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In-Sights: Trusted editorial content may not be trusted

Postmedia is a company in trouble. It cannot sustain crippling debt to American debt holders with revenues from traditional advertising, circulation and digital paywalls. One of its responses is Postmedia Content Solutions, which aims to elicit cash in controversial ways. Part of their sales pitch: We’ve learned that advertisers receive increased engagement when pairing their thought leadership with our trusted editorial content.

…You can provide us with content you’ve already created, or you can work with our dedicated Postmedia Works team to develop something brand new!

Writing at The Common Sense Canadian, Rafe Mair described – better than I (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada

This afternoon I gave a presentation at Raising the Roof’s Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit in Toronto. My slide deck can be downloaded here. To accompany the presentation, I’ve prepared the following list of “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada.”

1.Efforts to enumerate persons experiencing homeless have generally been spotty, but it is reasonable to assert that homelessness in Canada saw substantial growth in the 1980s and 1990s. On a nightly basis in Toronto, there were about 1,000 persons per night staying in emergency shelters in 1980. By 1990, that figure had doubled. And (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dix Choses à Savoir sur l’Itinérance au Canada

Cet après-midi, j’ai fait une présentation au Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit, organisé par Chez Toit, à Toronto. Ma presentation, illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Pour accompagner la présentation, je vous ai préparé la liste suivante des « Dix choses à savoir sur l’itinérance au Canada. »

1. Les tentatives de dénombrer les personnes en situation d’itinérance ont généralement été intermittentes, mais il est raisonnable d’affirmer que l’itinérance au Canada a connu une croissance importante entre 1980 et 2000. Sur une base quotidienne à Toronto, il y avait environ 1,000 personnes par nuit séjournant dans (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Small Business Taxes, Big Loopholes

by: Kaylie Tiessen & David Macdonald

Small business taxes made the news last week when, during a CBC interview, federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suggested many business owners are using the small business tax rate as a de facto in-country tax shelter.

Responding to the interview, Conservative leader Stephen Harper accused Trudeau of taking aim at the backbone of the economy. NDP leader Tom Mulcair called on Trudeau to apologize.

The Conservatives have already legislated a decrease in the federal small business tax rate – from 11% to 9% by 2019. The NDP have promised to make it 9% (Read more…)

Michal Rozworski: The economics of the possible and beyond

Last week, I wrote a short piece for Ricochet on the kind of simple but serious economic thinking missing from the Canadian election debate so far. Here, I want to expand on the reasons why we might have trouble talking honestly about the barriers to significant economic reform without a real popular upsurge. If you want the short, populist argument, just read the Ricochet piece. If you want more, read on.

Here’s the main problem as articulated in the short piece:

As the gap between rich and poor has widened over the past few decades, the economic elite has grown in stature. Deficits and government (Read more…)

In-Sights: Avoidance / Evasion: often a fine line

The price isn’t right, Corporate profit-shifting has become big business, The Economist: DURING THE TAX-EVASION trial of Leona Helmsley, a flamboyant hotelier, a former housekeeper testified that she heard her employer say: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” These days, multinational companies stand accused of taking a similarly haughty attitude to their fiscal affairs, shifting profits offshore to cut their tax bills…

Shifting profits across borders, Prem Sikka, The Guardian: …secrecy, complex organisational structures, tax havens and profit hungry accountancy firms [are] the key ingredients of the tax avoidance industry. They all come (Read more…)

In-Sights: Serving public or corporate interests?

The audio file below is a recording of my time with Ian Jessop June 17. We talk about LNG and resource taxation, inter-provincial cooperation on resource matters and oil spill response capability.

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In-Sights: Remembering the desperate nineties

Much of British Columbia’s recent political history has been written by a Liars Club sponsored by beneficiaries of corrupt public administrations. One fable claims that BC Liberals rescued the provincial economy in 2001 after a decade of socialist mismanagement. Yet facts assembled by Statistics Canada paint a different scenario.

I’ve previously demonstrated that the NDP (1991-2001) bested Liberal (2001-2014) results in a number of significant areas, including: Gross domestic product value growth, Job creation, Provincial debt management, Natural resource revenues.

