Higher Taxes in Vancouver – Point Grey?

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/20/bc-budget-liberals-ndp.html

He also says Doctor’s can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

Asbestos_in_Bayview_school

I had just written about my concerns with the new Provincial budget and the propensity to tax the high income earners.  While I thought this would come from the NDP, it turns out that it is coming from the Liberals.  According to Mike DeJong, if you make a higher amount of income, you will pay more.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/20/bc-budget-liberals-ndp.html

He also says Doctor’s can expect less income, schooling will remain flat and a number of other measures.  Family friendly?  West Point Grey- Kitsilano residents are the key family demographic.  Of course our Premier sends her kids to private schools but most of our kids go to public schools that have Asbestos in the main hallways and are at the highest risk of collapse in a seismic event.

We, as British Columbian’s, must pay close attention to this budget.  This is our children’s futures we are talking about.  This is our future.  If our children are not given a proper education and are relegated to menial labour jobs, how can we expect a tax base to support our retirement?  We will be at the mercy of large multinational corporations who seek our resources.    So how do we do that without raising taxes?

Smarter spending is part of the answer.  Our children do not need smart meters or fast ferries.  We do not need $15 million taxpayer funded government advertising campaign.  We do not need a Carbon Tax that neither reduces carbon or invests in renewable energy.   We do not need to subsidize special interest groups or business.

We do need asbestos free environments for our children to go to school in.  Is prioritizing this too much to ask?

View more on education:

March 8 – International Women’s Day

Today, Friday March 8, 2013 is international women’s day.  This is a globally observed day of recognition of the history, contributions and plight of women around the world.  People celebrate it differently in different countries.

In some countries women are celebrating the right to get an education.
In some countries they are celebrating their right to be equal.
In BC, some women will be preparing to March for equality.

Tomorrow morning a large group of us will be marching for our rights and equality.

http://bcfed.ca/events/strollers-for-child-care-noise-parade-to-christy-clarks-office/

BC Conservative Party Platform

We Believe In BC.  That’s our campaign going into this May election.  This is our vision for BC.  As we draw closer to the campaign, we will be releasing our platform and filling in the details of how we plan to accomplish this vision.

We believe in our people, and their willingness to be daring and innovative.
We believe in the intrinsic value of our natural resources, and encourage their development.
We believe in the value of our geographic position as the Gateway to the Pacific.
We believe in balanced budgets.
We believe in spending smarter.
We believe in fair taxation.
We believe in safe communities
We believe in healthcare
We believe in conserving the environment
We believe in agriculture
We believe in rural and Northern BC

Over the next few months as we move closer to the election this May, I am asking you all to spread this message, that the BC Conservatives have a positive progressive vision for the future of BC and that we are the free enterprise party with a social conscience.  Join us and together we can make a better future for all British Columbians.

The Carbon Tax does not reduce GHG nor does it Invest in Renewables.

I believe strongly in protecting the environmental.   I have been advocating using less petroleum for decades.  I have argued for better alternatives for Canada and other countries, working within various organizations    We have alternatives and we have better ways to reduce pollution of all types.  I commute on bikes more than cars and do everything I can to leave a smaller footprint in terms of energy used.

This week I have started looking at the 2012 BC Budget and the Carbon Tax and made a startling realization.  The Carbon Tax, as written, is:

1. Not reducing carbon or GHG emission (this is an eye opener for sure);

2. Not causing any investment into Renewable energy sources; and

3. Is merely a tax that “redistributes” wealth.  It is “revenue neutral” meaning it does not put money into government coffers.

In fact, the 2012 BC Budget actually budgeted more carbon to be spewed into the air hence more revenue.   Don’t believe my interpretation however.  Read the 2012 budget at http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2012/bfp/2012_Budget_Fiscal_Plan.pdf.  Here is an excerpt:

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2 – equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast  assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually,  while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected  to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth.

I went to read the rest of the Carbon tax propaganda and found the projections for 2012-2015 (use this link and look at page 68).

BC Budget shows an increase in GHG emissions forecast for 2012-2015

BC Budget shows an increase in GHG emissions forecast for 2012-2015

So are other political parties telling us that the carbon tax is working when it is not?  Or are the 2012-2015 BC Budgets based on flawed assumptions?   Either one of these statements could be true but they cannot logically both be true.  It appears the worst case scenario has happened and neither one is true.

Most of the claims that it works come from three studies, of which I will contend may be flawed.   The costs of which will inevitably be passed off to you and I, the consumers of anything that is affected by the rise in the price of petroleum.  Additionally, this carbon tax will put BC businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy yet will not stop the emissions of carbon.  I am not the only one to notice this.  People are waking up all over.

