Add another to the enemies list

by Aaron Wherry

Be careful what you say in public.

A member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Clark recounted a recent meeting of the high-powered, 150-company group. ”We had a meeting two weeks ago, and almost every single person said raise my taxes. Get this deficit done,” Clark said during a question-and-answer session at the TD Ameritrade Inc. conference. He spoke about a prebudget consultation he recently had with Harper. ”He doesn’t listen, but you get to chat with him,” the TD Bank chief executive remarked…

A day later, an email labelling Clark a rich supporter of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff went out from the PMO to senior Conservatives. Entitled “Millionaire Ignatieff Economic Czar Calls for Higher Taxes,” the email pointed out that Clark had been one of several financial experts who attended a dinner last spring to provide economic advice to Ignatieff. ”Yesterday, another member of Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff’s so-called `economic brain trust,’ Bay Street banker Ed Clark, lectured Canadians from sunny Florida on our need to pay higher taxes,” the PMO note said. It went on to say that Ignatieff will use statements from “his well-heeled economic advisers” to justify massive tax hikes for “working- and middle-class Canadians.” The email ended: It’s been reported “that Michael Ignatieff’s Bay Street buddy Ed Clark earned $11 million in 2009. He can afford higher taxes. Can you?”




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Add another to the enemies list

  1. Why did Harper bother talking to Clark, if the elite banker is so clearly burdened with personal biases?

    • Well.. Clark did note that "he doesn't listen"

      Of course, that's hardly news.

  2. I can't find the words, so I'm choosing to quote others:

    "A half-truth does more mischief than a whole lie." – Ivan Panin

    "It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself." – Thomas Jefferson

  3. so-called 'economic brain trust'
    so-called 'greenhouse gases'
    so-called 'leadership'
    so-called 'parliament'
    so-called 'judicial rulings'
    so-called 'independent officers of parliament'
    so-called "blog post"

  4. So, let me get this straight …

    When consulting with Harper, TD's Clark and other bankers and business leaders are in "prebudget consultations" with the PM. But when advising Ignatieff, Clark and others are magically transformed into a "so-called economic brain trust" of "well heeled" Bay Street boogiemen out to attack "working- and middle-class Canadians." When Harper is hanging with the rich and powerful in Davos, he's being statesmanlike. But when Iggy listens to the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, he's an elitist snob?

    The Conservative's hypocrisy and selective reasoning is stunning, in both its brazen nature and its stupidity. Harper, Soudas and their ilk are a very bad joke. The sooner we're rid of this lot, the better.

    • It might be an act of stupidity to out a guy like Clark [ i wont even touch the quetionable ethics] Presumably he has friends in his world who will now start to look askance at Harper, and begin to wonder after all if this guy is fit to be the PM. How many execs in that room are now having second thoughts about this gov't?

  5. Aaron, once again I think you have missed the chess move. Dimitri leveraged his personal popularity to help keep the economic turnaround on track. For most of this year, TD's stock has been sliding… since the email that trend has reversed and it has gone up over 3% to a new high. Please try to get these investment opportunities out sooner in the future so your regular readers can benefit.

    • Stewart, why do you hate checkers?

  6. Yes, apparently you're being watched and reported on to the PMO every minute, even at a meeting in Florida.

    Then you are attacked as an individual by the full force of the govt.

  7. To think they think such communications are the business of government.

    That's my dime and the Queen's good name you're using. Knock it off.

    • The Queen's "good name"?

  8. "He can afford higher taxes. Can you?”

    Yes. Yes I can. I'd rather we weren't holding such a massive debt and deficit, but it's too late to change that. And I think it's more honourable and honest to pay our own bill, instead of passing it on to our children and grandchildren.

    Now do me a favour, and define what you mean by "higher"? Because I'm betting it's not as scary as you'd like me to think.

    • "Now do me a favour, and define what you mean by "higher"?"

      2005 levels. Scary!

