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Dan Osborne

Tax Freedom Day

Tax Freedom Day came this year for Canadians on June 6th, and left-leaning commentators are, predictably, yelling about how the richest Canadians don’t pay their fair share.I cry “malarkey” to this claim for a number of reasons. First of all, the word “fairness” is wholly subjective, meaning that, as every individual is different, its definition is necessarily different. The argument that Canada’s tax system is “unfair” is necessarily a devalued argument, because, no matter what our opinions are, they are not the same. It is impossible for a tax system to be “fair” for Canadians, without a common definition of fairness.But, for arguments sake, let’s go with a relatively common definition of fairness, the one I was taught in school: that everyone is treated the same and judged based on their actions and not their class, gender, race, etc. How that would be interpreted in a tax system is that everyone would pay the same percentage of their income to the Taxman; in effect, Canada would have a “Flat Tax.” Nothing could be further from the truth.According to the OECD, the richest tenth of Canadians made approximately 29.3% of all of the income in Canada. That said, they paid 35.8% of all of the income tax in Canada. By our measure of fairness, the richest 10% of Canadians are paying 22% more than their fair share. On the other hand, of the approximately twenty five million Canadians who file taxes each year, eight million of them – nearly a third of all income tax filers – pay nothing to the government at all, according to Canada Revenue Agency.Since someone will try and compare this amount of taxation to our neighbour to the south and claim that Canada is more distributive, let’s pre-emptively prove them false. The United States takes a… Read More

Tips for Summer Air Travel

It’s summer and you’re probably planning to fly around the world—to go from Vancouver to Vienna, Montréal to Mumbai, or Saskatoon to Shanghai. You’ll never foresee all of the delays, crashes, cancellations, or headaches, but you can plan ahead.I had some extra time on my hands while stranded in Cleveland Hopkins International airport, so I thought I’d pen a few notes on effective travel. While travelling can be a pain—even for the best prepared—hopefully these suggestions will help you glide through the skies with a minimum of frustration and delay.1. Dress well.The majority of travellers go out in what could, at best, be called lounge wear, and by that I certainly don’t mean a lounge suit. “Dressing for comfort,” as some have called it, has a disastrous impact on other people’s perceptions of you, as well as the way they treat you.The difference is easy to see. Try going through airport security or customs in the American civilian uniform: a t-shirt and jeans. Try doing the same while wearing a well-tailored business suit (heck, with today’s standards, it probably doesn’t have to even be well tailored). You’ll be amazed how much quicker you get through wearing proper attire. Instead of being asked a seeming myriad of questions, you’ll usually get just one: “What is the nature of your visit, sir?”2. Pack light.Almost every source of travel advice tells you to pack light, but how many people really understand what that means? Here’s a definition for you: don’t bring more than a carry-on unless you are moving permanently to your final destination. Want to avoid having the baggage service lose your bag? What about the line-up waiting for your bag to shoot out of the airport terminal? By bringing only a carry-on with you, you’ll eliminate the potential for these head-aches.And… Read More

Exclusive interview with Peter Jaworski

Peter Jaworski is a Canadian liberty activist and an instructor at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Last year, he received quite a bit of media attention after the Municipality of Clarington charged his parents for running a “commercial conference centre” after they hosted the Institute for Liberal Studies’ tenth annual Liberty Summer Seminar on their farm. Since then, Scott Reid, M.P. (Con.) and Randy Hillier, M.P.P. (P.C.), both of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, have introduced matching bills to add property rights to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Dan Osborne: I didn’t get to go to the Liberty Summer Seminar last year, as I was out of the country, so do you mind telling me what all of the kerfuffle was about?Peter Jaworski: Last year, our municipality took a strange interest in the Liberty Summer Seminar. They were confused about the nature of the event. The L.S.S., as you know, is a non-profit event, hosted by a registered charity. It’s a two-day overnight event with speakers and a musical act. The event is a celebration of Canadian social and economic freedoms—which is why it was ironic for the municipality to charge my parents, and why, incidentally, so many media outlets took a strong interest in this story.Osborne: So, do you think it was just local government that was contemptuous of dissenting views? Your family escaped to Canada from communist Poland; was this reminiscent of the past in anyway?Jaworski: I think it was an overzealous bylaw department and a mayor eager to get more revenue for his municipality. The mayor, as he then was, explained to me on the phone that application fees for rezoning play a vital role in generating income for the budget. The fees for the application alone amount to about $30,000, which is an enormous… Read More

The need for student-university contracts

Pacta sunt servanda: “pacts must be kept”.Modern contract law (and by extension, modern civilisation) has been built around this concept, a principle that has saved us from reverting to the barbarism of ‘he who has the biggest gun wins’ law. Indeed, within the context of modern society, practically everything derives from one contract or another. Even starting something as trivial as a Twitter account requires one to enter a legally enforceable contract.As something so small is subject to a contract, one would expect an often hundred thousand dollar expense like university would be subject to a contract. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to the modern Canadian university. When one enters university, there is usually no explicit contract outlining what parties are expected to provide what, and for what cost. This vacuum imperils student’s rights, which would be far more effectually defended by an explicit contract than any sort of student union.The need for such contracts is best exemplified by the strike at York University in Toronto three years ago. Striking teaching assistants caused the university to have no classes for nearly twelve weeks in 2008. Only an act of Queen’s Park caused the strike to stop.Had the students of York and the university entered into a contract, the university would likely have been violating the contract by failing to provide services for the fees they received. Had a clear-cut, explicit contract such as that existed, students would have been able to sue for breach of contract and could have received some sort of compensation for their lost semester.A contract is better than any union; regardless of the strength of a student union, all they can do is raise debate. They have raised hell as students in Québec are seeing their tuition fees expectantly raised in the budget… Read More

Return of the covert coat

Oh, gee darn, it gets cold in Canada. While our fall is not quite cold enough to justify an overcoat, it’s certainly too cold to keep wearing your blazer. So what is a gentleman left to wear?My suggestion is probably foreign to a Canadian audience. Perhaps it is too noble of a suggestion, for it invokes landed gentry, the fox hunt and playing polo. Yes, it is the coat of the British rural nobility: the covert coat.The covert coat’s design is simple. It is effectively a three-button blazer, extended to the knees and made from covert cloth. A truly elegant covert coat will, additionally, have a velvet collar. The coat always has a ticket pocket and three lines of stitching instead of sleeve buttons.In fall, the temperature generally hovers around 10 degrees. Ideally, you would like a coat suited to this sort of environment. The British outdoors, save for summer, is generally in this temperature range, and the covert coat was originally designed for riding and for shooting small game. Its long length and its weight were used to protect riders and shooters from the wind and the cold of the British countryside; by coincidence, it’s perfect for the Canadian fall.So I have sold you on the practical aspect of the covert coat. But, for better or worse, we often make clothing decisions based on inherent social connotations. Unlike other stereotypically British pieces of clothing – the navy blue double-breasted suit connotes that one sits in the House of Commons – modern-day connotations of the covert coat are relatively obscure and, in North America, virtually non-existent.Over the past few years, more ‘city’ covert coats – ones that are charcoal or navy in colour – have become accepted urban wear. The stereotype of a country gentleman wearing a covert coat is… Read More