Corporate Income Taxes

"I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping our tax rates low and competitive. We have legislated in this country—in 2007, some years ago now—we legislated a series of lower business tax rates.

"We are now seeing the benefits of that, we’re seeing businesses move here, we’re seeing businesses locate their North American operations here, as compared with the United States, because of the situation.

"Now, the opposition has been critical of this, but the fact of the matter is that we are gaining more revenue from the business sector by having low rates than we were by having high rates. So this is in the interest of everybody. It's the direction we're going to continue to go in."

- January 7, 2011 in Welland, ON

Over the four years under Paul Martin's stewardship as finance minister then Prime Minister, and the two years prior to Harper enacting his corporate tax cuts, revenue from corporate income nearly doubled from $22.2b (2002-03) to $40.6b (2007-08). Tax revenue from corporate income as a share of total tax revenues peaked at 20.0%. Since the rates were cut from 22.12% to 18% among other measures, revenues have plummeted by $10 billion, to $29.5b in 2008-09 and $30.4b in 2009-10.

Some may blame the economic downturn for the experience of the last few years. Though individuals suffered through the downturn as well, they have contributed more and disproportionately to government revenues. From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the share of revenues contributed by personal income tax increased from 55.5% to 60.6%, while the share from corporate income tax fell from 20.0% to 15.4%.

Harper/Flaherty intend to shrink the share of corporate income tax even further even as the economy recovers. Flaherty's 2010 Budget projects that it will take until 2013-14 for corporate income tax revenues to rebound to 2005 levels ($31.7b) [Table 4.2.4, p.176]. By that time, Flaherty projects that corporate income tax will contribute just 13.9% to total tax revenues, while personal income tax will contribute 62.6%.

Though his own Department of Finance projects that the revenues from corporate income tax will fail to recover to their peak levels by 2015, Harper made the bald-faced lie that "we are gaining more revenue from the business sector by having low rates than we were by having high rates." Instead, his cuts to corporate taxes exacerbate our fiscal imbalance and force individuals to shoulder a greater share of the tax burden.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes questions in Welland, ON, January 7, 2011 (PMO)

[This material comes from a blog post by the same author on the Pharos Review]


Latin America [updated 12 Aug 09]

“We are a country of the Americas,” Prime Minister Harper said. “Re-engagement in our hemisphere is a critical international priority for our Government. Canada is committed to playing a bigger role in the Americas and to doing so for the long term.”
In a speech marking the 10th anniversary of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement July 17, 2009

"[The new visa requirement for Mexican visitors] is not the fault of the government of Mexico – let me be very clear about this [....] This is a problem in Canadian refugee law which encourages bogus claims."
Speaking at the 'Three Amigos' summit in Guadalajara, August 12, 2009, quoted in the Globe and Mail

The only re-engagement Harper has paid attention to with Latin America is mercantile, and even then, he has done so clumsily. According to John Kirk, professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University:

On Mexico
"frustration with the abuse of the system for judging bona fide refugee claims from Mexico has led to a diplomatic blunder. Instead of modernizing the Immigration and Refugee Board and staffing it appropriately, the government reacted by slapping visa regulations on Mexico, and giving just two days notice to Mexicans planning to come to Canada.

"The widespread frustration (noted in Mexican media) is understandable, illustrating this major error in judgment. At a time when the tourism industry in Canada is slumping, the loss of 250,000 Mexican tourists—the fourth largest market for Canadian tourism, generating an estimated $265 million annually—is sad indeed. Since 1993, bilateral trade has grown 390 per cent, and Canadian investment there to a whopping 665 per cent. To treat Mexico with such insensitivity is just bad politics."

"Canada’s Auditor-General, the national ombud, pointed out that the Immigration and Refugee Board has suffered a significant decrease in the number of decisionmakers since the second quarter 2007; at one point, it operated with a 35 percent vacancy rate. Currently, the Toronto Star reports there is an 11 percent vacancy rate with 18 out of 164 positions unfilled. Jason Kenney, minister of Immigration and Citizenship, asked for the appointment process to be slowed down in April to properly assess all of the candidates." [from Blake Lambert's column in the Faster Times]

On Honduras
While hemispheric leaders (including Barack Obama) have called for the return of the constitutionally elected government, the weakest response has been from Canada. Others have demanded the immediate return of President Zelaya, refusing to recognize the illegal government. Not Canada."

