Sunday, 12 May 2019

Send in the Clowns


Ever since Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States, his Democrat opponents have tried to delegitimize his presidency. They first said that he did not win the election because Hilary Clinton won the popular vote, then it was that his campaign colluded with the Russians, and he obstructed justice. As a result a Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian intervention in the 2016 elections, and the circus cane to Washington.
Not content with collusion, the probe morphed into an investigation of obstruction of justice when the President fired the FBI Director James Comey. After at least $40 millions of taxpayers’ money, the Mueller report was finally released to the Attorney General William Barr on March 22, 2019. For close to two and half years all we heard from the Democrats was that Trump was a lackey of Russia, and some even hinted at treason.  But to their chagrin, the final report found that there was no collusion, and perhaps there may be evidence which could not clearly exonerate the President from obstruction of justice charges.
The Attorney General is under no obligation to release the Special Counsel report, but AG Barr first released a summary of the report, then a redacted version of the full report which did not please the Democrats because the Pre4sident was not found guilty of any charges. Despite the fact that some thirteen Russian, three Russian entities, 12 members of the GRU were indicted, still there was no Trump people indicted for collusion, but members of his campaign were sent to jail for other infractions.
The genesis of all these accusations and investigation is yet to be made public. It is well known that the first sounds of collusion came from a Dossier prepared for the Hilary campaign and the DNC as an election research and may have involved material provided by the Russians. While the now Democrat Majority Congress wants to pursue other avenues to impeach the President, Democrat Presidential candidates making the rounds with charges of ‘constitutional crisis’ and charges of contempt for AG Barr because he refuses to testify in front of Congress and he refuses to release the full Mueller report. Ironically, the AG cannot release all of the report by law, because certain parts have to be redacted to protect certain Grand Jury testimonies. Ironically, the Democrat crying foul is no other than Congressman Jerry Nadler chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the same congressman who vigorously opposed the release of the Starr report that led to President Clinton’s impeachment.
We have yet to see proof of obstruction of justice in the Comey case.  What most people and the media ignore is the fact that the President can fire anybody under his employ, which Comey was. The same Comey who once was vilified by the Democrats for disclosing additional Clinton emails in a letter to Congress.
 There  are two shoes yet to drop.: the Inspector General Michael Horowitz report on  Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act ( FISA) abuse, the other one is the possibility of the President releasing classified documents pertaining  to  the involvement of former FBI Director James Comey, ex-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who may face criminal prosecution. As the public is invited into the big tent, we are about to see all the clowns coming out of Democrat Circus that Congress has become.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Negative Campaigns, Character Assassinations and Resistance


