Vaughn Palmer’s credibility: M.I.A.

In another liberal surge of empathy, Sun pundit Vaughn Palmer described the “post-HST fiscal triple whammy” faced by “action man” Kevin Falcon.

He described the aggravation of replacing HST with PST, a task that involves major efforts apparently not needed when HST replaced PST. As I recall, the first change did not amount to a hardship worth mentioning at the time.

Untransitioning includes, Palmer says,

“bringing thousands of new businesses up to speed on the complexities of the PST.” 

The statement implies that government holds the hands of business people while they learn the regulations, reprogram their cash registers and train staff. Based on my decades in small business, that would be an entirely new approach by government to sales tax administration.

Falcon soon meets in Ottawa with with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty about unwinding the inter-government HST agreement. Unaware of any arguments in favour of moderating repayment, Palmer knows the outcome of negotiations for return of the $1.6 billion transition funding now claimed by the feds. He writes,

“There’s no avoiding the latter obligation.”

Palmer then recounts Falcon’s post-HST fiscal triple whammy:

“A direct loss of revenues, combined with an obstacle to needed economic growth, combined with no demonstrable public appetite for increasing other taxes.”

Well, putting $2.5 billion a year back into the hands of BC consumers is a start to needed economic growth. After all, businesses need customers and customers need cash. Also, scratch the surface and you might find a demonstrable public appetite for returning corporate income tax rates to 2008 levels.

People also may want to reverse the elimination of capital taxes on banks, a move that was supposed to guarantee banking jobs in this province. Re-institution of a tax that generated over $100 million a year seems particularly inviting since bank jobs here decreased after then Finance Minister Carole Taylor relieved bankers of this levy, months before she joined the board of TD Bank Financial Group, Canada’s second largest banking institution.

Commentators in the blog world thought Premier Clark threw Falcon under the bus when she made it clear the Finance Minister led the Government’s failed effort to preserve HST. Palmer avoids that analysis and focuses on the applause,

“Falcon, with his business connections and base on the right side of the party, organized a belated campaign to rescue the HST. Unsuccessful. But Clark, far from faulting the effort, went out of her way to thank him at the news conference following the government defeat in the referendum.

“The premier twice singled out Falcon for praise. Said how much she appreciated his work to defend the tax. Cited, too, his prudent management of provincial finances.”

Consider description of the “belated campaign to rescue the HST.” Yup, this was a battle in which the resourceless government was far behind from the start. They had no idea the tax shift would be unpopular so they were not prepared to defend it.

Against them was a giant tide of citizens with uncounted financial assets and loads of time because many of them were retired or unemployed. Against this thrust of citizen power stood only the federal and provincial governments, academics they hire as consultants, the media, associations of commerce and industry, the Fraser Institute and other ideological foundations and hired trolls. Many of Falcon’s allies had to take time away from selfless building of BC’s economy, struggling against overwhelming odds to maintain the tax that would only save big business $10 billion before the HST agreement between BC and the feds expired.

Seriously, I think Palmer has lost almost all credibility as a political pundit. He has become a political consultant and a partisan for the Liberal Government. He may be doing the bidding of his Postmedia employers but he seems willing and comfortable with the role. Clearly, Palmer is unwilling to look at Kevin Falcon’s deceits and distortions as discussed in my article, Falcon: Revenue neutral HST an “urban legend.”

Examine recent Sun columns, there is hardly a serious critique of BC Liberals among them.

I don’t always agree with Gary Mason at the Globe and Mail and I often fault the newspaper’s editorial positions. But, give credit to the G&M, Mason and other writers for allowing a relatively free forum for discussion after articles are posted online. Mason’s columns regularly have numerous comments attached, many critical. One of his recent articles had almost 800 reader comments. In contrast, Vaughn Palmer’s column allows no contributions from readers and he appears to have dropped his blogging effort at the Sun as well.

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9 replies »

  1. Norman this shows me that credibility has nothing to do with it. Voters will put their x along ideological lines more so than not. Sure there are the floater voters out there that change their spots, but not enough of them to change the face of politics in BC.

    Right and left need to have a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' (also known as give and take) relationship or it just won't work. Now the the right are taking more and more favours and not doing any scratching and you have everything falling apart. The right wing nuts currently just want their feet rubbed. Period. The voters just told them to F Off with the rejection of the HST, we're not rubbing your goddamned feet!
    It will be a cold day in hell before I would ever rub the feet of Falcon and his puppets (Palmer), who carry the ick factor, not literally (although arguable) but ideologically.


  2. Right on the money on this post and calling out Mr Palmer.

    I have been reading the Vancouver Sun for some 50 years (first job was delivering the paper as a paperboy at the age of 10). Today I can't even read it for all the spin and pro Liberal puffery. I have finally cancelled our subscription (with explanation).

    If I was seeking economic mumbo jumbo, spin, pro Liberal big business and one sided advocacy then I would rather cut out the supposed independent main stream media and go right to the Fraser Institute. The Sun pretends to be independent but in reality presents only a thin veneer over the same agenda.

