Roderick Benns recently interviewed the PPC, Conservative, Liberal, Green, and NDP candidates for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Brock riding to help voters make an informed decision leading up to the election in October. In our first installment is Gene Balfour of the PPC.
Benns: Can you highlight a policy of your party that will lead to increased employment and increased average income in our riding?
Balfour: The Peoples Party of Canada will create an economic, investment and governance environment designed to out-compete other jurisdictions so that new jobs, long term career opportunities and income growth will take place within our communities.
Excessive government expansion over many years is the number one reason why we have lost many past employers along with the jobs they produced and tax revenues they generated. We all become poorer with each employer we lose. Consequently, the PPC will limit and reduce government involvement affecting the hiring, training, retention and advancements of our workers. In practice, this will mean lower taxes and less bureaucratic red tape for citizens and their employers.
To attract new businesses, the PPC recognizes the need to compete with other jurisdictions for the attention of investors, entrepreneurs and established business owners who seek advantageous locations in which to establish and expand their business operations. Therefore, the PPC will repeal legislation that is unattractive to these potential new employers and wealth creators.
Public investments will focus on infrastructure improvements in transportation, energy and communications which will serve to facilitate prosperity and success for our businesses, citizens and dependent public services.
Benns: Do you believe in climate change science? How is your party dealing with climate change?
Balfour: Yes, I believe in climate change science and have studied this topic for many years.
I get my climate science facts directly from genuine climate scientists whose employment income and research grants are not paid by governments. I am suspicious and skeptical of climate change science claims reported by journalists, politicians, NGOs and government organizations such as the United Nations.
The Liberals claim that Canadians are facing a Climate Change Crisis and the NDP and Green parties agree. The PPC disagrees. The Climate Change alarmists all sell “tax and regulate” plans to “save the planet” but this approach has never been successful anywhere.
Consequently, the PPC will withdraw Canada from the Paris Accord, abandon unrealistic greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and stop sending billions of dollars to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions.
The PPC will also abolish the Liberal government’s carbon tax and stop subsidizing green technology. We trust private players to develop profitable and efficient alternatives.
The alarmist parties have promised numerous “green” jobs in the past which have inevitably depended on massive government subsidies and/or did not materialize as promised.
In contrast, the PPC understands the lessons of history. Since the Industrial Revolution, countless people have been employed to invent new technologies, products, services, production facilities, supply chains, delivery networks, and more – all driven by the profit motive. The past and continued successes of capitalism inspires more confidence than the repeated failures of governments, to solve real problems and to produce great jobs and career opportunities as a by-product.
Benns: What’s the future of CPP in your mind, a system under a great deal of stress right now and quite frankly, something that now delivers an inadequate amount of money to seniors to live on?
Balfour: The CPP Investment Board is a former client of mine into which I placed four senior managers when I worked as a professional recruiter. The Executive VP provided me with an overview of the funding viability of the CPP system which was projected to be at risk beyond 2021 for many reasons.
The original CCP model was based on projected life span expectations that were significantly less than today’s and those predicted in our future. To the extent that citizens wish to depend on the CPP for retirement income, the model must be adapted to meet their expectations, changing demographics and the persistent rise in ‘taxation inflation’ (discussed in the answer to Question #9).
The PPC also acknowledges, however, that not all citizens wish to depend upon or participate in the CPP. Their preference must be honoured so they may be free to make their own retirement provisions independent of the CPP.
Freedom of choice, respect and personal responsibility are core PPC values and our policies reflect these in our approach to addressing public pension concerns.
Benns: Pharmacare will be a key issue in the next election. Dr. Hoskin’s report clearly favours a single payer system – what’s your preference and why?
Balfour: Dr. Eric Hoskins is a long-time Liberal politician whose opinions reflect a preference for Liberal ideology that calls for more government expansion.
While many “nice-to-have” public spending suggestions such as a national Pharmacare plan have been proposed by Liberals like Dr. Hoskins, their viability and desirability are questionable when the current government over-spending and escalating public debt problems are considered. The PPC believes that Canadians fare best when we live within our means and are allowed to take more personal responsibility for our choices and actions.
Consider also that health care delivery is the responsibility of each province and territory. To create a federal program will only add another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy accompanied by more ‘finger-pointing’ and political “blaming and shaming” between federal government officials and provincial/regional governments. The result will be a greater tax and administrative burden on Canadians with a poor return on investment.
A single-payer Pharmacare program will suffer from the same problems as all monopolies – high costs, poor service, fewer consumer choices. Monopolies were made illegal in the private sector for many good reasons that also apply to government operations. Canadians deserve better.
There are much better ways to address high pharmacy costs. The PPC will pursue fiscally and economically-sound free market alternatives that will leverage modern, efficient, cost-effective and proven approaches to bring their many advantages to Canadians.
Benns: How will you try to practice inclusive politics and move us away from the intensely partisan? Can you give me an example?
Balfour: I believe that freedom of choice is a fundamental right in any democracy and the best principle to guide inclusive and cooperative politics.
Unfortunately, partisan politics has grown as our personal freedoms have been eroded by past politicians and government enforcement bureaucrats (at every level). A summary of how our freedoms are lost follows.
With every new Act of Parliament that is passed into law by elected politicians comes a fiduciary duty of enforcement by the appropriate government department(s). Department heads and staff prepare an operations plan to adequately enforce the new Act. When all needed resources have been considered, the plan is submitted for budget approvals. Enforce plans are always expensive and budgets are approved annually, generally with increases, as long as the Act exists. Rarely are Acts repealed. More often, they expand in scope and cost. Overall “government responsibility” grows in this fashion and rarely does a politician come along that recognizes the need to address and reverse this trend. Maxime Bernier is one.
