Category Archives: Features

News, articles and opinion pieces

The case for a full-blown investigation of the Trudeau government’s relations with China

The Niagara Independent, June 16 & 23, 2023 – A week has passed since the PM’s special rapporteur David Johnston exited from the growing controversies swirling around the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence within Canada. What began with serious questions about the CCP’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections has morphed into a much more complex set of issues.

It is unsettling to consider why the Trudeau government has been so evasive on a review of the facts relating to the CCP’s activities in Canada. As has been questioned in previous columns, one must wonder what is being painstakingly hidden from Canadians (It’s now evident this national scandal is more than election interference – and Justin Trudeau is “obviously hiding something” and The potential quid pro quos between Trudeau Liberals and the CCP).

To get to the heart of the CCP influence within the country, any serious public probe must go beyond a couple of federal elections and the possible CCP interference in the political process. It must extend to a full-blown investigation of the seemingly tight CCP-Liberal relationships and what they have meant for Canadian government policies and national affairs.

Verily, the CCP impact on Canada is a significant existential matter for the country. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Brian Lee Crowley opined, “Ottawa’s reaction to possible Chinese election meddling reveals a country whose institutions and elites have been so compromised that they can’t protect Canada’s national interests or those of its democratic allies.” The Globe and Mail published a lead editorial that claimed “Inquiry or not, foreign interference in Canada’s elections is part of a new Cold War that we cannot hide from.” The national paper stated, “Canada must do more to defend our freedoms.”

There are multiple ways the country’s independence has been potentially compromised by undue influence from the CCP. Here is a countdown of five critical issues in a series of 10 which, taken together, establish a case for why Canadians must demand a thorough investigation of the relationship between the Trudeau government and the CCP.

10 – Defending the Canadian arctic 

In 2019, the Trudeau government launched a new Arctic and Northern Policy Framework with a pledge of $700 million and no mention of a required $15 billion investment into NORAD, the country’s radar system that is jointly operated with the U.S. This policy framework and defence spending is miserably inadequate given it was formulated with the knowledge of increasing threats of Chinese military and economic interests in the arctic.

Here are just two alarming facts. In 2018, the CCP announced its Arctic policy, entitled “Polar Silk Road”, that signaled interests in the Arctic’s resource reserves of oil, natural gas, and rare-earth minerals. The Economist reported China’s $200 billion-plus annual defence budgets have now amassed 340 battle ready ships, including ice-breakers and submarines for northern waters.

The CCP’s mounting interest in the north is an international crisis in the making, referred to by Canadian officials at National Defence as the “Arctic threat.” Jody Thomas, then the Deputy Minister of National Defence, warned publicly at an Ottawa security conference, “We should not underestimate at all that threat of resource exploitation in the Arctic by China in particular. China has a voracious appetite and will stop at nothing to feed itself, and the Arctic is one of the last domains and regions left…”

This all begs the question why the Trudeau government is knowingly neglecting to defend Canada’s interests in the north?

9 – The establishment of a foreign agent registry 

For years in the Canadian security community there has been an ongoing call to establish a registry that would require foreign state-employed persons acting within the country to make public their objectives and to disclose the government employing them. Many of Canada’s allies have such a registry. This initiative became a political issue when the Conservatives highlighted it in their 2021 election platform. Conservatives argue a foreign agent registry would be an effective tool in tackling clandestine efforts in social media and with elections operations by the CCP, Russia and other hostile states.

However, the Trudeau Liberals have consistently argued against the introduction of a foreign agent registry and only in March was the PM forced by public pressure to commit to review the matter. After completing a three month public consultation, Trudeau’s Cabinet is now deliberating on the public input. Still there is no commitment nor timeline to draft required legislation or to introduce a registry. The Liberals continue to delay – but to what end? Canada continues to be an outlier with its allies when it comes to guarding against CCP activities within its country – but at what cost?

8 – Federal investment in China 

Even with the increasing recognition of the CCP’s aggressive global economic and diplomatic strategies, the Trudeau government has been slow to suggest guidelines or restrictions on investments by Canadian government agencies in China. For example, the Canadian Pension Plan has invested $536 billion (11 per cent of the fund) of Canadians’ savings in China, including more than $1 billion in the parent company of TikTok.

Another example is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). In 2017 Canada was one of the first western countries to invest in the AIIB. The Trudeau government committed US$995 million for a one per cent stake in an international investment agency for financing infrastructure projects throughout Asia. Since the initial announcement, Conservatives challenged the government’s unqualified support for the AIIB and through the past five years have called for the withdrawal of Canada’s investment.

This week many claims about the bank were confirmed with frank revelations that the AIIB is being used by CCP to influence peddle throughout Asia. This CCP gambit was exposed by Canadian Bob Pickard, the bank’s global communications director, who resigned saying, “I am happy to be gone from that cesspool. The Communist Party hacks hold the cards at the Bank. They deal with some board members as useful idiots…”

Kudos to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland who announced an immediate review of Canada’s involvement with the AIIB. Yet, it is remarkable that she stopped short of suggesting possible divestment of Canadian shares in the bank. There is no clarity on how the government will review the matter or whether Canadians will receive an audit of their investments. But this tale is one that suggests Canadians deserve an explanation on the Trudeau government’s policies and investments in China.

