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Stephann Sahmkow

Stephann Sahmkow is a student in Political Science and Economics at Concordia University

BILL C-44: A silent and tragic defeat for fiscal transparency in Canada

Bill C-44, the Trudeau government's first budget implementation bill, was passed on June 22. It has rightly generated a great amount of controversy among Canada's fiscal conservative community ever since. The reason behind such controversy is none other than the proposed creation of a Canadian infrastructure bank. Such a bank would add more bureaucratic levers to our government spending process, which could drastically endanger the ability of non-governmental organization to track government cash flows, its relationship with both domestic and foreign private investors, and its investment and spending priorities. When the bill was first introduced, The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the main fiscal watchdog in Canada, raised concerns about the institutional complexity of such a bank, asking the government to separate the proposition into an individual bill of its own to allow both Houses to consider the subject with more detail. Despite the PBO’s concerns, the government not only decided to ignore these recommendations, but it also proposed within the same bill to radically reform the role and responsibilities of the PBO itself. Such reforms have gone undetected among most of the media, who focus their concerns instead on the creation of the infrastructure bank. Nonetheless, such distractions are more than unfortunate to Canadians, as the changes to the PBO represent a major defeat for fiscal transparency. Before speaking about these radical reforms, it is important to present an overview about the nature of the PBO and some of the clashes that have aroused between government and the institution. Currently, the Office of the PBO is part of the Library of Parliament. The Library is a non-partisan organization that takes care of both creating and recording the minutes of all proceedings and legislations that have place within the parliament, crown corporations or any organization that has either a legal or… Read More

Michael Chong – A Conservative Leader

  On the eve of the vote for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada despite a contentious environment there has been a topic on which most of the leadership candidates, but one, have sided together on: “A carbon tax is a Liberal Policy to take money out of the pockets of Canadians and limit market competition in Canada”. These have been the most used words by the overall body of the CPC at every leadership debate since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed his plan for a carbon tax. However, one candidate, Michael Chong, who has also been labelled as “The Red Tory”, has challenged this view by proposing a “revenue neutral carbon tax”, framing it as a key component of the most policy focused Conservative platform yet presented in the leadership race. The question arises, can a Carbon Tax ever be called a Conservative policy? Chong's plan offers to control Green House Gas (GCH) emissions. However, by doing so Chong is also proposing the elimination of other more economically inefficient measures to curb GCH emissions such as fuel and coal-fired electricity regulations that directly affect the price of the energy sector that serves millions of Canadians. Furthermore, Chong is proposing to cut personal and corporate income taxes by 10% and 5% respectively. In Canada, specifically in Alberta where the marginal cost of fund is the highest, the cost of reducing a dollar of corporate income tax encourages firms to invest around 60$ on capital. Investment in capital is usually directly followed by investment on labour, new jobs and employment opportunities. Chong is also proposing that revenues generated from the carbon market will allow him to cut three of the five tax income brackets, followed by the doubling of working income tax benefits for low-income Canadian families allowing them… Read More