Elizabeth May 2013 Budget Consultation Letter

Elizabeth May 2013 Budget Consultation Letter
Posted on March 26, 2013 | Elizabeth May | Written on January 28, 2013
Comments

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

The Green Party of Canada makes public Elizabeth May's federal budget recommendations sent to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as part of his Department's pre-budget consultations. Mr. Flaherty solicits input from all MPs in the run up to the preparation of the federal budget. In her letter, the Green Leader and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands emphasizes the need to diversify Canada's energy portfolio while placing a price on carbon: The key point is that, within the constraints of your own policies, action is needed now on climate and some portion of your budget should speak to the necessity of carbon pricing. As well, the existing commitment to end subsidies to fossil fuels should be accelerated.

Hon. Minister James Flaherty House of Commons
Room 435S, Centre Block
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Minister,

Over the last few months, the world's attention has shifted back to the threat posed by the climate crisis. This month's inaugural address by U.S. President Barack Obama placed a particularly clear emphasis on the imperative of addressing the threat posed by global warming. Similarly, in Davos last week, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, after laying out the current global economic threats, moved to the menace posed by climate change. The IMF has identified climate as a larger threat than the global economic instability. In the same vein were strong words from the former senior economist to the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, and the current head of the World Bank, Jim Young Kim.

Under the current Prime Minister, your administration has always stated it will ensure Canada's climate plans will match the rigour of those in the US. To put ourselves in a position to be ready for the challenge, to avoid falling behind, we must diversify our energy portfolio, while placing a price on carbon. Major leaders in the oil patch, such as Royal Dutch Shell, have called for carbon pricing. Quebec and California have moved ahead on their own. Meanwhile, legislators in the US are increasingly drawn to the benefits of a revenue neutral carbon tax. While this is the approach most often supported by economists, I am aware that both your administration and the Official Opposition favour some form of cap and trade. While the Green Party sees enormous risks of fraud and unnecessary transactional costs in the set-up of a cap and trade scheme, any mechanism for pricing carbon is better than none, and we would not oppose such efforts.

The key point is that, within the constraints of your own policies, action is needed now on climate and some portion of your budget should speak to the necessity of carbon pricing. As well, the existing commitment to end subsidies to fossil fuels should be accelerated. The recent enthusiasm for Clean Tech should be highlighted in the budget. According to the Pembina Institute, Canada's economy has a potential for $60 billion in Clean Tech by 2020. The new all-partyClean Tech Caucus, chaired by Jay Aspin, can verify the potential. Continuing support for the Sustainable Technology Development Fund is critical.

As was the case last year, the Canadian economy continues in a nearly stagnant state. Economic growth has slowed, and although the recession is officially over, Canadians are still nervous about our economic recovery.

Some elements of the economy are particularly worrying. We are still lagging in innovation, research and development. The productivity gap with the US is widening. Small and medium sized enterprises are struggling and the increases in EI premiums hit them hard. Youth unemployment is still persistently and unacceptably high. The construction sector has slowed and businesses need an injection to keep viable companies from going under.

Overall, Canadians need to get back to work. Support for the CleanTech sector and for investments in energy efficiency are timely and would put hundreds of thousands of Canadians to work. It is time to bring back and expand programmes to retrofit residential, commercial and institutional buildings to reduce costly energy waste. As well, I hope you will consider some targeted tax changes to boost affordable housing. Please consider restoring the tax treatment for purpose built rental housing. As well, remove the deemed GST (HST) attribution for developers who temporarily rent unsold condo units. One area of injustice relative to pensions for those who served in the military, RCMP or judiciary is the rejection of spousal benefits for those who married after age 65. As Canadians live longer, this is increasingly common. There is no justification for applying the Boer War era policy (aimed at “gold-diggers” who married Boer War veterans) to disallow pensions for spouses otherwise entitled to survivor benefits under the relevant Superannuation Acts.

