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Politics Politics Briefing: Tax windfall from 1 per cent yet to materialize

Good morning,

One of the federal Liberals' big promises in the 2015 election was to rebalance the personal tax brackets of those doing well and those getting by. When Justin Trudeau won power, high-income Canadians were given a higher tax rate and those in the “middle class” had their rate cut. But a review of Canada Revenue Agency data by The Globe and Mail indicates that the promised windfall from high earners has not materialized. In fact, in the first year of the new taxes – 2016 – high earners paid $4.6-billion less in taxes, not the $3-billion more that was projected. The Finance Minister’s office says that year is a fluke and figures from 2017 will show a “substantial rebound” in tax revenue from the 1 per cent.

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Conservative Party faithful gathered in Halifax over the weekend. Leader Andrew Scheer, undaunted by the defection of Quebec MP Maxime Bernier last week, says his party is united. Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt says she’s glad that the abortion debate was not reopened. Also not reopened: the party’s stance on supply management, which regulates the price of dairy and poultry products in the country. The agricultural policy was nominally a big reason for Mr. Bernier quitting the party last week. A document from the dairy lobby indicated they had Mr. Scheer’s assurance that supply management would not be changed, though the leader’s office denies the promise was made.

U.S. senator and former presidential candidate John McCain died on the weekend. He was 81. He served in Congress for more than three decades after a military career that included time in a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are set to speak at his funeral in Washington on Friday – one of a few that will be conducted across the United States this week – but Mr. McCain’s family have reportedly asked current president Donald Trump not to attended.

The United States and Mexico are said to be close to finally working out their bilateral differences in the North American free-trade agreement talks, which would open the door to Canada rejoining negotiations. The U.S.-Mexico deal could be announced as soon as today.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she hopes Germany will weigh in on Canada’s dispute with Saudi Arabia.

Pro-life religious groups that were shut out of the Canada Summer Jobs program say they are worried that they could lose their charitable status next.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government will not publicly release his marching orders to cabinet ministers. The instructions, known as mandate letters, were formerly secret but have been proactively released by federal and provincial governments across Canada in recent years.

In the Quebec election, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard made the unusual announcement that, if re-elected, he would make new candidate Gertrude Bourdon his health minister, to replace the outspoken and controversial Gaetan Barrette

Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader, Jason Kenney, is stumping for New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservatives ahead of that province’s provincial election – and prompting criticism of the PC leader. New Brunswick’s Liberals are using Mr. Kenney’s record on social issues, in particular gay-straight alliances in schools, to attack the Progressive Conservatives under Leader Blaine Higgs.

And as wildfires in British Columbia become more frequent and more intense, health officials are forced to ask if a byproduct of those fires – smoke – will continue to get worse as well. Most of B.C. is currently under some form of air quality alerts, which have become more frequent in recent years.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on pre-election promises: “The announcement of a $189-million EI pilot program for seasonal workers garnered little attention in most parts of the country. But it’s worth a second look, both because of the way it will work and because it is convenient that this politically expedient program will get a temporary life in the 20 months around an election.”

Christie Blatchford (National Post) on the Conservative Party: “But the fact is the party is naturally divided — social Conservatives versus Red Tories — which makes Canada’s natural governing party the Liberals. It’s they who are most at ease in the murky middle. It takes an exceptional Conservative leader to turn that around. Harper was one such. Scheer isn’t. Bernier might not be either, but my God, at least he’s tangibly alive. ”

Naomi Buck (The Globe and Mail) on Ontario education: “Good teachers use the curriculum as a scaffold with which to build an edifice. Under [Doug] Ford, Ontario will have no edifices, just a scaffold, re-engineered to reflect the grievances of cranky parents, the insecurities of social conservatives and the Premier’s personal convictions.”

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André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on the Quebec health minister: “But there are two things that hurt Mr. Barrette’s reputation more than anything: His brusque ways made him look unsympathetic to patients and families, as demonstrated by his dismissive response to media reports that residents of provincial nursing homes were being bathed only once a week; and, while he talked tough with doctors, medical specialists were awarded huge increases in fees.”

Vancouver Sun editorial board on pipeline legal battles: “Municipal governments abuse their citizens by using tax dollars to obstruct an approved project, one that the courts have found to have been rigorously reviewed with ample opportunity for meaningful consultation. Using taxpayers’ money to launch court actions they know will fail is unacceptable.”

Margaret Wente (The Globe and Mail) on Donald Trump: “Mr. Trump has not been nearly as damaged as people seem to think. And despite the fact that he is obviously unfit for office, impeachment is a fever dream that his opposition ought to shake off as soon as possible.”

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