Prior to the last election, Jim Shepard, fronting the quadrennial Concerned Citizens for BC, warned that any vote but a (Read more…)

In-Sights: Horgan speaks to the Premier

Hansard, May 28, 2015 The notion of a Debt-free British Columbia — hard to imagine when you’ve seen $135-billion increase in debt and contractual obligations under the B.C. Liberal watch. But somehow, in the fantasy world of the B.C. Liberals, you can make the assertion that we will be debt-free; you just don’t have to realize it.

It’s these assertions of reality that, I think, have most British Columbians perplexed. You say we’re going to be debt-free, yet the prospect of that is not even remotely on the horizon. You say we’re going to be the most (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: "Jobs, jobs, jobs" Or, maybe not

Your browser does not support this audioThe audio file above is a recording of my time with Ian Jessop May 12. We talk about jobs and natural resources but we don’t deliver BC Liberal talking points like many others in media.

I urge readers to visit the CFAX podcast pages. Ian has been holding conversations on subjects not often covered elsewhere. For example, at 2:30pm May 12, Damien Gillis of Common Sense Canadian followed my interview and gave important information and insights on the Site C dam, which, at $10 billion or more, may become the single largest boondoggle (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Myth busting

Andrew Nikiforuk wrote advice for Albertans in his recent article Eight Steps to Reform the Broken Petrostate: Behave like an owner: Alberta’s oil and gas resources belong to Albertans. The Tories’ “strip it and ship it” approach was not only wasteful, but also environmentally destructive.

…Governments that run on taxes raised from the general population represent their people. Governments that run on resource revenue represent the resource and its multinational extractors.

…The Tories consistently avoided transparency on bitumen revenues, and the impact of volatile prices or mining of unconventional resources on royalties. They gutted their own expertise on the (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Flawed analysis

Following the passing of Alberta’s Conservative party, Macleans writer Colby Cosh described a drawn-out illness that made the result inevitable. Followers of British Columbia politics will recognize symptoms also found west of the Alberta border: Elections Alberta, despite some political and legal controversies, did important work in investigating and documenting the web of illegal kickbacks from schools, municipalities, and other provincial institutions that the Progressive Conservatives had come to take for granted in hinterland Alberta.

Political financing disclosures added to this picture, showing that the PCs have consistently relied on donations from corporate clients of government—contractors, builders, professional associations—that would (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Give them what they wanted, then give them even more

Your browser does not support this audioIn April, listeners to Ian Jessop’s CFAX1070 program heard about how government pays more to facilitate mining than it receives in direct payments for metals and minerals. In the latter part of the audio segment, we discuss government plans for secret agreements that will ensure future governments cannot retract gifts or favours granted to Liberal friends. The politicians who happily tore up public sector labour contracts don’t want that happening to their sponsors in the resource industry.

According to John Horgan, Christy Clark has “given companies what they wanted, then more, and now (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Albertans will choose

[View the story "Natural resources, public assets, or corporate?" on Storify]

cmkl: Armine, I need to hear more about this ‘fix don’t scrap TFSA’ business

I have huge amounts of respect for Armine Yalnizyan. In the People’s Republic of Chris she is Finance Minister. For life. However her latest item on wherein she (or her headline writer) calls for the Tax Free Savings Account program to be fixed (as opposed to scrapped) has got me thinking she’s plugged in … Continue reading Armine, I need to hear more about this ‘fix don’t scrap TFSA’ business →

cmkl: Seniors organizations support doubling the TFSA limit? Can we have a source please?

Normally the Globe’s Parliament Hill coverage is pretty good. But this Bill Curry item makes the unattributed claim that seniors organizations support the trial-ballooned proposal to double the annual contribution limit to tax free savings accounts (TFSAs). Really? Which ones? The Society of Retired CEOs? Or maybe the Grey Circle at the Empire Club? It … Continue reading Seniors organizations support doubling the TFSA limit? Can we have a source please? →

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Takin’ care of business

For each $1 million of Nestle branded water sold, BC is paid about $2. Mind you, this is a better rate of return than the province gains from resource companies mining for metals and minerals.