Free Trade in the Americas
"In the case of Peru, where the FTA was enthusiastically supported by the PMO and DFAIT, little has been said about the killing in June by the Peruvian military of some 80 indigenous in rural Bagua province following protests against the displacement of native communities and the despoiling of the Amazon. Both Mr. Kent and Mr. Harper criticize the human rights situation in Cuba, but are strangely silent on massive abuses in countries where they seek commercial advantage. This is most clearly the case in Colombia, where Mr. Harper has pushed hard for another free trade agreement, while praising the Uribe government, which has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere."

On Cuba

"Showing an extraordinary selective indignation over the issue of human rights, in January Minister Kent chided the 600,000 Canadian vacationers to the island, noting that they were 'too willing to accept a candy-coated vision of what life in Cuba really is [...] it is still a dictatorship, any way you package it.' [...] the Harper government [is pursuing] a course towards Cuba that is reminiscent of a failed U.S. policy under Gorge W. Bush—just as the Obama administration is undertaking a dramatically new approach.

"Some of these are petty, such as delaying a visa to the Cuban Minister of Foreign Investment to attend an annual shareholders' meeting and mimicking a Bush proclamation on an anniversary important in Miami but reviled in Havana. Others are damaging to Canada's international standing. In terms of human rights, Canada was outvoted 46-1 on its Cuba policy at the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2007."

John Kirk's opinion piece in Embassy
Mexicans' travel to Canada, which exceeds travel from Australia, China, or India, and exceeds that of the remainder of Latin America and the Carribbean combined, reported by the Canadian Tourism Commision
Blake Lambert's editorial in the Faster Times
Colombia's human rights abuses from the US State Department
Harper's take on Honduras appears to concord with Fareed Zakaria's
Minister of State for the Americas, Peter Kent, had a diplomatic visit to Havana cancelled 10 days after declaring that the Harper government "will not pursue [...] constructive engagement" as past Liberal governments had, May 2009. Perhaps in retaliation, the Harper government did not issue a visa to the visiting Cuban Minister for Trade and Investment.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes his seat at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, on Saturday.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes his seat at the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru,
on November 22, 2008.
(Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)


Poll Results - 03 July 2009

Michael Ignatieff is "just visiting" and should be disqualified from running for office:
100% of respondents disagreed


Just Visting

"Michael Ignatieff:
  • Spent 34 years living in America and Europe
  • Returned to Canada to run for Prime Minister
  • Will go back to US if not elected
That’s not leadership. That’s just visiting."

from a Conservative Party leaflet

Michael Ignatieff:
  • Spent 36 years living in America and Europe
    • As a child, lived in New York, Washington, Belgrade and London while his father was posted there as a diplomat
    • Obtained a PhD in history from Harvard
    • Taught at King’s College, Cambridge
    • Worked as a writer and broadcaster based in London
    • Taught at Harvard

  • Returned to Canada to teach at the University of Toronto and run for MP, not PM
    • Succeeded in being elected to the Etobicoke—Lakeshore riding

  • Did not go back to US when he failed to win his party’s leadership in 2006
    • Lost his leadership bid in 2006 to Stephane Dion, but persisted with the Liberal Party and stayed in Canada

Of note, current Conservative MPs born outside Canada:
  • Nina Grewal, born in Japan, educated in India, worked in Liberia before moving to Canada at age 23
  • Alice Wong, born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada at age 32
  • Devinder Shory, born and educated in India, moved to Canada in his 20’s
  • Inky Mark, born in China, immigrated to Canada at age 7, educated in part in Seattle
  • Peter Kent, born in England to Canadian parents, spent 40 years of his adult life as a journalist and broadcaster in Canada and abroad
  • Moved to Canada as children:
    • Daniel Petit, born in Belgium
    • Tony Clement, born in England
    • Vic Toews, born in Paraguay
    • Steven Fletcher, born in Brazil to Canadian parents
The Conservative Party does not question—nor should it, nor anyone else—the commitment of these parliamentarians to serve Canada on the basis of their birthplace, race, or time abroad.

Also notable: US President Obama’s life abroad
  • Resided in Indonesia from ages six to ten
US President Clinton’s life abroad
  • Studied on a Rhodes Scholarship at University College, Oxford
Number of Canadian citizens currently living abroad: 3 million
Proportion of Canadians in a recent poll who thought this was “generally a good thing”: 67%
Proportion of Canadians who did not vote for the Conservative Party in the last election: 62%

Ignatieff biographies from the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Globe and Mail, and Net Glimse [sic]
The Environics poll
House of Commons listings for MPs born outside Canada

Stephen Harper spending time on his sofa, in Canada,
like a proper Canadian. That's leadership.


