Category Archives: Politics

Governments Giving To Business

Here we go again with government “investments” in business with a $100 million nest egg courtesy of you the taxpayer for new technologies (artificial intelligence) which apparently is such a sought after space that the private sector isn’t interested.

This is what’s happening. Very poor decisions were made regarding the construction of new office towers in the downtown core of Calgary leading to a 30 per cent vacancy. Obstructionist policy from governments in the oil and gas sector has impeded business from expanding into these new commercial spaces. Now, you the taxpayer are going to pay the price for “malinvestment”. That’s right. Governments have historically been poor investors because politicians don’t personally have any skin in the game. Politicians cater to special interest groups and are amenable to influence from effective lobbyists.

When was the last time your government presented you with a performance statement in lieu of a benefit to you arising from their investment decisions in the private sector? You guessed it – never. There is no accountability.

The unremarkable thing about “capitalism” is that people and businesses fail because of poor investment decisions. The backdrop of a failure potential has the effect of scrutinizing capital carefully for its most efficient deployment.

This decision made by bureaucrats with your money is not sound but there is desperation in the corridors of governments because pension funds with equity interests in Alberta office towers are clamouring.

Trudeau’s Year Ending News Conference and The Pipeline

 Not that I’m a fan of Justin Trudeau’s politics but he certainly outperformed the journalists posing questions today. I give Trudeau credit for his thoughtfulness, tact and consistency in articulating positions. He is certainly well spoken. Naturally, the security concerns of Canadians travelling abroad are important, but half the question period was unfortunately taken up by short sighted reporters fixated on the news of the day. Certainly, these reporters should have known they wouldn’t have received any more than what Trudeau was able to give on the topic of the Chinese detention of Canadians.  Instead issues of provincial jurisdiction, taxation, military deployments, veteran’s affairs, government debt, social program spending, and the justice system were not covered.

However; the matter of national unity was actually raised because it’s the knee jerk way of responding to real behaviour of politicians more focused on regional interests than the national interest. The prospect of transporting oil from Alberta to the west coast through pipelines is simple businessand simple economics. Certainly, as a first world country with professionals qualified to construct and maintain a pipeline safely inside an industrial regulatory framework established through decades of first world development experience, this should get done now in the spirit of Canada’s national interest with the enthusiastic cooperation of indigenous people. Just as a reminder…the hard working high tax-paying citizens of Canada grant indigenous people with special exemptions through land and tax not available to non-indigenous Canadians.  Your country also has the right to expropriate your land, garnish your wage, and freeze your bank account. Yet, today your federal government is frozen in time with respect to deploying an asset that you now own, namely the Trans Canada Pipeline.

Apparently, there are some sea mammals that must be accommodated out there on the prospective port. I’m thinking that these sea mammal’s interests could be represented while the pipe is being laid. Lawyers…. well they apparently require a lot more hand holding to save them from their naval gazing and obfuscation through technical legal bafflegab. There comes a timewhen common sense, progress, and economic expansion must supersede bureaucratic bungling.          

All This Hatred

I woke up this morning to a USA Today headline “The man is pathetic”: Giuliani attacks Cohen. My gut tells me that those spewing such vitriolic comments likely have ethical dilemmas themselves which brew underneath a bravado like facade.  This seems to be the new normal in politics. In an era past when differences of opinion could be debated with intelligence and unwritten rules of conduct, it’s now all out unfiltered attack based on emotionally planted self centred ego driven applause seeking irrationality.

It’s quite obvious to the bystander that Trump’s ex lawyer Cohen succumbed to heat applied by Trump during tenuous transactions arising from Trump’s business and personal conduct. In the remote chance you haven’t been witnessing Trump’s bully like conduct and visceral need to react intensely to any slight against him through his twitter account, never mind his propensity to litigate contractors in business, you can easily formulate through a “paint by numbers” like puzzle that this seems to be a man who takes every occasion to wield financial power regardless of ethical implications. Now, he is facing the music as he deserves. I had actually seen enough simply through his conduct in the election campaign that this was a man unfit for office. In spite of nepotism rules, Trump somehow determined that his daughter and son in law despite their youth and inexperience in governmental affairs would be apt “Advisers to the President”. I actually believe the man has some merit and humanity behind his veil which has unfortunately been voided by aberration.  

I suggest that Mr. Giuliani’s propensity to defend thePresident has more to do with his own need to have his ego stroked than anymisplaced loyalty. There are men who reach their twilight years and still donot discover the means to bypass this ego laden short circuitingmechanism. 

Upon posting, I thought this might go in my blog categorization of “personal development”.  Wink.

Loss Of Objectivity in Public Policy

Upon reading the Calgary Herald’s online comments to Rachel Notley’s letter to the editor today, I can’t help but feel dismayed by people’s vitriol. To preface this piece, I’m fiscally conservative and did not vote for Rachel Notley in our last provincial election and nor would I vote for her today. She has failed to act prudently with the public purse and public sector unions just as I had suspected. However; I do give her credit for adjusting somewhat when she took office to the market reality facing the oil and gas industry.

