The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) released its 2016 B.C. taxpayers’ naughty and nice list last week and a private citizen from Prince George should be in line for a big Christmas thank you.
“Every year, Santa is kind enough to ask us for nominations for his naughty and nice list,” said Jordan Bateman, director of the B.C. CTF. “This year, we put Irv Leroux at the top of the nice pile.”
The nice list:
– Irvin Leroux. In a David versus Goliath battle, the Prince George man fought the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for 19 years over the CRA’s shoddy handling of his tax files. In the process, Leroux won a pivotal ruling in B.C. Supreme Court: for the first time, CRA has been deemed to owe taxpayers a “duty of care” in how they treat Canadians. “Irv never recovered the money he lost because of the CRA, but his tenaciousness will help protect Santa and other Canadian taxpayers from being treated unfairly,” said Bateman.
– Mike de Jong. This was an up and down year for the B.C. finance minister. Yes, his MSP “kids-eat-free” gimmick fell flat and the B.C. government still went further into debt, but he did deliver one of only two surplus provincial operational budgets in Canada this year. “B.C. and Quebec both posted surpluses this year, but B.C. did it without the help of $10 billion in equalization from the rest of Canada,” said Bateman. “The rest of the country is a fiscal train wreck, but de Jong has kept B.C. on track, and that deserves a pat on the back from old St. Nick.”
– David Eby. While the CTF doesn’t always agree with the solutions proposed by the NDP’s critic for everything, there is no doubt that Eby has kept the B.C. government’s feet to the fire. “A dogged opposition makes for better government, and Eby’s as dogged as they come,” said Bateman. “When Eby grabs on to an issue, he doesn’t let go until the B.C. government fixes it. Santa likes his gumption.”
– Mike Bernier. B.C.’s mild-mannered education minister showed true grit firing the Vancouver School Board after years of dysfunction and disobeying balanced budget rules. “Every other school district in the province had to make tough financial decisions, but Vancouver kept kicking the can down the road,” said Bateman. “Bernier took a lot of heat from the Vision Vancouver loyalists, but he did the right thing, and should get a nice Christmas thanks.”
The naughty list:
– Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Gregor and his gang green went tax-mad this year, bringing in an AirBnB tax, a vacant home tax, raising property taxes twice the rate of inflation, pushing through a TransLink tax and fare hike, and then trying to tack on another tax hike to fight the fentanyl scourge. Plus Robertson pushed through a natural gas ban, which will add hundreds of dollars in energy costs to future residents. All that while doubling the number of employees making $100,000 at Vancouver City Hall from 617 to 1327. “Robertson deserves several lumps of coal in his stocking – and should be forced to pay for carbon tax on that coal and for all of Santa’s carbon credits for his trip around the world,” said Bateman. “The only thing Gregor Robertson did this year was make life much more expensive for Vancouver residents.”
– Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. With her taxpayers facing another year of property tax hikes and a big sewage treatment plant bill, Helps still frittered away money. After two years of hard marketing and “improved fiscal management,” the McPherson Theatre went from losing $30 per ticket sold to losing $27 per ticket. While raising property taxes, Helps supported spending $144,000 on for two artists-in-residence, and another $7250 for two poet laureates in Victoria. “When you don’t take care of the little things, they add up,” said Bateman. “Residents and businesses are stretched thin financially in Victoria, but their mayor doesn’t seem to understand that.”
– B.C. Transit. The provincial transit operator spent $40,511 for an online video ad to promote a Stawamus Chief bus route that doesn’t exist – a staggering $195 for every social media ‘like’ it garnered. “Picky, picky,” said the company’s spokesman when people complained. But that was just the tip of the waste iceberg. A provincial audit showed B.C. Transit wasting millions on Sunday premiums, idle drivers, bonuses and car allowances for executives, and more. “Santa’s picky, picky, all right – he just picked B.C. Transit for the naughty list,” said Bateman.
– Andrew Jakubeit and Penticton city council. Penticton was embroiled in controversy all year, especially over a proposed private waterslide facility in publicly-owned Skaha Lake Park. Jakubeit also gave back ground on Penticton’s vaunted core review, adding 10 city managers during a time when the city’s population grew by just 411 people, and hiring both a communications officer and an engagement officer. “As the public face of the city, the mayor should be the one engaging the public,” said Bateman. “Santa likes to vacation in Penticton, but city spending is going in the wrong direction and makes him wonder what’s really going on.”