Category Archives: Features

News, articles and opinion pieces

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:


Ottawa: Nonsensical. Hypocritical. Disrespectful. Cynical.

The Niagara Independent, October 28, 2022 – It is challenging to know exactly how to describe the absurdities unfolding and taken as acceptable and “a new normal” in Ottawa. Every week stories are revealed that defy a reasonable explanation. Take this week for example.

It was uncovered that the hotel bill for the Canadian delegation to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral cost $397,000 for five nights. The block of rooms reserved at the Corinthia Hotel in London included a room suite that cost $6,000 per night. It came with a complimentary butler service.

The government is refusing to reveal who would possibly have requested the $6,000 per night room; although Governor General Mary Simons (embroiled in her own entitlement fiasco) has been quick to make public that she was not the occupant.

The obvious answer is that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the one enjoying this luxury. However, it would be hard for him to admit the expensive five-day stay when he is crowing about the empathy he has for Canadians and his extra GST tax rebate cheques and the generous one-time $500 payment for low-income renters.

In the same vein, recently, it was revealed that the Trudeau family is billing taxpayers approximately $55,000 per year – more than $1,000 per week – for their groceries. PM Trudeau can be excused for not fully appreciating the impact inflation has had on Canadians’ grocery expenses when he does not have to pay for his family’s food. Indeed, Trudeau is fortunate that none of his $357,800 salary needs to be spent on food – or gasoline for that matter.

Part of this taxpayer-funded grocery bill is a $1,000 price tag for bottled water or in Trudeau’s own words “away from plastic towards paper, um, drink box water bottle sorta things.” As it is, it is rich to think that the PM’s family water bill is equal to the amount a couple of the low-income renters are receiving from his generosity.

Another absurd Ottawa story came to light this week when it was revealed that the government would be placing menstrual products in men’s washrooms. Kudos to Matthew Lau who exposed this matter and had the nerve to write about it in the Financial Post.

In a 10,000-plus word report authored by four government departments – Employment and Social Development, Indigenous Services, Natural Resources, and Transport – the Trudeau government has concluded: “A lack of access to menstrual products in men’s toilet rooms has raised concerns regarding washroom equity.”

The action to be taken in all federally regulated workplaces (government buildings and places like airports) is to place menstrual product dispensers and products in all men’s washrooms as well as disposal containers in every toilet stall.

In adopting this plan, the government claims its proposed regulations will improve sanitation, “build a more inclusive Canada,” address systemic inequities, make workers more productive, increase workplace safety, improve employees’ physical and psychological health, reduce discrimination against 2SLGBTQI+ communities, positively impact Indigenous workers, disproportionately benefit the poor, reduce gender-based discrimination and increase fairness and equality.

The estimated cost of the new regulations is $116.6 million.

Matthew Lau makes the observation, “There is, at bottom, no accounting for regulations compelling employers to put women’s products in men’s washrooms, except that the federal government is flamboyantly committed to demonstrating its wokeness and wasting everyone’s money.”

One final note on this matter is to recall in the 2022 Federal Budget, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a national menstrual equity pilot project that was to cost $25 million over two years. The pilot was to create a program making menstrual products available to all Canadians, in particular, people who are racialized, gender nonconforming, disabled and experience other forms of marginalization.

As follow-up, a spokesperson for Marci Ien, the Women and Gender Equality Minister, said she is intent “to make menstrual equity a reality… Supporting people that menstruate is long overdue and is part of our government’s plan to build a more equitable Canada.”

That apparently includes men. Simply put, one cannot make this stuff up.

PM Trudeau this week also added to his already long list of quotable quotes in commenting on the energy crisis in Europe and his government’s reaction to requests for Canadian oil and gas. In an interview at an Ottawa conference with Bloomberg climate reporter Akshat Rathi, Trudeau asserted that the Russia-Ukraine war will accelerate the green energy agenda in Canada.

