Tag Archives: tax

Enjoy the rain, love the mud, who needs bus shelters in North Ajax anyway?


Well another year has gone by and the residents if North Ajax continue to enjoy the great outdoors. It amazes me that we want residents to take transit, yet don’t spend any money to encourage it. At least in Toronto there are proper shelters and some planning. With the taxes that are paid by North Ajax residents you would think they would be afforded the courtesy of a shelter and at least a bit of pavement to stand on. It actually fascinates me to see riders standing in a residents driveway, in the street or almost in a ditch on Westney and Tauton Rd. But let’s face it, urban sprawl has caused this, right? We cannot blame city planners. They assumed that we would just continue driving our cars and enjoy our large homes. Who needs the basics anyway? So as gas continues to rise and costs go up, be encouraged. You will continue to be taxed and enjoy the outdoor elements. So yes, while your waiting for that bus, in the rain, in your fancy new dress. When that car drives by and nearly takes you out. Or better yet on that wonderfully paved mud platform, enjoy. Smell the exhaust, and at least your not back in Toronto, right?

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We love Mayor Rob Ford!


Rob Ford at the "Better Ball...

Rob Ford with puppet, at the "Better Ballots" Mayoral Candidates Forum at Hart House, University of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We love Mayor Rob Ford!

According to a new Forum Research poll, more than half of Toronto residents want to scrap the city’s land transfer tax, license cyclists, contract out cleaners, toss out the plastic bag tax and support a subway-based transit plan.

The Forum poll conducted Wednesday found 61% of Toronto residents approve of ending the city’s land transfer tax and licensing cyclists so that traffic laws can be enforced on them.

Ford campaigned on abolishing the land transfer tax but has yet to make any progress on dropping it from the city’s books.

Among those surveyed, support has grown since a Forum poll last month for a subway-based transit plan with 60% now in favour of the idea rather than 36% who favour a transit system based on LRTs.

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Statscan Censorship?


An interesting post on The Progressive Economics Forum

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Censorship in Canada

Censorship in Canada

Once again, there seems to be a heavier hand in editing Statistics Canada’s releases.  This morning The Daily reported that:

“Spending on research and development in the higher education sector amounted to $9.6 billion (current dollars) in the fiscal year 2006/2007.”

but there was no word on whether this was an increase or decrease from the previous period, which Statscan releases almost always have.

The year 2006/7 was the first year that the Harper government was in office.  Investment in research and development is essential to increase our economy’s productivity, which hasn’t increased since the start of 2006 (and has grown at a dismal rate since 2000).

Canada has some of the most generous tax incentives for private R&D in the world, yet Canada has one of the lowest rates of investment in R&D among OECD countries thanks to both low rates of government and business investment in R&D, accoridng to Industry Canada’s Science and Technology Data tables.  Canada’s investment in higher education R&D had recently been relatively good, but it looks like the current federal government may soon rectify that.

The Harper government is laying off federal scientists and forcing departments to slash their R&D budgets .  It is deregulating food safety inspection and transferring or selling off federal labs to the private sector, intent on further commercialization and privatization. They eliminated the national science advisor and have instead appointed Preston Manning among others to help advise on science issues.  This approach to science recently earned the Harper government scathing criticism in an editorial in Nature, one of the most respected science publications in the world.

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One year later: A Miller progress checklist


Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the resounding election victory that gave David Miller his second term as mayor.

During the 2006 campaign, Miller’s critics charged that his first term was lacklustre, devoid of major policy directions or accomplishments, and that he didn’t deserve a second shot. When it comes to politics, that’s the nature of the beast.

Miller set out to prove them wrong, blazing the trail for a host of new ideas: a user-pay system for garbage pickup; an ambitious blueprint to fight climate change; Transit City, a huge streetcar network.

But the months-long battle over new taxes and the need to contain costs, both stemming from a looming budget shortfall, brought city hall to a virtual standstill over the summer.

Miller hasn’t announced any major new initiatives since the land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee were passed in October.

Miller’s handlers say the mayor’s office is compiling a year-end assessment of promises made and what’s been accomplished.

In the meantime, the Star selected some key issues to create its own progress checklist.

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Awash in cash, Tories expected to cut GST to 5 per cent


The Harper government is expected to announce plans to cut the GST to 5 per cent when it updates Canadians this afternoon on Ottawa’s swelling budget surplus. The timing of the fall economic statement has been moved up, sources say, to give the Conservatives one last chance to goad opposition Liberals into triggering an election.

Today’s move also helps the Harper government drown out anger expected to surface tomorrow, the first anniversary of its controversial income trust tax, when the Tories broke an election pledge to protect trusts.

