Cheers & Jeers

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Cheers: to interesting ideas. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for a rather draconian penalty for any federal politician convicted of crimes related to the abuse of their office. The CTF suggests that any such politicians be stripped of their federal pensions. It's a pretty heavy hammer - especially because federal politicians do actually make a tiny contribution from their salaries for the pensions - but at the same time, the penalty could be used to make a completely different point. If a politician is convicted of such a crime, why not allow them to keep their pension funds, but only the portion that they actually paid for themselves? It would turn taxpayer-funded gold-plated pensions into a veritable lead weight - and it would remind our dishonourable members just how jammy they had it, every time they received their meagre leftovers of a pension payment.

Jeers: to dates. So is it too churlish to point out that when the provincial government issued the news release headlined "May 5-11 Recognized as Emergency Preparedness Week," it was already almost noon on May 6? Guess when the fifth actually rolled around, they weren't ... prepared. (The federal government was ready, issuing its news release on May 3.) On a more serious note, emergency agencies recommend that everyone - every household - should have enough water, food and supplies to manage without outside assistance and, for that matter, without electricity, tapwater or telephone communications, for a minimum of 72 hours. People living in rural areas should also consider that they might be cut off for a considerably longer period of time, and should prepare for that. The federal government provides more information on what should be in emergency kits at http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/.

Cheers: to fun with numbers. Provincial government agencies have to list purchases they make without tender, so here's an interesting one: Newfoundland Hydro spent $775,920 buying electricity from ... Newfoundland Power. Apparently, Newfoundland Power was the only possible supplier to get electricity to the province's largest electricity producer. More interesting? Run that little gem through the province's power bill calculator, at the "Power is in Our Hands" website, and it's going to be $894,000 in 2016, $974,000 in 2017 and $1,015,000 in 2018, etc. Now, where oh where will they ever find the money to pay for it? Oh, that's right - from us ordinary ratepayers.

Cheers: to speaking your mind. Here's an exasperated Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy, responding to questions during a debate on cigarette tax legislation in the House of Assembly: "Look, I can be here till the cows come home. I really do not care. Keep asking questions. Keep getting up. We have lots of time here. We are here. We open the House; you close it. So if you want to keep it open forever, go ahead. Let us stay all night. Let us have a party. We will order in pizza and chicken wings if that is what you want, but there will be no smokes." Government at work.

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