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Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday's ride - 2020 Polestar 2 - All-Electric Car From Volvo

You can send a conservative to Ottawa but you can't civilize them

MONTREAL—It is not just Andrew Scheer or the federal Conservatives who took a hit when the party snatched defeat from the jaws of a plausible victory in October.
Their provincial allies in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario all need to rebuild bridges at home and across the country.
In light of the avalanche of criticism that has been piling up on Scheer, one might forget that he was not the sole architect of his campaign’s strategy.
A gaggle of Conservative premiers cheered their federal leader every inch of the way as he declared war on the Liberal climate change policy and promised to lead a decisively pro-pipeline federal government.
And while Scheer’s performance on the campaign trail was undeniably underwhelming, there is plenty of evidence that the message — as approved and amplified at every opportunity by his provincial allies — was rejected along with the federal messenger.
In Ontario and New Brunswick, two thirds voted for parties committed to more aggressive climate change policies — including carbon pricing.
In Alberta, there are signs that Jason Kenney has milked just about every drop of political capital he could get out of bashing Justin Trudeau.
The province’s voters are increasingly turning their eye to other aspects of his government’s policies.
As the current provincial class is discovering, picking fights with Ottawa tends to bring in diminishing returns — especially when one’s federal counterpart has just secured re-election.
Based on a Léger poll done for Canadian Press in the lead-up to Monday’s gathering of the premiers in Toronto, a majority of their own electorate disapprove of the performances of three of the prime minister’s most vocal provincial critics.
These days, Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs all have in common an approval rating that falls short of 50 per cent.
By comparison, majorities in Quebec and British Columbia approve of François Legault and John Horgan’s performances. It is not a coincidence that both happen to support carbon pricing and oppose new pipeline developments.
For the sake of comparison, Legault currently enjoys the highest provincial approval rating at 65 per cent, while Ford sits at the other end of the scale. The gap between the domestic popularity of the Quebec and Ontario premiers has rarely been so wide.
By all indications, the federal election turned the provincial table on the pro-pipeline, anti-carbon pricing premiers.
The battle lost at the federal level will not be refought successfully on the interprovincial battlefield, or at least not on the same terms.
At the same time, though, voters administered Trudeau a lesson in humility, reducing his party to a minority government with a smaller share of the popular vote than the runner-up.
In the aftermath of the federal vote, Higgs abandoned plans to lead a provincial challenge to Trudeau’s carbon tax and set out to implement a carbon-pricing scheme of his own.
Ford has been recasting himself in the more traditional Ontario role of power broker.
That amounts to a belated admission that a permanent state of war between Ottawa and Queen’s Park will not offer the premier the best path to reelection in 2022.
At this juncture, Ford is significantly less popular than Trudeau in Ontario. The difference is not exclusively grounded in personalities. Policy — including on climate change — is part of the mix.
From Kenney’s perspective, the appointment of Chrystia Freeland as Trudeau’s unity minister offered an opportunity to tone down his rhetoric.
Her first meetings with the Prairie premiers resulted in a notable change of tone in the dialogue between Ottawa and the political elites of the region.
That was followed on the occasion of Monday’s Council of the Federation gathering by a deliberate collective shift to a more consensual agenda.
By common agreement, the premiers focused on potential common ground rather than on the issues that will continue to divide them.
As is par for the course in the federation, that ground tends to be found on the field of grievances against Ottawa.
Still, the premiers did manage to set aside their competing interests long enough to give pride of place in their communiqué to the demand from Saskatchewan and Alberta for a better fiscal deal to see those provinces through challenging economic times. That allowed Kenney and Premier Scott Moe to claim the win they needed.
The communiqué also committed the provinces to “continuing to develop resources in a responsible manner and ensure access to markets for Canada’s product,” wording that involved a fair amount of papering over of differences.
It is always easier for one level of government to call on another to spend. Notwithstanding Monday’s rare unanimous outcome, harmony will not break out tomorrow on the federal-provincial front. It never really does.
But it is possible that the humbling results of the Oct. 21 election will lead to a more constructive conversation than the federal-provincial screaming match that preceded the vote.
Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert

Steve Earle - Copperhead Road (Official Video)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday's ride - FOR SALE: 1961 Pontiac Catalina Safari Station Wagon - Beautiful Car - 3...


