Canadian Taxpayers Federation

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Canadian Taxpayers Federation
CanadianTaxpayersFederation.png
Abbreviation CTF
Motto Stand up. Be heard!
Formation 1990
Type Government watchdog
Headquarters 265-438 Victoria Ave E
Location
Chairman of the Board Michael Binnion
Website Taxpayer.com

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is a federally incorporated, non-profit organization and taxpayers advocacy group that claims over 84,000 supporters across Canada and is governed by a six person board of directors. The organization advocates lower taxes, a reduction of what it considers to be wasteful government spending, and an increase in government accountability. It was founded in Saskatchewan in 1990 through a merger of the Association of Saskatchewan Taxpayers and the Resolution One Association of Alberta.[1]

The CTF maintains a federal office in Ottawa, and offices in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Halifax. Provincial offices conduct research and advocacy activities specific to their provinces, and act as regional organizers of Canada-wide initiatives.[1] The group opened the office in Halifax, partly due to a pension scandal in September 2010.[2][3]

The federation uses a combination of media interviews, press conferences, speeches, presentations, petitions and publications to advocate its political views. The CTF publishes The Taxpayer magazine four times a year, and a regular e-mail Action Updates and a website/blog. CTF offices also issue weekly Let’s Talk Taxes commentaries to media outlets.[1]

Personnel[edit]

The organization has spokespeople who address issues on a regional basis: Scott Hennig (VP, Communications – Edmonton), Gregory Thomas and Nick Bergamini (Federal), Jordan Bateman (British Columbia), Derek Fildebrandt (Alberta), Colin Craig (Prairies), Candice Malcolm (Ontario) and Kevin Lacey (Atlantic).[4]

Gregory Thomas, the federal spokesperson for CTF, has worked in both the private and public sector. In the public sector he served on the staff of two federal cabinet ministers in Ottawa, advising on small business and First Nations economic development policy. In the private sector, he has spent over 20 years in the investment industry, and before that in business magazine and book publishing.[5]

Kevin Lacey, who works in the Atlantic office, served as an adviser for Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm from 2003 to 2006, before being employed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office from 2006 to 2008.[4] Lacey has also worked for two free-market organizations, the Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.[4]

Scott Hennig's previous political experience includes working as a speechwriter and public policy researcher with the Government Members' Research Branch and is a member of the Fort Saskatchewan Urban Forest Committee.[6]

Alberta Director, Derek Fildebrandt served for three years as the organization's National Research Director in the CTF's federal office. Previous to that he worked as a policy analyst for the Forum of Labour Market Ministers in Victoria, BC and for a national security think-tank. During his undergraduate degree he founded and led the Reagan-Goldwater Society, a free market-oriented student group that frequently attacked the professor and student unions at Carleton University.[7]

Candice Malcolm, the Ontario Director[8] last worked for Sun News Network as their Director of Research,[9] working before that as a Press Secretary to a federal cabinet minister and on various provincial and federal election campaigns. Candice has also interned with the Fraser Institute and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Nick Bergamini is a recent graduate from Carleton University with a degree in journalism.[10]

Jordan Bateman, BC Director, left his position on Township Council for Langley Township, BC, to join the CTF.[11] He is a former journalist. Jordan and his wife are both licensed wedding chaplains.

Colin Craig is the Prairie Director. He previously served as the organizations Manitoba Director. Colin was the project director for the City of Winnipeg’s Economic Opportunity Commission before coming to the CTF.

Troy Lanigan is the current President and CEO, but has worked with the organization since 1992. He also serves on the board of directors for the Stockholm Sweden-based World Taxpayers Association.[12]

CTF staff and board directors are prohibited from holding a membership in or donating funds to any political party. The CTF is independent of any institutional affiliations.

Board of Directors[edit]

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s has a six member volunteer board of directors. The board's mission is to maintain the integrity of the organization, conduct, strategic planning and finances. The board must approve goals and tactics and a budget on an annual basis. Board members are prohibited from holding a membership in any political party.[13]

The current members of the board of directors include: Michael Binnion (Chair), Karen Selick, John Mortimer, Ken Azzopardi, Erin Chutter and Paul Pagnuelo.

