Thursday, January 19, 2006

Economists Pan Harper Tax Plans
January 18, 2006

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has repeatedly claimed that his tax cut plans will help the poor.


Today, 66 economists released a letter criticizing the Conservative tax agenda, especially the elimination of the capital gains tax for individuals. Below are excerpts:

Jim Stanford, economist with the Canadian Auto Workers:

“The Conservative Party’s proposal to eliminate income taxes of reinvested capital gains is especially damaging, because it would deliver very large tax savings to a tiny group of high-income Canadians. Moreover, defining, monitoring and policing the six-month reinvestment requirement would create an administrative nightmare for the federal government.”

John Loxley, Professor of Economics at the University of Manitoba:

“The Conservatives have underestimated the true cost of this measure by a significant order of magnitude. This raises significant questions about the reliability of their overall fiscal plan. The uncounted costs associated with this measure alone would reduce estimated federal surpluses by several billions of dollars over the term of the next government.”

Andrew Jackson, Economist and National Director of Social and Economic Policy for the Canadian Labour Congress:

“There is no other tax measure whose benefits are more closely concentrated at the top of the income spectrum. Over 40 percent of taxable capital gains income is declared by the tiny fraction of Canadians who earn more than $250,000 per year. They are the ones who will reap the benefits of this policy, which would greatly exacerbate inequality in Canada
Are Harper’s Reform Roots Showing?
January 18, 2006

Yesterday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told reporters that: “The reality is that we will have for some time to come a Liberal senate, a Liberal civil service, at least senior levels have been appointed by the Liberals, and courts that have been appointed by the Liberals. So these are obviously checks on the power of a Conservative government.” (CPAC, January 17, 2006)

Sun Media columnist Greg Weston today pointed out that Stephen Harper’s comments yesterday are a reminder of Reformers, who ”earnestly believed that the nation’s problems could be traced to a single horrible truth – that every corner of the federal government and the judiciary was infested with Liberal vermin imposing their agenda on the nation.”

Weston then remembers “former Canadian Alliance deep-thinker Randy White” musing about the “Liberal” judiciary.


Randy White is now retired, but conspiracy theories about Canada’s judiciary are alive and well within the Conservative Party.

Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews told the National Pro-Life Conference on September 8, 2004, that new abortion legislation is being held back by activist judges using the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to implement their own social policy.

“The extent to which the courts have, on their own accord, stretched the cloth of their own policy initiative suggests [an] apparent policy agenda of their own,” Mr. Toews told the audience at the Winnipeg, Manitoba conference, in a speech entitled “Abuse of the Charter by the Supreme Court.”

In a 2003 interview with Concerned Women Today, a “broadcast ministry” run by Concerned Women for America (CWA), Toews discussed the judiciary’s same-sex marriage “agenda”:

“We have seen these radical liberal judges who have their own social agenda coming to the bench and forgetting that their responsibility is to interpret the law and not to make law. And so we are very, very concerned about that.”

And, on his 2003 Focus on the Family CD, Conservative candidate Darrel Reid claims hate-crime legislation has also been imposed on Canada by the judiciary:

"Can you imagine what our society has been built on, the Judeo-Christian ethic, some judge has the nerve to declare it hate literature – it's beyond our belief. And sometimes I have to shake my head that what my parents understood, what the Bible teaches me has become so obnoxious to some elites and to unelected judges in our country – I just can't believe where we're headed, unless God intervenes."

As Mr. Weston asks: “what new laws and programs, exactly, Mr. Harper, would a Conservative government implement were it not for all those bleeding-heart Liberal judges and bureaucrats you claim will be ‘limiting (your) ability to operate?’”
Chief Electoral Officer asked to Investigate Conservative Campaign
January 18, 2006

Mr. Harper has said that accountability is his number one issue during this election campaign.


The Conservative Party may be in contravention of the Canada Elections Act and third-party financing laws over the “Blogging Tories” website.

On January 18, 2006, two former Conservatives, Eugene Parks and Carole Jamieson, asked the Chief Electoral Officer to investigate a potential breech of Canada’s election laws by the Conservative Party of Canada.

They say that they have passed on evidence to the Chief Electoral Officer that the “Blogging Tories” website is an initiative of the Conservative party, rather than of individual Canadians.

There are strict spending limits for political parties during election campaigns. And there are also limits on how much other groups (third parties) can spend during elections. Under the third-party financing legislation, it is illegal for a third-party to evade election spending limits by splitting itself into two or more groups.

Stephen Harper opposes third party spending limits. He has challenged this legislation at the Supreme Court, and has said that if elected, he will repeal the legislation that limits how much third parties – such as lobby groups – can spend during elections.

Perhaps Mr. Harper should practice what he preaches.
Jack Layton: "Politics Before People" Again After the Election
January 18, 2006

Last night, on CBC’s “Your Turn,” Matt Connor from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, asked NDP leader Jack Layton what it would take for the NDP to support a minority government.

Mr. Layton said:

“I know you want to know what I would do with one result or another, but I'm going to trust Canadians to make a decision in the election, and I'm going to go to work with our team of New Democrats on behalf of working people.”


Mr. Layton forced this election upon the Canadian people. He worked in concert with Stephen Harper to end the important work of the Liberal government, and now he is saying he doesn’t find Stephen Harper’s policies ‘scary.’

NDP voters will find the idea of overriding the Charter of Rights scary, they will probably find the idea of Canadians fighting in Iraq scary, and they will find the notion of a ballistic missile defence shield scary.

