Category Archives: Features

News, articles and opinion pieces

On Hockey – from the Greats of the Game

Forget about style; worry about results. – Bobby Orr

  • Every day is a great day for hockey. – Mario Lemieux
  • Hockey is a tough game. – Bobby Orr
  • You’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness or all the aches and pains, and continue to play for a long, long time. – Gordie Howe
  • When you’re on the ice, you have very little time, you see very little, and everything happens really quick. – Steve Yzerman
  • We take the shortest route to the puck and arrive in ill humor. – Bobby Clarke
  • Hockey is a game of one-on-one battles. – Mark Messier
  • In Canada, you’re not a hockey player until you’ve lost some teeth. – Andy Bathgate
  • I played with a lot of great players before. They’re all the same. They take a lot of responsibility for their own play, put a lot of pressure on themselves to perform and to play well. – Mark Messier
  • The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it. – Wayne Gretzky
  • My father used to tell me the game is not privileged to have you, you’re privileged to have hockey. – Paul Coffey
  • Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire. – Fred Shero
  • How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo? – Jacques Plante
  • I’m not dumb enough to be a goalie. – Brett Hull
  • I always tell Bobby he was up in the air so long that I had had time to shower and change before he hit the ice. – Glen Hall (on letting in The Goal by Bobby Orr)

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.

Hockey is Canada’s game

In their best-selling book Home Game, writer Roy MacGregor and goaltender great Ken Dryden comment on the bonds of our quintessentially Canadian game. It’s a superb introspective of what is central in our Nation’s pysche!

 

Here are a few snippets from the introduction and the book’s first chapter entitled, “The Common Passon”:  

 

“Hockey is part of life in Canada. Thousands play it. Millions follow it, and millions more surely try their best to ignore it altogether…. Hockey is pat sport and recreation, part entertainment, part business, part-community builder, social connector, and fantasy-maker….

“It is is Canada’s game. It may also be Canada’s national theatre. On its frozen stage, each night the stuff of life is played out: ambition, hope, pride, fear, love and friendship, the fight for honour for city, team, each other, and themselves. The puck flips one way, bounces another, and the players set out to control and direct it. It takes them where they never planned to go. It tests them. And in struggling to get it back, with the millions who watch it in the arena or by television, the players find out who they really are. Like the bear pits in Shakespeare’s time, we attend hockey games as our national theatre. It is a place where the monumental themes of Canadian life are played out – English and French, East and West, Canada and the U.S., Canada and the world, the timeless tensions of commerce and culture, our struggle to survive and civilize winter….

“Hockey makes Canada feel more Canadian.”

 

Home Game is a must-read book for anyone wanting to understand the inextricable links between Canadians and our National game. 

 

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.

Ken Dryden’s masterpiece: “The Game”

Since the holidays I had the pleasure of re-reading one of the very finest books ever written about the game of hockey – The Game, written back in 1983 by the storied Montreal Canadian’s goaltender Ken Dryden.

 

The subtitle to this book is A Thoughtful and Provocative Look at a Life in Hockey – and, page after page, with each commentary and detailed description, this book is both insightful and informative!

 

It is a must-read for any avid hockey fan and a book recommended to anyone trying to grasp the significance of this sport to the boys and men (and many girls and women!) of this country.

 

To give one example of the depth of insight imparted, here is Dryden’s explanation of how hockey is a transition game, not a possession game.

 

Possession was what they [the Russians in 1972] were supposed to be about: passing, team play, always search for the open man, regrouping to start again if their possession seemed threatened. But a puck cannot be physically carried up the ice like a football; and a hockey player is not protected from physical battering as a basketball player is. He can be overpowered, the puck can be wrested from his stick by one or two or more opponents, with little recourse except to pass it on to someone else soon harassed the same way. A possession game is hyperbole. The puck changes teams more than 6 times a minute, more than 120 times a period, more than 400 times a game, and little can be done to prevent it. And when it is not changing possession, the puck is often out of possession, fought after, in no one’s control. It is sustained possession only on power plays. There is possession involving several seconds at other times only when a team regroups to its own zone to set up a play. If possession is team style, it will be frustrated. Worse, if it is attempted, it will make a game cautious and predictable.

 

Instead, hockey is a transition game, offense to defense, defense to offense, one team to another. Hundreds of tiny fragments of action, some leading somewhere, most going nowhere. Only one thing is clear. A fragmented game must be played in fragments. Grand designs do not work. Offenses regrouping, setting up, meet defenses which have done the same, and lose. But before offense turns to defense, or defense to offense, there is a moment of disequilibrium when a defense is vulnerable, when a game’s sudden, unexpected swings can be turned to advantage. It is what you do at this moment, when possession changes, that makes the difference. How fast you can set up. How fast you strike. What instant patterns you can create. How you can turn simple advantage into something permanent…

 

The Game is a provocative book and an exciting read — and deserves to be read and re-read every few years! 

 

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.

Mounting Condemnation for CCP Misleading the World on Coronavirus

The Niagara Independent, April 17, 2020 – Canadian lawyer Irwin Cotler was at the centre of this week’s international media maelstrom that openly criticized the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for allowing the coronavirus to become a global pandemic. This is the same man whose distinguished 16-year career as Montreal MP culminated in being named Justice Minister by then PM Paul Martin. Today Cotler is Founder and Chair of Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and a respected elder statesman for the Liberal Party of Canada.

The Canadian was not only a signatory to an open letter but Cotler marshalled an international media campaign that called on world leaders to hold the CCP accountable for lives lost and economic hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Canada, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute posted the letter and issued the damning press release that insists the corrupt and repressive regime in Beijing must be held accountable for the pandemic.

More than one hundred senior political figures and China experts from around the world signed the open letter describing the CCP’s role in allowing the virus to spread beyond Wuhan. The letter was addressed to Chinese citizens and friends of China at home and abroad. In part, it reads: “The roots of the pandemic are in a cover-up by CCP authorities…. The CCP silenced Chinese doctors who wanted to warn other health professionals during the early stage of the outbreak: Dr Ai Fen can no longer appear in public after accepting a domestic media interview; her colleague Dr Li Wenliang died while fighting the virus in Wuhan. On his deathbed Dr Li famously said that “a healthy society shouldn’t have only one voice.”

The letter concludes: “As an international group of public figures, security policy analysts and China watchers we stand in solidarity with courageous and conscientious Chinese citizens including Xu Zhangrun, Ai Fen, Li Wenliang… just to name a few of the real heroes and martyrs who risk their life and liberty for a free and open China. Their individual voices are already forming a chorus. They demand nothing less than a critical evaluation of the impact of CCP policies on the lives of Chinese citizens and citizens around the world. We urge you to join them.”

With the letter published, Irwin Cotler carried forward the plea for justice and accountability. He co-authored a Times of Israel editorial entitled, “Xi Jinping’s China did this.” He argued, “The CCP’s infodemic — in addition to its intense spinning of solidarity on social media and its framing of a “people’s war against the virus” — was both a deceitful and farcical illusion of a coming together in China. The extent of the CCP’s self-promotion and its portrayal of President Xi as a hero ready to save the world — while making Western democracies look grossly incompetent — is as shameful as it is duplicitous.”

