Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - Canada News - Highlights of the auditor general's report: - Canada News - Highlights of the auditor general's report:: " The government is spending billions of dollars a year on hefty computer systems without the proper controls to keep project costs from ballooning many times over. Examining just seven of $8.7 billion worth of IT projects approved in the past three years, Fraser found that five lacked adequate business cases. A $2.5-million Canada Revenue Agency project aimed at prioritizing tax-collection work has inflated to a revised price tag of $147 million over five years.
- Moving contracts for soldiers, Mounties and public servants worth hundreds of millions of dollars were unfairly tendered, despite numerous warning signs of advantageous treatment toward the existing contract-holder, Fraser wrote. What's more, Canadian Forces members were overcharged thousands of dollars for property- management services.
- A significant number of Mounties with taxpayer-paid credit cards are improperly charging items including computer costs, gym memberships, car insurance and restaurant bills.
- Government-wide spending has grown to $209 billion from $162 billion in the past six years under an expenditure management system that fails to scrutinize the growth of existing programs, Fraser warns. She calls on the government to implement a new expenditure management system.
- Health Canada programs designed to regulate the safety of everything from cribs to prescription drugs may not be meeting their own regulatory responsibilities, Fraser found. Her report cites a drop in funding for core regulatory activities last year and says the department doesn't have the resources to tell whether it can meet responsibilities as regulator of drugs, medical devices and product safety" - Editorial - Fast and loose on the public dime

And the shit keeps raining on us with no relief in sight - Editorial - Fast and loose on the public dime: "Former Ottawa Rough Rider great Ron Stewart seems to have saved some of his best dekes for after he hung up his cleats.
Auditor General Sheila Fraser issued a scathing report into the ex-running back's later career as ombudsman for federal prison inmates, charging that he skipped work, billed personal expenses to the taxpayer and travelled on the public dime to destinations that had nothing to do with his duties.
Fraser found that Stewart collected $325,000 in improper or questionable salary, vacation pay and expenses in the six years between 1998 and 2004. Her probe didn't extend to the previous 21 years he held the job.
She said he was often absent from work, rarely attended staff meetings, frequently couldn't be reached by aides and charged the government for hospitality and travel apparently unrelated to his work, including five trips to cities hosting Grey Cup games.
Fraser wouldn't comment directly on whether any of the alleged misconduct amounted to criminal wrongdoing but she noted pointedly: We have referred the file to the RCMP.

There were other horror stories in Fraser's report, including:
* A sampling of seven of the 88 information technology projects launched since 2003, worth $7.1 billion, found rampant mismanagement.
* Controls on public servants charge cards were lax at the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, though there were only a few instances of direct abuse.
* Government was not vigilant enough about recouping $82 million in overpayments under Old Age Security program.
* Treaty negotiations with First Nations in British Columbia were badly bogged down, with not a single treaty signed as costs skyrocket to $426 million since 1993.
n Scandal in the RCMP's pension and insura"

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Are we busting monopolies or encouraging them ? Is there a middle ground ?

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Great Glasses to appeal $1 million fine

By Susan Gamble
Local News - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 Updated @ 11:08:20 PM

Despite losing his optician’s licence and being assessed a staggering $1-million fine, Bruce Bergez’s Great Glasses store is open for business as usual in Brantford.

And that has angered local opticians.

Bergez, the owner of a chain of Great Glasses stores, was found guilty of contempt last week for ignoring a court order requiring him to follow a provincial law that says glasses and contact lenses have to be prescribed by an optometrist or physician. At Great Glasses, eyes are tested by a machine and, until recently, Bergez was the only optician in the 17-store chain. "

Monday, November 27, 2006 - Editorial - More bungling from tax bureaucrats - Editorial - More bungling from tax bureaucrats: "

Revenue Minister Carol Skelton ought not go to sleep one more night without correcting a couple of ludicrous tax-filing provisions implemented by her department.
Stories brought to light by Sun parliamentary correspondent Kathleen Harris give us a perfect examples of what happens when bureaucrats are let loose to develop and implement policy.
Harris tells of an Alberta businessman who owed the feds almost $2.9 million in taxes collected from employees. A few days before the money was due he dropped off his payment at his local federal tax office, where it was stamped “delivered by hand” and the cheque deposited to the Receiver General of Canada.
That, he says, is the way he has done his tax remittances for several years.
But if the businessman was expecting a federal thanks for getting his money in early, he was in for a nasty surprise. Instead he was slapped with a $287,000 fine for not making the payment at a bank.

Not only that but as far as the Revenue people were concerned, his payment didn’t even exist. They advised the business owner to pay up immediately or face potential “legal action being taken without further notice.”
CRA spokesman Jacqueline Couture said the Income Tax Act rule requiring businesses to make source deduction payments at financial institutions has been on the books since the early 1990s, but enforcement and a mandatory 10% fine only began last month.
Harris also revealed that CRA plans to refuse cash payments at government service counters.
Only in the rarefied atmosphere of a government agency can such nonsense be imagined. What company would turn away a customer who dropped by early to pay his $3-million bill and tell him to drive across town and drop "

Thursday, November 23, 2006

'A nation in canada'

Is Harper the new Bismark? Good move -every province is a nation within the greater nation . PR
'A nation in canada': "The real question is straightforward: Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes,' Mr. Harper said to applause from the Liberal and New Democratic Party MPs. 'Do Quebecers form a nation independent of Canada? The answer is no, and it will always be no"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Give 'em shelter: new program offers beds and meals to city's homeless

By Michelle Ruby, expositor staff
Local News - Wednesday, November 22, 2006 Updated @ 12:09:09 AM

Volunteers are needed to help run a program that aims to keep the citys homeless warm and safe through the winter.

