Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

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Canadian Taxpayers Federation

James Case – Final week at the CTF | Week 10

James Case, 20 February 2017

This week has been focused around reflection. My time at the CTF is coming to an end and what a journey it has been! With two action packed weeks left in North America, I’m sure to end on a high.

This week I was able to attend a dinner held by the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, a public policy think tank. The dinner took place at the Canadian Museum of History and was a celebration of 150 years since confederation.

Many parliamentarians, senators and entrepreneurs attended the dinner with a panel discussion taking place to discuss Canada’s future. It was a pleasure to hear the stories and experiences of these individuals over dinner, particularly being surrounded with parts of Canada’s long history.

Tomorrow I will be road tripping down to Washington D.C to attend the International Students for Liberty Conference, one of the most anticipated liberty conferences on the planet. Prominent speakers include Mr Forbes chairman of Forbes media, Senator Rand Paul and Greg Glassman founder of CrossFit.

I eagerly look forward to meeting the hundreds of like minded libertarian students, as it is sure to be a fascinating experience. I can not wait to write about the conference on my return to Ottawa.

I would like to take the opportunity to thanks Mr. Bowes and Mr. Wudrick at the CTF for making my time so memorable. They were both so welcoming and made me feel apart of the team from day one. It has been a pleasure.

The frozen canal

MacDonald-Laurier Dinner

Acclimatised

James Case – ‘Freedom of sp-” | Week 9

James Case, 13 February 2017

This week I had the pleasure of travelling to Toronto to attend a conference hosted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The conference appropriately named ‘Generation Screwed,’ highlighted the issues of substantial Government debt and reckless spending habits. Both are issues many Canadians are currently concerned with.

Many opposition MP’s, liberty think tanks advocates, and local businesses owners spoke at the conference and their wealth of knowledge and experience was inspiring.

Two major topics covered at the conference were Canada’s natural resource sector and hiking electricity prices. Canada is currently one of the cleanest natural resources processor, due to their vast pipeline networks and modern technologies. The world needs natural resources and the demand will not suddenly fall in the short term.

Over taxing the industry is making it less and less competitive. It is clear the world isn’t ready to run completely from renewable energy, therefore supporting a clean processing resources sector seems to be in the best interest of us all.

Unfortunately the conference could not be completed due to confrontational protesters who were able to prematurely shut down the event. At the time, I wrote a short piece regarding the experience:
“I’m currently sitting in a lecture theatres at the University of Toronto. The police have had to lock us in the theatre as protesters are getting confrontational outside. The conference is about advocating for liberty, freedoms of speech and holding Governments accountable.

One of the speakers here is quite controversial and quite frankly many of his views I personally don’t adopt HOWEVER believe it or not, I’m capable of attending and making up my own mind. I would never try to silence or physically harm someone for having an opinion different to mine. I would never try to prevent freedoms of speech. There will always be people who hold different opinions to you.

Screaming ‘racist, misogynist, narcissist, fascist’ (all things I’m currently being called and are totally untrue) because someone doesn’t share your opinion is ridiculous. All it shows is that you can’t articulate an intelligent response and rebut.

Protestors using their rights of freedom of speech to silence someone’s freedom of speech is unbelievably hypocritical.
Don’t scream. Debate, be informed and educate yourself. The best way to ‘silence’ someone is to use your own words to show the world what is being said is wrong, untrue or ridiculous.

I’m sitting in a University, a place to learn, spread ideas, debate and grow. One place I should always feel safe.”

Exploring Toronto

Meeting CTF Ontario Director - Christine Van Geyn

CN Tower

James Case – “Heat or Eat?” | Week 8

James Case, 6 February 2017

“Do we heat, or do we eat?!”
This was the question a struggling mother tearfully asked on the steps of Parliament Hill this week. On Monday, a protest the CTF participated in, took place on Parliament Hill regarding new Carbon Taxes and the adverse effects these are having on Canadian families.

Unlike Australia heating homes here in Canada, especially in the arctic winters, is a necessity. The introduction of Carbon Taxes has meant many families have seen their power, gas and fuel bills become unaffordable. The Tax has meant many families are legitimately having to choose between heating their homes, or providing food for their families.

Kathy Katula, a mother of four, tearfully confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a local town hall discussion. Kathy exclaimed how she was concerned with electricity and gas bills she could no longer afford and which were now more than her mortgage repayments. She explained her friends had lost their small businesses due rising utility prices.

