Foundation for an election platform

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Sean in Ottawa
Foundation for an election platform

What the NDP (or any other party on the left) needs to do in order to go anywhere on fiscal responsibility is to outline a clear fiscal accountability plan before any tax increases.

This means having a summary of Canadian public accounting that is not 500 pages long and is not one that can only be read by experts -- that's baffle gab.

This accountability package should include a report presented at tax time as a part of your tax package. It should outline in a few pages and in plain language where the money goes-- what new programs or initiatives have cost and what their purpose is. It should outline what existing program areas cost and a report on their effectiveness. It should be produced and published by the Auditor General and printed by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Secondly, there should be an accountability framework for all proposed budget legislation that requires the government to lay out what the purpose is of each new initiative, the expected costs, who is expected to benefit, the purpose and the measurements by which we will later use to determine success.

Thirdly the accountability package should have a sustainability report analyzing the sustainability of the current tax framework over the longer term. It should also include estimates of what Canadians pay in taxes (including all taxes) and an analysis of the relative fairness of them.

Fourthly, the tax package should include a report of 1-2 pages from each of the elected federal political parties. That report should be mandated to fiscal and budget spending. Essentially providing Canadians with a choice of political messages on the fiscal situation and what choices Canadians have.

Fifth, the auditor should have her/his budget and mandate for auditing and value for money expanded.

Sixth, Based on the government's priorities an independent commission should be struck that publicly advises the government of what levels of taxation are required and which ones would both benefit the economy and serve to deliver the most fairness. This report would not be binding but would inform the house and the public. It should include all committments the government has made.

The NDP only after installing this accountability package would consider any tax increases. In any case the independent commission would warn the public of the need for higher taxes before the government made a decision but at least we would get a heads up if a government was taxing too far below its committments.

Now I recognize that this would add perhaps another 20 pages to the tax package alone but at least this would give Canadians some pause to consider why the government was taxing them and what value they were getting. I think people would be surprised how many would read those 20 pages or so. Indeed perhaps more than the number who watch election debates because it would be more relevant.

I think if the NDP actually did all this- it might shock the shit out of itself and get elected. People are fed up with smooth politicians that treat them as if they are stupid and don't allow those among us who are interested but don't have a year to do the research some way of overseeing the government. We should not be treated to any less than a shareholder in a major corporation. This enterprise called Canada is our enterprise.

The above accountability package is where I would begin.

If I had the resources I'd consider trying to run to do this because frankly I believe this is the only way we are going to get anything other than the Liberal Tory crap we are used to and the NDP does not compensate for the lack of these types of policies by offering friendlier rhetoric.

What I have offered is radical. Maybe it is actually the foundation of a new left-of-centre party based on public empowerment through representative democracy. It is in fact the only viable alternative to direct democracy which in fact is a failure because it is not accountable over time. It is also the only way the public can support public spending without resentment and opposition at a level that would handicap any activist government.


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Sean in Ottawa

I could have called this fundamental foundation for a fiscal democracy actually but I figured some might count that as presumptious

Uncle John

There are at least 140 federal government agencies which use public funds.


Are you going to list them as well?


You could group them sensibly, Uncle John.

A lot of what Sean wants to see does go into Treasury Board submissions, but those are never made public.  Maybe we could start by requiring that Treasury Board submissions of approved spending programs will be made public.

This is one risk in what Sean proposes, though, as I can only imagine what giving the Conservative government permission to start advertising through the tax package would wreak on us all (which is the way they'd interpret that proposal).

Generally, though, I like the idea of the plain language explanations ... and perhaps they could be written by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, rather than the Auditor General.  Plus I like the idea of the political parties each explaining their perspective, as it reminds people that parliament votes the funds.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I think it would be well worthwhile to do some accounting on recent military spending as well as the law and order agenda. Put the Conservatives and Liberals on the hot seat with respect to withdrawing troops in Afghanistan by calculating what it would take to maintain a defensive military with peace keeping obligations. The cost savings on that alone should be impressive. For good measure, up the investment in permanent disability pay for returning injured vets.

Do a similar cost analysis re: decriminalization of marijuanna and scrapping of all the new offences created by Harper. Demonstrate what the saving to courts and prisons would be.

I think a strong case can be made for maintaining the long form census that demonstrates not only how it helps all levels of governments conduct business and how costly it would be to them to try to find reliable statistics from other sources, but how it would have a negative impact on countless business' that rely on those statistics to conduct business. Also highlight how much money the government makes selling customized statistical runs to businesses.

The federal NDP need to break the public perception that they only know how to spend money on their so-called grandiose ideas.

Sean in Ottawa

None of the documents as I propose would be done by the government. The summary of finances statmenets etc would be Auditor General (or perhaps parliamentary budget officer but the AG has a longer tradition and less likely to be redefined). The Political pages 1-2 each would be from each party including the governing party but the government itself would not be producing the documents.

At least that is how I see it.

As for 140 agencies-- you can of course group and prepare a summary-- very little informaiton is needed on ongoing expenditures-- where there are new initiatives those need to be costed and explained and only for the previous year.

There is no reason why residents should not have what is in effect an annual report. Since the tax package is delivered free to post offices etc. at income tax time I think it should be included in it however it would not just be for those paying tax. I personally do not see taxpayers as a group having any rights except to fairness. All the rights I am thinking of are resident's rights.(By this I mean permanent residents or citizens)


I like it Sean...that being said Ms Fraser has proven partisan to me as she has not done any economic audits in almost 5 years while they were every other year in the past. This looks odd to say the least. Usually the AG reports are scathing, yet nothing on the cons spending worse than drunken sailors. No offence to drunken sailors. They have a reason, being out at sea for long voyages.

Course the libs and cons have been out to sea for a long time WTR to public policy but we seem to trust the captain when no land has been seen in decades. Keep bailing people maybe we will have a mutiny before the ship sinks from lack of pitch to fill all the holes appearing.


Thorin, I've read that Fraser is planning an audit of the stimulus spending, however the program is still on-going and it may be too soon to conduct one.  There is always a gap of a few years, especially as it takes several months for all the accounting to be completed and rolled up before an audit can realistically start (at least if it wants to report reliable results).


Hoe about any "Left" party declair how they will be dismantling Capitalism and implementing Socialism?


OO I can only imagine that the Fraser will have nothing but glowing reports with the caveat if it was privatized it would be more efficient. I'm only guessing but I am probably right. CBC had an article about the housing bubble. CCPA says we may hit one given overall sales are down but prices are up. CD howe says its nothing we have sound financials given the new mortgage rules.

Yeah because those new rules will be just fine for all the people that are already in hock. CCPA figures if the interest rates climb a percent or two we could see a lot more foreclosures. My worry isn't so much about the BoC rate(going up soon BTW stupid carney) But the horrible shape of the coming depression. We just announced more layoffs at Casino Windsor today and not to be outdone

Wheatley a small community of approx 1500 and is getting hit with 200 people laid off as they close the local Fish Factory. For one of all the industries you would think would be safe, food should be near the top. My work gave another dozen or so people the layoff on friday so its unlikely I will be back to my old job anytime soon.

June unemployment numbers dropped from 12.9 to 11.7 Sounds good till you see the headline in the paper 3 weeks ago. 42% increase in welfare applications(over a few years ago). Course this fallls to our A Hole city council to fund who won't...but it shows how there wasn't a growth in jobs to make our EI claims fall but people going past the 50 week period.

Our local unemployment numbers have to be close to 20 percent when you start to figure people back in school welfare and people who moved away to find work Non of which is a factor in how they determine EI numbers. I know of my close friends probably 20 families have moved elsewhere...

Going to rename windsor Flint Ontario...those june numbers don't even represent the 500 turfed from our now closed GM plant or the 400 in october at the ford plant that was recently announced. The worse part is the closure and selling off of the factories means they are never coming back period. Lay offs are bad but closures are far far worse.