Brantford Out of the Cold will offer those without shelter a quiet place to sleep when temperatures dip dangerously low.

The Yes Church on West Street will have beds and a meal for up to 18 people at a time. The service will be available during cold alerts, which are issued by the local health unit when temperatures fall to -15C.

Although Yes Church has been offering overnight shelter to the homeless during the winter for a couple of years providing beds for up to eight people a night the new Out of the Cold program is larger and involves several local organizations. They include Why Not City Missions, the Brant Sexual Assault Centre and Spotlight for Social Equity. "

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Mayor begins building bridges day after slim margin of victory
Expositor Staff

By Michael-Allan Marion
Local News - Wednesday, November 15, 2006 Updated @ 12:00:05 AM

Mayor Mike Hancock says hes wasting no time following his re-election Monday in forging a productive council.

Hancock, who survived with a tight 165-vote edge over challenger Chris Friel, said his first priority is to line up meetings with the four newcomers to council.

Councillors-elect Jennifer Kinneman and Mark Littell in Ward 1, Vince Bucci in Ward 2 and John Bradford in Ward 5 can expect a phone call from the mayors office.

I want to chat with them about their aspirations and how they see themselves working with the new council, Hancock said Tuesday, as candidates were busy removing election signs from lawns and buildings across the city.

I want to hear their thoughts. "

Monday, November 13, 2006 - A flower of remembrance - A flower of remembrance: "A flower of remembrance
Article By: Cynthia Ross Cravit

In November, Canadians wear scarlet poppies to pay tribute to those who have died in war and military operations. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the time the Armistice of World War I was signed in 1918 – people across the country are asked to observe two minutes of silence to remember those servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives. "

Canada commits $40 million to developing world microfinancing

Good strategy

Canada commits $40 million to developing world microfinancing: "Canada commits $40 million to developing world microfinancing Juliet O'Neill, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, November 13, 2006 Article tools

OTTAWA -- The federal government announced $40 million Sunday for small loans and other microfinance help for destitute people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The expenditure on the Nobel prize-winning method of alleviating poverty and suffering was announced as about 2,000 delegates from around the world gathered in Halifax for the four-day Global Microcredit Summit.
'Around the world, the power of microfinance is transforming lives,' Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in a joint statement with International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner."

Saturday, November 04, 2006 - Manitoba - House arrest for tax fraud

An interesting precedent - Manitoba - House arrest for tax fraud: "House arrest for tax fraud

A Springfield man has been sentenced to one year of house arrest after he defrauded the Canada Revenue Agency of more than $365,000 in bogus tax returns.
Kevin Gibbons, 56, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count each of fraud and tax evasion. Judge Lynn Stannard also ordered Gibbons to pay a fine of $272,000 and perform 75 hours of community service work. " - Editorial - Tough call on income trusts - Editorial - Tough call on income trusts: "Tough call on income trusts

We would hardly have expected big business to stand up and applaud this week's federal announcement about rule changes for the way income trusts are to be taxed in Canada.
But Finance Minister Jim Flaherty found himself being backed into an increasingly tight corner under tax regulations that threatened to take billions of dollars out of federal coffers and he responded with decisive action -- something that has been in short supply in Ottawa in recent years. "

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Calm and uninspiring or brash and off the wall-which is your choice?
Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Mayor candidates in re-match

By Michael Allan Marion, Expositor Staff
Local News - Saturday, November 04, 2006 @ 01:00

Brantford is being treated to an electoral rematch in the 2006 race between Mayor Mike Hancock and predecessor Chris Friel that shows more than ever a dramatic contrast in styles.

Listen carefully, though, to the two repeat the 2003 clash that had a 15-year councillor best a nine-year mayor by 15 votes, and you’ll not hear much difference in each candidate’s vision of the city’s future.

As the race approaches the home stretch, the differences are more articulated in the intermittent criticisms that each makes of the other’s actions and decisions while in the mayor’s chair.

At 64, Hancock is sticking to the undramatic, quiet, capable, steady-as-she-goes, consensus-building style of management that saw him through the 2003 race. "

Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor

Lets change it
Osprey Media. - Brantford Expositor: "Property tax system unfair, voters say

James Wallace
Queens Park - Friday, November 03, 2006

Few Ontario voters are happy with Ontario's controversy-plagued property
tax system, shows an SES Research/Osprey Media poll.
Just 14 per cent of those surveyed believe the province's local tax
system is fair while 31 per cent see the system as unfair, the poll
'This is definitely a pocket book issue for many voters,' said SES
Research president Nik Nanos. 'It directly or indirectly touches
'When we look at the extremes, people are twice as likely to think that
it's unfair compared to fair,' Nanos said.
However, middle-aged and older voters were more likely than younger
voters to view the property tax system as unfair, the poll found.
'Sixty per cent of middle aged Ontarians think our property tax system
is either somewhat unfair or unfair,' Nanos said.
The SES Research/Osprey Media poll found a broad range of voters
expressed some degree of concern over property taxation with 18 per cent
surveyed saying the system is 'somewhat unfair' and 29 per cent that it
is 'somewhat fair.
Property taxes have been a controversial issue in Ontario for much of
the past decade. "