7 – Ottawa’s “mishandling” of foreign intelligence

There is a new scandal unfolding in the Nation’s Capital involving the CCP. The scandal is being revealed through almost-comical, conflicting testimony before a parliamentary committee looking into the government’s handling of top-secret documentation. Canada’s spy agency warned the government of CCP threats to MPs and their families through briefing memos to the most senior of cabinet ministers and staff, including the Prime Ministers’ Office. Yet, ministers deny knowing of, and staff deny reading the memos. Testimonies to MPs contradict and obfuscate the matters and the national security advisor to the PM absolves all by testifying “There is no one person. There is no one single point of failure.”

This is slapstick theatre if it were not so serious. The “mishandling” of significant foreign intelligence memos must be responsibly addressed and cannot be so freely excused. 

6 – Canada’s response to China’s human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslims 

There is no question that there have been nightmarish human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims at the hands of the CCP. A United Nations’ report substantiates abuses involving persecution, imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, and incidents of sexual and gender-based violence. In Canada, parliamentarians have passed two unanimous motions, calling CCP treatment of Uyghurs “genocide” and calling on Canada to accept 10,000 Uyghur refugees.

Yet, for years now the PM offers little more than platitudes when discussing human rights abuses in China and he will not comment on the CCP’s evil treatment of the Uyghurs. In fact, to this day, the official policy stance of the Trudeau government remains unclear and unstated. But why?

5 – CCP police and agents in Canada  

Repeated news reports and testimony before MPs in the past three months have underlined a disturbing truth that CCP agents are active in Canada, a threatening presence for Chinese Canadians. At a parliamentary committee, the co-chair of Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Cheuk Kwan, testified that the CCP has been proactive in Canada since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Kwan states, “They also harass and intimidate Canadians who are critical of China, activists, dissidents and human rights defenders, rendering the Chinese Canadian community the real victims of this game.”

In Canada there are seven known CCP police stations located within the country – three in the GTA. There are 176 Chinese nationals with diplomatic credentials, a majority of whom are involved in espionage, according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former CSIS Asia-Pacific chief. The network of police and diplomats carry out activities that include surveillance, suppressing rights activists, and persecuting groups like Falun Gong and Uyghur Muslims. It is part of the CCP’s covert United Front Work Department’s global program that in 2023 has a budget of US$30.5 billion.

It is important for Canadian authorities to expose the extent and work of the CCP networks in Canada. Henry Chan, a spokesman for a multiethnic coalition of 33 organizations concerned with foreign interference in Canada, frankly states, “There is so much at stake: our democracy, sovereignty, and trust in our institutions.”

4 – The Trudeau Foundation 

Much has been exposed relating to the Trudeau Foundation’s questionable donations from Beijing. Prior to 2015, the CCP funneled foreign donations into the Foundation to influence then-Liberal leader and soon-to-be PM Justin Trudeau. Money was also shoveled into Trudeau’s riding association for Montreal Liberals’ election campaigns. The promise of a million dollars, a Pierre Trudeau statue, and a series of “business” dinners were part of a CCP strategy to stroke the ego of Justin.

Canadians have recently learned that the Trudeau Foundation has invested in Chinese companies that Canada has flagged as security risks. We also know that the Foundation accepted $140,000 from a Beijing-based donor. We also know that in 2016, cabinet ministers met with the Foundation’s Chinese donors – and the PM himself attended a cash-for-access event with CCP-associated businessmen.

In light of the Foundation’s “stinkbomb” dealings being made public, its Board imploded, and the Chair and Board members resigned. As he is prone to do when confronted, PM Trudeau lashed out and blamed “those people” with “ungrounded attacks” for discrediting the Foundation. And still MPs had unanswered questions about the charity tax records and its filings, and who knew what when about the nefarious donations. All legitimate questions that cannot be deflected by Justin Trudeau’s overused rabbit punches.

3 – Election fraud and interference  

Today, it is an accepted fact that in the 2019 and 2021 elections CCP agents in Canada worked to undermine the Canadian election process and support the Trudeau Liberals. Still, questions remain whether the Liberal Party has been a knowing party and/or willing partner in the CCP’s fraudulent activities.

Sam Cooper’s initial Global News report revealed that a 2017 memo was prepared by national security experts that warned PM Trudeau of Beijing’s election interference strategy. In a parliamentary committee this week Cooper testified on his series of news stories exposing the CCP election interference plot. He stated, “…did Beijing fund candidates—it’s my understanding they funded a network, which is directed to support Beijing’s preferred candidates.”

A recent report published by the Alliance Canada Hong Kong concludes the CCP network’s reach is extensive: “The fundamental goal is to advance Beijing’s agenda by either supporting candidates deemed favorable or sabotaging candidates perceived as a threat… Foreign interference in an election can happen at any time: throughout a nomination race, during the writ period, a one-off event supporting or demonizing a candidate, or through continuous and organized interventions.”

With something as significant as the integrity of Canada’s democratic process, one must wonder why the Trudeau Liberals have been so adamant in the narrative, “There’s nothing to see here. Move along…”

2 – CCP–Liberal business interests 

The tangled web of CCP—Liberal business interests is thick. It starts with the Power Corp’s major investments in China – and the Desmarais family’s too-many-to-mention ties with the Trudeaus (Sr. & Jr.), Chretien, Martin, and Rae. In Toronto, there is a similar network plotting out Liberal political fortunes, involving Wei Chengyi, Weng Guoning, Paul Chiang, Han Dong, former Liberal minister and Chinese Ambassador John McCallum, and current small business minister Mary Ng. Add to this former Chinese Ambassador (and McKinsey global managing partner) Dominic Barton and his wife, who happens to be the Asian Pacific Chairman for Blackrock’s investments.