The Globe and Mail also published Cotler’s editorial and interviewed him. The paper headlined that China is getting its own “Chernobyl moment” due to Beijing’s attempts to hide and distort key scientific data. Cotler was pointed in his criticism of the CCP. “China’s leadership must be held to account for its criminality and corruption… The behavior of the CCP endangers both Chinese citizens and the international community. This is China’s Chernobyl moment. It is tragically a self-inflicted wound.” Cotler adds, “This shows the cruelty of this leadership. We have to continue to have relations with the Chinese citizenry, but it is this particular government that has a culture of criminality, corruption and impunity.”

Canada’s former Justice Minister is urging the Trudeau Government to impose sanctions on CCP officials who mistreated or silenced medical staff and citizens in the early days of the pandemic. International law does allow for Canada to impose asset freezes and travel bans on human rights abusers around the world. Cotler states Canada must do its part, “The CCP has to be held accountable through naming and shaming, in the court of public opinion, in actual courts of law through international tort actions, and through Magnitsky sanctions. We can target those who have been responsible for the disappearances of the doctors, such as Dr. Ai Fen, director of the emergency department at the Central Hospital of Wuhan, who has now disappeared.”

As Cotler engaged the international press corps, PM Justin Trudeau entertained questions about Canada’s relationship with China and, as has been the case throughout the pandemic crisis, he repeatedly refused to denounce the CCP. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers have consistently deflected questions about the origin or spread of the coronavirus. Asked a week ago “about China’s lies and how it might have hurt the global reaction”, Health Minister Patty Hajdu responded, “I would say that your question is feeding into the conspiracy theories that many people have been perpetuating on the internet.” Then this week in a special sitting of the House of Commons, Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland unapologetically defended Canada’s relationship with China and the World Health Organization. (Freeland was answering a question on why Canada did not recognize the coronavirus as a national threat until March 13, days after WHO had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic).

An annoyed Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the government’s stonewalling on denouncing the CCP. “Is Trudeau worried about upsetting the communist government in China? Why does he continue to put so much faith in the WHO instead of listening to the Canadian experts who warned us to take this threat seriously?” Scheer stated, “We’ve seen examples of how the communist, autocratic, human rights-abusing government of China has had an inordinate effect on the WHO. There’s evidence of suppressing information, not being open and transparent about the number of cases. Those are very concerning.”

The questions surrounding the CCP actions were also being raised by government MPs. Toronto Liberal MP John McKay, Chair of the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee, said he would like to probe China’s conduct. “I would dearly love to confront this. The failure on the part of a nation to properly disclose its pandemic numbers and its impact in effect becomes a security issue for us all.”

Political pundit Spencer Fernando expressed hope for justice and accountability as condemnation of the CCP appears to have now extended beyond Party lines. Fernando observed, “Many Liberals in Canada remain committed to what that party once claimed to support. Irwin Cotler – who called for sanctions on CCP officials who covered up the virus – is one of them. Canadians are wondering why that kind of integrity is absent from the Trudeau government.”

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/mounting-condemnation-for-ccp-misleading-the-world-on-coronavirus/

15 Amazing Hockey Facts

  1. Before 1914, referees used to place the puck on the ice between the players’ sticks for faceoffs. This led to many cuts, bruises and even broken hands for the referees. Starting in 1914, the referees were allowed to drop the puck between the players’ sticks.
  2. The first NHL goal was scored on December 19, 1917 by Dave Ritchie of the Montreal Wanderers against the Toronto Arenas.
  3. Prior to the 1927-28 season, forward passes were not allowed in hockey.
  4. Maple Leaf Gardens — former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs — became the first arena to have a four-sided game clock, in 1932.
  5. Frank Zamboni invented the first self-propelled ice-clearing machine, in 1949.
  6. Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita is most often credited with the creation of the curved stick blade in the 1960s — all blades were previously straight.
  7. Head Games: Andy Brown was the last goaltender to play a game without a mask, doing so with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1974. The last player in the NHL to play without a helmet was Craig MacTavish, who retired in 1997.
  8. The fastest slapshot on record is Bobby Hull’s, which registered 118 miles per hour.
  9. Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins was the first NHL player to record 100 points in a season, in 1969. Wayne Gretzky was first (and is the only) player to record 200 points in a season.
  10. Darryl Sittler holds the NHL record for most points in a single game, with 10. He scored five goals and had five assists on February 6, 1976, helping his Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Boston Bruins.
  11. Paul Coffey of the Edmonton Oilers set an NHL record for defencemen with 37 points in the 1985 playoffs.
  12. In 1971, the Boston Bruins signed Bobby Orr to a five-year deal worth $200,000 per season —the first million dollar contract in NHL history.images
  13. Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed “The Great One”, is almost unanimously accepted as the greatest hockey player to every play the game. He holds 61 NHL records, the most by far of any player and finished playing with a total of 2,857 points. Amazingly, even if all of the nearly 900 goals Wayne scored throughout his career were removed from his statistics, he would still hold first place for most points.
  14. Some pro players call their mothers for a few words of encouragement, but not Sidney Crosby; Sid the Kid has a strict rule about not speaking with his mom on game days. He has broken this rule three times, and each time has been injured during the game.
  15. Cup Mishaps: The Stanley Cup is named after a former Canadian Governor General, Lord Stanley of Preston, who donated the trophy in 1893. The Cup has been used as a cereal bowl, accidentally left by the side of the road, tossed into a swimming pool and even lost, like luggage, on a 2010 flight from New Jersey to Vancouver. After the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1962, they accidentally threw the Cup into a celebratory bonfire. In 1905, players from Ottawa Silver Seven, while drunk, kicked the Stanley Cup into the frozen Rideau Canal and had to retrieve it the next morning.

There are plenty of websites with great hockey facts to stump your trivia puckhound. Here are a few good one:

40 Fun Hockey Facts

30 Kickass and Interesting Facts About Ice Hockey

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Hockey

10 fun hockey facts to share with your kids

Ice Hockey Facts

20 Fun, Random Facts about Hockey
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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Ahelluva Hockey Commercial!

Unquestionably, here is the best hockey commercial on the air. It’s “Hockey in Sidney Crosby’s own words”

crosby

“Hockey’s our game. But really it’s much more than just a game. It’s a passion that brings us all together on frozen ponds, at the community rink, and in our living rooms. It’s the feeling you got the first time you stepped on the ice. The feeling you had when you scored your first goal. Hockey is in our driveways, it’s in our dreams, in every post-game celebration. It’s in the street every time your friend yells, “Car!”; in every rink across the country; it’s in our hearts. Hockey is the thought inside you head saying, “Wouldn’t it be amazing, getting up everyday and playing, doing something that you love to do.” [Tim Hortons celebrates hockey as it brings together all Canadians.]

