Category Archives: Features

News, articles and opinion pieces

The By George St Valentine’s Wish

This sweet menu is our St. Valentine’s gift to you….

May your cupid arrows find their marks!

Indulge. Enjoy. 

Lovely Quotes

By George’s Top-Ten Love Quotes

Some Lovely Thoughts on Love

Quips on Love

5 Top-10 Lists of Quotes on Love

Sir Anthony Hopkins on life and love

A Sweet Potpourri

Did you know these St. Valentine’s Day facts?

Here’s the impact of a brain “in love”

The Urban Dictionary defines: Love

How Love Works (from How Stuff Works)

A Kiss Quiz

The most famous love sonnet by the Bard

The #1 Love Song (ever) 

Canada’s Greatest Love Song

FAVs & LOL Memes

Our Ten Favourite Love Memes

A Dozen Humourous Memes on Love and Marriage

A Dozen Love Memes

Valentine’s Wishes – from the former Prez

And here are another 14 memes for February 14

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:

Questions persist about Justin Trudeau and his next act

The Niagara Independent, February 3, 2023 –

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

There was the usual excitement in Ottawa this week as MPs returned from their Christmas recess. Blowing across Parliament Hill for most of the week MPs were greeted by a crisp -7 C wind – and on the wind that unmistakable refrain from The Clash’s hit song “Should I stay or should I go?”

Each day the lights of the House of Commons shone on the combatants, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, as they exchanged polispeak. Poilievre delivered rapid-fire zingers; Trudeau responded with scripted non sequiturs. The political theatre had resumed with its expected tone and pace, except for the unabating queries about the PM’s future.

In the lead up to the re-opening of Parliament, there was great speculation bandied about by the national press corps regarding Trudeau’s political future.

Campbell Clark baldly put the question in his Globe and Mail op ed “To run or not to run?” when he wrote, “This year, 2023, is when Mr. Trudeau will really have to decide.” The Hill Times posed the personal question: “Does Trudeau have the fire in his belly to stay in the game?” The paper editorialized: “…no one is pushing Justin Trudeau out the door. But it would be refreshing if he could take a deep look inside and tell the rest of us if he still has the fire in his belly to stay in the game—the way New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden did.”

Through January, Canadians were treated to feature columns in mainstream media written with an apparent attempt to help the PM frame his legacy. There was a flattering piece in the Toronto Star by Susan Delacourt, who lobbed the PM softies such as, “What keeps you up at night?” Another fluff piece appeared in the Globe and Mail, written by Liberal apologist Lawrence Martin, who lauded Trudeau’s toughness: “…he’s not all that troubled by the torrents of abuse and derision…. The more the haters come at Justin Trudeau, the more he will be determined to hold on to power.”

The most embarrassing piece of adoration was presented by John Ibbitson in his year-end tribute hailing Trudeau as a remarkable PM. Ibbitson tells us that Trudeau’s “ambitious agenda” laid before Canadians in 2015 “has been largely realized.” He asserts that Canada is in a better place as a result of Trudeau’s leadership: in world trade, immigration, the fight against global warming, progressive politics, decriminalizing drugs, bringing Canadians through the Great Pandemic, and more. Ibbitson concludes: “If Justin Trudeau wanted to be known as a transformative prime minister, he succeeded.”

The exceedingly high praise and puffery from the likes of Delacourt and Ibbitson has put a spring in the step of the PM as he assumed his role at centre stage. Through the week, a reinvigorated Trudeau spent a great deal of his time in Question Period sidestepping any responsibility for the latest revelations regarding the $100 million worth of contracts awarded to the McKinsey & Company.

As the plot is unfolding, it appears the scandalous arrangements for McKinsey are similar to the cozy relationships struck between SNC Lavalin and the Prime Minister’s Office. Yet, unfazed, the PM struck a pose in the House to swat away the facts about his fondness for former McKinsey senior executive Domenic Barton. Trudeau disavowed his friend Domenic. Then at a MP committee, Barton complemented the PM’s performance with repeated denials of any friendship.

A much more spectacular scene occurred on Wednesday when the PM was being pressed by Poilievre about the financial strain being felt by Canadians. The Opposition Leader criticized the government’s fiscal record and its gross overspending by citing criticisms made by Bill Morneau and Mark Carney – the Liberal government’s former finance minister and former governor of the Bank of Canada. Trudeau sprang to his feet to debate the points and then chastised Poilievre for “stumbling over himself” by using quotes from “random Liberals.”

Even for Justin Trudeau this line is too incredible, to debase these men of their Liberal pedigree. To be certain, Trudeau has been personally stung by the frank admissions of his former finance minister. In Bill Morneau’s bestselling book, Where to from Here: A Path to Canadian Prosperity, and in some forthright interviews promoting his book, Morneau’s assessment of the PM and his government’s performance is damning:

  • “We lost the agenda. During the period when the largest government expenditures as a portion of GDP were made in the shortest time since the advent of World War II, calculations and recommendations from the Ministry of Finance were basically disregarded in favour of winning a popularity contest.”
  • “My job of providing counsel and direction where fiscal matters were concerned had deteriorated into serving as something between a figurehead and a rubber stamp.”
  • Morneau suggests Trudeau gave the reins to his backroom operatives, like Gerald Butts: “Carefully crafted and strategically employed, they drove conclusions before an elected cabinet minister could finish reading the briefing documents, let alone reach a reasoned conclusion on the subject and consider the best way forward.”

On Trudeau’s character, Morneau stated: “I came to realize that while his performance skills were superb, his management and interpersonal communication abilities were sorely lacking.”

Morneau’s disillusionment with Justin Trudeau has been recounted by others who left Ottawa’s political fray with the same sour feelings about the PM: recall the first-hand accounts by former celebrated parliamentarians Jody Wilson Raybould, Jane Philpott, and Celina Chavannes. There are many long-serving, stalwart Liberals who have abandoned the party having lost confidence in Trudeau. In the wake of the government’s low point having invoked the Emergencies Act, Stephen LeDrew, the longest-serving president of the Liberal Party of Canada, put it this way about Trudeau’s leadership: “He has cheapened public discourse and public life… the pain inflicted by this government has almost brought us to the tipping point.”

Still PM Trudeau commands centre stage in Ottawa. He and his operatives have recently doubled down on his political games of dividing Canadians by purposefully highlighting controversial wedge issues. For example, Trudeau made racial accusations against conservatives in Delacourt’s Toronto Star feature: “He’s [Poilievre] playing and preying on the kinds of anger and anxieties about some Canada that used to be — where men were men and white men ruled.”

He followed up the accusation this week by underscoring Black History Month with the statement “Canada has a history of anti-Black racism…” (Trudeau takes every opportunity to accentuate racial tensions and repeatedly fails to mention factual Canadian history, such as Harriet Tubman and those involved with the Underground Railroad.)

Another sorry example of this deployable tactic is Trudeau’s heralded appointment this week of the racially-biased Amira Elghawaby as the government’s new Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. Trudeau was fully aware of Elghawaby’s reputation for making intolerant, judgmental statements about Quebecers, conservative-minded people, and people of British descent. But, that is precisely the point. Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe and Mail put it best when he exposed the PM’s cynical appointment: “Her nomination is meant to delight outspoken interest groups whose support is critical to Liberal political fortunes.”

For political pundits and national columnists it has proven difficult to anticipate the PM’s next act or political power play. In January, the pundits were certain there was going to be a cabinet shuffle; it did not materialize. Whispers of a spring election persist. The current rumour circulating through Hill offices is that Chrystia Freeland will be leaving Ottawa in the coming weeks, jettisoned away by Klaus Schwab for a position at the World Economic Forum, or some suggest by her friend and mentor George Soros. Everywhere, everyone is talking about the latest polls that have the Tories catapulting to their largest lead in more than a decade.

And with all this, Justin Trudeau struts back and forth across his stage. Can you not hear that music?

This indecision’s buggin’ me
If you don’t want me, set me free
Exactly whom I’m supposed to be
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


It’s been one thing after another over the past six weeks

The Niagara Independent, January 27, 2023 – MPs return to Ottawa on Monday from a six-week Christmas recess. Much has occurred in the time the elected representatives have been away from their Parliament Hill offices.

This week, media reported that PM Justin Trudeau and his gaggle of 38 cabinet ministers were in Hamilton to reflect on how the government will provide needed relief to Canadians through the challenging year ahead. In the scheduled scrums, Trudeau and his ministers repeated the salve that “we are going to get through these tough times together.” Canadians were reassured that the cabinet braintrust has a bold plan to transition the country’s resource-based economy and position Canada as a leader in the global drive to a greener future. The cabinet retreat was a wonderfully staged political stump event – except for the crowds jeering the PM, which the legacy media dutifully minimized or ignored all together.

Recently there has been a growing number of media accounts about the financial strain felt by Canadians across the country. But news from Ottawa reveals bureaucrats in the Nation’s Capital are experiencing things differently. Just before Christmas, Treasury Board president Mona Fortier ordered federal government bureaucrats back to their office – for two or three days a week. Since Fortier’s announcement the outcry from the Public Service Alliance of Canada has been relentless. Government workers are bemoaning the fact that they will have to leave their homes to weather the cold of winter and be subjected to an unreliable light rail transit system. Unions are threatening to strike. Meanwhile, the vacancy rates in federal offices are reported to be as high as 70 per cent.

The union representing the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is demanding a pay raise of more than 30 per cent over three years or they will strike during tax time this spring. CRA workers want to see a bump in pay to meet what other Ottawa bureaucrats are making. Consider that after three years, a “mid-range” CRA desk jockey makes $66,687, whereas the same level bureaucrats make more after 36 months in Parks Canada ($77,608) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ($79,298). Verily, this is experiencing the realities of economic hardship differently, when you consider that after a short three years of employment Ottawa bureaucrats are fortunate to cash in above the average $61,119 salary earned by a full-time worker elsewhere.

This week there was a headline concerning further fallout from the Phoenix Pay System and the fact that about 120,000 employees have yet to repay $559 million in salary overpayments. There are no details or deadlines on the recovery of this money.

One Ottawa scandal that is currently being unraveled by MPs is the government’s $54 million ArriveCan app and the multimillion dollar payments to two local consultants. A parliamentary committee heard testimony that the consultancy GC Strategies billed the government $9 million over two years to manage the outsourcing of contracts awarded to software engineers working on components of the ArriveCan app. The two partners personally made $2.7 million essentially for managing the hiring process of a program team, comprised of people secured by firms such as KPMG and BDO Canada.

MPs also learned that in addition to this $54 million government debacle, GC Strategies billed 20 different government departments another $35 million for similar work over the two-year pandemic period. The Globe and Mail newshound Robert Fife summed the news story up this way: “ArriveCan contracting wasn’t that bad. It was worse.”

There’s more concerning government spending news that has come to light in the last six weeks: federal contracts awarded to the Trudeau-friendly consulting firm McKinsey total $101.4 million since 2015; a new report on federal contracts revealed that at least $22.2 billion was outsourced in a single year (2021-22) across all departments; and, a new government report (released on December 31 when Canadians were all intently watching the news from Ottawa) estimates the federal government’s zero-emission by 2035 program will cost Canadians “at least $99 billion.”

As disturbing as this management of taxpayers’ money is, there was “that exchange” between Senator Elizabeth Marshall and Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland at a Senate finance committee meeting reviewing the government’s fall fiscal plan. Senator Marshall took issue with the government paying $2 billion to a non-existent entity called “the Canada Growth Fund,” which has no governance structure and the vague corporate objective “to help seize the opportunities provided by a net-zero economy.” Critics of the new fund suggest this entity-in-name-only is the second coming of the defunct Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB). However, there is no way of knowing because the Finance Minister was incoherent in her response to Senator Marshall’s $2 billion question.

Speaking of federal infrastructure money, the breaking news in Ottawa is that the Department of Infrastructure admitted that it misinformed Parliament and Canadian taxpayers about billions of dollars of program spending. The then-Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna knowingly tabled incomplete and misleading documents: in one case there was a departmental plan that did not report $3.5 billion in spending, and another that under-reported spending on internal services by $20.2 million.

