They’re back, attacking a favourite target.  In an op-ed in the Sun, director Canadian Taxpayers Federation director Kris Sims says:

Remember when the people of Metro Vancouver overwhelmingly said “No” to a TransLink tax hike in 2015? Bureaucrats and experts had all proclaimed at the time that a sales tax foisted on people to pay for even more TransLink was the right way to go.

Thankfully, there was a referendum and the people rejected the new tax. Now, the politicians have stripped voters of their right to a referendum on transit taxation and want to make us pay anyway.

There is one ballot box they cannot avoid, though. The municipal elections are being held this fall and motorists need to call campaigning politicians and tell them that they will be out of a job unless they cancel this latest gas tax hike.

Why does CTF hate TransLink so much?  What could be driving it?

First, a piece from the Tyee:

Right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch are among the funders of the international Atlas Network, the Canadian Taxpayer  Federations’ partner.

And then this from the New York Times:

In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. …

The Kochs’ opposition to transit spending stems from their longstanding free-market, libertarian philosophy. It also dovetails with their financial interests, which benefit from automobiles and highways.

One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.


It seems that the CTF are the go-to guys for the Koch anti-transit strategy in Canada, once removed.


  1. There’s no interest like self-interest. Some billionaires like Bill Gates have had the proverbial conversion on the road to Damascus; others like the Koch brothers are only concerned about who in Damascus controls the contracts for paving that road.

  2. So what?

    Its not like a cabal of right wing extremists funded by the Koch brothers are going shut down public transit in the region.

    Perhaps CTF is reflecting a widely held belief that politicians in this country need to be better managers of the money we give them provide to services?

    We all are required to live within our own means with our personal finances to fund our personal agendas.

    Perhaps those we elect to manage things might need a reminder that they may need to do the same?

    Politicians in Metro Vancouver absolutely need oversight and push back on spending our money on their agendas that might not be as popular as they imagine…

    1. “We all are required to live within our own means.”

      Though the economic rebuttal to your point is obvious, it seems to me that the most important element of “living within our means” is not cooking our gooses with sprawl and greenhouse gases.

      A smaller point: “Thankfully, there was a referendum”, says the CTF. No-one wanted that referendum. I found it a little strange, personally, but even the people who voted No said they never should have been asked.

    2. I suggest you reread Gordon’s comment on roads.

      Members of the CTF and the local branch supported 10-lane bridges and gargantuan freeway systems underpinned entirely by the lowly, poor taxpayer they purport to represent. They are deafening in their silence about the billions of the citizen’s tax dollars sunk into a vast road system that blankets 1/3 of our cities, are wilfully ignorant of the deleterious external effects, and are narcoleptic when their free enterprise pals in senior government override or condescendingly demean local mayors while they up the ante on unsustainable asphalt politics.

      The Metro transit system, run by one of the most efficient transportation organizations on the continent (independent per capita cost-benefit study, and a 2013 BC government audit), and sees 50% of its operating costs recovered by the users through the farebox in perpetuity. Transit is one of the most effective instruments to fight climate change, pollution and improve the physical and financial efficacy of cities.

      So, what was that about our spendthrift local politicians again?

    3. After housing costs, the biggest complaint in the region is traffic congestion. Governments can spend $billions on big new bridges that just move the congestion to somewhere else and that clog up again within a decade or so. I would call that waste. And governments don’t ask.

      Note the recent angst in The Valley as the inevitable additional sprawl has lead to a dramatic increase in congestion and accidents.

      Or they can spend $billions helping to shift more people on to transit. It costs the taxpayer less to move people rather than cars. The societal burden of pollution is reduced. People who use transit are fitter than those who drive everywhere so health costs are reduced. Not to mention the cost of sprawl itself with more pavement and utilities.

      Bateman and gang delayed major transit investments for four years and traffic congestion just got a whole lot worse.

      So what? ?

      1. The Government could also work to reduce the centralization of economic activity by creating more “Mixed-Use” complexes instead of have large swaths of Housing where you’d have to drive just to go to the store for groceries.

        There’s options outside of just expanding Transit (though that’s also part of the solution). I kind of wish people would stop trying to a “One to rule them all” type of solution and realize that complex problems call of multiple solutions.

    4. The average Canadian is in debt over 170% of their income. I love how people accuse the government of being lousy managers of our money when debt is the Canadian way.

  3. But the question was, why do they hate TransLink so much? I’m going to go deeper here.

    On the surface it’s because only losers ride transit. Successful people drive cars. And that has an appeal to those who slave away to afford their unaffordable car-dependent sprawling lifestyle. Their hate of TransLink has little to do with protecting the taxpayer. Everyone would prefer to pay fewer taxes so it is a convenient populist back door to their ideological agenda.

    I’d argue their agenda is actually religious and that explains their zeal. (Bateman is a minister after all.) There is a strong connection between fundamentalist religion and ultra-conservative political parties, a lack of compassion for the less fortunate and outward hostility towards Earth’s natural systems. Note the strong ties between Trump and Graham down south.

    Fundamentalists take God’s permission to have dominion over the earth very literally. Anything that raises uncomfortable questions about the limits of the earth is attacked with religious zeal. That would be questioning God himself. TransLink is just one more work of the devil.

    As a footnote, I do question whether those beliefs are honest or whether there is an even more sinister deception that is merely using the unquestioning faith of fundamentalists for a darker agenda. TransLink and carbon taxes and any threat to the most rich and powerful are merely portrayed as an affront to the almighty.

    It works all too well.

    1. Good commentary, Ron.

      The much-maligned “greenie” (in conservative circles) Andrew Weaver had an infamous Wall of Hate in the hallway outside his pre-MLA UVic Earth Sciences office where he posted choice bits of the tonnes of daily hate mail he received, not a small part of it steeped in fundamentalist overtones. He was once confronted on campus by a placard-waving right-wing Christian protestor who claimed he was “delaying Armaggeddon” and the second coming by fighting climate change.

      That’s sad.

      1. Sounds disturbingly like Harper’s Alliance Church – you know, the one that believes that God guides the free market?

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