Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jack Layton's Plan to Help Money Mart

The NDP have the spectacular good fortune of never having to worry about actually implementing any of the policies they announce. Good thing too. Jack Layton's latest policy brain fart is a cap on credit card interest rates at something like 5 percentage points over prime. Sounds like a pretty good plan? Tired of getting hosed by greedy credit card companies/banks? Well, let's think what would actually happen if Layton's plan was to be put in place. As it is, Canadians put way too much on credit racking up monstrous credit card bills they are unable to pay off. One of the few disincentives for doing this is the absurd, and yes frankly near usurious, rate of interest applicable on outstanding credit card bills. If you remove that disincentive, chances are good that people will rack up more debt, maybe not in interest payments, but in larger purchases.

Banks will see this prospect and bluntly they won't like it. One of the reasons credit card interest rates are so high is that the risk of default is high. The high rate of return makes the cost/benefit analysis make sense for the owner of the debt be that a bank or a third party who purchased the debt. Eliminate the high rate of return and banks may prove a lot less likely to issue credit cards to people with marginal credit ratings... like people who don't pay off their credit cards every month. By forcing down interest rates, Layton may make credit cards a tool of the rich. Good you say? Credit cards are evil? Problem is as unfortunate as it may be, many Canadians rely on credit cards to make payments on essential items in between pay cheques. If the banks stopped giving these people credit cards, they would not stop having those cash shortages. Instead, working class Canadians who want access to easy credit would be forced to even more predatory places like payday loan offices. The only people who will actually benefit from this as far as I can tell are the good folks at Money Mart.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dead on the Order Paper

A list of bills that die when the writ is dropped follows. A remarkable number of these bills are becoming like Kenny on South Park, dead repeatedly:
  • C4 - Tougher sentencing on violent young offenders
  • C8 - Canada- Jordan Free Trade Agreement - I think this is dead for the third time
  • C10 - Senate Term Limits - Remember when Harper believed in Senate Reform?
  • C12 - Electoral reform to rejig provincial weights to reflect population - also a Kenny - now running out of time before the census comes out
  • C15 - Liability in the case of a nuclear accident - okay downright eerie
  • C16 - House Arrest Not Tough On Crime, Tories Tough on Crime... got that?
  • C17 - More Tough on Crime
  • C18 - Increase voter participation - maybe we should have gotten this passed this BEFORE having an election
  • C19 - Also election related. Candidates will be able to get loans to pay for their campaigns because this bill is dead on the order paper as well.
  • C21 - This bill is actually called Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime... when the Senate stands up, it dies
  • C22 - ISPs and Child Porn
  • C23 - see C16, in this case forgiveness (in the form of pardons) is no longer in keeping with conservative Christian values
  • C25 - Land use in Nunavut
  • C26 - Don't tell the council of Canadians this one died... fresh water protection
  • C27 - Wheat Board Reform - potential sleeper issue?
  • C32 - OMG they killed Copyright reform, those bastards!
  • C46 - Canada - Panama Free Trade Agreement - the Harper government must hold the record for most free trade deals killed on the order paper... at least they got the Colombia deal done this time
  • C49 - Smugglers, you know Iggy's buddies
  • C57 - Interprovincial trade
The list goes on. See in spite of appearances, politicians actually do make important decisions. Most of the above bills are far from perfect. It matters who gets to introduce legislation. It matters who passes bills.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Most Necessary Election

There are people in this country who believe that the election about to be called is unnecessary. That this election is about political posturing and not about the best interest of the Canadian people. They are wrong. The Harper government has proven repeatedly that it does not deserve the confidence of Canadians. Canadians should have the opportunity to express their lack of confidence. This government was elected because of a scandal that involved around $250 million being spent over the course of a number of years in ways that were seen to be more beneficial to the Liberal Party of Canada then the people of Canada. The Harper government has spent over $100 million in advertising in the last 15 months on ads that serve the Conservative Party of Canada and not the people of Canada. At this pace, by the time the "fixed" election date rolled around in the fall of 2012, the Tories would have spent more money on their self-serving ads than was spent in the entire sponsorship program. If their ethical dilemmas stopped there, perhaps something could have been worked out.

However, there is much more. A Conservative cabinet minister lies to the house, is caught in her lie and Stephen Harper allows her to stay on. He allows her to run under his party's banner in Durham. The Tories waste millions of taxpayers dollars trying to argue on a technicality that they didn't commit electoral fraud to win election in 2006. The people of Canada have spent $50 million trying to force the Tories to admit they effectively laundered money to avoid spending restrictions. Every day it seems, more scandals. A former aide to the Prime Minister uses his influence to get a sweetheart contract for his fiancee. This government has lied to Canadians, it has cheated Canadians and now we find out that they are willing to put the safety of the water supply in our most endangered communities at risk, if their friends can take a cut. Stephen Harper promised Canadians he would shore up the ethical shortcomings of Ottawa. He has failed to do so and Canadians should be able to take him to task.

Stephen Harper came to Ottawa promising to be prudent manager of the public purse. When he took office, the chief complaint about the budget was that the government was purposefully underestimating the size of the surplus. By the fall 2008, before Lehman Brothers collapsed and put the global economy into a tailspin, Canada was already running a deficit thanks to misguided tax cuts and wasteful spending. Given a carte blanche to try to spend their way out of a recession, the Tories have invested Canadians hard earned tax dollars and the hard earned tax dollars of their grandchildren on ephemeral projects instead of lasting infrastructure which will benefit Canadians for generation. A fake lake that didn't last more than a weekend. Fighter jets that will be obsolete upon delivery. A gazebo in the riding of Tony Clement that likely won't see out the decade. Lastly, the made sure that all this ephemeral spending was well known, printing out giant novelty cheques at taxpayers expense and slapping the Conservative Party logo on them. The Flaherty Conservatives have dug Canada a deep fiscal hole, it is time to take away Deficit Jim's shovel.

In 2006, Harper implored Canadians to stand up for Canada. Why, then, has this government failed to do so on the international stage. The Canadian people and their parliament told Stephen Harper that the troops had to be home by the summer of 2011. The Canadian military and their families implored the government to allow their war weary soldiers to rest from nine years of combat. The Harper government had an opportunity to stand up for Canada and say no to international pressure. The Harper government caved to American pressure. The Harper government in the face of a mounting deficit had the opportunity to get out of a costly military procurement project that will burden generations with its ever growing costs. They could have stood up for Canada. Instead they caved to American pressure.

This government received a mandate from the Canadian people based on promises that they made. They have broken those promises. They have failed the Canadian people. It is time for the Canadian people to decide if they still should have the right to govern this country. We all have a say in this. I say no.
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