And speaking of Chrystia Freeland, at every opportunity the finance minister performs her common trope about the country being in a “position of strength” and with “the strongest economic growth rate in the G7” (and she even has the PM repeating these lines). However, this script ignores the impact that the recession, inflation, and higher interest rates – not to mention increased taxes – will have on Canadians. In Hamilton, Freeland’s cabinet colleagues were informed by financial experts about the pressures being felt by Canadians coping with an annual 17 per cent rise in food prices and housing costs that now account for 50 per cent of a person’s income.

Putting Freeland’s narrative aside, Canadians have rough waters ahead. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projects growth in living standards in Canada will rank dead last among its 38 developed member-countries over the next 40 years. One major factor for this is that, during 2020-21, Canada outspent all countries in the world to post an overall debt burden equivalent to 352 per cent of GDP. Yves Giroux of the Parliamentary Budget Office has sounded the alarm bells on the interest charges to carry this debt load. This fiscal year, interest charges on the debt is projected to be $26.9 billion and by 2026-27 they are expected to be $42.9 billion (factored with a near-zero interest rate). However, with our increased interest rates, the payment is likely to be three to four times that amount.

There’s even more news from these past six weeks, and each issue on its own is a serious concern:

  • The government heralded the introduction of its new Just Transition jobs program for the oil and gas sector with little details – and a minister memo that surfaced suggesting workers can be retrained as janitors and cabbies.
  • Repeated calls from the United Nations for help to restore order in Haiti have gone unanswered (because Canada does not have the military personnel to spare).
  • Repeated calls for military equipment – tanks – to help the Ukraine war effort had gone unanswered before Thursday (because Canada has few reliable, operating tanks).
  • Canada now has the notorious distinction of being the global leader in harvesting organs for transplants from persons who have participated in state-assist euthanasia.

There is too much news; one’s head is left spinning.

Lost in all these headlines (and downplayed in legacy media) are the admissions of former finance minister Bill Morneau who exposed the dysfunctional behind-the-scenes operations of the Trudeau government. His is an insider’s account of the unsavory characters running the nation’s business from behind closed doors. Much of what Morneau reveals about the PM Trudeau and his PMO operatives is neither news, nor surprising. It echoes the accounts of many who went before him: Jody Wilson Raybould, Jane Philpott, Celina Chavannes and, most recently, Wayne Easter.

To returning MPs, welcome back to the Hill. I trust you will get caught up on Ottawa’s news in no time. 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Repeated questions about the WEF go unanswered

The Niagara Independent, January 20, 2023 – This week thousands of elected representatives, public officials, corporate CEOs, heads of banks and financial institutions, along with the leading technocrats from international bodies such as the United Nations (U.N.), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization, all gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting. There were numerous Canadians among the attendees who jetted into Davos to participate in discussions on the global climate crisis, global security with a focus on the war in Ukraine, and international financial planning.

This scribe has written on a number of occasions on the WEF and Canada’s involvement with its global agenda as prescribed by Klaus Schwab. So that we do not regurgitate news and issues, here are past columns by way of reference:

The news and commentary generated by the Davos gathering through the week serves as a springboard into repeating questions about the Canadian government’s commitment to the WEF’s global agenda. What has the Trudeau government promised the WEF with respect to carbon taxes and policies, intervening in financial markets, greening of the agricultural sector, economic and climate migration, and introducing central bank digital currency, just to name a few of the policy items discussed at the WEF meetings?

These queries are pertinent to the question of whether the Canadian government is implementing policies with the best interests of Canadians in mind, or rather with a set of policy objectives that has been drawn up and agreed to elsewhere.

These queries also beg a question about the multiple responsibilities of Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, as well as a Trustee on the WEF Board of Directors. Presuming that the interests of Canadians and the WEF global policy agenda do not perfectly align, whose interest is Ms. Freeland acting on in any one instance?

When asked to comment about her potential conflict of interests in Davos on Wednesday, Freeland hurriedly brushed by reporters in silence.

Highlights from the 2023 WEF Annual Meeting 

For its deliberations this year, the WEF declared 2023 as the “Year of the PolyCrisis.” It presented a conference program with a smorgasbord of serious issues that are jeopardizing peace and security, world finances and, with regards to the mounting climate crisis, existence itself. From the perspectives of the WEF leadership, countries’ commitment to the Forum’s “progressive climate and social-justice agenda” will enable the international community to steer successfully through the current crises. Adhering to the WEF objectives will also ensure we all transition into what WEF founder Klaus Schwab describes as The Fourth Industrial Revolution; it is the dawning of a new era that will fuse “our physical, our digital, and our biological identities.”

Through the week, this overarching aspiration of Klaus Schwab resulted in policy discussions about how governments’ may manage more “climate positive lifestyles,” advance diversity, equity and inclusion objectives, rebuild trust in institutions, contribute to the restoration of peace in Europe, and intervene in financial markets to drive environmental, social and corporate governance objectives.

Chrystia Freeland appeared on the third day of the conference to participate in a plenary session entitled “Restoring Security and Peace,” which focused on the war in Ukraine and restoring stability to Europe and the world.  In the session, Freeland championed Ukraine’s request for more military support from its allies and she supported NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s claim that “Weapons are the way to peace.” Freeland went further to state that helping Ukraine win “would be a huge boost to the global economy.”

Freeland followed up this appearance with another performance on Thursday alongside former UK PM Boris Johnson. The two tag-teamed a persuasive appeal for allies to immediately provide Ukraine with all the weapons it needs. Johnson told doubters to stop worrying; Russian President Vladimir Putin “will not” use atomic weapons. Freeland employed a hockey analogy citing Wayne Gretzky’s bons mots “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been”, and then she claimed “this puck is going to Ukrainian victory.” In what was an obvious set-up, Johnson amused all present by shooting back “tell Putin to get the puck out of Ukraine.” Great sport.

Follow-through on the Davos discussions 

In a special to The Globe and Mail, Canadian business strategist Don Tapscott stated that in the last 20 years he has witnessed the WEF “evolve from a think tank into what you could call a “do tank,” and now a global network that engenders dozens of communities that engage tens of thousands of people to research, discuss and address many global problems year-round.”

One of the opening speakers in Davos was actor Idris Elba who described the dynamics of WEF in this way: “Today it is well recognized that the economic, social, and natural well-being of our planet are completely interrelated, and Davos may be one of the first platforms to get it. We understand the power and the change that can come from this room. Davos has become the de facto platform for governments, for corporates, for philanthropists, for activism, for protesters to mobilize quickly.”

So, given the expectations of this elevated forum, the challenge for government leaders, corporate multinationals, and international bureaucracies is to follow-through on the Davos discussions. They leave the WEF annual meeting energized to find ways to implement policies designed to advance the WEF global agenda.

In some cases, this global agenda is imposed to the detriment of a nation’s citizenry: government impositions that have upended farmers in Sri Lanka and now Holland, the strict lockdown regime negatively impacting New Zealand, the migration policies causing unrest in Germany and Sweden, and the overt political actions to shut down oil and gas operations in resource-rich countries – resulting in an energy crisis (and some countries needing to re-fire their coal plants!).

In Canada, citizens are now coming to realize the implications of a government committed to the WEF and what it will mean for farmers, oil and gas workers, and all who must cope with the rising cost of living brought about by a punitive carbon tax regime. Canadians are also becoming aware of the untold motives behind the Trudeau government enacting emergency orders so as to freeze bank accounts. Assuredly, the lessons learned from this dark chapter of Canada’s history were not lost on the IMF, U.N. and WEF technocrats and their enablers at the Canadian Bankers Association, contracted by the WEF to develop a global digital ID program.

It is not conspiratorial to assert that governments around the world, Canada included, are implementing policies discussed in Davos at the WEF meetings. Is it not reasonable to request transparency regarding the commitments made at this international forum? And, if so, why is it that repeated questions about the WEF go unanswered?

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Trudeau plays politics in advance of Alberta election

The Niagara Independent, January 13, 2023 – It is becoming increasingly evident that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals have initiated a political powerplay to impact Alberta’s spring election. The PM and his ministers started 2023 making comments that are seemingly designed to agitate western Canadians, particularly Albertans.

From confiscating hunting rifles to profiling an employment program that transitions workers away from the oil and gas industry, to suggesting the provincial government provide more in subsidies for new green programs, the federal Liberals are now advancing issues and using inflammatory language to poke and prod the Albertan government of Premier Danielle Smith.

Alberta and Premier Smith are in PM Trudeau’s crosshairs when it comes to the political gamesmanship being played out with the government’s gun control legislation. In 2022, the federal government introduced legislation that establishes a buyback program requiring firearms owners to sell their assault-style weapons. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino proposed that the RCMP and provincial police forces take the lead role in retrieving more than 1,500 models of firearms from Canadians.

However, the federal government’s buyback plan was immediately rejected by four provinces (Alberta included) and a territory – and First Nations – who are now exploring ways to legally challenge the federal gun program.

Then in December the federal Liberals pulled a fast one in parliament and introduced last-minute legislative amendments that expand the scope of the new federal law to prohibit sport shooting weapons and hunting rifles. Even the NDP MPs were caught off guard with the move. MP Charlie Angus admitted, “The amendment came out of nowhere. This was a handgun bill. We suddenly saw this other legislation that has a lot of people who are legitimate gun owners worried. I think they overreached.”

Just prior to Christmas, the Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro responded with an announcement that, as of January 1, 2023, the province’s Crown prosecution service would assume responsibility for firearm prosecutions. Shandro expressed Albertans’ frustrations in the federal legislation that attacks hunters, farmers and sport shooters. He further called out the federal Liberals for purposefully targeting western Canadians, “This is about shoring up their own political support.”

A Globe and Mail lead editorial concurs that it is sheer politics: “The Liberals jammed a wedge into their handgun bill. They need to pull it out.” The paper wrote: “This confusion is all too typical of the divisive political debate over guns in Canada… the Liberals suddenly drove a wedge into their bill. They need to clear the air and get this important legislation back on track.”

The last shots fired in this federal-provincial standoff were federal minister Mendicino’s statements to Canadian Press about the upcoming months. Last week the minister hinted that Ottawa was now looking at “third parties” to implement its buyback program in provinces who are not cooperating. Mendicino is quoted: “We’re working with industry leaders, we’re working with potential third parties. So we are exploring all of these options.”

In the same news cycle that had Mendicino conjuring up scenes of hired guns confiscating Canadians’ guns, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was announcing the government’s intention to introduce new legislation to retrain oil and gas workers for new green energy employment. Wilkinson appeared to be smirking when he revealed the federal green jobs initiative is called the “Just Transition” program.

With few specifics, the minister waxed on about the great opportunities there are in the future green economy. “I said it many times publicly that I do not believe that the challenge we are going to face is that there are workers who are displaced that will not find other good-paying jobs. I am actually quite worried that there are so many opportunities … we will not have enough workers to fill the jobs.”

Wilkinson indicated that he is working on the “Just Transition” legislation with Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan. He is also working closely with NDP MP Charlie Angus, as the initiative is a core part of the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and NDP.

Premier Smith was quick to retort that Albertans are “not interested” in having a Liberal-NDP program that is enabling the province’s largest industry to be “phased out of existence.” Smith asserted, “The prime minister wants to phase out the workforce for the largest industry in Alberta and hasn’t bothered with getting Alberta’s input. We have had no consultation, no discussion.”

The Premier added, “Oil and gas — and its thousands of by-products — will be a part of the global economy for decades, and Albertans own one of the largest reserves of it on the planet. Albertans, not Ottawa, will manage our resource sector how Albertans see fit.”

Alberta Environment Minister Sonya Savage also took issue with the federal government’s “just transition” program. Savage stated, “Alberta is proud to be one of the most responsible producers of oil and gas globally. We have been a world-leader for decades. We expect the federal government to stand up for our world-leading oil and gas employees, instead of trying to eliminate their jobs.”

The political reverberations about Wilkinson’s announcement were still being felt when last Friday PM Trudeau entertained Reuters News with an interview in which he deliberately poked at Alberta’s carbon tax policies. Trudeau stated, “There is a political class in Alberta that has decided that anything to do with climate change is going to be bad for them or for Alberta… We’ve seen for a while Alberta hesitating around investing in anything related to climate change.”