Lastly, I would like to re-submit some areas for increased revenue and decreased spending from my submission of last year.

Any cuts in government spending should focus squarely on waste and not critical services. We will vigorously oppose cuts in environmental science, environmental assessment, health care, or support to post-secondary education.

In that context, we offer the following recommendations:

Where to gain more revenue:

  1. Raise corporate tax rate to 19%, the level it was in 2009. This is still competitive with OECD rates. (+$4.5 billion)
  2. Go after off-shore tax havens. Close loopholes for the wealthiest, who hide funds off-shore. Savings (+$1.2 billion)
  3. Implement Estate taxes on estates exceeding $5 million. (+$1.5 billion/year)

Subtotal Total revenue increase: +$7.2 billion

Where to provide tax relief to business, workers, and youth:

  1. Eliminate increases in EI payments and deductions; (-$600 million)
  2. Increase access to EI benefits until employment improves. (-$500 million)
  3. Create Municipally-based Youth Employment and Vocation Development Program that incorporates a Post-Secondary Youth Employment Tuition Credit: (-$1.5 billion)
  4. Pass a Small Business Act (similar to that in the EU) to ensure any new legislation takes into account the need to reduce the regulatory burden on small and medium sized enterprises. (No cost associated)

Subtotal Total expenditure increase: -$2.6 billion

We recommend that the Government of Canada leave intact all existing funding for Health, Education, Environment, and Veterans Affairs. Cuts in these areas will create problems for our society that will take decades to repair. Nevertheless, we agree that there is waste in government. With that in mind, we make the following suggestions.

Where to cut:

  1. Fulfill commitments made at the G-20 and eliminate subsidies to fossil fuels. (+$1.2 billion)
  2. End subsidies to biotechnology, nuclear and asbestos. (+$256 million)
  3. Cancel purchase of F-35s. This is not a complete savings of funds as new planes are needed, however Canada does not need stealth fighters with the capabilities of takeoff and landing from aircraft carriers. We have no aircraft carriers. Instead, open a competitive bidding process for planes with search and rescue capability, surveillance, twin engines. At $128 million per unit (PBO) X 65 units = 8.32 billion. 50% savings estimate with open competition, and jets with more realistic capabilities (+$4 billion)
  4. Reduce government spending on advertising to 2005 levels. (+$90 million)
  5. Cancel plans to build a crystal palace for the House of Commons in West Block, estimated at $115 million. Instead, convert the Government Conference Centre to a temporary House, for cost savings of approximately (+$100 million).
  6. Cut the Prime Minister's Office budget by 50% to levels of the Chretien government. (+$5 million)
  7. Cancel plans for Financial Literacy Leader. Instead increase funding to Consumers Association of Canada to deliver on the goals of C-28. As this bill has not been costed, the estimate of savings is stated as a range. (+$2 million)
  8. Cancel plans to expand the House of Commons by 30 seats. (+$30 million)
  9. Invest in sophisticated telecommunications and video conferencing for federal government departments. Cut spending for governmental civil servant travel by 50%. Given total governmental transport and communications expenditures of $3 billion/year, we believe it is realistic to achieve annual cost savings of (+$500 million).
  10. Cut funding from Carbon Capture and Storage projects from the Clean Energy Fund Program, for one time savings. Instead, set environmental and greenhouse gas goals for industry to meet. (+$450 million)
  11. Cut the bureaucracy at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and provide more actual support to First Nations communities. (Revenue neutral)

Subtotal Green Scissors Savings: +$6.633 million

With the savings created, we urge a portion be used to assist Canadians get back to work, with the bulk used to reduce the deficit. We recommend investing for a stronger economy and healthier communities:

  1. Fund and expand the Eco-energy Retrofit programme. Expand it to include hospitals, schools and universities. (+$1 billion)
  2. Invest in renewable energy and mass transit. (+$1 billion)
  3. Invest in First Nations Education, housing, water and health care. (+$1 billion)
  4. Establish a National Affordable Housing Program. (+$834 million)