      • At least its not 2006 levels — when Harper raised our taxes to cover his a** with that dumb gst stunt… oops, i guess it wasn't much for a**covering either.

  9. Good to see the PMO is busy working and recalibrating.

    And I still have a problem with PMO staff being used to publicly smear politicians and citizens alike on a daily basis.

  10. Wish Kady was around to give inside story on Giorno/Soudas land and what's really going on these days. Sounds like a full scale panic, or else they think the base is now about 15million people. Kady hasn't been updating PMO stuff since she went to the other place. I miss that.

    • Perhaps the CBC is concerned about how the recalibration and gov't austerity planning might affect their budget?

      • Yeah. They promised Kady a shiny new blog and team to work with, and a newer Blackberry, but just a couple tiny strings attached…

  11. Isn't it ironical that our business elites apparently want to pay their own way whereas Harper and his supporters have no problems with passing our massive debt to our children?

    And these are the people who disdain the socialists for sponging on society? Harper's hypocrisies continue to astound.

  12. Ed Clark is one of the finest business leaders in this country. He is speaking from logic and reason. Thank you, Ed.

  13. This is what happens when you let frat boys run your government.

    Truly sad. How hard would it have been to say, "on behalf of ordinary taxpayers, we disagree, although we share Mr. Clark's concern for the deficit," and let that be the end of it?

  14. I'm not a wealthy banker but I can certainly handle another 2 points on the GST. I don't notice it on smaller purchases and if I buy a new car or a new home I have to finance those anyway. And then GST is the least of my concerns.

    On the other hand I notice government services and benefit from those on a daily basis. I don't want another attack on social programs like we saw in the 80's and 90's in which reduced transfer payments set off a slide in education and health services along with the introduction of a bunch of user fees I didn't pay previously.

    Does that mean I think all government spending is well managed? Of course not. But the same people who are mismanaging inefficient services will be the ones to make the cuts and they will make the same poor decisions (and worse) that they are making now. That will hardly lead to improved services.

    • I don't know that Mr. Clark specified the GST but as a regressive form of taxation I'm sure
      that's a can he wouldn't mind kicking.

      • As a Canadian with a high income and relatively few consumer purchases, i fully support a raise in the GST! :)

  15. Here's a crazy idea: let's imagine a way additional taxation could somehow further other programs or goals beyond the deficit and debt. Take that carbon thingy all the kids and nations of the world are talking about these days. What if we were to somehow tax that carbon stuff in a way that could both enrichen the treasury AND reduce how much of it we create? Debt goes down, world esteem goes up… Why, it's almost crazy enough to work.

    • PERMANENT TAX ON EVERYTHING!!!

    • Why do you hate the troops so much? Nerd. That's why you're not a leader.

      See, everyone knows that the best thing to do is to cut taxes, increase spending, blame the Opposition. Because THAT's been working well so far…

  16. I'm trying to parse this:

    Millionaire Ignatieff Economic Czar Calls for Higher Taxes

    Is this to be read:

    ((Millionaire Ignatieff) Economic Czar) Calls for Higher Taxes

    or:

    (Millionaire (Ignatieff Economic Czar)) Calls for Higher Taxes

    I would like to know for certain where I am supposed to direct my anti-millionaire left-wing populist anger, as requested by the anti-millionaire left-wing populists in the Conservative Party of Canada.

    • Actually this reads like a release from pravda or some other mouthpiece of the "people" in faraway land where the people are free…or used to be…not!

  17. Back in December, the UK levied a 50 percent "supertax" on banks' discretionary bonus pay-outs. Couldn't we do the same thing in Canada? ;-)

    • I bet banks would have their accountants convert it to base salary as soon as they got wind of this plan, and tie it up in tax court for years after being assessed.

    • There's some story that's been floating around for a while about Canada's bankers being the most responsible in the World. Thus, in Harperland, it would make perfect sense to punish them.

