working well…if it fails, it’s *still* working well.

    Unbelievable. We are so doomed.

  8. I’m not sure why this panel needed to include anyone other than economists and academics. Putting in heads of corporations brings an inevitable conflict of interest. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  9. You’re all assuming Home Depot gets the total benefit. Does anyone know their current market share? Of the total allocated for tax relief on renovations (is it 3 billion?) how much is building supplies? How much of the supplied portion comes from the renovator’s (maybe proprietary) stock?

    Here is the wording from the budget paper:

    Individuals will be able to claim a 15-per-cent non-refundable tax credit for eligible expenditures made in respect of eligible dwellings. The credit will apply to expenditures in excess of $1,000, but not more than
    $10,000, resulting in a maximum credit of $1,350 ($9,000 x 15%).

    I don’t know about you, but I find the wording odd.

    How many of you are going to run right out and spend the $4,300 per family average this incentive appears to be based on? Good luck finding an honest contractor before the benefit expires. I’d also like to know what kind of meaningful improvement you can get for that money — remember, repairs don’t qualify.

    Someone please explain why this is not just a bogus idea designed to make us think something is happening.

    • You’re all assuming Home Depot gets the total benefit.

      Not necessarily. But what benefits the entire sector is also good for Home Depot.

      When I reviewed the make up of the panel just now, I remember what I didn’t like about it…it mainly represents corporate interests, which is where all of our problems begin. And you don’t have to be a raving socialist to have problems with that.

      • Idea for a new candy — Jack Mints — look like candy, taste like motor oil.

    • We could always cut out Home Depot ( which sends our stimulus spending to the USA ) by going to Rona.

      But I believe that sends our stimulus spending to that other foreign country , Quebec.

      Life is so complicated when we try to stimulate a branch plant economy.

  10. Home Depot – a US company. Thanks Flaherty for supporting Canadian companies.

    • Home Depot employs 35,000 Canadians in 176 stores. Many of the products they sell come from Canadian companies. All of the lumber they sell is Canadian. Many of Home Depot’s competitors are entirely Canadian owned, such as Rona. The Canadian home reno industry employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose jobs are at risk in a prolonged economic downturn.