By Joan Janzen
A gift tag read: “I got you a new washer and dryer for Christmas”. The gift contained a clothes pin and a flat, round washer used in plumbing projects. This is what can happen when people say they don’t want anything for Christmas, or don’t voice their opinion.
An old quote can be traced back to philosopher John Stuart Mill, who in 1867 delivered an address at the University of St. Andrews saying, “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion.”
Which is why I have been repeating the words of Canadians, and others, who are not only voicing their opinions, but bringing information forward. Those who are speaking up are generating hope into Canadians, and letting them know that they too can make a difference.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s (CTF) Director, Franco Terrazzano is one of those voices. Last month he testified at the finance committee, on behalf of the CTF. You may have listened to his address, which is readily available for anyone to hear, but his four-minute testimony bears repeating, so here it is …
Franco Terrazzano speaking to the finance committee: You’re going to hear from hundreds of individuals and groups asking for more money. I’m here on behalf of 235,000 taxpayers asking you to spend less.
No more spending $8,800 on a sex toy show in Germany. No more racking up nearly six figures on fancy airplane food during a week long trip. No more giving former Governor Generals a $200,000/year expense account for the rest of their life. No more taking pay raise after pay raise while millions of Canadians struggled during the pandemic. No more giving 300,000 bureaucrats a raise while their neighbours lost their jobs or business. No more giving failing crown corporations like the Bank of Canada millions in bonuses. No more announcing $295 million for the Ford Motor Company, $420 million for Algoma steel, $12 million for Loblaws, $20 million for Maple Leaf Foods, $110 million for Toyota, or announcing $372 million for Bombardier.
Canadians need real relief, but Canadians are paying too much tax because government wastes too much money. No wonder 72% of Canadians say they pay too much tax, according to a recent IPSIS poll released. Fifty-one other national governments have cut taxes during the pandemic, or to ease the pain of inflation. That includes more than half of the G7 and G20 countries. Two-thirds of OECD countries have cut taxes during that time.
While other countries cut taxes, Ottawa sticks Canadians with higher tax bills. The government has increased gas taxes, payroll taxes and alcohol taxes. The government is getting ready to impose a second carbon tax next year through fuel taxes. But Canadians cannot afford higher taxes and we can’t afford to waste more money on covering interest charges on the government credit card.
The government isn’t scheduled to balance the budget until 2041 under the current trajectory. That’s according to the recent PBO data. Interest charges over that period will cost taxpayers $800 billion by 2041. That’s a cost of $18,000 for every Canadian and is hundreds of billions of dollars that can’t be used to improve services or lower taxes, because that money is going to fund bond managers on Bay Street.
But there is some good news. The government could balance the budget next year. The government could also reverse its tax hikes, and the government could do that by bringing program spending back to pre pandemic and all time high levels of 2018/2019, adjusted upward for inflation and population growth.
In 2018/2019 the government spent more money than it did during any single year during WWII, even after accounting for inflation and population differences. That means the government overspent for years, so finding savings in every area of the budget is like finding water in the ocean.
Fortunately we’re now hearing the finance minister say that if politicians want to fund new programs and spend more money, they’re going to have to find savings in other areas of the budget. And spending buckets of extra cash would only be pouring gasoline on the inflation fire.
Now we’re sure that politicians of all parties would agree with at least some of the savings in the CTF’s 80 page budget submission, and we’re happy to work with you on that. Because Canadians are struggling, and Canadians can’t afford any more taxes, and any more tax increases, and Canadians can’t afford to waste any more money on interest charges. Fortunately the government can provide relief and balance the budget. It will just take modest spending restraints.
That was the end of his testimony, but when asked further questions, he said it’s not sustainable to spend more money on everything forever. That’s not a good way to try and run the finances of a country.
The CTF is confident that Canadians fighting for taxpayers makes a difference. Canadians who want to make a difference aren’t interested in engaging in pointless arguments, but they are interested in speaking up, and bringing hope to others.