Monday, September 12, 2011

Real questions for less than real Ontario leaders

Dear Leaders:

I have made the decision that unless one of you does something so egregious that it merits a comment I will not -- will not --make any running commentary about the current election in Ontario.   Frankly, the platforms are all uninspiring that I wonder why anyone would even bother to vote.   Although of course they should, as will I at some point between now and election day.

Instead I make a proposition.   I would like to hear directly from all leaders.   By snail or priority mail.   You know how to reach me from the master voters lists.  Not by e-mail or posting here because there is no verification process.   I want answers only from the leaders themselves, and real answers and not just talking points.   I would like direct answers to these simple questions, questions not being asked by the MSM or anyone who pretends to be they're not although they are (i.e. Post Media, Sun News).    If you respond, I will transcribe and post them here, unedited, so my readers as well as my colleagues over at Progressive Bloggers can review it for themselves.

So here goes:
  1. Currently, the Ontario Theatres Act overrides the Municipal Act, such that any one can locate a motion picture or live theatre establishment anywhere he or she wants regardless of zoning laws.   I happen to believe that while such movie houses that exclusively show explicit sex should not be banned they should be well away from areas where families normally congregate and should feel safer.    Do you agree that cities and towns should have this authority, and if so what zoning restrictions should apply?
  2. Going further from question 1, the Municipal Act still has many sections that date back to the 1850s, before Canada was even the country we know it as today, and no longer reflect modern realities.   Cities and towns, for example, are forbidden from imposing local sales taxes or a lodging tax for transients -- which places our town and country at a huge disadvantage from a financial standpoint compared to their counterparts in, say, the United States.    Would you agree that the provincial sales tax should be lowered with allowance for municipalities to raise such funds, as well as being able to rely more on parking and moving violation fines for revenues?   (This would have the benefit of lowering property taxes and as such should be revenue neutral.)
  3. While immigration is a shared Canadian value (at least among most), and it is also a shared jurisdiction with Ottawa, there is presently little to no transparency as to what the immigration agreements are.   I do not recall any such agreement ever being debated in the legislature, whereas the parallel but much more comprehensive agreement Québec City has with Ottawa (dating back to the first Cullen-Couture deal in 1978) has always been the matter of debate in the National Assembly along with a ratification vote (as well as one in Parliament).    Do you agree Ontario should take control of its own immigration policy, provided it meets national interests, what would be your bottom line terms, and will you subject the agreement to a binding free vote in Legislative Assembly?
  4. Since the last round of tax reform in 1987, the income tax system has become more and more complicated as Ontario has felt the need to parallel all (or at least since 2000 most) of federal tax credits that have crept it.    Such incremental-ism goes against the idea of a simple but fair tax system.   So, simply stated, do you favour
    • getting rid of most of these puny non-refundable and refundable tax credits with a simple system with clearly defined brackets (and not phony "surtaxes" which create additional, shadow brackets) and lower rates;
    • a higher personal exemption with equality for two-income, one-income and single parent families;
    • timing payment of provincial refundable credits to the same time as Ottawa's (with a double branded assessment statement) to save on postage and financial transaction fees:
    • a flat tax (with a view as to what rate and what exemptions); and / or
    • completely segregating our tax system from Ottawa's and creating a made-for-Ontario tax system that reflects solely and entirely our policy goals of wealth redistribution?
  5. Do you agree that Ontario should exercise its powers under Article 94A of the 1867 Constitution and run its own retirement and disabiilty pension plan with its own set of supplementary benefits, and an all-Ontario board of financial advisors, such plan to have full reciprocity with the Canada and  Québec Plans?
I await your reply.   If you it will get posted here.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Yours truly,
Robert Pavlacic

1 comment:

Bill said...

What a Blast!

I would add a proviso to all suggestions about modifying the Ontario tax system: We need an Equality Impact Assessment of all legislation, tax changes in particular, to ensure that, as a minimun, changes do not increase income inequality in our province.

Decades of research inform us that income inequality is the underlying factor in a host of health and social ills. Requiring that new legislation works to reduce income inequality is an efficient and effective way to tackle those problems.