Rathi asked the PM, “Will the Russian war in Ukraine delay Canada’s energy transition?” Verbatim, this was Trudeau’s answer: “No, it’s accelerating it, it is absolutely accelerating it. As people are saying, ‘Wow, ah, we, you know, built an economic model and a prosperity in some parts of the world – including in Europe – that was reliant, including in some parts of Europe, that was reliant on energy with inputs from Russia.’ As they have to get off of that, people are realizing that, okay, getting off Russia oil and gas means to get onto more oil and gas to replace that from elsewhere. But it is also showing that, okay, we need to accelerate, our, ah, move off of oil and gas, or our move to decarbonize the gas at least, so that we can actually not be reliant on Russia.”

Much has been written about German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Canada and his request for increased gas exports. And Trudeau’s response was to propose a hydrogen pilot project that could be operational and exporting gas by 2030. And Scholz made a subsequent visit a few weeks later to the Middle East to sign a trade deal for increased gas shipments from the Saudis.

Much has also been written on Trudeau’s press conference where he stated there has “never been a strong business case” to export Canadian energy to Europe from the east coast. In response, more than 100 business leaders in Canada’s energy industries took out a full-page add to educate the PM on the sector and what it has to offer the world – and the environmental roadblocks imposed by the Trudeau government that makes it impossible to begin an oil and gas project in Canada.

Little has been written about Trudeau’s “it’s absolutely accelerating it” comments. Then again, what is to be made of the PM’s desire to halt oil and gas development in our country at a time when so many are in dire need for it? Although it was not as concisely stated, those recent comments by the PM rank right up there with his assertions, “The budget will balance itself,” “We will grow the economy from the heart out,” and “The pandemic provides us an opportunity.”

So, to reflect on the original question: how to describe the absurdities reported from our Nation’s Capital? The actions and statements are non-sensical, and many hypocritical. On good days, perhaps, they can be seen as disrespectful of Canadians and their common sense. On bad days, one might cynically conclude they are products of Trudeau and Co., who have no regard for the impact their actions are having on the country and its citizens.

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


Other disconcerting news from Ottawa: on drugs, assisted suicide, and asylum seekers

The Niagara Independent, October 21, 2022 – The Nation’s Capital is the scene of an unprecedented public inquiry into the Trudeau government’s invocation of the Emergency Act, which has monopolized national news coverage and seized Canadians’ attention. However, there are many other disconcerting issues that are currently being debated in the offices and committee rooms of Parliament Hill. Here are three issues that are having a profound effect on our country.

Decriminalizing possession of hard drugs and the state of Vancouver streets 

On January 31, 2023, British Columbia will remove criminal penalties for anyone possessing small amounts of hard drugs, including opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, having been granted a special exemption of federal drug laws by the Trudeau government. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett expressed the hope that this B.C. pilot initiative will serve as a model for other parts of the country – such as her home of Toronto.

The fact is the B.C. attorney general’s office and the city of Vancouver are already treating drug possession and crimes resulting from drugs with leniency. The province’s NDP government sought the federal exemption to fully implement its approach to drug possession. For years, Mayor Kennedy Stewart and a bevy of NDP city councillors undermined Vancouver law enforcement by under funding police and espousing a more liberal approach to drug users. Not surprisingly, the B.C. government and Mayor Stewart and councillors hailed the federal announcement.

Minister Bennett waxed that this B.C. approach “is about, obviously, saving lives,” and she expected it would also help reduce the stigma of drug use. She claims the approach will prevent overdoses and cut crime. In making the announcement of the federal drug pilot project in B.C., she stated, “Crime goes down, people aren’t using in washrooms and really upsetting the neighbourhoods.”

The stories from the streets of Vancouver say otherwise. Police statistics show that serious assaults and robberies are up by more than 20 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. There has been a steep rise in “stranger attacks”; random violent assaults by assailants who are usually on drugs or dealing with a mental health crisis. Police report there are four stranger attacks per day on Vancouver streets.