Former Directors[edit]

Politicians with roots in the federation include Conservative Party Member of Parliament Jason Kenney, who had previously been the federation's CEO. Former Alberta director John Carpay was a Reform Party candidate in the riding of Burnaby-Kingsway in the 1993 federal election.[14] Walter Robinson, CTF federal director from 1998 to 2004, left the position to run as a Conservative in the 2004 federal election in Ottawa-Orléans.

John Williamson, the CTF’s former Federal Director is now a Member of Parliament for the riding of New Brunswick Southwest.[15] Adrienne Batra, the CTF’s former Manitoba Director is now the Toronto Sun’s comment page editor, after a two-year stint working for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.[16] John Carpay, the organization’s former Alberta Director is now President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.[17] Mark Milke, the CTF’s former Alberta and BC Director is now a Senior Fellow with the Fraser Institute.[18] David Maclean, the CTF’s former Saskatchewan Director is now Vice President with the Alberta Enterprise Group.[19]

In 2006, many of the federation's provincial directors had roots in conservative parties. Ontario director Tasha Kheiriddin was once president of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Youth Federation and later a ministerial aide in the government of Ontario PC premier Mike Harris.[20] The former Saskatchewan and Alberta director was David MacLean.[21] Adrienne Batra of the Manitoba office worked as a staff person for the Saskatchewan Party in Saskatchewan.[22] Sara MacIntyre, the federation's BC director, worked as a researcher in the Conservative Party of Canada's leader's office in Ottawa.[citation needed] After leaving CTF, MacIntyre became Prime Minister Stephen Harper's press secretary.[23]

Maureen Bader, who was the spokesperson for British Columbia, parted ways with the organization in October 2010.[24][25]

Activities[edit]

CTF initiatives include public relations campaigns and paid advertising. Public policy campaigns are intended to incorporate greater involvement and support from the general public. CTF representatives regularly appear before legislative hearings and committees. CTF directors publish annual detailed pre-budget submissions, as well as reports on public issues including health care, tax reform, and "whistle blower" and freedom of information legislation.

Government spending[edit]

The organization regularly comments on government spending, and in 1993 built a "debt clock" to display the per-second increase of Canadian's debt and the share owed by each family. The clock was resurrected in 2011 to show the share of debt owed by each person in Canada.[26] The clock is still used at events across the country, most recently in 2011 when the debt clock was toured across the country to raise awareness of Canada's growing debt burden. There is also an online version at debtclock.ca.[26]

In 1995 the organization also organized 19 Tax Alert rallies to promote lower taxes.[27][28] The rallies were attended by 20,000 Canadians, and gathered 233,000 petition signatures.[29] At this time, the organization also encouraged governments to adopt legislation requiring budgets to be balanced.[30] Ontario PC Leader Mike Harris signed the pledge drafted by CTF that stated he would not increase taxes without gaining voter approval first.[31]

Events[edit]

Gas Tax Honesty Day[edit]

Gas Tax Honesty Day is a day where the organization advocates for federal and provincial governments to end the practice of calculating the GST or HST after it has already levied provincial and federal excise taxes on gasoline. The organization has organized this occasion for 15 years as of 2013.[32] CTF reported that Canada collected $1.6 billion in additional taxes due to this practice.[32]

TaxFighter Award[edit]

The TaxFighter Award given by the organization to Canadian citizens which it believes demonstrates commitment and dedication to the cause of "taxpayer emancipation."[33] The awards have been given since 2000.[34]

Some of the most recent winners include Former premier Ralph Klein and his first finance minister Jim Dinning for passing balanced budgets without increasing taxes.[35]

Other past winners include Dave Rutherford, a talk radio host, has also received the award after being on the air for 42 years.[36]

In 2007 the TaxFighter Award was granted to three people: National Post & Edmonton Journal columnist Lorne Gunter, Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck, and Edmonton senior Patricia Ehli.[37]

In 2000, CTF awarded Mike Harris the award for the passage of the Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act.[38]

Teddy Awards[edit]

The "Teddies" are awarded to government entities and politicians wasteful spending or high taxes. Founded in 1999, The Teddies are named after Ted Weatherill, a former Chairman of the Canada Labour Relations Board who was terminated in 1998 for expenses incompatible with his position.[39] The expenses included $150,000 in meals over eight years and over $700 for a lunch in Paris.