Now I admit to being a huge fan of Sid the Kid. Here are links to a couple priceless pieces that feature our Canadian idol:

Where Crosby Happens

Timbits Hockey Commercial (2009)

Share with us your favourite Crosby commercial!

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Hockey Quotes – from The Great One

Perhaps the most remarkable comment about Wayne Gretzky came from Lowell Cohn. This American sportswriter once said of “The Great One”:  “Some guys play hockey. Gretzky plays 40 mph chess.”

For hockey enthusiasts, there should be no need to celebrate the mastery of this superb hockey player. Wayne Gretzky is hockey’s all-time leading point scorer – and has been for more than 30 years. On October 15th 1989, The Great One got an assist and then a goal to notch points 1,850 and 1,851 and surpass “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe’s point total.

Let’s remember Wayne Gretzky’s many achievements with ten of his memorable quotes:

  • Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.
  • I had to play the same style all the way through. I couldn’t beat people with my strength. I don’t have a hard shot. I’m not the quickest skater in the league. My eyes and my mind had to do most of the work.
  • You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
  • You’ll never catch me bragging about goals, but I’ll talk all you want about my assists.
  • Hockey is the only sport in the world that actually encourages fighting. I have no idea why we let it go on. The game itself is so fast, so exciting, so much fun to watch, why do we have to turn ice red so often? Why do the best shots in a game have to be on somebody’s nose instead of somebody’s net?
  • It really wasn’t practice, it was fun. I enjoyed myself. If I had considered it practice, I would not have done it. (on playing 6-8 hours a day as a kid)
  • I don’t like my hockey sticks touching other sticks, and I don’t like them crossing one another; and I kind of have them hidden in the corner. I put baby powder on the ends. I think it’s essentially a matter of taking care of what take care of you.
  • I’ve held women and babies and jewels and money, but nothing will ever feel as good as holding that Cup.
  • The hardest thing about hockey is that the older you get, the more you love it.
  • To play so well and for so long is simply incredible. No player will ever do the things in hockey that Gordie (Howe) did.

The last words on The Great One must go to Canadian radio personality Peter Gzowski, who poetically described Wayne Gretzky’s magic in his 2004 piece “The game of our lives.”:

“There is an unhurried grace to everything Gretzky does on the ice. Winding up for the slapshot, he will stop for an almost imperceptible moment at the top of his arc, like a golfer with a rhythmic swing. He has more room in the flow of time and Gretzky uses this room to insert an extra beat into his actions. In front of the net, eyeball to eyeball with the goaltender . . . he will . . . hold the puck one . . . extra instant, upsetting the anticipated rhythm of the game, extending the moment. . . He distorts time, and not only by slowing it down. Sometimes he will release the puck before he appears to be ready, threading the pass through a maze of players precisely to the blade of a teammate’s stick, or finding a chink in a goaltender’s armour and slipping the puck into it . . . before the goaltender is ready to react.”

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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.

Contrasting Hockey and Baseball

In Home Game, Roy MacGregor and Ken Dryden opine on the difference between Canada’s and America’s national games. It’s a striking contrast of the two sports:

Baseball is America’s game. It is planned and orderly, the action starts and stops, and every next moment seems a brand new chance. Effort matters; skill matters more. Time is slow – you only move when you are ready. The game goes on until a winner is declared. Time in infinite. The game could go on forever. Hockey is messy and confused. Its action rarely stops. One moment runs into the next, and its past lives on it its present and future. Skill matters, efforts matter as much, time matters more. Time is finite. A game must end. Time is short and beyond control. Baseball is a game of imagination, a mythical game. It is a demonstration of life as we might wish it to be. Hockey is real life.   

In one short paragraph, MacGregor and Dryden sum up the rich and complex differences between the sports. Brilliant analysis.

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.

 

April, it’s every Canadian sports fan’s dream

There is perhaps no better month of the year for Canadian sports fans than April. This is the glorious time of year when the puck drops on the NHL playoffs and fans enjoy the first pitches of the baseball season.

However, this year, like all things in life, it appears April has been cancelled. The rinks and ball parks are dark. A recent Sports Illustrated editorial tells us:According to the experts—medical experts, not the money-making experts in league offices—we will not have sports any time soon. And when we do, we will not attend the games.”

American epidemiologist Dr. Zach Binney baldly states: “We will not have sporting events with fans until we have a vaccine.” Dr. Binney surmises that barring a medical miracle, the process of developing and widely distributing a vaccine is likely to take 12 to 18 months.

So, cancel April. Cancel spring and summer, perhaps the whole year through to next spring or summer.

For ardent sports fans this is very troubling. For young Canadians who play hockey, soccer, or baseball, or participate in sports like gymnastics, rowing, or martial arts, this is both agitating and heartbreaking at the same time. To cancel sports and halt sporting activities is problematic for everyone — and for society.

The Economist this month broached the subject in an article: “The game’s the thing” in which it forwarded that “cancelling sports will dent morale” and that “a solution may be needed.” The commentary suggests the economic implications will be significant because sport is big business, but the effect on consumer sentiment of the hiatus may be even greater. A majority (59%) of Americans are sports fans (and this number would also hold true in Canada). With the loss of sporting events, an important source of enjoyment disappears. Cancelling sports compounds the effect of being stuck at home.

Cancelling sports robs an individual of an essential physical and emotional outlet. John Maynard Keynes talked a lot about the importance of “animal spirits” to economic growth. The Romans understood the importance of “bread and circuses” – keeping the public not just fed, but entertained with gladiatorial games and chariot races. Athens founded the Olympics for its citizenry. Today, people lose themselves in matches of soccer, football, baseball – and, here in Canada, we lose ourselves in our beloved hockey. The Economist concludes: “If all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, then no work and no play risks making Jack depressed and discontented.”

Looking at the next three weeks without playoff hockey and baseball is depressing – and looking at the weeks and months ahead without sports is very dark indeed. As The Economist alludes: a solution will be needed.

At By George, we are offering a quick-fix for the short-term. Through the remainder of April, By George Journal will be celebrating both the greatest game on ice, and American’s great pastime. We hope our followers will be able to lose themselves in thoughts of “the game” and their own fond memories of their team and that past victory.

Each day we will post articles for your reading pleasure. For a regular stream of quotes, photos and articles that are sure to score, we suggest you follow By George Journal on Facebook and on Twitter. Also, By George Journal will issue two newsletters featuring hockey and baseball in the weeks ahead. If you are not on our newsletter distribution list, you can sign up here.

Our ballparks and arenas may be closed, but rest assured here at By George the puck will drop each day.

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.

Hockey is the glue that binds our Nation

In order to be a dynamic, sustainable national entity, a country’s people must have shared values, perspectives, and experiences. A country’s peoples must know and understand certain common things – whether they be moments in time, or iconic images that stir a common passion. In Canada our sense of national identity has become blurred through the past two to three decades largely because we are losing our national common identifiers. And we are losing our sense of being because we no longer collectively share special moments or recognize and appreciate meaningful symbols.

