Politicians need to keep in mind that it is the small things that add up over time and it is the small things that get them booted out of office. It's the continual picking away by the opposition of the day and the media that eventually sours voters on a government. What was Trudeau thinking when he suggested to his top two staffers in their letter of employment that they could access this relocation program in its entirety?
In regards to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should be part of the solution. At the moment, it rather seems to be part of the problem. Over the last few years, we have seen that the CRA institutionalized various practices, eroding the trust that Canadians place in it.
I have come to the conclusion that this decision is too important to leave in the hands of short-sighted federal, provincial and municipal politicians. Nor do I want to leave it to the oil industry or other lobbyist or environmental groups to decide. I want the ultimate decision to be made by the people of Canada, all the people, every single one.
As with most leadership races (regardless of political party) the voting public will be treated to leadership candidates turning on each other like dogs fighting for a bone. While the nastiness and name calling might end in May 2017, the divisions and animosities created will linger on until well after the 2019 election.
The recent revelations that Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has been consulting conservatives around the country about whether we need to screen newcomers to our country for "anti-Canadian values" prior to permitting them entry is both disappointing and, unfortunately, not surprising.
The issue of tax havens is inherently international in scope. As a result, the government can use tax agreements to fight tax avoidance schemes. Unfortunately, tax agreements haven't been used for that purpose. On the contrary, they have facilitated the outflow of Canadian money to offshore financial centres, and have done very little to break the damaging secrecy laws of these countries.
With Harper gone, you would think the Conservatives could return to providing a reasonable alternative for voters. If you thought that, you'd be wrong. We could go on all day about how Harper's tax cuts for corporations and the rich gutted the social programs and economic development that the rest of us depend on, or how his poorly negotiated trade deals put more power in the hand of corporations at the expense of jobs and a stable future for working Canadians, but the real point here is that these sorts of comments show just how out of touch the Conservative Party has become.
Will Canada's Parliament see more regional or secessionist parties under proportional representation? Will we see more single-issue parties based on social or cultural issues? Will a move to PR virtually guarantee that the Bloc Québécois never fades away like single-issue parties of the past? Under a PR electoral system the answer is "likely yes" to all of these questions.
Liberal and Conservative members of the Finance Committee seem to have little appetite to pursue the matter any further and the committee will release its report this fall, and will move on to something else. As long as politicians will be timid and fearful of using their power, Canadians have little hope of seeing the issue of tax evasion or aggressive tax avoidance being addressed seriously by their politicians.
In May 2015, the French government did something incredible: the National Assembly unanimously passed a law forcing large supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities. That's how the #WhatAWaste campaign -- a grassroots effort to pressure Canada's political leaders to follow France's example -- was born.
Nobody likes to pay taxes. However, the pill is easier to swallow when everyone pays their fair share. It's increasingly clear that in Canada -- and in most industrialized countries -- many are not. We have a two-tier system where the wealthy and the corporations can escape their obligations, and the rest of us can't.
New "independent" Senators could be emboldened to test out their new levels of "independence" -- particularly in the form of pushing back even harder on legislation passed by the House. Indeed, some people may even hope that happens. And if it does, it will be undermining the will of the House -- and by extension, Canadians.
After watching this issue unfold in Ottawa, I firmly believe that this exercise is motivated by calculated political advantage to the Liberals dressed up as democratic reform. I wish I didn't have to be so cynical in my assessment, but this exercise is premised upon fixing a problem that doesn't exist. Rather than improve our system, this exercise plays on inherent frustrations with politics and could ultimately be detrimental to our parliamentary democracy and even national unity.
Stephen Harper emerged in May from his self-imposed obscurity to say goodbye. I say good riddance. The former prime minister who once boasted, "You won't recognize Canada when I'm through with it," lost the federal election last October and stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, but remained a Member of Parliament.
There's not much time left for applications -- the August 4th deadline is not far off, and you need to get letters of recommendation together, as well as the usual paperwork -- but I urge you to think hard about who YOU think would make a great addition to the Senate and get applications in ahead of the deadline.
On the anniversary of filing a Charter challenge to Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is calling on Canadians to send a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government that it's past time to restore our constitutional freedoms and repeal the unconstitutional aspects of this dangerous and ineffective legislation.