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MCCOLL: A Back to the Future interview with Jason Kenney

Young Kenney: “In fact, when one takes into account the effect of the deindexation of the tax brackets, this sneaky, back door, malicious tax increase imposed on Canadians by the Tory party”

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On October 24th, Jason Kenney’s government tabled its first budget. While not focused on by the mainstream media, one of the budget’s most notable moves was to de-index income tax rates. As inflation grows, taxpayers will be moved up income tax brackets every year even though they have had no real increase in their incomes, a phenomenon otherwise known as “bracket creep.” 

I recently stumbled upon Doc Brown’s DeLorean and traveled back in time to interview a younger Jason Kenney with his thoughts on bracket creep. 

Me: “Mr. Kenney, you are the Reform Party MP from Calgary Southeast. How would you describe this Alberta budget?”

Young Kenney: “I am talking about truth in advertising and that is not offered in the budget. I said that bracket creep prior to the re-indexation of the tax code constituted an annual tax increase, but I also said that stopping a tax increase was not a tax cut. People running stores increase prices every year. It is ridiculous to say if one year they decide not to increase them they are therefore cutting their prices. I thought the member was an accountant. I do not know how he gets that twisted logic.” – February 7th, 2002

Me: “Wow, tough criticism. What would you say to a government MP who insists this is a tax cut?”

Young Kenney: “They want to take credit for that as a tax cut. I am afraid it simply does not wash. If we tried that kind of accounting as a CFO at a company, we would end up making license plates in a provincial institution. That does very little to correct the significant disadvantage we continue to face vis-à-vis our major competitors and trading partners.” – May 14th, 2001

Me: “Do you think Alberta should bring back the single rate?”

Young Kenney: “The optimum tax policy is not to penalize people for working hard. We would adopt the generous exemptions I have outlined plus eventually a single rate which is progressive.” – May 14th, 2001

Me: “If you could ask the Finance Minister one question, what would it be?”

Young Kenney: “How can the minister continue to stand in his place and justify a tax system which taxes people without their even knowing it through this pernicious tax grab called bracket creep?” – Question Period, February 10th, 1999.

Me: “Is deindexing the brackets really that big a deal?”

Young Kenney: “Bracket creep… is a serious systemic flaw in our tax system.” – February 25th, 1998

Me: “You seem to feel very strong about bracket creep. Tell me more.”

Young Kenney: “Income taxes paid by the average taxpayer went up by 10 per cent largely because the government had kept in place Brian Mulroney’s hidden tax grab called bracket creep which the OECD says is hammering our economy. I went on to say that if the finance minister will not commit to broad based tax relief, will he at least commit to stop raising taxes through the hidden tax grab called bracket creep?” – February 25th, 1998

Me: “Can it really be that bad?

Young Kenney: “In the budget released yesterday there was a claim that there was tax relief for Canadians, particularly low and modest income Canadians. In fact, when one takes into account the effect of the deindexation of the tax brackets, this sneaky, back door, malicious tax increase imposed on Canadians by the Tory party…, one will find more Canadians paying taxes next year than they did last year and more Canadians paying more taxes than they ever did before.” – February 25th, 1998

Me: “Oh, wow. Powerful stuff.   If you could stand in the Legislature and talk about this, what would you say? Could you quote a Liberal who agrees with you?”

Young Kenney: “The sneakiest tax increase of all was the deindexation of personal income tax. The minister keeps quiet about this. The finance minister did not even mention it in his budget this year. It is a very simple decision that will cost Canadians billions of dollars more annually but he kept quiet about it. Here again, low and middle income Canadians will carry the heaviest burden. The leader of the opposition went on to say that such underhanded and clandestine deindexation represents the most massive and heavy tax increase in Canada’s history. It will cost Canadians billions of dollars. Sneaky, hidden, silent and automatic.” – Jason Kenney quoting John Turner on February 25th, 1998

Me: “Could you explain how low income Canadians are the hardest hit by this tax increase?”