So, one needs to ask “What do we have in Canada to unite us? What will provide that sense of nationalism that can pull us together and have us share moments in time – that can become our peoples’ common memories and source of pride?”

By George offers that our national game of hockey is the glue that binds our nation.

Hockey is a shared experience that transcends pucks and ice surfaces. Hockey envelops everything from pre-dawn breakfasts and cold car rides to the smell of locker rooms and those smiles and arena exchanges with your children. There are tens of thousands of Canadian children who love the game and dream of being the next Gretzky or Crosby. There is a legend of parents who come together to converse and share moments in the rinks and the parking lots. And there is Saturday night. Imagine how many households have the HNIC ritual of cheering the opening face-off and needing to hear Don Cherry bark through another Coach’s Corner.

Hockey is the reference point for Canada. Quite simply, it is what defines us.

Hockey defines us in a way that other things do not – or can no longer. For example, Canada is beyond being defined by its two founding Nations. This has given way to multiculturalism and, today, we have our three most populous urban centres as, literally, cultural mosaics. What of bilingualism? A native heritage? Our historic memberships in the commonwealth or NATO? None of these strike a resounding chord with our current society.

Canadians no longer rally around historic icons like our founding father Sir John A, the Mounties, the mighty moose or maple syrup? Many Canadians have never seen a canoe or an inukshuk – so these symbols simply cannot provide a common reference point. Perhaps there is a case for the maple leaf icon and our ensign – but Canadians differ greatly on what our red-and-white flag represents and the maple leaf is less a shared symbol of national passion than it is a default icon representing the notion of our country.

So, the contention is hockey is the glue that binds…. and in the months ahead the By George Journal will celebrate hockey and explore the idea of this glorious game is “the defining element” of Canada – our peoples’ source of “being Canadian.”

(ed. – This column originally appeared in By George Journal in December 2009.)

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 Sad Reality regarding The End of the Season

The 2010-2011 hockey season for the George boys has officially ended. And admittedly, this week we have all been living in denial… we still hold out hope that, just maybe, in the days ahead we’ll see the inside of a rink again. Maybe the boys will get a chance to lace up…

The photo is of my eldest, moments before he took to the ice for the championship game of tournament play in Buffalo last weekend. The game was invigorating – the players on both teams laying it all out on the ice, every shift, every play. The contest ended with a sinking wrist shot that eluded the goalie’s glove hand, 5 minutes into an overtime period. Though the St. Catherines Stars were on the losing end of the 3-2 score, everyone in that arena that afternoon left fulfilled. It was ahelluva game – some fine hockey.

It wasn’t so bad to be defeated, as it was us knowing that this game was to be the last of the season.

Somewhere I remember reading that life imitates sport. Sunday, we experienced life again with the rushes, passes, and exciting plays in front of the nets. There were many tense moments (who’s kidding who – it was all tense!!) and we yelled at the poor refereeing, cheered on our boys and clapped for the energy and skill displayed by both teams. This game was the best of the sport we all have become so intimate with.  For 90 minutes on Sunday, nothing else really mattered once the whistle blew and the puck dropped.

As we were driving home, Alexander said, over and over, “I can’t believe hockey is over. It was such an awesome year, why does it have to end?” Of course, our parental instincts told us to say – “All good things must come to an end.” Yet, in attempting to respond to his moans from the backseat, my wife and I could only offer a few unconvincing words of comfort. It was all too recent and hard to put into perspective and, yes, we were thinking what Alexander was voicing.

Later that night, my younger boy – a spirited player himself – asked about the next time he would get onto the ice. He talked about looking forward to power skating in September and the try outs for the Select team. He wondered about the new equipment he was going to need and how much he would grow in the summer. He spoke of how much he loved the game and how he wanted to improve his play. Then David questioned me on the number of weeks he’d have to wait before the start of the 2011-12 house league season – and we worked it out to be 20 weeks. Somehow, counting through those weeks in our heads made us realize that the new season is really not too far off.

I find that, by talking about next season, it is helping us to re-focus on other thoughts of spring, summer and family vacations. With that last game in Buffalo so freshly imprinted in our memory, anticipation for “the next time” may be paining, yet it is beginning to feel bearable. It’s 20 weeks; it’s just 20 weeks. What are we suppose to do? It’s life! And we take comfort in knowing that the puck will drop again (in 20 weeks and counting).

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(ed. – This column originally appeared in the By George Journal in April 2011.)

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Canadians Will Need to Brace for the “Second War”

The Niagara Independent, April 10, 2020 – In one of his daily addresses to the Nation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions about the country’s economic wellbeing by stating that his government had always kept a “rainy day fund” of money in case of a federal emergency. The PM told Canadians to be reassured that, though “it’s raining,” the country’s economy is in a strong position to outlast this storm.

Trudeau’s rain analogy was a direct swipe at a Globe and Mail lead editorial that was critical of the Liberal government’s fiscal mismanagement through good economic times. The editorial began: “One of the many things we’ve learned from the pandemic crisis is the importance of saving for a rainy day. Canada has failed for many years to do so. Now it’s pouring outside, and both governments and individuals will struggle to cope.”

The paper poured down on the government’s “sunny days” performance, stating: “Justin Trudeau’s Liberals instead kept ramping up spending, taking advantage of a booming economy…  Their apologists patted them on the back for their wisdom and foresight. If Mr. Trudeau had broken a little promise, what of it? Everyone did that. And the size of the debt didn’t really matter anyway; it was its size compared to GDP, you see. As long as that didn’t soar, well, not to worry. No rain was in sight.”

The Trudeau Liberal’s record over four deficit budgets have left Canadians with $78 billion of new debt. The Fraser Institute reports that the combined federal and provincial net debt has reached $1.5-trillion. Mirroring this government debt, Canadians’ personal and corporate debt are at record highs. Former Chief Economist for Statistics Canada, Philip Cross, surmised, “High debt levels across households and governments mean Canada is quite vulnerable to a downturn in the global economy … It is easy to imagine how the dominoes might fall.”

Canada’s debt realities are very disturbing when considering the country must now brace for the economic storm front that just battered China. Last week The Economist reported on “the jaw-dropping bad economic data” coming out of China as a precursor of what the rest of the world will likely experience. “In the first two months of 2020 all major indicators were deeply negative: industrial production fell by 13.5 percent year-on-year, retail sales by 20.5 percent and fixed-asset investment by 24.5 percent. GDP may have declined by as much as 10 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020.”

With the Canadian government’s proverbial cupboard bare, its $82 billion federal relief package will be paid for by borrowing money at record amounts – placing a yoke on the shoulders of future generations of Canadian taxpayers.