Gaza Invasion

During Israel’s widely condemned invasion of the Gaza strip in December 2008 and January 2009, Stephen Harper was largely silent. The Canadian representative to the UN Human Rights Council had the following to say in opposition to a motion condemning Israel’s action—particularly against civilians—and calling for urgent humanitarian aid: “the draft text still failed to clearly recognize that rocket fire on Israel had led to the current crisis.”

Said Harper: “We would like to see a ceasefire, but an efficient and durable ceasefire,” Mr. Harper told reporters in Montreal on Friday. “We have asked for the ceasefire to both parties in this conflict. Our position is clear.”

Martin Grinus comments at the UN HRC on January 12, 2009
Stephen Harper comments on January 9, 2009 in Ottawa quoted in the National Post

The UN HRC Resolution was opposed by only one of the 47 nations comprising the Council: Canada. A bilateral ceasefire and the enumeration of hostilities toward civilians were key components of the resolution. In addition to condemning Israel and calling for humanitarian aid, the motion also urged that all parties “refrain from violence against the civilian population” and called for “the immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which to date have resulted in the killing of more than nine hundred and injury to more than four thousand Palestinians, including a large number of women and children, and the end to the launching of crude rockets against Israeli civilians, which have resulted in the loss of four civilian lives and some injuries.”

It has also recently come to light that Israeli Defense Force rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead did not discourage collateral fire on civilians. According to some soldiers interviewed by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli veterans, soldiers were advised not to hesitate before engaging: “If you're not sure – kill.” In a 110-page report released today, Breaking the Silence describes the following as accepted practices:
“destruction of hundreds of houses and mosques for no military purpose, the firing of phosphorous gas in the direction of populated areas, the killing of innocent victims with small arms, the destruction of private property, and most of all, a permissive atmosphere in the command structure that enabled soldiers to act without moral restrictions.”
It is to Israel, and not to principles of justice, sovereignty, democracy, and empathy, to which Stephen Harper pledged his “unshakable support” in May 2008, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.

The UN HRC resolution, minutes of the discussion with votes, and its membership at the time
The Breaking the Silence report
Linda McQuaig’s disgust with Harper over support for Israel
Harper pledges his “unshakable support”

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after speaking at the Canadian Jewish Congress' 90th anniversary plenary assembly in Toronto, May 31, 2009.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after speaking at the
Canadian Jewish Congress' 90th anniversary plenary assembly in Toronto, May 31, 2009


Conservative Support in Quebec

“They’ll never again be able to say that I wrote off Quebec,” Harper said. “Our party and our organization are getting stronger in all parts of Quebec, including Montreal.”
Quoted in Maclean's from Harper's address at a Conservative Montreal fundraiser in May

Léger Marketing's polling reveals a completely different story:

The Conservatives were weak at the time of the last election, and have been in freefall since December, now commanding only 11% support and trailing the Liberals, the Bloc, and NDP. There is no rally, no strength, no core of support. In their desperation, Harper's Conservatives accused Bloc MP's of being soft on pedophiles.

Quebec is an essential prize for any party wanting to form a majority government, and the Bloc has effectively obstructed Harper's attempts to do so, to his humiliation. To his horror, the Liberals have made impressive advances in Quebec.

Harper's valiant attempt to doll-up his ugly party fools noone who is paying attention. Fortunately for Harper, people who pay attention to current events do not form the Conservative base. But the Quebec electorate is sensitive and savvy, commensurate with its political clout. Harper's ham-handed repudiation of "separatists" during last December's coalition scare has surrendered half his share of the Quebec electorate and paved the way for the Liberals to pick up ground.

The Léger polls: October 2008, March 2009, May 2009, June 2009
Conservative propaganda on pedophile protection

A dream that Stephen Harper once had.


Carbon Emissions

“I read that Canadians think the Obama plan is credible, and their targets are virtually identical to ours,” Mr. Harper said after the meeting.
On President Obama's proposal to cut carbon emissions at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, July 9, 2009

The G8 leaders pledged to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. Now, that may sound about the same as what Environment Minister Jim Prentice vows Canada will achieve--60-70%--regardless of what the G8 leaders agree to: "Prentice, has said the government does not plan to sway from its commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 60-to-70 per cent by the year 2050, even though the G8 deal mandates an 80-per-cent cut."

