British Columbia Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Jordan Bateman is the British Columbia Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, after working as a journalist, small business owner, and Township of Langley councillor. Having ghostwritten and edited more than 125 books for other people, he is now working on his own.
Another week, another weak attempt by the Lower Mainland mayors to pin all the region's problems on the provincial government. Fastballs of problems are flung fast and furious by the city politicians: homelessness, property taxes, TransLink.
The BC Lottery Corporation's big schmooze-and-booze conference should have taxpayers, who pick up the tab, singing the blues. BCLC lost $208,642 on its 2016 New Horizons in Responsible Gaming conference. The conference attracted only 85 paid registrants.
In his 2017-18 BC Budget Feb. 21, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced that the hated Medical Services Premium tax will be cut in half, as the first step toward eliminating it completely. Just one short year ago in the B.C. Budget lockup, de Jong gave an impassioned defence of the Medical Services Premium (MSP) tax.
We're now three months from the provincial election. The government doesn't seem to want to talk in-depth about BC Hydro, so it will be up to the voters to press it as an issue. What are the parties' plans to get BC Hydro out of debt? How much will they increase our rates? How will they bring costs under control?
Heading into this month's B.C. budget, Premier Christy Clark is saying all the right things about scrapping the Medical Services Premium (MSP) tax. The B.C. Liberals have been busy pouring water on every smoldering election issue they can find. On and on the list goes, leaving the MSP tax as one of the few big potholes remaining on the road to re-election.
Why is flushing money down the toilet the thing the Capital Regional District board seems to be best at? And how can the municipal politicians and officials charged with building a sewage treatment centre be so oblivious to things that don't pass the smell test? (No pun intended.)
Winter has come to Mayor Gregor Robertson's Vancouver. And the city's lack of preparation has become its own sort of George R.R. Martin epic. The land is frozen under a thick layer of snow and ice. Travel has become treacherous. Hundreds swarmed local fire halls like white walkers, trying to get some free salt.
Despite all the good the FNFTA has done in B.C., members of 23 bands are still waiting to see this year's disclosures, and three are missing two full years. This is basic transparency that every citizen deserves - how does government spend their money, and how much do politicians spend on themselves?
After eight years of British Columbians paying and paying and paying, still no North American jurisdiction has followed B.C.'s lead and brought in a carbon tax. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now trying to force carbon pricing on the entire country, but several provinces are rightfully resisting.
"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing." Mayors forgot that axiom last year when they spent millions trying to convince taxpayers to hand over a new sales tax to TransLink -- an agency widely reviled for its wasteful spending.
Leaders have a responsibility to resist their own cynicism and scratch beneath the surface to hear what people -- even those who are opposed -- are saying. What is the core concern driving the speaker? Is it affordability? Safety? Mayors should ask genuine questions of people, and actually listen to their responses
Robertson's vacancy and Airbnb taxes are a significant stumble down a slippery slope. If these new taxes don't raise the vacancy rate high enough, will he go after unoccupied suites in homes? Empty bedrooms? If private housing is now a social good, with its use essentially controlled through tax and regulation, what's to stop these next steps?
Robertson wants a 70 per cent cut in natural gas use by 2020, and 90 per cent gone within 10 years. This will cost individual residents thousands of dollars -- and was approved by Robertson and his council without any thought to the affordability crisis in Vancouver.
In last year's Liberal election platform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize marijuana, touting a "new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied." By leaving out the possibility of city taxes, Trudeau raised the hackles of spend-crazy mayors across the nation. Now the mayors are pushing back -- they want a piece of the green.
B.C. has become the first foreign government to issue a Masala bond in India. Essentially, B.C. took on $97.5 million in debt and immediately reinvested that money not in B.C. infrastructure or something that would help B.C. taxpayers, but in the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Limited of India.
At a time when many B.C. taxpayers are struggling under the weight of their heavy tax burden, growing personal debt, and an incredibly high cost of living, our locally elected officials are there to remind us all of how hopelessly out of touch they are.
In the battle between big government and big unions over big tax dollars, the country's highest court has decided there's just no need for the little people -- the taxpayers -- to be heard. This might have made sense if the Court limited its judgments to protecting truly fundamental freedoms. However, its recent judgments expanding freedom of association to protect the economic and contractual rights of unions can have serious impacts on government's budgetary spending priorities.
There's no tax quite as popular as a tax on someone else. But will the people still be on board once the bills come in for collecting the Vancouver vacancy tax, or when the foreign investment tax has to morph to catch the money coming into the country? Or if housing prices are unaffected? Or if housing prices plunge and Canadian homeowners owe more than their home is worth?
Todd Stone, B.C.'s minister of transportation, has apparently told the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC) that he will approve their long-standing request for a two cents per litre gas tax hike in the Victoria region. The VRTC wants the tax, which would generate $6.6 million, for bus improvements.
The long-awaited BC Transit provincial review went public earlier this month. To no one's surprise, the audit found several ways BC Transit has been wasting your tax money, and how poor they are at managing the millions of dollars of assets with which we entrust them.