More disturbing is the fact that Canada’s pre-pandemic economy was showing signs of strain and systemic weakness. Canadians were absorbing news of the loss of $20.6 billion investment in Teck Frontier mine project and the possible collapse of Quebec’s $9 billion Energie Saguenay pipeline project. In total in the last five years, more than $200 billion in investment has been lost in the Canadian resource sector. The Conference Board of Canada has assessed, “With the economy already on precarious footing, the added shocks of the recent rail blockade protests, the arrival of COVID-19 and a collapse in oil prices have brought the country to the brink of recession.”

This week, Statistics Canada reported more than one million Canadians lost their jobs in March. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that as many as 40 percent of small businesses are not expecting to survive the economic shock of the pandemic (the Business Development Bank of Canada factors that 1.1 million small-to-medium sized businesses provides approximately 7.7 million Canadian jobs). Also this week the Canadian dollar dipped further below the American greenback: if one were to spend $100 in U.S. dollars buying an item online today, it would cost $143 compared to $134 only five weeks earlier on March 1st.

Punctuating this cacophony of bad news, Bloomberg News reported Canadians’ consumer confidence has fallen to a record low, surpassing even the worst numbers from the Great Recession. Nik Nanos reported on Canadians stark non-confidence in their economy: “The reality is there is a second war going on, that has to do with our economic and prosperity being at risk… when you look at consumer sentiment it is a steep, negative cliff.”

Even with government relief, Nanos is not optimistic in the short-term: “For many Canadians their initial inclination is still not to spend but to squirrel away… we’re in the midst of a terrible thunderstorm right now from a consumer spending perspective. I would expect for any support Canadians get (including businesses) they will try to maximize it, optimize it, and to hold back…. just because you send out the cheques and support businesses and Canadians, it doesn’t mean they will automatically start spending.”

The numbers in the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index are a “bleak picture of economic anxiety across regions, age groups and most income levels.”  Three in four Canadians believe the nation’s economy will worsen over the next six months. One in three Canadians say their personal finances have worsened over the past year. Almost one fifth of respondents now say they are worried about losing work. Nik Nanos sums up the numbers by stating, “This is unprecedented because there is no structural problem in the economy right now. But this is like a hurricane bearing down on the Canadian economy and just wiping out prosperity and putting jobs at risk.”

In another interview this week, Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay and CIBC CEO Victor Dodig both projected that the economic fallout of the pandemic will last well into 2021. Businesses will assume a more cautious mindset which will prolong the economic recovery. Dodig summed it up by saying. “What worries me most is making sure our clients are able to bridge to a period of normalcy. It’s impacted everybody’s income, because it’s just stalled, and the income replacement hasn’t fully funded what they’ve lost. People will get back on their feet, but they’ll be a little bit more sheepish. They’ll manage more cautiously.”

In overcoming the health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, as Nik Nanos stated, Canadians will need to brace for the “second war.” With the country’s finances as they are, we can expect individuals and businesses to be shell-shocked. And then the deluge of government stimulus dollars is sure to leave Canadians treading water in a sea of debt for years to come. (Which reminds me of that quote… “War is hell.”)

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadians-will-need-to-brace-for-the-second-war/

In the middle of Canada’s coronavirus crisis – a carbon tax hike?

The Niagara Independent, April 3, 2020 – This week the federal government raised its carbon tax 50 percent on gas prices and home fuel. Imposing this tax increase at a time when Canadians are facing an unprecedented pandemic crisis and an untold economic challenge was a conscious, deliberate decision made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Cabinet.

The Liberal’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act legislation of a few years ago scheduled a 50 percent rise in the carbon tax from $20 per tonne to $30 per tonne for April 1, 2020. The carbon tax was to increase tax collected at the gas pump from 4.4¢ a litre to 6.6¢ a litre (on top of other federal taxes and HST) as well as on all other carbon-based fuels.

As the April date approached there was a plea from many business and interest groups to reconsider the tax hike in the face of Canada’s efforts to contain the coronavirus, which has resulted in many Canadian businesses having to shut down. Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland said the government was reviewing the situation, “We are thinking very carefully about our whole approach to what we are doing economically, both in terms of how we are supporting workers and businesses, and also what we are doing on the tax side.” Yet, a few days later, the PM followed up with a clarifying statement that Cabinet would not postpone the scheduled fifty percent tax increase.

In one of his daily addresses to the nation, Trudeau commented on the tax increase, “We know that we need to do things to make sure that we’re both supporting families through ordinary times and through difficult times and moving forward on continuing the fight against climate change, which remains even at a time of immediate crisis and pandemic.”

The PM said this as it was being reported that the country’s coronavirus crisis is delivering a financial shock to Canadians. The MNP Consumer Debt Index reports half of Canadians (49 percent) are on the brink of insolvency, $200 or less away from not being able to meet their monthly financial obligations. With the pandemic and economic crises, MNP President Grant Bazian observed, “Now all Canadians are feeling the effects on their paycheques, pocketbooks, and stock portfolios. Those who were already saddled with a lot of debt are in economic survival mode.”

Trudeau’s insensitivity to Canadians’ financial worries was underscored by Aaron Wudrick of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who said, “As governments work to help Canadians get through economic challenges, minimizing the tax burden must be a central element. With many Canadian businesses shuttered and millions of people losing income, the last thing Canadians need right now is higher taxes driving up the costs they still face.”

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, speaking as the Party’s finance critic, demanded the cancelation of the carbon tax hike. “Higher home heating and grocery prices will hurt households whose incomes have already plummeted. Higher energy prices will force businesses to further cut jobs, leaving manufacturing and energy workers even worse off than before… In times of crisis, the government needs to drop its ideology and do what is practical. That means stopping the carbon tax hike. Workers, consumers and small businesses need a break now more than ever.”

Canadian farmers and truckers – those very people who are ensuring food is still being delivered to our tables – expressed sheer frustration at the carbon tax increase. Western Canadian Wheat Growers President Gunter Jochum stated, “The Canadian economy is facing a serious challenge. Adding a 50% increase in the carbon tax is a further hit to grain farmers’ bottom line and Canadian consumers’ food bills. Now is not the time to be adding to our household expenses. Our focus should be on the health and economic well-being of all Canadians.”

Daryl Fransoo, the growers’ Saskatchewan Director. “Rather than increasing the costs for consumers, the government should be doing everything necessary to ensure our transportation system stays operational. From our trucking system to rail and ports, we need to keep our grain moving both domestically and for export.”

The additional costs for farmers is substantial as the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan recently reported to Parliament. APAS President Todd Lewis reports that farmers lost about eight per cent of their income from the carbon tax last year, “We have to pay that tax and there is no way to pass that along through our commodity prices. We’re on a world market and you can’t add two per cent on the price of your wheat because of carbon tax. It’s comparable to having 12 per cent of your paycheque disappear in a year.”

APAS estimates a 5,000-acre grain operation will lose $8,000 to $10,000 in 2020 with a carbon tax of $30 per tonne, rising to between $13,000 and $17,000 when the carbon tax hits $50 per tonne in 2022.

