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Canadian Constitution Foundation in court this week intervening in “plastics ban” case

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From the Canadian Constitution Foundation

“In this case, criminal law power should not be allowed to justify the sweeping inclusion of every imaginable plastic product on the list of ‘toxic’ substances and therefore under the umbrella of federal authority,” … “The Cabinet Order plastic ban is outside the scope of the federal power.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is appearing as an intervener in the legal challenge to the federal “plastics ban” being heard on June 25 and 26 at the Federal Court of Appeal. The CCF will be arguing that the federal “plastics ban” is outside the jurisdiction of Parliament’s criminal law power.

In November 2023, a Federal Court of Canada judge struck down the Trudeau government’s Cabinet Order declaring all “plastic manufactured items” as “toxic” under the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The Order had been challenged by a coalition of plastics companies who had argued that the Order was unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The appeal of that decision is now being heard at the Federal Court of Appeal. At issue is the scope of the federal law power. Section 91(27) of the Constitution Act grants the federal government exclusive authority to make criminal law. Previous court rulings have found and affirmed that prohibiting truly toxic substances, like lead and mercury, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is a legitimate expression of that power. But the criminal law power cannot be used to justify the sweeping inclusion of every imaginable plastic product onto the list of “toxic” substances and therefore under federal authority.

CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn said: “The criminal law power is not a magical incantation. Invoking the words ‘criminal law’ does not transform any issue into something Ottawa can regulate.”

“In this case, criminal law power should not be allowed to justify the sweeping inclusion of every imaginable plastic product on the list of ‘toxic’ substances and therefore under the umbrella of federal authority,” Van Geyn added “The Cabinet Order plastic ban is outside the scope of the federal power.”

The CCF is intervening in the case to argue about the scope of federal criminal law power. Criminal law powers should be applied cautiously. To claim authority to regulate something based on federal criminal law power, Parliament must clearly demonstrate the criminal aspect of the targeted activities. The federal government cannot assume control over an entire area which is not, in itself, harmful or dangerous. This is particularly important when Parliament has asserted control and jurisdiction over an amorphous subject matter prone to overlapping jurisdictions, like environmental regulation.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation is represented in its intervention by Brett Carlson and Rebecca Lang of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

You can read the CCF’s intervener factum here.

Christine Van Geyn
Canadian Constitution Foundation

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Economy

Trudeau’s bureaucrat hiring spree is out of control

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano

Bureaucrats love to think of themselves as “public servants,” but who is really serving who around here?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added another 10,525 bureaucrats to the taxpayer payroll last year. Since becoming prime minister, Trudeau has added more than 108,000 new federal bureaucrats.

That’s a 42 per cent increase in the federal bureaucracy in less than a decade.

Ask yourself, are you getting 42 per cent better services from the federal government? Unless your paycheque comes from taxpayers, the answer is a big fat NO.

While Trudeau’s bureaucracy grew by 42 per cent, Canada’s population grew by 14 per cent.

That means there would be 72,491 fewer federal paper pushers had Trudeau kept growth in the bureaucracy in line with population growth.

It’s not just the size of the bureaucracy that’s ballooning – the cost is too.

The total cost of the federal payroll hit $67 billion last year, a record high. That’s a 68 per cent increase over 2016.

Trudeau gave federal bureaucrats more than one million pay raises in the last four years alone.

Since taking office, Trudeau also rubberstamped about $1.4 billion in taxpayer-funded bonuses to bureaucrats working in federal departments.

The bonuses were paid out despite the Parliamentary Budget Officer finding “less than 50 per cent of [performance] targets are consistently met.”

Then there’s the bonuses at failing Crown corporations.

CBC dished out $15 million in bonuses last year, while their President and CEO Catherine Tait whined about “chronic underfunding” and begged the government for more taxpayer cash. The CBC takes more than $1 billion from taxpayers every year.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation dished out $102 million in bonuses over the last four years, while Canadians couldn’t afford to buy a home. The bonuses rained down, despite the CMHC repeatedly claiming it’s “driven by one goal: housing affordability for all.”

The Bank of Canada dished out more than $60 million in bonuses over the last three years, even though it failed to do its one and only job: keep inflation low and around two per cent.

The average annual compensation for a full-time federal bureaucrat is $125,300, when pay, pension and perks are accounted for, according to the PBO.