Today the Attorney General of the United States released the long awaited Mueller Report concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, collusion and obstruction of justice. It may be a coincidence but it is also just days after the Alberta provincial elections. I believe that I could end this book with my thoughts on these two historic events. 
First why is the release of the Mueller report important? For one it was an un-relented attack on a duly elected President of the United States, the most important office in the world. Ever since the night of his election, Donald Trump has been accused of every single crime possible by his delusional political opponents. He has also been labelled a racist, misogynist and a xenophobe, every time that he has changed or attempted to make changes to existing laws. After two years of investigation and $25 million of taxpayers’ money the attacks by the Democrats and the liberal mass media will not stop just because the Mueller report has found no collusion with Russia and no clear evidence of obstruction of justice in the firing of the former FBI Director James Comey. The so called ‘resistance’ will continue in different ways, as the Democrats who have a majority in the House of Congress will block any legislation put forward by the President. The 2020 Presidential election is already under way and the focus is not going to be so much on policy but rather on character assassination.
Closer to home, after a resounding defeat of the NDP government by the United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the resistance has already started. Former Finance Minister Joe Ceci has already called for more investigations of the UCP leadership race. Despite a resounding victory which saw a voter turnout of 71% of the electorate, and the election of a large UCP majority, some in the media are still talking about social issues. In my view social issues are important and are in most cases established already in the laws of the land. During the campaign, negative attacks on UCP candidates were numerous; candidates were accused of being bigots, racists, misogynists, xenophobes and of course Islamophobes. In a desperate attempt to sway voters from their four years of failed policies the NDP and their friends in the media could not help themselves but focus on social issues. Moreover, the constant barrage of pollsters who had their predictions, once again proven to be wrong, was constantly being used to sway voters. The only poll that mattered was the election results; Albertans completely rejected all these attacks from the left who ignored the fact that when you have no job, and cannot put food on the table, social issues, real or fake, were secondary to the electorate’s decision.
In conclusion, I urge the public to start learning from these two events, and see for themselves the duplicity of the left and the liberal mass media. Future elections will continue to use the same negative methods to tarnish conservative views and policies. The next Canadian Federal election will see the same tactics from the Liberals who will be desperate to obfuscate the failures of a vacuous Prime Minister, and his alleged attempt at obstruction of justice.
As for Russian interference in national elections, it will be the norm rather that the exception. Western governments must be vigilant because this is the new warfare as used by Vladimir Putin. It is not so much as trying to elect one candidate to the detriment of another, but rather an attempt to disrupt democracy and cause chaos. But the biggest threat to democracy is the leftist liberal mass media, which cannot see the forest for the trees. They have become so enamored by progressive policies that they will do anything to stop conservative policies being discussed let alone being implemented.
Citizens in the free world should be very afraid not only of foreign governments’ interference in their democracy, but be cautious of the enemy within – the liberal mass media.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Collusion and Obstruction, are they just words?


For the past two years the media has been obsessed by the words collusion and obstruction of justice. The focus of the reports has been Trump and the alleged Russian connection during the 2016 presidential election, and his firing of the FBI Director James Comey. However the Canadian media has vastly ignored what was under their noses at home.
Now that the anticipated Mueller report is out, finally the Canadian media can now focus on the SNC Lavalin/Liberal government scandal. Was there collusion and obstruction of justice? Well the recent events seem to clearly point in that direction.  While the Democrats are still fighting the findings of the Mueller report, which found no collusion and no clear evidence of obstruction of justice by the President, perhaps it is time for the Canadian public to understand what is really happening in this country.
SNC Lavalin is a Canadian Company based in Quebec which operates internationally. It is alleged that during their business dealings with foreign governments, officials have used bribery to obtain contracts. The law strictly forbids Canadians and Canadian companies to use bribery in foreign countries. As a result of SNC’s dealings in Libya, the company may be facing criminal charges. But under an agreement which came into law last fall, SNC Lavalin could apply for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) which would allow the company to pay its way out of lengthy and costly criminal trials. It is further reported that the DPA law may have been passed to allow SNC Lavalin to avoid the trials, because employees of the company had been donors to the Liberal party.
The former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, was removed from her position in a Cabinet re-shuffle, and caused a tsunami of events that saw the Prime Minister and others defending their actions. It seems that many actors, including the Prime Minister were  involved  in a  systemic cabal to pressure  Wilson –Raybould to grant a DPA to SNC Lavalin. Those who have lost their jobs a s result of testimonies are the PMO chief of Staff  Gerald Butts and the top civil servant, and  Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, who had become too political in his position .
After disclosures and the release of a recorded conversation between Wilson-Raybould and Wernick, it became quite apparent that it was no longer a whiff of a scandal but in fact a full blown scandal of collusion and obstruction of justice. To further exacerbate the situation The President of the Treasury Board Jane Philpott resigned in solidarity with the former Justice Minister. In response to these resignation and the growing scandal the Prime Minister made the decision to eject the two former High Level Ministers from the Liberal party and said : ““The trust that previously existed between these two individuals and our team has been broken, whether it’s taping conversations without consent, or repeatedly expressing a lack of confidence in our government or me personally as leader,”
What Canadians should be concerned about this whole affair, is this scandal is very reminiscent of the Watergate case. High level resignations and tape recorded conversations. As reported by the Washington Post In the most traumatic government upheaval of the Watergate crisis, President Nixon yesterday discharged Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus.”..
Perhaps with the Prime Minister suing the Opposition Leader, Andrew Scheer, for defamation, Canadians will possibly get the real truth. However we should not hold our breath, because a court case may not come forward before the elections in October or sooner.
The question is why does the Canadian media focusses so much on United States scandals and yet just gleans  tit-bits on Canadian possible collusion and obstruction of justice. Maybe the Canadian media has different meanings for these infractions.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

