Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bringing hope the tobacco

*Darned typos, that should be bringing HOME the tobacco.

Someone must be worried about Immigration Minister Diane Finley's re-election chances in Haldimand-Norfolk. The Conservatives have unveiled a new tax break so narrowly targeted that industry experts say it will only benefit one company; a tobacco processor that just happens to be in the cabinet minister's Southern Ontario riding.

An industry expert told the Globe it appears the $500,000 tax break will only benefit Simcoe Leaf Tobacco Co. Ltd. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the industry has been hit hard lately, and the break was needed to save 200 jobs.

Conservative sources also told the Globe they're concerned about Finley's re-election chances because of the Caledonia land use dispute, which is part of her riding, and also that she's been facing pressure for financial help from tobacco farmers.Those sources weren't commenting on the record though. Those that did insisted it was a matter of tax fairness, not blatant electioneering and vote-buying, and hey, look over there, adscam!

There's a lot that's stinks about this. There's the Conservatives appearing to be practicing the corporate welfare they routinely decried. And there's the fact the tax break appears to only apply to one company in a vulnerable Conservative minister's riding, I mean, how more obvious can you get?

There's something that makes me uneasy about supporting tobacco farmers, although it is a legal industry so you can't hold it against them too much. But tax breaks though? Business is down because less people are smoking, that's a good thing, and is due in part to taxpayer-funded government advertising on the ills of smoking. We're trying to put these guys out of business. It seems counterintuitive to now give tax breaks to the people that farm and process the tobacco.

I would favour retraining funding or the like to help get the workers out of the tobacco industry and into other jobs. But that's doesn't seem to be what we're talking about here. It looks like vote buying with taxpayer dollars pure and simple.

Once again, another case of the Conservative proving their principles apply to everybody but themselves. That's Canada's New Government(TM).

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JimBobby said...

Whooee! I live in Finley's ridin'. This here tobacky bizness is a big deal 'round my neck o' the woods.

The gummint's talkin' outta both sides of its mouth. They support the cigarette makers but run ads tellin' everybuddy t' quit smokin'.

They been tryin' t' get the tobacco farmers t' switch t' a different crop fer at least 25 years. There's one simple reason why the farmers don't switch. They make more money growin' their poison crop than they can make on any other crop.

There's $1 billion buyout scheme in the works. The way I hear-tell, haff'll come from the feds an' haff from Ontariariario. A billion divided up among 650 farmers with sum allowance fer bureaucratic overhead comes out t' 'bout a million bucks a piece fer the farmers.

But here's the thing...

Tobacco farmers are the richest farmers in Canadee. They got monster houses, mostly built in the last 20 years. They drive bigass SUV's, Mercedeses, Caddylacks an' bran' new top-o-the-line pickup trucks. They vacation in the most expensive parts o' the world.

They're mostly a buncha snobs, too.

Nobuddy 'round here'll work fer 'em anymore on accopunta they're rotten bosses an' the pay's too low. They cash in on gummint programs so's they can bring offshore workers in t' do the work Canajuns won't do. They have bunkhouses on the farms where these pore bastards from Jamaica, Barbados an' Mexico live crammed together.

Their net worth is 'bout double what the average farmer's is. Their annual income is 'bout 140% o' the average Canajun farmer.

An' it looks like they're each gonna get a million bucks from the publick purse so they can adjust t' market conditions that any fool could o' seen comin' 45 years ago when the US Surgeon general let everybuddy know that there's a direct link between cigarettes an' cancer.

I know a fair number o' tobacky farmers. None of 'em smoke.


RugbyJamer said...

jimbobby, you are a gentleman and a scholar. thank you for that lovely insight.

Anonymous said...

if finley is in trouble it has more to do with her complete indifferance to Caledonia (along with usesless premier doltan)than it does with tobacco.Interesting that the proposed tobacco tax relief/buyout/settlement is also a fed/provincial proposal.Both the libs & torys have little credibility left in this neck of the province ,so smoke & mirrors & bribes are all that are left.

ottlib said...

I would point out that the Liberals did this kind of stuff too so it is a little dishonest for Liberals to criticise this.

There is one caveat to that however. The Conservatives and their predecessors howled whenever the Liberals did do something like this and they stated they would do things differently. That is, they would not do it. (They never stated that in so many words but they certainly gave that impression.)

So although Liberals do not have much to stand on criticising the action itself they can go to town all they like on the hypocracy that the action demonstrates.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! I got inspired after readin' yer boog an' makin' my comment an' I went an' I recorded me a song called The Tobacco Farmer Song t' the tune o' Murray McLauchlin's Farmer Song. I put up a link back t' yer fine boog, JeffFeller.


Miles Lunn said...

Ottlib - Every party does this and it will likely always happen. I don't like it, but I've given up on fighting it. Besides I didn't see any mention of it on the Liberal site, so although I am sure they will condemn it they won't make as big a stink out of it as the Tories would have in opposition

Crabgrass said...

Transparent and accountable!

Okay, transparent.