There are now more than 110,000 federal bureaucrats taking home a six-figure base salary – an increase of 154 per cent since Trudeau took power.

Meanwhile, data from Statistics Canada suggests the average annual salary among all full-time workers in Canada was less than $70,000 in 2023.

Here’s why all this matters:

First, it’s an issue of fairness. The last few years have spelled hardship for Canadians who don’t work for the government, but do pay the bills.

Countless Canadians were sent to the ranks of the unemployed, lost their business and struggled to afford rising rents and costly grocery trips.

They’re paying higher taxes so more highly-paid bureaucrats can take bigger paycheques.

Second, more than half of the federal government’s day-to-day spending is consumed by the bureaucracy. That means any government that wants to fix the budget dumpster fire must shrink the bureaucracy.

Let’s recap:

Taxpayers paid for 108,000 new federal bureaucrats. Taxpayers paid for more than one million pay raises over the last four years. Taxpayers paid for more than $1 billion in bonuses.

And bureaucrats barely meet even half of their performance targets – targets they set for themselves.

It’s clear Trudeau’s bureaucratic bloat isn’t serving taxpayers. It’s time to find a pin and pop Ottawa’s ballooning bureaucracy.

This column was first published in the Western Standard on July 202, 2024.

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National

Trudeau must prove he won’t tax our homes

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano 

Actions speak louder the words. That’s especially true when those words come from a politician with a track record of breaking promises and hiking taxes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he won’t send the taxman after Canadians’ homes. But if Trudeau wants Canadians to believe he won’t impose a home equity tax, there’s one thing he must do: end the CRA’s home reporting requirement.

In 2016, the Trudeau government made it mandatory for Canadians to report the sale of their primary residence even though it’s tax-exempt. If you sell your home, the CRA wants to know how much money you received from that sale. But if the taxman isn’t taxing it, why is the taxman asking that question? Is the CRA just curious?

Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre confirmed to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation he would remove this reporting requirement if he forms government.

Trudeau must do the same. Otherwise, Canadians should worry a home equity tax is right around the corner. As Toronto Sun Columnist Brian Lilley recently wrote, “For Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party, taxing your primary residence is a bad idea they just can’t quit.”

On June 25, Trudeau attended “a private town hall about generational fairness,” hosted by Generation Squeeze, a group advocating for home taxes.

What do you notice about the theme of that town hall? The government recently used the cloak of generational fairness to impose its capital gains tax hike.

The Trudeau government also spent hundreds of thousands funding and promoting a report from Generation Squeeze that complained of the “housing wealth windfalls gained by many home owners while they sleep and watch TV.”

The report recommended charging a tax on the value of homes above $1 million. The tax would cost Canadians up to $5.8 billion every year, and it would hit many normal Canadians. In British Columbia and Toronto, the typical home price is above $1 million.

Trying to improve affordability with tax hikes is like trying to boil water with your freezer. Higher taxes won’t make homes affordable. Consider this insight 50 pages into the report.

“Owners of homes valued over $1 million that include informal rental suites may try to recover the surtax by passing some of its cost on to renters,” reads the report.

It turns out higher taxes can make things cost more.

The head of Generation Squeeze was invited to a cabinet ministers’ retreat in Charlottetown last summer.

Documents uncovered by the CTF show staff in the prime minister’s office met twice with the head of Generation Squeeze, which included “a briefing about the tax policy recommendation.”

Trudeau has an appetite for taxing people’s homes. His recent capital gains tax hike will impact Canadians who sell secondary residences and cottages. He imposed a so-called anti-flipping home tax. And Trudeau taxes homes the government deems “underused.”

With Trudeau scrounging through the couch cushions looking for more money to paper over his deficits, Canadians should worry a home equity tax is next.

A home equity tax would come with a big bill for a young couple looking to upgrade to a family home or for grandparents who rely on the equity in their home to fund their golden years.

As an example, Canadians that bought their Toronto home for $250,000 in 1980 and sold it for $1.2 million today would pay between $50,000 and $190,000, depending on the type of home equity tax.

The Trudeau government has repeatedly flirted with home equity taxes. The only way for Trudeau to put Canadians’ minds at ease is to act and remove the requirement for taxpayers to report the sale of their home to the CRA.

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