In his first interview granted in 2023, Trudeau suggested the province should use its surplus funds to provide greater tax credit subsidies for investing in green energy projects. “I think there’s a role for provinces with surpluses, with the capacity to be investing in their future and their workers future.”

The PM’s slight elicited a strong rebuke by Premier Smith who stated Alberta is tired of Ottawa’s divisive politics. “We have a prime minister who plays favourites and treats different parts of the country in a different way. This is the thing that I think Albertans are tired of — is that we continue to be the punching bag of the federal government and this Liberal prime minister, in particular, for political reasons.”

This past weekend, Rob Breakenridge of the Calgary Herald wrote an opinion column lamenting that “Ottawa’s bungling or politicking” is destroying any cooperation between the federal and provincial governments. At question is the intent of the federal Liberals with their flurry of January media interviews that “very much paints a picture of an antagonistic federal government.”

Breakenridge muses, “It seems rather odd that the Trudeau Liberals would plant such a flag just over four months away from an Alberta election, and this could all just be a by-product of incompetence or political tone-deafness. Or it could be a deliberate strategy — one that seeks to use Alberta as a political wedge.”

Indeed, the PM’s and federal Liberals’ brazen use of wedge politics and their orchestration of hot-button issues are clearly in play. And these political games are sure to continue for months, until Albertans vote.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Canada’s ‘bang on’ clarions or ‘out of touch’ contrarians?

The Niagara Independent, January 6, 2023 – “Canada is broken,” declared Pierre Poilievre in a Vancouver grocery store last November. The Conservative leader cited high inflation, rising food, housing, and fuel costs in his assessment that “it feels like everything is broken in this country right now.”

To an audience of 2,000 staff and party faithful at the Liberal Christmas Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to Poilievre’s claim by stating, “Canada is not broken… We’re going to get through these tough times because we’re going to do it together.” (With that and a barrage of selfies with adorning Liberal Parliament Hill staffers, Trudeau boarded a flight for his Jamaica holiday vacation.)

Often whether one believes Canada “is broke” or “not broken” depends on how a person feels about their current situation. But because the rewards of elected office are so high, our politicians exert great effort spinning compelling narratives to capture the attention and trust of the public. Politicians’ fortunes are directly impacted by Canadians’ view of their personal standard of living and the country’s prosperity and well-being.

The Canadian media and those commenting on the Ottawa scene are central to how Canadians’ view the news and competency of the country’s leaders and the federal government. There are a select few media today who are cutting through the political rhetoric and Ottawa narratives to deliver clear assessments of the country’s events and happenings. From this scribe’s perspective, it appears the reports from these individuals are becoming increasingly negative, which leads to the question of whether they are clarions or contrarians on Canada’s political leadership?

Perhaps the best place to start a review of current commentary about leadership in Ottawa is with Canada’s resident news curmudgeon, Rex Murphy. In spite of a career of shedding light on Canadians’ views and aspirations (and much of it at the helm of a CBC flagship show), no media personality today has been ridiculed as much as Murphy by partisan hacksters and the subsidized legacy media. He makes an important distinction in a recent National Post column when he observes, “When some people say “Canada is broken,” they surely do not mean the country itself, and most certainly not its citizens….. Canada is by no means broken. But what I have euphemistically called here its system of management is broken…”

For Murphy, the partisan games in Ottawa are the source of Canadians’ weariness: “It is the product of a craft of professionals, hired for their (dubious) skills in determining opinion or fashioning it, for their skills in playing on issues to divide and to inspire followers, impelled primarily for the winning of office, than for a commitment to honest service to the nation they guide.”

In another National Post opinion piece, John Ivison identifies the PM’s ongoing divisionary tactics as the greatest contributing factor zapping Canadians’ sense of worth. Ivison laments, “There has been more lethargy than lifting up in evidence of late. Canada is not broken, but it feels frazzled, drained of energy by negativity and regional ruptures.” He makes the point, “Trudeau is not solely responsible for those divisions, but he is most responsible because he has pursued policies designed to offer voters, in the words of one minister, “stark choices.” In other words, the national interest is, and has been, subservient to Liberal party fortunes and the political wedge.”

The “frazzled” national mood was captured eloquently by Lt.-Gen. Michel Maisonneuve last November. His acceptance speech in receiving the Vimy Award for excellence from Canada’s defence community garnered great media attention – and it elicited both rebuke and ridicule from many in the Ottawa bubble whose livelihoods depend on propagating the government’s narrative.

Maisonneuve’s assessment of what ails Canada was frank. He took aim at the woke progressivism that is dominating dialogue in Ottawa and in legacy media. He attacked the legitimacy of the cancel culture with its sense of entitlement, woke journalists with their biased opinionated reporting, left extremists who are toppling statues and erasing history without punishment, and those who shirk personal responsibility by wearing “the coveted victim’s cloak.” Maisonneuve also skewered the Trudeau government’s sacred policy cow in stating, “Canada’s prosperity is being sacrificed at the altar of climate change…”

On the issue of the country’s leadership, without mentioning anyone specifically, Maisonneuve had this to say, “Today’s leaders must stop dividing those they lead! Hasn’t history shown us that success as a leader demands cohesion, unity and respect of all those they lead — not just those who agree wholeheartedly with them? Can you imagine a military leader labelling half of his command as deplorables, fringe radicals or less-thans and then expect them to fight as one? Today’s leaders must find a way to unite; not divide.”

He concluded his speech with the counsel, “Leaders lead. There is a difference between making a good decision, based on research and consultation, and making a decision because it is popular or it polls well. The best decisions are those made for the good of the whole — not just good for friends of the leader. Today, special interests have trumped the collective good. Making decisions for the collective good requires strength of character, the communications skills to explain, and a great deal of courage.”

For that honest assessment Maisonneuve was given a standing ovation from the audience, yet he was roundly pilloried by Ottawa’s talking heads as a figure out of touch with current thinking in Canada.

Another Canadian who has been providing frank assessments of Canada’s political scene has been served notice this week that his views are “harmful” and not going to be tolerated. Jordan Peterson is being subjected to a public condemnation by the Ontario College of Psychologists. The College is calling on Peterson to undergo mandatory social-media communication retraining for his political commentary shared on Twitter; as stated in Peterson’s own words “for holding and for daring to express reprehensible political views.”

To be clear of the charges, Peterson identifies four specific complaints about his political commentary: criticizing PM Trudeau, retweeting Pierre Poilievre posts on the harms of lockdowns, joking about New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, and criticizing former PMO principal secretary Gerald Butts as “stunningly corrupt and incendiary fool.”

Framed as a question of Canadians’ rights and freedom of speech, this argument is sure to captivate news headlines for weeks to come. Peterson sums up the significance of the fight in this way: “We are now in a situation in Canada under Justin Trudeau where practicing professionals can have their livelihoods and public reputations threatened in a very serious manner for agreeing with the Official Opposition and criticizing major government figures.”

Whether one considers Jordan Peterson, Rex Murphy, John Ivison, and Michel Maisonneuve as “bang on” clarions or “out of touch” contrarians is not so much the point as is their right to hold and make known their views of the country’s leadership.

To repeat, there are knowledgeable and insightful personalities that Canadians can depend on to shed light on what is occurring in the country. There are reliable news sources like Blacklock’s Reporter where Canadians can still find objective journalism and not the official government spin so often repeated in the subsidized legacy media. And aside from those already mentioned, here are a dozen more, reliable individuals who have been credibly assessing whether Canada is broke or not: Terry Glavin, Tristan Hopper, David Mulroney, Dan McTeague, Mathew Lau, Lorrie Goldstein, David Pugliese, Don Braid, Rupa Subramanya, Andy Lee, Anthony Furey, and Fr. Raymond deSouza.

Of course, there’s more of both clarions and contrarians Canadians need to continue to hear from –   unless, that is, you are comfortable with the narrative recounted by our PM and others in Ottawa.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


25 Significant Events of 1994

Here are twenty-five significant events of 1994, the year CG&A Communications opened its doors.

  1. The world population reaches 5,670,000,000 (today it is 2 billion more)
  2. Jean Chretien is Prime Minister of Canada and Bob Rae Premier of Ontario
  3. OJ Simpson’s white Bronco is chased by police LIVE on international news
  4. TV series ER and Friends debuts
  5. Yahoo is founded
  6. Amazon is founded with a goal to change the way we shop
  7. PlayStation is first introduced
  8. The computer Zip Drive is introduced
  9. The Whitehouse launches its website
  10. Bill Clinton is US President; former US President Ronald Reagan announces he has Alzheimer’s
  11. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies of cancer at age 64
  12. Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa President
  13. Rwandan genocide begins in Kigali, Rwanda
  14. The Channel Tunnel is opened to connect Britain with France
  15. Time Magazine’s Man of the Year is Pope John Paul II
  16. The George Foreman Grill is released
  17. Michael Jackson and Lisa Maria Presley are briefly married
  18. Singer/Songwriter Kurt Cobain commits suicide at age 27
  19. Canadian singer/songwriter Justin Bieber is born and comedian John Candy dies of a heart attack at age 43
  20. Song of the Year is “A Whole New World” (Theme From Aladdin)
  21. The Lion King movie is released, the biggest hit of the Disney Renaissance era
  22. The blockbuster movie of ‘94 is Forrest Gump
  23. Schlinder’s List wins a number of Oscars
  24. For the first time in history, chain bookstores outsell independent stores
  25. Brazil wins the World Cup, Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl championship, and NY Rangers win the Stanley Cup

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Three significant federal government issues to track in 2023

The Niagara Independent, December 30, 2022 – With New Year’s Eve upon us, let’s consider three significant federal government issues that should be of utmost concern to Canadians in 2023: 1) the country’s federal-provincial constitutional wrangling, 2) Canada’s euthanasia laws, and 3) Central Bank Digital. These issues may not dominate the Ottawa news headlines, but they have the potential to impact Canadians’ way of life for years.

The country’s federal-provincial constitutional wrangling 

The Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights are foundational documents for the country and its laws. On multiple occasions over the past few years Quebec Premier Francois Legault has repeatedly maligned these documents by declaring Quebec a “nation,” and passing provincial legislation that violates minority language rights, denies religious freedom and, most recently, does away with the oath of allegiance to Canada’s Head of State.

In confronting Legault’s subversive powerplays, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response has been one of indifference. When pressed on whether Leagault had the authority to unilaterally introduce such legislation, Trudeau mused Quebec “effectively has the right to modify a part of the Constitution.”

Yet, in this past year, Trudeau has had a different reaction when other provinces decided to follow the example set by La Belle Province. For instance, the PM and his ministers took to the media to immediately criticize Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause to avoid a teachers’ strike. The obvious double-standard has also been displayed in the PM’s and ministers’ comments about Premier Danielle Smith and the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act.

In 2022, both Saskatchewan and Alberta passed legislation to restore their respective provincial rights in the face of an increasingly agitating federal government. The seizing of citizens’ firearms is the latest of various wedge issues that keep piling up between westerners and eastern politicians (a.k.a. Laurentian elites). And rubbing salt in the open sores has been the news of the 2023-24 transfer payments that have Alberta and Saskatchewan contributing the most money to the pot from which Quebec takes the lion’s share: $49.4 billion of the $94.6 billion total transfers (52 per cent).

How the Trudeau government manages the constitutional wrangling in 2023 will either help to defuse or will amplify the country’s political tensions and its west-east divide.

Canada’s euthanasia laws 

Canada is in the international spotlight for its progressive euthanasia laws. These laws were about to be extended to providing state-assisted suicide for the mentally ill, that is until the Trudeau government announced just before Christmas a last-minute pause to further review the policy.

Canada’s MAiD law, introduced in 2016, permits Canadians to receive state-assisted suicide if suffering from a “reasonably foreseeable” fatal condition. Since MAiD’s introduction, the Trudeau government has been incrementally expanding the eligibility for the service. In 2021, the requirement that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” was removed, permitting people who are not terminally ill to use the state’s service. One needs to have “intolerable” suffering or an “advanced state of irreversible decline.” In March 2023, these requirements were to become even broader to include Canadians “whose only medical condition is a mental illness.”