The video captured national attention and I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy, the key note speaker at the protest this week. The PM didn’t provide her with an answer, of how he would assist struggling families like Kathy’s, nor has he to date. The PM consistently promotes the schemes as ‘Tax Neutral,’ yet with the amount of Government regulation and enforcement the math clearly doesn’t add up. The CTF continues the fight for Canadian families.

Carbon Tax Protest

Hands Off PM!

This week I made my way to the National War Museum to discover a rich Canadian history. Knowing very little about their past, the museum provided me with a rich insight. Exhibitions spanned from that of the the Native Aboriginals, to the settlements of the British and French, the numerous wars and civil unrest.

I particularly took interest in Canada’s commitment to assisting British and Australian allied forces in both World Wars. I wouldn’t have the freedoms and opportunities today without the selfless sacrifices of these men and women. Forever grateful.

Never a dull day!

National War Museum

James Case – Week 7 | A week of firsts

James Case, 30 January 2017

Firstly, I must begin by saying a very happy Australia Day to my friends, family and fellow Australians alike. It is currently 2 a.m. here in Ottawa and of course I am listening to Triple J’s hottest 100! We should be so proud of our achievements and of the beautiful country in which we live. I find we all too easily talk ourselves down and subdue the accomplishments of our great nation.

Undoubtedly improvements can always be made but it seems, to me, the world of heading in the right direction. This year, Western nations across our Planet have shown a clear change in attitudes. Many advocating for a shift away from a centralised power. A push to have this power returned to the everyday citizens. I remain optimistic these changes will make for a more prosperous and united world.

This has been a week of many firsts. My first Ice Hockey game, my first fire evacuation (false alarm thankfully) and my first Poutine. Work has also kept me busy researching for their up and coming “Teddy Awards.” The awards are one of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s major annual events and covered by many Canadian media outlets. The awards highlight the most ridiculous taxpayer funded expenditure by the Government for the year. My research has been an equal mix of entertaining and worrying.

Although I can not disclose anything further until the awards, I can assure many politicians and public servants will be red faced when they see themselves in the local news as an award recipient! Common sense usually prevails but unfortunately some seem to have avoided this crucial step when it comes to wastefully spending money that isn’t theirs.

Jeff, my boss, and I headed to the local bar this evening for a celebratory Australia Day drink. Discussing politics with Jeff is quite simply fascinating. I have also been keeping up to date with Theresa Mays’ House of Commons question time talks regarding Brexit and her vision for a ‘truly Global Britain.’

With the Supreme Court judgement to have Article 50 discussed and voted in parliament, it won’t be long until the Bill hits the floor. The British PM has just arrived in the United States to begin talks with President Trump about trade deals and continuing their ‘special relationship.’ I hope the two strong headed leaders find common ground and functionality.

Our world is moving faster than ever before. Isn’t it exciting!

Meeting the Ottawa 67's mascot

Not a drill!

Having Tea with the ladies

James Case – Time flies | Week 6

James Case, 23 January 2017

Turning 20. Gone are my teenage days and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. Having a celebratory drink in the student pub, watching the snow fall and reminiscing about my time on this planet, made for an unforgettable birthday. Nothing nurtures the soul quite like travelling, learning and being passionate. Meeting like-minded young people here in Canada has certainly reignited an optimism in me. Seeing my generation begin to filter in to the workforce, the future, for now at least, seems promising.

This week, I focused my time across two projects at the CTF.

Corporate Welfare, or simply ‘bad economics,’ seems to be an issue here in Canada just as it is back home. The Government is throwing around a substantial amount of cash subsidies and loan guarantees to multinational, multimillion dollar businesses. This month the Government announced a $42 million grant to Honda for ‘upgrades and research.’  Honda made a gross profit of over $27 Billion USD in the previous financial year. Most likely not the most effective use of taxpayer money!

Although the move may be a ‘vote winner’ for the politicians, distorting markets does no favours for the economy. Canada’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier, is also on the lookout for a large chunk of taxpayer money in order to stay ‘competitive’ with more efficient manufacturers around the world. The CTF and other economic organisations across Canada have been putting a lot of pressure on the Canadian Government not to give in to such a demand. It will be interesting to see the outcome in the following months.