Young Kenney: “Part of the story is that since 1993, 1.2 million low income Canadians – those who can least afford it – many of whom are under the poverty line, single mothers and single parents struggling to get by or seniors on fixed incomes, have seen themselves pushed on to the tax rolls by the government’s pernicious back door tax grab called bracket creep, by the pernicious tax on inflation. If these people get a cost of living adjustment in their pension cheques or their minimum wage income from working in the labour force, if they get an automatic COLA, a cost of living adjustment, they end up paying taxes not because they are making more in real terms—they are making the same in real terms—but because the government decides to generate more revenue to finance its insatiable appetite for spending in a way that is not transparent, in a way that Canadians cannot see it and in a way that parliament cannot approve it.” – March 2nd, 1999

Me: Are there independent reports about the perils of deindexing income taxes?

Young Kenney: “In a study released last week by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an organization with which I have some familiarity, it was reported that since 1986, since the then Progressive Conservative government brought in bracket creep and deindexed the tax system with respect to any inflation under 3%, the government has generated an annual revenue haul of $12 billion. That is just as a result of bracket creep. Next year Canadians will end up paying $1,300 more than they did before as a result of the consequence of bracket creep. The government has added 1.2 million people on to the tax rolls. It has pushed millions of modest income Canadians into higher tax brackets.” – March 2nd, 1999

Me: Thanks for looking at this future budget. Do you have any last words about the new Premier who wants to bring back bracket creep?

Young Kenney: “A hypocrite says one thing and does another.” – April 22nd, 2005

Links to the direct quotes above can be found HERE and HERE

Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Manitoba response to Freedom Convoy has politicians cowering

“Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.”

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Federal politicians and bureaucrats will probably be hiding in their closets or under their desks, frozen in fear, when the massive Freedom Convoy arrives in Ottawa.

And they should hide in shame until they get it straight — that they were elected to carry out the will of the people; that it’s long past time to start listening.

Maybe a crescendo of blaring horns in the capital will improve their hearing.

They’ve created a big COVID-19 mess, underestimated the Canadians they’ve tormented and tried to crush, pulled cheap stunts, and delivered fancy, empty condescending lectures.

Few are listening to them anymore. Truckers have taken the wheel and won the trust and respect and hearts and minds of countless Canadians who oppose vaccine mandates and freedom of speech being trampled on. 

Elected pooh-bahs who’ve lost any esteem they may have had just don’t know what to do about that. 

Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.

That’s why hundreds of freezing supporters braved -30C temperatures to greet the convoy when it blared into Brandon, Man., population 60,000, around noon Tuesday.

A driver going the other way told the Western Standard the convoy was 100 km long.

It was a magnificent, electric scene that has, and will continue to repeat itself along highways, roads and overpasses in towns and cities across Canada until convoys coming from several directions converge on the capital January 29.

The cheering Brandon supporters didn’t come empty-handed. They brought more than 1,000 bagged lunches — sandwiches, homemade cookies, muffins, puffed wheat cakes — prepared in kitchens throughout the province. 

Someone even very thoughtfully hauled in porta-potties.

These regular Canadians don’t have much use for most politicians (Of course, Carlton MP Pierre Poilievre is an exception).

But Canadians love, love, love the truckers!

“People have been dropping food and drinks off all morning,” said Virden’s Ingrid Wilkinson, who organized the bagged lunches served at several stations.

“I’m doing it for all the harm that’s been caused. I personally know many people who have been greatly harmed. I’m doing this for our parents who had to live through Nazi occupation. Thankfully, they’re not in this world now. I do it for the kids, their future,” said Wilkinson.

“This is not sustainable. It’s a big lie.”

Virden menu for truckers

The Virden group had $825 left over from money raised to buy food to donate it to the trucker’s GoFundMe which stands at $4.6 million and counting. This amazing feat was accomplished in just 10 days.

About 193 km away in Headingley, more food and support awaited the convoy where Hutterite communities prepared for the arrival of the “dear” truckers.

“We are setting up kitchens n gonna feed you all. We are with you, and we fully support this massive convoy for freedom,” tweeted Paul Kleinsasser. “May God protect you on your journey, keep on going, we are praying for you. God bless.”