Ottawa is awash with cash because a commodity price boom for resources such as oil is swelling its coffers with corporate and personal income tax revenue. Toronto-Dominion Bank chief economist Don Drummond now forecasts Ottawa is headed for a surplus of $14.5-billion this year, before any measures announced today – up from the $3.3-billion the Tories forecast in March.

Mr. Drummond, who met with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on the fiscal outlook last Friday, said he expects tax measures because the Tories are anxious to unload an embarrassment of riches. They attacked the former Liberal government for hoarding surpluses and do not want to be painted as hypocrites. n fact, Mr. Drummond says, Ottawa has enough surplus cash in years ahead to afford to cut the GST to 5 per cent from 6 per cent, and still have room for an across-the-board one-percentage-point cut to personal income tax rates, as well as a one-point reduction in the corporate tax rate.

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Everything is proceeding as the Liberals has foreseen


 

Everything is proceeding as Dalton McGuinty had foreseen”. John Tory was supposed to lead Ontario‘s Progressive Conservatives to certain victory over the “supposed” dark side; however he led them instead to a resounding defeat. Emperor Dalton McGuinty became the province’s first Liberal leader in 70 years to claim a second straight majority government. Albeit, one has to wonder; did John Tory simply not stand a chance against the political dark elements of deception, manipulation and down right Liberal political experience and know how? The Liberal engine is experienced; they knew what the electorate was prepared to talk about and what they did not want to hear. Elections are not for issues because in reality we only like comfort and ease. We like to know that everything is alright and under control. Only an all encompassing “Provincial Empire” can achieve this stability in Ontario and we gladly allowed it. Progressive Conservatives, and others, in Ontario thought that John Tory would have brought ‘A New Hope’ to the “integral deficit” that now exists among politicians; however the imperial forces of the Liberals got their way.

As such, the seasoned Liberals (lets give our due to the Liberals – they know how to run a campaign, like it or not) knew what to do and perhaps, over-confident conservatives thought that they had the upper hand. But with a strong economy and positive outlook, I assure you, the Liberals were quite safe. It did not take much to “scare” Ontarians into voting for the status quo. Now, on radio and media outlets, they are talking about the “real” issues, that were never brought up during the election. Unfortunately, John Tory and the PC party left Ontarians defenseless to it and our journey to the “Liberal Side” was completed! “The Progressive Conservatives and their feeble skills was just no match for the power of the Liberal side of the force! Ontarians allowed our Emperor Dalton to use their own aggressive and hostile feelings to focus on the faith-based school issue; essentially allowing fear and trepidation flow freely. Dalton and the Liberals felt that fear and knew how to use it. You would think that Ontarians would have not allowed one issue to dominate the election, but it did. Our radio and media outlets participated in the mix that focused us all on that one issue. Now that fear, along with hate, has made ‘Emperor McGuinty’ more powerful then we could ever imagine; fulfilling the destiny of a second term.

So now, Ontarians, we selected another path. One that we think is certain, stable and safer, but is it? Dalton led a smart and clean campaign; showing himself on television, always telling Ontarians what he would do. He always said “we can do better” and “there is more work to be done”. Your compassion for him led you to vote overwhelmingly for the Liberals. And those of you who hated the faith-based school funding issue, allowed yourselves to be used by simply not showing up to vote. This will be our undoing and in the end we will pay the price (that’s called taxes, if you haven’t gotten it already…) for our lack of vision!

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot
Toronto, Ontario

NEWS FLASH: The Imperial House of Commons will no longer be of any concern to Ontarians. We have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved elections permanently. No point anyway since only half of Ontarians bother to get out of there house and vote anyway. The last remnants of the “OldRepublic” of Ontario have been swept away. The regional Mayors, (David Miller and others) now have direct control over their territories, using the template of the “City of Toronto Act”. Fear will keep the locals in line. Hasn’t it always?


The Ontario Imperial  House of Commons

P.S. OKAY! I’m having little political fun with my love for Star Wars!

