Roundup: Will American tax changes affect us?

With the excitement building over that coming US tax cut legislation (if one can call it that), we have already started seeing reaction here in Canada about how we should react, and while there has been some predictable demands that we start cutting our own corporate taxes yet again, others have called for a more pragmatic approach. In the Financial Post, Jack Mintz foretold doom for our economy in the face of these changes. With that in mind, Kevin Milligan tweeted out some thoughts:

It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that these changes will create all manner of new loopholes around personal incorporation to avoid paying income taxes – kind of like Canada has been cracking down on this past year. Imagine that.

To that end, Milligan offered a few more thoughts about the experience around implementing these kinds of changes.

Meanwhile, my Loonie Politics column looks at whether the process used by that American tax bill could happen in Canada. Short answer: no.

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Roundup: Making a martyr of herself

If there’s one thing that we’re talking about right now that’s not the interminable Standing Orders debate, it’s Senator Lynn Beyak, of the “well intentioned residential schools” remarks, which came shortly after her incomprehensible remarks about trans people while saying that good gays don’t like to cause waves. And after being removed from the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee, she put out a press release that didn’t really help her cause.

Of course, the more we talk about Beyak in the media and demand that Something Must Be Done about her, the more it’s going to embolden her and her supporters. The fact that she’s starting to martyr herself on the cause of “opposing political correctness” is gaining her fans, including Maxime Bernier, whom she is supporting in the leadership. Bernier says he doesn’t agree with her statement about residential schools, but he’s all aboard her “political correctness” martyrdom. Oh, and it’s causing some of the other Conservative senators to close ranks around her, because that’s what starts to happen when someone on their team is being harassed (and before you say anything, my reading of Senator Ogilvie’s “parasites” comment was more dark humour in the face of this situation than anything, and reporters taking to the Twitter Machine to tattle and whinge makes We The Media look all the worse).

But seriously, Beyak is not an important figure. She’s marginal at best within her own party, and her comments have marginalized her position further. But the more that people continue to howl about her, or post e-petitions demanding that the government remove her (which is unconstitutional, by the way), the more she turns herself into a martyr on this faux-free speech platform that is attracting all manner of right-wing trolls, the more she will feel completely shameless about her words. We’ve shone the spotlight, but sometimes we also need to know when to let it go and let obscurity reclaim her.

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QP: Even Ontario wants NDP childcare

Caucus day in the Commons, and all of the major leaders were again in the chamber, with the Conservatives proud of the new MPs elected in Monday’s by-elections who were visiting in advance of being sworn in, while the NDP were crowing over social media about Maria Mourani joining their party (but not caucus until after the next election). Thomas Mulcair led off by noting that the Ontario legislature voted in favour of supporting the NDP’s childcare plan, and asked about the government’s previous pledges. Harper reminded him that the other night, some Ontarians voted overwhelmingly against the NDP, and that his government has made life more affordable for all families. Mulcair wondered when Harper would meet with the Ontario premier about issues like childcare, and Harper claimed that he meets with premiers regularly — except he’s been avoiding Kathleen Wynne. Mulcair claimed that 65 percent of Canadians live in jurisdictions that want more affordable childcare, and repeated his demand for childcare spaces. Harper insisted that his government has put money in the pockets of Canadians that the NDP were planning on taking back. Mulcair pressed on Harper’s previous specific commitments about the healthcare escalator, to which Harper insisted that they have increased transfers to promises to record levels. Mulcair insisted that the transfer rate change was a cut (which it really wasn’t), but Harper repeated his answers. Justin Trudeau noted that the government would vote against his bill on Access to Information citing bureaucratic increases, and wondered why they opposed the modernization of Access to Information. Harper said that they did modernize the system by bringing 70 new agencies under its aegis and that the Liberals opposed other transparency measures. Trudeau moved to the cuts to infrastructure funds, to which Harper said that the Liberals voted against funding and that they only wanted to “raise taxes to fund bureaucracy.” Trudeau moved onto a conference in Montreal that Harper skipped, and Harper insisted that the government was represented.

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Roundup: Information Commissioner crisis

Troubling news out of the Information Commissioner’s office, as Suzanne Legault says that the office is nearly broke, thanks to an increasing workload of 30 percent more complaints this year, plus budget cutbacks (and it will be even worse next year as the budget has to absorb staff salary increases). It makes one wonder about the state of court cases that the Commissioner is pursuing in the name of access to certain documents, and what it means to accepting or dealing with new complaints in a timely manner, especially if they are stretched to the breaking point as it is. Tony Clement, not surprisingly, had no comment about any of this, even though as Treasury Board president, he is the one who is supposed to ensure that there is Access to Information compliance in the civil service, which would make her far easier.

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Roundup: No breached ethical walls

Auditors from Deloitte appeared before the Senate’s internal economy committee yesterday morning, and revealed a couple of things – that yes, senior Partner Michael Runia did try calling them, but they didn’t tell him anything, thus preserving their “ethical wall.” Also, their audit operated in a closed system and that there wasn’t any way for there to be any leaks of draft copies. But when the Liberals on the committee tried to move a motion for Runia to appear to explain himself, Conservatives on the committee blocked it, saying that they didn’t have the expertise to conduct an investigation parallel to the RCMP’s. Nor has there been any call for Senator Gerstein to appear to explain himself either. The Liberals will be moving a motion in the full Senate next week to give the committee the mandate to pursue these questions, but we’ll see if there is enough support. Kady O’Malley finds three key points from that testimony, and makes the relevant connections to the Wright testimony in the RCMP ITO. Incidentally, PMO has hired three different law firms to deal with the ClusterDuff file.

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Roundup post: Citizenship guide preview unveiled

The government is updating their citizenship guide, and while people are going to criticise it, I’m going to say that it’s a good thing that they actually devote a page to the fact that we’re a constitutional monarchy, and that they talk about the fact that Elizabeth II is the Queen of Canada. Not enough people realise what living in a constitutional monarchy means, even though it’s at the very heart of our political system. It would also be nice if we could stop acting horrified every time this government points out that basic fact because guess what – we’re a constitutional monarchy, and it’s actually a pretty good system. (It’s also too bad that the reporter in this story referred to Elizabeth II as the “Queen of England” – never mind that there hasn’t been a Queen of England since 1707). As well, they’ve done a pretty good job with the paragraph on the rights of gays and lesbians in this updated guide. Of course, it’s too bad that they’ve also included other bits of politicking with their references to human trafficking, polygamy and marriage fraud – current bugaboos of the government.

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Roundup: Apparently successful pipeline lobbying

Access to Information documents have shown that the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association was pushing for the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that went through in the fall omnibudget bill. They note, however, that the provisions strengthen the environmental protections because they’re all under one review now, rather than spread out.

Service Canada employees around the country have made random house calls to EI recipients to personally invite them to EI interviews – a move that is being called “intimidation.” I suspect this will be conflated and rolled into the false “bad guys” quote and make the rounds during QP next week.

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