Subtotal Investment for Healthy Economy and Communities: -$3,384 million

To summarize:

  • Subtotal Total revenue increase: +$7,200 million
  • Subtotal Total expenditure increase: -$2,600 million
  • Subtotal Green Scissors Savings: +$6,633 million
  • Subtotal Investment for Healthy Economy and Communities: -$3,834 million
  • Total changes to Revenue: +$13,833 million
  • Total changes in Spending: -$6,434 million

Total deficit reduction: $7,399 million

I am happy to discuss any of these ideas with you, should your schedule allow.

Many thanks,

Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P. Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands Leader of the Green Party of Canada

About The Author

Elizabeth May's picture

Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist, lawyer, and leader of the Green Party of Canada. Elizabeth became active in the environmental movement in the 1970s. She is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School... More

Comments

left handed guitars

I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of
it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

Sex Offender Registry

Excellent poѕt. I waѕ checkіng cοntinuοuѕly this blog and
I am іmpгеssed! Vеry useful informаtіon pаrtіcularlу the closing phase
:) I dеаl with such infoгmation a lot.
I usеd to be seeκing thiѕ partіcular іnfоrmаtion
for a ѵerу long time. Thank уou anԁ gooԁ luck.

Melanie

"Reduce government spending on advertising to 2005 levels. (+$90 million)". That really resonates with the ad nauseum action plan ads. Also, I see that spending at the PMO has doubled since Chretien days.
I really see the value in cutting employee travel by 50%. They travel like crazy, and seem to forget it is at taxpayer's expense. By investing in telecommunications, I can see this is still a huge tax-saving initiative.
I also agree with the F-35s, and a lot of other things the Green Party is articulating here.

Danny Handelman

The Green Party of Canada should support the addition of as many seats in the House of Commons as possible, as it will make the residents of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario more appropriately represented and reduce the influence of "special interests" (including partisanship) due to the reduced cost of campaigning per riding and higher voter turnout, more than offsetting the small increase in direct government expenditures. Three of the four components of the Healthy Economy and Communities are municipal or provincial responsibilities, not federal.

Nick

As usual, Elizabeth has nothing to offer but taxing the rich and increasing spending. Her policies would send us back to the dark ages. More than this, she would do so in support of the single largest scam ever perpetrated on mankind. We are not causing "global warming." We couldn't if we tried. To think otherwise is the height of arrogance. It would be better to accept the fact that the world is actually cooling, and to prepare for that, than to continue implementing policies like carbon credit trading, solar and wind projects on a massive scale that do nothing to solve the problem even if it where real. Lets start dealing with reality instead of trying to shape the world into some green utopian ideal that has not, does not,and cannot exist.

Doug Fraser

Nick, I can't help note your comment that to "To think (humans are causing global warming) is the height of arrogance."
With all due respect, please explain to me what could be more arrogant than someone with no background in climate science claiming that the world's climate scientists have it all wrong?! And please don't reply that not all climate scientist agree - because if you don't believe the 97% know what they are talking about they you certainly shouldn't trust the 3% that disagree! That would be laughable. Humans clearly have the capacity to influence the atmosphere on a global scale. We have already seen how our production of CFCs (in TINY volumes compared to greenhouse gases) have damaged the ozone layer although perhaps you don't believe that either? Other very large scale impacts include the extensive damage caused by industrial and urban air pollution and acid rain. You would do your readers/listeners a service by accepting the expertise of people that actually study climate and if there is something you don't understand - such as the recent lull in the rise of surface air temperatures - ask them. They have very thoughtful explanations based on sound science - if you should care to listen.