Progressive voters have heard from Jack Layton – power is more important than principles in today’s NDP
Layton on Strategic Voting: I'm For It When It's Good for Me...
January 18, 2006

Last night on CBC’s “Your Turn,” NDP leader Jack Layton was asked by Paul Wild of Milton, Ontario, about strategic voting.


Jack Layton has travelled the country asking voters in ridings where the NDP has a remote chance to vote strategically. Now, when he’s asked the question directly, he evades it, saying there’s no difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

But NDP voters know the difference. In the 2004 election campaign, a total of 15 Conservative candidates in Ontario were elected as a result of vote splitting. In fourteen of these ridings, the third-place NDP candidate drew away enough votes from Liberal candidates to ensure Conservatives were elected.

More importantly, Mr. Layton was forced to admit he doesn’t really try to compete in all 308 ridings across the country, and that he’s asking for these votes only to build a sense of momentum for the NDP – not to make a difference for Canadians where they live.

Jack Layton is consistent in one thing: he ALWAYS puts politics before people.
Harper’s Platform Costing Deceptive
January 13, 2006

Ottawa – Stephen Harper would drive the country into deficit if he honours the $75 billion in promises contained in the Conservative Party platform released today.

“It’s clear at this point that Mr. Harper has been, frankly, dishonest during this campaign about what promises he can and can’t keep,” said Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.

“Mr. Harper needs to come clean and tell the Canadian people how he plans to pay for this get-elected spending spree. His only choice is to run a deficit, make deep cuts into social programs, and raise taxes.”

Mr. Harper has hidden $26 billion in cuts in his campaign platform, which may explain why he has not released costing tables with it.

The Conservative platform rejects the five-year spending forecast of the Liberal government, which was generated by 19 independent private-sector economists.

Their projection for government spending is a total of $920.3 between 2006-07 and 2010-11. In contrast, Mr. Harper’s hidden costs can be found in a five-year cumulative total of $894.4 billion.

The question Canadians have to ask Mr. Harper is where he will find this undisclosed $26 billion, over and above his alleged $23-billion surplus.

Revenue Minister John McCallum, former Chief Economist and Vice President of the Royal Bank, said that Harper’s platform vague and misleading costing calls into question his economic credibility and his political intentions.

“Stephen Harper said in his platform speech that he wants Canadians to trust him with their money. But why would Canadians trust Mr. Harper with their check books when he won’t provide a transparent accounting?”

Under these circumstances, it is clear Harper will be forced to run a deficit and cut government programs – and will force the government to renege on more than a dozen commitments. Harper confirmed that he would raise taxes on middle- and low-income Canadians, withdraw from the Kyoto accord and withdraw from the Kelowna agreement with First Nations and First Ministers.

On top of this Harper’s most expensive campaign promise – to address the “fiscal imbalance” – remains uncosted, and he has said an election campaign is no time to negotiate it.

Skepticism remains about the workability of individual Conservative promises, such as the affordable housing tax credit – which Harper described yesterday as “experimental” – and a foreign-credentialed professionals agency, as well as the federal public prosecutors’ office.

”The platform confirms that Mr. Harper’s government is going follow in step with other right-of-centre governments – racking up huge deficits at the same time as they’re slashing programs,” said McCallum. “It’s in service of a core conservative vision of a much smaller, weaker government.”

In contrast, the Liberal platform builds on 8 consecutive balanced budgets of the Liberal administration and ensures continued balanced budgets, the first time since Confederation this has been achieved.

“The Liberal platform reflects the responsible fiscal management that has produced a string of 8 balanced budgets in a row and demonstrates the same overall discipline that we have shown as a government for the past 12 years,” said Revenue Minister John McCallum.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Order-Management Software Brings Automation To Online Florist

With new order-management software, has eliminated manual processes that took at least 11 people to complete.

By Elena Malykhina

Feb 23, 2005 12:00 PM

Canadian retailer used to rely on a manual system to process its orders, but deploying CommercialWare Inc.'s OrderMotion order-management software helped the online florist get a 15% jump in revenue per employee and cut its fulfillment errors in half during the Valentine's Day holiday.

The online florist used to run a small shop in the Vancouver area, but the company saw 1,000% annual revenue growth over the past three years after taking its business online. Still, the florist was looking to eliminate its manual process of taking and fulfilling orders for flowers, which required that every order pass through the hands of at least 11 people. "We used to have a very heavy paper trail and our staff handled almost 10,000 printed pages a day," says Alif Somani, CEO of UrbanFlorist.

To automate its order-taking process, UrbanFlorist deployed OrderMotion in early December and since then has cut its error rate from 6% to 3%, Somani says. "We invested in a technology that supports our customer-service department so that they can do their job more effectively," he says. This means sales representatives can now spend more time taking orders and less time managing them, which has resulted in a 15% increase in sales per representative.

The software centralizes all the company's in-house back-end operations, including order capture, fulfillment, inventory management, payment processing, database management, and reports generation, and integrates all orders coming in via mail, phone, fax, and the Internet into one platform. Additionally, OrderMotion can be integrated with FTD's Mercury Network, which supports order messaging among more than 70,000 member florists worldwide.

This Valentine's Day, UrbanFlorist received as many orders in five days as it did during the entire Christmas season. Yet the florist was able to deliver a better overall customer experience because it had a good handle on its order processing and management, Somani says.

"With OrderMotion we have been able to eliminate our paper trail and support our customers on the spot. We've also been able to automate all our order information, customer information, [customer-relationship management], and support mechanisms," Somani says. "After all, our concern is not putting out orders but taking care of customers' needs, and having the right technology in place is essential to do that."