The crippling burden of taxes on low income earners

The Manitoba PC party introduced their Alternative Throne speech on Friday. There was one promise in there that really got me thinking. They promise to increase the Basic Personal Exemption (BPE). This is the amount of money you are able to earn before you start paying provincial income tax. This is something I believe Manitoba is really lagging behind the rest of Canada on. I find this really shocking considering that we have an NDP government; as one would expect that we would have a lesser tax burden on low income earners. Progressive tax policy would reduce the tax burden on low income earners, as this would leave more money in the pockets of low income earners and help address issues such as high chid poverty rates, high use of food banks by home owners, etc.

But BPE is just one component of basic taxation. How does Manitoba stack in when compared to the rest of Canada? We often sees  a $40,000 earner used as an example when talking about taxation. But what about those that taxation proportionally hits the hardest? What about the effect on those that earn only minimum wage?

I have pulled some numbers to see where we currently stand:

current-2

While many complain about our minimum wage being high, it’s not out of line with the rest of Canada, but what’s really interesting is the lowest bracket rate and the BPE.

While our minimum wage is the 3rd highest in Canada, and our low bracket rate is the 3rd highest in the country, look at how low our BPE is. In fact because of the combined effect of the low BPE and the high rate in the lowest bracket, minimum wage earners in Manitoba are paying more tax than minimum wage earners in provinces that have a lower BPE. Paying more tax than any province except Quebec.  Let’s take a look at how we compare to SK: We have a $0.50 higher minimum wage, which results in a $1040.00 higher gross pay, but let’s look at the tax differential – after tax the difference is only $215. That means $825 of that $1040 goes right to provincial income tax differential. Put another way, that’s $0.40/hr that’s eaten up by tax differential.

But the really interesting numbers are the real tax rate, which is tax rate adjusted by BPE. Look at how out of sync Manitoba is with the rest of Canada – 6.5%. Only Quebec is higher. Look at BPE as a % of gross pay and that number is also disturbingly low. What that means is that a minimum wage earner in AB is paying tax on only 20.8% of their income, while in Manitoba they’re paying tax on 60.1% of their income.

So how has this changed since ’99 ( that’s the benchmark our provincial gov’t seems to use for everything, so let’s go there)?

We have to remember though, that it’s not really an apples to apples comparison since Tax On Net Income (TONI) had not been introduced at that time and provinces did not have a BPE that was distinct from the federal BPE. Taxes were calculated as a percentage of the federal tax rate. What do those numbers look like?

1999

So a few interesting number to be had here. First, if anyone tells you a minimum wage earner pays less tax now than in 1999, you can tell them they’re incorrect. The rate is less than it was, as well as at the tax payable.

We’re a rank a little further back (3 vs 4) in gross income and after tax income (3 vs 5). But let’s look at the real tax rate and BPE as a %. Our real tax rate is 3.76% vs 6.49% and our BPE % is 54.4% . The last is really interesting. In 1999 we were close to other provinces, but we’re the only province west of the Maritimes to see the BPE as a percentage of income drop.  It’s also not a small drop, it’s a pretty substantial drop. In ’99 a minimum wage earner paid tax on 45% of their earnings. Now? 60%.

It would be one thing if the BPE was low and we had a tax rate similar to Ontario or BC. In fact a 5% lowest bracket rate would keep minimum wage earners as the 3rd highest after prov tax income in Canada and make the real tax rate a more acceptable 3%. A change in only the BPE to the average of the 3 other western provinces and Ontario would again keep Manitoba as the third highest after prov income tax in Canada.

But the combination of the two means minimum wage earners in Manitoba pay the second highest provincial taxes in Canada, have the second highest real tax rate, and are taxed on more of their income than any other province except PEI and Nova Scotia.

In a way, this shows excess tax revenue being collected from minimum wage earners in Manitoba. If our government is really serious about making life better for the working poor in Manitoba, they’ll address this gap that has been growing ever since 1999. Reducing the provincial tax burden on low income earners would help address our highest in Canada child poverty and food bank usage figures. They’ve had since 1999 to address this, but instead, by cutting business tax rates, introducing a senior’s school tax rebate, increasing PST, etc., they’ve placed more of the tax burden on minimum wage earners.

An immediate $2500 increase to the BPE is the minimum that should be implemented along with a decrease to the lowest rate. A real, tangible adjustment though, would be moving the BPE to minimum wage, and setting up additional tax brackets with smaller increases between each.  I’m not optimistic that this will happen anytime soon though. Its easier to say you support minimum wage earners and then place an oppressive tax burden on them.