While the government is claiming that we have let less GHG’s into the air than other provinces between 2008-2010, even accounting for some of the general economic recession, they never factored in the completion of the Canada Line of Skytrain that carries really 40,000,000 riders per year (source: Translink)  and the ceasing of cement production when our Olympic Infrastructure was completed.

Some Facts:

The claim is that between 2008-2010 the GHG gas emissions fell by 4.5% in BC. The facts do not support this.  Greenhouse gases are measured by volume and are correlated to various GHG emitting products manufacture or consumption.  The algorithm used is linear.  While it is possible that the manufacture of concrete and use of fossil fuels actually did fall by 4.5% in that period, the general economy sank by 2.3% in 2009 alone, construction went from a 6.4% growth in 2008 to a 5.3% reduction in 2009 alone and retail sales fell by almost 5%.  This chart is from Statistics Canada data.

BC General economy

BC General economy

Again – go and look at the source – http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/F&Ereview10.pdf

It might be time to start over.  BC is part of a global economy and a global environment.  We have a commitment to everyone on this planet to help reign in pollution.  Using less energy in our daily lives can have an impact and we need proactive programmes that actually develop renewable energy policies.

I have been lucky enough to work with the US Department of Energy and visionaries like Saul Griffith.  If you want to get some facts, watch Saul’s talks on Climate Change Revisited.

Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

Saul is bright and has done a lot to change the world for the better.  One thing we discussed at great length was where change is most effective.  The problem is that change is often not most effective at the National level.  The Provincial level, for large infrastructure projects, is where change may be best directed.  Some examples of this are Sky Train and Hydro-electric power projects.   The myth that solar energy can save BC is just that.  Doing the net calculations on manufacturing the solar panels will often show a less than favorably return, certainly short of our needs.  We are blessed with an abundance of cheap, renewable energy sources and a smart and innovative population.  Wind, Hydro, Geothermal and Solar used in combination can be very effective but reducing GHG’s requires a reduction in the use of hydrocarbons period.  Replacing cheap and plentiful Hydro-electric power with solar power may actually cause more pollution given it is the energy produced is replacing green energy and not targeting hydrocarbons.

We have the ability to also develop Geothermal energy.  While serving on the US DOE’s National Geothermal Data System as a technical monitor, I noticed that the heat flow potential for Geothermal energy seems to increase as it goes northward into BC.

What can you do?

We can do this.  If done correctly, based on the input of organizations like the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BC SEA), we can create ways to develop renewable energy source, green cement and build green industries.

Join the BC SEA – http://www.bcsea.org/

Vote BC Conservative Party on May 14, 2013.  We will try to repeal the Carbon tax and replace it with public policy that actually reduces carbon and/or creates renewable energy sources.

Join the BC Conservative Party (Note: we are not the Canadian Progressive Conservative party) – http://www.bcconservative.ca/get-involved/join/

Do not believe the parties that tell you the Carbon Tax is working as it is.  It is clearly not.

Be a scientist!  Ask questions and educate yourself.

We have alternatives.  No more faux taxes.  Let’s take real action.

Help us fix this.  Join our cause and donate.  Be part of a solution.

http://www.duanenickull.ca

Why Spending Smarter Matters

Today the BC Conservative Party launched a news release entitled Spending Smarter.  The news release lightly describes three fundamental initiatives that will give provincial legislators, and hence the people of BC, the tools they need to rigorously examine government spending both before and after public monies are spent.

Here is the text from the news release.

1. The BC Conservatives will reverse the trend of reducing the number of ‘votes’ in the Budget Estimates each Spring, and re-institute a thorough analysis of financial outlays before they are made. In recent decades, the number of Estimates votes has fallen from around 250, to as low as 58. The Ministry of Health – which this year will spend $16.5 billion – has dropped from 16 votes to just one. The number of Estimates votes in each annual Budget will be significantly increased under the BC Conservatives, thereby increasing scrutiny.

2. A new Legislative Budget Office will be established. The office will provide MLAs with independent analyses of complex financial and economic data, thereby giving them greater means to scrutinize public expenditures.

3. The BC Conservatives will fundamentally revamp the Fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Focus will shift from passing or amending legislation, to reviewing and overseeing the expenditure of public monies by the government, Crown corporations and the SUCH sector – schools, universities, colleges and hospitals.

Analysis

Why is this important?

The Spending Smarter initiative is intended to eliminate the persistent deficits that have plagued Victoria in recent decades, and begin the long, slow process of reversing the growth of B.C.’s debt.  At the same time, I personally believe that it gives more parties the necessary input and holds government accountable for their actions.