So back to the original point. While Windsor may be a heap(canary in the coal mine to a degree) home foreclosures are sure to follow in this area given there is NO economy to speak of anymore. So CD Howe can say what they want but if dirty oil becomes a problem that will kill the golden goose those albertans have been given away freely for years and we will be making little to nothing. Look to see RIM in trouble if the india things isn't resolved, like nortel we could see the collapse of our little tech industry left.


Sorry didn't proof read the last one and there is so many grammar mistakes I don't want to fix them all. Thanks for no spelling flames.


Just reading the first sentence of your reply, Thorin, and wonder if you knew I meant Sheila Fraser the Auditor General, rather than the Fraser Institute.  I'll keep reading anyways.

ETA: Wow, I'm really sorry things are continuing to go downhill economy down your way.  I think I've been to Wheatley ... is it down by Leamington?

ETA again: But looking back at your earlier post, I do see that we both knew which Fraser was being talked about.  Sorry about that.

Sean in Ottawa

Wow Thorin-- great post solid info-- who is going to quibble with a typo or so when you deliver that?

Also today the news that the economy is growing now at barely a half a percent down from almost 2-- can the next quarter avoid a slip back in to recession?

I can't see this getting better for a while.



Yeah it is the one by leamington or point pelee the southernmost land area in canada(actually at the same latitute(or longitude?) as northern california.

OO ether either or, Fraser wise. Shiela might as well work for the FI She has done zero economic auditing. Someone(maybe sean) pointed out in another thread that it takes time for the numbers to be available. Well its 5 years now maybe we could start looking at the books. When you consider your taxes are looked at by may in every year,  I see no reason why they can't examine the books sooner than a few years down the road.

It is a choice made. Even the audits done have been all fluff. Hardly any criticism. I have mountains of failure on all fronts for Harper "The Worst PM in Canadian History Till Now" TM

Yeah things are as rough as when they closed the fisheries out east, but you hardly see it on the news the way you did when NL went toes up. Southwestern ontario(anything south of london) has been absolutely hammered for 5 years now. Nevermind 2 years of recession. Chatham has lost so much of its manufacturing I don't know what the do in that city anymore?

Clearly Seans ideas are good. Giving a public accounting would do wonders. Conservatives would disagree with the numbers as they don't agree with any facts. The second and more important thing is civics classes. Not canadian history, but civics. The coalition argument wouldnt seem so evil if people had even a rudimentary understanding of how our system of governance works. And the libs couldn't eff around playing both ends to the middle.

Like trying to make the gun registry a wedge on the left. So this is how iggy goes hard after the cons by trying to hurt the NDP. Maybe a compromise is the solution...naah wouldnt want that sounds too canadian. Something the two largest parties share. Both have leaders that hate canadian values.

The myth of conservatives as fiscally responsible lives on despite all evidence saying they are the worst managers out there. But you will never find that in a text book.

Chomsky makes a point often about post secondary education. He say it really doesn't make people more inclined to the left or progressive. They are programmed to behave more ridgedly to conform to the norms set out in society as taught in University. Or being more conservative. Also has to do with the income levels and belief that they did it by themselves(not everyone clearly). They feel closer to the bootstrap crowd running the right. "I did all by myself"..umm no you didn't. Not ever. No one is an island.

Myths of course. But they persist. Education even in the U.S. is subsidized, so if the true cost was placed on these people and not their well to do parents or the tax payer I am sure they would think differently about small government and the role that taxes play in a civilized society. Even Jesus said to pay them. If you happen to be christian, not that there is anything wrong with that ;)


Thorin, I've spent a little bit of time down in that area.  In some ways one would think it should have some great advantages, due to the southerly latitude and shorter winters (and of course, I love the wines from Point Pelee and the tomatoes from Leamington).  But with Navstar out of Chatham, and the assembly and parts plants in such dire straits, it seems it will take some big ideas to turns things around.  Why can't they fabricate wind turbines down that way, for example?  You'd think there would be a growing demand.


