Idea alert

The separatists kindly suggest a way out of deficit.

The BQ said the federal government should drastically reduce the size of the federal civil service, replacing every three workers that retire over the next five years with just one worker. Reducing the federal payroll that way could eventually cut Ottawa’s annual spending on its own workforce by billions each year. It also said Ottawa could chop the $3 billion it spends annually on “professional services,” money paid to outside consultants for advice on everything from communications to policy decisions to temporary help.

Laforest also said Ottawa should do what U.S. President Barack Obama has done and ask the country’s wealthiest citizens to pay a greater share in income tax to eliminate the deficit. The Bloc suggests those Canadians with a taxable income of $150,000 a year should pay an additional one per cent in income taxes. That measure, the BQ calculates, would affect about 450,000 Canadians and could net Ottawa an additional $1.5 billion a year.




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Idea alert

  1. Probably intended, at least in part, to put even more pressure on the Iggster for his lack of policy alternatives.

  2. Bad timing. Reducing government services and increasing taxes now assumes too much recovery underway.

    • There is no bad time to reduce government services but I do agree that raising taxes right now would not be too clever.

      • Except that you'd be raising taxes on those with the MOST money and therefore the least standard of living to lose. So, it really wouldn't affect those who are economically hurting.

        • The rich are not going to be materially affected but they will respond to higher tax rates. They will move money out of the country or stop spending as much as they did. Lets ask all those who work as interior designers, feng shui experts, own animal whispering firms, run organic farms …. etc what happens when rich people reduce their expenses.

          • Don't forget foreign travel destinations, foreign luxury cars and imported European appliances dealers. Oh wait, they aren't in our country!

            So let's ask grocery store owners, homebuilders, hardware store owners, what happens when the federal government shuts down military bases or government offices in their communities.

          • "Don't forget foreign travel destinations, foreign luxury cars and imported European appliances dealers. Oh wait, they aren't in our country!"

            Unless you are arguing foreign firms open shops/offices here and staff them entirely with people from the home country who pay no corporate or personal taxes here, I have no idea what your point is.

          • My point is that taxing the over $150K earners who have the dispos-ability to spend their money on luxury goods and foreign travel (sending dollars out of the country) has less impact on our economy, dollar for dollar, than a plan that would reduce the incomes of government employees, who tend to spend all of their money locally.

          • Going Galt on us, eh big fella

          • What do the CONs say when they hear about people who 'don't like the current regime/tax plan/record Harper deficit spending'? Isn't it circle around the conclusion that "if you don't like it, you can move"?
            Why is that answer not good enough for those who want the benefits of being Canadian but don't want to pay for it? Welcome to CONservatopia…

  3. Bad timing. Reducing government services and increasing taxes now assumes too much recovery underway.

    Good strategy for later, perhaps.

  4. Both NDP and BQ are attacking Cons from the right and at some point Cons are going to have to defend their policies. What a pretty pickle Cons have got themselves in.

  5. The BQ said the federal government should drastically reduce the size of the federal civil service…

    So the BQ is now preying on the public's ignorance. I wonder just how many Canadians actually know what jobs the federal civil service perform or how many of them there are performing those jobs. I suspect if Canadians actually knew these answers silly nonsense like this just wouldn't fly.

    • I agree. Also, axing jobs isn't the best idea, because then your unemployment rate goes up (there will still be people out there who need jobs and fewer to go around) AND you end up paying more in social assistance to those people who would otherwise have been employed. Net savings? Maybe. Net benefit? Probably none.

  6. By the way, Aaron. This might be the first by-election scandal. It looks like it's worth checking into.

    • I just checked your link, and I still have no idea what you're getting at.

      • Me neither. Is this Machiavelli fellow running?

      • It's hard to follow because English is obviously not the writer's first language, but in short, the Conservative candidate for the riding in BC, Diana Dilworth, might have used her position in the Human Resources department of the Fraser Basin Council to punish a possible whistleblower by publicly humiliating him or her.

  7. While a bit simplistic, I think the BQ proposal is worth very serious consideration. The stereotype that the typical Ottawa bureaucrat does nothing all day, is not entirely true. If they supported the proposal with guidelines on where to cut over-regulation and identifying other inefficiencies, it would be stronger still.

  8. While a bit simplistic, I think the BQ proposal is worth very serious consideration. The stereotype that the typical Ottawa bureaucrat does nothing all day, is not entirely true. If the BQ supported the proposal with guidelines on where to cut over-regulation and identifying other inefficiencies, it would be stronger still.

  9. How about using PBO . Does his job not entail studying the effectiveness of public programs ? Surely the Government used his skills to find the need to increase CPP early retirement penalties .

    Think of the money to be saved if the 74 M.P.s who's pensions become vested this spring lost 50 -60 % of their pension in pre 65 retirement penalties ? Flaherty , Baird & Clements would support money saving ideas like this .

    • He's still waiting for them to get back to him with the figures on how many of their stimulus projects are actually moving forward. No doubt he doesn't want to pile yet another request on them given the difficulty they're having with this first one.

