Choosing six out of 49 numbers that will turn you into a millionaire is an easier task than predicting the political events and outcomes of 2013. I have therefore decided to list my wishes for the New Year instead.
We need clear priorities across the country. As a nation, we're still spending too much money, and often on all the wrong things. For example, was it really necessary to pump even more money into the auto industry when Ottawa is still in a deficit? With the auto makers showing more and more signs of shifting production away from Canada (Ontario) and back to the U.S., particularly "right-to-work" jurisdictions, any tax dollars given to the companies won't spur manufacturing at home. The car companies will simply take the money and use it as welcome spending money on their way out of Canada.
With Alberta's oil selling at a major discount, and vital pipelines not yet built, we should consider scaling back production until the situation has changed. I don't see any upside in selling our precious natural resources at bargain-basement prices, because the money foregone now will never be recouped.
Speaking of Alberta, rather than going deeper into deficit and taking up debt again for the first time in almost a decade, the province should throttle its excessive spending and implement a 5 per cent provincial sales tax.
On the federal front, we should all hope for a reinvigorated Liberal Party under a strong leader (that is, almost anyone but Justin Trudeau). A rebooted Liberal Party would provide the Conservatives with much needed competition on their own side of the political spectrum. The ensuing contest of ideas would benefit Canadians across the board.
Our neighbours to the south must set aside their ideological differences to rebuild America. To be sure, neither side has clean hands -- both the Republicans and Democrats, including President Barack Obama, are guilty of pushing personal agendas to the detriment of the entire nation and its prosperity. Whether it be taxes, spending cuts or gun control, all must pull together and work for America on the basis of common sense. Their motto should become "What can we do for America?" and not "What can we do to grind our own axes?".
I sincerely hope to see a British referendum on leaving the EU this year. The EU has failed, and there's no saving it. Britain's exit would speed up major reforms desperately needed across the continent. For starters, Europeans must return to the roots of the EU, that is, a free-trade area and not a political union. Some of the stronger countries can, if they want, keep the euro currency, but the vast majority -- such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and even France -- should be forced to adopt their former national currencies.
As a matter of principle, European governments should tighten their belts. Their overblown civil service apparatus is no longer sustainable -- the boss of Austria's public broadcaster now makes more money than the American president, courtesy of TV licence fees and taxes, while a district head in one of Vienna's districts has a higher salary than the Russian president. As I keep reminding my European friends, soon the air they breathe will be taxed -- not a joke; things really have become this dire over there. It's just a matter of time before this outrageous scenario becomes a reality.
On that note, A Happy New Year to all.
Majority governments are by definition strong and stable, so this talking point essentially means nothing. Do the Tories really think they'll win another majority by reminding us they already have one?
Curious about the questionable campaign fundraising done by Tory ministers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tag/peter-penashue">Peter Penashue</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/dean-del-mastro">Dean Del Mastro</a>? Well the Conservatives have an answer for you. The NDP is much, much worse. While the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/27/ndp-union-sponsorship-donations-returned-elections-canada_n_1834802.html">New Democrats did pay back nearly $350,000 in sponsorship money from unions</a> after Elections Canada found the party guilty of violating campaign finance laws, that doesn't give the Tories the right to ignore legitimate questions about their own fundraising practices. Then again, why answer questions when you can just blame the other guy?
When NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice asks the government something in question period he usually already knows the Tories' answer. 'Remember when you were a separatist?' <a href="http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2012/06/08/19854701.html">Boulerice has long since admitted he used to sympathize with separatists</a> and it's time for the Tories (we're looking at you Pierre Poilievre) to let this one go.
Instead of answering questions about allegations of misleading robocalls during the 2011 election, the Tories generally pivot and remind people the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/24/liberal-robocall-fine-guelph-crtc_n_1827915.html">Liberals are the only party that has actually been found guilty of phone-call shenanigans</a>. While this is true, it doesn't erase the fact that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/robocalls-scandal">Elections Canada's investigation seems to have a fair bit to do with the CPC</a>. Canadians deserve to know what really happened on election day, but the Tories seem content to remind us of their rival's misdeeds. Let's hope all that ends in 2013.
No answer regarding the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/f-35">now-scuttled acquisition of the F-35</a> is complete without reminding the audience that no money has been spent on the purchase. Well, as long as you don't count <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/05/opposition-parties-hammer-conservative-government-over-f-35-press-conference-that-cost-taxpayers-47000/">all the cash spent on the flashy press conference in 2010 when Peter MacKay got to sit in the cockpit</a> right? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say plenty of money has been spent trying to replace Canada's ageing CF-18s, it's just that none of it has actually been on new planes? The Tories aren't fooling anyone here. It's time to admit mistakes were made.
Concerned about a housing bubble? Worried about Canada's shift toward a more resource-based economy? Put those fears to rest, things are much worse everywhere else. At least, that's what the Tories keep telling us. But are they really? Two problems: 1. Were the Tories responsible for the relative stability of Canada's banking system after the crash? Not so much. The <a href="http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/ban-on-bank-mergers-helped-canada-withstand-crash-imf-says/article4600686/?service=mobile">IMF has credited regulations introduced by former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin in the 1990s</a>. 2. Things are now <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/01/canada-us-economy-gdp_n_2220164.html">better in the U.S., at least in terms of GDP growth, than they are here</a>. The U.S.'s GDP grew nearly 5 times faster than Canada's in the third quarter of 2012. It's time for the Tories to admit that while Canada weathered the economic crisis well, the country now faces new problems that will require new solutions and not more tired talking points.
Even though the <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/21/a-rough-guide-to-the-conservatives-carbon-tax-farce/">NDP has never proposed a carbon tax</a>, the Tories continue to hammer this talking point home every chance they get. Got a question about the F-35? Remind them about the carbon tax. Allegations of misleading robocalls? Did we tell you about the carbon tax? The phrase has become such a predictable refrain that it has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/08/conservative-ad-carbon-tax-video_n_2092524.html">inspired one of the most dangerous drinking games in Ottawa's history</a>. Let's hope this one evaporates in 2013.
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