1 Comment

Government Should Lead by Example in Tough Times

QZRdM6Y5dnJv7jo-Albertans are generous people – especially during tough times like these. We need to be: as oil drilling declines by 40% this year, people here are losing their jobs, or fearing for losing them.

In fact, Albertans are the most charitable people in Canada, with the average tax-filer donating $2,289 per year. That’s far above the average tax-filer in other provinces that donate an average $1,411 per year. One reason for this is that the government of Alberta gives donors a 21% tax refund if they give, providing a real incentive for individuals and businesses to help others.

The new PC budget reduces that charitable tax refund to just 12.75%. This will seriously hurt Albertans who give to food banks, charities, churches and non-profits working to help others.

Interestingly, the PC budget didn’t touch the 75% tax refund that people get for giving to political parties and campaigns. That’s right: you can receive up to 75% of your money back in a tax refund for giving to politicians, but a paltry 12.75% for giving to charities.

That’s just not right. In fact, it’s downright wrong.

If the government feels the need to cut tax refunds for giving, should it not have started with the one benefiting politicians? Were charities and those who give to them truly the higher priority for cutting back?

As your Wildrose MLA, I will fight to reverse this wrong. The Wildrose will fully restore the charitable tax credit. If we are going to cut one of them, it will be for politicians.

And we won’t stop there.

The last thing that we should be doing during an economic downturn is raising taxes. The Prentice budget raises 59 new or higher taxes, and will cost the average household $2,500 a year. Taking this kind of money out of the economy and from the middle class right now could turn a slowdown into a full-blown recession. We’ll fix that.

PC MLAs have voted themselves massive salary increases in recent years. We will roll those back. It’s never right for politicians to be accepting a big raise when they can’t even balance the budget, and especially not when they are imposing the largest tax increase in Alberta’s history.

In addition to the rolling back the big PC pay hikes for politicians, we will also fine MLAs an extra 5% of their salary for every year that they cannot balance the budget. After running a decade of deficits, PC MLAs would be at the food bank themselves if such a law had been in place under their management.

As I discussed in these pages last week, the Wildrose has put forward a detailed fiscal platform to reverse the big PC tax hikes by getting spending under control. Our plan is fully costed and based on principle, not the polls and trying to hang onto power.

By contrast, the PC “10 year plan” has already changed three times in the first two weeks of the election campaign. Far from trying to obtain a “mandate” for a ten-year plan, this $28 million early election was called for the sole purpose of wiping out any opposition. That seems to not be working out quite as Jim Prentice had hoped.

Alberta has only voted out the ruling party in government three times in our 110-year history as a province. After 44 years in power, the Tories are ruling for themselves, and not for Albertans.

It’s time for a breath of fresh air in our government. It’s time for a change.

Note: Since this OpEd was published in the Strathmore Standard, Prentice has backtracked on his platform and budget to reverse the cut to the charitable tax refund.

SociBook del.icio.us Digg Facebook Google Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon