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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.
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?
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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"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
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Finance Minister Michael de Jong pulled out some bright red lipstick and smeared it all over the Medical Services Premium (MSP) tax pig in the 2016-17 B.C. Budget this week. This was a marketing gimmi...
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Road levy. Recreation and culture levy. Transportation for tomorrow tax. Dedicated road tax. Asset levy. Make no mistake: we want our cities to invest in infrastructure. Sewer, water, roads; these are core responsibilities of local government. But repackaging this spending with a new tax is a slap in the face.
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All told, the B.C. government cut cheques for $1.5 billion in film subsidies over the past five years. That's more than taxpayers spent on the ministries of aboriginal relations, agriculture and environment -- combined. As if that wasn't enough, the federal government jumped in with $1.73 billion more nation-wide. With the low Canadian dollar attracting more filming here, these subsidies are going to soar even higher in 2016-17, as there are no caps on these payouts.
The bipartisan legislative committee was asked by Finance Minister Michael de Jong to travel the province and make recommendations for the 2016-17 B.C. budget. Unfortunately, the committee fell into the usual trap of recommending billions in new spending requests put in by dozens of special interest groups.
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Peter Fassbender hasn't addressed a core concern for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, expressed during the campaign that sent the TransLink sales tax down to landslide defeat: TransLink is still broken, still lacking the public's confidence.
There are tax credits for putting your kids in sports or music lessons, for volunteer firefighting, for taking a bus, for fixing up your kitchen, and for joining a search and rescue team. All worthy things, sure, but expensive for taxpayers. Now we're talking about a leftovers tax credit. Where will this trend end?
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Video killed the radio star. But it's Peter Fassbender who is about to kill the independent civic politician.
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During 10 days of public meetings, special interest groups demanded $18.6 billion from the provincial government. It's 40 per cent of the province's annual budget. It's more than B.C. spends on health care. It's a ridiculous amount of money.
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Here's the truth about politician pay. Some are grossly overpaid for the work they do, while some are terribly underpaid. But that distinction is very much in the eye of the beholder.
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They're coming first for your devilish Coca-Cola and Pepsi. But they aren't stopping there. They also want taxes on sugary fruit juice (you sinister Sun-Rype suckers!), and anything else that tastes slightly better than water. It won't end -- because big government types truly believe higher taxes can solve every problem -- there's no evidence it will work.
What long-term health benefits would occur if government built $7.5 million in school playgrounds? Or spent $7.5 million cutting waitlists for surgery? Or made sure people had timely access to family physicians? Or improved rural or aboriginal drinking water quality to reduce the dozens of boil water advisories in effect across B.C. right now? Or any of a hundred other ideas.
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The annual bonus alone could add up to $95,000.
Kwikwetlem First Nation
No more poodles on poles, no more $40,000 TVs, no more leasing empty buildings, no more TransLink vanity projects.
The lack of accountability on many reserves is why the Canadian Taxpayers Federation worked with grassroots band members to push for the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA). Among other things, the law requires chiefs and councillors to disclose their pay publicly.
City bureaucracies are a bit like junk drawers -- they need a good purging every once in a while.
But one critic calls the spending "outrageous" and a "waste of taxpayer money."
While we scrimp and sacrifice and pay our taxes to ostensibly fund critical services like public safety, health and education; politicians line up to spend it on flashy ads designed to help them get more votes.