 

Quantifying the effect of MB Infrastructure spending

So anyone who follows me on twitter has seen that I have been debating back and forth with my NDP MLA about the effect of the MB government infrastructure spending on the provincial unemployment rate and how it compares to other provinces.

My position is that unemployment is driven more by the nature of a province’s economy and global factors as opposed to direct government investments, policy or the political party in power. To support my argument I have provided historical unemployment rate data ( below) that shows Manitoba’s comparative position hasn’t really shifted too much over the last 25 years. It usually falls between 2nd and 4th in Canada. I’ve also pointed to more detailed Stats Can data beyond government news releases and press clippings which shows that our current position is more of a result of other provinces falling off than Manitoba doing better.

Historical Unemployment Rates by Province:

unemply history

Note that MB position since 1976 is between 2nd and 4th

My MLA’s argument is that the PST infrastructure spending is driving the increase in MB’s comparative unemployment position. To support his argument he states that the gov’t is spending lots of money on infrastructure.

But what if we could quantify the effect of the provincial government infrastructure spending? What if we were able to see exactly what the effect of this infrastructure spending on unemployment is?

I think we can.

Using some documents I’ve pulled from the provincial government website and stats can data, we can see the effect of the provincial infrastructure spending on Manitoba’s unemployment rate.

The provincial government has a couple of Conference Board of Canada reports on their website. Here’s the initial one that purports to show the effect of the PST infrastructure spending. Now, I’m going to assume their methodology in calculating the effect on an annual basis is correct, but that’s a huge stretch since the application of the methodology is so deeply flawed. I’d be embarrassed to work for the Conference Board putting out material like this. The report assumes each year on a stand alone and then adds them. But that’s not correct. It’s essentially quintupled the effect, and also neglected to factor in prior spending.

So this graphic?

58900 jobs

It’s not 58,900 jobs, it’s actually less than 4,000. But more on that later.

But lets just assume their behind the report calculations are correct, even if the application is so deeply flawed.Let’s look at the Conference Board’s report on 2013-2014 infrastructure spending.

Specifically, lets look at table 2 from page 6:

Table 2
Now, note the 1st line, we can link that to another publication in a few minutes. Lets just look at the 1st line and the employment line. This indicates that for $844M in spending, 8,200 jobs are created. Or $102,926.83 per job created. Let’s just save that for later.
Now lets look at another document from the same site. Lets look at the 2014/2015 annual report on infrastructure spending put out by the provincial gov’t.
In this case, lets look at the 5 year spending plan from page 7:
5 yr plan
First, note the planned investment of $844M, that links to our earlier Conference Board of Canada document. So we’re looking at comparable data here. But we have to do some major restatement of the data as listed to correct for flaws in the data:

The base funding level for each year seems to be the 2012/13 base. But that doesn’t factor in inflation or any annual increase to the baseline that would have occurred without PST spending. So we’ll go and adjust the base by 2.5% per year. and remember that’s an incremental amount, not just increase each year by 2.5%. Our adjusted numbers now look like this:

Adjust 1

Quite a change, isn’t it? But we want to look at incremental PST funding. That’s PST spending above what would otherwise be spent. Put another way, Planned investment less the restated base 2012-2013. Those numbers look like this:

adjust 2

The highlighted numbers are the incremental PST spending per year based on a reasonable 2.5% increase to base funding each year. Now those numbers are on a stand alone year by year basis. We also need to look at the year over year change. This is important – if you’re hired to work on a job over 5 years are you one job or 5? The above numbers reflect each year as being a separate job. So let’s look at the incremental PST spending change from year to year:

adjust 4

So now we know an adjusted amount and how much that increases year over year. The increases from year to year are what we need to calculate additional jobs. Now remember back to the 1st document  we looked at? Where we calculated this: “Or $102,926.83 per job created. ” We can apply that rate to the above numbers to come up with the following:

adjust 5

So 2,550 jobs created to-date due to MB Gov’t PST spending. Okay, we’re close to the end of this now!