Seriously, there are too many potential conflicts here. Canadians should be provided a program with the interplay between the extensive business interests and political players.

1 – The mysteries at the Winnipeg Lab

Perhaps the greatest reason a full-blown review of the Trudeau Liberals-CCP relation is required involves the mysteries of the Winnipeg Lab, the country’s highest-security infectious-disease laboratory. In 2019 the Winnipeg Lab and Wuhan Lab in China were conducting joint virus research work. It has been reported that the scientists were conducting experiments on deadly pathogens. Then two scientists were unceremoniously escorted out, and later fired from the Winnipeg Lab (and now their whereabouts unknown).

Since the outbreak of COVID, the Trudeau government has been stonewalling every effort to get answers to the burning questions about the joint virus research and the missing fired scientists.  The Liberals have been held in contempt of Parliament and PM Trudeau prorogued the House and called an election to avoid having to provide evidence on this matter.

Perhaps Canadians will never know what happened in Winnipeg. They may also never know why Canada shipped PPE to China in late 2019 – leaving our country’s medical community without PPE in early 2020. Why the PM refused to ban flights from China or entertain thoughts that the virus was leaked from the Wuhan lab at the outbreak of the pandemic. Why the PM heralded the ample supply of a Canada-China COVID vaccine, only to be embarrassed a few months later when China reneged on its agreement.

Most frustrating is the fact that newsmen like Sam Cooper, Steven Chase and Robert Fife of the Globe and Mail, Terry Glavin, and uncompromised news outlets such as Blacklock’s Reporter and The Epoch Times have all been diligent in reporting the truth of the matter for years. The international community is aware; the country’s traditional allies now look suspiciously at the Trudeau government for its relations with the CCP. Remarkably, Canadians appear to be sleepwalking. It should be required reading for Canadians to delve deeper into these ten issues and read the aforementioned news sources.

The last word goes to former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney, who recently warned a parliamentary committee, “The (CCP) party’s objective is to transform Canada into a compliant country that perpetually looks over its shoulder to be sure what it says and does meets Beijing’s approval. Beijing’s objective is a degree of influence — in our democracy, our economy, our foreign policy and even in daily life in some of our communities — beyond the ambitions of any other country.”

So, what will it take to begin asking the serious questions about the CCP and its influence in Canada?

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

Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick of The Canadian Press

LINKS:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-case-for-a-full-blown-investigation-of-the-trudeau-governments-relations-with-china-part-one/  &  https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-case-for-a-full-blown-investigation-of-the-trudeau-governments-relations-with-china-part-two/

 

Celebrating Cycling

For the longest time June was designated as bike month in Almonte. To me, this will always be bike month and, so, By George is celebrating by producing a daily post on cycling.

Pedal your way through this menu of cycling posts! I will be adding to the menu so circle back on a weekly basis. And have fun with #bikealmonte !

NEW FOR 2023

Cycling the Cabot Trail

10 FAV Photos Cycling the Cabot Trail

CYCLE ON!

Posting hashtag #bikealmonte – and enjoy the ride

6 Remarkable Desktop Wallpapers

Bike Art

Cycle MORE (182 km)

Of Shadows and Spokes (12 photos)

Go-To Websites for Cycling in Ontario

Biking the rail trail from Arnprior to Sand Point (19 km return)

Stewiacke-Pictou Town NS Ride (110 km)

The Top Canadian Cycle Dream Trips

The ultimate bicycle song: Queen’s “Bicycle Race”

The Tour de Mississippi Mills Route (100 km)

The delicious Almonte-Pakenham Loop (34 km) 

Almonte’s winding Old Perth Road route (a 20 km gem)

The Almonte – Ashton – Stittsville – Carp Loop (106 km)

PSA: Wear your helmet (you’ll enjoy this!)

The picturesque back roads of Lanark

To bike these days (a poem)

The Biking Poem

25 Cycle Jokes

15 more bicycle facts and stats

15 bicycle facts and stats

The Origins of the Bike

50 km Almonte-Appleton-Mill of Kintail Loop

Biking along the Mississippi River

A Ride at Dawn (a poem) 

Life is a beautiful ride (and more)

A Dozen Funny Cycling Memes

Cycling Quotes to Inspire & Motivate

A Dozen Fav Bicycle Quotes

Hurray for Bike Month

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

 

Our Family Odyssey to Greece

Yassou,

Our family just arrived back from a two week odyssey in Greece. We visited ancient ruins in Athens, Delphi, and Meteora, and then enjoyed hikes on a couple of islands. In these posts we have shared some of our adventures and insights on what was a fantastic vacation.

While in Athens

The trek to Delphi, Kalambaka and the Holy Meteora

The isle of Naxos

The picturesque island of Santorini

Above you will see one of the amazing sights from our family trip: the Acropolis at dusk. Simply breathtaking.

 

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

While in Athens

It was far past due that our family made an odyssey to Greece. Lisa and I were so pleased to have our boys with us. This is a view from Lykavittos Hill with the Acropolis in the background.