I am not by nature a mud-slinger but the current status quo needs to be challenged.  This is our money, not theirs, and you and I have a right (not a privilege but a fundamental right) to have our duly elected officials scrutinize and oversee the BC Budget.  The more input we have, the better.

Revamping the fall sitting to provide greater fiduciary insight into the budget is also a direction I favour.      While the details around the Legislative Budget Office are vague

Final thoughts?

Remember, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA’s), by definition, must represent the people.  May 14, 2013 is a General Election in BC.  The government spends our money.  If you are unhappy with the way our province has been governed and want to change it, or want more of the same, this is your time to vote.  Register to vote at http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/2013-voters-list-update/

Pinkshirt.ca – Anti-bullying Day

Today is Pink Shirt day.  It made me feel good to take my kids to school to a sea of pink.  To understand the impact of bullying, use Google and search for Amanda Todd.  Also visit http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/ .

Rather than write, this brilliant songs from one of my all time favorite Canadian bands, Billy Talent says it all.

Nothing to Lose
(c) Billy Talent – http://www.billytalent.com/

Need more friends with wings
All the angels I know
Put concrete in my veins
I’d always walk home alone
So I became lifeless Just like my telephone

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change

Never played truth or dare
I’d have to check my mirror
To see if I’m still here
My parents had no clue
That I ate all my lunches
Alone in the bathroom

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain

Teachers said “It’s just a phase”
When I grow up my children
Will probably do the same
Kids just love to tease
Who’d know it put me underground at seventeen

There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
My notebook will explain
There’s nothing to gain
And I can’t fight the pain
There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
But the days don’t seem to change
There’s nothing to lose
When no one knows your name
There’s nothing to gain
And I just died today

Feb 24, a Dark Day in History for Canada

It was February 24, when Japanese Canadians were denied some very basics rights.  On this day in history, the Canadian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister King, brought forth a number of orders to immediately gather all persons of Japanese origin to “protective areas.”  Even those who were 2nd and 3rd generation Canadians, who had fought for this country, were denied the right to own property.   Ten days later, the British Columbia Security Commission removed the first 2500 Japanese to Hastings Park. They were also denied the right to own land or grow their own food.

Within our own province, Ian Mackenzie (Liberal) returned to Cabinet as Minister of National Defence where he had the responsibility for pre-war rearmament.  World War II began in 1939 and MacKenzie was moved to the position of Minister of Pensions and National Health.   This was partially done because of his role in a scandal involving the awarding of a contract to manufacture the Bren Gun (seems to be a pattern within our provincial government). The ultimate shock for me though is that in 1944,  the increasing pressures of war led Prime Minister King to decide to delegate some of his responsibilities in the House of Commons to the new position of Government House Leader, he chose Mackenzie as the first MP to hold that responsibility. During the war, Mackenzie pandered to anti-Japanese sentiment in British Columbia by declaring to his constituents at his 1944 nomination meeting “Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.‘”

This sounds like fiction from another country three centuries ago.  The fact is that we must never forget our basic humanity.

In a second year on this date, an ironic twist happened.  Tommy Douglas died of cancer on 24 February 1986 at the age of 81 in Ottawa.  Douglas was one of two MP’s who opposed the introduction of the War Measures Act in 1970, believing that it took away some basic rights and liberties of Canadians.  The act was introduced and passed in response to the Quebec FLQ crisis.

Both of these events had a similar effect.  We disenfranchised many people for the small actions of a few.  We must recognize that liberty and freedom apply to all in Canada and that it is non-negotiable.  It is a slippery slope when a government starts limiting the rights of it’s constituents.  Government must learn to act and no re-act without reason.

Help March for Equality – March 9

Equality. This is the subject of today’s blog post.  It is only fitting as this day in 1969, Réjane Laberge-Colas was appointed to Quebec Superior Court for the district of Montreal.  She was a Montreal lawyer and became the first woman named to the bench of a Superior Court in Canada.  At the time this was considered a monumental achievement in gender equality.  Later, gender equality was written into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically article twenty eight:

28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

I support those who stand up for Women’s Equality, Pay Equity, and Child Care.  As such, I am supporting the march to draw attention to the value of child care and to insist on equitable pay for child care professionals and affordable fees for families.    Saturday March 9, a large group will march for women’s equality, pay equity, and child care. The Women’s Labour Committee with the BC Fed, CUPE, and BCGEU are organizing a march to show solidarity with families and early childhood educators through the province.  They are insisting on gender pay equity for UBC’s early childhood educators. This calls for wages that reflect the: Qualifications, Responsibilities, and Value of the work provided by UBC’s child care professionals.