    I want information, I want balance, I want critical thinking. Mr Palmer has for a number of years had favoured access to Liberal “news makers and shakers”, government tips and scoops but at great cost to his credibility and reputation. His columns are now only worth reading for glossing of truth and confirmation of another “phoned in column” one reliant on much privileged access, minimal investigative journalism and dishonor o his readers. How can he look at himself in the mirror. It is time for retirement for Mr Palmer- in fact I think he has been semi retired for some time now. It is no wonder the Sun does not allow comments to his columns – there would be many and they would not be flattering in the least.

    Thanks for your continued, prolific, balanced and valuable post. You would be an excellent role model for V.P.



  3. Norm, another gem of a column. Good for you not to fall for Palmer's occasional “redeeming” columns. That's just a smokescreen that he and other media types use whenever criticism of their croneyism gets too hot.

    And thanks to both you and Bill for calling attention to PostMedia's frequent lock-out of reader commentary on pieces published in their newspapers.

    Blocking public commentary is just another tactic by the MSM to try to preserve their ability to manipulate public sentiment unsullied by facts or criticism. They aim to spread the specially-concocted version of the truth that the government and its corporate arm wants its citizens to believe. [Case in point: I still can't believe BC now has a Minister of Corporate Priorities, AND that the media have expressed NO curiosity about what this newly created minister's mandate is. Another reason to demand Christy Clark call an election as she promised, i.e. at the earliest opportunity.]

    Newspapers are supposedly fighting for their continued existence in light of the internet. But, it's not just technology that has caused the public's transition away from mainstream media. They've done it to themselves by becoming part of a corrupt and self-serving government regime.

    Yes, the days of public respect for mainstream media are done, no matter how many bells and whistles they dangle off their websites. These dinosaurs are deeply imbedded in the denial stage about this transition.

    I read your and other BC blogs every morning Norm, even though I much prefer the physical experience of reading a newspaper to reading on a screen. That's how much I detest and distrust our “official” media.


  4. Palmer has really disgraced himself. He uses the same underhanded tactics, the Campbell/Clark and the BC Liberals use. Palmer is pathetically easy to see through. I canceled the Sun, I doubted anything printed in that paper was legit.

    Even the TV news channels, are a joke. They too, are busy kissing the BC Liberals butts.

    The media has earned the contempt of the people. Their treachery towards the BC citizens, will never be forgotten.


  5. Vaughn Palmer could be challenged to write about Campbell's sneaky stunt of combining 4 or 5 powerful ministries into one mega-ministry. This appalling disruption has never received the attention it deserves. Gordo pulled this off on October 25, 2010 … and resigned, soon after.

    What fool would slam together BC's priceless energy, agriculture, forests, lands, and environment into one ministry for no apparent purpose other than to create a quick and easy “One-stop-Shopping” centre for corporate shoppers?

    BC Business in an article published January 4, 2011, doesn't think “the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations” will work.


  6. Oh dear, the previous post has all but taken my anger and disgust with Mr. palmer and the Vancouver Sun.

    If Jack Webster were alive today, he would demand a return of many awards that bare his name.

    Sadly Mr. Palmer, Mr. Good and Mr. Baldry have succumbed to the most base of reporter/commentator – the print or speak, what they are told to. In short they have traded their ethics into cold hard cash.

    This certainly not a new phenomenon and selling oneself for the proverbial “30 pieces of silver”, predates Judas by many thousands of years.

    The so called “Fifth Estate” in Canada have fallen so low in their combined ethical standards that they have become jokes and are laughed at, sneered at, spat at, like Pravda or the many hundreds of dictator's newspapers, always printing tripe to support the regime.

    There is no happy ending here, just a morass of political bile, spewed by the mainstream media on its deathbed.


  7. There was a time I sort of believed the Palmer's, Baldrey's etc. Came across as supposed “journalists”. But, my how things have changed. I long ago cancelled subscriptions to the papers, turn the channel if they appear, read what they may write with a grain of salt. I too now go to the blogs as there are so many good ones where you get a better understanding of the issue, and not lopsided. When Palmer, Baldrey etc. try and make like they're on the people's side, I just laugh. They sure think some of us are gullible don't they? Granted some are, but in this day and age it's easy to find out for ourselves what the real story is.
    Keep up the good work Norm, and all you other bloggers. You're all a breath of fresh air and we will continue to read you.


  8. It always blows me away. The media is pro for the worst, most corrupt party in Canada. The Campbell/Clark BC liberals, are out and out corrupt, short on ethics and morals. Why would the media, even want to associate themselves, as the propaganda machine for them?

    I canceled my newspapers, I no longer watch the news channels either. I only trust all the great bloggers so willing, to give of their time, to bring the truth to someone like me. I am politically challenged, but I am learning through our bloggosphere. This helps me to learn, who, I don't want to vote for

    Another great post Norm.


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