home > archive > 2008 > this article


Search this site Search WWW

Budget Grinch needed to stop alphabet soup of bailouts

By Kevin Gaudet
web posted December 22, 2008

It's not often taxpayers are hoping for a visit from the Grinch during their holiday season, but that is exactly who should be visiting our federal government prior to the release of next month's budget.  Ideally, Mr. Harper will fill this role and put a stop to the alphabet soup of corporate bailouts rumoured to be on tap from the federal government. 
  
Stephen HarperFor years, the Prime Minister was portrayed in the media and by his opponents as Grinch-like.  This was justified as he used to advocate, for example, for smaller and less expensive government.  He also used to oppose bailing-out failed corporations with taxpayer cash.  However, this caricature may no longer be accurate as his government prepares to turn its back on balanced budgets and to throw untold billions of dollars at failing Canadian businesses. 

Despite his clear and unambiguous former opposition to corporate welfare policies where the government props up failing business with taxpayer cash, Santa Harper and his cabinet elves are planning a bonanza of spending.  The Santa sack full of taxpayer cash will first give a hand-out of a possible $3.5-billion to Ford, GM and Chrysler alone.  But big auto is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Now that the secret is out that Santa Harper has come to town, developing is a long line of organizations asking for gifts from the budget.  Like disappointed children they cry when they don't receive as nice or as large a gift as they would like.  "Johnny auto got $3.5-billion, where's mine?" they whine.  In peculiar fashion it is those naughty, unsuccessful firms who get cash gifts paid for by well-behaving taxpaying firms who stand to get little or nothing in the budget.

The list seeking cash is an alphabet soup of companies, industries and associations.  The Canadian Advanced Technology Association is suggesting $60-billion in new spending.  Gordon Campbell, the premier of British Columbia , in advance of his election this Spring is "demanding" that the BC forestry industry get treated equally.  In his Fall economic statement Finance Minister Flaherty already pointed to aerospace.  Recently, Industry Minister Clement suggested mining would also get cash.  Minister McKay has said that ship-building also will be part of the stimulus. Thankfully, so far, the Canadian Association for Zoos and Aquariums has been silent.

Taxpayers should hope that Minister Flaherty and Prime Minister Harper listen closely to those industry leaders who oppose bailouts.  For example, Forest Products Association of Canada president Avrim Lazar was reported to reject bailouts for forestry.  Instead, he argued that government has to know what its role is, suggesting that the government's role is neither hands-off nor bailouts.  He wants government to look at every piece of government policy that affects competitiveness in order to create world-class competitiveness conditions.  Regrettably, Mr. Lazar has now joined the line, seeking a forestry industry handout.  Originally he had some good ideas for economic stimulus.

So far, all the government talk of "economic stimulus" has involved more spending, undoubtedly pushing the federal government back into deficit.  However, his messaging on this is different than that for his Senate appointment reversal.  He has expressed regrets about his impending reversal on Senate appointments.  No such regret is expressed regarding impending deficit spending.  Importantly, there has also been no talk of tax reform and/or tax relief to stimulate the economy, except from the banks importantly calling for reduced corporate taxes in Ontario .

So far, all the government talk of "economic stimulus" has involved more spending, undoubtedly pushing the federal government back into deficit.  However, his messaging on this is different than that for his Senate appointment reversal.  He has expressed regrets about his impending reversal on Senate appointments.  No such regret is expressed regarding impending deficit spending.  Importantly, there has also been no talk of tax reform and/or tax relief to stimulate the economy, except from the banks importantly calling for reduced corporate taxes in Ontario .

If Prime Minister Harper and Minister Flaherty are hunting for the perfect gift to give to taxpayers this Christmas, they could start by being Grinchy to the alphabet soup of groups seeking corporate welfare bailouts, and bring forward a balanced budget.  Anything else amounts to a lump of coal in the taxpayers' Christmas stockings. ESR

(c) Kevin Gaudet, 2008 and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The CTF is Canada's leading non-partisan citizens' advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.  Founded in 1990, the CTF has 68,000 supporters and 7 offices across Canada.  The CTF is funded by free-will, non tax-receiptable contributions. 

Send a link to this page!
Send a link to this story

 

Home


 

Home

Site Map

E-mail ESR

ESR's blog

 

Send a link to this page!
Send a link to this story



Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
e-mail:
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

 

 

1996-2013, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.