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Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical world in which an NDP provincial government purchased $75 million worth of medicine from a Venezuelan company in order to address a health-care crisis affecting children. Imagine if that medicine turned out to be poorly formulated, improperly dosed, and arrived long past the point at which it could help with said crisis. Imagine if our hypothetical Conservative federal government had already procured supplies of medicine from more reliable suppliers before the NDP government announced its ill-fated deal. And imagine that, in the end, fewer than 5,000 of the 1.5 million bottles the government bought actually ended up in pharmacies.

Oh, and just for fun, imagine if the owner of the company that helped broker the deal was friends with the NDP government’s justice minister — and his son worked as a political staffer in their government.

How, exactly, do you imagine groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) would react? Given the way they tend to react to even the smallest expense incurred by public servants and other government officials, I’d suggest they ought to be practically incandescent with righteous indignation over such a flagrant waste of taxpayer dollars.

Weirdly, though, that hasn’t been their reaction to the UCP government’s bungled purchase of Turkish children’s acetaminophen. In fact, a search of their website’s newsroom shows they haven’t had any reaction to it at all.

Here’s another hypothetical. Imagine that same NDP government paid former leader Brian Mason $253,000 to produce a report on the pandemic, one that clearly reflected his own biases and beliefs — and mirrored a fictional report he’d already prepared and published elsewhere. Imagine Mason then sent an email to all NDP MPs in the country informing them of how they could weaponize his taxpayer-funded report against the federal Conservative government. Imagine.

We don’t have to, of course, because that’s exactly what Preston Manning did with the Alberta government’s Public Health Emergencies Governance Review that he was charged with leading. “It’s all quite shameless,” Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid wrote, “but not entirely different from the $7.5 million being spent to promote an Alberta pension plan, at the same time another $1.8 million is lavished on a panel that’s supposed to be studying whether people want it… There used to be at least some reluctance to use public money for such nakedly political purposes. Those days appear to be gone.”

The CTF’s newsroom has been conspicuously silent about this as well. It’s even been quiet about the $700,000 in sole-sourced contracts that have already gone to conservative insiders under Danielle Smith’s government, ones that would be grist for their mill if it was a progressive government rewarding its friends and former colleagues with public largesse.

That’s because the CTF isn’t actually interested in protecting taxpayers, least of all from conservative politicians. It’s interested in prosecuting arguments against non-conservative governments and politicians and uses the taxpayer as its ventriloquist dummy. Sure, they’ll occasionally salt their mine with a mildly critical complaint about something that’s done by a conservative government, but the overwhelming majority of their attention is dedicated to finding fault with progressive policies and politicians.

Their silence on Doug Ford’s repeated mishandling of the Greenbelt is a case in point here, not that we really need more evidence. Despite commenting repeatedly on things like the gas tax and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow’s plans to raise the municipal land transfer tax on homes sold for over $3 million, the CTF gets deathly quiet when it comes to a conservative politician engaged in an $8.3-billion scandal. If this set of circumstances was arranged around a Liberal or NDP premier and their political friends and donors, of course, you wouldn’t be able to shut them up about it — ever.

That’s fine, by the way. They’re free to run a glorified training camp for future conservative leaders, just as progressives are entitled to do the same under the auspices of their own organizations. But it would be nice if they stopped insulting our collective intelligence by pretending that they’re actually doing this work to serve the best interests of taxpayers. That’s because despite claiming to be a “citizens advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government,” they’re really only interested in that first one. In fact, so long as you cut taxes for the rich and big corporations, you can get away with almost anything as far as they’re concerned.

Keep reading

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Demands Accountability, but Not for Itself | The Tyee

David Climenhaga: "About those very expensive bottles of children’s ‘Tylenot’ – where’s the CTF when you need it?" (Alberta Politics, Nov 23, 2023)

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation "claimed 30,517 donors and 215,009 supporters in 2018–19. Voting membership, however, is restricted to the board of directors. According to its by-laws, the board "can have as few as three and as many as 20" members. In 2017, it reportedly had a voting membership of six board members, and in 2020 it had four.
"CTF is a member organization of and receives support from the Atlas Network, State Policy Network and a variety of other organizations in the United States. (Wikipedia)
Back up to six again. (2022)
Past directors include Jason Kenney, Derek Fildebrandt, John Carpay, Adrienne Batra, Mark Milke, Tasha Kheiriddin.