The convoy was expected to arrive in Winnipeg a few hours later.

The truckers oppose the cross-border vaccine mandates that severely impact their livelihoods.

The truckers also oppose vaccine mandates inflicted on everyone else — nurses, police, military, worshipers, children, students — everyone. 

Canadians embrace and are emboldened by their courage and stamina. 

So yes, they are well fed, dearly loved, and, it appears, to be shunned by most politicians.

However, Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer and Warrant Steinley did show up to greet the convoy in Regina Monday night.

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen blasted the Liberal government and threw her support behind truckers.

“I support peaceful demonstrations against these mandates, and our truckers from Portage-Lisgar and from across Canada,” the Portage-Lisgar MP tweeted Tuesday.

Bergen said Trudeau “dealt our crumbling supply chain another blow” when he implemented mandates making 26,000 truckers unable to transport of goods across the Canada-U.S. border “which will only drive inflation higher than it’s been in over 30 years.

“Conservatives have been opposed to federal mandated vaccines since Trudeau introduced them: and we oppose the mandatory vaccine on Canadian truckers.”

Bergen noted that truckers bring much-needed supplies to Canada and “worked tirelessly over the pandemic” to keep supplies moving.

“Hamstringing this essential industry is nothing more than a political move to further divide Canadians.”

As for the main event in Ottawa, count on People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier to be there.

But hell will freeze over before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds the courage or respect to greet the convoy that speaks for a huge segment of the country.

Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole repeatedly dodged questions Monday about whether he supports the truckers offering a wishy-washy non-committal word salad. So no, he’ll be absent. Lord help the Conservative party while he’s at the helm.

Let these two ‘leaders’ hide in the closet from the big rigs, blaring horns, and burly truckers headed their way.

Time has passed for them to speak. Nobody cares about what they have to say anymore.

The people have spoken. 

It’s time for the politicians and unelected bureaucrats to listen.

And with every blaring horn, the message gets stronger and clearer: Enough!

Exciting times.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

SELICK: Ontario’s health minister should get a second opinion

“In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. “

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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of getting a second opinion from a different doctor when the first doctor’s advice doesn’t seem to be producing the desired results.

In a widely publicized speech she made on January 19, Elliott said: “I want to respond to some extremely concerning reports that some doctors are spreading misinformation about vaccines. At a time when it’s never been more important for Ontarians to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, this [dissenting advice] is unacceptable. I will be sending a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) urging them to do everything that is possible to put an end to this behaviour. They should consider all options in doing so, including reviewing the licenses of physicians found to be spreading misinformation.”

It is certainly true that some Ontario doctors have departed from the “must-vaccinate” narrative of the majority and the CPSO. However, it is not a mere handful that are creating such stress for the health minister. Forty MDs were already under investigation by the CPSO before Ms. Elliott expressed her wish for an even broader witch hunt.

There are many other dissenters that the CPSO has not yet targeted. For instance, a group calling itself Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth posted a declaration on May 9, 2021 responding to the CPSO’s April 30th threat to impose disciplinary action on any physician who questions or debates COVID-19 orthodoxy. The declaration has garnered 718 signatures from healthcare professionals (many of whom have shown their credentials as “MD”), as well as 20,171 signatures from ordinary citizens. Those signing the declaration accuse the CPSO of ordering physicians to depart from the scientific method by shying away from debate on scientific subjects.

Another group, the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, is more protective of the identities of its members but indicates that it is an “alliance of over 500 independent Canadian doctors, scientists, and health care providers…committed to providing quality, balanced, evidence-based information to the Canadian public about COVID-19 so that hospitalizations can be reduced, lives saved, and our country safely restored to normal as quickly as possible.”

Health Minister Elliott must surely share those goals, so why has she moved so pre-emptively and harshly to demonize a contingent of her fellow travelers? She herself is not a doctor or scientist, and not independently qualified to determine which group of doctors really does have an accurate view of the facts.

