Saturday, March 24, 2007

Flaherty's Pork

If you are wondering what criteria the government used to determine the automobile rebate, all you apparently need is a riding map. Flaherty looks to subsidize local industry:
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's department made a last-minute change to the budget that allows cars built at the General Motors plant next to his riding to qualify for federal climate-change incentives even though environmentalists say the cars are gas guzzlers.

Government officials privately confirmed that as recently as one week before last Monday's federal budget was finalized, the rebates for fuel-efficient cars did not include vehicles with engines capable of running on E85, a gasoline made up of 85 per cent ethanol.

The two six-cylinder vehicles, the Chevrolet Impala and the Monte Carlo, are produced at the GM plant in Oshawa, a riding narrowly won by the Conservatives in the past two elections. The plant is minutes away from Mr. Flaherty's riding of Whitby-Oshawa, where the local economy is closely linked to the GM plant, with many residents employed at GM or in spin-off jobs tied to the plant.

But officials outside of the Finance Department who saw draft versions a week before the budget was finished said E85 vehicles were not in those documents. The officials noted that E85 vehicles were inserted at the end of the process by Finance officials, rather than by officials from other departments with policy expertise in the area.

What is the Finance Department doing inserting vehicles which qualify for rebates? Shouldn't there be some consultation with experts to detemine criteria? The fact that Flaherty inserted these vehicles, at the last minute, does suggest a motivation other than environmental concerns. Not only does Flaherty insulate a local car manufacturer from potential harm, he actually subsidizes this industry, ensuring robust sales. I view this announcemnt as indirect pork, it is no coincidence where these plants operate.


Anonymous said...

This is purely political without a doubt.
Full disclosure, my husband is about to retire from GM and my son is a Supervisor at GM.
First there was no logical reason for this decision, the Impala is GMs number one selling car, in a class without much competition and strong sales would continue without the rebate. They can barely build enough now to satisfy the demand.
Canada sales are a drop in the bucket BTW. If Canadians stopped buying Impalas today, there would be little effect on production.
The Monte Carlo will cease production within months as the entire complex is re-tooled for the new generation cars. By the time the rebate kicks in you won't even be able to order a Monte. It won’t exist.
Cynical campaigning at it's worse.
However, I suspect this is the last that we’ll ever hear about this.
Think Jack wants to piss off the CAW? And I'm betting us Liberals are silent too.
So Jim will get away with this.

So in short thanks to Jim if I decide to order an Impala it just got much cheaper.
With my other discounts it’s tempting. See I already get a substantial employee discount and 1,000 toward my insurance as a benefit…… yippee….now another thousand bucks.
$1,000 for absolutely no reason.

This is quite sickening isn’t it? And such blatant vote buying perhaps Revenue Canada will be willing to allow the taxpayer to claim the Impala rebate as a political contribution. And Jim should claim it as a donation.


Anonymous said...

I'll also add, Why do I always have to buy something to get a tax break from these Cons?
Last time that pathetic GST cut.
Since there was no tax savings for me in their budget, now I’d have to buy a car to get a rebate. And I don’t need a car.
I feel like the invisible Canadian.


LNeumann said...

Also interesting, is the fact that you cannot really buy E85 in Canada, except in two locations - both in Ottawa! (See here for details.)

So, this means that owners of these cars are mostly using gasoline. And the fuel efficiency ratings for gasoline are 14.8/9.2 l/100km (for both models), or 12.3 using the calculation. Not anywhere close to the the other cars getting rebates!

Steve V said...

Flaherty he said the budget spur more locations. Sure.


Well, there buying your vote, so the logic is consistent :)

Anonymous said...

"Also interesting, is the fact that you cannot really buy E85 in Canada, except in two locations - both in Ottawa! (See here for details.)"

Yes, there was quite a bit of eye rolling going on among my GM friends and family when the Impala was announced, since the only place to but ethanol is in Ottawa.
I could decide to sell my Monte and buy an Impala. With my discounts I'd own a brand new car rather cheaply.
Now I'd sell my gas burning Monte to someone would drive it and burn gas. And buy an Impala to take advantage of the rebate and I'd still burn gas.

Given the fact that I could also afford to buy a new car without the rebate, this is another case of the Conservative government subsidizing my current lifestyle. It does nothing for the environment, just gives me money. Money for nothing. No value at all! What would Sheila Fraser say! It would be nice if we have an Environment Commissioner who could audit this program.

They do enjoy giving money to people who don’t need it!


Anonymous said...

This story should be made to appear in one the Quebec papers - you know how Quebec gets upset when they don't get contracts.

Someone should inform "La Presse" of one of the other papers there.

Worth a try.