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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

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Disgraced Catholic priest banned from Northern Manitoba reserves

Father Rheal Forest accused residential school survivors of fabricating abuse claims to cash in on settlement money.

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A Catholic priest could land himself in the back of an RCMP cruiser if he steps foot on a Manitoba First Nation he served and lived on for years.

Father Rheal Forest, who accused residential school survivors of fabricating abuse claims to cash in on settlement money, will be considered a trespasser in Bloodvein First Nation, located 210 km north of Winnipeg.

A Band Council Resolution (BCR) barring Forest from the community is being drafted and when signed this week by council will be given to RCMP to enforce, Bloodvein Chief Derek Cook confirmed.

“I know a lot of people are upset. It’s bringing back a lot of the stories they have to deal with and are continuing to deal with from residential schools,” Cook told CBC.

“I hope he abides by the process and respects our decision.”

Despite not having worked in Bloodvein for a few years, Forest continued to visit.

The Archdiocese of St. Boniface also banned Forest from all preaching and teaching for remarks he made about residential school survivors in sermons last month while filling in for a vacationing priest at Winnipeg’s St. Emile Roman Catholic Church.

The sermons that were live-streamed at the time to Facebook have been removed.

“If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes, lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,” Forest told the congregation.

“It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie.”

Forest also absolved priests and nuns from any abuse and blamed laymen.

Anywhere from $3 billion to $4.7 billion has been paid to thousands of people who claimed they were victims of abuse at residential schools.

Almost 50 churches have been burned and desecrated in Canada since unmarked graves were allegedly discovered on former residential school sites.

Foster also made controversial comments during one mass about the criminals responsible for the destruction.

He admitted to having “thoughts of anger” when he passed by a church that had been vandalized.

“If I had a shotgun at night and I’d see them, I’d go ‘Boom’ just to scare them and if they don’t run away, I’ll shoot them,” he said laughing.

He immediately added: “This would not help. It’s bad to do that. I’d go have a chat with them.”

Forest also made it clear he is not a fan of the “evil” media which he said is controlled by Freemasons. 

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard

lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

GIEDE: Happy 150th British Columbia!

“It’s been a tumultuous 150 years, but this province is still the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”

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BC Flag

While everywhere else in Canada it’s simply known as “August long weekend,” technically speaking the statutory holiday is called “British Columbia Day” west of the Rockies. For those of us who enjoy official designations and labels, this will be the sesquicentennial of BC’s entrance into Canadian confederation, a much harassed political project within these pages. Still, a century-and-a-half is worthy of exhortation.

Of course the proper birthday was July 20, corresponding with our joining up in 1871. But no one in BC is interested in a bon fete they cannot properly observe with beverage in hand. Thus, BC Day has been permanently tacked to the first Monday of August to ensure an annual long weekend in perpetuity – which is how all significant non-religious holidays ought to be scheduled from sea to sea to sea.

British Columbia was bribed into confederation by a drunk Scotsman who dreamed of transcontinental railways.

We almost broke out again when the delivery of the Canadian Pacific Railway seemed doomed, and would of likely joined the United States, which had a sizable ex-patriot population here (particularly Civil War veterans from the South.) We stayed on with the reassurance the CPR would be finished, even returning Sir John A. Macdonald to Parliament from Victoria once after he lost his seat in Kingston, Ont.

Of course, our 150 birthday as a province has also been overshadowed by pandemic, then the church fires, and now the wildfires which rage throughout the Southern Interior. British Columbians will still be cracking our famous IPA’s despite the smoke, but perhaps being seen to be celebrating our legacy in such dire times is too much for even our self-aggrandizing political class to bear, let alone the rest of us.

British Columbia is a series of paradoxes. While sovereigntist fervor is most strongly felt east of the Rockies, particularly in Wildrose country, only BC has the surest chance of ever leaving the Dominion with its borders intact: save for minor disputes with America along the coast, our borders are the same as when we took up Sir John A.’s invitation, unlike the rest of the West. Yet this does not motivate us.

If anything, the peculiar history and geography of the Western cordillera makes separation from itself just as likely as a break at the federal level. Outside of the Lower Mainland and South Island, people are far more different than they are similar, despite waving the same flag. Each part of British Columbia is a land entirely unto itself: river valleys, plateaus, and atolls all littered with dozens of siloed cultures.

This is not a new phenomena or collateral damage due to the post rural-urban divide: before contact, a plethora of indigenous languages flourished; after contact, successive waves of development happened at different rates throughout the province – the fur trade, gold rush, railway, forestry, mining, and finally oil and gas, as well as hydro – layering BC with company towns, ghost towns, and peculiar infrastructure.

Our vehicle fleets are by far the oldest of the provinces, just as independent contractors number more greatly amongst our workforce than nearly everywhere else in Canada. Economic cycles strike our province without uniformity, as there’s always some other resource that needs extracting from her natural bounty. Considering the remoteness, BC really could be considered the “fourth Territory.”

Perhaps this latent independence is what makes the manifestation of sovereignty so difficult.

There are more eccentrics per square kilometre here than anywhere else on God’s green earth, and each of them can tell you exactly whats wrong — as well as how to fix the place. Without a central tenet of BC identity, just thousands of caricatures brought to life in every quarter, from marijuana addicts to moral puritans, there is no single point of focus for British Columbians to rally around within the separation agenda.