Dougald Lamont: "Canadian Taxpayers Federation has 5 members — why should we care what they think?" (CBC, 2016)
"This might come as a surprise, but the CTF is not now, nor has it ever been, a grassroots, member-based organization where anyone can pay $10 to sign up (or sign up free) and have a say in how the organization is run.
"Instead, it has supporters — about 90,000 of them, who, like followers on Facebook, can like, comment, answer surveys and make donations, but they have no actual say in how the organization is run.
"While the CTF's mandate is to hold elected officials to account, who holds the CTF's five members to account? Each other. Who decides who else can become a member? They do. It should be no surprise that the CTF has, as a result, faced accusations of being an Astroturf organization — a fake grassroots organization.
"… As a non-profit, the CTF has no obligation to disclose its donors — and it doesn't.
"… Since the 1980s, there has been a deliberate effort to reframe citizens as 'taxpayers' and public spending as 'taxpayers' money,' as if taxpayers are shareholders.
"Journalists and politicians in every political party routinely use these terms without considering that this framing is anti-democratic. That is because politicians are elected by citizens, not just taxpayers.
"The word 'taxpayer' is not in the constitution; the word 'citizen' is. All citizens are equal. Taxpayers are not.
"It is self-evident that you can contribute to the economy and society without paying taxes.
"Many citizens don't pay income taxes, notably children, the working poor and a few millionaires and billionaires.
"Defining taxpayers as the only people who matter has real and serious consequences for policy.
"It is not a politically neutral position: it is a fairly radical right-wing ideology that drives inequality by making the rich richer while neglecting the poor.
"That is why the CTF's real membership of five people matters, as does its ideology. We don't have to care what they think, but we should be clear on just where they are coming from."

For $25 the CTF will sell you a Scrap the Carbon Tax T-Shirt.

The CTF's climate change denial and crusade against carbon pricing goes back decades.
The CTF brags about "Killing Kyoto" (2011). One of the"success stories" featured prominently on CTF's website in 2022:
"The ludicrousness of the targets coupled with a cooling toward global warming hysteria triggered a turn in public opinion."
The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997. PM Harper withdrew Canada from Kyoto in 2011. Canada was the only nation to repudiate the Kyoto Accord. A decade later, the CTF is still crowing about it.

"The Earth's climate fluctuates and it is a natural phenomenon. With more and more people jumping on the band-wagon, the CTF will continue to run against 'conventional wisdom.'"
"Green is the new Red" (CTF, 2007)

"Global warming hysteria volume to rise" (CTF, 2008)

Alt-right voters, which is the CTF's audience, are easily led. They are for pointing at and heartily laughing.

But that's the weakness of the left actually, to express disdain for the ham-fisted, nasty and religious right. Orcs in other words, cretins in the "basket of deplorables" but they're currently banging on the front door of democracy and civilization as we know it. If taxes are indeed "the price of civilization" take note of their thinly veiled warning, shameless central policy and key narrative to CUT taxes, currently playing out in Poilievre's most recent nasal refrain of "axe the tax." It's not only been wildly and implausibly effective, it's also the prevailing theme of politics everywhere now, and is also a theme that they have openly and meticulously engineered! They've hidden in plain sight for literally decades along with big oil and then big tech, doggedly dumbing down the discourse.
A big part of their strategy has been to make politics into a show or a game, or even better a gameshow (Trump's ticket to completely irrational and straight-up stupid success) and say what we will, it's WORKING.
So we're the dupes here, beetling along smugly beyond the fray, and being had while we focus on INCLUDING them in all our endeavors out of a misguided sense of fairness and an overdeveloped if covert sense of martyrdom. Just look at the Republicans and all the conservative governments in this country post Trump. What sense does that make under the circumstances, which we increasingly very much ARE.
Look at what Denial Smith is presenting today on the outrageous "Sovereignty Act" before she triumphantly heads off to COP 28 of all things where she'll be flagrantly offering presentations on "carbon capture" because, well, you know they have to throw the odd bone to the earnest, alarmist and deluded progressives who actually BELIEVE that we're in a serious, existential climate crisis. Pffffttttt, how stupid is THAT? Disdain positively DRIPS from these evil a**holes.
This outsized contempt from the people with the disproportionate number of "social conservatives" in their membership, i.e. the true believers in the ACTUAL existence of some god or other who is absolutely REAL, not just a figment of their indoctrinated imaginations, a gawd who threatens to punish people for a multitude of transgressions like homosexuality, etc.
But are we not entertained?

Napoleon famously dissolved the Holy Roman Empire, saying it was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.

The Canadian Taxpayers' Federation is neither Canadian, nor of Taxpayers, nor a Federation. It's just another secretive think-tank bankrolled by anonymous billionaires, probably controlled by Americans.

The distinction you make (or Mr Lamont does) between taxpayers and citizens is an important one. I wish they'd stop rattling on about bloody taxes - do they not want any services at all? As a senior with carefully managed investments, I pay little tax, but I'd be happy to pay more to help out young people struggling to find decent employment, or struggling to work part-time while raising a family AND go to school AND pay the extortionate rents demanded in the city. These Taxpayer whiners just resent anyone or anything that doesn't give them what they want - profit, profit and more, more, more. I wonder if there is a ceiling to how many millions or billions will satisfy them.