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opinion

Memo: Tax credits

From: Ray Novak, chief-of-staff

To: The Prime Minister

Your recent announcement of tax credits for service club memberships has gone over extremely well with our base, and beyond. Itsy-bitsy, targeted tax credits have been among your government's hallmarks.

Knowing that this campaign will be the longest in Canadian history, and that, therefore, momentum will be difficult to sustain, PMO has prepared a list of other tax credits for targeted parts of our core. We would appreciate knowing which ones you favour, bearing in mind there is no economic rationale behind any of them. The impact on the country's fiscal situation is of no concern, since it will be dealt with later, likely by cuts to government programs.

Building on our credits for boys' and girls' sports and cultural equipment, we suggest credits for sports that our core plays. This means nothing for cross-country skiing, cycling, mountain climbing or yoga.

Curling: a tax credit for the cost of buying stones, joining a curling club and the trophies awarded by these clubs each year. This would be very popular in rural Canada, especially in farming communities where our supporters dominate.

Bowling: Many of our voters love this sport. A credit therefore for the balls, bowling shoes and cost of league membership. Darts is growing in popularity, so perhaps we might think of a credit for the darts, the boards and the beer that the competitors drink to steady their nerves. Scrabble is hugely popular, but the game tends to attract the literary crowd, and therefore is outside our demographics.

Bocce: Our ethnic outreach would be assisted by a credit for buying bocce balls. Mah-jong tiles: Our Chinese supporters, especially the retired ones, would love a credit for the tiles. A kick-boxing membership tax credit for Thais and others who like this sport. A tax credit for cricket bats and clothes would be wildly popular with our Indian and West Indian voters.

We could offer a tax credit for library fines, on the theory that such a credit would encourage people to keep books longer and improve literacy. We already offer something for volunteer firefighters (hugely popular, I might add), so could we build on this initiative by offering a credit to anyone who stops at the scene of an accident, rescues someone in distress, laughs at a friend's bad jokes, goes for three years without a traffic ticket, and otherwise does the right thing?

As our voters skew older, we should give a credit to bridge and cribbage clubs for the purchase of playing cards and whatever fees are required. Lunches at such clubs should be tax deductible. A special credit should be available for bridge players who bid and make a grand slam in spades or hearts. A ballroom-dancing credit would be a hit with our crowd.

Our party's analytics suggest that golfers, while not unanimous, do tend to support us. Therefore, we could have a credit for equipment of up to $500, club memberships for up to $2,000, plus a $2-per-ball credit for balls lost in the rough as a way of stimulating golf-ball manufacturing in Canada. We could have a photo-op at a golf-ball manufacturing plant to accompany this announcement.

Truckers' lunches and workers' tools already benefit from our far-sighted policies of slicing and dicing the electorate. Why stop there? Gravediggers' shovels, barbers' scissors, cooks' white hats, seamstresses' sewing kits, construction workers' hard hats, parents' baby strollers, students' knapsacks, lifeguards' bathing suits, police officers' badges, farmers' overalls, tree-planters' steel-toed boots, rodeo-riders' cowboys hats, and women's brassieres (up to a certain number of them), among other possibilities, could benefit from tax credits.

The best thing, as you know, about such credits is that they reward people for doing what they were already doing, and, therefore, they make them feel good about themselves, and good about us for recognizing what fine people they are.

We can anticipate further criticism from just about every economist in the country about our approach, but nobody pays any attention to them, since they cannot agree on much beyond disliking our approach. Economists are interested in what is good for the economy, but we can ignore them, as we have in the past.

PMO awaits your decision about which of the above-mentioned tax credits are "good to go." As always, feel free to add some.