A BLUEPRINT FOR ALBERTA II


Introduction
In 2006, The Institute for Public Sector Accountability (IPSA) released ‘A Blueprint for Alberta’. This report outlined a number of policies that the government of Alberta could adopt to further the Alberta Advantage, Unfortunately Progressive Conservative governments under Premiers Stelmach, Redford and the late Prentice never had the courage to implement strong economic policies. Instead they adopted progressive policies which cost them the election and hand over the reins of government to the Notley NDP.

The election of the NDP, has seen numerous catastrophic economic decisions being made and implemented. The government being socialist in nature adopted policies which saw massive expenditures, a labor growth in the public sector and the decimation of the oil and gas industry. While the demise of the oil and gas industry was not entirely the fault of the NDP government, their acquiescence of the Trudeau government environment policies dictated their ultimate decision to impose a carbon tax.
In addition a continued mismanagement of the taxation regime coupled with an increase in the minimum wage has contributed to exacerbate the unemployment rate in the Province.

What was once known as the Alberta Advantage has disappeared and it will be a long time before we see it come back. To this affect IPSA has produced “A Blueprint for Alberta II” to express our views and offer some suggestions that a new government may look at and adopt to restore the economic environment that made Alberta great.

In summary we have addressed the following:
·         The Energy Industry
·         The Real Estate Market
·         The Taxation Regime

 
Energy Industry

The time in Alberta has come to address our Economic and Energy Security as a Province within the context of a national energy strategy taking into consideration the viability of the Industry, conservation and protection of the environment and the protection of the rights and duties of our Indigenous Peoples.

Despite the latest approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the NEB agency, we remain skeptical that it will be built sooner rather than later. The Federal government and the special interest groups have yet accepted the fact that pipelines are the best way to move oil. What is required is to have a predictable regulatory process that has integrity and transparency; employs full consultation with all major stakeholders including Indigenous Peoples and more importantly encourages decisions that balance economic and environmental interests.  The time has come to end the “resources gridlock” (Bill Gallagher, Resource Reckoning A. strategist’s guide from A to Z  Preface page vii).

In addition, Canadians are looking to Alberta as the leader in energy development and the source of energy products for our Nation and beyond our borders. We need the proper infrastructure to see our crude oil and other energy commodities to new and existing markets at the highest prices that the market will allow.  We need pipelines because it is the safest means to deliver oil. The use of rail cars to transport oil is very risky, both economically and environmentally. As we have seen the Lac Megantic and more recently the disaster in Manitoba, do not bode well for oil by train. Furthermore using rail to transport oil will also impede the transportation of other goods such as grain, thus affecting the agriculture industry. We believe that the NDP government’s decision to invest $3.7 billion over three years in crude-by-train is very risky, and should be abolished.

In Alberta, 58 per cent of people say Bill C-69 is a step in the wrong direction. Our priority is to come forth with acceptable policies by which to balance our economic growth with job protection, the means to ensure environmental safety and security, and the means to reduce the effects of climate change. A new Alberta government must open a rigorous debate within the borders of our Province, and the rest of the country to ensure a “quality of life that provides economic security for our Province.   Alberta urgently needs the leadership, political will and vision to build a strategy to manage all of the forms of energy that touch our lives in so many ways, and aggressively position Alberta as a Leader in the global energy market place to ensure our future economic gain. 