Instead of thinking of this as a 10% difference--70 versus 80%--look at the remainder. If we achieve a 60% reduction in carbon emissions, we are left pumping out twice as much carbon as if we achieve an 80% reduction. A one-and-a-half to two-fold difference is not "virtually identical."

Canada is already one of the world's most irresponsible emitters, with per capita levels in the top three emitters in the world, behind only the United States and Luxembourg: "Canada is a dismal 27th out of 29 OECD nations when greenhouse gas emissions are measured on a per capita basis. Canadians produce 16.84 tonnes of carbon dioxide, per person, per year, 48% above the OECD average of 11.41 tonnes and more than four times the global average."

On Canada's per capita GHG levels
I've written about Harper and his emissions policy before

Leaders of G8 and developing nations look on as Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
left, is the last to arrive for a family photo during the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy,
July 9, 2009. Jason Reed/Reuters



Chalk River

The Government's commitment, advanced by Hon Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources in December, 2008:
"ensuring that the Canadian medical community receives a consistent and reliable supply of medical isotopes has been of critical importance to me. I have been actively engaged with both my departmental officials, and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), to determine how best to continue meeting this objective. [...]
"In January, at Canada's request, a meeting of governments and industry focused on isotope security of supply will take place in Paris, France. This is a global issue which warrants a global response, and I will ensure that Canada plays a leadership role in the planned discussions. [...]
"Ensuring the conditions for a reliable supply of medical isotopes in Canada continues to be a priority of our Government. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, Canada's medical community, and our global partners to further address this matter."
from a statement issued by the Minister on December 15, 2008

"For whatever reason, Atomic Energy was not able to make that project work. There was no prospect that it would work. [...]
"Eventually, we anticipate Canada will be out of the business" of making medical isotopes [...]
"we can't spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and never produce an isotope."
from statements by Harper on June 10, 2009, quoted in the Toronto Star

AECL is a "dysfunctional," $30-billion "sinkhole": "The government has put $30 billion into AECL over its history and it's been one of the largest sinkholes of government money probably in the history of the government of Canada. [...] I don't think we're going out on a limb to say it has been a fairly dysfunctional place."
from statements by Harper's communications director, Kory Teneycke, on June 11 to Canadian Press [what is that name, anyway? some hokey spoonerism of Tory Canuck?]

The achievements of the Chalk River facility, the National Reactor Unit or NRU, are described on its website as follows:
"Since it began operation in 1957, the NRU reactor has made substantial contributions to the science, technology, energy, health, and economy of Canada. Medical isotopes produced in NRU are used in the treatment of more than 20,000,000 patients around the world each year: a huge contribution to world health, and a significant Canadian export business. Following from the Nobel Prize winning work of Canadian Bert Brockhouse at Chalk River...neutron scattering continues to be a field of excellence in Canadian science. Knowledge gained at test facilities in NRU has been an essential foundation for developing the current fleet of CANDU power stations...an important source of electricity for Canada, and generate no greenhouse gases. This catalogue of achievements makes the NRU reactor the most ambitious and productive science facility in Canada."
AECL employs over 5,000 highly skilled employees delivering a range of nuclear services worldwide and its reactors supply 16% of Canada's electricity. And finally, what we can be most proud of is that "For over 50 years AECL has been safely and passionately developing peaceful and productive applications of nuclear energy."

A panel of experts of the US National Academy of Science is incredulous that Canada has abandoned the MAPLE reactors project. According to the panel's January 2009 report: "The decision to discontinue work on the Maple reactors is not consistent with AECL continuing to produce Mo-99 over the long term. The committee assumes that the worst-case scenario for fixing the Maple reactors involves the replacement of the reactor cores. The cost of such replacements would likely be small (tens of millions of dollars)." Moreover, "AECL could probably contract with another organization to fix the Maple reactors—and, if desired, to convert the NPF [new processing facility] to LEU [low-enriched uranium]-based production—if it does not have the necessary in-house technical expertise or resources to do the work itself."