Canada is the 10th largest economy in the world, with a fraction of the other economies’ populations. We can build whatever kind of world we want. Pharmacare? Child care/early childhood education? Dental care? Post-secondary education? Housing? Public transit? Legal aid? Access to high speed internet? Basic income? We can improve any dimension of our lives we choose.
What we can’t do, if we want to see continued improvement in the quality of life for most people, is continue to focus on tax cuts. That includes failing to enforce existing tax rules, and turning a blind eye to tax avoidance.
Tax cuts are often sold as the best thing that politicians can do to put “more money in your pocket”. Two things are             misleading about that framing:
      1) The people who most need more money in their pockets  are the least likely to be helped by tax cuts. A third of             Canadian tax-filers didn’t have enough income to pay income  taxes in 2016 (37% of women, and 27% of men). Tax cuts can be designed to go to the poorest, but in Canada they’ve  tended to most benefit the most affluent over the past 25 years,  because the most affluent pay the most taxes.            

            2) “More money in your pocket” may mean you have more  purchasing power, but you still can’t buy something that doesn’t exist. Tax cuts don’t create one single new child care space  in a high-quality early learning centre. They don’t add new streetcars, buses or subway cars to congested systems. They  don’t build or renovate a single new unit of affordable housing.
Not cutting taxes, and collecting taxes that are owed,  makes it easier to expand public programs like pharmacare, dental care, child care, housing, public transit, all of which  improve affordable access to high quality services that are basic to the quality of life. That puts more money in your pocket  too, because if you are paying less for child care, more money is freed up to spend on other things. More  importantly, improved access to key services that improve the quality of life means more people can optimize their contributions  to the economy. Healthier, more educated, more connected societies deliver better economic performance. More growth.  Better lives, individually and collectively.
It drives me crazy when politicians promise to keep your  taxes low, freeze them, or cut them, as if that’s a good thing. What the tax cut agenda is really saying is “you can’t have  more, you can’t have better”. It’s framed as being about choice: you are bound to make better choices about how to  spend your money than the government. But you can’t choose to buy things that markets don’t create: affordable housing,  childcare, good transit etc.
Politicians who offer tax cuts as the centrepiece of  their platform don’t want you to think too far ahead on the logical             consequence of their promises, because they are going to  give you less than what is currently possible. What happens if revenues don’t grow, or even fall because of bad economic  times and lower rates? Inflation and maintenance costs will mean you get less quality and less quantity of public  service. These days, tax cuts are a recipe for collective decline, dressed up in individual liberty. It’s an empty promise that  should be challenged at every election, at the city, provincial or federal level.
Personally, I’d prefer to pay more and improve things  while the going is relatively easy, because things are going to             get a lot harder and more expensive to improve in a few  years. Still, I’m totally OK if the democratic decision is that             people don’t want to raise taxes and make things better. But  we absolutely need to escape this fiscal fantasy that we can improve things, or even maintain them, while paying less  in taxes. And if we don’t pay more, nothing improves. Even hanging on to what we’ve got is not going to come cheap. For  most of the past 70 years, economic growth delivered more revenues without the need for raising rates of taxation. In  fact, we’ve seen dramatic cuts in tax rates over the past three decades but growth offset the hit that public revenues  could have faced. Now, a slowing global economy due to population aging, escalating trade disputes, and more  extreme climate events means growth isn’t the reliable secret sauce it used to be. The audience for tax hikes may be  small, but the majority will soon realize tax cuts are not a 21st             century solution to any of the problems we’re wrestling  with.
Repeat after me: Canada is the 10th largest economy in  the world, with a fraction of the population. We can create any type of society we want. Whatever we choose to do, we’ll pay  for it: through paying more taxes or through demands for more “money in our pockets” that lead to accomplishing less,  individually or as a society. That’s the choice in front of us. What’s your choice?
This entry was adapted from a Twitter thread by Armine Yalnizyan from April 21, 2018

Tim Hicks - Stronger Beer (Lyric Video)

Anyone else get these scam calls?

Thanks ralph