The underpinning question is whether or not expanding the scope of MAiD is replacing the government’s responsibility to help Canada’s most vulnerable improve their lives. Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Canada, expresses the essence of the government’s MAiD program in this way: “It’s abandonment. So you’re in a bad situation, and instead of receiving care … euthanasia is the only real option you can apply for and get.”

From statements made by Justice Minister David Lametti, the Trudeau government seems intent on expanding the MAiD eligibility. Lametti has characterized state-assisted suicide as a “humane” service. The justice minister observed, “This is a group within the population, who for physical reasons and possibly mental reasons, can’t make that choice themselves, to do it themselves. Ultimately, this [MAiD] provides a more humane way for them to make the decision they otherwise could have made if they were able in some other way.”

With Lametti’s obvious bias, it is not difficult to imagine the outcome of the government’s deliberations in 2023 on its euthanasia service? Still, the world is watching this policy review on an euthanasia program that for many has already become a blot on our country’s collective conscience. As a New York Times editorial piece recently opined about Canada: “It is barbaric, however, to establish a bureaucratic system that offers death as a reliable treatment for suffering and enlists the healing profession in delivering this “cure.” And while there may be worse evils ahead, this isn’t a slippery slope argument: When 10,000 people are availing themselves of your euthanasia system every year, you have already entered the dystopia.”

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) explains that CBDCs are digital versions of a country’s physical currency; in Canada it would be a digital loonie. A country’s central bank will issue and manage its digital currency according to financial policies and directions agreed upon in global forums such as the International Monetary Fund and the WEF. The end goal would have a global digital economy that will replace all cash transactions.

In early December the Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem announced that in 2023 the bank is initiating a “development phase” for a CBDC in Canada. At the same time, it will consult with Canadians on the potential for a Canadian CBDC. Apparently the bank is interested in the public’s “expectations of a digital currency and what features would be important to them.”

The fact is that the Trudeau government has already committed Canada to participating in the development of CBDCs. In an international paper “Central Bank Digital Currency: A Digital Revolution” by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Canada is listed as a country already in the pilot stage of developing its CBDC. The paper cites “16 of the 20 countries that make up the G20 Group are already in the development or pilot stage of a CBDC.” It also states “countries which make up 95 per cent of the global GDP are exploring CBDC.”

So, in this upcoming year, Canadians can weigh in on what appears to be an eventuality. Governor Macklem is not asking us whether we favour the introduction of CBDCs. Given that much of this is being driven by a global financial agenda, the bank is likely to skip the queries about a desirable CBDC implementation schedule for the country. Canadians are also unlikely to be asked how they feel about the mandatory use of CBDCs for certain transactions.

As is the case with MAiD, the Trudeau government appears to be intent on implementing its new monetary policy in spite of public opinion. It is revealing that, in describing its role in the development of CBDCs, the Bank of Canada states: “The day may come when Canadians can no longer readily use cash or when an alternative private digital currency becomes widely adopted. That might be the tipping point when a CBDC could be needed.”

Verily, with this federal government, Canadians should enter 2023 with their eyes wide open. Happy New Year!

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


New Year’s Toasts, Quotes and Verse

From the By George scribes at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS here’s to a healthy and happier 2023! Cheers!

Our bons mots to cheer in the New Year.


– Here’s to a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to things that are yet to come and to the memories that we hold.
– As we start the New Year, let’s get down on our knees to thank God we’re on our feet.
– May all your troubles in the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.
– May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.
– May the road rise up before you, and the wind be always at your back, and the good Lord hold you in the hollow of his hands.
– May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you.
– Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.
– Welcome are those that are here; welcome all, and make good cheer; welcome all, another year.


– No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. – Charles Lamb
– Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.
– A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
– The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.– George William Curtis
– New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday. – Charles Lamb
– Each age has deemed the new-born year, the fittest time for festal cheer — Sir Walter Scott
– The merry year is born, like the bright berry from the naked thorn. — Hartley Coleridge
– Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go. — Brooks Atkinson
– Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols. — Thomas Mann
– An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in; a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. – Bill Vaughan
– Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve – middle age is when you’re forced to. – Bill Vaughn



– We meet today
To thank Thee for the era done,
And Thee for the opening one.
– John Greenleaf Whittier

– Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer,
With never a thought of sorrow;
The old goes out, but the glad young year
Comes merrily in tomorrow.
– Emily Miller

– New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. – Hamilton Wright Mabie

– Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past. – Henry Ward Beecher

– Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850


Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The By George Virtual Eggnog Bowl

For this Christmas season the By George elves are provided merry quotes, seasonal facts and interesting trivia to add frothy cheer to your days. Enjoy diving into our virtual eggnog bowl.

Take up a glass and join the party. 

With Eggnog, you know the holiday season is upon us! 

Eggnog has a rather rich history

Tips for conversing over the eggnog bowl

Conversations over the (virtual) eggnog bowl

10 interesting Christmas facts

10 more interesting Christmas facts 

Even more interesting Christmas facts

A total of 40 Christmas facts to get us started 

The American history of modern day Christmas

The hustle & bustle of Christmas shopping 

Top 10 Christmas Record Breakers

Christmas facts from around the world (1) 

Christmas facts from around the world (2) 

3 Most-Popular Symbols of a Traditional Christmas 

Greek Kourambiedes – “The” Christmas Cookie 

O Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree- quotes for the season

5 Must-Knows about It’s a Wonderful Life

10 Favourite Lines from It’s a Wonderful Life 

Facts about “The Real” Bedford Falls 

The iconic “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Our top 10 Christmas movie list

10 facts about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

“Beware Revelers” the season of memes

BGJ’s Christmas Memes

Canadian Christmas Memes

Elf-on-the-Shelf (Ho-Oh-No) Memes

A Dozen 2020 Christmas Memes

Christmas Memes for 2021

Some of the funniest Christmas memes!

Gift-receiving – the pessimist and the optimist

Humourous Christmas Quotes

10 Guffaws to start the Christmas Partying

Holiday Cookie Rules

25 Favourite Christmas Puns

Our Dozen FAV Funny Christmas Quotes

Top-10 Things to Say about a Christmas Gift You Don’t Like

Some Christmas Humour

This just in… Christmas is to be Downsized


“I’d rather be cycling.” – Santa

A Canadian Christmas Carol (published December 25, 2020)

With its holiday deceptions, Trudeau government is Canada’s “Grinch”  (published December 24, 2021)

#1 Christmas Movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life” 

Christmas Toasts

Thoughts to infuse the spirit of Christmas

Our elves will be refilling the bowl through the coming weeks. We plan on scooping out refreshments daily in social media, on the By George Facebook page and our Twitter @byGeorgeJournal — so you can enjoy a steady stream of creative yule time content. Cheers!

A Chess History Lesson for Christmas

15 Christmas Quotes (shareable images)

Top Dozen 2022 Christmas Ads on TV

A Christmas Story: A Slice of Life

A PAST FAV STORY:  The Folded Napkin

Johnny Canuck’s requests of Santa Claus

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:

Johnny Canuck’s requests of Santa Claus

The Niagara Independent, December 23, 2022 – Johnny Canuck climbed up onto the knee of Santa Claus to ask him for a few Christmas wishes for the Canuck family. Johnny noticed the weeks leading up to the holiday break were a little different around his house. He was hoping beyond hope that he could get Santa’s attention on a few matters that would help his family.

Johnny first asked Santa to help his mom and dad, who were not as happy around the supper table. Things are strained these days in the Canuck home… 

A December Ipsos poll for Global News found almost one in two (48 per cent) Canadians were worrying about their family finances and as many (52 per cent) believe they do not have enough money for Christmas gifts. A vast majority of Canadians (86 per cent) are concerned about Canada’s economy, and half of those are worrying about losing their job (42 per cent).

This troubling family picture mirrors other surveys this season reporting a majority of Canadians have cut back on their Christmas shopping, many citing rising grocery prices as the main reason for their inability to spend what they wish for their loved ones. (Last week Canada Food Price annual report was released that forecasts a family of four will pay an additional $1,000 in 2023 with costs of groceries rising five to seven per cent.)

The Ipsos poll found one in two Canadians (52 per cent) are fearful of not having enough food on the table and nearly two in three (61 per cent) worry that they will not be able to afford gas in 2023. 

… Johnny asked Santa to talk to someone in Ottawa to stop the gas tax increases that are coming and, if possible, to reduce the gas pump taxes that are making it harder for mom and dad to get to work. “Please Santa, can you stop the tax so my parents can fill up our van without looking so miserable?” 

In 2023, the Trudeau government is again hiking carbon taxes and imposing an additional new carbon tax (a.k.a. Clean Fuel Standard fee), making it increasingly difficult for Canadians. The government’s stated policy objective is to annually increase carbon tax to alter Canadian energy consumption behaviours (to prompt us to drive less for work and family life and turn down our thermostats while grabbing an extra layer of clothes). 

According to the government plan, each year Canadians are to pay more taxes at the pump and more for heating their home. By 2030, with each gas fill-up they will pay an additional $27 for a minivan, an additional $45 for a pickup truck, and truck drivers will pay an additional $204 to fuel their transport trucks.

Canadians will also have taxes hiked on their home heating, natural gas and propane bills. For instance, a home using 2,700 cubic metres of natural gas per year will cost Canadians an extra $240 in taxes annually as the carbon tax is hiked.

This rising carbon tax is not just felt at the pump and heating homes; it raises the cost of everything for Canadians. It increases the cost of business for farmers, manufacturers, and truckers – and, as a result, the carbon tax will raise the price of all consumer goods. It is a factor in the rising cost of groceries and the jump in Canadians’ cost of living.

However, the glaring disconnect in this carbon tax plan is that the government’s current tax levels are not sufficient to change Canadians’ behaviour and meet 2050 emission targets. Last year, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault suggested the scheduled hikes may need to be increased. The Parliamentary Budget Office calculated the tax would need to be increased five times the rate, which would have Canadians paying $160 in additional taxes every time they filled up the family minivan. 

Johnny prefaced his next comment to Santa by saying he was not exactly sure what he was asking for, but he was wondering what kind of country he and his baby sister would be living in when they grew up. Johnny rambled, then came around to ask Santa to visit with the prime minister to plan out a proper budget – like the one his parents did for their home. Johnny hoped the government would think more about how they spent money. He asked, “Santa, will the money being spent today mean there would be less for me and my sister?” 

The Trudeau government, in its seven years in office, has created more debt than all previous governments in Canada’s 155-year history – all previous governments combined. Having the greatest spending figures per capita in the world in 2020 and 2021, Canada is now the second most indebted country in the world, with an overall debt burden equivalent to 352 per cent of GDP. In other words, Canadians owe much more than the Canadian economy produces on an annual basis; it’s similar to a family balancing multiple credit cards that are maxed out. 

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has projected that growth in living standards in Canada would rank dead last among its 38 developed member-countries over the next 40 years. This grim assessment was based on a number of factors, one being that, from 2015-19 (pre-pandemic), Canada was one of only four countries in the world that saw a decrease in foreign investment. That, and the gross amount spent during the pandemic, points to an unattractive balance sheet for the country.

The Trudeau government’s unbridled spending continued throughout 2022. 

  • Finance Minister Chyrstia Freeland delivered financial statements that project the government not balancing its budget for decades — until 10-year-old Johnny is in his 30’s – assuming there are no new political promises between now and then. 
  • In her fall statement, Freeland made new promises that has the government spending $20 billion more than the 2022-23 budgetary figures she herself cited just six months prior.
  • A $15 billion Canada Growth Fund was established to attract new private investment to government green initiatives – and there are no details of the spending to be made public.     
  • The government has turtled on reporting out the real cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline; the project that was purchased for $4.5 billion in 2018 was last estimated in February 2022 as costing more than $21.4 billion to complete.  
  • The government continually misrepresented the costs and today will not provide a detailed accounting of the spending for $54 million ArriveCan app.
  • The cost for the federal bureaucracy (totally $55 billion in 2022) continues to grow unabated: tens of thousands of bureaucrats are being hired annually (accounting for a majority of the country’s reported job gains). Remarkably, even during the pandemic years, the civil service increased in numbers, all receiving annual pay raises, some generous bonuses – and 45,000 workers were ushered into the $100,000+ club. 

Johnny asked Santa if he thought it was fair for the prime minister to spend $6,000 a night in a London hotel when his family has had to put off their planned winter weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge? “So, please Santa, can you go to Ottawa and make this all right for us?” 