The issue of political expenses have been prevalent in the Australian news lately, but not to fear; our cousins across the pond don’t seem to be doing much better. The answers to our Access to Information Requests have arrived at our offices this week.  I am sorting through hundreds of documents finding some ludicrous expense claims. Hundred dollar dinners seem to be a recurring theme and I am sure many more will be discovered in the coming weeks.

Birthday Boy & Balloon

CTF magazine covers through the ages

James Case – A ‘Warm Week’ | Week 5

James Case, 16 January 2017

Writing this blog I am still somewhat bewildered with the ‘warm weather’ Ottawa has been experiencing. Even more astonishing is my new acclimatisation. I made a mental note this morning noticing what a mild day it was. Apparently 7 degrees celsius now constitutes mild in my books.

The snow is thawing across the city and all is fine for now, however we are expecting a cool snap of -24 degrees celsius in the coming days. It is fair to say all Ottawans are preparing for the watery roads to freeze and transform the city into a very large ice skating rink. A hazard I was unaware people had to be concerned with, until now!

This week I also tried the famous ‘Canadian Beaver Tail.’ Thankfully the name is misleading. A large slab of sweet batter is deep fried and smothered in your choice of sweet sauces and toppings. Although consuming approximately three weeks worth of sugar, it was truly sensational.

My predictions of a fast paced introduction to the New Year have come true. The office is buzzing with new ideas, optimism and much excitement. New research projects are in the drawing stages and it truly is a pleasure to be contributing to such interesting and thought provoking work.

On Tuesday fellow Mannkal scholar Georgina and I, attended a monthly round table discussion regarding the current political climate and challenges. I found the most intriguing aspect to be the mutual respect each representative had even though opinions and values were vastly different.

Freedom of speech is one of our most powerful democratic actions. But often voicing an opinion that varied from the ‘norm’ results in that voice being silenced, shut down or ridiculed. I believe this is an important issue that needs to be addressed, particularly for my generation. This dictatorial behaviour will only stifle progression and cause a societal disconnection. Although opinions and values will differ, being able to listen, intellectually debate and approach situations with an open mind are vital skills to ensure liberalism and freedom. You won’t hear that in many University lecture halls!

Making friends on my travels

My first Beaver Tail

James Case – New Year and New Adventures | Week 4

James Case, 9 January 2017

I will do my best not to begin this post with the overused ‘New Year New Me’. However I must admit I am thrilled to be starting 2017 in such a beautiful country, and this week I made my way to Montreal.  I explored the winding streets of the Old Quarter and discovered the french architecture scattered across the city.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of Australian backpackers you’ll find in every country outside of our own. Montreal was no exception. Bringing in the New Year with a group of fellow wanderlust explorers was a privilege and it certainly provided for a New Year to remember!

On heading back to work this week at the CTF it was abundantly clear the New Year will bring new challenges and undoubtedly some very exciting projects. To begin 2017 I filed a colossal 24 Access to Information request to various Government departments. The requests are for a detailed breakdown of various ‘sick days’ used by Government employees. The CTF remain sceptical that the results will show the numerous departments are ‘in-line’ with private industry standards.

Another project I am currently working on is the push by several provinces to raise the minimum wage and the effects this will have, particularly for small businesses. Although the current minimum wage here in Canada remains relatively low compared to Australia (approximately $10 per hour), the tipping culture distorts take home wages. Other considerations are the extra payroll taxes businesses will need to pay and extra taxes many employees will face due to potentially reaching new tax brackets.

It seems thus far that any multiplier effects and perceived ‘social benefit’ are heavily outweighed by the prospect of rising unemployment. With oil prices remaining relatively low here in Canada, there is a prevalent backlash from many industries. It is certainly a complex issue and I am sure I will keep busy researching the matter in the weeks to come.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Discovering Montreal

Street of Colour

James Case – Christmas Frenzy | Week 3

James Case, 5 January 2017

What a week and what a year!

With deadlines fast approaching before the Christmas break this past week has been a frenzy of work and Christmas excitement. This season really does bring out the inner child in us all! I had imagined being on the other side of the planet to friends and family was a terrific excuse to save money on presents but unfortunately the door to self-indulgence opened wide and I stepped right through. The French influence here in Canada has provided the most exquisite food and wine and being dedicated to immersing myself in the culture I did not hesitate to indulge in the local cuisine. It is fair to say salads will be on the shopping list for the next few weeks.

