Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Federal Budget 2008

Blogging live watching the budget delivered by everyone's favourite leprechaun look-a-like, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

How the Tax-Free Savings Account Will Work

- Starting in 2009, Canadian residents age 18 or older will be eligible to contribute up to $5,000 annually to a TFSA, with unused room being carried forward.

- Contributions will not be deductible.

- Capital gains and other investment income earned in a TFSA will not be taxed.

- Withdrawals will be tax-free.

- Neither income earned within a TFSA nor withdrawals from it will affect eligibility for federal income-tested benefits and credits.

- Withdrawals will create contribution room for future savings.

- Contributions to a spouse's or common-law partner's TFSA will be allowed, and TFSA assets will be transferable to the TFSA of a spouse or common-law partner upon death.

- Qualified investments include all arm's-length Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) qualified investments.

- The $5,000 annual contribution limit will be indexed to inflation in $500 increments.

From: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080226/budget_taxes_080226/20080226?hub=TopStories

Saturday, February 23, 2008

9/11 myth about Canada

I've been working in Alexandria, Virginia lately and have toured around Washington, DC. On crossing the Potomac River back to Arlington and Alexandria, I've driven by the Pentagon a few times, and have thought about 9/11 quite a bit. What people forget is that the Pentagon is right across the river from the White House, Capitol and National Mall. A slight deviation could have had the plane hit America at it's governmental core.

In speaking with some American friends, a couple of them blamed Canada for allowing the 9/11 terrorists to go through my country into the U.S. to commit and plan the attacks.

I honestly didn't know the truth behind those claims, and was a bit embarrassed. My only reply was, "They got into the U.S. as well!"

But the truth is, the 9/11 terrorists did not enter the U.S. through Canada. Read this. They had already been in the U.S. for sometime, training and planning the attacks.

I'm not trying to play down the terrible events and the lives lost that day. On the contrary, it is the truth of what happened that is ever important. There's a lot of conspiracy theories regarding that day, and from what I've seen, they've been refuted.

Mind you, many Americans really don't know much about their neighbours to the north. They do think it's really cold, as whenever it's really cold in the U.S., especially this winter, their weather reporters usually say, "... cold front from Canada" or "Alberta clipper moves cold air into the Midwest". The truth is, that cold air usually originates from Siberia and the Arctic.

Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to crash a Republican party

Currently, I've been working on contract in Alexandria, Virginia. Being the political hack that I am, I tuned into CNN while Tuesday Feb. 12th Potomac Primary votes were coming in. Then I saw that Republican Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, was having a rally at a hotel only 10 minutes away from my hotel. I thought, "Why the heck not?"

So here's how to crash a political "party" event (in case you were wondering):

0. Remove the Obama button you were wearing earlier.

1. Upon entering the hotel, find out if they have a bar. Then watch whether other folks are actually paying for drinks. If not, then it's another bonus. Regardless, always leave a $1 tip for the barkeep to show you're not a moocher (although you are). Get a beer.

2. With beer in hand, walk over to one of the campaign tables, and get that campaign sticker slapped on your chest. Get a button too. Show that you are a "true" supporter.

3. Drink beer. Get another beer.

4. Eat some shrimp. Have people stare at you because you look out of place, BUT you have that sticker, so don't fret, you're okay. Be cool.

5. So then walk into the ballroom and take pictures to show you're really excited to be there.

6. Look like you're a mover and a shaker. Pull out your cell phone and call friends and family back home to tell them where you are and to look for you on CNN.

7. Drink beer. Get another beer.

8. Eat some shrimp.

9. Have a guy ask you what the results are and say, "We won all three primaries!" Notice the "We" part? Again, that shows you're a "true" supporter. Now you're really in.

10. Mosey your way into the crowd in front of the TV cameras. Take pictures. Continue drinking beer, because really, it's all about the free beer.

11. Candidate comes on stage. Whistle and cheer. Take pictures.

12. Tell someone that's talking during to speech to "ssshhh", because you want to hear what he has to say. Get approving glances from others. Now you're really one of them.

13. When speech is over, get a good close up shot of the candidate.

14. Go back stage where close supporters stood prior to the speech and grab the tape marker off the floor bearing the candidate's name.

15. Go to the podium where the candidate just spoke and get a photo of yourself taken by some guy who was there because his Chicago flight was delayed at the Reagan National Airport. Take a picture of him too.

16. Go to the hotel bar with said guy, befriend others, and then show how much more a Canadian knows about American politics and health care than they do.

17. Get them to buy you beers.

18. Watch a CNN reporter on TV from the ballroom and say, "Hey, we were just there!"