Tax Me I’m Torontonian


Toronto Council has finally passed the controversial new land-transfer tax and vehicle registration tax/fee. Although a compromise was needed, Toronto should now have the stable funding that they require to run the city. Barring that the housing market does not go bust or everyone in Toronto decides to sell their car. This would never happen? But, I needed to point out the absolute worse case scenario. The new taxes might only initially raise $180-million to $200-million for 2008, less than earlier annual estimates of $356-million. Even with the new taxes, city finance officials say they still need a property tax hike. This also does not stop Toronto Council from considering new entertainment taxes, fees and the possibility, however unlikely, of a toll on the DVP, going into downtown Toronto. A land transfer tax of up to 2 per cent and a $60 fee for motor vehicle registration, which only could have happened with the new powers from the “City of Toronto” act. What will be interesting is the fall-out in the Real Estate market. I doubt there will be much change in the downtown area. Toronto still does not serve the outer regions like Scarborough and Etobicoke with adequate public transit. It should be interesting to see if funding now starts on the “Transit City” plan. There is no excuse now since they have their money and what David Miller wanted. What is interesting is that the Liberals are in power, and based on their “promises, this should be boom time for public transit. The question is, were they all “telling the truth”? Or was this all a rouse to get more money and tax use again later? Only time will tell. I imagine those, with homes just north of Toronto’s Steeles Avenue must be extremely happy. There homes just became a little bit more valuable. There will be those who want to skirt the tax and move a bit north, still within walking distance of the TTC and Toronto. They will be sad to learn that prices in Markham, Thornhill, Vaughan and Woodbridge are already high. However, the major point is that it is now time for “Transit City” to move forward, with no delays! I do not necessarily agree with the new taxes, however David Miller seemed to have no choice. I am also not totally in favour of all of their public transit plans; however something is better than nothing in the “transit world”. Other than the audit of the city contracts and the panel looking into savings for the city, council has done there part. Dalton McGuinty will now have to show if he was telling the truth? The Liberal Ontario government must start with the Move2020 plan now, with no delays or lies or false promises. Let the people in the know, do their work and lets get Toronto moving! Torontonians will now expect “results”, otherwise David Miller and company may find an angry electorate in 2010. Torontonians will be watching!

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a. “The G.T.A Patriot”

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto likely to approve new taxes


Toronto Council is likely to approve two new taxes later today, according to Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone. “I think that the mayor’s compromise is going to pass – that’s my sense, absolutely,” said Pantalone, who represents Ward 19 (Trinity Spadina). “From the discussion, that’s clear what’s going to happen. The opponents are disheartened.”

Pantalone made the comments after council broke for lunch today, in a debate that council has voted to continue until a vote tonight. The debate concerns the imposition of two new taxes – a land transfer tax and a vehicle registration tax – which together will raise $175 million next year.

That number is much reduced from the original package councillors voted to defer in July. That would have seen the city take in $356 million. But a compromise put forward by Mayor David Miller earlier in the day reduces that substantially this year, by among other things exempting first-time homebuyers of homes under $400,000 and grandfathering purchase agreements signed before the end of the year from having to pay the new tax.

Pantalone said the compromise, combined with the newfound support of the Toronto Board of Trade, has tipped the balance in what was an evenly divided council in the mayor’s favour.

Will the vote be close?

“It depends on what close means,” he said. “Does it mean one vote? It will be more than one vote. Is it unanimous? I don’t think it will be unanimous.”

However, it became clear that the tax package’s opponents were losing momentum.

Ward 34 (Don Valley East) Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, one of the most vocal opponents of the tax plan, didn’t move a single motion when he stood up to speak.

“Let me say to the mayor – these taxes are yours,” he said just after the lunch break.

But the delay that we had has worked well to taxpayers’ advantage. We have been told for months that these are necessary. But miraculously, it seems that we can do nicely with $50 million less. This is either a modern day loaves and fishes story or the fact is that this city is a management-free zone.”

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How Miller found his new groove


Seeking support for the vote on tax plan, the mayor discovers consensus. It was meant as an innocent political observation. It sounded like a lot more.

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Time to get more use out of the Sheppard Subway line and go west?


To be honest, I love subways and I have a bit of a bias towards the Sheppard Subway line. I have always believed that if the subway was completed, or at least ½ done, than it would have never been considered as an option to close or shut down, in the Toronto tax crunch. I still blame the Harris “conservatives” for their shortsighted plan to fill in the Eglinton West Subway dig, which was already well under way. Along with the plan to offer a no frills Sheppard subway line, stopping it at Don Mills, rather than the obvious Victoria Park, or even better yet Warden Avenue in Scarborough. Regardless, what was done is done and we have a subway that needs finishing. However, there maybe a better plan, that has not been considered. The fact is that the Sheppard line exists and it needs to be completed. One of the transportation issues, I have found, in the city is the lack of an east-west line across the top of the city. Now that the Liberal Government has decided that the subway will go to Vaughan; even though I feel that it should only go to York University for now, consideration should be given to the idea of completing the Sheppard Subway westwards and then curving the Sheppard line north-west to York University and beyond. It was pointed out to me by ‘Cal’, from the Toronto LRT information blog,

“that extending the Sheppard line west to Downsview then up to York U/Steeles may be a better use of the money in terms of providing a more useful connection and making the Sheppard line more useful.”