So instead of directing stimulus spending and infrastructure disbursements to facilities that:
  • improve the health of Canadians and the world
  • help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
  • continue our longstanding leadership in nuclear research
  • complete a project that Canadian taxpayers have already invested in heavily
  • stabilize international supplies of medical isotope in a secure facility
  • hire highly skilled knowledge workers
the Government has instead elected to abandon the project and throw its money into the automakers' coffers, the perfect antithesis for all that AECL achieves. The auto bailout price tag for 2009? $10.8 bln, plus an additional $3.5 bln from Ontario, or roughly enough money to operate the AECL for half of its illustrious five-decade history.

from the National Academies Press, Medical Isotope Production Without Highly Enriched

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty shake hands after addressing a news conference in Toronto, Monday, June 1, 2009 to discuss details on the future of GM Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty shake hands
after addressing a news conference in Toronto, Monday, June 1, 2009 to discuss
details on the future of GM Canada. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

UPDATE 20 July 2009
Along the same lines, from the Liberal Party site: Harper's decision to leave isotope business hurting Canada.


Poll Results - 26 June 2009

Canadian troops are in Afghanistan:
7% - to protect Canadians from the threat of terrorism
35% - to participate in nation-building
85% - to mollify the Bush adminsitration

(respondents could choose any response that applied)




"The only way there is going to be a recession is if [the Liberal Party is] elected, and that's why they're not going to be elected."
from the CBC, reporting on the campaign trail on September 28, 2008

Let the record show that Stephen Harper is an economist, so the inaccuracy of his rosy prediction reveals either incompetence or a lie.

"The most recent forecasts, and there has been a series of predictions, [are that] there is a suggestion that there might be a technical recession at the end of this year or the beginning of next [...] Indeed, the economic growth is just about zero, perhaps a little bit less, but it is a technical recession,"
Stephen Harper tap-dancing at the Asia-Pacific summit in Lima on November 23, 2008, about six weeks after his party was re-elected

"Economic projections are now much lower than at the time of our last budget [February 26, 2008]. Private sector forecasters expect real GDP growth of just 0.6 per cent this year and 0.3 per cent next. The same private sector forecasters are now widely expecting a technical recession, with negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.
from Harper's Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, during his presentation of the Economic and Fiscal Statement on November 27, 2008

"The sharp contraction that began in the last quarter of 2008 intensified in the first quarter of 2009, led by collapsing exports, fixed investment and stockbuilding. The pace of contraction appears to be slowing, but recessionary conditions are expected to linger through the third quarter, with only a slow recovery thereafter. Unemployment is projected to keep rising until early 2010."
from the OECD's Country Report on Canada in its Economic Outlook no. 85, June 2009
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, wearing a traditional Peruvian poncho at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, centre, wearing a traditional Peruvian poncho at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)


Democratic Reform

“Canada's New Government has an ambitious and extensive legislative plan to strengthen accountability in government through democratic reform.
  • First, we are eliminating the influence of big money in the political process by regulating the financing of political parties.
  • Second, we've introduced legislation to modernize the Senate to make it more democratic, more accountable, and more effective.
  • Third, we are enhancing our electoral system to make it more responsive, fair and effective.
While we have accomplished a lot to date, we will continue to move forward with our plan to strengthen accountability through democratic reform.”
Technically, not a Harper quote. Cited from the Ministry of Democratic Reform website

We’ve covered some of this already, but to recap:
  • Harper threatened to remove the Government grant to political parties in December 2008, an action viewed by some as the precipitant to the threat of a coalition between the Liberals and NDP.
  • Harper crammed the Senate with his appointees in December 2008.
  • Harper broke his own law and called an early election.
On the threat to the grant
On the Senate
On the early election call

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far right, watches as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers the government's fiscal update in the House of Commons on Nov. 27.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far right, watches as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers the
government's fiscal update in the House of Commons on Nov. 27.
(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)


The Deficit

On June 25, 2009, Stephen Harper was interviewed by CTV’s Steve Murphy who asked about the ballooning deficit projections for 2009, now estimated at $50 billion. “In relative terms our deficit is a quarter of the deficit in the US, the deficit in Great Britain, half the deficit in Europe.”
Tape of the interview

According to the OECD Economic Outlook Report dated June 2009, deficit as a proportion of GDP for Canada will be 4.8%. For the other nations Harper mentions and other European G7 countries, the projections are: US, 10.2%; UK, 12.8%; France, 6.7%; Germany, 3.7%; Italy, 5.3%. While Harper is correct that we are in better shape than the US and UK, we do not have one-quarter of their deficit, and we are at about the same level as other European peers.