Three golden sows are awarded federally, provincially and a lifetime achievement to any bureaucrat, politician, government or government agency every February.[33]

History of Award Winners

Year The Federal Teddy The Provincial Teddy The Municipal Teddy Lifetime Achievement Teddy
2013[40] Chief Roger Redman, whom earned more than the Prime Minister for leading the Standing Buffalo First Nation. Former Alberta Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli for canceling a junket for the London games and $113,000 in empty hotel rooms. The Toronto Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council for its $158 million bill for the Toronto Public School District, including $143 to attach a pencil sharpener to a desk and $266 for hanging three pictures on a wall. Bev Oda for expensing chauffeured limos, luxury hotels, an air purifier so she could smoke in her office, and a $52,000 annual pension.
2012[41] Agriculture Canada Tobacco Transition Program which doubled the number of tobacco farmers in Canada instead of reducing it. Alberta MLA’s who earn $1,000 monthly for a committee that hasn't held a meeting since 2008. Montreal’s snowplow service, which was billed before snowfall. Gilles Duceppe for collecting $140,765 in pensions after losing his seat in Parliament.
2011[42] G8/G20 costing $1.24 billion Ontario tax collectors paid severance for keeping jobs: $56-million (max estimate) Edmonton haiku contest on riding the city bus, where the award was $5,000. Former Toronto Mayor, David Miller, for increasing the city's operation budget by 44 percent ($2.8 billion) and the city's debt by over $1 billion.
2010[43] MP Mailer Mail service, where the cost increased by $4.1 million in three years. Nova Scotia MLA Expenses, including expenses from Len Goucher for expensing 11 computers, 12 printers, 5 digital cameras, 4 video cameras and the Xbox game Dance Dance Revolution. City of Toronto’s Homeless Audit, which paid people $100 daily to dress up and pretend to be homeless. Gold-plated MP Pensions
2009[44] Canada Council for the Arts, which spent $15,000 last year to help bring a Belgian art exhibit to Quebec that produces a poop-like substance when fed with food. It also spent $40,000 on a project that seeks to fly a giant inflatable banana over the state of Texas. All Nations Coordinated Response Network for hosting a $2,292 spa day for its employees. City of Vancouver for its 2010 Olympic athletes village for incurring $875-million in debt for building the condos. The "Big 3" auto bailout which cost $780-million in grants and loans.
2008[45] Senator Raymond Lavigne for having a staffer cut down a neighbor's tree and for the $23,500 for travel, being charged with fraud, breach of trust, and obstruction of justice after the ensuing investigation. Former Lieutenant Governor Lise Thibault, who reported over $700,000 in expenses. Former Toronto Catholic School Board Trustee Christine Nunziata for expensing vacations in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Canadian Tax Code, which has increased from 11 pages in 1917 to 2,226 pages.
2007[46] CTF awarded Colin Kenny the Federal Teddy for arranging a week long trip to Dubai where only one three hour meeting was scheduled and the hotel bill cost taxpayers $30,000 The Provincial Award went to Tom Parkinson, CEO of Hydro One for having $45,000 in personal expenses, a $1.5 million salary and a $3 million severance check. The Municipal Award went to the city of Edmonton spent $30,000 to hire 30 actors from Washington, D.C, to hand out yo-yos in the U.S. capital on Canada Day. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for passing the largest tax hike in Ontario's history and passing several deficit budgets.
2006[47] Joe Volpe, MP for Eglinton Lawrence for charging $60,000 in travel and hospitably expenses in a few months. Retracted. City of Richmond local council for incurring the following expenses for building an Olympic speed skating rink: $460,000 travel, $325,000 has gone to consultants, $500,000 to programming, $960,537 for site preparation and over $2.3 million for a design drawing. David Dingwall for having $846,464 in expenses for meals, travel, limousines rides, and country club memberships.
2005[48] Lucie McClung, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, for spending $142,000 traveling to Hong Kong, New Zealand, Brazil, Barbados and Europe. She also expensed $9,000 in meals, her $500 Rideau Club membership fee and arranged a spa day for prisoners. Roy Romanow for a $36 million potato farm that went bust Toronto City Hall for spending almost $1 million on hotel rooms for the homeless, who never checked in. André Ouellet for having $2 million in expenses without showing any receipts.
2004[49] Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano paying $1.5-million for three identical reports. The Auditor-General recently revealed $100-million was paid to firms for little or no work. Manitoba Arts Council for awarding 5,000 tax dollars to fund Aliza Amihude's jewelry made with her toenails, pubic hair, mouse droppings and dead ladybugs. Adrienne Clarkson for taking a $5.3-million trip to Finland, Russia, and Iceland despite having no foreign policy role.
2003[50] The Canadian Firearms Centre for costing $1 billion in oversight City of Winnipeg for its $1 million toilet - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
2002[51] Farm Credit Canada (FCC) for its $433,000 name change from Farm Credit Corporation to Farm Credit Canada Alberta for having $732,064 in legal bills - Minister Brian Tobin for his championing the $2 billion to $5 billion broadband boondoggle project
2001[52] Canadian Alliance MPs elected in 1993 that opted backed into the MP pension plan SIGA and its former CEO for squandering $1.7 million of public money - British Columbia Premier Glen Clark raised income taxes, surtaxes, user fees, crown corporation fees, property taxes, automobile taxes, liquor taxes, cigarette taxes, estate taxes, medicare taxes, corporate capital taxes, general business taxes, small business taxes, resource taxes, sales taxes and fuel taxes by a whopping $1.5 billion over two budgets.
2000[53] Human Resources and Development Canada grant jobs scandal Government of British Columbia for the Fast Ferry Fiasco: The Audit - Heritage Minister Sheila Copps for her legacy of anti-taxpayer initiatives