    • Well, no. It's better to have Aunt Ellie pay 2% more for her toilet tissue. And even better
      to go there before some of the provinces do.

    • I think what Crit is suggesting is that if the PMO really wants to be effective in putting a big chill over individuals criticizing the government; they should supplement their PR-based attacks with policy-based attacks.

      Some possibilities in addition to the tax on Ed Clark (perhaps also one on Joe)

      Put Colvin on the no-fly lists
      Put Libby under house arrest
      Jail time for Keen
      Let Khadr rot in a cell
      Tasser the Kennedies (Paul, Gerald and the rest too)

      Of course, Crit is a nice Crit-ter so he winked to show he was kidding. Which is good because imagine what Dimitri would do to Aaron if he was to follow through on this.

      • Clearly, the government needs to be more vigilant by using the mechanisms of an authoritarian state to terrorize and silence its enemies.

        • Is that you or Dimitri…. always hard to to tell, does the hand control the muppet or?

  18. Thank God the government is protecting us from rich bankers by immediately and vociferously attacking this rich banker's suggestion that rich bankers should have to pay more taxes.

    We certainly dodged a bullet there!

  19. Is it really wise to needlessly make an enemy of someone who knows lots of rich and influential people? This kind of hatchet-job looks bad to anyone who knows the guy, regardless of their political leanings.

    • It's better to pummel the poor and obscure. There's more of them. And once you start they'll
      even pile on each other to help you out. Wait until the cuts come. It'll be fun.

  20. I also love the close of the PMO's little hit piece too: He can afford higher taxes.

    Yes. Yes he can. In fact, THAT'S EXPLICITLY WHAT HE'S SAYING. His ENTIRE POINT is that he can afford to pay more taxes, and that you should therefore ask him to pay more taxes to help eliminate the deficit.

    Do Tories REALLY hate taxes so much that they won't raise the taxes of rich, well-heeled, (supposedly) Liberal shill Chief Executives of large banks, when those Chief Executives ASK to have their taxes raised to help out the country?!?!? Only in Canada can the rich Chief Executive of a major bank ask, in 2010, to pay more taxes to support the nation and help eliminate the deficit and actually be ATTACKED by the government for it. What's next? Widows and orphans deserved what they got?

    • Thank you for wrapping up the absurdity of this little episode in such an entertaining fashion.

  21. Our banks are the best in the world and the envy of every other government.

    But the people who actually run them and do the work….

  22. It's presumably fine for politicians to disagree with public statements on public policy. So, where did Harper cross the line? Was Clark explicitly calling for higher marginal taxes for the exceptionally well-paid? Do banks benefit from deficit reduction more than other segments of society?

    • He crossed the line when he made personal attacks on private citizen in order to belittle his substantive policy suggestion.

      Clark makes a policy comment and Harper takes it personally and lashes out at Clark personally. Is that really appropriate behaviour from the Prime Minister of Canada? Aren't we better than that?

      • "He doesn't listen, but you get to chat with him,” Mr. Clark said, making sure he set a serious-minded, non-partisan tone for the discussion…

        The PMO clearly says the Conservatives are in favour of a more progressive tax system, higher taxes for those who can afford them, but no tax increases for working or middle class Canadians. All the parties now favour higher taxes on the rich. That seems like an interesting news story in the run-up to a federal budget. Or we could discuss the tone of the debate instead. That seems important.

  23. Stephen Harper: rapidly becoming Canada's answer to Richard Nixon. Can a Conservative-initiated break-in into the Liberal party office be far behind?

    • Can a Conservative-initiated break-in … be far behind?

      You should read some of Wells' stuff on the Rights & Democracy shenanigans.

      • Oh, I must have missed this. Are you saying that Wells has implicated the Conservative Party with a break-in at the R and D building ?

        Or…….are you just maliciously attempting to gain some credibility by inserting Wells into your little mud-slinging narrative ?

        • Credit where it's due, man.

