I think it's time to ask who is funding the self-styled Canadian Taxpayer's Federation, and what they are funding them to do. A little transparency here would go a long way. Certainly they do not represent taxpayers - as a taxpayer, I've never been invited to vote for my CTF representative.
write this because the latest intervention supposedly on our behalf
from the CTF is in regard to the expense undertaken by City Council to
send representatives to Russia to attend the annual SportAccord
convention, which as CBC notes is "a gathering of more than 2,000 representatives from international sports."
trip does not meet the approval of Kevin Lacey, the Canadian Taxpayers
Federation spokesman. “This is too much for taxpayers,” he said. “They’re giving a lot and it’s up to the city to do their part, rather than send people on fancy conferences.”
as CBC reported, "Coun. Daniel Bourgeois raised questions at a council
meeting on Tuesday about whether the city was setting specific targets
on what the officials were expected to accomplish."
It's not clear
to me that these critics understand how cities create economic
activity, activity which, in turn, lowers the load on individual
Events like the Rolling Stones and other concerts, the
CFL football games, the World Track meets, and the like, bring in
millions of dollars to the city directly, and attract millions more
indirectly. They are part and parcel with a more broad-based but less
glamorous strategy of attracting a range of businesses and industries to
These industries and events employ people, both
directly through hiring, and indirectly through purchases of goods and
services. And they're important because, unlike government employment,
they create economic activity, creating a flow of income in the city
which would not otherwise be there.
But just as you can't find a
job by sitting in your kitchen and waiting for someone to call you, you
can't attract enterprise to the city by sitting in your office and
waiting for U2 to give you a call. It doesn't work like that. You have
to go out into the world, meet with people on their own home ground,
demonstrate your interest, and build a relationship.
It takes time, it takes effort, and yes, it takes money to fund travel to places like Russia.
given that all this is the case, one wonders just what Daniel Bourgeois
and Kevin Lacey are hoping to accomplish with their criticisms.
wants "specific targets". How ridiculous. What is the 'specific target'
of a conversation? What are the representatives supposed to report: "we
built trust by two octaves and enhanced relationships by one degree?"
No, the results are occasional and not the result of any single direct
We all knew that Ian Fowler
got results because we could see the concerts and events on the ground,
and could watch the excitement and commerce flow through the city. But
it would have been ridiculous to require him to report 'specific
targets' for each conversation he had, for each trip he took.
as for Kevin Lacey, one wonders what he is thinking at all, beyond a
knee-jerk response to any government spending. One wonders, indeed, why
Lacey is even quoted in the CTV article. He has no particular knowledge
of Moncton politics and has not demonstrated that he is an expert on
economic development. So why phone him up for comment?
Lacey has made himself a favorite of CTV and also of the Roger's-owned
News 91.9 talk radio show, where he is interviewed on what seems to be
almost a daily basis. He (and others with similar views) are given a
platform day after day to complain about this, that or the other
Here is Lacey's bio, from the CTF website: "Kevin has experience in both the public and private sector. He
recently ran his own consulting business providing advice to leading
politicians and corporations. He’s served in Prime Minister Stephen
Harper’s office and was a senior advisor to Nova Scotia Premier John
Hamm. Prior to this he worked as an associate with a large Atlantic
based public affairs company. He’s also worked for both The Atlantic
Institute for Market Studies and The Fraser Institute."
So for this reason one wonders who is funding the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation. They demand accountability time after time - let's see them open their own books. Ditto for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. And the rest of these very political 'think tanks' and lobby groups.
whatever else they're doing, their undermining our ability to develop
and grow a sound economic foundation in the city. And their ongoing
campaigns hurt the wider community by undercutting any good governments
are willing and able to provide.
Their short-sighted calls for
lower taxes and minimal government ignore the reality that prosperity in
society is generated largely by government intervention and
redistribution of wealth, and that austerity in a time of recession is
what produces crises like the great depression.
If you're broke
and unemployed, you can't hope things will get better by cutting your
expenses and sitting in your bedroom. You have to invest - even if it
means borrowing - and educate yourself and develop your skills and get
involved in society, meeting people and earning a reputation. Just as -
I'm sure - Kevin Lacey does.
Let's see some openness and
transparency from the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation. Who is paying the
bills, how much does Kevin Lacey get paid, how much does he spend on
travel and schmoozing? This will put their missives into a much clearer
light - and expose, I would suspect, the contradictions.
p.s. Here is the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation annual report
people donated more than $1000 to the CTF - we are not told who,
though. No salaries are disclosed. Also worth noting is the CTF
expenditures of almost $500,000 on 'events', $108,000 for 'travel' and
an additional $684,000 for 'communications. It seems these expenses are
good for the CTF, but not for governments.