To regain the lost personal freedoms for Canadians, the PPC will identify and repeal government legislation that unnecessarily restricts our freedoms. In practice, this will mean an end to Government monopolies where feasible so that government and non-government service providers can coexist and compete for patrons.
Partisanship exists because politicians and their parties fight for power to dominate parliament and pass Acts that they prefer according to their political ideologies and power ambitions.
The PPC knows that all citizens will be best served when they are free to choose from a range of service providers without political interference. Only then will ‘free choice’ be truly free and partisanship will no longer useful.
Benns: Do you believe that abortion should be freely available and publicly funded? Why?
Balfour: Abortion has always been a “no-win” political topic. It mainly serves to re-ignite angry public discourse and divide Canadians into opposing sides. This topic will never produce public policy that will satisfy everyone. For this reason, the abortion decision is best served by individual choice with limited government involvement.
Abortion is a very difficult option to consider under the best of circumstances. It involves unique personal circumstances, deeply personal pangs of conscience and often religious and/or culturally-based convictions. To the extent that abortion laws may exist, they must be flexible to accommodate each unique case and compassionately applied.
For those who choose abortion, private clinics should exist to provide this service legally and for a fee. The procedure must to be performed by qualified specialists who have voluntarily chosen this line of work. For women who are unable to afford the fee, some form of financial aid could be provided on a means-tested basis.
While these are my personal opinions and not PPC policy, they are consistent with the four core PPC principles: personal freedom, individual responsibility, respect and fairness.
Benns: Do you believe we should have election reform to replace our first past the post system?
Balfour: Yes, I belief that election reform is badly needed. There are pros and cons to all voting systems with no clear advantage for any of them. I prefer a lesser-known model over our first-past-the-post system. It requires an explanation that is too lengthy to describe here.
However, the following three changes also deserve consideration.
First, a None-of-the-above (NOTA) option on every election ballot will enable voters to express their lack of confidence and trust in their available choices. This feedback will motivate all politicians and their party officials to investigate high NOTA votes. This option may also increase voter participation rates which have been dropping in recent decades – a trend that begs explanation.
Second. Introduce two multiple-choice statements on every ballot to read:
- “I instruct my government to a) increase taxation b) maintain taxation levels c) reduce taxation”.
- “I instruct my government to a) increase spending b) maintain spending levels c) reduce spending”.
For five decades, our governments have increased taxes and spending steadily at rates that have persistently exceeded the growth of Canada’s population.
Third. Recall legislation is badly needed to end “bait and switch” politics. Any elected Prime Minister who fails to act meaningfully to fulfill election promises must face real consequences from voters. For example, Justin Trudeau assigned an MP to fulfill his election reform promise but she was wholly unqualified to handle this file and was destined to fail. He did not act meaningfully by his poor choice of MP.
Benns: Should Canada institute a Basic Income for every citizen? Why/why not?
Balfour: I have been conflicted by this topic for many years because of my professional background of 40+ years in the IT sector.
As a professional IT Recruiter from 1981 to 2018, I interviewed over 10,000 job candidates and serviced over 10,000 job fulfilment requests from business and government enterprises. I am keenly aware of the relentless changes that are infiltrating our workplaces and the evolving demands placed on jobs. I fully expect that more jobs will become obsolete than will be created in this current “Fourth Wave” of technological revolution knowns as the “Digital Age”.
Universal Basic Income will likely be one option to address the shrinking job markets of the next 30 years and beyond. However, I prefer solutions to come without government involvement and without coerced wealth confiscation from our most successful members of society.
Government solutions to social and economic problems are too often motivated by power or political gains rather than the greater good of our citizens. For example, every government program extracts an unreasonably large “brokerage fee” which is the portion of tax receipts that goes to cover its own operating expenses for the simple role of taxing citizens and companies, then redirecting the money to targeted community groups (often for political advantage).
The “brokerage fee” for a government-managed UBI system would surely benefit the government departments heads, their public sector union partners and the well-compensated public service employees much more than the UBI recipients. Voters must stop thinking that our government officials are the only members of society that can address social and economic problems.
Benns: The lack of affordable housing and attainable housing (not just social housing) is an important issue in this riding. Do you believe there should be a federal housing strategy?
Balfour: I oppose a federal housing strategy. Affordable and attainable housing is an economic and legislation problem that has expanded in significance and severity from excessive government expansion. Adding more government involvement to address this issue will only make the problem worse.
The PPC has the best plan to address this pressing housing issue – to address the root causes of the problem which includes “tax inflation.” Consider the following.
In 1961, the average Canadian family breadwinner remitted 38% of his annual earnings to taxes from all sources. Today, its 53%. This means that if a man in 2019 Lindsay earns $100,000 per year, he forfeits $53,000 in taxes compared to $38,000 (today’s $s) of the typical 1961 family man. This $15,000 in “tax inflation” occurred as a direct consequence of funding our expanding public bureaucracies. This $15,000 would go a long way to make housing accessible and affordable if only we could curb and reverse tax inflation.
Other causes of the rising cost of housing include “regulation inflation” — the expansion of government-created building codes and the required licensing and certification for skilled trade workers. These compliant costs are passed on to consumers as higher prices.
Benns: What’s most on your mind specific to this riding that we may not have covered yet?
Balfour: Canada’s veterans, many of whom live in this riding, must be treated fairly and with respect for the sacrifices they have made to life and limb in carrying out their duties.
Since 2006, two legislative changes have been introduced by our elected federal governments that have complicated and watered-down the level and accessibility of support available to our veterans.
The PPC recently unveiled its plan to correct this injustice. The plan was written by three veterans who know the issues well. These men have composed a fair and equitable approach to this issue for which every Canadian will be proud.