          I mean, with Speeches from Brown, economic policy from the Liberals, environmental policy from America, I know the concept is a bit difficult for a Harper supporter to understand, but credit where it's due.

          • Thwim, you`re rambling. I think I`ll just place you in the latter alternative above.

  24. And I thought the Ministry of Information was supposed to be all hush hush…

  25. i'm no stategist. But when is Ignatieff going to grab one of these lifeboats Harper keeps tossing him? Is there no way to craft a case for marginally higher taxes and reasonable cuts? There's lots of room there to craft a narrative…if you have the nerve…and, the public will buy it. But it'll take political courage and steely nerves.

    • Answer: not until he sees the CPC's deficit reduction strategy in an election campaign.

      • For what it's worth i think this may be the wrong stategy. The conbots are going to attempt to label him a tax and spend liberal anyway. Better to come out boldly and defend your plan in principle – just the outline that is. It stakes out a position that i feel the public is likely to support, as likely as deficit cutting by no growth anyway.Remember, define thyself before someone else does.
        It could be done in any number of ways: a taemporary point or two on the gst. [ my preference is to keep it up and lower IT] Possibly passing legislation to direct any new revenues to debt reduction – in other words a promise, backed by legislation, to not spend on new social programmes until the deficit is retired. Any more suggestions? I detest this timid approach,but that's just me.

        • Indeed that's a fair point. However I think political types like us overestimate how much attention the public is paying on policy issues before an election campaign begins. I'm not suggesting Ignatieff be timid – but I think some patience before showing his cards is in order.

          • Green Shift.

          • Indeed!

    • I think it's fairly apparent that Harper's boat is rapidly taking on water, so Steve-o may be a little more focussed on that.

  26. I guess Harper has given up on board directorships and such after he leaves (or is kicked out of) office.

    How on earth did we elect this thug to the highest elected office in the land?

  27. Tipping point?
    This theme was popular yesterday in two blogs.
    Dammit Janet thinks the butt-ugly Canada Pavilion at the Olympics might do it.
    Steve at Far n Wide thinks the media may have finally abandoned Harper.

    Well, when you rudely ignore (doesn't listen) and then single out as an enemy, the CEO of one of the five big banks for comments that should be considered part of a rational discourse, you will piss off a lot of powerful people.

    Could this be the tipping point? Lets us all pray…..

    • Ah yes.. pissing on the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is always a good way to show that Canada's Open for Business.

      Let's say I'm a business owner in America. Let's also say I've been looking at Canada for the tax advantage it provides.
      Now let's say I hear about how the gov't will attack me if I say something out of line with them.

      Let's just say that tax advantage better be down-right phenomenal to seal the deal at that point.

      • Agreed. This is a monumentally stupid move on the part of the pmo…i guess they're banking [unintended pun] on the fact that there are more TH's alumni out there then banking execs.

  28. Hey, if the rich want higher taxes rather than large deficits, it's hard to see an argument against raising theirs. A rate increase to at least 45% for people making over $500,000, and ditto for capital gains taxes, would do a lot to improve fiscal stability and still would only affect a very small proportion of Canadians – and those would be the folks who have more money than a person knows how to use.

    • Katherine! If Ed Clark's tax rate was 45% it would lower his taxes by about $125,000 per year. The top marginal tax rate in Ontario is currently 46.4%, and it takes effect long before one starts earning $500,000.

  29. "He can afford higher taxes. Can you?"

    if this is just a matter of affordability as Dimtri (misleadingly) suggests, gawd forbid that people would sacrifice a bit to pay the bill that they ran up. what happened to the traditional conservative value of personal responsibility Dimitri? you folks just not that into conservatism?

    this ridiculous posturing lays bare the desire to reduce the size of the state.

    • That's the funny part in all this – taxpayers WILL have to pay the bill for the deficit – either sooner or later. The money doesn't come out of thin air.

  30. The tail wags the dog of the hand controlling the Muppet.

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