We stayed in a suburb of Athens – Varkiza – while in the City.

This strip of beach is known as the Athenian Riviera.

We all enjoyed the sand and the sea.

A highlight of our trip was our pilgrimage to the Acropolis. An interesting point from our family’s history is that my Papou and Yiayia immigrated to Canada from northern Greece in the early 1900’s and they never were on the Acropolis.

These majestic ruins leave you in awe. It is amazing to think these stones and Doric columns were placed some 2500 years ago.

The maidens on the Porch of the Caryatids of the Erechtheion temple next to the Parthenon.

The Odeon Theater of Herodes Atticus.

The Acropolis Museum with its sculptures is a must see…

… as is the National Archaeological Museum. You could easily spend days here taking in the treasures of ancient times. This sculpture is Aphrodite, Pan, and Eros flirting.

In the core of Athens, there are so many wonders, like the Panathenaic Stadium where in ancient times the Olympic Games marathon race ends – and today, every four years, the Olympic flame is lit.

From almost every vantage point in the City you see the Acropolis.

The Arch of Hadrian was built in the second century AD when Athens fell to the Roman Empire.

A statue of Alexander the Great in the middle of a busy intersection.

Roman ruins on the edge of the Plaka.

Changing of the Evzone Guards.

We had a number of meals in the Plaka.

The Greek salads were divine (as one would expect).

We loved the souvlaki and gyros many nights.

The city was vibrant, picturesque and enchanting (this view of Monastiraki Square). Four days were certainly not enough to see and enjoy its many wonders.

While on the mainland, we also took a trip to the southern tip of Attica to Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon.

One of most memorable nights – and another highlight – was our dinner in the Plaka with the Zygoumis and Rallis families. We owe a debt of gratitude to these wonderful people who showed us such an unforgettable time in Greece.

This view from our table that night is seared in my mind. Wholly enchanting. Mesmerizing.

Back to the menu: Our Family Odyssey to Greece

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

The trek to Delphi, Kalambaka, and the Holy Meteora

Our trip to the interior started with an amazing tour of the ruins in Delphi where we experienced the wonders of the ancient renowned Oracle of Delphi.
The row of Ionic columns are made from Parian marble — priceless material in ancient times, shipped and then hauled to the side of this mountain as a testament to the glory of the Athens polis.

The Delphi site lay at the side of Mount Parnassus, a landmark mountain mentioned in the earliest of Greek writings, including in Homer’s Iliad. The ancient site of Delphi was considered the navel of the Earth in ancient times.

The columns and most of the base of the Sanctuary of Apollo remain — constructed during the 7th century BC. Remarkably these ruins were first discovered in 1892 and excavated in the early 1900s.

The Treasury of the Athenians dates to 6th century BC. This is where offerings to the Oracle were stored and guarded.

The ancient theater of Delphi dates 4th century BC.

The ancient stadium was the site of the Pythian games and the Panhellenic Games, which were held every four years (beginning in the year 582 BC)…

… and the seats and stone walls are the original stadium built in the hill above the Temple of Apollo in the 5th century BC.

The museum at Delphi is a must see – and in it one views a massive statue of the Sphinx which would have stood guard in Delphi. In Greek mythology the Sphinx is a female monster with the body of a lion and eagles wings, and the head and breasts of a woman.

The village of Delphi (pop. 2,373) is very picturesque and boasts interesting retail and great tavernas with most memorable views.

Delphi had vast valley views around it. We thoroughly enjoyed our overnight stay here.

In Delphi David bought a chess set that features ancient Greek warriors. A prized keepsake from the trip!

The next stop in our interior trip was Kalambaka, where we stared up at ancient monasteries first built in the 13th century. For centuries the mountaintops and the hidden mountainside caves in this region hosted religious followers as well as anti-social hermits. At one time there were as many as 44 holy monasteries and hermitages in Meterora.

There are six remaining monasteries on the Holy rocks of Meteora. We were fortunate to visit three of them: St. Stephan (1350 AD), Holy Trinity (1362 AD) and St. Barbara (1527 AD).

It is truly awesome to see these beautiful structures built atop of mountain formations jutting thousands of feet out of the ground.

Look closely in this photo and you will see a wooden ladder. Until the 1920s when stairs were first carved into the mountainsides, the only way to access the monasteries was to be hauled up by rope and then climb in by ladder.

Each of the monasteries were magnificent…

Each had churches and chapels and living quarters.

Looking down from a monastery onto Kalambaka….

… and looking up to the same monastery from the streets of the village below. (You can see the rooftop of the monastery on the rock to the right.)

Our coach trip also made a stop at the Leonidas Monument, which commemorates a lengendary Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. In that Greek-Persian conflict a small band of 300 Spartan soldiers fiercely held off a huge Persian army of hundreds of thousands for three days, allowing Greek armies to assemble and successfully defend the polis of Athens from the Persian assault.

Back to the menu: Our Family Odyssey to Greece

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

The isle of Naxos

In the second week of our odyssey we spent it on two islands. First stop: the enchanting isle of Naxos.  Here Lisa cannot take a smile off her face as we experienced one of the absolute highlights of our trip (more on this in this post).

Naxos is the largest island of the Greece Cyclades group – and often overlooked by tourists for some of the more popular island destinations. It has many untouched villages, medieval architecture, goats (!) and some of the best white sand beaches of all the islands. This is a beach photo of Chora, the capital town of the island that serves as its main port.

