Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm Sure Robert Fife Is Calling The Ethics Commissioner As We Speak About Mulclair

Story out today in the Ottawa Citizen about NDP leader Thomas Mulclair having refinanced his mortage 11 times over the years, increasing the debt up to $300,000 from $58,000.

Now I think these stories should be out-of-bounds when talking about politicians. Given we don't know the reasons for the mortage, they should be personal in nature. With that being said, I assume Robert Fife will continue with his own views on this type of mortage financing, and will be contacting the ethics commissioner first thing Monday morning to look into Mulclair's personal finances:

Jane Taber (The Globe and Mail): And there's more on Ms Guergis. … there was a story in the Ottawa Citizen over the weekend from Glen McGregor talking about a new home that she has purchased in Lindenlea for $880,000 mortgage which it seems there's no down payment. Odd.

Robert Fife: (CTV News): That's right. And according to the Citizen story, she's got this house on the Athens on the Rideau crowd and she's, and apparently there's no mortgage on it. She's put no money down on this and she's got some kind of a loan, or, we don't know. They won't talk about it.

Tonda MacCharles (The Toronto Star): A mortgage on it, but it's not clear whether she actually had any down payment and what else was rolled into it.

Fife: So, anyway, she owes $890,000. The issue here is was Ms. Guergis given special treatment? We don't know that, but we're going to have to ask these questions now that the story is out. I will make a phone call to the ethics commissioner… Tuesday.. to ask the ethics commissioner: is this mortgage above board? Because if it isn't, if she's got special treatment that other Canadians have not been able to get in terms of a mortgage, then was it because of her position in cabinet that she was able to get this for a house? I think this could be quite a serious issue here. Maybe quite legitimate but, if there was special treatment here there needs to be brought out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Conservative Government Misses Key Talking Points On EI Reform

 While we all knew it was a given the opposition and media would whine about whatever changes the government made to EI and the way it is paid out, I still feel somewhat frustrated by simple and obvious points the government could have and should have made. Here are a few:

1: Repeat EI users would be required to accept a job paying 70% of their previous employers wages. A 30% pay cut sounds pretty bad however you frame it. BUT, EI only pays 55% of previous earnings. A repeat user accepting a job at 70% of previous pay would actually be increasing their income by 15% over what they currently receive on EI.

2. No insurance company would ever issue insurance where they are going to pay out more than they take in on a yearly basis in payment. Even with the governments so-called draconian changes, the fact is a chronic repeat applicants numbers could look something like this. (using the 60 weeks of benefits over a 5 year period, max benefits, max deductions) Deductions (5 years X $839.97 = $4199.85) Benefits (60 weeks X $485= $29,100) $29,100 - $4199.85= $24,900.15 That's right. Over every 5 year period this repeat EI applicant would receive almost $25,000 more in benefits than what they paid into Employment Insurance. To make it easier to digest, the repeat user would in effect be receiving almost $5,000 more per year, on an ongoing basis, than they would pay in the EI fund.

3. The government could have made one substantive change to EI. Currently EI recipients working part-time can earn $75 or 40% of their weekly EI, whichever is higher, without affecting their benefits. Any amount higher than that comes off dollar for dollar. While this is a great way of helping those now working part-time who have lost their jobs supplement their EI benefits, those working full-time lose all their benefits. The government could change the full-time clause or amend it to make it more appealing. Take Ontario for example, and again using maximum EI benefits in the formula. Someone receiving EI benefits of $485 could have their weekly income increased to $679 adding in the $194 (40%)allowed for part-time workers. But someone accepting a full-time position loses all their benefits, making a lower paying job far less attractive. Given minimum wage in Ontario is $10.25 per hour, that would result in weekly income of $410. By applying the same allowable income rule for part-time workers to those accepting lower paying full-time positions, the weekly EI benefit paid would drop from $485 to  $269 ($485-$410+$194). The EI fund sees a huge savings, those collecting benefits see an increase of $776  monthly in income, and they can still apply for better paying jobs all the while taking home more income.

"Isabelle collects EI benefits. She receives the maximum amount allowed, which is $468 a week. During her benefit period, she finds part-time work for $10 an hour. She is entitled to earn $75 a week or 40% of her weekly benefits, which, in her case, amounts to $187.20 (this amount is rounded to the nearest dollar: $187). Since the higher amount is used, Isabelle is therefore entitled to earn $187 a week without having her benefits reduced. She works 20 hours a week, earning a total of $200. Her benefits will therefore be reduced by $13."