According to the 2015 Budget and Fiscal Plan, revenue from “metals, minerals and other” is forecast at $83 million. However, revenue from the mining sector is offset by “tax expenditures” of $114 million, all but $10 million credited to corporations. That suggests a deficit of $41 million.

Most people would be surprised to learn that the BC Liberal Party receives more in contributions from mining (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Canada’s Economy: Not Exactly Healthy

If you are a worker, you already know that Canada’s economy is a mess.  The only people who don’t seem to know it are at the top.

Press Progress published a very detailed analysis of how messed up our economy is today.  A few of the highlights: First, the good news: Corporate Canada’s profits have hit a 27-year high, according to a new report by CIBC World Markets. Bay Street has never been happier, right? 

Well, there’s just one little catch: new Statistics Canada data shows the Canadian economy shrank in January. All those layoffs and store closures you’ve (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Doubling Contributions To The Tax Free Savings Account: Even Nastier Than Income Splitting

The Harper government gives five reasons why Canadians ought to be happy with its proposal to double the maximum contribution to the Tax-Free Savings Account. Examine each of its points more closely, however, and it’s clear that the TFSA carries far higher risks than rewards — for individual Canadians as well as for the economy as a whole.

Let’s unpack the government’s arguments one by one:

1. The TFSA helps people save

The evidence certainly doesn’t support this statement. TFSAs first saw the light of day in January 2009 at a time when the savings rate had already been climbing (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Sales tax not only way to pay for public services

CCPA Budget Submissions

Natural Resource Royalties Reform, Iglika Ivanova, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, October 2014 BC used to collect well over $1 billion per year from natural gas royalties, but over the last five fiscal years these averaged a mere $330 million per year. The tax/royalty regime for LNG put forward in Budget 2015 should place more emphasis on achieving public benefits before signing away the rights to this non-renewable, publicly owned resource. BC should also collect more from companies using our water and forest resources.

The decline in revenues from natural resources is even worse than stated by (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Seccareccia on Greece, Austerity and the Eurozone

Over at the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Ottawa U professor Mario Seccareccia has given an interview titled “Greece Shows the Limits of Austerity in the Eurozone. What Now?”

The interview can be read here.

Politics, Re-Spun: The So-Called Transit Referendum: Don’t Be Duped!

By Emily Griffiths

The Transit referendum “Yes” campaign has been asserting itself all over Facebook, Twitter, neighbourhood news boxes, and I can’t help but ask myself, Since when is increasing a flat tax a leftist thing to do?

Oh! The word “transit” has been attached to the newest proposed consumer flat tax increase, therefore rendering it “left” and “sustainable”. Have we forgotten that the poorest members of our community are already shelling out $91-$170/ month just to be able to ride a crowded bus to work and back without risk of being detained by over zealous transit police (the only (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: The So-Called Transit Referendum: Don’t Be Duped!

cmkl: Families earning 30K-$60K to see least benefit from Tory income splitting plan

Well now I’m just shocked. The Globe has an item about some finance department documents Canadian Press unearthed via an Access to Information Act request Families earning $30K-$60K to benefit least from Tories’ family plan. Yes, the kleptocracy is here. And it’s now.

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: A Little Heresy – Alberta Style

So, according to Premier Prentice, the downturn in oil prices is going to create an $11 Billion hole in provincial revenues, and is now talking about putting the brakes on all kinds of infrastructure spending, including a new cancer hospital in Calgary.

Okay, that’s a significant chunk of change.  Let’s talk about this for a moment.

As the leader of the governing party, Mr. Prentice has a responsibility to all Albertans to ensure that the machinery of government continues to operate smoothly.  Over the last 25 years, we have seen the government make further tax cuts all over (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ‘Tis the Season to Rethink Our Charitable Giving

This op-ed by yours truly was published in The Province. The examples are BC-specific, but the message is much broader: donating to charity is not enough, we also have to change the status quo that forces so many people to turn to charity in a rich country like Canada.

It’s December, the season for charitable giving. Wherever you turn you see boxes and bins collecting non-perishable food items for the local food bank or toys for the less fortunate children in our communities.

The cashier asks if you want to add a $2 donation to your purchase. You donate (Read more…)