Business owner Sabastian Cortez, whose downtown butcher shop has been repeatedly vandalized, sums up the reality of the sad state of Vancouver when he assessed, “The city of Vancouver, it’s honestly like a zombie land… they [drug users] are spread out all over the city”.

In last week’s municipal election, incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart was soundly defeated and his supportive NDP councillors were also sent packing. The mayor’s challenger Ken Sim ran on a platform of public safety and one of his first acts will be to hire 100 new Vancouver police officers.

The prevalent political commentary is that Sim’s landslide victory signifies a public rejection of recent progressive policies. Coincidentally, a new Harvard-Harris poll from the U.S. reveals that two in three (64 per cent) Americans blame “woke” politicians for the crime spike on their streets.

Expanding eligibility for assisted suicide  

Canada’s MAiD law, which was first 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 become even broader to include Canadians “whose only medical condition is a mental illness.”

Statistics Canada reports the number of MAiD deaths since its inception has steadily increased every year. The total MAiD deaths between 2016 and 2021 is 31,664.

Conservative MPs have been voicing concern in the House of Commons and at committee hearings reviewing the new MAiD law. The question is whether 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.”

In the last few months there have been some alarming instances in the news that gives us reason to pause. Consider:

  • A 51-year-old Ontario woman with severe sensitivities to chemicals chose MAiD when she could not get affordable housing.
  • A 54-year-old Vancouver woman with $40,000 in debts trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and when her money runs out she says MAiD is her only option.
  • A 54-year-old St. Catharines man is applying for MAiD because he is about to lose his house and fears becoming homeless.
  • A Manitoba woman with ALS was assisted with her suicide on October 3 because she did not wish to be transferred from one health-care facility to another; her obituary read “Ultimately it was not a genetic disease that took me out, it was a system.”

Still the Trudeau government is intent on once again expanding the MAiD eligibility in March and opening a pandora box for people struggling to cope with their mental illnesses.

Increasing numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada via Roxham Road

The federal government is before the Supreme Court to keep in place a Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S, which has both countries agreeing to turn back asylum seekers crossing at regular border crossings. Canada is attempting to extend the agreement so it applies across the entire land border – and this will close down the infamous Roxham Road, an irregular border crossing on the Quebec border.

Critics of the federal government’s court action want to see the Safe Third Country Agreement scrapped because they argue the U.S. no longer provides assurances that the rights of refugees will be respected. Two former cabinet ministers of PM Jean Chretien – Allan Rock and Lloyd Axworthy – are leading this cause to fully open Canadian borders to all refugees seeking asylum in our country.

There are a great many side stories to this issue that have recently come to light as MPs debate the fate of Roxham Road and the increasing numbers who are using it. For one, a record number of refugees seeking asylum (over 26,500) have crossed at Roxham Road in the first nine months of this year. The federal government has (quietly) paid Quebec more than $500 million to offset the province’s accommodation expenses. In May, when more than 100 people daily were crossing at Roxham Road, Quebec Premier Francois Legault demanded that the PM close the road. In answer to this complaint, the government (quietly) transferred almost 2,000 refugees in June to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The porous illegal entry proved to be a political football in the Quebec election. Premier Legault associated immigration with violence and extremism and worried taking in more immigrants would be “suicidal” in furthering French culture and language in the province. Opposing leader Eric Duhaime called for a halt to “the thousands of illegal immigrants” flooding into the province and he made headlines musing that a wall may have to be built at the Quebec-New York border.

There is now a MP committee studying the facts and the costs around maintaining Roxham Road, including a recently exposed scandal about Pierre Guay, a lifelong Liberal Party donor who has been paid over $136 million to date to provide services and accommodation for the illegal immigrants.

Whaou! C’est pas possible!  