To begin with, why is it ok for scientists with no background in the area of climate to be the spokesman for the "Global warming is real and it's all our fault!" camp? By your standard, Mr Suzuki has nothing to say on the issue. What degree does he hold that makes him an authority on the topic? He is a geneticist not and earth sciences guy. What you are asking me to accept is that consensus is what makes science works. To this I say nonsense. There have been times in our history when only one man was right, and the rest of the world laughed while they made their maps that contained the phrase "Beyond here be dragons!" Galileo was even put under house arrest for suggesting against the consensus that the world was round not flat. As Einstein once said: "It doesn't take a consensus to prove me wrong, just one fact!"

Another point to ponder. IF man made global warming was in fact real, why is it that all the solutions to it, don't do anything to solve the problem? Carbon credit trading is just a money exchange program that does not include the worst offenders. Solar and wind projects are failing everywhere and will not be viable on any mass scale until some as yet unseen technological breakthrough in battery technology occurs that allows us to store vast quantities of electricity. So we are now faced with a situation that the cure is worse than the disease.

One more point. The whole CFC thing was a scam as well. Ozone layers fluctuate naturally like everything else on earth. Just as importantly, the chief culprit, Freon 12, is heavier than air.

Nick,

The most responsible and independent scientific analysis that I could find on the subject of anthropogenic global warming is that of Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley.

For those who do not know his background, Dr. Muller is well known for his work on several JASON panels. These are panels of researchers called in by the US Department of Defense to assist on matters where the military and federal government are in need of expert advice on real-world problems. If anything, the JASON panels have been criticized from the left over the years. You can view examples of non-classified JASON projects here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/

Richard Muller started out his work as a climate change skeptic. He formed a team of scientists and statisticians under the Berkeley Earth project to analyze *all* available land-based weather station data going back to the 1700's. This differs from most work, including that of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that typically goes back to only about 1950. Berkeley Earth committed to use all available data without massaging it, with the one exception that they would exclude data obviously affected by urban heating around our growing cities. Far from being biased in favour of a climate change hypothesis, Berkeley Earth went so far as to accept funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

What the Berkeley Earth found was that the record of the Earth's temperature in this time period is dominated by just two things: transient cooling due to major volcanic events, and an overall warming that is consistent with the rising CO2 level in the atmosphere. Dr. Muller himself was interviewed and admitted to being converted from a climate change skeptic to accepting the reality of global, man-made climate change due to burning of fossil fuels.

You can use the resources on the Berkeley Earth website to view the overall data, data for the Ottawa Region, and, in fact, all of the data. All of the datasets used by the Berkeley Earth project are available for download by anyone who has an interest. All papers regarding their methods and findings have been submitted to peer reviewed journals, with pre-publication materials available for review in advance by any interested parties. It is about the most open review process that I have seen in my career.

The site:
http://berkeleyearth.org

Make no mistake: I would love to drive a big SUV and to heat my house with just about anything that burns and stocked with every hi-tech gadget I can get. As a scientist and high-tech worker, I am as far from being anti-technology as they come. However, I have learned that our economic and technological future need to move along a different path from what we have been following for the past couple of centuries, one of efficiency and conservation. We face big challenges but also enormous opportunities. We would be reckless not to move to address our changing reality, and foolish not to take advantage of the many economic opportunities involved in addressing such a major change in society.

When in doubt, let's drop the rhetoric, sit down over a coffee with a laptop or a tablet, and take a look at what the real research is. It is easier to do today than ever before.

To have such a chat, contact me here: JamesGP (at) Rogers (dot) com.

Best regards,
James Mihaychuk, Ph.D.

Nick

Sorry for the long delay in responding. I understand that many scientists believe as you do, that with so many who are willing to lay the blame at the feet of mankind, it is hard to buck the trend so to speak. But the truth is, that the science used to support that theory is based on a false premise right from the start. CO gas is considered a pollutant, and yet it is anything but. It is the single most important gas on the planet. So if we begin from the wrong position to start with, how then can any of the research that flows fromn that simple basic error be accurate?
Here is a link to teh very latest research on the topic. And yes I would enjoy a chat when we can arrange one.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/Global-warming-just-HALF...