The Portara – “The Great Door” – is the ancient stones that date back to 6th century BC are renowned. This marble doorway is all that remains of an unfinished temple to honour Apollo. Situated near the port, it greets all visitors to the island.

We found the streets of Chora very colourful…

Lisa fell in love with the trees and flora adorning the whitewashed stone of the buildings throughout the town.

This is an enchanting island we hope to come back to….

It is where I channeled my Zorba…

… and ate my first goat. DYK that on Naxos goats outnumber people 4 to 1?! This meal was delicious – a specialty of the house, goat in lemon sauce.

Our meals on Naxos were second to none. I can honestly say that I have not had as tasteful souvlaki ever on the Danforth.

Our hotel, the Alkyoni Beach Resort, was great. Located on Agious Georgios it was one kilometre via beach walk to town. It had a lovely pool and our room had a very comfortable patio.

One highlight of our vacation was a 8 km hike in the mountains we completed between the two villages of Chalki and Moni. (I’ve posted a dozen photos of this hike to give you an idea.)

The path took us past olive groves and vineyards…

… through villages…

…buildings that date hundreds of years…

… we saw many Byzantine churches, some dating as far back as the 13th century…

This is the mountain village of Moni that we were hiking to. Along the way we saw…

… the farm fields separated by rock-pile fences…

… and farm animals.

Sheep and goats. On our hike, we saw shepherds moving the goats from one rocky field to another.

Lemon trees.

Midway point in the hike we entered Moni – an ancient village with narrow stone streets.

This was an amazing hike. It is one of 13 that are featured in the hiking books for Naxos and, unfortunately, the only one we had time for while on the island.

When we returned to Chalki we stopped for a beer and crepe at a town taverna. Alexander, like his mom, couldn’t take the smile from his face.

In Chalki we also found the bakery and here we shared a delectable piece of baklava.

The boys took advantage of the beachside resort and braved the cooler weather and water to swim in the sea.

And that is the wondrous NAXOS!

Back to the menu: Our Family Odyssey to Greece

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

 

The picturesque island of Santorini

Santorini is as breathtaking, romantic and magical as they say it is. Even though it is very busy with the continuous stream of cruise ship tourists visiting, the island is a must see.

For us, the 12 km hike from the village of Fira to Oia was an amazing day. We loved the idyllic views, the experience of being pleasantly surprised around every bend – and the laughs along the way.

From Naxos, we came to the island via a High Speed Ferry. The 2 hour ride was a good experience that allowed us to see islands dotting the sea. It was fun in spite of the crew shouting out directions and urging us to hurry along.

Our hotel in Santorini was the El Greco, just outside of Fira. It was beautiful – this is the scene from the boys’ balcony.

And then from the balcony, you left your eyes to the left and you can see Fira in the distance.

As you will have heard, the sunsets on Santorini are spectacular. This photo from the streets of Firostefani doesn’t do the moment justice…. you really have to experience them for yourself to know the majesty found at the end-of-the-day.

Here, the food too was amazing. This is a lamb shank served at the Ouzeri in Fira, one of the top rated restaurants on the island. The lamb was tender, full of flavour.
An aside: With its volcanic soil, Santorini is known for its unique flavoured wines — and we were not disappointed with the various local wines we had with our meals.

I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Lucky in Fira. His restaurant (called Lucky’s) is notorious for serving the best gyros in Greece – and argumentatively in the whole of the Mediterranean.
(Many thanks to my friend Mikey Coleman – a personal friend of Lucky’s – to have pointed us his way.)

The walk from Fira to Oia along the caldera is promoted as “the thing” to do while in Santorini. So, we had to do it – and we were all glad to have had the experience!

The walk followed along the edge of a cliff high above the sea. The views of the Mediterranean (or to be more correct: Sea of Crete) were expansive and beautiful.

As we left Firastefani (or maybe it was entering Imerovigli) we saw in the distance our destination, the village of Oia on the northern tip of the island.

The walk took us through the main villages that hugged the cliffsides of the caldera. This is Imerovigli – a village that has the nickname “balcony to the Aegean.”

The whitewashed buildings framed the blues of the sea and sky – everywhere you looked it was just as it is displayed in the travel brochures.

This hike took us by dozens of striking churches…

Literally, at every bend in the path there was another amazing view (often with a church in it)

In beautiful Oia, at the end of our 12 km adventure, we dined at a spot that overlooked the village and the sea. It is a most memorable lunch hour.

The next day, three of us headed out to climb the Skaros Rock, another hike that took us to Imerovigli again.

Skaros – to get to the rock one has to traverse a steep winding staircase of 300 stairs – and then on the peninsula there are a few climbs and a winding dirt pay to another 200 stairs down to a church…

Through past centuries this rock served as a strategic watchtower post for the inhabitants of the island.  In this photo you will see through the ruins the village of Oia in the distance.

The church found on the bluffs of Skaros was beautiful.

While on this island our family celebrated Mother’s Day. It is a family tradition that on this special day Mom gets breakfast in bed – but that didn’t happen this year. Instead, the boys upped their game and kept Mom smiling throughout the day!

The beauty of Santorini is unmatched. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.

Back to the menu: Our Family Odyssey to Greece

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com.

