With the new year in sight, now is a good time to reflect on positive developments for taxpayers across the land from 2010. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation was pleased to play a contributing role in them all.
Yes, spending runs amok for most governments across the nation, but more on that in the new year. Now here are 10 cups of good cheer to be passed around.
1. Talk by Finance Minister Flaherty has started to turn away from stimulus spending, which is code for deficit spending, towards austerity. This bodes well for the prospect of getting spending back under control and away from pressure to raise taxes. Business taxes are continuing to decline.
2. Canadian Heritage and Official Language Minister James Moore, announced the federal government would be taking the lead with austerity action by saying no to a potential $1-billion request by the City of Edmonton for a 2017 Expo bid. This saved Canadian taxpayers at least a billion dollars and Alberta taxpayers even more.
3. Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block has responded to calls for transparency of reserve remuneration for chiefs and council, sponsoring a bill in the House of Commons to put reserve politicians pay online. Even the Assembly of First Nations has buckled to the pressure and is now promising to make this information public.
4. The Harper government announced plans to hike Employment Insurance (EI) premiums this January by 15 cents for every $100 of EI. Push back reduced the tax hike to only a nickel instead.
5. Efforts by the Bloc Quebecois to make EI even easier to get and increase its costs by some $4 billion a year were smartly defeated when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Finance critic Scott Brison decided the costs were too high.
6. Earlier in the year, Treasury Board Minister Stockwell Day announced an innovative program to pay public sector employee generous bonuses if they propose and execute meaningful ideas for reducing spending and saving money.
7. For years, taxpayers have had their mailboxes filled with out-of-riding MP junk-mail called ‘10 per centers.’ This cost taxpayers more than $10 million a year. MPs finally agreed to end the practice.
8. Canadian taxpayers, Liberal MP Michelle Simson, persistent media and a taxpayers’ watchdog raised their voices loudly demanding the Auditor General be allowed to look at the books of MPs and Senators. The voices were heard, sense prevailed and the books will be audited.
9. Toronto, Canada’s largest city with a budget of $10 billion - larger than six of our provinces, saw its tax-and-spend Mayor David Miller leave office. Rob Ford was swept into office with a giant mandate predicated on ‘respect for taxpayers’ campaign theme. Ford has already promised to freeze property taxes and moved to undo some of the new taxes put in place over the last seven years. Hopefully he will keep his promises.
10. Lastly, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley accepted a 50,000-name petition from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation opposing Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for prisoners like child-killer Clifford Olson. She very quickly put the measure into law. Parliament as a whole managed to pass this law in under seven months. This is seldom seen speed and cooperation by all parties.
Undoubtedly, the list of all the things governments did wrong this past year would dwarf this list of things done right.
However, in the Christmas spirit, it’s important to be generous and remember the things for which we are thankful. Here’s hoping the list in 2011 is even longer.
Kevin Gaudet is the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.