The 2006 Provincial/Municipal Teddy was awarded to the Manitoba provincial government, nominated as "Trans-Manitoba" for "Special Achievement in Cosmetic Makeover and Budget Misallocation". The CTF accused the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority of spending money on unnecessary cosmetic surgery, including $981,000 for 218 abdominoplasty and other fat-reducing surgeries, and $10,900 for 31 vials of Botox. The following day the Winnipeg Free Press printed a follow-up story ("Foolish funding? Not a bit, MDs say") with information from Manitoba doctors indicating that the expenditures were for necessary medical treatments.[54] The abdominoplastys were performed on patients with chronic stomach infections that did not respond to antibiotics, while the botulinum toxin was used to treat spastic muscle disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Other conditions that require these treatments include cerebral palsy, cancer, and burns.

Adrienne Batra, the Manitoba director of the CTF, said that, "These types of services do not fall within public expectations."[54] However, on March 9, 2006 the Canadian Taxpayers Federation announced a withdrawal of the Teddy Waste Award given to the government of Manitoba.[55] The withdrawal claimed that a December 4, 2005 story in the Winnipeg Sun implied that the Botox treatments and abdominoplastys were for cosmetic purposes.

Commentary[edit]

Government salaries and pensions[edit]

The CTF regularly comments on salaries and pensions of legislators, and is only organization to regularly calculate and release details about politicians’ pensions and benefits.[29] CTF also has continually advocated against tax-free allowances, which exempt a part of legislators' salaries from income tax. CTF advocated fully taxable salaries in Ontario, BC, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. These provinces made salaries fully taxable, although in 2007 British Columbia reinstated tax-free allowances.[29][56]

In 1995, CTF put out 242 pigs on the Parliament Hill lawn to represent MPs who said they would join the new pension plan.[57]

In 2006, the organization advocated that Calgary also remove tax-free allowances for municipal councillors.[58]

In 2010, the organization began publishing reports on the ratio of funding for pensions between taxpayers and legislators. In June it was released that the ratio for the members of parliament was $4 for every $1 contributed by a parliamentarian.[59] A more recent report showed that in New Brunswick the ratio was $16 to every $1, and for Nova Scotia it was $22 to every $1.[60][61] The pension plan costs taxpayers $7.5 million annually.[61] In Nova Scotia, 24 MLA's could collect $23 million in benefits if they live till they're 75.[62] CTF has advocated that the pension plans be changed to have equal contributions from taxpayers and legislators,[63] and for a citizen's oversight body to make recommendations for MLA compensation.[64]

In reaction to the report, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has said that he's open to reviewing the process for pensions, but that he is not ready to review it currently.[62] Dexter currently would collect $2 million in pension benefits.[65]

During 2012, the CTF ran a national campaign to get MPs to reform their pensions. They launched billboards across the country targeting the $24 to $1 contribution ratio (taxpayers to MPs), ran a video in Toronto bar and gym bathrooms, and flew an airplane towing a banner behind it over Parliament Hill demanding pension reform. MPs reformed their pension in October 2012.[66]