Similarly, Canadian truckers are directly affected. For a tractor-trailer consuming 88,000 liters of fuel per year, the carbon tax translates into $3,500 in additional operating costs for 2019, $5,250 in 2020 with the hike, and approximately $11,200 by 2022 with future hikes. In Ontario’s long-haul trucking sector alone that is about $750 million in carbon taxes taken from truckers between 2019 and 2022.

Ontario Trucking Association President Stephen Laskowski explains, “The trucking industry is dominated by small businesses and competes on very tight margins, with operating ratios in the 0.94 range or higher. Consequently, the government of Ontario is correct in its belief the trucking industry will face challenges in absorbing rising fuel costs and going forward this issue will be a major point of discussion between carriers and their customers.”

Challenger Motor Freight CEO Dan Einwechter (who this week had to temporarily lay off 40 drivers from its Cambridge Ontario base) summarizes truckers’ plight, “Our industry like so many others is impacted by the federal carbon tax that will make fuel more expensive and therefore make shipping more expensive for our customers.”

And the last word on the week’s carbon tax hike is given to business personality Kevin O’Leary who wryly tweeted: “Is there a single government on earth raising taxes on its people by 50% at a time of coronavirus pandemic and economic collapse? Yes it’s happening in Canada where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is telling his subjects “Let them eat cake.”

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/in-the-middle-of-canadas-coronavirus-crisis-a-carbon-tax-hike/

Our 10 FAV Memes of Pun-Fun Week

We have had a lot of fun at By George sharing punny material through the past week. We received a great many memes through email and here are our top 10 – and we thank all our followers who participated in our antics!!

 

Join us at the By George Journal on Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy our daily injections of provocative posts.

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

Liberal’s Machiavellian Power Grab “Defeated”

The Niagara Independent, March 27, 2020 – Partisan politics at any time is ugly, but during a national crisis partisan politics can be detestable. With the Liberal Government’s attempted end-run around Parliament this week, Canadians saw the very worst kind of political power-play. It was a calculated maneuver to sidestep Canada’s foremost democratic institution and ensconce the Prime Minister and his Cabinet with unassailable powers through an extended period of time. Even for former PM Jean Chretien advisor Warren Kinsella, it was daringly Machiavellian: “You cannot use a national emergency as a pretext to turn a Parliamentary minority into a de facto majority with no opposition. It is unethical and fundamentally wrong. It squanders, in 10 minutes, whatever goodwill Justin Trudeau had built up over 10 days.”

Political commentators were challenged to come up with insightful parallels to explain what was unfolding in Ottawa this week. Many reflected on the challenges democracies faced during WWII. Through the bombing of London, British PM Winston Churchill faced Parliament to address his government’s actions to turn the tide against the Nazi terror. At the same time, Canadian PM MacKenzie King faced Parliament to argue the necessity for conscription to meet the country’s commitments to the war effort. As these parliamentary experiences reveal, during a time of crisis our Westminster model of Parliament proves indispensable, not only contributing to responsible decision-making, but also providing its citizens with demonstrative leadership and reassurances that their elected leaders are considering all options in the best interests of all.

The echoes from these past troubled times served to underscore just how disturbing it is that the Liberals would attempt their unconstitutional overreach of power during a national crisis. On Tuesday morning the Prime Minister assured Canadians that he respected the country’s democratic institutions. However, Liberals’ actions speak louder than their Leader’s words, for had the Liberal backroom strategists been successful Trudeau would have erased Canada’s traditional parliamentary checks and balances. National Post political reporter John Ivison sums it up as “a Liberal plan to effectively neuter Parliament for 21 months.”

At the centre of this controversy is the Liberals’ “Trojan horse;” a piece of legislation they rolled out to enact $82 billion of promised relief to Canadians — and a poison pill hidden within. The story broke on Monday night when Global News revealed the Liberals’ emergency bill was to grant “extraordinary new powers to spend, borrow and tax without having to get the approval of opposition MPs until December 2021.” Global News described the new powers as “highly unusual” since “The Canadian Constitution enshrines taxation as a power of the parliamentary branch.”

The Liberals’ package provided all the necessary legislative authorities to implement the $82 billion of aid funding announced by the Prime Minister. The legislation permitted augmenting the GST/HST credit and the Canada Child Benefit, implementing a “temporary wage subsidy,” and amending the Employment Insurance. It included support for the private sector relating to deposit insurance coverage, measures with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Export Development Corporation and Farm Credit Corporation. Finally, the package contained measures that would authorize additional transfers to the provinces and territories. This was the gift horse.

What was not expected was what was hidden within: additional measures that would empower the government to unilaterally raise taxes without Parliamentary approval and amend tax laws through regulation. The legislation would create a new law to authorize the Minister of Health and Minister of Finance to spend “all money required to do anything” in relation to a public health crisis. The Health Minister would also be able to use any health information from authorities and the Cabinet would be given the power to circumvent patent protection to “make, construct, use and sell a patented invention to the extent necessary.” The Trudeau Cabinet would have the power to exercise these provisions for 21 months, through to the end of 2021.

The outcry to this power-play was immediate. A Hill Times editorial assessed, “It would be unconscionable for any government, whether they hold the majority or the minority of seats in the House, to propose giving themselves unfettered powers in a time like this.” The Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, Conservative Andrew Scheer said: “In a crisis, broad all-party agreement is essential… we are prepared to have Parliament sit as needed to transact the business of Parliament.  But we will not give the government unlimited power to raise taxes without a parliamentary vote. We will authorize whatever spending measures are justified to respond to the situation but we will not sign a blank cheque.”

So, noon Tuesday, Liberals sheepishly acknowledged their overreach and promised to revise the legislation. The House of Commons convened and MPs immediately suspended so that the Parties could agree on an acceptable set of conditions for governing the country through the crises. At 3 a.m. Wednesday, after 15-hours of backroom negotiations, MPs reconvened in the House to debate the new legislation, and this was passed just before the morning sunrise.

That revised legislation was markedly different, with significant concessions made to the original Liberal package. In the approved legislation, the Government:

  • removed the section that allowed the Cabinet to raise taxes without parliamentary approval
  • shortened to 6 months, the period the Cabinet has its unlimited spending powers
  • included explicit reference to putting taxpayers’ rights first
  • placed sunset clauses in the legislation
  • established accountability measures with regular reports to parliamentary committees
  • agreed Opposition Parties have the right to recall Parliament if any abuse is identified

In the wee hours of Wednesday, Pierre Poilievre, MP for the Ottawa-area riding of Carleton, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, tweeting the news: “Canadians will get COVID-19 aid. The power grab is defeated.”

The last word on the Liberals’ failed power-play is given to the ever-observant Rex Murphy, whose commentary on this turn of events reads as a poignant reminder to our elected representatives and their political operatives of what must be their first calling in a time of crisis. Murphy writes, “We need all leaders, all qualified voices, not a series of edicts from people who are severely overconfident of their abilities and understanding. We are Canadians, not Liberals and Tories. At this moment, let us try to live that truth.”