In addition, the Sheppard Subway lines signaling system and design are based on newer technology, which would allow greater flexibility in the operation of trains (I.e. driver-less subway cars, the possibility of multiple lines, operations in different directions, etc…). It has already been stated that millions (maybe more) would have to be spent to upgrade the Yonge-University and Spadina lines. If this is the case, why not simply complete the Sheppard line westwards, along Sheppard Avenue and then northwards? Along Sheppard we would only need a stop at Bathurst, for now and since the trains are only 4 cars long, for now the platforms could be a bit smaller (in terms of the amount of people using the line). In addition, albeit maybe a bit of pie in the sky thinking, but we could also consider imploring some New York Subway style options in the northern part of Toronto. I remember at one point, before the EA (Environment Assessment) was completed for the Spadina line to York University one of the Toronto councilors wanted the line to go along Finch westwards towards Jane & Finch and beyond, due to the high-density in the area.We all know that the TTC will not send all trains north into Vaughan. I believe that it will be every third train; however I could be wrong (anyone can update me on that one to correct me on the intervals). This means that there will need to be a larger trail-track or interchange at either the Steeles or YorkUniversity stations. If this is the case, why not send one portion northwards into Vaughan and the other westwards along Finch or better yet , using a cheaper option, the Finch Hydro corridor into Etobicoke and beyond, using a Sheppard-Vaughan-Finch line instead? This is just an idea; however I would hope that Toronto officials and the provincial government would think outside the box a bit and complete the Sheppard line. It’s just an idea, but I hope that the Sheppard line put to better use.You will notice that I am not advocating going eastwards to Scarborough Town Centre. I just believe that if we can “kill two birds with one stone”, than lets use the Sheppard Line to complete Greg Sorbara’s dream of a subway to Vaughan and get a little more use out of the subway. I am a big believer in portions of the “Transit City” plan, offered by the City of Toronto. I just feel that we need to somehow finish or put Sheppard to better use. Of course I would have preferred an LRT, for Sheppard in the past, but that was said and done (no sense crying over split milk). If we have no choice, in getting a line to YorkUniversity than why not maximize what we can do for the city, now? Once the Sheppard-Vaughan-Finch line is completed, then we can end this argument and stain on Toronto’s past. We can then move onto using LRT, light-rail and other forms of technology to move people around the Greater Toronto Area. The unfortunate thing is politics, may again get in the way or progress. I can only hope that officials in charge will do the right thing.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Miller takes tax package proposal to the people


Are you still unsure where you stand on the Mayor’s tax package? If so, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hear the arguments for and against the land-transfer and vehicle registration taxes today.

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Toronto controversial tax plan in the hands of swing votes


With one week to go before a momentous tax debate at city hall, the spotlight shines on a half-dozen Toronto councillors still undecided if they will vote for Mayor David Miller’s new “revenue tools.” Over the next few days, negotiations are expected to intensify between the mayor’s office and key swing voters on council for a possible consensus to approve a land transfer tax on the purchase of a home and a car registration fee for 2008.

One of those in the limelight is Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), a political centrist who votes with, and against, the mayor, depending on the issue. His vote could mean victory or defeat for Mr. Miller.

“The mayor’s office is trying to make me feel warm and fuzzy,” says the veteran councillor with a wry smile. First elected to local politics in 1994, he lost in 1997, but has represented his upscale west-end ward since 2000.

In July, Mr. Milczyn was one of 23 councillors who snubbed the mayor by a one-vote margin to defer his controversial tax package until Oct. 22. Mr. Milczyn has not tipped his hand for next week.

But the 42-year-old politician, who says he has had “blunt discussions” with Mr. Miller in recent weeks, makes no bones about what could turn his vote.

“Cost reduction is the key thing for me,” says the Etobicoke native, an architect by profession.

He wrote to the mayor right after the deferral vote with suggestions, ranging from symbolic cuts in areas that grate with the public (council perks and office budgets) to structural changes (no bonuses and salary caps for non-union city staff and a move to turn the water department into a quasi-privatized agency).

He says the mayor’s office has assured him, ” ‘We have heard what you are saying,’ but I told them I need something tangible.”

Other swing voters, including Suzan Hall (Etobicoke North), Mark Grimes (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), and Ron Moeser ( Scarborough East), have their own wish lists.

As the Toronto Real Estate Board and other anti-tax business groups step up their lobby efforts this week, Mr. Miller’s challenge will be to coax enough councillors on board without gutting the revenue tools.

On paper, the land transfer tax of up to 2 per cent (a sliding scale tied to the sales price of a house) and a $60 fee to register car ownership could generate $356-million a year in total. Already the July deferral and implementation delays have shrunk the pot to $250-million, which could sink to around $200-million if council adopts all the “refinements” under discussion.

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