In 2013, CTF began demanding that convicted politicians lose their pensions.[67]

Taxes[edit]

From 2003 to 2008, CTF worked to abolish the Alberta Health Premium, criticizing it for not funding health care, having high administrative costs, and for being a "regressive tax".[29] In 2008, Premier Ed Stelmach abolished the tax, which had previously brought in $900 million to the province's general revenue fund.[68][69] The tax cut saved individuals $528 and families $1,056 on average.[70][71]

The organization holds an annual "Gas Tax Honesty" day where the organization reimburses some consumers the amount paid at the pump that is taxes.[29] As of 2010, over 150,000 Canadians signed the CTF’s gas tax petition demanding lower and dedicated fuel taxes.[29] The organization advocates that fuel taxes be dedicated to a "municipal roadway trust" and not to general spending. In 2009, Canadians paid $5.9 billion in federal gas taxes, and in 2010 32 percent of the average fuel bill was taxes.[72][73] The organization has been holding "Gas Tax Honesty" day for 12 years, and Manitoba and Saskatchewan has passed legislation requiring the fuel tax be dedicated to roads.[74]

Government transparency[edit]

In 1990 the CTF led a petition drive in Saskatchewan and Alberta which lead to the implementation of freedom of information legislation (FOI). The organization also organized advocates in British Columbia and Manitoba to oppose the weakening of existing FOI laws.[29] CTF also participates in "Right to Know Week", where multiple organizations advocate more open government.[75]

In 2009, CTF joined the Canadian Newspaper Association and BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association requesting that the Prime Minister follow U.S. President Barack Obama's example and post details of stimulus spending online.[76]

More recently, the organization demanded that Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (MLAs) post their credit card receipts and expenses online, and that the Legislative Assembly's expenses be subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.[77] This was in addition to a petition to have members of parliament (MPs) and senators be audited after audits of the British parliament and Nova Scotia members revealed wasteful and unethical spending.[78][79] In June, the House of Commons agreed to allow spot audits but would not allow the release the names of those being audited.[80]

CTF also supported Ontario PC Member of Provincial Parliament Lisa MacLeod's effort to disclose all contracts and grants over $10,000 and travel/hospitality expenses.[81]

In 2012, the Alberta government began requiring 400 senior staff and MLAs to post expenses, including receipts, online.[82]

Aboriginal policy reform[edit]

In 2002, Gordon Benoit went to court in Ottawa, saying that an oral promise made to his ancestors in 1899 exempted him and all Treaty 8 Indians from paying taxes. Benoit was challenged by the CTF who argued that a race-based tax exemption would violate equality provisions, international treaties and the basic principles of fairness.[83] In March 2002, Benoit won his first case when Judge Douglas Campbell ruled in his favour.[84] However, CTF appealed the decision and the second ruling was in CTF's favor, with the Supreme Court dismissing the case in 2004.[29]

In December 2009, the CTF worked with a whistleblower in Manitoba to expose what it referred to as outrageous salaries on the Peguis First Nation. While disclosing the pay to the media, the CTF began a long campaign to convince the federal government to begin posting the salaries of all aboriginal politicians' pay online as well as each reserve's annual audit documents.[85]

In November 2010, with data obtained through access to information requests, the CTF released a report that revealed for 2008-09 that over 80 reserve politicians earned more than the after-tax income of $184,000 of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the same period. 222 reserve politicians were paid more in tax-free income in 2008-09 than their respective provincial premiers, who averaged an after-tax income of $109,893. One reserve politician in Atlantic Canada was found to have been paid a combined tax-free salary and honorarium totaling $978,468. The amounts for reserve politicians included travel and per diems in comparison to the base salary of other politicians[86]

In 2013, the federal government passed Bill C-27 requiring all aboriginal bands to disclose on a public website their compensation amounts.[87]

Canadian Firearms Registry[edit]

The organization has opposed the Canadian Firearms Registry, calling it "ill-conceived crime-fighting measure that did little more than add paperwork and expenses for hunters, farmers and recreational gun users."[88] In 2010, the CTF supported private member's bill C-391 which would have eliminated the registry. The federal government eliminated the registry in April 2012 with the passing of Bill C-19.[88][89]

References[edit]

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