Rational people – when faced with a choice between two opposing scientific opinions – examine both of them closely and give due consideration to the viewpoints of all the people more highly credentialed than themselves. They don’t behave like Ms. Elliott did – pretending to know that one group is wrong while the other has a monopoly on truth.

In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. Sometimes the second doctor, or even the third or fourth, has a more satisfactory answer than the first did.

Ms. Elliott must surely realize by now that the experts she has been relying on for the past two years have not served the people of Ontario well. It’s high time she abandoned her arrogant attitude towards those who are offering a different opinion and started listening to them instead of threatening them with the loss of their livelihoods.

Karen Selick is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

WAGNER: The benefits of a federal Western independence party

“As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows that he has nothing to worry about.”

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For Alberta to become independent, there must be a provincial referendum on independence that receives a clear majority vote. For the referendum to take place, there must be a party in power willing to hold one. That requires the election of a provincial political party that favours asking Albertans whether they want to remain in Canada or choose a path towards self-determination and prosperity. The need for a provincial independence party is clear and easy to understand.

But some people ask: what about a federal Western independence party? What would be the point of that? It could neither mandate the necessary referendum nor pass federal legislation benefiting the West. Such a party therefore seems pointless, they suggest.

However, there are some clear benefits to a federal political party that should be considered.

For one thing, a federal Western independence party gives pro-independence voters an option besides the pro-federalist parties currently on offer. Patriotic Alberta voters who reject the Central Canadian parties would at least have someone they can conscientiously support. They could “vote their values,” so to speak, and send a message to Ottawa that voting for other parties doesn’t accomplish.

Right now, many independence-minded Albertans support Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. The People’s Party has a unique and beneficial message that is attractive to conservative-minded Westerners, so that’s understandable. Bernier’s opposition to the Paris Climate Accord would mean that a Peoples’ Party federal government would eliminate the kinds of policies that prevent Western freedom and prosperity.

That is excellent, of course. However, because the People’s Party doesn’t restrict its focus to Western interests, it can’t represent the West in the same way that an exclusively Western party could. This is not to disparage the People’s Party, but simply to note that as a pan-Canadian party it must represent the interests of every region in the country, not just the West.

Having a federal independence party – such as the Maverick Party – does more than simply provide an option for Western regionalist voters. If it were to win a substantial number of votes (whether in a by-election or general election), that would alert Central Canadians to the increasing anger towards Ottawa in the West. 

As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows he has nothing to worry about. Conservative MPs from Alberta undoubtedly sympathize with the plight of the West, but their options to help are severely constrained by the need to appeal to voters in places like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. The Conservative Party wants more than anything to achieve power, and the path to power runs through Central Canada. Thus, the interests of Alberta will always be a very low priority for the Conservative Party.

In contrast, were one or more Western independence MPs to be elected, Trudeau would see the West was not just going to lie down and let him run us over. He might finally understand that his anti-oil industry policies would be met by stiff resistance and that he was in for a real fight.

Most importantly of all, though, is that the election of one or more Maverick Party MPs would provide a significant morale boost for the entire Western independence movement. There would be lots of excitement that would lead to increased support, even at the provincial level.

There’s something about an electoral victory that generates credibility, even if power is not attained by the victor. That is, even though Maverick MPs would not form government or exercise power, the fact that they received voter support would provide credibility for the independence movement as a whole. In this kind of situation, quality leaders would likely emerge who could take the movement forward.

Some people point out that there have been Bloc Québécois MPs in Ottawa for years and they have done little for Quebec. Therefore, Maverick MPs from Alberta would be just as pointless.

However, everyone expects Quebec to send separatist MPs to Ottawa. They’ve been doing that for decades. Alberta sending independence-minded MPs to Ottawa would be entirely different. The election of Maverick MPs would constitute a political earthquake that would rock the nation. It would be the Canadian news story of the decade, and it would generate new interest and energy in the Western independence movement.

In short, a federal political party could potentially play a meaningful role in the move towards Alberta independence. A federal party is not as essential as a provincial party for the independence movement to succeed, but the potential benefits it could provide should not be overlooked.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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