The OECD report


Employment Insurance

The following is quoted verbatim from the Liberal Party website:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made several misleading statements about EI in the House of Commons yesterday.

“It is simply a proposal... to raise payroll taxes to the roof in perpetuity for workers in small business.”

Fact: There is absolutely no requirement to raise payroll taxes in order to increase EI eligibility. The Liberal plan for EI eligibility does not include any increase in revenue collection. Payroll taxes are frozen and Liberals support leaving them that way.

“The Liberal Leader... is making the proposal that a Canadian could work 45 days and collect employment insurance for a year and that would be the system in every region in perpetuity.”

Fact: You can only receive EI if you’ve paid into the system and been laid off through no choice and no fault of your own. EI is not, in Diane Finley’s words, “lucrative for (laid-off Canadians) to stay home and get paid for it.” The government’s EI policy allows for a variable length of eligibility by region – ranging from 19 to 50 weeks – and the Liberal proposal doesn’t change that. Liberals are making proposals that reflect the reality of the recession while Conservatives remain oblivious to the growing crisis.

“The proposal... would do nothing for the economy, for the recession today.”

Fact: Laid-off workers are those most likely to spend 100 percent of their benefits to provide for their immediate day-to-day needs – things like food, rent and transportation – providing direct economic stimulus to some of the hardest-hit regions in the country. For every $1 spent by laid-off workers, local economies benefit from $1.60 in economic spin-offs.

“Over 80 percent of those who are paying into (Employment Insurance) are receiving benefits.”

Fact: Under the current rules, less than 60 percent of unemployed Canadians who have paid into EI receive benefits. 150,000 more people would be eligible for EI under our proposal – which would provide fairness for nearly half of the over 300,000 people laid off under your watch since last October.

“We have an EI system that responds to market needs. When we have difficulties as we have now, the system responds – benefits increase, eligibility increases as well.”

Fact: EI only adjusts after the unemployment rate has risen dramatically – cold comfort for those who lose their job without EI benefits before the unemployment number skyrockets. EI was not designed to react quickly to the massive, nationwide job losses experienced under this Conservative government.

Five misrepresentations in one Question Period exchange leaves us with one question: why is the Prime Minister trying to divide Canadians on fairness for laid-off workers?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper fires back druing Question Period in the House of Commons on May 26, 2009.


Illegal Coalition

"At a time like this, a coalition with the separatists cannot help Canada," Mr. Harper said. "And the opposition does not have the democratic right to impose a coalition with the separatists they promised voters would never happen."
Globe story with the quote

The proposed Liberal—NDP coalition did not include the Bloc Quebecois. The BQ could contribute no cabinet ministers and was permitted an independent vote on all matters except confidence votes for 18 months. In a parliamentary democracy, coalition formation is not only a legal and legitimate form of government, but also a desirable one, where elected representatives seek compromise rather than stagnation in the absence of a clear mandate from the electorate. Israel’s numerous recent coalition governments are probably the most prominent recent example.
The Accord Agreement
Yet another Israeli coalition



Fixed Election Dates

“The Government’s position is clear: we brought in legislation modeled on those of the provinces to set elections every four years to set the next election for October 19, 2009." […] "The Government is clear it will not be seeking an early election. Of course, at any time, Parliament can defeat the Government and provoke an early election if that’s what the Opposition irresponsibly chooses to do.”
In Question Period, May 30, 2006, while speaking on Bill C-16 amending the Canada Elections Act
Hansard entries for first and second statements

Harper’s Government set an election for October 14, 2008, at its sole discretion. This is despite the preamble of his Government’s amendment to the Canada Elections Act pointing out that
“fixed election dates would remove an unfair advantage that the government possesses in being able to decide on the date for an election. It would create a level playing field for all participants in the electoral process, by removing the uncertainty and perceived bias in favour of the governing party. This would facilitate planning for election officials, as well as political parties and candidates. It is also argued that, indirectly, fixed election dates would help relax party discipline and allow freer votes, as the Prime Minister and cabinet would no longer be able to use the threat of an election to keep their caucus in line. At the same time, by ensuring that an election could be held earlier in the event that the government clearly did not have the support of the majority of the House of Commons, the concept of confidence that underlies the parliamentary system of government would be preserved.”
As with his position on the elected senate, Harper professes a commitment to democratic mechanisms that he later circumvents.
The text of Bill C-16
Democracy Watch to get their day in court