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


Greater transparency needed with federal government spending

The Niagara Independent, October 14, 2022 – Canada is now ladened with a considerable debt load. The sorry state of federal finances dates back to the early years of the Trudeau government when there was unbridled spending and an absence of a fiscal plan. Deficit spending then exploded to unprecedented levels during the pandemic. The current budget pegs a national debt in excess of a trillion dollars and federal expenditures this year of more than $434 billion. The government’s annual spending in 2022 represents a two-thirds increase since 2015.

This Trudeau government’s fiscal legacy will be its accumulation of national debt. It has created more debt than all previous governments in Canada’s 155-year history – all previous governments combined.  For those with an eye to the financial and economic health of the nation, the past seven years have been akin to watching a run-away train wreck.

Though Canadians are well aware of the overspending of the Trudeau government, they are less informed on how the billions of dollars are being spent. There have been three instances of questionable spending that illustrate there is little discipline when it comes to government spending (and no fiscal acumen to know any better).

Three recent stories out of Ottawa underscore an imperative for greater transparency regarding federal government expenditures.

The $54 million mysterious ArriveCan App

When ArriveCan was launched in April 2020, the government made no reference to the cost of the development of the travel app. MP Chris Warkentin requested information in the House of Commons on the cost of the app. The MP was told that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reported the price tag was $19.4 million. In late September the CBSA revised its cost estimates for the app to be $29.5 million. But, now we know that estimate too was inaccurate.

A Globe and Mail report divulged spending on the app is projected to be in excess of $54 million, more than two-and-a-half times what the government first reported out to MP Warkentin. When pressed to explain this escalated cost the government would not release any details claiming it was a matter of federal procurement confidentiality.

The company that holds the contract does not do the actual work but farms it out to dozens of unidentified subcontracts. Conservative MP Luc Berthold said what many Canadians were thinking when he observed that ArriveCan “was surely put in place to make some people rich. Fifty four million dollars would be a million hours at work for an engineer. That’s 31,000 weeks or 596 years for one person. The numbers just don’t add up.”

Over the Thanksgiving Weekend two Canadian tech firms recreated the app in order to demonstrate that the $54 million cost was ludicrous. Sheetal Jaitly, the CEO of one of the firms that completed the task, said it would cost his company TribalScale less than $1 million to build the app.

Liberal MPs in defence of the government’s spending have suggested the $54 million accounts for more than the development of the app – which clearly begs further explanation.

Coincidental to the revelations of the ArriveCan app was the disclosure by the Trudeau government that it had entered into a $105.3 million contract with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to create a traveler digital ID. MP Leslyn Lewis, who has been repeatedly mocked by government MPs as a conspiracy theorist because of her suggesting the ArriveCan app is a WEF pilot project, appears to now be vindicated with the public disclosure of the WEF digital ID contract. Lewis tweeted out on the Trudeau government’s WEF connection: “It’s no longer a conspiracy theory – it’s a contractual fact!”

Why is it that PM Trudeau did not scrap the app completely and there has been repeated suggestions that the government intends to use it for cross border ID in the future? What has been the real cost of the AriveCan app – and what further expenditures has the government contractually committed to with the WEF?

The real cost to taxpayers of the Trans Mountain pipeline 

To avert having the last of Canada’s major energy projects collapse under the weight of its anti-resource policies, in 2018 the Trudeau government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion. At that time the government estimated the cost for completing the construction of the pipeline was $7.4 billion. This cost was soon adjusted to a price tag to $12.6 billion. Then, in February 2022, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stated the cost to complete the project would be $21.4 billion, or almost triple the original cost estimate.

With the news that the Trudeau government intends on selling the pipeline to Indigenous groups, a new economic report by the West Coast Environmental Law organization suggests Canadians may never know the real cost of this beleaguered resource project. Economist Robyn Allan’s report alleges that the federal government is hiding the debt load of the project. Industry experts contend the federal government would be unlikely to sell the pipeline without providing some kind of financial backstop to the potential buyer. Allan’s report suggests billions of dollars of debt forgiveness is inevitable if this project is to be completed.

