The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation is right to raise alarms about the growing inequity between generous pensions paid politicians and the reality too many in the private sector have inadequate, or no pensions …
That isn’t exactly what the libertarian-when-it-suits-them CTF has its knickers in a knot about.
The CTF—which bills itself as a “not-for-profit citizen’s group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government”—opened its new Atlantic office last week with a splashy “study” claiming provincial taxpayers fork out $22 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pension plans.
If that is true—the CTF is infamous for simplistic statistical jiggery-pokery—it is outrageous. Even if it isn’t precisely true-true, it reflects a larger truth. Over the past few decades, our politicians have quietly created a cocooned world of privilege for themselves. The CTF has been foraging in this fertile swamp of government waste and inefficiency since 1990.
But making governments work better isn’t the CTF’s goal.
The CTF—which takes its ideological cues from American neo-cons—sees government as the enemy.
Public spending on public services like education, health care, highways, social programs, industrial development? Bad. The CTF has never met a tax it thought couldn’t be reduced or, better, eliminated.
Except… the CTF is selectively libertarian. It campaigns against the ”expensive” long-gun registry, for example, but seems untroubled by Ottawa’s much more costly political-sop plan to build more prisons while actual crime rates decline.
The CTF made political hay with last winter’s MLA expenses scandal but barely acknowledged that the same provincial auditor general’s report flagged an extra $52 million Nova Scotia taxpayers shelled out to private contractors for so-called P3 schools.
Though it claims to be non-partisan, the CTF is a revolving door for right-wing Tory hacks. Jason Kenny was CTF’s CEO before becoming a Tory MP. CTF’s current national spokesperson was Reform Party leader Preston Manning’s Research Director. Kevin Lacey, CTF’s new Atlantic Director, previously worked for both Stephen Harper and John Hamm (the latter, interestingly, during the time when MLA pensions got their gold plating).
So, while the CTF raises a valid issue, we should be wary of being invited to its tea party.