Friday, January 6, 2006

Freedom Party in today's Post

Yes -- there really is a reality-based provincial party in Ontario.

An essay on municipal funding by Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever is featured on today's Financial Post opinion page.

Since the election of 2003, my party has proposed a set of municipal finance reforms that acknowledge the effectiveness of that approach. Specifically, we propose that municipal property taxes be eliminated and replaced, in each municipality, with a consumption tax. In particular, we propose that each municipality be permitted to impose, within its boundaries, a municipal premium collected as part of the Provincial Income Tax (PST). Municipal taxes, hence municipal spending, would be kept low by market forces. Each municipality would determine its own premium with knowledge that, if the premium is raised too high, customers and businesses will be encouraged to do their shopping and selling out of town.

Similar proposals have more recently found their way into recommendations by non-partisan entities, such as the Toronto Board of Trade. Yet, despite the broad appeal of these proposed reforms, the McGuinty government has decided to proceed with legislation that aims to resolve its own political dilemma by exposing taxpayers to the possibility of even more irresponsible, unsustainable and unaccountable taxing and spending by the government of Toronto.
More uncommonly good sense from an uncommonly good party may be found in their platform for the 2007 election.


Lisa said...

Paul McKeever also comments on the familiar statist response concerning the increase in gun crime in Ontario:

January 5, 2006, Toronto - Recent comments by Progressive Conservative opposition leader John Tory, about who and what is responsible for murders and murderers in Toronto, have insulted millions of Ontarians, says Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever. They have also helped leftists to promote the growth of government by sowing the seeds of social discord.

"In 1995 and 1999, Ontarians voted for lower taxes and smaller government", says McKeever. "In recent days, advocates of bigger, tax-and-spend government in this province shamelessly have been using Toronto's murders as an opportunity to further their agenda by fostering a false and socially destructive connection between today's murders and yesterday's cuts to taxes and spending.

"Their method is as devious and evil as it is destructive of society. They assert that poverty turns people into murderers, thereby slandering the poor and breeding unjust distrust of the poor. They assert or imply that tax and spending cuts are motivated by racism and anti-immigrant sentiments. In doing so, they demonstrate themselves implicitly or explicitly to hold racist beliefs and false assumptions about the genetic make-up and nationality both of those who use social programs and of those who pay for those programs with taxes. And, having associated poverty with murderers on the one hand, and with racial minority status on the other, their self-serving and intellectually dishonest overtures actually end up promoting the false, racist, slanderous, and socially destructive ideas that racial minorities are more likely to murder and should be feared. In short, to advance an agenda of tax increases and bigger government, they set up false and unwarranted conflicts between the well-off and the poor; they pit skin colour against skin colour; they encourage us to fear. Having created an atmosphere of distrust and discord within the populace, they then try to sell bigger government and social programs as a way to heal the wounds they have inflicted or worsened. It is pure demagoguery.

"On December 30th, the Toronto Star reported that when Progressive Conservative party leader John Tory was asked whether 'welfare and other steep spending cuts by the previous Progressive Conservative government helped set the stage for increasing gun violence, Tory acknowledged they might have been a factor.' In that context, Tory was reported to say 'I think everybody has to shoulder their share of the blame for this'.

"For the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario to lend credence to such demagoguery is a slap in the face to everyone in Ontario who supported tax cuts and spending cuts in the 1990s. That includes not only Ontario voters, but John Tory's own party's members and former members, MPPs and former MPPs, and, of course, Mike Harris himself. As one of millions who believed, and continues to believe, that we are overtaxed and that government is involved in things that it ought not to be involved in, I am personally insulted and offended by Mr. Tory's comments.

"Mr. Tory is demonstrating that there is no depth to which he will not stoop, and no price he is not willing to make society pay in his effort to gain political power. To avoid taking a politically incorrect stance against leftist demagoguery, he was willing to defame and insult his own party, Mike Harris, some of his colleagues and former colleagues, and millions of Ontarians. He has, with his comments, given the socially destructive allegations of the leftists a veneer of non-partisanship, thereby making their falsehoods more believable, more influential, and more deeply divisive.

"I would ask all politicians who comment on the matter of murders in Toronto, or who comment on matters of taxing and spending by government, not to follow Mr. Tory's example. Unless you are one of them, do not help socialists to build their campaign for bigger government and more wealth redistribution on a foundation of lies, slander, insult, and instigated social disharmony. Have the courage and integrity to fight against a smear campaign instead of saying nothing or facilitating it."

MapMaster said...

The Financial Post Comment page is generally the most solid read in the National Post. As a prologue to McKeever's editorial, Terence Corcoran is his usual dependable self exposing the rapacious spending of cities at the same time they plead that they are underfunded by other levels of government:

From New Deal for Cities: Run for cover!

Following every bad planning process known to financial man, Toronto's 2006 spending strategy -- masterminded by Mayor David Miller and his budget chief -- follows the usual city pattern. It lays out big spending plans, skimps on detail and throws its hands up in horror at a looming deficit of astronomical proportions. The starting number, $759-million, would be proportionately equivalent to Ottawa declaring a $14-billion deficit.

To cover part of its deficit, the city will siphon investment income from non-tax sources, but that still leaves a $575-million gap that will have to picked up by taxpayers somewhere. Local property taxes could go up, provincial income taxes could go up or taxpayers across the country could be dragooned under expanded New Deal for Cities schemes into bailing Toronto out of its fiscal mess.

As for the possibility of spending cuts and efficiency gains, the city's left-leading control block, under union-friendly Mayor Miller, has been unable to find more than $43-million of spending excess in their $7.65-billion plan -- a plan that's 25% above 2002 levels. And given the big capital spending budget announced earlier, Toronto's spending demands beyond 2006 are set to soar. New debt charges alone will add $350-million a year in new spending over the next four years.

Where's all this money going? Much of it will keep the city stocked with union employees earning the highest wages in the country under new contracts that give them job security. Other areas of rising spending are social services (+40%), culture (+19%), waste management (+5%), Toronto transit (+31%) and police service (+5%).

None of these spending gains would be a shock to anyone who follows city governments across Canada. Supposedly "cash strapped" and suffering from an "infrastructure deficit," city politicians are in the midst of major expansion of their power and influence. Under the guise of allegedly profound new theories of urban government, cities are angling to expand their tax bases and suck more money out of taxpayers through transfers from other levels of government.