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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Send your thanks to Dalton

It is an article of faith among leftist Ontarians that the economic boom Ontario enjoyed after the Harris tax cuts was pure luck. Ontario just got carried along on economic currents larger than themselves and all those jobs created, economic growth and associated growth in government revenues had nothing to do with the hated tax cuts brought in. So, logically speaking, there could be no economic consequence to raising the taxes again.

Except - Esso moves HQ from Toronto to Calgary:

"Imperial was founded in Ontario. It's had its headquarters in Toronto for a long period of time, and every time we looked at the arithmetic about whether it makes sense to relocate somewhere, whether it's in Calgary or elsewhere, we couldn't make that arithmetic make sense," Bob Peterson, Imperial's former chief executive, said four years ago.
Of course the biggest change in the arithmetic from four years ago is the Dalton McGuinty Tax IncreaseTM, though the company doesn't exactly come out and say it.

So, Calgary, as you welcome your new taxpaying corporate head office and all those taxpaying citizens be sure to send a thank you note to Dalton McGuinty and all those who elected him.

And Ontarians can start to wonder just how unlucky they have become as it appears Canada may very well soon have a single province that actually pays into those equalization payments.

Posted by Kevin Jaeger on September 29, 2004 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink


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Touche, Kevin. As soon as we heard that Imperial Oil was moving its head office, my wife and I were discussing Dalton McGuinty and his tax increases. Just the introduction of the health care premium alone would increase the cost of providing a benefits package to employees. Imperial Oil had talked about this move for years. Dalton Mcguinty provided the straw that broke the camel's back.

Posted by: MikeP | 2004-09-29 6:38:52 PM

Imperial is not the first and they won't be the last business to move out of Ontario, especially out of Toronto. Toronto property owners (incl. businesses) are overtaxed and Ontarians are generally overtaxed. The only thing Ontario has going for it is a huge population (market) and a reputation for being the hub of industrialization/business. The reputation is slowly changing due to socialist governance and only the population will remain. What will happen then? Skilled labourers and professionals will be leaving the province in greater numbers than before. That is, of course, if the looters remain in the power.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2004-09-29 11:39:32 PM

The Calgary Sun seems to have evidence to the contrary (http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/Columnists/Calgary/Rick_Bell/2004/09/30/648884.html):

Yesterday, the premier praises Alberta's low taxes and what he sees as his government's fabulous funding of health care and education before pronouncing: "These are some of the reasons why Alberta is a leader in Canada and why companies like Imperial Oil have decided to locate here."

Of course, this is absolutely not true, but who's quibbling?

Richard O'Farrell of Imperial, for one.

"The important point is Calgary is closer to our assets. The move has to do with Calgary as a location. We have the assets there. We have the infrastructure there. It really has to do with changes happening in our business."

Richard goes on to say the move is not a slight to Toronto or a thumbs-up to Calgary. It is NOT a judgment of the economic climate here or the provincial government here or even whether Calgary is a groovy place to live.

"This is nothing to do with the cities. We are not setting a precedent for others," insists Imperial's designated vocal chords, who also insists Imperial is "absolutely not" trying to convey any message beyond the logic of sheer logistics.

As for low taxes and the like?

"Even the economic part was not a driving factor. It was not significant in doing what we're doing."

Posted by: Joey deVilla | 2004-09-30 1:09:28 AM

I'd bet that the Great McGuinty will ask Martin to create a new National Energy Policy to offset the losses Ontario will suffer when more head offices and people move to Alberta.

Read the National Post's article today.


Ontario needs free money to survive, and to them Albertans are greedy for daring to be more successful than they are.

If there's one thing Ontario people will never tolate, it is not being first. Well F them, the lazy rich bastards. Learn how to operate a snow shovel, sell one of your SUVs, sell the cottage, and learn to live within your own means before you come raiding. If another NEP is in the works, there will be one less province and one more state before long.

Posted by: Scott | 2004-09-30 4:29:49 AM

Richard O'Farrell has to say that regulatory & taxation issues were not part of the decision. After all Ontario is still their biggest market and a good rule of business is not to tick people off. Look at the statements made by countless firms shifting operations to more favourable jurisdictions. But the fact remains Ontario is not especially pro-business and has been getting markedly less so under St. Dalton. All I can say to Imperial is "Take me with you!!!"

Posted by: JGS | 2004-09-30 6:17:09 AM

I agree. It's naive to think that corporations will publicly declare the true reasons behind certain decisions, especially when political issues such as taxes or red tape are involved. Corporations will do what they need to do without getting in the middle of political debates.

Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2004-09-30 12:55:34 PM

I agree that the taxes and corporate environment had nothing to do with Imperial's decision. My friends at Esso Plaza continually complain about "head office" as if they were in another world. From a petroleum producer's prospective, it made little sense to be elsewhere.

As for a latter-day NEP, the local talk show host paraphrased Preston Manning and his response to a question with regards to Alberta "sharing" its wealth. He told the astonished audience that yes, he agrees with the sharing of oil wealth. Alberta is receiving a disproportionate share of Canada's mineral wealth and ought to contribute to the common good.

His only caveat was that the institutions which would divy up the cash be located and operated out of Alberta directly. No cash to Ottawa, no direct payments to the provinces. Such institutions might include research facilities, scholarships, the arts, infrastructure, or something else. Whatever is developed, whoever benefits, Alberta gets the credit.

Not a bad idea.

Posted by: Rob Huck | 2004-10-01 12:47:14 AM

Rob Huck:

Great idea about how to use Alberta's wealth. The Feds should not have absolute control over it. In fact, Alberta should act like any investor and demand that the Feds' books be opened to check their financial status. Alberta should demand veto power over any unnecessary Federal spending, insist on a repayment plan, and healthy dividends from our investment.

Anything less is a total insult and should be grounds to withdraw our money immediately and without penalty.

I doubt that the Feds or Ontario will agree to these terms, but they are what any prudent investor would do.

Posted by: Scott | 2004-10-01 1:58:51 AM

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