Colour me not surprised...
A recent report
on the Liberal government's "One-Tonne Challenge" declared the program a failure:
A post-mortem on the former Liberal government's One-Tonne Challenge scheme concluded that the program -- while popular -- could not have met its greenhouse gas reduction targets because of the lack of regulations forcing Canadians to use less energy.
"There is overall recognition that the One-Tonne Challenge should have been complemented by additional measures [such as economic instruments and regulations] in order to motivate timely action and in order for the program to be successful," said a May 26 evaluation of the program, obtained by the National Post.
As a result, Environment Canada officials wrote, the scheme "was only capturing those who [were] already converted" to the goal of reducing carbon output
More surprising was CBC's court jester Rick Mercer
was paid $85,000 for appearing in couple of thirty second commercials.
The marketing campaign reportedly cost $26-million, with $85,000 going to Mr. Mercer. Overall, Ottawa provided $37-million of funding to the scheme, which was jointly run by Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada.
The only good news is my One-Tonne Challenge LCD thermomenter/fridge magnet is still in good working order (although I wonder how much CO2 was made in its creation).
From one of the best political cartoonists
Oberg to eliminate health premiums
I'm starting to think rather highly of Lyle Oberg...
Alberta Tory leadership candidate Lyle Oberg says he would phase out health-care premiums and allow people to pay for speedier private medical care if he were premier.
... His plan, like the Third Way, would allow patients to get speedier access to medical care if they were willing to pay for it.
"We have to have people have the choice if they want it done faster," he told a couple dozen supporters at his west-end office. "If they want it done faster and they want to pay the cost, I would much rather they pay the cost in Alberta rather than in the U.S."
But Oberg said his plan would also include wait time guarantees for the public system.
"I don't think you can turn private health care loose without giving the guarantee to the public that they're going to get their procedure in a certain time frame."
He said he would also introduce legislation obliging doctors to spend at least three-quarters of their time in the public system before allowing them to bill privately. That would prevent the province's best physicians from completely opting out of public medicine to make more money on the private side, he said.
Harper and the Emerson appointment
In recent news:
According to the complaint filed by the NDP
It is our opinion that the considerable increase in salary, augmented potential pension, staff and assorted perks enjoyed by members of the Cabinet such as a personal car and driver amount to furthering Mr. Emerson’s private interests over what he would have received as an opposition MP. Therefore, in our opinion, Mr. Harper may be in breach of Section 8 of the Conflict of Interest Code and I would ask that you investigate this matter.
Or the Liberal complaint:
The House of Commons conflict of interest code prohibits MPs from inducing another MP to take an action that would further their private interests [section 8 of the Conflict of Interest Code]. Cabinet ministers are paid $213,500 or $69,200 more than a backbench MP. They also receive other financial benefits beyond the prestige and influence of the office, including a car and driver. Therefore, there were significant financial perks at stake for Mr. Emerson to cross the floor.Section 8 of the Conflict of Interest Code states:
When performing parliamentary duties and functions, a Member shall not act in any way to further his or her private interests or those of a member of the Member’s family, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.Section 3(c) of the Conflict of Interest Code states:
(3) For the purpose of this Code, a Member is not considered to further his or her own private interests or the interests of another person if the matter in question
(c) concerns the remuneration or benefits of the Member as provided under an Act of Parliament.
The basis of the NDP/Liberal complaint is that Harper rewarded Emerson with a financial incentive (i.e. increased salary, pension and perks etc.) as an inducement to cross the floor. Since MP compensation can't be considered an inducement under the code there is therefore no basis for a complaint by the NDP.
In short, this dog won't hunt.
And the Teddy goes to...
The 8th Annual Teddies Waste Awards have been announced by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation
. The Teddies are awarded annually "to a government, public office holder, civil servant, department or agency that most exemplifies government waste
, excessive regulation
, lack of accountability
, or any combination of the five."
It looks like 2005 was a clean sweep by the Liberals on all five counts.
Common arguments against Alberta's 'third-way' healthcare proposal
With much hoo-ha
about Alberta's third-way let's clear up some misconceptions.
Canada has the best health care system and is a model for the rest of the world
The World Health Organization recently ranked Canada's health care system as 30th in the world
placing us behind notables such as Columbia, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
This is nothing more than a move towards a US style health care system
The United States does not have a universal public health system. They do publicly fund medical expenses for people over 65, young people with disabilities and persons with end-stage renal (kidney) disease. The proposed "third-way" system does not affect the universality of health care in Canada. A closer analogue would be countries like France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Morocco, Singapore, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom all of which have parallel private-public systems and all of which ranked ahead of Canada in the WHO world health report.
These changes don't address the shortage of doctors/health care workers and simply moves them from the public to the private system.
Doctors working in the private system will be able to make more money and as such there will be an incentive for additional doctors/health professionals to come from other provinces and especially the US. There may also be an incentive to move from the public to private system as a result of the additional monetary benefits of private practice. Perhaps the government could also provide additional incentives for health care workers who choose to work in the public system(tax breaks?). Overall it's likely this change will result in more doctors, nurses and other health professionals seeking work (or wanting to stay) in Alberta.
What to do with Alberta's surplus?
As the surplus grows, so does the criticism of the government's failure to spell out a long-term plan for making the most of its energy riches.
My "Big 5" recommendations:
1. Cut the Health Care Premium Tax
currently at $528/person or $1056/family annually. This is essentially a flat tax that can be subsidized for low-income indiviuals or by employers. Cost $896 million. Other provinces with a Health Tax in place include BC and Ontario.
2. Legislate 35% of surplus funds to be placed into the Heritage Trust Fund indefinitely. Ensure the Heritage Trust fund remains inflation proofed to ensure a stable revenue stream. This is probably the only policy
the Liberal Party of Alberta has got right.
3. Legislate 20% of surplus funds to the post-secondary endowment fund
. Ensure annual revenues/dividends go directly towards post-secondary institutions and the fund is inflation proofed.
4. Index future salaries of public employees to annual cost of living adjustments to account for inflation. Not only is this fair but will greatly reduce the chances of disruptive labour strikes by teachers, nurses and other essential public employees.
5. Transfer education amount on property taxes directly to municipalities. Cost about $1 billion.
Science behind Kyoto flawed?
A five part video
is available to anyone interested in the science behind climate change as told from a Canadian perspective.