Let’s go back to that 1st table though:

Table 2

 It also states that for $844 million in spending, the labour force increases by 3,800. That 3,800 is 46% of 8,200 listed employment. Those are jobs taken by people from outside the province and are not jobs for unemployed Manitobans.
Now that we have our total on jobs created to-date, let’s look at the Stats Can unemployment data for October 2015:
cansim
Okay, now that we have all that data, lets put it into this and see what happens. We’ll use October. Note that the above numbers are in thousands.
We have 2,550 jobs from PST spending and 46.3% of those or 1,173 are people moving to Manitoba to work. That’s a net 1.327 jobs to date from MB PST infrastructure spending.
So if we back out those numbers we see what would be without MB infrastructure spending:

Labour Force decreases from 678,000 to 676,827

Employment decreases from 641,800 to 639,250

Unemployment therefore is 676,827- 639,250 = 37,577

Unemployment rate is 37,577 / 676,827 = 5.5%

So there you have it. The effect of MB PST infrastructure spending on unemployment:  0.2%

And since Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate in October is 5.6%, the effect of MB Gov’t PST infrastructure spending on unemployment position relative to rest of Canada? Nothing. Still #1 regardless.

So much for the argument that infrastructure spending is driving Manitoba’s #1 unemployment position.

Something hidden in last week’s public accounts announcement

This post is probably a week late, but on September 30th, the provincial government released their public accounts figures which show that the government missed their deficit target by almost $100 million from the initial budget and almost $30 million from the third quarter forecast.

Here’s a link to the Winnipeg Sun’s story:

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2015/09/30/provinial-deficit-up-100m-from-projections-5-months-ago

And here is a link to the government’s news release if some think the Sun is too biased:

http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=36256&posted=2015-09-30

 

Now, I’m not going to get into the numbers, and how being off by $100 million on budget predictions seems to be standard practice for this government. Instead, I take issue with something I find much more disturbing. Here’s the exact paragraph from the government news release:

 

Minister Dewar noted that a portion of the net loss is due to more than $100 million of revenue from the federal government owed to the province as a result of severe summer flooding in 2014 that could not be recorded due to a moratorium on federal funding announcements because of the Oct. 19 election.  This revenue had been anticipated in the 2014-15 third Quarterly Financial Report.

 

So lets look at a few things here:

  • Government works on an accrual basis, so never mind the fact that the election call was well into the 2015-2016 fiscal year, it really doesn’t matter when the actual money was received – as long as a receivable exists, it can be counted as revenue.
  • The suggestion is that the revenue was not able to be recorded as the election call of August 2nd put a stop to funding announcements. That statement is troubling for two reasons:
    • The year-end audit was still ongoing more than 120 days after then end of the fiscal year.
    • A funding announcement and confirmation of funding are two entirely different things. As this government knows well, funds often get spent well before the funding announcement is made.
  • I expect the government has some sort of assistance program in place with the provinces for floods and emergencies such as this. In that case there would be some sort of application process in place to obtain this support. How else would you be able to record a receivable in Q3 (that’s end of December 2014 at the latest) and know how much to record? (more on this later)
  • Even with an election call, payments under federal programs don’t stop. Once funding has been approved, it can still be paid out under a federal program even if there is an election called – money doesn’t stop flowing.

So, what’s the conclusion?

Is it correct to blame an election?

Well, an election may have something to do with it – but only if you look at it from the perspective of the provincial government gambling and losing.

The Government had recorded $100 million of disaster assistance in December 2014. During the audit, this amount was removed by the Auditor General . Why?

Because the Auditor General wasn’t convinced of the collectability of the receivable. Either they couldn’t verify that the province would ever get this money, or they couldn’t verify the amount the province recorded.

In the 3rd quarter of the 2014-2015 fiscal year the provincial government recorded $100 million of assistance, and by the time the AG was examining the books (7-10 months later depending on when the revenue was recorded), there wasn’t enough support for this figure for the Auditor General to allow the provincial government to keep it on the books at March 31, 2015. As long as it was verifiable when the AG confirmed it, it would have been kept on the books. So if the AG was doing their examination 1st week of August and the gov’t got word at that point the claim was valid, the $100M would stay on the March 31st financials.

7-10 months after the revenue was booked, the federal government had not approved this revenue for payment.

Which begs a further question – when was the claim submitted? Or had it even been submitted?

It doesn’t normally take 7-10 months to get a payment approval from the federal government if the costs are eligible under the program.

So where did the $100 million come from? Was there some sort of calculation involved to arrive at this number in the 3rd quarter of the 2014-2015 fiscal year? If so, then why had the provincial government not received notice that the funding request had been approved by the federal government almost 10 months later?

Or, was the $100 million just a plug to make the third quarter forecast look better than it actually was? And what’s the real number?

15 Months

15 Months.

That’s how long Lindor Reynolds battled cancer before the monster took her.