So, what kind of shell game is being played to off load the pipeline – and how much exactly did the Trans Mountain debacle cost Canadian taxpayers?

The federal bureaucracy’s raises and bonuses – during the pandemic

Millions of Canadians were adversely impacted through the pandemic. Information on federal bureaucrats through this period has been recently made public largely through freedom of information requests. We now know more than 312,000 federal government employees got raises in 2020 and 2021 – a year when nearly 75,000 federal workers were at home on “leave with pay.” The federal civil service also grew during this time; a Fraser Institute study revealed that nearly nine out of every ten jobs created in 2020-21 were in the public sector.

There’s more… Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has uncovered that during the pandemic years more than 45,000 federal workers joined the $100,000+ salary club. MP Kelly McCauley discovered through questions placed on the House of Commons Order Paper that 89 per cent of federal public sector executives were paid bonuses totaling more than $190 million in 2021-22. And in the previous year the government handed out $171 million of bonuses. Government data suggests bonuses are a common, annual occurrence (obviously, regardless of whether there is a pandemic and downturn in the economy or not).

As CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano states, “We’re not all in this together… It’s not fair to ask the Canadians who lost their job or took a pay cut during the pandemic to pay higher taxes so the federal government can add thousands of highly paid bureaucrats.”

Not only does it not seem fair to Canadians, but does it not seem underhanded to not have public sector pay and bonus data public?

In the end, Canadians will only be able to gain a better understanding of how the government is spending their tax dollars – on the ArriveCan app and WEF digital ID contract, the Trans Mountain pipeline, and the largesse of the federal bureaucracy – when there is greater transparency in Ottawa.

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


Canada’s subsidized mainstream media is not trusted

The Niagara Independent, October 7, 2022 – Canada’s mainstream media (a.k.a. legacy media) outlets are floundering with an existential question of journalistic independence as they are accepting increasing amounts of government subsidies. With this obvious conflict of interest, Canadians are losing trust in news reporting and editorial commentary from legacy newsrooms.

The impact (good and bad) of the federal government’s media subsidies is currently being assessed at a parliamentary committee studying Bill C-18, the Online News Act. This legislation is designed to produce a new advertising revenue stream for a select group of Canada’s legacy news organizations. Bill C-18 forces Google and Facebook to pay a fee for their hypertext links to Canadian news sources; a fee that is arbitrated as well as policed by the Canadian regulatory body CRTC.

Given Canadians’ loss of faith in their fourth estate, the committee’s legislative hearings are taking on added significance in addressing the integrity of subsidized media. And it is telling that Canadians are not learning of the committee’s work from the CBC or other legacy media. Thankfully, independent news source Blacklock’s Reporter (not government subsidized) is providing details of the committee’s testimony.

Bill C-18 is deeply flawed as assessed by ex-CRTC commissioner and former Calgary Herald editor in chief Peter Menzies: “It’s going to create more mistrust and it’s not going to end well. Trust in Canada’s media has never been lower. It will keep the wolves from the door of a few legacy companies for a few more years but won’t save journalism…”

“Bill C-18 will permanently entrench the industry’s dependency not on the loyalty of citizens, readers and viewers but upon the good graces of politicians.”

In his committee testimony Menzies explained the Catch-22 problem that legacy media wants to ignore (while continuing to take the money the government is handing it). Menzies stated: “The more government assistance news media gets, the more broken the relationship with readers becomes. The more that relationship is broken, the more subsidy will be required. The people who today think media are toadying up to the Liberal government will at some point in the future believe they are toadying up to someone else. It doesn’t really matter whether they are or they aren’t. What matters is people won’t believe them.”

Jeanette Ageson also provided an insightful testimony to MPs. Ageson is the publisher of the Vancouver news site The Tyee and she was appearing as spokesperson for the Independent Online News Publishers of Canada. Ageson observed, “Canada is facing not one news crisis but two. One is financial and the other is the crisis of mistrust… Canadians are expressing unprecedented distrust towards the news and the reporters who deliver it. Canadians need to know who is funding the news they receive and on what terms.”

