Monday, November 26, 2007

The NDP are needlessly setting themselves up

By Brent Fullard

This evening [November 24] I attended an NDP public gathering in Hamilton hosted by four NDP MPs, which constitutes about 13% of the NDP’s caucus. The subject matter of the meeting was the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The NDP has been holding a number of similar meetings across the country on this matter and I learned they are planning to roll out their position on the SPP in a more prominent way in two weeks time. The NDP are to be applauded for giving the SPP greater visibility, since the self described modus operandi of the SPP is “evolution by stealth” and the supposedly innocuous jelly bean agenda, as Stephen Harper prefers to call it.

NDP Peter Julian described for the audience of 120 or so people the top ten things that Canadians need to know about the SPP. I only took note of the seven items described by Peter Julian that best serve to highlight the inherent contradiction between the NDP being against the SPP and being for the income trust tax:

(1) Policy is the product of the CCCE
(2) Absence of Public Consultation
(3) It is secret
(4) Blacked out documents released under Access to Information re SPP
(5) Censorship by government about SPP s greatest on issues relating to energy resource issues
(6) “Quality of life issues” are involved
(7) Energy sovereignty being threatened and compromised

Virtually every point that Peter Julian made in his presentation on the negative aspects of the SPP afforded me with a segue into the topic of income trusts. I waited to hear the questions that others in the room where asking first before asking my question. The questions were being asked in groups of five or so questions and then answered by Peter Julian. I asked my question immediately following a question from a gentleman who was pointing out the “faith based” nature of the Harper government and a question from another gentleman about the recent rash of foreign takeovers. I started off by making the point that a large portion of the takeovers, $65 billion in the last 12 months to be precise, can be explained by the faith based tax policies of the Conservative government that are, in fact, being supported by the NDP. I also pointed out that the NDP themselves are practicing their own brand of faith based policies, as bad as those of the Conservatives, because the NDP are writing letters to their constituents that read:

“I am confident that government estimates of future tax leakage are solid”

I then held up the 18 pages of blacked out documents provided under the Access to Information Act and asked the four NDP MPs in attendance where they derived their confidence from, if not simply blind faith. Blind faith on a matter that can be factually determined..

Peter Julian attempted to respond to my question in purely partisan terms, describing how this or that was either the fault of either the Liberal or the Conservatives. I told him he was wrong and that the blame he is trying to lay at the Liberals feet had nothing to do with the Liberals and everything to do with the alleged insider trading activity undertaken by Serge Nadeau, Director General of Tax Policy in the Department of Finance. I then pointed out that the Liberals are to be commended for doing what the NDP are condemning the Conservatives for not doing in the case of the SPP , namely Public Consultation. I pointed out to Peter Julian that had it not been for Ralph Goodale’s public consultation round in 2005, we would never have known that Mark Carney and Company in Finance were leaving out the 38% of taxes that are paid by average Canadians who hold their income trusts in RRSPs.

I indicated to the audience that the $65 billion in takeovers will be costing all Canadians, since it is all tax paying Canadians who will pay for the loss of $2 billion a year in taxes, a figure that will soon rise to $7.5 billion a year. On the point being made about the SPP and sovereignty I pointed out that the NDPs support of this income trust tax has left the 20% of Canada’s oil and gas production that is held in trusts and the 80% of Alberta’s energy infrastructure held in trust s highly vulnerable to foreign takeovers Witness Abu Dhabi’s purchase of Prime West for $5 billion. This, Peter Julian shamelessly or perhaps naively attempted to blame the Conservatives for.

All of this to make one simple point. This was a meeting that took place in Hamilton with a roomful of people who were predominantly Labour, as evidenced by the fact that everyone referred to one another as “brother”. During the evening about 25 questions were asked. Two received applause, one of which was my question. Many in attendance came up to me afterwards to learn more. Therefore the issue of income trusts is not going away and even die hard NDP supporters are receptive to others like myself when we raise completely valid questions such as “where is the NDP’s proof of tax leakage?”

As such, the NDP is setting itself up if it goes into the next election without answers to these questions, as they can be assured that they will be facing these most embarrassing questions in most every all candidates meeting that are held in ridings across the country. The NDP need not wear this egg on their face, since they need only point to the source of the false tax leakage information: Mark Carney and his compliant cohorts in the department of Finance. No reason why the NDP can't look smart by exposing the fraud taking place in the Department of Finance on behalf of the CCCE. Failure on the part of the NDP to do so will prove politically costly. Over to you Thomas Mulcair. You are operating with a blank slate. No need to feel bound by the superficial understanding of this issue that was brought to bear by former NDP Finance Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Better to embarrass her than to embarrass yourself and your entire party in the process. In fact, no one needs to be embarrassed as the source of the misleading information insn’t Judy Wasylycia-Leis per se. But rather Mark Carney and his false methodology behind alleged ax leakage. Meanwhile, The 2.5 million income trust investors will prove a formidable challenge to your party’s ambitions. Keep in mind, there only were 2.5 million Canadians who voted NDP in the last election which was the NDPs best showing ever

PS: I gave Peter Julian his own set of 18 pages of blacked out documents and challenged him to come back to me with the NDPs proof of tax leakage. Before doing so he might want to read the attached report entitled “Tax Revenue Implications of Income Trusts" which showed no tax leakage, and that was before Harper reduced corporate tax rates from 22% to 15%, the effect of which Dennis Bruce of HLB Decision Economics has determined has now made income trusts responsible for $200 million in NEGATIVE tax leakage per annum