Hey Canada, meet Paul “much more” Martin:
He wants to do much more, it will surely cost much more, and taxpayers deserve much more detail

Ottawa - Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


What a difference a weekend makes. Leading Liberal leadership contender Paul Martin emerged from the depths of invisibility to leap onto the front pages of our newspapers and pop up on several public affairs shows in a scant 48 hours. He was discussing his plans for Canada when — er, um should — he become Prime Minister. Several media outlets noted that Mr. Martin wants to lead a “much more” activist government.




Mr. Martin was admittedly smooth in handling most questions thrown his way. Sadly his answers on issues ranging from health care waiting lists to strained Canada-U.S. relations to the environment to the urban agenda were peppered with platitudes and outright vagueness.




Consider this gem from Mr. Martin:
“I want to lead a government with a renewed sense of purpose and a sharper focus and a clearer plan. A government unafraid to change, a government that is eager to turn the page and a government that wants to look to the future.”
How about just saying I love mom, apple pie and live by the golden rule? This passage could be mouthed by any person who has or ever will run for office.




As for the Chrétien government, Mr. Martin noted:
“But in recent times a kind of complacency, a certain drift, has set in.”
True? Yes. Earth shattering? No. At least we know that Mr. Martin has a compelling grasp of the patently obvious.




Of course it wasn’t all bad, Mr. Martin did let a few policy positions slip out — much to the chagrin of his legion of handlers. He was correct in acknowledging Canada’s diminished influence on the world stage. What he failed to tell the audience was that the cumulative effect of his budget decisions as Finance Minister through military cuts and other decisions have partly contributed to this diminishment.




He also failed to note his silent and acquiescent place at the federal Cabinet table as Jean Chretien invoked closure on decisive public policy debates much more than any other Prime Minister in Canadian history.




On tax cuts, Mr. Martin stated his preference for reducing income taxes over cuts to the GST. Good, but how, when and by how much? Taxpayers deserve much more detail from much more Paul.




Mr. Martin wants to do much more for low-income Canadians and the elderly. Who doesn’t? But how? Does this mean much more via income redistribution schemes? Or will Mr. Martin — to tear a page from his book — turn the page and let Canadians keep much more of their hard earned wages to begin with.



how about

This is exactly what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is after with its proposal to raise the basic personal exemption and spousal exemption to $15,000 (from their current levels of $7,756 and $6,586 respectively) by 2008. This would cost the treasury $4.4 billion annually and be much more fair to lower-income Canadians. It would also ensure that much more Canadians (2.1 million), would be removed from federal tax rolls.




Mr. Martin wants to improve federal support for urban centres. Sounds good, but how much more support does much more Paul want to give? Perhaps he should look much more at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Municipal Roadway Trust model that would devote much more of the annual almost $5 billion gas tax haul by Ottawa. Details from much more Paul on this question would be much more beneficial for cities and taxpayers alike.




It is probable that Mr. Martin will win the Liberal leadership, much more so than Sheila Copps or John Manley. But much more Paul needs to be much more forthcoming about his vision, and its cost, for taxpayers. Hopefully his next town-hall gig will provide much more in the form of detail. If he needs inspiration, rumour has it the studios of Much More Music are available.

Walter Robinson
Federal Director



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