Happy Victoria Day, Canada! (10 Facts on Queen Victoria)

By George presents ten facts about Queen Victoria and why Canadians have so much to celebrate with this Queen and her significant contributions to the founding of our Nation and its government.

1. Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24, 1819. More than 200 years later, Canadians celebrate the birth date of this monarch with a holiday weekend. Canada is the only country in the world that has named a holiday after Queen Victoria. We have been recognizing the Queen’s contribution to our country with a “Victoria Day” since 1845 — before even the birth of our Nation.

2. As Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries from a young age of 18 in 1837, until her death age 81 in 1901, Victoria reigned 63 years and 216 days. Queen Victoria is the second longest reigning monarch in the world, only recently having this longevity milestone surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II.

3. The Queen’s reign through the 1800’s is known as the Victorian Era, named after her. It was a remarkable period of industrial, political, and scientific advancement that was spurred on with the intellect and innovation of the British and the United Kingdom emigrants who were settling in countries such as Canada. It is estimated that one-fifth of the world’s land mass became part of the British Empire and Dominions during Victoria’s reign, and hence we say of that era that “The sun never set on the British Empire.”

4. Victoria oversaw the evolution of the Crown and the gradual establishment of the modern constitutional monarchy as known in Britain and Commonwealth countries. A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch is bound to exercise powers and authorities within limits prescribed by an established legal framework. In the case of Victoria, she was recognized as a non-political head of state who presided over the countries’ legislatures and its military. Furthermore, Victoria established the Westminster Model of Government for Legislatures formed in the Commonwealth countries. This model was first introduced in Canada in 1848.

5. In 1857, Queen Victoria was responsible for selecting the Upper Canada community of Bytown (now known as Ottawa) to be the capital of Canada. Bytown was picked over the colony’s previous capitals such as Niagara-on-the-Lake, Kingston, and Montreal because the rugged lumber town was considered less vulnerable to attack from the United States.

6. Queen Victoria is known as Canada’s “Mother of Confederation” in supporting the development of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. In February that year, the Queen met with John A. Macdonald in London and gave Royal Assent to the British North American Act after it passed before the British Parliament. A new country was to be born on July 1st. Over 25 years earlier, Victoria gave Royal Assent to the 1840 Act of Union which brought together Upper Canada and Lower Canada and granted a responsible government to Canadians. Canada’s legislative heritage was founded in the Victorian Era.

7. Queen Victoria is known for her strict personal standards. Victoria’s monarchy placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values. The concept of the “family monarchy” was conceived during Victoria’s reign and the British middle classes came to embrace it.  As an enthusiastic imperialist she was viewed as a benevolent matriarchal figure and widely accepted as the “mother” of the British Empire.

8. Victoria had a number of nicknames… “Mother of the British Empire” and Canada’s “Mother of Confederation.” Some of the monikers were not so complimentary. One moniker she picked up during Ireland’s infamous potato famine of the 1840’s was “The Famine Queen.” After her husband’s death, Victoria was severely depressed and became a recluse. She was widowed for 40 years and wore black for the rest of her life. In the 1860’s, due to her continuous state of mourning Victoria was tagged with the nickname “Widow of Windsor.”

9. Queen Victoria and her husband Albert had nine children over 17 years: Victoria (b. 1840), Albert Edward (b. 1841), Alice (b. 1843), Alfred (b. 1844), Helena (b. 1846), Louise (b. 1848), Arthur (b. 1850), Leopold (b. 1853) and Beatrice (b. 1857). Her children went on to have children who would marry royalty in Europe and abroad. Today, her descendants are still recognized in various royal positions:  King Charles III of the United Kingdom, King Harald V of Norway, King Felipe, VI of Spain, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Phillippe of Belgium, and the most recently deceased (dethroned) King Constantine II of Greece.

10. Queen Victoria is the grand-daughter of King George III. She is the great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. And that makes Queen Victoria the great-great-great grandmother of our current King Charles.

By George encourages you to read more on the history and significance of Queen Victoria here:

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/victoria

https://sencanada.ca/en/sencaplus/how-why/the-legacy-of-queen-victoria/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria

https://www.readersdigest.ca/culture/queen-victoria-fascinating-facts/

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

Trudeau Liberals and the Chinese Communist Party

By George, March 14, 2023 – A few weeks back in my national affairs column in The Niagara Independent I began writing about the headline news relating to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence on Canada’s recent federal elections. The issue when this story broke was whether PM Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party operatives knew about the CCP’s activities and, if so, what did they do about them. Over the weeks troubling facts have emerged and questions about Canada’s PM and the Liberal Party have become more complex – and much more serious.

In the last few days we learned that Chinese Canadians describe the CSIS revelations as “the tip of the iceberg,” and they are aware that “Beijing is watching every day with the threat of intimidation and harassment.” Just yesterday in the news: Canada is knowingly permitting CCP-sponsored students who have been deemed a security risk in the U.S. to conduct research in Canadian universities. Also, four Liberal MPs including federal small business minister Mary Ng are identified as endorsers of a CCP-tied organization in Toronto.

With the many ties now being exposed between the Trudeau Liberals and the CCP, this has become a matter of national security. And given that the PM and his political operatives seem reluctant to respond to the simplest of questions, Canadians have an even greater need to know about the multiple hidden agendas in play. We cannot allow our country’s independence to be jeopardized in any way.

