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Ralph Goodale, MP


Dear friends,

Thank you for visiting my website. I hope this offers you useful information on the work I am doing as Wascana’s Member of Parliament and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Opposition in the House of Commons.

If you have any questions or comments about any federal program or service, or need help dealing with any department or agency of the Government of Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact my Constituency Office. It is an honour to serve our community.


Federal EI premium rates (1994 to 2014)

Posted on September 16, 2014

Liberal governments cut EI premiums every single year between 1994 and 2006 — saving employers and employees some $42 billion through lower payroll taxes!


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A poor response to bad job numbers and a weak economy

Posted on September 15, 2014

Principled officials in the federal Finance department will be chagrined to think some people might blame them for the Harper government’s mangled response to the problem of excessively high, job-killing EI payroll taxes.

Announced last week and characterized as a way to reduce the EI cost burden on small businesses, the new policy is a design fiasco that caps job generation, creates an incentive to lay people off and stunts both growth and ambition. So badly structured, it is not possibly the brain-child of Finance officials. It’s a political concoction foisted on them by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Remember the context. Since 2010 – through the four most recent post-recession years – the Canadian economy has exhibited no consistent ability to grow, and job creation has been particularly paltry.

Last month alone, the private sector shed nearly 112,000 jobs while the participation rate in the job market declined yet again. For the entire year just past, the whole Canadian economy produced a meagre 81,000 net new positions, most of them in just one region and 80% part-time. There are some 230,000 more unemployed Canadians today than before the 2008 recession.

Mr. Harper has no specific agenda for economic growth and his record on this score is the worst of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett.

Part of the problem is his constantly escalating Employment Insurance payroll taxes. Announced in 2010, these Harper tax hikes raked in an extra $600-million in 2011, plus another $1.2-billion in 2012, then another $1.8-billion in 2013, and another $1.8-billion this year. That’s a grand total of $5.4-billion in higher taxes taken from the pockets of employees and employers in the most job-killing manner possible.

Calculations done by the government’s own Chief Actuary in the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions show the Conservatives are collecting billions of dollars more than necessary to fund employment insurance claims.

With his economic record so poor, the fall sitting of Parliament about to begin and a federal election just around the corner, the purpose of last week’s EI announcement was to show some action. But what a farce!

All employers and employees will still have to pay their full EI premiums at the full rate. That’s money out of their pockets right up front. Then, later on, at tax time – if they’re small enough – they may be able to claim some of those premiums back as a federal tax credit.

This is a complex and convoluted way of trying to confer a benefit on small businesses. There is no linkage to “incremental jobs created”. If you employ more than about 10 employees, you don’t qualify for any tax credit at all. There’s no premium break for employees whatsoever. And what happens if an employer gets to tax-time and finds there are a couple of workers on his/her payroll that put the small business over the threshold for getting the tax credit? Those “extra” jobs are in jeopardy!

Instead of encouraging more jobs, business ambition and economic growth, the way this latest policy is contrived actually puts a cap on job generation in the small business sector and imposes a penalty on those who would strive to do better.

Should there be relief from Mr. Harper’s excessively high payroll taxes? Absolutely! Liberals have been making that argument for at least four years. But the scheme the Conservatives devised last week is deeply flawed and deficient.

Comments to the Banff Forum

Posted on September 12, 2014

Topic: Civility in Canadian Politics – Has it declined in recent years?

Saskatoon, Sk — September 12th, 2014

By Hon Ralph Goodale, PC, MP (Wascana)
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

The short answer is yes, especially in the past nine years. There is less camaraderie. Less good will. Hyper-partisanship seems to trump everything else. Political opponents are seen not just as competitors to be defeated in elections, but moral evil-doers to be destroyed. And the ends will always justify the means.

There are exceptions in Parliament. I think of Michael Chong on this panel. And Peter Stoffer in the NDP. And Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau among my Liberal colleagues and their commitment to what Laurier would call “sunny ways”. But they often get swamped in a scripted sea of abuse. Their good will is repaid with insults and invective.

This damages the dignity and the usefulness of Parliament. That undermines democracy. It consolidates power in the hands of a small autocratic Executive Branch and the zealous, unelected “boys in short pants” who serve in the backrooms of that Executive.

To some extent, the cause of Parliament’s malaise is bad behaviour by individual MPs. But to a larger extent, that bad behaviour is just a symptom of a larger problem. And that larger problem is Parliamentary structure and procedure that is not geared to reflect the best of democracy.

My Leader, Justin Trudeau, has acknowledged that point, and has taken some bold steps to start to change things:

  • regular pro-active disclosure of MP expenses;
  • a more non-partisan, non-patronage and truly independent Senate; and
  • stronger Access-to-Information rules and procedures.

Justin has also refused to respond Attack-Ad for Attack-Ad to the abuse that is thrown his way.

Let me mention six other ideas that merit consideration:

  • a preferential ballot instead of our “first-past-the-post” system;
  • more free votes in the House of Commons;
  • stronger, clearer and real Parliamentary control over government spending;
  • a truly independent Parliamentary Budget Officer;
  • explicit limits on the use of Omnibus Bills and Prorogation;
  • adequate funding, investigative powers and enforcement authority for Elections Canada to root out voter suppression and electoral fraud.

These things could make a tangible difference toward greater civility in politics and better Canadian democracy.

A Weak Economy and a Hapless Government

Posted on September 8, 2014

After last month’s debacle at Statistics Canada over the official job numbers for July, observers might be forgiven for wondering if the most recent figures for […]

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Premiers Show Leadership in Void Left by Mr. Harper

Posted on September 1, 2014

I’ve watched a good many Premiers Conferences during my 26 years in Parliament. This year’s get-together in Charlottetown has to rank among the best for both […]

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A Hard Look at Mr. Harper’s Economic Record

Posted on August 25, 2014

When the next federal election rolls around, likely next spring, Stephen Harper says he wants to campaign on his economic record. Well bring it on. That […]

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Solemn Commemoration for Ukrainian-Canadians

Posted on August 22, 2014

The next few days will be filled with extra emotion for the nearly 1.25-million Canadians who trace their family heritage to Ukraine — including about 13% […]

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Was Michael Sona a Solitary Rogue Acting all Alone?

Posted on August 18, 2014

The big political news this past week was the long awaited verdict in the infamous “robocall” trial of Conservative staffer, Michael Sona. He was convicted of […]

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How to make water a consistent prairie asset?

Posted on August 11, 2014

Thunder storms pounded the Regina area this past weekend with more wind and heavy rain. Property damage was significant in places like White City as severe […]

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Harper’s economic policies continue to produce dismal results

Posted on August 8, 2014

In July, a net gain of just 200 jobs – that’s right, two hundred – in this whole country. And all of them part-time. Thank you […]

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