Not wanting to disappoint, Santa advised Johnny that he would plan a special trip to talk with Mr. Trudeau. But the wise elf was careful to tamper the boy’s expectations, “Johnny, you know what you’re asking is likely more than the PM can give.” 

“Still, Merry Christmas Johnny Canuck. Bless you and your family this holiday and throughout 2023.” 

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Photo credit: Jonathan Meath via CC By-SA 2.5

For Your Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations

From all of us at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS, we wish you the best through the holidays. Have a very Merry Christmas and we hope we will all have a much better 2023!

For our season’s greetings, we present ‘Toasts, Quotes and Verse for the holidays.’ Below you will find toasts, quotes, terrific sayings, and verse for both Christmas and New Year’s. We hope you can use this collection of sayings to make that holiday toast a memorable one, to use as inscriptions in those special cards, or to spice up your conversations at family and social gatherings.

The best of the season! Cheers!



— Let the special memories of Christmases past bring new joy and delight to your heart this Christmas!
— May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; The spirit of Christmas which is peace; The heart of Christmas which is love. – Ada V. Hendricks
— I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. –Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
— A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!–Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
— Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. – Hamilton Wright Mabie
— Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind. – Mary Ellen Chase
— A Christmas Cheer: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.
— From Home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other –Emily Matthews
— May peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!
— May peace be more than a season, may it be a way of life!


— Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.–Norman Vincent Peale
— Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.–Calvin Coolidge
— Christmas is not just a day, an event to be observed and speedily forgotten. It is a spirit which should permeate every part of our lives.–William Parks
— Christmas–that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.–Augusta E. Rundel
— Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.–Washington Irving
— Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.–George F. McDougall
— The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.–Burton Hillis
— There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions –Bill McKibben
— Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it “white”.–Bing Crosby
— Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display–so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow. It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again.–Anonymous
— It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.–W. T. Ellis
— I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.–Harlan Miller
— The three stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus.
— Time was with most of us, when Christmas Day, encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and everyone round the Christmas fire, and make the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete –Charles Dickens


— “But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.” — Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

— Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
It’s poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
— Grace Noll Crowell, Let Us Keep Christmas

— I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The word repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christmas Bells

— When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.
–Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Christmas Fancies


— Here’s to a bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to things that are yet to come and to the memories that we hold.
— As we start the New Year, let’s get down on our knees to thank God we’re on our feet.
— May all your troubles in the coming year be as short as your New Year’s resolutions.
— May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.
— May the road rise up before you, and the wind be always at your back, and the good Lord hold you in the hollow of his hands.
— May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you.
— Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.
— Welcome are those that are here; welcome all, and make good cheer; welcome all, another year.


— No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. — Charles Lamb
— Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.
— A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
— The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.– George William Curtis
— New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday. — Charles Lamb
— Each age has deemed the new-born year, the fittest time for festal cheer — Sir Walter Scott
— The merry year is born, like the bright berry from the naked thorn. — Hartley Coleridge
— Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go. — Brooks Atkinson
— Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols. — Thomas Mann
— An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in; a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. — Bill Vaughan
— Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve – middle age is when you’re forced to. — Bill Vaughn


— We meet today
To thank Thee for the era done,
And Thee for the opening one.
— John Greenleaf Whittier

— Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer,
With never a thought of sorrow;
The old goes out, but the glad young year
Comes merrily in tomorrow.
— Emily Miller

— New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. — Hamilton Wright Mabie

— Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past. — Henry Ward Beecher

— The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! — Edward P. Powell

— And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury –
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
— Thomas Hood

— Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Again, Merry Christmas and the very best through 2023!

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The forsaken promise of Canada’s oil and gas industry

The Niagara Independent, December 9 & 16, 2022 – “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” – Sir Josiah Stamp, British industrialist and economist

Today, millions of Europeans are threatened by a critical energy shortage. Canada has the potential to respond to this mounting energy crisis – if it were not for a federal government that has forsaken the promise of our oil-and-gas-rich nation.

The cover piece for The Economist magazine last week displayed a European continent incased in ice with the headline: “Frozen Out.” The feature article detailed the costs and consequences of the energy crisis in Europe. Prior to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia supplied 40 to 50 per cent of the gas imports to the European Union (EU). It now supplies about 15 per cent, a greatly reduced amount that Russia is threatening to cut further in the cold of the coming winter months.

The EU’s inadequate supply of gas has resulted in an enduring crisis of energy that is quite literally a matter of life and death. Gas prices have skyrocketed and, by The Economist’s modelling, the unaffordability of home fuel may cause more than 100,000 extra deaths of seniors over this winter.

In the longer term, European gas prices are forecasted to remain high. According to the international commodities conglomerate Trafigura Group, there will be an increased demand to import “huge volumes” of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to replace Russian oil and gas imports. What compounds this supply issue is the fact that global long-term contracts for LNG are sold out. There will be no new LNG supply for three years; the top two exporters – U.S. and Qatar – are not able to increase their capacity until 2025-26. This makes next winter even bleaker than the current situation.

Though Canada currently has no ability to export LNG, Europeans look to our country to provide some relief for the strained supply of energy in the next few years. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is cited as identifying Canada as “our partner of choice.” Scholz met with PM Justin Trudeau at the G7 meetings and subsequently visited Canada to appeal for Canadian natural resources.

As has been well documented, Trudeau turned down Germany’s request and explained to Canadians that there was no business case for developing the country’s LNG exports to Europe. In a follow up interview, the PM went on to state that with the Russian invasion his government is “absolutely accelerating” the transition away from Canadian oil and gas export and development.

Olaf Scholz left Canada empty-handed, but shortly after the German Chancellor was successful in signing a 15-year contract with Qatar. This contract is for a minimum of two million tonnes of LNG annually, starting in 2026.

Despite PM Trudeau’s view on LNG, global demand for this resource is bullish. Last year the U.S. became the world’s largest LNG exporter and roughly half of all LNG projects to be built by 2030 are south of the border. American LNG exports rose 12 per cent to 57 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the first half of 2022. Nearly two-thirds of this went to Europe. Even taking into account the increase, the EU has called on the U.S. to supply an extra 50 bcm per year through the 2020’s.

So, no business case for LNG? Just this year, five LNG developers in the U.S. signed more than 20 long-term deals that will export more than 30 million metric tonnes annually to Europe and Asia. In Qatar, the demand is such that there is a $50 billion 5-year plan to increase the country’s export capacity by nearly two-thirds. Mexico has 12 LNG export projects in the early stages with a plan to export a North American supply, which will include Canadian gas transported via pipeline to LNG export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. Five Mexican projects will begin exporting over 2 billion cubic feet of LNG per day as early as 2024.

Currently, there are new pipelines being built throughout Europe, increased transatlantic shipments scheduled, multiple floating LNG platforms and floating storage regasification units now under construction. With the forecasted high energy prices in Europe, the demand for LNG is insatiable.

The increased demand for LNG is not the only energy-related development that has resulted from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the disruption of world energy markets, trade and commerce. China and India are increasing their imports of Russian oil and gas. The EU is revisiting its ban on fracking. The U.S. is lifting sanctions on Venezuelan oil production.

In the last 12 months coal has become “black gold.” India has increased its coal imports and usage. Germany, Holland, Italy, France, and UK have all restarted decommissioned coal-fired power plants. Poland now gets 70 per cent of its energy from hard coal or lignite. China depends on coal for 60 per cent of its energy and it is increasing the number of coal-power plant construction projects both at home and in Africa and Asia.

This increased use of coal around the world has serious environmental implications and that fact has caught the attention of the Trudeau government. Canada’s deputy PM and finance minister Chrystia Freeland recently observed, notwithstanding the PM’s business case assessment, that Canada would entertain LNG projects to keep other countries from using coal. In Washington D.C., Freeland stated that LNG “is an important transition fuel.” Indeed it is: developing Canadian natural resources and actively exporting into the global energy marketplace will positively impact the environment.

Canadian energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie has recently issued a report that outlines thoughtful development of Canadian LNG exports to Asia could account for 20 per cent of their market share by 2050. Remarkably, this amount can reduce annual global emissions to the equivalent of removing every vehicle from Canadian roads.

Another recent Canadian study by estimates that within seven to ten years, should Canada develop its oil and gas production and export capacity, Canadian resources could offset nearly 60 per cent of Russia’s natural gas and 46 per cent of its crude oil exports internationally. In a few years, with a supportive federal government strategy, Canada could replace about 20 per cent of Russia’s oil and gas.

Given the findings of these studies a responsible energy policy suggests that Canada should pursue a more aggressive oil and gas development and export strategy. The fact that the Trudeau government is dodging this responsible course comes with consequences – dire consequences for the prosperity of present and future Canadians.

The Promise Domestically

As much as there is a business case to develop Canadian oil and gas for export to Europe and Asia, there is an even more compelling argument for developing the country’s natural resources to sustain Canadians’ standard of living. The country’s prosperity, today and for years to come, depends on the health of Canada’s oil and gas industry.

The Trudeau government’s aversive policy approach to Canadian oil and gas, if unchecked, will have dire consequences for Canadians. Simply put, this sector fuels Canada’s economy; to kneecap the sector is to trip up Canadians. Consider these facts:

  • The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecasts the oil and gas sector will provide $50 billion to government coffers in the form of royalties and taxes in 2022. The federal government receives the lion’s share. It also stands to see increased corporate taxes of $5 billion and higher income taxes due to the high oil prices.
  • Canadian Energy Research Institute factors in a 2016 report that for every one Canadian dollar gain in the WTI price there is a $1.7 billion boost to the country’s GDP.
  • Petroleum producers are spending $33.5 billion in Canada this year and an estimated $36 billion in 2023, according to Canadian consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
  • Canada Energy Regulator projects the oil sector will grow by almost 50 per cent and the natural gas sector by 30 per cent, from 2018 to 2040.

Canada is the world’s fifth largest producer of oil and gas, blessed with huge reserves of both. The country is the fourth largest exporter of these resources. Most all petroleum production is exported and this accounts for Canada’s large trade surplus. Currently, almost all (98 per cent) is exported south of the border to American refineries and export facilities.

Here are more numbers from the federal department of natural resources. Ottawa published national numbers in 2020 that revealed the country’s oil and gas sector accounts for $118 billion of economic activity (5.7 per cent of the country’s GDP), $86 billion in exports (that’s one of every six dollars in export sales), and $38 billion in capital expenditures within the country. The government estimates that the sector employs 178,500 Canadians and supports another 415,000 jobs.

The department’s report concludes that “petroleum, natural gas, coal and hydrocarbon gas liquids are vital components of Canada’s energy mix, and continue to be a leading driver of employment, exports and broader economic activity.”

These are all big numbers that speak to the significance of the oil and gas sector for Canada’s economy.

Canada is resource-rich and fortunate to have a prosperous oil and gas industry. However, federal politics and government environmental and energy policies have shaken the confidence in investment and future development of the country’s natural resources.

The oil and gas industry is booming and world affairs suggest there will be sustained pressure to boost oil and gas production. Yet, oil and gas companies operating in Canada are not reinvesting into Canadian projects, rather diverting money to their projects outside of Canada. ARC Energy Research Institute reports that a decade ago, for every dollar of after-tax cash flow, the Canadian oilpatch reinvested $1.22 in oil and gas production. This year, that ratio of reinvestment is estimated to have collapsed to just 29 cents.

The Trudeau government has also been vocal in criticizing another disturbing trend occurring within Canadian oil and gas companies. Instead of putting their money back into their Canadian operations, companies are increasing both their dividend payments to investors and their share repurchases. Concerning the latter, Wood Mackenzie reports that Canada’s five largest public oilsands producers have repurchased $16.4 billion of their own shares in 18-months, from January 2021 through June 2022.

To counter companies from repurchasing their shares, finance minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a new tax on share buybacks in the government’s fall economic statement. Ottawa is now taxing companies more if they do not reinvest their profits in the Alberta oilsands (ironic given the same government is looking at ways to cap production). In a series of interviews, respected industry portfolio manager Eric Nuttall responded to the new tax grab, “It is the epitome of stupidity.”