And at 56, much too early. I wasn’t a frequent reader of Lindor’s columns, I knew of her involvement in a mutual faith denomination. In a small place like Winnipeg, where there is no more than 3 degrees of separation there was probably one or two for us, but we had never met.

But her writing and passing have affected me. A punch to  the gut was her column on August 16th of this year, and since then we waited for the other shoe to drop. It was awkward and uncomfortable – reading about someone facing their own demise, and not knowing how to react. They’ve come to grips with this, and yet it hits us unexpectedly. We read about her diagnosis, and next thing we know, she’s  saying goodbye. It’s a shock to us.

But there has been one thing that has remained with me since that August column, something that was reinforced by her passing.

15 Months

56 Years old.

What would I do if I was diagnosed with 15 months? Would I be able to cram into those remaining months all the plans, things I still want to do with my life? Would I need to revisit ( obviously), would I fill the 15 months with something else?

So that question has sat there ever since I read that August column. What would I do if I had 15 months left? And why should the answer be any different if I don’t have to face pending mortality? Shouldn’t we be living life to its fullest? As Helen Keller says “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

I’m pondering if it is a daring adventure. For how many of us is it , as Helen Keller says, is it “nothing at all”? Who defines what a daring adventure is?

So if nothing else, Lindor’s passing has made me ask – if I had 15 months left, would that be enough time to do all the things I want to do? It’s not a comfortable thing to think about, especially in detail and where it leads if the answer is no.  Sometimes the most important gifts are those that aren’t comfortable, the gifts that are uncomfortable, that make us think and re-evaluate. And for that, I say thank you Lindor, you’ve left a lasting impression.

Blog Action Day 2014 – Inequality

So today is blog action day – what does that mean?

It’s a day when bloggers ( dare I call myself that?) blog on one subject for activism and social justice.

I’ve wanted to take part in blog action day in previous years, but I have always been too late; finding out about it after it had already happened.

This year I found out about it yesterday, and while posting at 8pm may seem late, the timing is intentional and not because I don’t have anything to say.

So this years topic is inequality. Where do you start with that, or perhaps how do you narrow it down in a world full of inequality. I was thinking about this on the ride home tonight. At most I fall into the top 10% of the people in the world , since I own a car. I have a university degree, own a home, clean water and sanitation, and am sitting in a coffee shop typing this on my wi-fi connected computer. Am I part of the so-called 1%? Of course, and what more glaring example of inequality than that. However, as another blogger I follow put it, you at least have to acknowledge the issue first. I don’t have to sell all my possessions and live in poverty, but it is incumbent on me to understand that there is an issue here.

Inequality also hits close to home. The first nations incarcerated population is about 77% of all incarcerated individuals in Canada, but only represent 12% of the total population. How is that not glaring inequality and what are we doing to address it.

But what has been sitting in my gut like an undigested peach pit is the intersection of inequality, water and first nations communities.

We live in a fairly well off city here in Winnipeg. Our politicians tout our slow but steady economy, we have development and are looking at increasing our commercial base through industrial development like Centerport. And that’s what got me thinking. Because there is an issue there – Centerport is in the RM of Rosser, an RM that is unable to provide the necessary water for the industrial development. Winnipeg could supply the water, but there is an agreement with Shoal Lake first nation that Winnipeg cannot extend water service to other municipalities without the agreement of Shoal Lake first Nation. They haven’t agreed.

And why should they?

We pipe water hundreds of kilometres from a  boreal lake. For us to enjoy, drink, water our lawns, and utilize in the economic development of this city. Piped in from a first nations community that doesn’t even have the basic necessity, scratch that, the basic human right of clean water. They have been under a boil water advisory for years. We take from them what they cannot have so that we can prosper. Is there any more glaring an example of inequity than that? We prosper, while a community suffers.

We fail in our moral and ethical obligation and responsibility to at minimum provide those that we take from the same basic rights as what we take allows us to use and prosper. We fail over and over again by not doing anything and we perpetuate the inequality.

The community needs a $25 million water treatment plant. And while they suffer, we haggle, between levels of government to decide who will pick up the cost. This isn’t a matter of jurisdiction. It’s not a matter of whose purse this should come out of. This is an ethical and moral responsibility that we have abdicated. It doesn’t matter which level of government is responsible. We’re all responsible – at a federal level for abdicating our responsiblity to first nations. At a provincial level by letting this ill-gotten product travel over provincial lands and at a civic level by utilizing this for our gain while those who should have clean water are left to suffer.