Actually we do produce the columns for turbines and they are popping up like dandelions all across the county. I am putting in my app with one of the companies doing it. Need to brush up on my welding skills a bit. There is a lot of push back against it too. Eyesore and the health effects BS talking points form the other energy producers.

Even got into it with my hygienist about it. Her hubby a pediatrics dentist is upset at his boating space in lake erie being filled up with turbines. Yeah cause the lake is so small.Try a smaller boat A HOLE. It will destroy the it will change the view. People said teh same thing about antennae on the roofs in the 50s does anyone even notice them these days?

Pelee Island has many of my favourite(lower costing) wines. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Merlot are excellent and VQA I tried the colio equivelant being only 30 KM from pelee island...not the same or nearly as good. Some of PI wines I would rank up there with the best of the best. They are lauded for the ice wines and brandys' but I find them too sweet. Most wines over a 2 are too sweet including zinfiendals(sp)...just my dry pallet I guess.

Our mayor is in search of mega projects that will do little. 60 million for a canal for about 5 blocks of the downtown with a marina for luxury yaghts...seriously..our initial estimate on our arena was 50 million and it came out to 68 million and only holds 6500 people. What a waste. How much will the canal project run once they run into something of significants underground. Wants to spend 30 million for an olympic pool this week. with an annual budget to operate of 2 million.. Everything for the rich as always. Cuase people will swarm to our crap city because of a 1 km canal or a BIG pool.

Meanwhile he got rid of our garbage collection and outsourced it. Sold off all the fairly new garbage trucks for 1 million. What a joke. Can't wait to vote this jerk out in a few months. Cut cut cut services and wonders why we have no tax base left. Everyone expects someone else to pay the high..scratch that, middle income wages.

All this after a 2-3 month lockout by the city of the garbage collection last year, only to outsource them this year. And people are happy about this. Again civics and economic classes are badly needed. Can't expect everyone to earn a pittance and still spend spend spend. Most people are getting by just enough to have cloths food and shelter and barely that.

Our city botches pretty much everything. The new bridge is a mess. The "Chrysler Tower" Became a white elephant much as the Chrysler theatre(formerly the cleary auditorium) has been next door since the day it opened. If designing a building for a riverfront should you make it a square and use 65% of your frontage for parking or make it a rectangle and the back half of the property for parking...well we did it wrong.

To add to it. We got taken in a shakedown for millions by the designers and brought in a construction firm from Toronto back when the city wasn't doing much construction work for condos or anything. So it didn't even help the local economy much. The tower was billed as the largest sky scrapper south of toronto at 36 floors. The final construction is only 16 floors not even the tallest building in 3 blocks. The CIBC building across the street is that tall. They could have put a thicker footing to allow the expansion should it ever need it but it would have cost an extra 1 million on a 100 million dollar project. Normal short sightedness.

The building has to be rented out at exorbitant costs(our Downtown leases for less than half back then and less than a third now) that were written into the contract. So the building sits 1/2 empty so isn't making the profits they guaranteed us. But no one audits the books to see this albatross for what it is.

The weather is actually pretty bad for living in. HOT humid summers and cold damp icy winters.  Had people from up north complain about the dampness cuase it rarely gets cold enough to get rid of the dampness. August and July close to 40 day above 30 with 50+ humidity to feel in the low 40s almost all summer. Too crappy to even go to our toxic beaches. Add to that the cost to heat and cool your homes. No breaks really. We cant even be canadian enough to have ice rinks in the winter. They melt because we rarely have a cold snap that isn't broke every 2-3 weeks with 10 degree temps.

Sorry to derail the tread Sean...just some grousing about our great city council mostly of our "local business leaders" that couldn't lead a one man band.


I left Wiondsor. It's a sink hole..

They have the worlds best mold makers in that neck of the woods. But it's cheaper to make the molds in China and then ship them to Windsor to be fixed, then it is to have them built in Windsor to begin  with.