British Columbia has failed to honour its role in support of Canada’s industrial development. This mere fact underlies the basis which prevents the construction of increased pipeline capacity to the west coast. Ms. Notley has been an advocate of new pipeline construction. In fact, the taxpayer has now been exposed to the capital costs associated with preliminary pipeline construction because of British Columbia’s obfuscation and environmental idealism.

Unfortunately, when the electorate is exposed to politicians who have abused the public purse for their own benefit or witness politicians grand stand for social causes beyond the scope of their mandate, cynicism infiltrates objective debate thereby interfering with good decision making. People become so dug into their positions based on emotion as opposed to logic that coherent public policy is jeopardized.  The elicitation of a civil society is predicated by sound minds exchanging ideas, sourcing problems, contending with various interests, and ultimately planning and executing solutions. Canada in its size, its regional disparities, and its desire for satisfying everyone may in the end lose in global competitiveness. As a nation, we “stand on guard for thee” on Remembrance Day and on Canada Day, but do we do the same when critical industrial projects are on the precipice of deployment? Will we continue to operate from the premise that natural resources form the lifeblood of Canadian economic development or will we be naive enough to believe that service industries, computer gadgets, and the public sector will carry us all forward?

Could it be that your national government is simply reticent to thrust itself into a potential constitutional crisis over the jurisdictional rights of petroleum transport? Now that Canada’s federal government has taken an ownership stake in the Trans Mountain Pipeline, I ponder how it plans to illicit the benefits of such in the face of a provincial government which has been uncooperative. Wasn’t it Mr. Trudeau’s father who was last seen addressing elements particular to our constitution? May he have missed something?                 

Those Applauding The Budget

Imagine sitting in the House of Commons as an elected representative watching your colleagues clap to the conclusion of a budget speech which has implied yet another large deficit and no plan for paying down the national debt. Your projected national debt will be going up while your household cuts and compromises.  I never actually saw the speech because I was tending to taxpayers but I can just imagine that there was some peer pressure at work amongst liberals inciting smiles and applause. There is this justification of relative debt to GDP which apparently provides the rationalists with comfort. 

Our society has morphed into a “me first, where’s the gravy train” mentality with victimization as the root cause. Strident individualism has been superseded by “group think join the cause” deference. In apathy of a justice system unworthy of amicably resolving civil matters expeditiously, it’s now bestowed upon you the taxpayer that society through wealth redistribution will right all wrongs.

You, the taxpayer, have become a conduit for wealth redistribution. That’s really how your government views you. You are patronized by your government if self employed having taken risk. If you win, you’ll be penalized for victory through increased taxation. Hence; your aspiration may be muted thereby tempering the national pulse. In fact in time, government surmises that since it has sucked the wind out of free enterprise that it may need to invest commercially in the face of subdued capitalist interest despite banking profits at record highs.

The human spirit takes notice. It heeds the subtle intrusion of a civil liberty here and there.  It watches ego at work on the big stage. It digests impudent behaviour by those in the spotlight who dismiss legitimate claims of misconduct. Gratefully, the well endowed human spirit void of chemical inhibitors continues to elicit presence manifesting a message amidst aberrant policy.             

    

Canadian Winter and Homelessness

This is one particular story I tend to follow every year because I use it as a metric with regard to the state of the nation, humanity, and political will in a society which has continued to see the growth in disparity between the rich and the poor. Toronto is in the news today.   

Most homeless people in my opinion are homeless because of addiction, abuse, and mental health issues. They are often stubborn people who have refused help when requested to abide by certain simple civil rules in order to secure their welfare. Where their right to liberty is respected, they can find themselves on the street. Some of these folk lack the capacity to make rational decisions for themselves in a month like July when faced with the prospect of cold snap in January. Hence; we the taxpayer in good conscience humbly step forward because rightfully we disdain the discovery of a frozen lifeless body in the wee hours of a minus thirty morning. 

On the one hand we do not want to normalize homelessness by systematically adding and tracking resources because this process in and of itself expresses the frailty of the human condition. On the other hand, if we do not facilitate a structure of care then we risk failure in tending to our most vulnerable thereby blighting our reputation as compassionate souls. It is this duel that keeps us ambivalent with the issue buried beneath other supposed topics of priority. 

I, for one, am lucky enough to sit tonight behind a computer in a warm home articulating a problem that we face as a country with sound mind free of addiction and I’m blessed. I’m fully cognizant that it could be me scuttled on a mat in a putrid dank corridor of a public building fearful of the loss of one sentimental keepsake. In 1982 our country adopted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In spite of the strengths enshrined by this Charter, could this one issue be well served by a possible amendment? Could there be others? Could we redirect some wasted public money to this cause without one cent of increased tax? Could we penalize civil infractions more forcefully thereby directing proceeds to the cause? Could our tax system incentivize builders for the construction of affordable housing units?         

Latest Revelation – A Taxpayer Yet Outraged?