The lead up to Christmas at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has seen me working on a number of different projects. I have been refining my alcohol tax calculators and researching the different approaches the Canadian Government takes towards its Aboriginal people. These approaches include self-governance programs and various forms of land and resource control. I think that these programs appear to promote many positives not seen in Australia, however they still have some flaws. This includes too relaxed of a tax on high-income earning Aboriginals and the moral issues associated with it. It is a conversation that should be had, but the sensitive nature of these issues is a disincentive for the Government to have a substantial discussion as they are not vote-winning issues and are likely to upset different demographics.

This past week I have also been researching through Access to Information papers revealing the exorbitant bills many Ministers are spending on travel. Millions alone have been spent flying the spouses and children of many Ministers. It certainly made me wonder what our Ministers at home are spending especially with Australia’s global remoteness and vast internal expanses. This is separate to the further entitlements received after leaving Cabinet including a comfortable pension. Again it is vital introspection that I do not believe our Government has an incentive to conduct.

I can confidently say in the short time I have been at the CTF, I have experienced more than I ever could have imagined.

With plans for some travelling to Montreal for New Years and hearing about the new and exciting projects at the CTF, I can’t wait to dive into 2017.  Happy New Year!

A walk around Parliament

Keeping the locals warm

James Case – My Week of Mariah | Week 2

James Case, 5 January 2017

I must start this week’s narration by congratulating the Canadian people on their tolerance to a particular Christmas album which never seems to evade your ears for more than a few seconds. A lack of liberty I can manage to muster! I also had the opportunity this week to explore Canada’s National Gallery and the beautiful works of Alex Janvier, a truly breathtaking exhibition. The Christmas carollers are embracing the -24c temperatures which is a remarkable feat. Even as I write I can hear a chorus of voices singing “Hark! The Herald Angel Sing” from my bedroom window. The festive spirit is ripe here in the Canadian capital as Christmas looms around the corner and what a busy weeks it has been at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation!

This week I have been researching a topic explored frequently Australia, alcohol.
Australia’s alcohol taxing system is complex and excessive. In saying this, it is now apparent that our friends across the pond here in Canada certainly don’t have any solutions and in many respects have an alcohol taxing system more convoluted and unreasonable than we do! This week I have been working on creating an alcohol tax calculator to show my fellow Canadians the small fortune the Government takes in alcohol taxes. Both the Federal and Provincial Governments here in Canada dip their hands into consumers’ wallets for their ‘share’ of alcohol taxes. But of course this will depend on the alcohol type, the size of the brewer, the alcohol percentage, potential alcohol control boards, the volume purchased, environmental taxes, the province the alcohol was purchased, provincial GST, Federal GST and so on. It surely makes you wonder about the costs involved in regulating such a headache!

This week I have also been able to work on my very first Access to Information Request under the Access to Information Act. This Act is very similar to our Freedom of Information Act and it certainly is liberating to know that we taxpayers do have the ability to make our own checks on the individuals we elect. It certainly is a statute that we need to be utilising to our advantage. I hope to be involved with many more official information requests both here at the CTF and when I return to Australia. I may even frame my very first information request I have submitted here at the CTF!

Overall it has been a very busy week here at the CTF and we are all looking forward to our Christmas endeavours. I don’t doubt for a second that the world political stage will be a completely new experience this coming year but it fills me with confidence meeting like minded libertarians across the our planet.

Until next week.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Ottawa, Canada!

Beginning my week at the CTF

The National Gallery

Visiting the Lower House

James Case – The Beginning | Week 1

James Case, 19 December 2016

Ottawa. What a place, what a city!
After frantically weaving my way through copious crowds at LAX and leaving behind 22 long hours in the air, I am thrilled to be settling into such a beautiful city and a very welcoming organisation.

Earlier this week I had the chance to explore my new home for the next three months and the Canadian Capital surely didn’t disappoint. The architecture is breath taking and the snowy, crystal white landscapes are somewhat magical. The festive spirit is ripe where ever I go, possibly to keep spirits high in this -20c weather. It certainly is a brisk walk to work!

I am now finishing my third day with the Canadian Taxpayer Federation. In the very short time I’ve been at the federation it is evident to see the dedication, commitment and passion from my colleagues. It truly is admirable.  I have been given a crash course in Canada’s political and economic climate and have begun research into Government spending across a vast array of programs. It’s exciting to be involved with such a highly regarded organisation and I know this is going to be a truly rewarding experience. I eagerly await to see what the following weeks have in store.

Outside the Canadian Parliament

The festive walk to work