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/liberals-machiavellian-power-grab-defeated/

A British take on conservatism

In the March 14th, 2020 edition of The Economist, the column Bagehot was entitled “The meaning of conservatism” and it reflected the views of British politico Nick Timothy. Here is an excerpt on modern conservative thinking.

First, Nick Timothy has been at the heart of the British government for over a decade, first as Theresa May’s adviser at the Home Office and then as her co-chief of staff at 10 Downing Street. Timothy is recognized a conservative both with a small and large “c.” He has a new book on the lessons he learned from his experiences called “Remaking One Nation: Conservatism in an Age of Crisis.

The Economist article excerpt:

     Mr Timothy argues that, since the French revolution, the role of conservatism has been to act as a corrective to the extremes of liberalism. Today those extremes come in two forms: neo-liberalism, which sees markets as the solution to all problems, and woke liberalism, which sees the world through the prism of minority rights and all-pervasive oppression. Many see these two liberalisms as polar opposites. But for Mr Timothy they are both degenerate versions of classical liberalism. The first undermines markets by failing to see that they require popular legitimacy and the second sacrifices what is best in liberalism (pluralism, scepticism, individualism) on the altar of group rights.

     Mr Timothy presents a dismal picture of the consequences. Bosses have seen their compensation more than quadruple while the value of their companies has hardly risen at all. The largest demographic group—the white working class—has seen incomes stagnate for over a decade. Britain has the highest level of regional inequality in Europe. It also has one of the worst systems of vocational education, with 80 undergraduate degrees awarded for every post-secondary technical qualification. Woke liberals are increasingly willing to no-platform or shout down opponents because they see their objectives as quasi-sacred and their critics not just as wrong-headed folk needing to be reasoned with but as evil-minded enemies who must be destroyed….

     Mr Timothy presents an ideologically eclectic list of solutions to Britain’s problems. They are reminiscent of John Ruskin’s description of himself as both “a violent Tory of the old school” and “the reddest also of the red”. But two ideas give his arguments organising force: the nation-state and civic capitalism. A long-standing Brexiteer, Mr Timothy argues that the nation-state has been uniquely successful in holding global elites accountable to voters while also giving citizens a sense of common purpose. He points out that the welfare state was constructed after the second world war, when the sense of common purpose was at its height. A proud citizen of Birmingham, he champions the sort of civic capitalism practised by Joseph Chamberlain, a local businessman who looked after his workers and went on to be a reforming mayor….

    …This is a conservatism which celebrates the power of the state to achieve collective ends by dealing with regional and inter-generational inequalities; which challenges the self-dealing of business elites by rewiring the rules of corporate governance; and which puts a premium on rebuilding local communities and reigniting civic capitalism.

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.

Kudos for the Federal Government’s $87 Billion Relief Package

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of key cabinet ministers announced the “comprehensive” coronavirus response package.

The Niagara Independent, March 20, 2020 – Canadians had been hearing for days from their political leaders, “we have your back,” “we’re all in this together,” and “nobody will be left behind.” Then on Wednesday the federal government stepped forward to announce a support bundle of $82 billion to ease the angst Canadians are now beginning to experience as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau offered up a sweeping $27 billion aid package to support families and businesses from economic fallout of the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, Morneau provided $55 billion in tax deferrals and low-interest loans designed to lessen the shock of the plummeting stock market and to stabilize a wobbly economy.

It is a sweeping relief package to weave together a safety net that will catch all those middle-class Canadians (one in three) who are living paycheque to paycheque, those worrying about their future in a gig-economy, and low-wage earners who can in no way afford to be without a job. The government’s support will help Canadians pay for rent and groceries, and businesses continue to meet payroll and pay their bills. Ultimately, the support package is to carry the Canadian economy over an indeterminate period of time as our country slumps into an anticipated recession.

From new EI measures, to boosting child benefits payments, to new GST credits, to a host of tax measures, the federal government stepped up. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided comforting reassurance to Canadians that they need not worry about protecting their health and the health of their loved ones for the fear of not being able to feed their families or pay their rent or mortgages. PM Trudeau stated, “In these extraordinary times our government is taking extraordinary measures. Public health should never hinge on financial considerations.”

Immediately financial analysts and political commentators began parsing the package to translate what this might mean for individuals and the business community. Some criticized that, given the mechanics of government programming, real dollars to those in need could not possibly start flowing until May. But Finance Minister Morneau assured Canadians who are worrying about money to pay necessities that they can expect emergency funds in two to three weeks.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, was critical of the 10 per cent wage subsidy rate offered to business owners to retain their workforce. CFIB is pressing government to provide a wage subsidy of 75 and 90 per cent, but Ottawa’s Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux exposes how costly this may be: “It’s very, very expensive—can you imagine the government of Canada paying 75 per cent of the salaries of all those people that were laid off?” Giroux added the observation, “I don’t see anyway where you could keep all the people employed, preventing job losses, when you have restaurants, airlines and other firms shutting down… In a situation like the one we’re in, ideally assistance should not only be targeted, but also temporary.”

The knee-jerk criticisms aside, the federal government’s announcement was greeted with praise. Ontario Premier Doug Ford applauded the package as “important steps to help keep our economy and people strong.” Kevin Page, president of the Institution of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa, said the government deserves kudos for moving so quickly. National Post columnist John Ivison also gave thumbs-up: “Ottawa’s commitment to ‘do what it takes’ is exactly the right message for Canadians.”

Ivison was bullish on the reasoned approach taken by the Finance Minister who focused on putting food on tables and keeping roofs over heads, quoting Morneau, “Clearly the impacts of this pandemic have been profound and will continue to be profound… Our government is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our economy strong and stable. Whatever it takes.”

What is disconcerting though is not knowing exactly what it will take. A closed Canada-U.S. border, grounded flights, closed restaurants, cancelled concerts and “a new normal” for social interactions; how bad will the pandemic and required shutdowns be for Canada’s economy? How much can Canadians expect the government to spend on the safety net – and for how long?

Canada’s Central Bank Governor Stephen Poloz said the package of individual initiatives are “elastic” and “designed to expand or not,” depending on circumstances. Poloz identified that those individuals with the greatest employment risks are the five million who work in retail, culture/recreation, accommodation/food services and real estate sectors. Though neither the Finance Minister nor the Bank Governor would venture an estimate of how many Canadians would lose their jobs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin forecasted that unemployment in the States would likely grow to 20 per cent. This is sobering: one in five will be without work.

Neil Irwin wrote a thoughtful NY Times piece in which he foresees the pandemic having a profound economic and social impact — and a much longer than expected hang-over. Irwin argues that the health of the five sectors that have been shut down (air transportation; performing arts and sports; gambling and recreation; hotels and other lodging; and restaurants and bars) are critical for a robust American economy. The sectors accounted for 13.8 million full-time jobs and $574 billion in total employee compensation in 2018. Compromised is the $11 billion a week the affected American businesses normally pay their employees, not to mention all their payments for rent, debt service and property taxes. Irwin concludes, “the economy can’t adjust on a dime, and the fact that doctors, nurses and grocery store clerks may end up working longer hours won’t make up for millions of waiters, flight attendants and hotel housekeepers who are likely to see their incomes plunge.”

