Tories tying up loose ends and doing damage control from last year’s budget

OTTAWA – The federal Conservatives appear to be tying up loose ends — and doing some damage control — from last year’s budget as they look ahead to deliver this year’s austerity-driven fiscal blueprint.

From installing long-promised defibrillators in hockey arenas to extending an olive branch to small lending institutions and hospitals that were hit with tax hikes, the Tories are playing catch up, said Ian Lee, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“At the same time, it’s little things that can also turn people away from them,” he said.

When every vote counts, it’s a bad idea to target non-profits like credit unions and caisses populaires, which are prominent in Western Canada and Quebec and fiercely supported by their members, he said.

Those small lenders got a big surprise in the last budget, which included a measure to have them pay the same tax rates as other corporations.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty moved to reduce the sting over the changes Friday by announcing some temporary transitional support, including extended deposit insurance.

“I see it as both cleaning up loose ends, but also it’s a little bit political in the sense that they’re trying to reduce the anger of those people who were affected,” Lee said.

Flaherty was also doing some damage control over a budget measure that ended a special tax break on hospital parking charges where the lot was run by a non-profit partner. At the time, the government said it wanted to ensure consistent tax treatment.

But hospitals complained that it would reduce the money that supplements their annual health care funding, and on Friday, Flaherty promised to stop charging GST or HST on the parking fees.

“You don’t want to be seen to be going after sick people or people caring for sick people: the families,” Lee said.

“So I think that this is again sort of like those boutique tax credits, it’s going to make people feel that the government’s noticing and looking after them, so there’s probably a little bit of politics in it as well.”

The Tories are also trying to lock down a deal to get their marquee job training program off the ground.

They touted the Canada Job Grant in last year’s budget — as well as October’s throne speech — and have spent millions of dollars advertising it, all without reaching an agreement with the provinces and territories.

Provincial governments slammed the proposal, saying it would divert millions of federal dollars from programs the provinces already run, while asking them to pony up another $300 million.

Even though the existing labour-market agreement expires in March, Employment Minister Jason Kenney only sat down with his provincial and territorial counterparts in November to talk about the plan. Facing a wall of resistance, he offered a compromise at Christmas which the provinces have yet to accept.

Though the program is a good one, Kenney was perhaps overconfident in thinking the provinces and territories would acquiesce, Lee said.

“Then he realized that you can’t bluff your way through, you can’t use braggadocio to get the deal, to force the deal through, because there was such serious resistance from the provinces and pretty monolithic,” he said.

“I think he thought he was going to be able to bull it through, brute it through, and then it didn’t happen. So then he belatedly came to the table with some compromises.”

There’s also been little movement a new $14.4-billion Building Canada infrastructure fund announced in the last budget, which is set to start this year. Municipal leaders voiced concerns in December that they could lose out on infrastructure projects for the upcoming summer because of confusion around the new funding.




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Tories tying up loose ends and doing damage control from last year’s budget

  1. Ottawa is about deceit, false perception and illusions designed to get more of our money for political back room power.

    Take the myth that government can create jobs as the truth is government is about wealth consumption. Take the myth of job creation, you take $1 of taxes from 50,000 people to buy a single $50,000 then the 50,000 taxed people collectively spend $50,000 less on someone else’s job. Given governemtns high costs of general administration, you have inefficiently realocated a job, as +1 – 1 = 0 net jobs.

    Same with devalued money to “thin air” create money to buy Governemtn debts no savvy lender would buy. No one lends to governemtn for rates below _real inflation+taxes to lose value, government dilutes the money supply in the illusion of solvency. You and I get devalued incomes and devalued pensions with higher costs. 10 cents off the loonie is 11% inflation as you need 11% more CAD to buy $1 par. 1.00 / 0.90 = 11%.

    Its fraud really, but a nice term is inflation as a tax. Devalue people be they poor or rich, worker or disabled, devalue them for government’s greed of debt for the grand kids.

    Governemtn can’t fix the economic issues as their liberal economics and Keynes philosophies are about fraud on the peoples. They can’t fix the job issues as they cause the problems. Sort of like asking the fox to watch the chickens.

    Its all about big government as a false deity, get your money then do as little as they can for you while lining union, inflated contracts, buddy bailouts and the like. Ottawa is about a brokerage of power and our money to line the pockets of others.

    • u mad bro?

  2. Ian Lee is a classic example of “those that can, do, and those that can’t, get tenure.” And he can’t seem to understand that trickle down is a well-proven bust and that ‘right to work’ is the same as ‘right to exploit’. His solution to everything is that ‘people need to work for less in order to be competitive’. Does that include University lecturers, Mr. Lee? That’s brave talk from a public servant.

    What’s better for the economy, Mr. Lee? A very wealthy person who can afford a new couch, albeit a very, very nice couch, or a hundred workers who can make enough of a living wage that they can all afford a new couch (albeit a more modest one)? Which scenario is better for the overall economy? Our economies are way, way out of balance, and his solution is even more imbalance.

    And what’s being practiced now isn’t Keynesian at all…a government should only cut taxes and boost spending when economies are slowing, not ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME!!!! And any tax cuts must be tied to employment and investment. Instead, Flaherty just handed out money to corporations at the worst possible time, and with no incentive to re-invest. Flaherty may balance the budget, but he’ll sink the economy to do it. Contrast that with Paul Martin, who did indeed use EI surpluses to help balance the budget, but it was during a time when the economy was expanding. Flaherty has done it while the economy is contracting…not smart. But then again, not surprising either…Flaherty doesn’t have an original thought in his head.

  3. If the government is so big on getting people off welfare and job creation then why do they not tie the TFW in with the job skills programs. After all the idea of hiring temporary foreign workers is that there are not the skills in Canada. So if the TFW was tied into the jobs programs for corporations and government then the corporations would have a incentive and a subsidy to train people and get off the TFW bandwagon.

  4. Seems to me that if the CPC didn’t jam everything into omnibus bills, limit committee reviews and invoke closure, maybe some of their dumbass mistakes might get caught before they end up pissing of voters and have to backtrack like the amateurs they are (and shouldn’t be after eight years of practice).

    Just sayin’…

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