The Real Estate Market

Affordable housing is always the talk of politicians when an election approaches. However in many instances it is governments’ interference in the market that is the cause of the problem. Changing rules, such reducing the amortization from 30 years to 25 years, demanding that borrowers have to be able to handle interest rates 2% above the current rate, have curtailed the number of people who can afford to buy a house. Coupled with a downturn in the Alberta economy, the stress of owning a house has increased. The value of real estate in Alberta has dropped, yet property taxes have not. The current Market Value Assessment system of calculating property taxes is a tax based on unrealized values and has become a burden to home owners in older districts.
Having a home is a right, owning a house is a privilege. The answer is to build more affordable housing by bringing back the Multi Unit Residential Building (MURB) that could increase investments in these types of buildings to increase rental units.

 
The Taxation Regime

Alberta lost its advantage because many policies that made our competitive tax regime the envy of the country were gutted by successive Progressive Conservative governments; from the increase in the oil royalty, to the abolition of the flat income tax and the refusal to consider a sales tax, Albertans have seen an erosion of their wealth, coupled with a dwindling real estate downturn, as well as a high unemployment rate. Alberta needs a new tax regime.

1.     The carbon tax should be abolished as it has done nothing to make our oil industry  better. The tax was used by the NDP government to play nice with the Federal government, and yet it has resulted in nothing but grief for the industry. The tax has been used as a tool for wealth redistribution and has done nothing for the environment as it was supposed to do, and no pipelines have been built.
2.     Alberta should go back to a flat rate for income tax. Furthermore we believe that we should establish a sales tax, coupled with an increase of the minimum taxable income to $ 20,000.
3.     The 2018 Alberta corporate tax is currently 12% (general) and 2% (small business). However given the tax reform in the U.S. we have to be more competitive. In light of changes in the U.S which include a dramatic reduction in the headline U.S. federal corporate income tax rate — from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, and the introduction of temporary 100 per cent “bonus depreciation” for certain capital investments. Alberta should revert to the previous rate of 10% (general),  1% ( small business) and accelerate the rate of depreciation for machinery to match the U.S.

4.     There is no correlation between the value of a property and the education cost. The cost of education should be transferred to the income tax.
Remove the Market Value Assessment system for property taxes calculations.
Instead use the value of the purchase price as the base and for future years increase the valuation by the Consumer Price Index not the Municipal Price Index which is a manipulated rate.
5.     Given that major cities in Alberta have recreation and sport facilities that need to be either built or replaced, it is time for governments to allow municipalities to create tax free municipal bonds, which  would be allowed as an investment in TFSAs. Instead of funding these facilities entirely by property taxes, it is time for the taxpayer to have a choice and an opportunity to invest in these facilities. The repayment of these bonds would be done entirely from revenues from these facilities. Given the debacle of the 2026 Olympic Games bid by Calgary, we believe that major expenditures in facilities costing millions of dollars of taxpayers’ should be put to a plebiscite and not left to whims of politician alone.

Conclusions

As reported in the 2018 provincial budget, the spending plan forecasts debt ballooning from $54 billion this year to $96 billion by 2023.  Given the increasing Alberta debt load, it will be imperative for any future government to curtail its expenditures while managing its dwindling revenues due to the inability to get our oil to market and any needed reduction in taxation to stimulate the economy.

Having had the honor of serving on two Committees of the Results-based Budgeting task force, we can confirm that there were many ideas that could still be used to move forward, if the results can still be found and not destroyed by the current government. Using some of the conclusions of the taskforce will cut future research costs and also speed up the implementation. More importantly we also  suggest that a true Zero-base budget system be implemented to supplement any reform of the financial quandary that the province faces in coming years.
We respectfully submit our suggestions:
Marcel Latouche - President  & CEO,      James Maxim - Director            

The Institute for Public Sector Accountability