You are encouraged to become informed about this serious national security issue: read the CCP-related news reports from Global News Sam Cooper and Globe and Mail newsmen Robert Fife and Steven Chase, and the insightful research of Terry Glavin (and here is his latest piece). Access the fact-based news reports on what is transpiring on Parliament Hill as delivered straight-up by Blacklock’s Reporter.

Below (by clicking on By George News Commentary) you will find links to my recent Niagara Independent columns and a few archived columns from the last two years. You are also encouraged to forward the By George News Commentary to those who share our concerns.

This is serious stuff. It matters. What are the CCP ties that bind the Trudeau Liberals and, by extension, our federal government?

By George News Commentary

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

Wisdom of Jordan Peterson

In the early weeks of 2023, By George Journal featured in its social media Canada’s most renown intellect — Jordan Peterson.

Here are the series of memes that attracted a great deal of attention from our followers. (ed. – Right click on the image and “copy”. Go ahead and spread the wisdom!) 

In the last two years, Jordan Peterson quotes made the By George Top-10 quotes twice. Here are the bons mots that were recognized as the top quotes of the year in By George Journal’s social media.

Follow By George Journal on Facebook and on Twitter and receive quotes like these Peterson bons mots as well as a daily #ByGeorgeQOTD each morning.

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: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

The disconnect between Canadians and the Trudeau government

The Niagara Independent, February 17, 2023 – Increasingly our senior-most members of parliament in Ottawa are proving they are tone deaf to the cries of frustration and despair across the country. Each passing week there are examples of PM Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers seemingly blind to the financial anxieties many Canadians are shouldering at the moment. As they advance their policy agendas on Canadians, they do so at best “unknowingly” or at worst they could be called “insensitive.” Whichever it is, the Trudeau government is appearing disconnected with the realities facing Canada’s middle class – and those striving to join it.

Many Canadians are presently facing a grim reality. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has reported that many Canadians are borrowing money and taking from their savings to pay for living expenses – to pay for their groceries, home and day-to-day expenses. This week Blacklock’s Reporter made public the federal regulator’s report, which describes the current state of Canadians “as the worst of times.”

Today, nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) of Canadians borrow money – some using high-cost loans. A total of 48 per cent are using their savings just to cover living expenses. There are four in 10 (42 per cent) Canadians stressed, believing “finances control their life.”

This report coincides with a Consumer Debt Report released in January by the Canadian Counselling Society that revealed four in five Canadians (82 per cent) see spending on essential goods as the primary cause of their worsening finances. A vast majority of Canadians spend sleepless nights thinking about their finances, with six in 10 (63 per cent) planning this year to cut back on their expenses, especially on their food shopping.

Consider a Stats Can release on Monday that reported a quarter of Canadians are unable to cover an unexpected emergency expense, and those most insecure are younger and racialized Canadians. That same day a bankruptcy trustee firm released its 2022 consumer insolvency numbers and reported millennials (aged 26 to 41) accounted for half of all bankruptcies. Young Canadians are buckling under the costs of soaring rents, heavy student-debt loads, and the rising cost of living.

Canadians of all ages are impacted by the 11 per cent rise in the cost of food this past year. Food Banks Canada reports a record number of people using food banks across the country – up 35 per cent since pre-pandemic times. A downtown Toronto food bank reports a 48 per cent increase in 2022. In Saskatoon, it was reported that 20 per cent of Canadians are skipping meals. In BC, there was a survey that found University of Victoria students are resorting to dumpster diving and taking unused food from their employers to get by because they cannot afford to buy groceries.

Last Friday the Prime Minister was at Algonquin College to talk with nursing students and one student had the courage to pose the following question (verbatim): “I am in my last year of nursing and I have been working this whole pandemic in group homes and I work at three hospitals right now on top of my unpaid placement. And I am still using my credit card to pay for groceries. Why are groceries so expensive? I am eating cookies from the hospital sometimes because I can’t afford lunch and I don’t even get a break. I am eating on the go. It’s just, I’m wondering why it is so hard?”

PM Trudeau responded by saying, “The answer is you shouldn’t find it this expensive. You shouldn’t be squeezed this way. This is not the way it should be…” He talked about the pandemic and problems with supply chains that “drove up price of food, fuel and fertilizer.” He mentioned that inflation is a global phenomenon – and that Canada is doing better than most. He also admitted that these things are “cold comfort” for someone who is having problems paying for their food.

In his “cold comfort” reply, what Trudeau did not broach was how his government could be addressing issues surrounding Canadians’ cost of living. He chose not to mention how his government’s gross overspending – before, during and after the pandemic – fueled what the past-Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge has said is “a Canada-made inflation.”

Trudeau also chose not to mention the impact the government’s carbon tax is having on the cost of everything in Canada – including rising food prices due to the additional taxes on farmers producing food, on truckers transporting it, and on businesses preparing and retailing it. When he mentioned fertilizer, he skipped over what his new fertilizer emissions regulations are costing our farmers.

But the PM’s non-answers to the Algonquin College nursing student is indicative of the growing gap with reality being played out in the Nation’s Capital between implementing the government’s agenda and how it is directly impacting its citizens. In knowing Canadians’ current stresses, how else can one rationalize the recent news from Ottawa?