John Robson of the Ottawa Citizen echoes this insight when commenting on the limitations of government support: “You can’t ‘stimulate’ your way out of a pandemic-driven recession.”  Robson writes: “With the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone’s telling governments to “stimulate” something called “the economy” through deficits and interest rate cuts so we won’t have less wealth just because people can’t go to work and create it…. here’s the stinger: unless government multiplies loaves and fishes or cures the sick, it cannot “stimulate” the “economy” in a pandemic.”

Unquestionably, there should be kudos to the federal government for its $87 billion relief package announcement this week. It is reassuring and provides Canadians with the support required to focus on what matters most. So, stay healthy and safe all. The multiple questions regarding the country’s economy and our future prospects can wait for another day.

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/kudos-for-the-federal-governments-87-billion-relief-package/

$213 Billion of Canadian Resource Projects Lost

The Niagara Independent, March 13, 2020 — Our history documents that Canada was founded on the development of its natural resources. Canadians today enjoy their standard of living as a direct result of wealth generated by the development of our country’s natural resources. The Nation’s mining, oil and gas, forestry and agriculture sectors have provided us with good jobs, a stable economy, and a wondrous promise of an enduring national prosperity. Given Canada’s illustrious past, it is remarkable that in five short years, under one federal administration, that our promise would be forsaken, perhaps irreversibly broken.

Second Street, a Calgary-based news agency, recently tallied up the total dollar figure of all the resource development projects that have been cancelled in Canada since 2014. The total loss of investment is an astonishing $213 Billion worth of cancelled or stalled Canadian projects from coast to coast to coast. This figure is unfathomable, yet Second Street attempts to put it into context by calculating that the $213 Billion would allow for the construction of a NHL-sized arena — one a day, for a calendar year.

A few weeks ago, Canadians learned that the $20.6 Billion Teck Frontier mine project was scrapped. This resource project would have had 40 years of anticipated production and economic contributions to Canada’s coffers. Teck Frontier was to directly employ 7,000 workers during construction and up to 2,500 workers during operation. It would have generated more than $70 Billion in revenue to governments — $12 Billion in Canadian taxes and royalties and a total of $55 Billion to Alberta to pay for Albertans’ future healthcare and education needs.

Last week, Canadians were made aware that Quebec’s Energie Saguenay pipeline project was losing its largest investor. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway firm took $4-billion off the table and abandoned its investment in the $9-billion liquefied natural gas project. This project would have built a new 782 km pipeline corridor across northern Quebec and constructed a natural gas liquefaction complex at Port Saguenay. The new port facilities would handle annual exports overseas of 11 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas. The Province would have directly benefitted for decades to come from the jobs, economic spinoffs, and taxes generated by this project and its exports.

Like the Teck Frontier project before it, company officials confirmed the Energie Saguenay project investment was lost due to Canada’s current political instability that is undermining the country’s resource sectors. Tristan Goodman, president of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, admitted Warren Buffet’s move “sends a signal that all governments and particularly the federal government should pay attention to. We have to have foreign investment. We do need to ensure that major infrastructure projects can be built across the country.”

Further to the resource sectors, all industrial and commercial activities in Canada have been disrupted by a series of rail blockades and protest demonstrations. The disruptions were prompted by an indigenous grievance with the B.C. Coastal GasLink pipeline and they quickly spread across the country in the form of environmentalists’ anti-pipeline demonstrations. However, describing the effective shutdown of Canada as “an anti-pipeline campaign” is far too narrow as Rex Murphy has assessed in one of his recent columns, “These are the anti-industry, anti-energy, anti-Alberta, climate-change save-the-worlders who have been harassing the country for years.”

And Rex Murphy squarely identifies the Trudeau Government as the prime contributing factor in our country’s economic standstill. He writes: “The steadfast refusal to defend the industry, always bending to the other side to placate the protesters, the demonstrators; muttering on constantly about carbon dioxide “pollution;” caving in on every occasion there is an interruption in a legal development: all of these things were a bugle call to those who like to think their cause is above normal politics, above normal protest, and most of all, as we have seen this week, above the courts and the legislatures. By insisting for their full tenure that “climate change” is “Canada’s No. 1 priority” the Liberal government has stimulated the current rage that is seizing the country.”

The Trudeau Government’s actions – and its purposeful non-actions relating to resource development have had a dramatic impact on both large and small resource companies. On one level there is a company like the American energy giant ConocoPhillips which abandoned its Alberta oil sands operations and sold outright its $17.7 billion worth of Canadian assets. On another level, equally harmful, are smaller businesses that are shutting their doors, like Calgary-based Trident Exploration, which simply walked away from its 4,700 oil wells and placed nearly 100 people out of work.

Abandoned resource projects equate not only to lost employment but also lost investments and future economic activity. Cameron Gingrich, Director of Strategic Energy Advisory Services at Calgary’s Solomon Associates, cites a long list of foreign investors who have recently pulled out of planned investments in proposed LNG projects alone. This list includes billions of dollars of investment from Chevron Corp., Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Exxon Mobil Corp., CNOOC Ltd. and Petronas Bhd. The LNG projects in B.C., on the prairies, and in eastern Canada are jeopardized or lost altogether.

In commenting on the fallout of the Energie Saguenay news, Finance Professor George Athanassakos of Western University views the effects of the Trudeau Liberals’ anti-resource approach as having serious negative effects for the country in the longer term. “Value investors are long-term fundamental investors, and when governments do not care about the long-run economics and fundamentals are impacted by politics, they run away. When a democratically elected government ends up following policies driven by activists, it is neglecting its larger mission and mandate and that will eventually hurt the economy and fundamentals.”

For Canada to lose $213 Billion of resource projects does not only damage our country’s current economic standing, it will surely cripple the opportunities of future generations of Canadians. Without the wealth generated by resource projects like Teck Frontier, Energie Saguenay, and the dozens of others that have now been lost, Canadians in the coming years will be hard pressed to fulfill the promise of an enduring national prosperity.

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

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/213-billion-of-canadian-resource-projects-lost/

 

On “Wild Pigs”

Take a moment to let this sink in.. and here’s a thought to remember as you read this: Marx said, “Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom and no one would have noticed.”

There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting Communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist regime.

In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question.  He asked: “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch-line. The young man said that it was no joke. “You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free food. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

“Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.”

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in Canada. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of government programs to feed us from cradle to grave, while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.

One should always remember two truths:
1.  There is no such thing as a free lunch, and
2.  You can never hire someone to provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.

If you see that all of this wonderful government “help” is a problem confronting the future of democracy in our country, you might want to share this with your friends.

God help us all when the gate slams shut!

A here’s a thoughtful quote to pass along:  “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”

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(Received in my email today – and could not not reshare it. – cg) 

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.