So, let’s review what is publicly known about the subsides to Canada’s legacy news outlets.

  • In 2019 the Trudeau government doled out a $595 million bailout of cabinet-approved news publishers.
  • Subsidies to these select news organizations include 25 per cent payroll rebates to a maximum $13,750 per newsroom employee
  • Select news organizations also receive a 15 per cent tax credit for subscribers
  • Citing income tax confidentiality provisions, the government will not disclose the recipients of the bailout payments that have been made to a selected set of news organizations (selected by the Trudeau cabinet)

This summer the Trudeau cabinet let it be known that the government is committed to providing legacy media with long term financial support, beyond 2024 when the federal subsidies were scheduled to end. No doubt this promised largesse is well received by the legacy media, particularly those select newsrooms that know they will be covered through the next federal election.

The $595 million bailout money is only part of the dollars the federal government is shoveling to Canadian media. In the past two years, Canadian media also has received millions of dollars in “pandemic relief” payments. It was just disclosed that TV broadcasters were given more than $100 million of cash grants, and millions of dollars of mandatory licensing fees were waived. Direct payments to television networks and affiliates totaled $22.5 million in 2021 and $81.1 million in 2020.

CBC also received pandemic relief funding of $21 million. (Coincidently, in the last two years, salary increases at CBC totaled $21 million and managers were also awarded $30.4 million in bonuses.)

But, CBC is another story onto itself. Consider that this state broadcaster receives a $1.36 billion annual federal grant for its operations. Given this, MPs on the Bill C-18 committee were surprised to learn that CBC will be the largest beneficiary of the new subsidy win fall (which might explain why Canadians do not hear critical analysis of the legislation from CBC).

Aside from the money, there are continuous unethical activities occurring in the Ottawa press corps that bring into question the journalistic independence and integrity of Canada’s fourth estate. Here are a handful:

  • Senior Cabinet Minister Pablo Rodriguez thanked news agencies for their supportive coverage of the truckers’ convoy and the imposition of the Emergencies Act – as he was promising further subsidies for legacy media (ironically he made these statements on a webinar entitled “The Future of News”)
  • Legacy media were exposed photoshopping photos and editing news stories of Chrystia Freeland holding a pro-Nazi banner in a February 2022 Ukrainian protest parade
  • Finance Minister Freeland and her officials were caught having a “media blacklist” of news reporters that they would not take questions from (something they denied existed)
  • Federal government gave $600,000 worth of contracts to “media influencers” in 2021 to praise government programs and services on TV, in print, and in social media
  • CBC pundit was contracted by the Governor General’s office to comment on-air about the “perfect” appointment of the new GG Mary Simon

These incidents are routinely being reported to Canadians in independent news sources like Blacklock’s Reporter and True North Media – and they go unreported by the legacy media.

There is little wonder how trust in Canada’s media is waning. University of Oxford’s 2022 Digital News Report states only 42 per cent of Canadians were found to be trusting of “most news,” representing a 13 per cent decline since 2016. These numbers are corroborated by a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism survey that found 42 per cent of Canadians “trusted the news,” compared with 58 per cent in 2018.

In the same Reuters survey, only 29 per cent of respondents indicated that the media is free from undue political influence. An earlier 2022 survey released by Edelman Canada found that 61 per cent of Canadians believe journalists and reporters purposely try to mislead them “by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

Jen Gerson, editor of the Calgary online newsletter The Line, summed up Canadian media’s existential quandary to MPs at the Bill C-18 Committee when she said, “I have real concerns about making media outlets dependent on revenue that is subject to the whims of the government in power. The industry’s dependence on these revenue streams makes us pawns of partisan politics whether we wish to be or not.”

Canadians are left to ponder: What is there to trust in legacy media that is bought and paid for?

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