The tab that you the taxpayer have picked up for a 2016 Christmas vacation of Prime Minister Trudeau is $215,000 according the The Globe and Mail this morning. He took a trip along with family and friends to a private island owned by a gentleman known as Aga Khan who owns a foundation registered as a lobbyist of the Government of Canada.

You can call it a breach of ethics but I call it something a lot more vigorous unbefitting of this first world country which likes to show itself off as being clean of government corruption.  Aga Khan is supposedly a “spiritual leader” and I will emphatically state that my federal government has no business feeding my hard earned tax dollars to any “spiritual cause” let alone the grand sum of $330,000,000 (Toronto Star) disbursed  to  “foundation projects” since 1981.

The great country of Canada with its punitive taxation system can perhaps finally now come to learn that extorting (excessive taxation) its citizens for the benefit of the privileged has gone on far too long.

I fully expect the federal conservative party leader to exhibit his outrage with proceeding to either recover taxpayer money from beneficiaries of the lavish 2016 Christmas trip, or exercise whatever provision may be available in the Canadian Constitution Act to remove this man from office. 

Let me be clear…this was not a “mistake” by this man as he has referenced the violation.  This was outright willful disregard of Canadian’s money for which we put trust in our government officials for its management. Furthermore, it is indicative of a behavioral pattern in Canada where ego driven politicians begin to patronize their constituents at the first whiff of parliamentary power. 

Exercising Your Rights As A Citizen

Apparently our federal Minister of Sports and Persons With Disabilities has come under fire for behaving less than professional and he’s being held to account.  This is a good thing. The job of politics comes with the inherent task of responding to the beefs of constituents while potentially implementing worthy recommendations. Additionally, this responsibility comes with the task of eliminating roles where the government does not belong. Societies evolve and priority lists should hence follow suit. I can cut my government officials some slack now and then if they lose their cool while responding to a constituent in the heat of executing the important duties of their office.  However; there is losing one’s cool and then there’s the display of outright disrespect.

Increasingly Canadians feel impotent in jumping through the channels of government in order to have their voices heard. Hence; they understandably become emotional. I expect my government officials to be in tune with the frustration faced by Canadians because of inherent inefficiencies and bureaucracies associated with the law, legislative process, processing times of inquiries, and access to politicians. Naturally, our government has limited resources as it should and has delivered with particular protocols to aid the public but in an environment where our federal government expects to be all things to all people, folks will consequently reach out their hand for what they deem to be theirs having witnessed benefits showered upon their neighbours. When liberalism extends to socialism, this is what happens. 

I encourage Canadians with legitimate concerns to exercise their voice through the precise channels that governments make available while following up and following through administratively on their initiatives. I have experienced some success in my tax practice helping authorities understand administrative problems more fully. They have in fact thanked me for providing feedback. One’s credibility is well served having finely documented courses of action and progressive steps in resolving matters. Consequently, if a matter needs elevation, then an activist is well equipped in support of a louder voice. When society realigns with the ideals of a libertarian philosophy instead of a socialist one, these problems should be ameliorated.            

So Your Country Is Legalizing Pot

Fine….whatever. Now, we’d best see the pot smokers being the ones paying for regulatory measures and ad campaigns. This Canadian thinks that pot smokers will know enough to be versed on the risks and penalties of driving while high without the taxpayer funding an ad campaign streaming through movie houses across the land. My logical mind goes like this….I smoke pot and it creates a cerebral adjustment / impairment. Consequently, I must know the new law associated with putting myself behind the wheel of a car having ingested cannabis. I must know what my government believes to be the criteria associated with impairment and the legal sanction for non-compliance. I think it reasonable that my government having taken this legislative decision will have conducted necessary diligence in determining these criteria. Since I’m a responsible citizen, I will become informed through the channels that my government makes available to me through the internet, my local police detachment, or the office of my member of parliament. Given the proliferation of the internet for information dissemination and my government’s inclination for utilizing the resource in order to aid Canadians, could it be a reasonable strategy to inquire on the internet in order to become educated around the legislation? I suspect, yes.        

 

Calgary Mayoral Candidate Bill Smith Campaign Lesson

Things he could have done better:

1. Acknowledge issue of massive urban sprawl and management plan.
2. Profess exactly whether public funds should be used for the purpose of a new arena.
3. Strategy for getting taxes down.
4. Circulate ideas vibrantly in Nenshi strong North East Calgary.
5. Prohibit receipt of campaign financing from elite interests. Ie. maximize donor amounts.
6. Refrain from exclaiming “I love the Flames and Stampeders”. Calgarians expect impartiality.
7. Express with indignity the funding two ridiculous public art projects.
8. Clearly express position on proposed Green Line.
9. Clearly express position on prospect hosting Olympics with perceived implications.
10. Opine on at least one city expense item for reduction.

By speaking in broad strokes during the election campaign, Bill Smith in my opinion played the safety card of attempting not to offend anyone who may be leaning right. In so doing, his vagueness created the image of mistrust. The electorate has been down this path before and is growing resentful of politicians more interested in the office than in representing absolute ideas for change.