But perhaps the key to understanding British Columbians lax attitude about sticking it to Ottawa is we’re too busy enjoying where we live, even as costs rise egregiously. While living in a closet west of Hope isn’t my jam, people do it by the thousands just to enjoy the Lower Mainland lifestyle; and in the rest of the province the water and wilderness goes on for eternity, beckoning every kind of adventurer.

Not unlike the wild child we all knew in class, British Columbia cannot be marshalled easily to march in step with her sister provinces, West of Lakehead on the secession question. Until confederation impedes the natural freedoms we enjoy in BC, federalism by convenience will rule the day. No doubt, its been a tumultuous 150 years, but this province is still the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Nathan Giede is the BC Affairs Columnist and the host of Mountain Standard Time

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Opinion

WAGNER: The prominent Toronto political scientist who called Communism ‘democratic’

As it turns out, some members of Canada’s Left have a fairly positive view of communism.

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Some commentators have noted the silence of Canada’s Left in the face of anti-government protests in Cuba. Why the reluctance to condemn a communist dictatorship?

Well, as it turns out, some members of Canada’s Left have a fairly positive view of communism. One such prominent Canadian leftist was C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987), an internationally-renowned political scientist who taught political theory at the University of Toronto. Among other things, he was especially known for his critiques of capitalism and individualism.

Interestingly, Macpherson also defended Soviet Communism as genuine democracy in action. This can be seen in a series of CBC radio messages he delivered in 1965 that were subsequently published as a book entitled The Real World of Democracy. These lectures argued there were three forms of government that could be legitimately called democracies: the liberal democracies of the West, the Soviet bloc countries, and the one-party states of the Third World. 

As Macpherson put it, “democracy is not properly to be equated with our unique Western liberal-democracy.” Instead, “the clearly non-liberal systems which prevail in the Soviet countries, and the somewhat different non-liberal systems of most of the underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa, have a genuine historical claim to the title democracy.”

Macpherson explained the meaning of democracy has undergone some change over time. It hasn’t always referred to the kind of constitutional system common in the Western countries: “Democracy originally meant rule by the common people, the plebeians. It was very much a class affair: it meant the sway of the lowest and largest class.” Thus, Macpherson argued Soviet Communism and other one-party states can legitimately be called democracies, based on this definition. That is, he used this conception of “democracy” to describe some of the world’s most brutal and repressive regimes. 

Karl Marx’s proposed “dictatorship of the proletariat” was an expression of genuine democracy in Macpherson’s view. He noted many people would find it outrageous to consider the dictatorship of the proletariat to be a form of democracy. “But,” he wrote, “to call it democracy was not outrageous at all: it was simply to use the word in its original and then normal sense.”

Macpherson’s analysis gets even worse. Lenin extended Marx’s theory by arguing a revolution would need to be undertaken by a relatively small group of class-conscious people he called the vanguard, which is to say, the Communist Party. 

From the Communist perspective, since the vast majority of people in any society are debased by the structures of capitalism, they cannot be trusted to participate in political decision-making. To allow their participation would just perpetuate the problems of the old, capitalist society. Only the vanguard could bring about the necessary reforms. As Macpherson explains: “Lenin, building on Marx, came out for a seizure of power by a vanguard who would forcibly transform the basic relations of society in such a way that the people would become undebased and capable of a fully human existence, at which point compulsive government would no longer be needed.” 

In Macpherson’s view, this rule of the vanguard to “forcibly transform” society is democracy in action, despite the fact that it involves politically motivated executions and concentration camps. Democracy, it seems, becomes indistinguishable from dictatorship.

Macpherson evokes what he calls the “broader concept of democracy” to legitimize the Marxist-Leninist state: “Wherever the circumstances are such that no motion towards this kind of society is possible except through the action of a vanguard, then the vanguard state, so long as it remains true to its purpose, may be called democratic.” Thus, in his view, an outright communist state can be legitimately called a democracy. Many of the most brutal, bloodthirsty, and repressive regimes in the 20th Century were democracies in this sense. Who knew?

Using a similar line of argumentation, the one-party dictatorships of the Third World can also be justified as democracies. Invoking Rousseau, Macpherson wrote one-party states can be legitimately called democracies because “there is in these countries a general will, which can express itself through, and probably only through, a single party.” As a result, “opposition to the dominant party appears to be, and sometimes actually is, destructive of the chances of nationhood. In such circumstances opposition appears as treason against the nation.” Thus, a one-party state, where opposition to the ruling party is punished as “treason,” can be a legitimate form of democracy. (Don’t tell Justin Trudeau.)

Macpherson was an internationally known and respected political scientist. The views he expressed were not the rantings of a black-clad activist running wild in the streets. Some elements of the intellectual Left truly believe that a Marxist-Leninist state (or any other Left-wing single-party state) is a genuine democracy. Despite the inescapably violent and murderous nature of communism, some Canadian leftists view it favourably. 

The lessons of the 20th Century have not been learned. Ideas that inspired inhuman tyranny – what C.B. Macpherson happily calls the “broader concept of democracy” – seem to be making a comeback.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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