We are in the middle of a civic election. Why isn’t this an election  issue? Why is this inequality so readily accepted. We need to address this and address this now. We need to remedy this inequality. We need to construct a water treatment plant at Shoal Lake. We need to step up and say “It doesn’t matter if this is a responsibility of our government. It’s a responsibility of us as citizens and Canadians.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/shoal-lake-40-human-rights-violations-museum-highlights-water-problems-1.2769067

 http://uniter.ca/view/shoal-lake-reserve-joins-counterpart-in-lawsuit-against-city-of-winnipeg

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/winnipeg-native-band-battle-over-water/article7206899/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/human-rights-museum-needs-to-act-on-first-nations-right-to-water-1.2703052

http://worldcentric.org/conscious-living/social-and-economic-injustice

It’s a dirty campaign

I often look at civic politics as the most pure of all three levels of politics, especially when it comes to council races.

Wow, am I ever naïve. This is one of the dirtiest civic campaigns I can remember.

At the Mayoralty level, there are quite a few people on twitter that have mentioned that the Bowman campaign is the dirtiest going. I personally haven’t seen a lot of that, but I have seen one tweet from a Bowman supporter that said that if you care for and love Winnipeg, you’d support Bowman.  And it was re-tweeted by Bowman’s campaign. Seriously? Yes, if you support any other candidate, you obviously hate the city. Unbelievable.

But it’s not just mayor, it’s council. Whoever I vote for in my ward, I’m holding my nose while doing it.

I’m not a fan of Janice Lukes’ association with Justin Swandel, and that does influence my vote.

But, I think I’m more disgusted at the actions of Sachit Mehra’s supporters.

It’s not bad enough that the MLA for the riding is spending all his spare time campaigning for Mr. Mehra, and making a point of posting it all over social media. He also attacks Mr. Mehra’s  main opponent over social media.

Mr. Mehra is being supported by UFFW. It may be worth a visit to Alex Forrest’s twitter feed ( @wpgfirefighter). Maybe I am making too much of this, but it doesn’t really  seem like people are actually volunteering out of free will.

And today? Here’s a little exchange between Stefano Grande and myself about his use of the term “High Road” with regards to Sachit Mehra. Given the attacks by Mr. Mehra’s campaign volunteers ( MLA Dave Gaudreau) against Ms. Lukes for the actions of Mr. Swandel, I’d hardly describe Mr. Mehra’s campaign as taking the high road.

Grande

 

A simple question posed to Mr. Grande. I don’t think Mr. Grande lives in the ward, so it’s reasonable to ask if this is his position or the official Downtown Biz position. Mr. Mehra identifies on his website as chair of the Downtown Winnipeg Biz.  Same questions that have been asked of Chamber of Commerce members who have publicly supported Brian Bowman. The difference? They answered the questions. Instead of answering the question, M. Grande attempts to work shame me*

I had hoped I could cast my vote based on a platform put forward by the candidates. Now I’m forced to take into account potential relationships with MLA, firefighters and special interest groups. I thought we would move past this crap after the fire hall/ Police HQ scandal.

I want to make my decision based on what the candidate stands for. However, several think I should make my vote based on their endorsement. No matter what, I’’m forced to hold my nose when I cast my vote for councillor.

 

 

*As an aside, attempts to work shame me must be that activity of the evening. My MLA, Dave Gaudreau, tried to work shame me when I questioned him regarding construction projects occurring in St. Norbert.

MLAs Should Keep Their Noses Out of Civic Politics

We like to think of city council candidates as being independent, regardless of which party they are a member of or how they define themselves. This independence allows them to represent the ward vs. representing the party and theoretically allows them to transcend party boundaries in working with other levels of government.

However, now we see a situation in St. Norbert where the sitting MLA, Dave Gaudreau, is not only overtly campaigning for one council candidate, but also overtly campaigning against another candidate. Separately, this would be questionable behavior, but combined it brings the ethics and credibility of the MLA and the future working relationships into question.

