This week, I received via Canada Post a handy little booklet from my ever-smiling Member of Parliament, Rona Ambrose.
It’s called a Tax Tips Guide, subtitled Helping You and Your Family Save More, a 15-page (!) booklet of tax tips from the federal government, outlining how I can save money on my taxes.”Well, isn’t this nice”, I thought in quotation marks. It’s almost as if the government doesn’t even want my tax dollars, and is trying desperately to convince me to pay as little as possible. Seems kind of counterintuitive, but whatever. A dollar saved is a dollar not spent.
As I am always looking for a way to screw the feds, I eagerly dug in. After a quick scan, then a more lengthy perusal, I arrived at a depressing conclusion: in 15 pages of ‘tax tips’, not one single tip applied to me. Universal Child Care Credit? My youngest child is nearly 24, so no go. Textbook Amount and Scholarship and Bursary Exemption? I’m years — decades, even — out of school. Lower taxes for seniors? Not a senior, yet. Small Business Tax Credit? Nope. Volunteer Firefighters’ Tax Credit? Nope. Meal Expense for Long-Haul Truck Drivers? Unless I can deduct the snacks I eat while watching Ice Road Truckers, that’s another no. Even though I have family, none of the ‘family friendly’ grab bag of deductions applied to me. And since I’m a good six years away from eating my dinner at 4 p.m. and watching Wheel of Fortune, the senior goodies don’t apply either. Basically, the booklet contained as much useful information for me as any edition of Cosmopolitan.
However, while reading the booklet, I began to notice something. The Tax Tips Guide also had a subtle, barely detectable ‘vote Conservative’ bias towards it. I thought it seemed just a little odd when, in the second paragraph of the second page, the phrase “our Conservative government” popped up. Two paragraphs later, there is was again — our Conservative government.
Could it be that this was actually propaganda for the federal Conservatives, paid for by the taxpayer, in the guise of a tax guide? Hmmmm…
The further I went, the more often the phrase turned up. In fact, the phrase ‘our Conservative government’ appears 39 times in the booklet!
I guess you can’t accuse the Conservatives of being subtle. The Harper government has raised government-funded political propaganda to unparalleled heights in this country. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on government ads for training programs, infrastructure projects, tax deductions, etc., all with an undercurrent of ‘the Conservative government is good for you’. Every much-watched TV event in Canada — Grey Cup, Super Bowl, Oscars, you name it — is gifted with millions in government advertising money. There may be cutbacks in other levels of government — say, science or veterans assistance — but the bucket of money for advertising is never empty.
Our Conservative government? Let us pray not for long.