Nuttall assessed, “This will not increase a single barrel of production in Canada. All it does is make our sector feel even more alienated and potentially less competitive.”

Alberta-based news columnist Cory Morgan has been very vocal of late commenting on the rising tension within the oil and gas industry as well as the rift between eastern Laurentians and western Canadians. On the matter of companies’ and investors’ lack of confidence in Canada, Morgan writes that Canada has become an investment pariah, “Foreign investors look at the long game. They put funds into large capital projects where the timeline is measured in decades rather than months or years… Canada just isn’t a safe place to invest.”

In responding to Chrystia Freeland’s comments about Canada being perceived as a banana republic, Morgan places the blame directly on an overbearing Trudeau government. Morgan writes, “Prime Minister Trudeau killed the Northern Gateway pipeline after Enbridge invested millions of dollars and years into it to meet 2009 conditions. Energy East was regulated to death, and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion had to be purchased by the federal government after they drove Kinder Morgan away from the project. The Coastal Gaslink pipeline has been hopelessly delayed by illegal protests the government seems loath to address, and Trudeau was nearly silent when President Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline. Trudeau’s West Coast tanker ban helps ensure new conventional oil and gas development remains stunted as well.”

Cory Morgan tweeted out this week: “Trudeau said he wants to phase out Alberta’s prime industry. It’s laughable to hear some people trying to claim Alberta could lose investment if it stands up for itself. We will be bankrupted by ideologues in Ottawa if we don’t push back.”

Verily, the argument over the development of Canada’s oil and gas sector has devolved since the election of the Trudeau government in 2015. For western Canadians, it has become an existential question stoked with a growing sense of alienation. At the core is the divide between the realities of the oil and gas industry and the political agenda of the federal government.

The mounting frustration with the Trudeau government is palpable, this year spawning a trucker protest convoy as well as two provincial legislative acts that draw bright lines respecting the federal-provincial jurisdictional responsibilities for resource development.

So, to return to that quote of Sir Josiah Stamp about the consequences of dodging responsibilities… It is time for the Trudeau government to recommit to the promise of Canada’s oil and gas industry, if not to address the crisis on the European continent than to ensure Canadians’ continued prosperity.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:



Top Dozen 2022 Christmas Ads on TV

System1 is an international marketing company that has identified the top dozen Christmas ads for this Christmas season. The company featured the Top-12 list in the global marketing publication The Drum.

In a The Drum interview, Jon Evans, the chief customer officer at System1 stated: “2022 is still going to be a tough Christmas for many, and Christmas ads won’t change that. But marketers have taken the right approach here. They’re quietly acknowledging the circumstances families are facing, but also trying their best to make ads that make people feel good, not remind them of their problems.”

Evans added: “It’s a sign they’ve learned from ads during the pandemic, which lost all individuality in an attempt to sound caring. As we enter a recession, it’s really important to maintain a positive presence in people’s minds so they’re more likely to choose your brand when recovery does come. The Christmas ads of 2022 understood that assignment perfectly.”

Here are this year’s best dozen ads of Christmas according to System1.

  1. Asda: ‘Buddy The Elf’ (5.9 stars)
  2. Amazon: ‘Joy Is Made’ (5.9 stars)
  3. Aldi: ‘#KevinTheCarrot Aldi Christmas Ad 2022’ (5.9 stars)
  4. M&S: ‘Gifts That Give’ (5.9 stars)
  5. Lego: ‘Holiday Film 2022’ (5.8 stars)
  6. The National Lottery: ‘A Christmas Love Story’ (5.7 stars)
  7. Disney: ‘The Gift’ (5.5 stars)
  8. Lidl: ‘The Story Of Lidl Bear’ (5.4 stars)
  9. Barbour: ‘One Of A Kind-Ness’ (5.3 stars)
  10. Tesco: ‘The Christmas Party’ (5.2 stars)
  11. Cadbury: ‘Secret Santa’ (5.2 stars)
  12. Boots: ‘#JoyForAll’ (5.2 stars)


Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

A Christmas Story: A Slice of Life

A Christmas Story by Carol McAdoo Rehme


Jean heaved another world-weary sigh. Tucking a strand of shiny black hair behind her ear, she frowned at the teetering tower of Christmas cards waiting to be signed. What was the point? How could she sign only one name? A “couple” required two people, and she was just one.

The legal separation from Don had left her feeling vacant and incomplete. Maybe she would skip the cards this year. And the holiday decorating. Truthfully, even a tree felt like more than she could manage. She had canceled out of the caroling party and the church nativity pageant. Christmas was to be shared, and she had no one to share it with.

The doorbell’s insistent ring startled her. Padding to the door in her thick socks, Jean cracked it open against the frigid December night. She peered into the empty darkness of the porch. Instead of a friendly face — something she could use about now — she found only a jaunty green gift bag perched on the railing. From whom? she wondered. And why?

Under the bright kitchen light, she pulled out handfuls of shredded gold tinsel, feeling for a gift. Instead, her fingers plucked an envelope from the bottom. Tucked inside was a typed letter. It was a…story?

The little boy was new to the Denmark orphanage, and Christmas was drawing near, Jean read. Already caught up in the tale, she settled into a kitchen chair.

From the other children, he heard tales of a wondrous tree that would appear in the hall on Christmas Eve and of the scores of candles that would light its branches. He heard stories of the mysterious benefactor who made it possible each year.

The little boy’s eyes opened wide at the mere thought of all that splendor. The only Christmas tree he had ever seen was through the fogged windows of other people’s homes. There was even more, the children insisted. More? Oh, yes! Instead of the orphanage’s regular fare of gruel, they would be served fragrant stew and crusty, hot bread that special night.

Last, and best of all, the little boy learned, each of them would receive a holiday treat. He would join the line of children to get his very own….

Jean turned the page. Instead of a continuation, she was startled to read: “Everyone needs to celebrate Christmas, wouldn’t you agree? Watch for Part II.” She refolded the paper while a faint smile teased the corner of her mouth.

The next day was so busy that Jean forgot all about the story. That evening, she rushed home from work. If she hurried, she’d probably have enough time to decorate the mantle. She pulled out the box of garland, only to drop it when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, she found herself looking at a red gift bag. She reached for it eagerly and pulled out the piece of paper.

…to get his very own orange, Jean read. An orange? That’s a treat? she thought incredulously.

An orange! Of his very own? Yes, the others assured him. There would be one apiece. The boy closed his eyes against the wonder of it all. A tree. Candles. A filling meal. And an orange of his very own.

He knew the smell, tangy sweet, but only the smell. He had sniffed oranges at the merchant’s stall in the marketplace. Once he had even dared to rub a single finger over the brilliant, pocked skin. He fancied for days that his hand still smelled of orange. But to taste one, to eat one? Heaven.

The story ended abruptly, but Jean didn’t mind. She knew more would follow.

The next evening, Jean waited anxiously for the sound of the doorbell. She wasn’t disappointed. This time, though, the embossed gold bag was heavier than the others had been. She tore into the envelope resting on top of the tissue paper.

Christmas Eve was all the children had been promised. The piney scent of fir competed with the aroma of lamb stew and homey yeast bread. Scores of candles diffused the room with golden halos. The boy watched in amazement as each child in turn eagerly claimed an orange and politely said “thank you.”

The line moved quickly, and he found himself in front of the towering tree and the equally imposing headmaster.

“Too bad, young man, too bad. But the count was in before you arrived. It seems there are no more oranges. Next year. Yes, next year you will receive an orange.”

Brokenhearted, the orphan raced up the stairs empty-handed to bury both his face and his tears beneath his pillow.

Wait! This wasn’t how she wanted the story to go. Jean felt the boy’s pain, his aloneness.

The boy felt a gentle tap on his back. He tried to still his sobs. The tap became more insistent until, at last, he pulled his head from under the pillow.

He smelled it before he saw it. A cloth napkin rested on the mattress. Tucked inside was a peeled orange, tangy sweet. It was made of segments saved from the others. A slice donated from each child. Together they added up to make one whole, complete fruit.

An orange of his very own.

Jean swiped at the tears trickling down her cheeks. From the bottom of the gift bag she pulled out an orange — a foil-covered chocolate orange–already separated into segments. And for the first time in weeks, she smiled. Really smiled.

She set about making copies of the story, wrapping individual slices of the chocolate orange. There was Mrs. Potter across the street, spending her first Christmas alone in 58 years. There was Melanie down the block, facing her second round of radiation. Her running partner, Jan, single-parenting a difficult teen. Lonely Mr. Bradford losing his eyesight, and Sue, sole care-giver to an aging mother….

A piece from her might help make one whole.



Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Trudeau government’s fiscal approach is failing Canadians

The Niagara Independent, December 2, 2022 –The enabling legislation for the government’s Fall Economic Statement was before the House of Commons Finance Committee this week. On Monday finance minister Chrystia Freeland waxed on about the government’s new programs and increased spending in support of Canadians. In spite of her enthusiasm for the tax and spend approach the Trudeau government is championing, many in Canada’s financial community are critical of where her fiscal plan will take the country.

In early November the finance minister delivered the government’s fiscal update to its spring budget. Freeland forewarned of tough economic times and a caring government introducing new measures to help Canadians cope. Highlights of the Fall Economic Statement include:

  • doubling the GST tax credit for six months
  • cancelling interest of federal student loans
  • advance payments to the Canada Workers Benefit
  • an investment tax credit for green technologies
  • increased spending on job training, a skills strategy and youth employment

In total the finance minister outlined approximately $11.3 billion in new spending this fiscal year and next, adding to the $11.6 billion of new measures already announced for 2022-23 since her April budget address. That 2022 federal budget announced $31 billion of new government spending over the next five years.

In commenting on the government’s COVID spending and her post-pandemic fiscal plan, Freeland said, “The spending, it was the compassionate thing to do. It was also economically the smart thing to do, and the numbers show it. Once the main COVID emergency was behind us, we moved to a really responsible fiscal path.”

Canadians have accepted the extraordinary expenditures in COVID relief spending in 2020-21 and 2021-22. It is the tens of billions of dollars in new post-pandemic spending, at a time when most financiers are forecasting a downturn in the economy, that is drawing cautionary notes and criticism.

Yves Giroux, the federal parliamentary budget officer, told MPs on the finance committee that the government’s increased spending does not “spell fiscal restraint” nor “keeping one’s powder dry” for future tough times, as Freeland has repeatedly stated. By Giroux’s accounting, since April, the government has earmarked $52.2 billion in new spending in the coming years. Giroux made a special note of $14.2 billion of unspecified spending that is buried in the latest documents.

Giroux’s concern is echoed by others. Economists at the Royal Bank of Canada observed that “program spending in the current fiscal year is the highest in nearly three decades outside of the pandemic” and suggested any government revenue boost should be applied to its bottom line. BMO Capital Markets flagged in a note to its investors that the debt-to-GDP figure Freeland has stated is a guardrail for government is only marginally being reduced with her fiscal plan. Today the debt-to-GDP is 42.3 per cent, well above the pre-pandemic level of 31 per cent.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s main criticism of finance minister Freeland’s fiscal approach is that it fails to curtail government spending to pre-pandemic levels. Poilievre states: “We did not have to increase government spending by 30 per cent from pre-COVID to present, now, when all of the COVID programs are supposedly lapsed. We didn’t have to have a rate of permanent growth in spending, unrelated to COVID, that has left us in this precarious situation.”

Poilievre is often quoted slamming the Trudeau government’s fiscal approach: “We do not have a finance problem – we have a spending problem.”

Recent published statistics reveal some rather big numbers.

  • Total federal spending in 2022 will be $493.3 billion – up from $296.4 billion when the Trudeau government was first elected in 2015.
  • Total number of federal bureaucrats increased during the two years of COVID lockdowns by 35,000, a 12 per cent increase from pre-COVID times; today’s 335,957 federal public servants are the greatest number in Canadian history.
  • The federal payroll will surpass $55 billion in 2022; federal contracts for outsourced services is $14.6 billion, an annual increase of 24 per cent, and up 74 per cent from 2015.
  • Federal debt charges in 2022 will total $24.5 billion and are expected to more than double to $53 billion by 2024.
  • In May 2021 Freeland requested MPs raise the federal government’s debt ceiling from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion (a 57 per cent hike); today the national debt is approaching $1.6 trillion.

