Take a $15 bottle of wine, for example. In B.C., we pay $7.11 for the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) markup tax, 60 cents in other LDB fees, and 94 cents in Provincial Sales Tax -- a total of $8.65 in taxes. That means when British Columbians buy a bottle of wine, they actually pay more in taxes and markup than for the actual drink itself.
Kathleen Wynne's budget proposed a new tax that will increase the average price of an overseas trip for a family of four by hundreds of dollars. Flying in Canada is already obscenely expensive, thanks to a host of taxes, fees, charges, rents, and regulations imposed by both the federal and provincial governments.
In a triumph for local democracy, the bully that is Metro Vancouver has been put in its proper place by a provincial judge. Metro Vancouver should save its taxpayers some money by forgoing an appeal in this case and accepting the fact that it doesn't always know best. Let's see a little more of this "collaborative federation," and a lot less bullying of elected councils.
The best thing for B.C. is to join Saskatchewan and Manitoba and call for the abolition of the Senate. Premier Clark, deep down, knows this. In her 2011 leadership campaign, she was clear: "We don't really need a Senate." Since then, the Senate's reputation has only worsened, as new scandals and criminal charges tear away any credibility that once resided in the Upper Chamber.
When it comes to a lot of government activity, taxpayers often want to ignore how the sausage is made: Just take as little of our money as possible, spend it wisely, and make sure the services we depend on are there when we need them. Bureaucracies love that apathy -- it allows them to escape scrutiny of their actions and policies.
It's an all-too-regular occurrence in this province. Government employees, whipped up by their union leaders, marching against whatever economic development opportunity is being proposed. Pipelines to the coast? Opposed. Gas exploration? Opposed. Companies creating investment revenue for pensions? Opposed. New mine? Opposed. Coal exports? Opposed. But what if government employees had a direct financial stake in the economy doing better than expected? Would they be more willing to consider ways to grow the economy? It's an interesting premise, and one the B.C. government will test in the next round of collective bargaining.
Can a company truly be considered a good corporate citizen while taking money from taxpayers through corporate welfare? Corporate welfare happens when a government makes a political decision to use tax dollars to favour one company over another. While all of us understand we need to pay taxes to fund societal benefits like hospitals, schools and infrastructure, most feel government should not use our money to pick winners and losers in business by handing out grants to specific companies.
"There is no such thing as free regulation," John Hutton once said, and the British author was right. Every rule set out by government comes with a price -- both to individual freedom and to taxpayers' wallets. Sometimes, the regulation is worth the loss of freedom or the cost. Few begrudge spending tax dollars or the loss of freedom to have the Auditor General review the province's books. But when government attempts to solve a problem that appears to be overblown, regulation becomes expensive and unnecessary.
The carbon tax lobby was practically giddy this month, as newspaper headlines touting a B.C. climate change agreement with three U.S. states blared, "Washington and Oregon follow B.C.'s lead on carbon tax system," and "Washington, Oregon plan to emulate B.C.'s carbon tax." Fortunately for American taxpayers, the headlines just aren't true.