Tory ethics: attack the opposition on government website

Updated December 6, 2013.

Caught breaking its own rules, the Conservative government has taken down a partisan attack posted on the Department of Finance's website.

The column, published earlier this week in the National Post, was posted on the Department of Finance's website on Dec. 5 -- despite a rule that taxpayer-funded government websites not be used for partisan purposes.

The opening line -- "The NDP's plan to expand pension during a fragile global recovery is irresponsible" -- set the tone that runs through the entire column.

"Can you afford a smaller paycheque? Worse yet, can you afford to lose your job? In fact, families and the Canadian economy can not afford a dramatic expansion to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) that will take more money out of the pockets of employees and force employers to cut jobs, hours and wages....

"Despite the fragile economic environment, the New Democratic Party has proposed a radical plan to increase payroll tax, stunt our economic growth and kill up to 70,000 jobs. Its irresponsible plan would eliminate thousands of jobs and could endanger our economic growth. Other proposals to expand CPP payroll taxes, while more modest, would also harm Canada’s fragile economy. Indeed, one recent provincial proposal could kill between 17,000 and 50,000 jobs."

This misstep follows a similar move by cabinet colleague Julian Fantino, who got into trouble earlier this year when two letters critical of the opposition were posted to the Canadian International Development Agency website.

The Fantino letters were later removed after complaints of an ethical lapse and charges of an abuse of power. Fantino's office said the letters had been posted to the government website in error.

By the afternoon of Dec. 6, after PressProgress wrote about it, the Department of Finance took down Sorenson's column, edited out the attacks against the NDP, and posted a new version. Here is a key change:

Department of Finance website

 

In fact, according to pension expert Robert Brown, the provincial plan would gradually raise employer CPP premiums by 1.55%, starting at earnings above $25,000.

That sounds pretty modest.

When CPP premiums for employers were hiked by more than twice as much in the 1990s, they had little or no impact on job creation according to University of British Columbia economist and payroll tax expert Jon Kesselman. That is because premium increases were slowly phased in, giving employers time to adjust.University of Ottawa professor Michael Wolfson recently commented that when premiums were hiked in the 1990s to shore up CPP finances rather than to improve benefits “there were no loud objections from the business community or fiscal conservatives.”

Could it be that the concern about jobs is a disguise for concern that a bigger, better CPP would reduce the lucrative investment fees earned by the banks and insurance companies from RRSPs ?

- See more at: http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/en/blog/whats-behind-opposition-bigger-...

Today, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he is opposed to the provincial proposal to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) because it is not a “modest” proposal and would cost jobs. In fact, according to pension expert Robert Brown, the provincial plan would gradually raise employer CPP premiums by 1.55%, starting at earnings above $25,000.

That sounds pretty modest.

When CPP premiums for employers were hiked by more than twice as much in the 1990s, they had little or no impact on job creation according to University of British Columbia economist and payroll tax expert Jon Kesselman. That is because premium increases were slowly phased in, giving employers time to adjust.University of Ottawa professor Michael Wolfson recently commented that when premiums were hiked in the 1990s to shore up CPP finances rather than to improve benefits “there were no loud objections from the business community or fiscal conservatives.”

Could it be that the concern about jobs is a disguise for concern that a bigger, better CPP would reduce the lucrative investment fees earned by the banks and insurance companies from RRSPs ?

- See more at: http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/en/blog/whats-behind-opposition-bigger-...