  10. The BQ wants to drastically reduce the size of the federal government because the less the federal government does the less relevent it becomes to the lives of Quebecers. Reducing federal taxes also allows the provincial government to raise its taxes (and the services that it provides), making the provincial government more and more relevent to the lives of Quebecers. Once the federal government becomes an irrelevent shell, it will be easy to get rid of it.
    The perfect alliance: Firewall Steve and Separatist Gilles. The only loser: the federal entity called Canada.

  11. Also also, the people who have heavily inflated salaries are the politicians, not usually the civil servant. But I bet cuts or salary freezes for politicians won't fly at all.

    • "Also also, the people who have heavily inflated salaries are the politicians, not usually the civil servant"

      From Financial Post, December 5th '08:

      "Through the fog of the past week's political wars, nobody paid any attention to an explosive statistical report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The gist of the CFIB report is easy to grasp in the eye-popping graphic above. It shows public sector workers, at all levels of government, earning wages and benefits that are as much as 40% above private sector workers.

      The CFIB numbers put the federal civil service issue in context. A dig through census data shows that workers in the same occupations working for the federal government earn on average 17.3% more than in the private sector. With pension and other benefits, the full-time earnings in the public sector are 41.7% higher that in the private sector."

      • I always thought that one of the purposes of big government is to — surprise, surprise — increase the power and influence of — say it with me now — big government. So, any evidence that confirms this rather obvious goal doesn't surprise me, including the fact that, as government expands, so too does the number of public servants and their pays.

        Frankly, I'm not sure why we don't hear more about outsourcing public service jobs from conservative/libertarian circles. For example, I think it's generally acknowledged that Etobicoke, which outsources its garbage services, gets more for less using this kind of arrangement.

        Indeed, it also shouldn't surprise anyone that a major power-base for left-of-center parties, including Liberals, tends to be public service unions. That they get treated well by big government parties seems to follow logically, doesn't it?

        But I'll also add that big government jobs have been a means by which our federal government has tried to fight the cause of Quebec separatism – rightly or wrongly.

  12. Oops, this is supposed to be below (reposted). Feel free to delete, moderator.

  13. Umm, aren't lots of federal civil service jobs in Quebec? Seems an odd suggestion for the Bloc.

    • They traditionally don't do well in Gatineau/Hull anyways.

  14. It’s not a terrible idea. I’m sure there are many departments that might function as well or better with half as many heads.

    • I'm sure there are many departments that might function as well or better with half as many heads.

      Yeah, that worked out real well at the Immigration and Refugee Board. A 25% staff reduction only tripled the number of backlogged cases.

    • I'm working in one of those departments right now.

  15. "It also said Ottawa could chop the $3 billion it spends annually on “professional services,” money paid to outside consultants for advice on everything from communications to policy decisions to temporary help."

    Oh, please do. The country will fall apart in hours without consultants like me doing the job that quota hires lack the competence to do. I can't wait to tell my Quebec co-workers here in the feddle gubmint that the Bloc wants to fire them; aren't they supposed to be a nationalist/socialist party? Heh, I'll remember this the next time Harper is accused of a secret right wing agenda.

    • How delightfully offensive.

      • Why not provide a list of things that DON'T offend you, baldygirl?

        See, that's why we don't like women in the workplace, you know: you spend so much time and energy feigning offence at everything white men do that it lowers morale and makes the workplace a drag for the men who are there to make a living, not for drama and wearing their new shoes and bondage gear. And hey, I thought young women like you were liberal – why so puritan? Just kidding, we know why: you love pretending to be offended even more than you love shopping, sitcoms, and bad Hollywood movies.

  16. And once again, we see why people in Quebec vote Bloc – because separatist or not, they're the only ones still making some sense…

    Good suggestions here, though more will likely be needed to bridge the deficit gap within the next few years. The first suggestion should play well with conservatives and with its gradual implementation, could start up now. The second should probably wait until unemployment starts to fall in earnest (likely in a year or so), but would also have a relatively light negative impact on the economy, would provide a fair bit more revenue and would work against the current stratification of wealth (rich becoming richer, etc.).

  17. Reducing the number of civil servants is always a popular suggestion. Eliminating a specific civil service function usually raises a ton of opposition – as we've seen with the reaction to strategic review savings in the past couple of years. This proposal from the BQ is nonsense unless the party is willing to specify which jobs should go.

    Bringing in more tax revenue from a new upper income tax bracket probably makes sense. I'm really surprised that only 1% of Canadians earn more than $150K though. I'm in a neighbourhood of Toronto where you need that income to buy a reasonable house. Does anyone know where that number comes from?

  18. No to the first proposal, yes to the second. A 1% increase on less than 5% of the poplulation is not going to seriously affect economic recovery. In addition, once the recession's over I'd support putting the capital gains tax back up to 25% or 30% – if you're a conservative, that could be coupled with an equal decrease in income taxes for the middle class, if you're not it could go into services or paying off the debt. The current capital gains rate is lower than the US and just favours speculators over people who work.

    • If you wanted a tax that would target speculators, a capital gains tax is a poor choice. Both long-term and short-term investors are hurt by a capital gains tax, in proportion to whatever their profits are.

      A better approach would be something like a Tobin tax, which would directly penalize people like day-traders, while rewarding Warren Buffett types.

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