We are all afforded the right to peaceful assembly. Use this right to change what needs change.

Yet More Taxes for Vancouver – Point Grey Residents

I recently came across a great article written by Tom Syer from the British Columbia Business Council.    I think anyone from the Vancouver – Point Grey riding should take a look at this.   Tom noted that recently, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study entitled “Progressive Tax Options for BC”.   For the record, I believe an independent body like CCPA that challenges government to be transparent and provides well thought out options to be tabled is a positive force in a democracy.   People who genuinely care about some of our more complex issues have every right to step up and suggest alternatives.  Of course there will be disagreements but through dialog, we can find common ground.

I write this blog post though to find out if others feel this is really in the best interests of British Columbians.   Without going into a lot of detail, the study claims we have desire amongst British Columbians to pay more tax.  It also advocates that the 6% who have incomes higher than $100,000 a year per family should be paying more tax in an escalating manner.  This is coupled with a second need and desire to redistribute the wealth to address inequality.  For those of us who live in Vancouver – Point Grey, we are in that demographic.

Tom writes:

“The basic premise of the study is that there is both a serious need and a significant desire among BC citizens for sizable tax increases to fund more services and re-distribute wealth to address inequality. In their words, BC has “plenty of room” to raise taxes. While this has been a common refrain from the CCPA for some time, this position is now backed with further research and the results of an on-line survey. While the CCPA cites a single relatively obscure US study comparing US state taxation levels on economic performance to buttress its position, there is in fact an extensive body of academic research that looks carefully at the long-term consequences of taxes on the economy.[1] The preponderant conclusion is that relatively open, trade oriented economies need to pay attention to taxation rates and burdens. This is not to say there is no room to debate taxation issues or the appropriate balance between state and private sector in society. However, particularly for a small jurisdiction like BC, it’s important to ponder the economic implications of major tax policy changes – such as sharply hiking marginal tax rates on entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers, which is the key recommendation advanced in the CCPA’s study.”

I urge you to read the rest of his post here.  Tom has wisely called out some misrepresentations and also discusses some of the consequences.

I also looked at the CCPA document to verify the facts.  While reading the document, I found this.

“The overwhelming majority of British Columbians (90%) think there should be income tax increases for those at the top. A clear majority (57%) believe that should kick in at $100,000 per year of income. A majority (67%) also think major corporations are asked to pay less tax than they should.

These responses cut across party lines. It is not just those who would vote NDP or Green in a provincial election who think high-income individuals and corporations should pay more tax.

The idea to impose stiff taxes on those of us who own homes that are valued at over a certain amount is something I am also concerned about.  A socialist group or socialist political party wanting to impose “an annual property surtax, progressively applied, beginning with a 0.5% tax rate on values in excess of $750,000, then 1% on value above $1.25 million, and 1.5% on value in excess of $2 

million” might be something Point Grey and Kitsilano residents should have a say in.  Our real estate has jumped in value due to a number of factors beyond our control.  In many cases the houses in this area are no larger than houses anywhere else.

CCPA author Naomi Klein wrote at the bottom of her introduction “British Columbians deserve a thoughtful and open conversation about the need for tax reform,” says Klein. “They core questions we need to consider are: What programs should we pay for together through taxes, and how can we raise the money needed in a way that ensures everyone pays a fair share? We hope this report can help kick-start that conversation.”

For the record, Naomi Klein is someone I respect for being a vigilant watchdog on government policy. According to the Sunday Times, she has stated she supports the moderately leftish NDP in her home country and does not rule out standing for election one day.

I agree with one statement Naomi made.  I think it is time to have a bigger conversation about a fair and equitable tax system that does not unjustly hurt British Columbians, including being fair to those who have worked hard to build businesses here and/or have disciplined themselves to achieve higher education and higher income. People in Vancouver – Point Grey are in many cases upper middle class working families.

I stand for transparency in government and accountability.  I invite your opinions on this topic.

恭禧發財 Chinese New Year – Year of the Snake

Vancouver is a multicultural city and I love the fact there always seems to be some cause to celebration.  Congratulations and Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)  恭禧發財 to ring in the year of the snake!  Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation.  New Year celebrations are not one day events.  They run from the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of the lunisolar calendar.

Fifty thousand strong showed up for the Chinese New Year’s parade complete with Dragons, Firecrackers and some great costumes.  Enjoy these additional photos,  courtesy of The Province newspaper.

Photos: Chinese New Year parade