Saturday, May 26, 2012
Andrew Coyne has been highly critical of the Tories and even made a point of voting liberal in the lost election. HIs article on Tory economic policy is mildly less critical than normal. The Tory must be accomplishing a lot if its harshest critics are softening. But put them together and they have all the markings of an agenda: Reform of Old Age Security, not only raising the age of eligibility by two years (starting in 2023, and phased in over six years) but offering higher benefits to those willing to keep working past the standard retirement age. Free trade agreements, now being negotiated with virtually everything that moves: Europe, India, Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the ASEAN group. Reform of immigration policy, across every category: skilled immigrants, refugees, investors, entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on recruiting immigrants with demonstrable economic prospects. Reform of employment insurance, announced this week, to give repeat users, in particular, fewer excuses to refuse available work. Moreover, the government is at last beginning to implement the Red Wilson report on productivity, four years after it was delivered, with recent reforms opening the door to foreign takeovers in the telecommunications sector (for companies with less than 10% of the market), and raising the threshold asset value for automatic review of foreign takeovers to $1-billion. All this, and mild restraint in spending, too! And, lurking just over the horizon, the promised tax rewards for balancing the budget: income-splitting for couples with children, and the doubling of the amount that can be sheltered in tax-free savings accounts.