Some will suggest that I am unfairly besmirching Sachit Mehra, the candidate that the Mr. Gaudreau is campaigning for. But this isn’t about him; it’s about the Mr. Gaudreau. You need to look no further than the social media presence of both Mr. Mehra and Mr. Gaudreau. Alone, Mr. Mehra’s twitter and Facebook presence are what you would expect of a council candidate – lots of pictures campaigning and glad-handing. But look a little further and you’ll see that a vast majority of Mr. Mehra’s twitter and Facebook posts have been favourited and shared by Mr. Gaudreau ( in some cases it’s only Mr. Gaudreau that is that is sharing and favouriting). Those alone aren’t an issue, but then take a look at Mr. Gaudreau’s social media presence. It’s rife with pictures of Mr. Gaudreau and Mr. Mehra at various events, campaigning, glad handing, and dropping literature, and pounding in lawn signs. In fact the literature for Mr. Mehra that ended up in my mailbox the other night was put there by Mr. Gaudreau. When I questioned Mr. Gaudreau about the appropriateness of overtly campaigning on behalf of a council candidate, Mr. Gaudreau indicated he was free to do whatever he wanted in his free time.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.13.14 PM

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.17.27 PM

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.21.13 PM

None would believe that an MLA is a 9-5 job, and Mr. Gaudreau proves that by the extensive amount of time he spends attending community events in his riding ( this is a good thing), a substantial number of which occur in the evening. However I was at a community event two weeks ago that Mr. Gaudreau was not at (according to his twitter, he was campaigning with Mr. Mehra that evening). I don’t know if Mr. Gaudreau was invited to the event that evening, or if he would have attended regardless, but the question that can now be asked is “Was Mr. Gaudreau campaigning for Mr. Mehra when he could have been at a community event?”

These could be considered pretty thin conclusions, but so what? In the end, it doesn’t matter how much influence Mr. Gaudreau has over Mr. Mehra (if any), it’s about perception. And Mr. Gaudreau has been overt enough in his support for Mr. Mehra to allow the perception that if Mr. Mehra was elected, in a dispute between the province and the city, Mr. Mehra may put his relationship with the MLA over the interests of the Ward. Would it happen? Who knows? Who cares? It’s not about anything other than perception. Sam Katz always wondered why people thought he had an inappropriate business relationship with Phil Sheegal when they showed up together on flights and at Jets games. But when you cultivate that perception it allows for people to come to certain conclusions. And when the MLA is campaigning as overtly for a council candidate as Mr. Gaudreau is, it allows people to draw certain conclusions.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mr. Gaudreau has come out swinging at another council candidate as a result of the city’s decision to deny a zoning variance for RHG Bonnycastle school. Janice Lukes was Councillor Justin Swandel’s executive assistant. Mr. Gaudreau takes Ms. Lukes to task for not openly supporting the variance (which would be in opposition to her employer’s position opposing the variance). The hypocrisy that Mr. Gaudreau shows is bad enough (I have yet to hear him publicly speak out against any of his government’s policies), But his attacks on Ms. Lukes on his Facebook page as shown below show a complete lack of class and professionalism. What happens if Ms. Lukes gets elected? How do you think that relationship is going to work? The ward is done a disservice if the acrimonious relationship affects the interests of the ward members. In fact, it is not such a leap to suggest that the variance decision can be traced to the poor relationship between Mr. Gaudreau and Mr. Swandel(Mr. Gaudreau’s social media easily leads one to that conclusion) . Had these two been able to work well together, the issues with RHG Bonnycastle would have already been resolved. Mr. Gaudreau likes to say he will work with anyone, but this clearly shows that he cannot and also suggests that if Ms. Lukes is elected, there will be a poor working relationship between her and Mr. Gaudreau going forward.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.06.28 PM

So, Mr. Gaudreau has taken the two front runners in a council ward and provided the perception that one will not be able to properly represent the ward in conflicts between the city and the province; and also provided the basis for a conclusion that if the other front runner were to be elected more issues like RHG Bonnycastle will occur as a result of the MLA publically poisoning the relationship between Ms. Lukes and himself.

This is a clear example of why MLAs or MPs for that matter should not get involved in council elections. As a voter, where I was prepared to judge candidates on their policies and vision for the ward, I now have to give significant weight to what the relationship will be with the MLA if they are elected.

As an MLA, you MUST take into account your public facade when deciding who and how to support. As a private citizen with relatively little influence, I’m not going to cause too much of a stir campaigning for anyone. But when a public persona who will have business dealings with a councilor whether it is an MLA or a land developer, even if it is not quid por quo, that perception is out there.

If an MLA or MP wants to support a specific candidate, they can mark an X on a ballot on election day. Otherwise it does a disservice to the candidates and the ward as well as raising ethical questions about the MLA by overtly campaigning for (or against) specific council candidates.

As an update, Mr. Gaudreau is now posting against Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman. I think we’d all be well served if Mr. Gaudreau took a vacation from social media  and focused on his job as an MLA as opposed to focusing on the civic campaign.

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