The Trudeau government’s continuous, unbridled spending is impacting taxes and the country’s inflation and interest rates. Regarding taxes, Canada has the dubious notoriety of being the only country in the world to have raised taxes during the pandemic. Research compiled by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reveals that other countries cut consumption taxes, personal income taxes, business taxes, and/or fuel taxes. Meanwhile during the pandemic, the Trudeau government maintained its GST rate, provided no tax relief to individuals or businesses, and it has hiked its carbon tax on pump gas prices and home fuel – and will do so again in 2023.

On Canada’s rising interest rates, both the Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem and Senior Deputy Governor Paul Beaudry have intimated in recent public statements that the federal government stimulus spending (and now its post-pandemic spending) has fueled the country’s inflation and prompted the necessary hike in interest rates. The Bank of Canada’s assessment is that Canadians feel the global inflationary pressures to a greater degree because of the government’s fiscal approach.

Economists John Cochrane and Jon Hartley of Stanford University make a similar observation when analyzing the country’s fiscal record: “The most important source of Canada’s inflation is simple: starting in 2020, the government borrowed more than $700-billion, and mostly handed it out. People spent it, driving up prices… Canada can borrow an immense amount without an impact on the price level if the government has a believable plan for repayment. But the government had gone too far in borrowing and spending, without such a plan.”

And international economist Daniel Lacalle has provided a succinct and sobering explanation of the inevitable outcome: “Every single unit of government spending is paid by you, with more taxes, more inflation, or both. All government excess makes you poorer. The government doesn’t give you free money – it gives you expensive destruction of your options for a better future.”

So, putting Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s enthusiasm aside, it is clear the Trudeau government’s fiscal approach is failing Canadians – and we will be sure to pay for this.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


G20 nations (Canada included) are advancing vaccine passports and a global digital health ID program

The Niagara Independent, November 25, 2022 – Last week in Bali the G20 nations agreed to continue establishing vaccine passports and introducing a global digital health ID program. The Trudeau government’s ArriveCAN app and digital ID work are central to advancing these international initiatives. (This is not conspiracy; it is fact.)

Not surprisingly, Canadians know little about this activity as the federal government obfuscates the role it plays in the World Economic Forum (WEF) work to establish a global digital ID network. Furthermore, this news item is not being reported in Canada’s subsidized mainstream, legacy media.

So, here are the facts (with links to the original documents) of the declaration document signed in Bali last week by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and the other G20 national leaders.

  1. The G20 nations have agreed to introduce a globally validated vaccine passport for international travel.
  2. The member countries have also committed to developing “global digital health networks.”

On the vaccine passport, the G20 resolution reads: “We acknowledge the importance of shared technical standards and verification methods, under the framework of the IHR (2005), to facilitate seamless international travel, interoperability, and recognizing digital solutions and non-digital solutions, including proof of vaccinations.”

By way of background, the “IHR (2005)” is in reference to the International Health Regulations (2005). This document was developed under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and it sets out the global framework for responding to the international spread of disease. In other words, it is the playbook that countries are obligated to follow during international pandemics (or any perceived global health emergency dictated by the WHO).

With respect to the global digital health ID program, the G20 countries committed to “international dialogue and collaboration on the establishment of trusted global digital health networks as part of the efforts to strengthen prevention and response to future pandemics.” Among its member states, the G20 leaders resolved to widespread adoption of digital documentation of COVID-19 certificates that can track individuals’ movement with an “technology-enabled ‘always-on’ global health infrastructure.”

The vaccine passport and digital health ID resolutions were not spoken of when Indonesia President Joko Widodo presided over the closing ceremonies for the G20 Summit and celebrated the adoption of the “G20 Bali Leaders Declaration.” Given the significance of these initiatives, it is inexplicable that they did not appear in G20 communiques or media. Remarkably, no final declaration document is found on the official G20 website. (Canadians are left to speculate why the resolutions were not mentioned in any of PM Trudeau’s communications – or any other world leader for that matter?)

However, evidence of these international commitments can be exhumed in a background document published by The White House: articles 23 and 24 in the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration. Also, the G20 nations’ cooperative drive towards a global digital ID is described in part on pages 50 – 56 of their bureaucrat-speak tome entitled: Final Communique: Policy Recommendations to the G20.

Though PM Trudeau appears reluctant to talk about the work the Canadian government has undertaken on these international initiatives, there are many related developments in Canada regarding vaccine passports and digital IDs that are of public record. Here are three.

  1. On October 1, 2022 the government announced an end to the mandatory use of ArriveCAN app, the “communication and screening tool” to enable all travellers to enter Canada in compliance with the government’s “pandemic border measures.” The ArriveCAN digital border program has not been dismantled and the federal health and transportation ministers have suggested the requirement for using ArriveCAN at the country’s border may be reinstated should the government need to respond to future pandemic crises.
  2. The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) is contracted by the WEF to create its global digital ID program, which utilizes QR codes in a similar way that Canadians’ vaccination status are validated with the ArriveCAN app. Financial expertise in Canada is responsible for advancing this international work.
  3. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy PM and Finance Minister is a trustee of the WEF Board, responsible for advancing the WEF objectives of developing global digital ID capacity. By directing Canada’s financial networks under the authority of the Emergencies Act, Freeland was responsible for freezing and seizing financial accounts of persons the government identified as being part of the Truckers Convoy protests. (Could it be that Canadians may have been the guinea pigs for the WEF to assess how a digital ID can be used by government?)

In juxtaposing the Bali Leaders Declaration with these apparently separate occurrences there are obvious questions relating to Canadians’ privacy and civil rights, and possible government overreach. These very questions are today part of public debates in Europe where the European Union (EU) has been more transparent about its plans to morph the existing EU vaccine passport with a new digital ID program.

One vocal critic of the global digital ID program is Eva Vlaardingerbroek, a Dutch news commentator who has been connecting the dots between vaccine passports and what she surmises is the globalists’ powerplay. Recently she has rang alarm bells about the KLM airline coupling digital passports and facial recognition software to board flights, WHO technocrats talking about “the next pandemic,” and French President Emmanuel Macron openly proclaiming at last week’s APEC Summit in Asia that, “We need a single global order.”

Vlaardingerbroek is very concerned about the plans for the EU’s Covid-19 health certificate app, which is described as a vaccination passport that eases travel within Europe. The EU has announced it intends to introduce a new “digital wallet” for its 450 million citizens to carry the health app in. The wallet is to serve as the individual’s proof of identity and, according to EU technocrats, it could expand its functionality to permit users access public and private services in their own countries and across the bloc of European nations: cross over borders, verify vaccination records, open a bank account, enroll in a university, rent a car, file tax documents, etcetera.

Picking up on the potential of the EU digital wallet, in a recent media spot Vlaardingerbroek paints the nightmare scenario that she sees playing out: “We are heading towards a new system of tyrannical regime of mass surveillance and control. This is not just a hunch but this is part of a bigger plan… We have had this digital COVID pass in place in Europe, which is basically a QR code on your phone, that grants you access to everyday life… This is a European digital identity. This will not stay just linked to your vaccination status. This will be encompass taxes, your medical records apart from your vaccination status, your bank information… basically we already have a system in place right now that is the beginning phases of a social credit system. We are literally turning into China.”

In Canada, the Vlaardingerbroeks of this world are dismissed as conspiracy theorists. It is as if the resolutions of the Bali Leaders Declaration are of no consequences to Canadians, no connections with our ArriveCAN app, frozen bank accounts, or responsibilities for the WEF’s global ID program.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


The Trudeau—Xi exchange: what was said and why

The Niagara Independent, November 18, 2022 – The exchange between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping that was recorded Wednesday by the media pool at the G20 summit in Bali has gone viral. The video generated international news headlines that screamed Xi “angrily rebukes”, “scolds”, “lectures” Trudeau over release of details from their unofficial chat.

The UK’s Daily Mail headlined: “President Xi humiliates Trudeau as he is caught on camera tearing strips off Canadian PM.” The opening sentence of this news report read more like the lead for a soap opera: “Toe-curling footage has emerged of Chinese President Xi Jinping humiliating Justin Trudeau with a dressing down on the sidelines of the G20 conference.”

Some news reports could not resist to inject humour at PM Trudeau’s expense. Sun Media newsman Brian Lilley commented, “Little Potato peeled, China’s Xi dresses down Trudeau at summit.” Trace Gallagher of Fox News reported, “The PM who likes to get dressed up got dressed down.” And senior editor Jack Posobiec of was one of the first to share the breaking news with the observation: “Chairman Xi dresses down Justin Trudeau like a junior employee for leaking their private conversation to the media. Trudeau can barely walk after.”

Let’s review the lead up to this spectacular showdown. Before heading to Bali, Indonesia, PM Trudeau was repeatedly asked by Canadian media whether he was going to meet with the China president. Xi was scheduled to meet formally with U.S. President Joe Biden (a three and a half hour closed-door meeting), France President Emmanuel Macron, Australia PM Anthony Albanese, UK PM Rishi Sunak as well as the leaders of the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia and South Korea. However, Canadian media widely reported that Trudeau was left out of the scheduled meetings with Xi, and this was being interpreted as a diplomatic snub for the PM.

Through Sunday and Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) would not confirm whether there would be any opportunity for the PM to talk with President Xi. Yet, as fate would have it, on Tuesday at a summit reception the two found themselves face to face and had an informal discussion.

With that unofficial exchange, the PMO immediately launched a PR initiative to make the most of the Trudeau—Xi chance encounter. The PMO issued a readout of the conversation and provided a photo of the two leaders facing each other in the crowded reception room.

It also dispatched “a senior government source” to comment that PM Trudeau “initiated a conversation” and “raised serious concerns” on the reports of Chinese interference in Canadian elections, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea’s missile launches, December’s biodiversity summit in Montreal “to protect nature and fight climate change,” and “the importance of continued dialog” – said the source.

The PMO’s media assault achieved the desired result. Canadian news headlines extolled the PM: “Trudeau spoke with China’s Xi about ‘interference’ on sidelines of G20 summit.” In Ottawa, the political pundits were roundly congratulating the PM for his forcefulness.

In Bali, Chinese officials would not comment on the Canadian news reports.

So, this is the background to the frank encounter between Xi and Trudeau on Wednesday. By all media accounts this second tete-a-tete in two days was a tense and difficult moment for PM Trudeau. Xi is described as “visibly frustrated” seeing and pulling Trudeau aside. The Chinese president was “straight forward and blunt about his displeasure” and Trudeau “just nodded while standing awkwardly as Xi continued his rant.”

While Trudeau was speaking, Xi “refrained from making eye contact” and “looked disgusted.” Xi interrupted Trudeau and made repeated hand gestures before smiling broadly. The video shows that he reached out to shake Trudeau’s hand to end the discussion and abruptly walked away, smiling at the cameras. PM Trudeau wandered off alone, immediately leaving the public reception area.

Brian Lee Crowley of the MacDonald Laurier Institute made much of Xi’s body language. In a CTV News interview Crowley assessed,Well, clearly, you know, Xi kept trying to turn away from the prime minister. I thought his body language communicated disrespect, communicated a disinterest in what the prime minister was saying, and the esteem or lack of esteem in which Xi holds the prime minister? I mean, he basically couldn’t even bring himself to look at him.”

The specific words spoken between the leaders was reported in Canadian media in this way: speaking in Mandarin, Xi says to Trudeau via a translator, “Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper, that’s not appropriate. And that’s not the way the conversation was conducted.”

Trudeau responds to Xi, “In Canada, we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have. We will continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we will disagree on.”

Xi tells Trudeau, “Let’s create the conditions first,” before the two shake hands.

However, there were additional words spoken that have been shared in foreign media reports by viewers of the video, significant comments that have been left out of most Canadian media.

The translator had not finished interpreting Xi’s opening comments before Trudeau cut him off. What is not reported in Canadian media is the fact that Xi called Trudeau out for not accurately reflecting their conversation, “If there is sincerity on your part, we can have conversations based on an attitude of mutual respect. Otherwise, the outcome will not be easy to tell.”

The other unreported comment came after the two had parted ways. Xi was smiling and passing by the camera, and he is heard to say, “Truly naïve.”