  It also should be pointed out that the government itself sees an increase in tax revenues using the scenario in #3 above. A savings in EI benefits paid out, an increase in tax revenues, and Canadians increasing their income by 40%. Surely that change in and of itself would be an easy and appealing sell. My guess is most Canadians would accept it, and the opposition and media would look like fools trying to play this plan as unfair or draconian.q

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mulclair Is Right About Dutch Disease....

and this is what some call unintended consequences. A quick google of "Dutch Disease", which NDP leader Mulclair has steadfastly stated is the reason for the decline of manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec also includes this gem, which I'm hoping either a member of the government or media might mention to Mulclair:

Diagnosis: It is rather difficult to definitively say that a country has Dutch Disease because it is difficult to prove the relationship between an increase in natural resource revenues, the real-exchange rate, and a decline in the lagging sector. There are a number of different things that could be causing this appreciation of the real exchange rate. The Balassa-Samuelson effect occurs when productivity-increases affect the real exchange rate. Also important are changes in the terms of trade and large capital inflows. Often these capital inflows are caused by foreign direct investment or to finance a country’s debt.

Similarly, it is difficult to show what is causing a decrease in the lagging sector. A case in point is the Netherlands. Though this effect is named after the Netherlands, economists have argued that the decline in the Dutch manufacturing industry was actually caused by unsustainable spending on social services

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Nail In The Loss Of Credibility Of The Canadian Media

From CBC, May 4th,2012: Elections Canada has traced a computer from the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., to the account that paid for robocalls that falsely directed voters to the wrong polling station in the last federal election.

Newly released court documents show investigator Al Mathews traced a PayPal account used to pay for the robocalls to the same IP address as a computer used by Andrew Prescott, the deputy campaign manager in the riding.

And just 6 days later, May 10th, 2012: "OTTAWA — A comparison of Rogers billing records shows that “Pierre Poutine” did not use a computer in the headquarters of a Guelph Conservative candidate to launch the election-day robocalls, casting doubt on the theory that the culprit could have been any of a number of campaign workers operating out of the office.

Data provided to Elections Canada investigators has linked a Rogers account to the Internet Protocol (IP) address used by the robocalls suspect to log onto RackNine, the Edmonton-based voice broadcaster that transmitted more than 7,000 misleading calls telling voters their polling station had moved.

Under court order in March, Rogers turned over details of customer information for three Rogers accounts to Elections Canada.

None of the account numbers listed in a summary of the disclosure corresponds to the Rogers account used by the campaign of Conservative candidate Marty Burke.

 And from the same article, the icing on the cake: "Although the court filings appear to rule out Burke’s HQ as the source of the Rogers IP, the documents do not indicate to whom the account belongs."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

407ETR Donating Thou$ands To McGuinty Liberals And Hudak Conservatives

 That seems odd. Much has been written about drivers having their license plate and drivers license renewals denied due to supposed debts to the 407ETR. What amazes me is the 407ETR can basically hold people hostage, simply by notifying the Ontario government about an alleged debt. In fact, it's the only example I can think of whereby they do not have to prove their case, by taking supposed non-payers to small claims court or higher to prove their claim of default.

 But why would an independant company donate thousands of dollars to both the Ontario Liberal Party and PC party?  Below are donations made to the Ontario Liberal Party. Contributions to the PC Party mirror those made to the Liberals. Someone please explain why the 407ETR would donate to two different parties, similar amounts.If it was just one of the two parties I guess they could argue they think that is the best party to lead Ontario. Instead they support two polar opposite parties? Seeing as how the government has the power to enforce these sticker renewal denials, along with toll increases, it does give a stench of, let's call it an alleged conflict of interest. Someone in the msm should be looking into this, especially in light of the fact another round of road toll increases was recently implememnted.

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  04/18/2012  04/20/20129,300.00    9,300.00  

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  03/16/2011  03/18/20119,300.00    9,300.00

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  12/31/2010  01/13/20114,000.00    4,000.00  

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  01/30/2009  02/02/20094,400.00    4,400.00  

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  08/08/2008  08/08/20081,500.00    1,500.00 

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  10/01/2007  10/16/20076,000.00    8,000.00  

407 ETR Concession Company Limited  06/18/2007  06/27/20072,000.00    2,000.00  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Will Someone Please Point Out The Obvious To Thomas Mulclair...

or Jennifer Ditchburn, or any other moron stating Conrad Black is receiving preferential treatment by being allowed to return to Canada, and cite Omar Khadr as a comparison. Really?

 Well, seeing as nobody I have seen has pointed out the obvious, including members of the Conservative government, allow me to.

 Conrad Black was convicted of a crime in the United States and served his sentence. Upon his release after serving out his sentence, he has requested and received a one year temporary permit to enter and stay in Canada.

 So Mulclair thinks Khadr should be treated the same? You know what. I'll actually agree with Mulclair. Khadr should also be treated the same way Black was. In late 2010 Khadr was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but is to be released in 8 years due to his plea bargain and time already served.

 So yes, by all means Mr. Mulclair, let's treat Khadr exactly the same way Black' case has been handled. That will allow Khadr, like Black, to serve out his full sentence in the United States, with his release coming in 2018. At that time he will also be able to apply to the government for readmission.