So I had pretty much figured out, before going to work this morning, which candidate I was going to vote for. I had it narrowed to the Liberals and the NDP last week. Then I had pretty much decided on the NDP after our first burst of excitement in the local campaign, which happened Tuesday night.
During the candidates’ forum, the NDP candidate Bill Riddell sideswiped Nancy Karetak-Lindell, the Liberal MP, with the information that Revenue Canada was going to start taxing subsidized rent in Iqaluit. It caused a collective freak-out by a lot of people in Iqaluit. Between government and businesses, a lot of the apartments being rented in town are subsidized. Some are subsidized quite a lot.
For example, I estimate about a third of our rent is paid for by the government. That is part of Cathy’s contract. That subsidy is tax-free because Iqaluit is considered a “prescribed zone”. That means the federal government acknowledges “that a natural housing market does not exist, and considers housing subsidies a necessary — and non-taxable — benefit for employees.”
Read this very good story in the Nunatsiaq News about what it would mean in terms of money. Millions would be out of the community. It would have caused a bureaucratic nightmare getting the paperwork straightened out. Not to mention how much money it would have cost individuals. The article states it would be taxed at a rate of about 29 per cent. That would have hit a lot of people very, very hard.
As it stands, the freak-out was unnecessary. By yesterday Revenue Canada was in full damage control mode saying it had been a mistake, that there was never any plan to make people in Iqaluit start to pay tax on the rent subsidy. The CBC (The Nunatsiaq News had already gone to press by the time the problem got cleared up) has the story here.
Of course, more than one person is wondering if Riddell hadn’t brought up the issue, whether it still would have been cleared up or whether people would have been stuck with it and told to deal. It’s a fair point and we’ll never know. But I think it’s safe to say that Karetak-Lindell would have had a hard time winning this seat if a good chunk of Iqaluit, with about 20 per cent of the population of Nunavut, was in revolt over the “tax grab.”
So I was leaning NDP because it was good that Riddell caught it, I’ve liked what I’ve heard him say and he seems pretty energetic considering how late he got into the campaign.
Then I read today’s Globe and Mail and got the chills. It was, in fact, The Fear. It was this story, talking about how the long knives are already being sharpened for Paul Martin. Since it appears very likely, barring a massive screw-up by the Conservatives, the Liberals are about to spend some time in opposition. That means Martin is toast. It’s a matter of does he fall on his sword (cursing on Jean Chretien’s very effective knee-capping of him before he does so) or back up to the wall, only to discover it’s a prop and that there are a couple of hundred pissed of Liberals with pointy knives waiting for him behind it.
And who are some of the Liberals with the knives? Why, potential leadership candidates of course. Just when you thought the matter of the Liberal leadership was over, it’s back.
And you know what that means, don’t you? Oh yes, McKenna is back. And so is Manley. But so is he.
Dear sweet Lord, saints and martyrs preserve us, Tobin is going to come back. You always knew he would. Much like Freddy or Jason, you just can’t kill him. Stakes, holy water, silver bullets and screwing up Newfoundland’s economy didn’t do the trick. I honestly don’t know what will.
But we better find it and we better find it fast.
Liberal leader Brian Tobin.
Opposition leader Brian Tobin.
Prime Minister (shudder) Brian Tobin.
It’s enough to make you vote for Martin and the Liberals. Anything to forestall his return.
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