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) commissioner Bob Hamilton told MPs that it was not “worth the effort” to try and recover the outstanding $15.5 billion in Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy overpayments. When some Opposition MPs expressed their disbelief that billions were simply being written off, Liberal MPs provided an iconic Trudeau shrug.
  • The Quebec City pharmaceutical company Medicago announced last week that it is closing its doors – less than two years after it was given $173 million in federal grants to produce a Canadian COVID vaccine. Ottawa also signed an undisclosed deal to buy 20 million doses of their vaccine, with an option to purchase an additional 56 million. There is no comment out of Ottawa politicians or officials about Medicago; none of the millions spent is expected to be recovered for Canadians.
  • This week it was revealed that the government has purposefully blocked the details about who in the government’s delegation to the Queen’s funeral occupied the hotel room costing $6,000 per night (for five nights). The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has had to launch a legal challenge to have the government divulge the details of this absurd public expense.
  • The CRA union is demanding a pay raise of more than 30 per cent over three years or they threaten to strike. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) representing 120,000 federal bureaucrats is looking for a wage and benefits hike in the amount of 47 per cent over three years. Outlandish demands given the financial straits Canadians are navigating post-pandemic.
  • Trade Minister Mary Ng has become the latest ethically-challenged poster-minister in the Trudeau government. Though found in breach of ethics laws, Ng told a committee of MPs that she will not repay the cost of media training contracts given to her personal friend and CBC political pundit Amanda Alvaro. When pressed to refund the $22,790, Ng avoided the question with the statement, “I made a mistake” and later she dismissed the idea outright with a classic Trudeauesque non sequitur about ethics training and the claim “we can improve.”

This news was all in the last 10 days. It follows earlier news from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland urging approval for a $2 billion payment to a non-existent government structure for a yet-to-be-detailed program; an MP committee exposing more than $100 million of questionable consultant contracts awarded to the Trudeau-friendly firm McKinsey; a new report on federal contracts revealing $22.2 billion was outsourced in a single year; the revelation that a total of 35,000 federal bureaucrats were hired in the two years of COVID lockdowns; and, latest estimates of the federal debt charges are expected to more than double to $53 billion by 2024.

This type of confounding news for financially anxious Canadians is non-stop from the federal government these days. It is not surprising that a recent Leger opinion survey cites one in two (50 per cent) Canadians are “angry with the way Canada is being managed today.” Is it any wonder that two in three (67 per cent) Canadians agree with a certain Ottawa politician when he says that “it feels like everything is broken in this country right now.”

The frustrations, financial uncertainty, and sleepless nights all speak to the evident disconnect between that hungry nurse and the PM’s rationalizations, between bankrupt millennials and Medicago, between the university student dumpster diver and Mary Ng – in sum, between working (and coping) Canadians and the actions of this Trudeau government.

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

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-disconnect-between-canadians-and-the-trudeau-government/

Justin Trudeau’s Valentines Wishes

Here is an assortment of Valentine wishes featuring Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

(ed. – Right click on the image and “copy”. Go ahead and spread the love today!) 

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: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

Return to the menu for the By George St Valentine’s Wish

 

 

 

Valentine’s Wishes – from the U.S. Prez himself

Here are some of By George’s favourite Valentine wishes from United States President Joe Biden. (ed. – Right click on the image and “copy”. Go ahead and spread the love today!) 

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: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

Return to the menu for the By George St Valentine’s Wish

 

 

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: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

 

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: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

LINKS: https://niagaraindependent.ca/johnny-canucks-requests-of-santa-claus/

Photo credit: Jonathan Meath via CC By-SA 2.5

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)

SOURCE:  https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/12/02/best-christmas-2023-ads-ride-wave-nostalgia-and-positivity

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

A SLICE OF LIFE

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.

 

SOURCE:  https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-christmas/inspirational-christmas-stories1.htm

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.

Cycling the Cabot Trail

Photo: Guardrail on the Cape Smokey lookoff

The Cabot Trail Cycling Adventure

Day 1 – The Causeway to Baddeck

Day 2 – Baddeck to Ingonish, climbing Smokey

Day 3 – Ingonish to Meat Cove to Pleasant Bay, climbing North Mountain

Day 4 – Pleasant Bay to Glenora Distillery

Day 5 – Glenora Distillery to the Causeway

10 FAV Photos Cycling the Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail hills

 

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

The Cabot Trail hills

There are four sizable hills around Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. Cycling counterclockwise, there is Smokey Mountain (south of Ingonish), North Mountain (east of Pleasant Bay), MacKenzie Mountain (south of Pleasant Bay) and French Mountain (north of Cheticamp). Here are the details on the climbs…

Smokey Mountain

climb is 7.2 kms from Wreck Cove to the Cape Smokey summit

366 m elevation at a 12-15 per cent grade

descent is approximately 10 kms

 

North Mountain

climb is 5.5 kms from Big Intervale to the summit

467 m elevation at a 12-15 per cent grade

descent is 4 kms

MacKenzie Mountain

climb is 4.7 kms from Pleasant Bay to the summit

370 m elevation at 9-12 per cent grade

this summit is linked to the French Mountain

French Mountain

linked to MacKenzie summit

descent is 5.5 km from summit to bottom

452 m elevation at 9-12 per cent grade

 

SOURCE:  Parks Canada @ https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ns/cbreton/activ/cyclisme-cycling

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