Stephen Harper speaks at a campaign rally in Quebec during his illegal October, 2008 campaign


Housing Starts

"We’re also helping Canadians invest in new homes, through the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and the new Home Buyers’ Plan. And it’s working, friends; housing starts were up by more than 10,000 last month."
from a speech on the Economic Action Plan, June 11, 2009

It sounds as though 10,000 more homes were built in May than April, or than last May. What the CMHC actually reported was that the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of housing starts increased by 10,800. What's the SAAR, you ask? "All starts figures in this release, other than actual starts, are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) – that is, monthly figures adjusted to remove normal seasonal variation and multiplied by 12 to reflect annual levels." In other words, if you were to take the improvement seen in May, and extrapolate that over an entire year, there would be an increase of 10,800. That represents an estimated increase of 900 housing starts in May.

I should also note that the starts are not distributed evenly throughout Canada. Ontario enjoyed the sharpest improvement in urban starts of 22% (11-figure cash infusions into auto industry and infrastructure), while BC suffered a decline in the SAAR of 5% (zero bridging support for industries like forestry and lumber, mining). Moreover, housing start levels are still well below that estimated by demographic demand, about 27% below it.

CMHC in da house

President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon carry shovels of dirt at a tree planting ceremony in honor of Earth Day Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at Lafayette Square in New Orleans. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
Harper gets the neighbours (Bush II and Calderon) to help pretty things up a little.


Stimulus Spending

“Today, I am here to announce that only 10 weeks into this fiscal year, fully 80 percent of our Plan's funding has been committed and is being implemented across this country!”
from a transcript of Harper's speech of June 11, 2009

Though there is federal approval for stimulus spending, it is a lie to describe 80 percent of the stimulus plan’s funding as being implemented. Most shovel-ready projects have yet to break ground. And the ones that aren't shovel ready are still clogged in the planning phase.
One reality check, and another

PM reports to Canadians: 80% of Economic Action Plan initiatives already being implemented


Child Care Benefits

“We promised to take money that was going to lobbyists, researchers and bureaucrats and to give it instead to families, parents, and children. And we have done so. Now every parent of every pre-school child is receiving $100 a month from our government!”
from a speech delivered in Quebec, July 2008

The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) program issues a taxable $100 monthly payment to families for each child under the age of six to help cover the cost of child care. After applying a marginal tax rate of 40%, each family—not each parent—gets to keep $720 a year for child care. On average, that amount won't be enough to pay for your child's care beyond February. You're on the hook for the rest of the year.

Oh yeah, and about taking money from greedy "researchers" to put it in the hands of "families, parents, and children": science and technology "spending has increased every year since 2006" and Canada's Economic Action Plan "announced $5.1 billion in new spending in the areas of S&T infrastructure, research, people and commercialization." This is, of course, the right thing to do, but that doesn't prevent Harper from lying about these government grants when it suits his audience.

Details on the benefit program
KPMG survey of tax rates in Canada
Median daycare costs in Canada, 2005
Spending on science and tech

Stephen Harper dares you to take his crayons. (www.conservative.ca)


Elected Senates

"We believe that wherever the people of a province or territory by democratic election choose persons qualified to be appointed to the Senate, the government should continue the practice it started in the 39th Parliament of filling any vacancy in the Senate for that province or territory from among those elected persons."
from the Conservative Party of Canada Policy Declaration, November 15, 2008

On Monday, December 22, 2008, barely six weeks after the above principle was reaffirmed at a party national convention, Stephen Harper stuffed the Senate with a slate of 18 unelected appointees, including broadcaster Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.

Duffy has since become infamous for his comment about Premiers Danny Williams (NL) and Robert Ghiz (PEI): "You know what happened, what a grotesque scene that is. You know what happens when two politicians climb into bed together. One of them comes out on top and I'm afraid when you're in bed with Danny Williams, he's going to be on top." He has also been accused of baldfaced partisanship while hosting a show on CTV that featured Stephane Dion false-starting an interview three times during the lead-up to last fall's election. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that Duffy was not "fair, balanced, or even-handed," and that his rebroadcast of the miscues were in breach of industry code.

Harper's equal, elected, and effective senate
Duffy's hoof in mouth disease
Duffy's partisan parry

Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks away following a television interview with Mike Duffy in Ottawa in February 2007.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks away following a television interview with
Mike Duffy in Ottawa in February 2007. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)