Two former Canadian Ambassadors to China had enlightened comments in media in the aftermath of the dust up. Guy Saint-Jacques surmised, “Clearly, Xi Jinping feels that Canada is a minor country. He doesn’t have much time for Trudeau, and this shows how complicated it will be to try to restore a minimum of relations…” David Mulroney was more to the point in making the observation that the encounter was a “staged, public rebuke for the leader of a vassal state.”

As a postscript, on Thursday China foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated that Canada’s actions in Bali were disrespectful. Mao said, “China has no problem at all with having a candid dialogue with other countries. But we hope such a candid dialogue will be based on equal treatment and mutual respect, rather than criticizing the other in a condescending manner.”

Mao’s comment speaks directly to the too-clever-by-half political tactics of the PMO spinmeisters and our hapless PM. And on this point, Canadian Senator Leo Housakos summed up the fiasco in a tweet, “Instead of addressing a very serious issue facing Canada with clarity, strength and action, Justin Trudeau as usual continues to engage in false photo-ops and naval gazing. This time, his incompetence and his weakness gets exposed on video.”

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Again, Trudeau government refuses to pay “a fair share” for health care

The Niagara Independent, November 11, 2022 – With the health ministers’ meetings in Vancouver this week, Canadians were once again treated to the gag made familiar by Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts cartoon characters. The provincial health ministers were embodied in Charlie Brown, as he put his head down and ran to kick the placed football. PM Trudeau and his health minister, like Lucy, promised to hold the football steady and, at the last minute, pulled the ball away to watch Charlie fall flat on his back. Eyerolling amusement!? It would be if Canadians’ health care system was not in such a serious state.

Canada’s health ministers gathered Monday for their first in-person meeting since 2018. Even before they saw the whites of each other’s eyes it was clear that the priority agenda item was to be money. For years the provinces have been asking the federal government to increase its health care transfers, a call that has gotten louder and more urgent since the COVID health crisis.

Adrian Dix, the meeting host and B.C.’s health minister stated prior to the start of the meeting, “It’s been two and a half years of pandemic, we’re in more than six years of a public health emergency with the overdose public health emergency in B.C.. They have issues in every province in the country and it’s time for the federal government, which has significant responsibilities here, to take its responsibilities seriously.”

Dix was also very critical that the prime minister has repeatedly refused to meet and discuss health care funding. He stated in a CBC interview, “The federal government has not been willing to do the work to come to the table and sit down, prime ministers and premiers, and talk about one of the central issues facing the country.”

In response, the federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos suggested he would be an ally of the provincial ministers and he was prepared to pull out a cheque book in Vancouver. Duclos stated, “In the spirit of collaborative leadership, I’m glad to confirm that the Canadian government is ready to increase healthcare investments through the Canada Health Transfer.”

As the meetings commenced Duclos explained there would be conditions to the federal cash. He wanted to create a federal health data system that could plan workforce changes, manage Canadians’ health records and analyze key health indicators. Bottom line: in exchange for increased federal health dollars, the provinces were to agree to Health Canada establishing and administering a health data system for the country.

It was with the discussion of this conditional agreement that the meeting went sideways. The health ministers wanted details of the new data system. Duclos had little to share. The ministers pressed for a specific dollar commitment. Duclos then quit the meeting stating bad faith, saying, “Premiers are forcing my colleagues to speak only of one thing and one thing only: money.”

However, Duclos’ protest about the ministers’ fixation on money can be described as nothing short of disingenuous in that the singular focus of these meetings was well telecasted.

Consistently through the pandemic years (and even prior) the premiers had asked the federal government to begin paying “a fair share” of the increasing health care costs in Canada. When Tommy Douglas first introduced Canadian medicare it was understood that the federal government was to cover 50 per cent of health care costs. Through the decades that number has been whittled down to 35 per cent. Yet today, the federal government is covering only 22 per cent of the total cost of Canadian health care.

In dollar terms, in the 2020-2021 fiscal year the Canada Health Transfer was $42 billion. The provinces are looking for substantially more from the federal government on an annual basis, an additional $28 billion that would bring the federal share to 35 per cent.

PM Trudeau promised to boost the transfers after the pandemic was over. Yet, in the federal budgets of 2021 and 2022 there was no mention of an increase to the Canada Health Transfer; even a $2 billion federal promise made in spring 2022 to help provinces clear the backlog for medical operations created by the pandemic crisis was not forthcoming.

In responding to the 2021 federal budget Dr. Ann Collins, then Canadian Medical Association (CMA) president, was irritated that emergency health care dollars for the pandemic costs were not earmarked. Dr. Collins assessed Canada’s system in this way: “Small cracks have become gaping holes. Building resiliency for the future must include real commitments to health care. If anything, this pandemic has shown us where the problems are, but we must address them before it’s too late.”

The strain on Canada’s health care system is evident as Canadians hear regularly of overcrowded “code orange” hospitals, resulting in a disarray in wait rooms, hallway gurneys, and restricted or closed ORs. Selective surgeries are cancelled and mental health services are not available. Medical staff are stretched, and nurses and PSWs are taking ill and are reportedly tired and discouraged. A growing number of Canadians cannot obtain a family doctor.

To get the system off its life support condition, there is an immediate need for a huge injection of federal cash that would allow provinces to hire nurses and PSWs, increase pay to retain staff, increase training positions for staff, increase the number of doctors, open and support more beds, provide mental health services, and keep ERs open.

Susan Martinuk, a health care analyst for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy reflects, “Every province is paying more than 40 per cent of its revenues into health care. And it’s still not enough. We’ve got a million people on waiting lists. In my mind, it’s time to stop talking about who’s going to pay for health care, and start talking about how we’re going to change health care.”

So, as the provincial health ministers assert, it does come down to money. Without the federal government increasing the health transfers, the provinces remain cash-strapped. This leaves Canadians with a threadbare public health care system that will be challenged to respond to any future health crisis – and challenged to meet even the most basic health care needs of our aging population.

The current CMA president, Dr. Alika Lafontaine, sagely observes the crux of the problem is much more than the sum of the money spent on health care, “We definitely know we need more money. The more important question and discussion is how that money is spent.”

The Fraser Institute released a study this week highlighting the fact that Canadians spend more on health care than most developed countries with universal coverage, yet Canada has the lowest numbers of doctors, hospital beds, and medical technologies. Canada has the longest wait times of any developed country. Bacchus Barua, the study’s co-author states, “There is a clear imbalance between the high cost of Canada’s health care system and the value Canadians receive in terms of availability of resources and timely access to care.”

This Fraser Institute study confirms that there are serious failings in the delivery of health care services that must be addressed. Whether the federal government adding an untold number of Health Canada bureaucrats to monitor a new data system is the answer is debatable. But this discussion is moot without the federal government first injecting the necessary cash to take Canada’s health care system off life support. It is moot when Charlie Brown is flat on his back.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:


Canada’s foreign affairs policies shifting to reassure Americans

The Niagara Independent, November 4, 2022 – Last week U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken found his way to Ottawa to hold meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and to also sit down with PM Justin Trudeau. It was the first senior American official of the Biden Administration to visit Canadian soil since the election of U.S. President Joe Biden in 2020. Remarkably, President Biden has not visited Canada yet – and there is no trip planned.

The Secretary of State’s visit to Canada came a month after Joly travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Blinken, his officials, and members of Congress. Joly’s Washington meetings were part of an orchestrated public relations assault on the American Capital by the Trudeau government. In addition to Joly’s trip, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered a speech that called for “friendshoring” trade agreements. Also last month, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne made bold statements in Capitol Hill meetings about the need to break trading ties with China.

The three senior ministers had a coordinated message for their Washington audiences, even though what they said was disconnected from the Trudeau government’s track record of fostering closer ties with China. The ministers were there to provide solid messaging that Americans can depend on their neighbour to the north. Their overtures were well received. However, though Canada may have begun to talk the talk, the question still remains, “Is the Trudeau government prepared to walk the walk?”

One significant development from the Blinken-Joly’s tête-à-tête in Ottawa was the public revelation that our government has requested to join the American led trade and security pact, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). To counter China’s aggressive economic and trade policies, a total of 14 countries have joined together to discuss coordination of government policies: U.S., India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and many Asian countries. In May, when the IPEF was announced as “the future of the 21st century economy” by President Biden, Canada was left out of the group.

Canada’s exclusion from the IPEF was the latest in a long list of snubs by our country’s traditional allies and trading partners. In the past few years, Canada has been embarrassed by being excluded from Indo-Pacific defence and security pact AUKUS and excluded from the Indo-Pacific trade relations discussions of QUAD.

Canadian defence officials acknowledge that Canada is recognized as the “weak sister” when it comes to the country’s ability to contribute to international safety priorities and crises. The Trudeau government’s spending of only 1.4 per cent (2020 figures) on its military leaves the country punching below its weight, with a laundry list of military items that require immediate action: NORAD radar, submarines, aircraft, icebreakers, military pistols, to name a few.

With the current state of the country’s military, not surprisingly, Canada was not invited by the U.S. to participate in the initial NATO discussions about the defence of Ukraine and safety of Europe.

At the time of being left out of AUKUS, retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman surmised that Canada is no longer considered by its traditional allies as a contributing partner, “I don’t think our allies think we are serious when it comes to defence. I think they have concerns not just about our defence expenditures, but also the extent to which our [international] commitments are both lasting and meaningful.”

Canada’s tarnished reputation with the U.S. and our allies makes the news that Melanie Joly heralded in Ottawa last week that much more important. Along with asking to join the American led IPEF, Joly announced Canada is striking new foreign affairs talks with U.S. officials. The “Canada-U.S. Strategic Dialogue on the Indo-Pacific” is explicitly formed to “further align our approaches” in the region.

In response to Joly’s announcements, Blinken promised to support Canada’s bid to join IPEF. He promised to “consult closely… on the development of a process for considering new members.” He mentioned, “It’s not a decision the United States can make unilaterally,” but stated, “We would welcome Canada’s participation.”

Canada has been the subject of many inquiries in Washington, D.C. in the past year and it appears American politicians and officials are looking for tangible signs of reassurance. The most public dispute was the prolonged delay by the Trudeau government in banning China’s Huawei technology company from developing Canada’s 5G infrastructure. This delay caused undue tension and raised questions of trustworthiness with Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence partners.

Recent testimony and tabled reports at various U.S. Congress hearings have put Canada in a negative light when it comes to the country’s ties to the communist China regime. There have been allegations raised about the joint Canada-China virus research at the Winnipeg Labs that likely led to the development of the COVID-19 virus. There are security reports respecting the China government-run police stations that are operating in Canada – apparently with the Trudeau government’s knowledge.

There have been ongoing criticisms against the Canadian industrial strategy and national security for permitting sales of critical mineral operations to Chinese companies – Manitoba’s Tanco cesium mine is often cited as being a harmful sale. On this point, American business media have featured Dominic Barton, former Canadian ambassador to China, and his oft stated biases for Canada to continue fostering economic activities with communist China. Incidentally, Barton is currently chairman of the Board of Rio Tinto, an international mining company with huge investments in China. Barton is also a member of the advisory group counselling Foreign Affairs Minister Joly on the drafting of Canada’s Indo-Pacific policy.

This week Industry Minister Champagne took steps to address some American doubts regarding Canadian policies respecting critical minerals mining. Champagne ordered three state-owned Chinese companies to sell their investments in Canadian lithium companies. He also announced an update to Canada’s industrial policy regarding investments by foreign state-owned enterprises in the country’s critical minerals sector.

With this decision, the minister asserted, “The government’s decisions are based on facts and evidence and on the advice of critical minerals subject matter experts, Canada’s security and intelligence community, and other government partners.”

It is more than coincidence that Canada’s senior ministers’ PR exercise in Washington a month ago has been followed up with government announcements signaling noticeable shifts in the government’s foreign affairs policy. Joly announces new alignment with the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Champagne reassures Americans on its stewardship of Canada’s critical minerals sector.

Canada’s next major foreign affairs policy announcement is the long-awaited release of the government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, expected in the coming weeks. With it, one might expect Canada will be lock-step with the U.S. policy, reassuring our American friends that, indeed, we are walking the walk.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: