Tag Archives: Niagara_Independent

Trudeau’s Environmental Agenda: repeated promises and plans of plans

The Niagara Independent, November 27, 2020  – This week it was reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was fooled by a prank caller pretending to be Greta Thunberg, who wished to discuss climate change and exchange insights with Trudeau on global environmental issues. The call turned out to be an embarrassing ruse. Perhaps though it was karma for the PM, who has been bluffing Canadians for years on matters of the environment.

The latest chapter in the Trudeau environmental agenda begins with the tabling of the long-anticipated climate change legislation – Bill C-12, an Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. This legislation was expected to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the years 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045, with the ultimate goal of achieving a net-zero carbon Canadian economy by 2050.

For months now environmentalists have been told to expect hard targets, an explicit commitment to meet the targets, and penalties established for failing to reach the targets. Instead, the government served up what is essentially a plan to develop a plan. Bill C-12 requires the government to assemble an advisory group, to schedule the setting of targets every five years, and to publicly report every five years on the progress being made. There is no explicit commitment for the government to reach its 2050 target – and no penalties or legal consequences if it fails to do so.

The legislation does not set out how the federal government will engage provinces in its national emissions reduction plan, or how the government’s agenda will be financed and paid for by Canadian businesses and taxpayers. Are Canadians to assume these details will be studied by the government’s advisory group?

In the act of tabling Bill C-12 the Trudeau Liberals tout that they now have fulfilled their election promise “to be more aggressive at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to get Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050.” The PM told Canadians the legislation is “an accountability framework” that will “ensure we reach this net-zero goal in a way that gives Canadians confidence.”

But as with many of his green initiatives it is evident that the PM’s description of the legislation is hyperbolic. The fact is Bill C-12’s only mandatory accountability measure is that the government must set its new emission reduction target for 2030 within nine months after the legislation is passed, and then additional targets for every subsequent five years. So, if Bill C-12 is passed in this minority Parliament, the Liberals will have an additional grace period to consider establishing a 2030 target – in other words, getting a serious target is a decade away.

The lack of clarity surrounding the Liberals’ plans did not stop an Environment Minister spokesperson to double down on the promise to exceed current 2030 emission targets – and to also take a back swipe at the country’s oil and gas industry. In a Toronto Star feature on the new legislation, Liberal staffer Moira Kelly stated, “Our government is committed to exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction target, and we recognize that addressing oil and gas sector methane emissions provides some of the most cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country.”

Respectfully, this is hollow political rhetoric. Based on the latest federal data (2018 figures), to meet Canada’s current 2030 targets for industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the country would be required to reduce emissions from 729 million tonnes to 511 million tonnes. To achieve a 218 million tonnes drop, Canada would have to completely shut down the equivalent of either the country’s transportation sector or its oil and gas sector within the next ten years.

On this point, Conservative environment critic, MP Dan Albas blasted Trudeau and the Environment Minister for not being forthcoming about the impact their green agenda would have on the country. Albas said, “Justin Trudeau needs to be transparent with Canadians about his plan for achieving net zero. Canadians are worried that he plans to dramatically increase carbon taxes, and they are worried about the impact this will have on the cost of gas, groceries and home heating.”

There is also the fact that the Trudeau Government has missed Canada’s 2020 emission targets by a whopping 99.2 per cent. In 2015, the newly-minted PM stated 2020 emission levels would be 17 per cent lower than 2005 levels – which would in effect reduce carbon emissions from 730 to 606 million tonnes. Government data today revels the 2020 levels emitted are 729 million tonnes. Trudeau’s five years in office has realized no impact on the country’s carbon emissions.

The new legislation proposing the planning of a plan to reach an ultimate net-zero carbon economy is reflective of the Trudeau Government’s entire environment agenda. It is heavy on rhetoric and lacks serious intent and follow-through. Consider these hallmark green initiatives PM Trudeau has showcased in the last five years.

  • In 2019 the PM stated the government would plant 2 billion trees in 10 years (and Bill C-12 repeats this promise), and yet not one tree has been planted and there is no budget or plan set.
  • The PM promised a ban on single-use plastics in Canada by end-of-2021 and made the claim that this would significantly reduce ocean pollution, and yet there is no government plan to assist the Canadian business community to transition from plastic bags, straws, etc. within the next 13 months. Even if the impossible were possible Canada’s ban would only reduce global pollution by 0.5 per cent, having zero impact on the ocean’s health.
  • The PM took the lead in 2018 at the United Nations with the Ocean Plastic Charter to address marine litter and the sustainability of our coastlines and ocean waters, and yet under his Government’s watch Quebec cities continue their “Flushgate” dumping of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence, and coastal cities Vancouver and Victoria continue to pump raw sewage directly into the Pacific Ocean. In the last five years there has been an estimated 900 billion litres of raw sewage dumped into Canada’s waterways.
  • In the 2015 election, Trudeau promised clean drinking water to First Nations communities, and yet today 100 communities have water advisories and 61 of those are long-term – and the government still has no plan to deliver on this basic necessity.

In the next few weeks, the Trudeau Government is to produce another planning document for his environment agenda. The anticipated Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will be a new plan to detail how the government will work towards a new 2030 emissions target. Perhaps this document will reveal to Canadians what government controls and regulations will be introduced – and the scheduled tax hikes for Trudeau’s new carbon taxes. The PM must get serious about his environmental agenda at some point soon – or he just might yet get a call from Greta Thunberg.

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/trudeaus-environmental-agenda-repeated-promises-and-plans-of-plans/

 

PM Trudeau Implementing “The Great Reset” In Canada

The Niagara Independent, November 20, 2020  – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now openly referred to his federal government’s post-COVID-19 economic policies as complying with “The Great Reset,” the title of a document first published in 2016 by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Our Canadian PM is focused on using the uncertain times created by the pandemic to “Build Back Better” and reshape our country’s economic and social make-up.

Before broaching what this means for Canada, here are a few pertinent points to appreciate the path Canadians are currently tripping along. “Build Back Better” is a politically-charged phrase that serves as a mantra in the WEF’s The Great Reset. It’s an euphemism used by globalist-minded leaders like Justin Trudeau whose objective is to redesign capitalism, advance an international green agenda, and ultimately establish a new global order. (Google it – this information is all public.)

COVID-19 – The Great Reset (July 2020) is the latest policy document written by Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and CEO. Schwab describes how the coronavirus has disrupted both economic and social infrastructure and it provides an opportunity “to create a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world going forward.” The WEF has advanced a post-COVID plan to be implemented over the next 10 years. By 2030, countries will have reformed to adhere to the objectives set by the economic and social governing bodies of the United Nations (U.N.).

Last point, early next year the WEF globalists will gather at their annual Davos Summit. The summit will spotlight the Global Shapers program, a youth activism initiative now operating in 400 cities around the world. More than 1,300 people have been trained and financed as climate activists and organizers to protest for change. Beginning in 2021, countries will need to manage “grassroots movements” that will be demonstrating for global climate change solutions.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau has publicly tied the country’s COVID-19 recovery to The Great Reset as well as the 2030 objectives of the U.N. Twice in the last two months Canada’s PM has announced this direction for the country. In a video conference to a U.N. audience in September, Trudeau stated: “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset. This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change… Building back better means getting support to the most vulnerable while maintaining our momentum on reaching the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

In front of an audience of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at the end of October, PM Trudeau made the commitment to “build back better in a fiscally sustainable way” — although he provided no details regarding the government’s fiscal plans. When pressed to discuss the country’s finances, the PM evaded the questions by stating: “But I think there’s a lot of uncertainty still around where we’re going to end at the end of this pandemic, and I think it would be premature to be locking things down.”

The PM’s messages are ripped directly from the pages of COVID-19 – The Great Reset and Canadians can expect to repeatedly hear this script in the coming months. The Schwab book foresees that COVID-19 lockdowns will gradually ease, but anxiety about the world’s social and economic prospects will intensify. The economic downturn may lead countries’ economies to their worst depression since the 1930s. Schwab’s answer – echoed by Trudeau – is: “In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism. We must build entirely new foundations for our economic and social systems.”

What exactly does this reset mean for our country? The policies that Canadians can expect to see introduced are laid out clearly in WEF documents and presentations:

  • amend tax regulations for greater government control over business and individuals
  • introduce wealth taxes
  • withdraw subsidies from fossil-fuel industry
  • create new funding programs for green initiatives
  • enact greater government intervention and social planning measures to tie the country’s policies to U.N. policies

Canadians will hear about the wonderful promises of the “Building Back Better” Canada Plan. It has the potential to create or maintain 6.3 million green jobs. With $109 billion investment by the federal government over the next 10 years, Canada will generate $790 billion in green initiatives and this will result in a net-zero economic recovery. The plan includes introducing new government programs: retrofits of homes and workplaces, accelerated electric vehicle uptake, greening of the electricity grid, and more. It will also mean the decarbonizing of Canada’s natural resources sectors.

This plan hinges on Canadian private sector investments of $681 billion in the next ten years. And (here is the detail that is not being revealed by Trudeau and Finance Minister Freeland) the Government intends on securing these investment dollars by “reinventing capitalism.” WEF documents explain how this will be accomplished; how governments will be “future-proofing capitalism” by tightly tethering the private sector to government regulatory control. WEF recommends to global leaders:

  • Governments and regulators must intervene to ensure the costs of environmental and social damage are internalized by the companies responsible: profits cannot come at the expense of long-term societal resilience.
  • For capitalism to deliver a sustainable and inclusive recovery, it is critical that companies’ cost of capital reflects the quality of their governance and their impact on society and the environment.

WEF instructs its global leaders to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic, and make sure that it becomes the catalyst for a profoundly positive transformation of the global economy.

There are more details — a lot more. But how much of “The Great Reset” can Canadians comprehend – and how much of this grand design will they believe? Justin Trudeau is betting on both Canadians’ apathy in all things political, and their trust in government to allow him to implement the WEF plan.

However, to those who are watching this disturbing scenario unfold, Ottawa political commentator Spencer Fernando sounds the alarm: “What was once called a conspiracy theory is now confirmed by Trudeau, as we can see the elites using this crisis as an excuse to centralize power and reshape our lives in their own image.”

Fernando suggests, “If Trudeau wants to use The Great Reset or Agenda 2030 to fundamentally change Canada into some kind of Euro-Green socialist utopia, then he should seek a mandate from the people.” Precisely. Should not Canadians have a chance to vote on the country’s recovery course, on its future?

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/pm-trudeau-implementing-the-great-reset-in-canada/

The George Soros Series

 The George Soros 4-part series by Chris George in the Niagara Independent

reviews Soros’ life and achievements, beliefs and goals, and his ties and influence in Canada.

 Introducing George Soros

 The core beliefs and aspirations of George Soros

George Soros and his Canadian Chess Game

George Soros casts a long shadow across Canada

 

For the index of Chris George’s columns in the Niagara Independent, click here.

 

Canadian PM and U.S. president-elect ready to “build back better” together

The Niagara Independent, November 13, 2020  – The final votes in the U.S. election have yet to be re-counted and a globalists’ green agenda has been vaulted to priority status by president-elect Joe Biden. In the first exchange between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden, the leaders underlined the fight against climate change as their foremost concern. Biden’s repeated pledge this week to take up the fight against climate change has bolstered the Trudeau Government’s designs for its green initiatives.

Shortly after PM Trudeau spoke with the U.S. president-elect, he tweeted: “I just spoke with Joe Biden and congratulated him again on his election. We’ve worked with each other before, and we’re ready to pick up on that work and tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our two countries — including climate change and COVID-19.”

The official PMO summary of the political leaders’ call highlighted the mutual desire to spur on global action “to support a sustainable economic recovery in both countries and the hemisphere… cooperating on the fight against climate change, on migration and on global security, and to working closely together within NATO and the G7….”

The Trudeau Government spin-machine went into overdrive to position climate change at the forefront of the Canada-U.S. agenda. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna (former Environment Minister) tweeted out her observation of the significance of the Biden victory: “It’s been a long, tough slog these past four years internationally on climate action. It will make a big difference to have the U.S. back in the Paris Agreement, joining Canada and like-minded countries pushing hard for ambitious climate action.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne told CBC’s Rosemary Barton: “Certainly there’s a will by Canada to work with this new administration, to work with colleagues around the world, whether it’s about the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations.”

And later in a CTV interview, Minister Champagne crowed, “I think the big prize is to build back better together.”

So, it just may be a coincidence but president-elect Biden’s website to document his transition to the Oval Office is www.buildbackbetter.com. “Build Back Better” is a politically-charged phrase found within the World Economic Forum’s The Great Reset; a euphemism used by globalist-minded leaders who wish to redesign capitalism, advance an international green agenda, and ultimately to establish a new global order. (Google it – this information is all public.)

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), an American free-market organization, is alarmed at Biden’s comments in his first press conference after being announced president-elect. FEE is most concerned about Biden’s claim that Americans had given him a clear “mandate for action on COVID and the economy and climate change and systemic racism.” FEE states, “Biden’s rhetoric focuses on restoring order and stability amid emergency, but the details of his transition agenda involve a radical upheaval of our economy.”

This assertion seems to be confirmed with the rationale found on the president-elect’s website: “Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, powerful calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris know we can’t simply go back to the way things were before. The team being assembled will meet these challenges on Day One and build us back better.”

Early in the Biden presidency, it is anticipated that the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden has promised to spend $2 trillion over the next four years to reduce emissions and accelerate America’s transition to a clean economy. He also promised that climate change will be a major component of his foreign policy and some on his campaign team have suggested he will champion a “green new deal.”

With these green initiatives, what might a Biden presidency mean for Canada? There are a number of possible dangers with an aggressive green movement south of the border: new carbon import taxes, the cancellation of Keystone XL pipeline and other continental oil and gas projects, and possible new cross-border trade restrictions.

Much like government’s green agendas around the world (including here in Canada), Biden’s environmental platform focuses on its expenditures, not its revenues. Biden spoke often on the trillions to be invested in infrastructure, electric vehicles, zero emission public transit and carbon-free power. He has been silent on providing the details of new carbon pricing and on how his administration will raise the revenues to pay for his green initiatives.

One under-reported plank of Biden’s campaign platform is a “carbon adjustment tax” to force countries exporting goods to the United States to meet climate and environmental obligations. Interestingly, Gerald Butts, vice-chairman of Eurasia Group, recently commented in media about the European Union Parliament’s support of new carbon border adjustment tariffs to be imposed in 2023 to control trade of products such as steel, chemicals and fertilizer. Butts foresees the establishment of a global carbon pricing regime that will force countries to introduce stricter industry regulations for developing their natural resources or face cost-prohibitive trade tariffs.

There are other trade initiatives Biden has committed to that will have Canadian natural resource producers incurring new costs and roadblocks with exporting to its largest trading partner. The president-elect has committed to cancelling Keystone XL, a pipeline project that would carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. Biden and the Democrats also have a protectionist trade bent similar to President Trump’s “America first” mentality, which signals further trade troubles for Canadian dairy commodities, aluminum, and softwood lumber products.

Some Canadians may feel euphoric with a Joe Biden presidency, however they should question those who so readily use the phrase “Build Back Better,” those who are cheerleading and enabling the advancement of the World Economic Forum’s The Great Reset.

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/canadian-pm-and-u-s-president-elect-ready-to-build-back-better-together/

PM Trudeau has us questioning what constitutes “free speech”

The Niagara Independent, November 10, 2020  – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent garble on the issue of free speech would have gone unnoticed had it not been for his public shaming by Quebec Premier Francois Legault. Quite unintentionally, the PM raised a number of questions about the fundamental right to our freedom of expression. And through the incident, Trudeau may well have reconfirmed his understanding of this right.

The context for the Canadian discussion on free speech lays in the barbaric murders that took place in France last month. On October 16th a school teacher, walking home from a day at school, was brutally decapitated by an 18-year-old Islamist extremist. It was later learned the teacher was targeted for displaying cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a civics class on freedom of speech. Two weeks later another extremist beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice.

In the face of these horrific acts of terrorism, French President Emmanuel Macron would not condemn the Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoons, nor question the rights to discuss the publisher’s controversy in French schools. Instead, Macron stated the violent responses were the issue, not free speech. Macron has rejected any suggestion this is a case of Islamophobia or bigotry or discrimination against Muslims. He assertively claims the French were being attacked “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief.”

France’s security alert has been raised and 4,000 troops have been deployed to protect French places of worship and schools and to subdue any signs of extremism. Holding a press conference at the scene of one of the gruesome attacks, Macron stated, “And I say it with lots of clarity again today: we will not give any ground.”

As the French President was being burned in effigy in the streets of Bangladesh. Pakistan, Qatar, and Palestine, leaders from around the world declared support for the French people and Macron’s struggles to avoid further extremist crimes

Prime Minister Trudeau was asked about the issue and his response raised eyebrows from Paris to Quebec City. The Canadian PM said, “We will always defend freedom of expression. But freedom of expression is not without limits. In a pluralist, diverse and respectful society like ours, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the impact of our words, of our actions on others, particularly these communities and populations who still experience a great deal of discrimination.”

To distill Trudeau’s pontification: free speech is not about the right to speak but rather it is about what is said to whom. It is not a fundamental right but rather an arbitrary determination depending on the subject matter. And in this case, for Trudeau, the Charlie Hebdo satirists are not free to publish cartoons of communities and populations discriminated against.

In response to the PM’s comments, lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz wrote in a National Post column, “Trudeau revealed that he does not quite grasp the purpose that free speech serves in a liberal democratic society… Contrary to what Trudeau seems to believe, our free speech laws are drafted not to prevent hurt feelings, or impose respect. They exist to protect thought, dissent and unpopular views. And yes, that includes blasphemy.”

So, though some Muslims might find the Charlie Hebdo cartoons insulting, the cartoonists (and those who choose to use the cartoons such as the Paris school teacher did with his civics class) should in no way be silenced — should not be beheaded — for the insult.

In his National Post column, Chris Selley stated “Trudeau’s “watch your tongues” advice is offensive on many levels.” Selley argues that Trudeau should not have blinked at commenting “about people getting slaughtered over cartoons.” He states: “In that case you just have to call it what it is: a barbaric reaction to a manifestation of free expression that you will unconditionally defend regardless of your opinion of it, which is irrelevant.”

None of this academic argument over freedom of speech would have resonated in Canada had Quebec Premier Francois Legault not called out the Prime Minister for his lack of clarity on what he believes is essentially a fundamental right. Legault held a press conference to share that he had consulted with French President Macron and provided him his unqualified support in defending the right to display caricatures of Muhammad. Legault went on to criticize Trudeau’s explanation of a conditional free speech, which he suggested sided more with Turkish President Erdogan and Pakistani PM Khan than with President Macron.

The Quebec Premier stated, “It is certain that there are some political leaders who fear terrorism and who, faced with the blackmail of certain radical religious groups, are ready to make concessions which are not reasonable. The Quebec nation has values, “freedom of expression,” “secularism” and the “French language.” It is not true that in the name of multiculturalism, we are going to put that aside and that we are going to make exaggerated compromises.”

This embarrassing political posturing from Premier Legault forced the PM to readdress the subject in an Ottawa press conference last week. Trudeau began his clarification by stating, “Acts of terrorism and acts of hate that we have seen in France are unacceptable, unjustifiable. There is no reason for such violence. That is what I have said and that is what I will continue to say.”

Trudeau went on to state in direct contrast to what he said four days prior, “Our journalists, our artists have an important challenge to function in our society and we need to leave them free to do their work. I think it is important to continue defending freedom of expression, freedom of speech.”

On his relationship with French President Macron, Trudeau glossed over the Premier Legault phone call by saying, “We have long worked together, the President of France and myself, on a broad range of issues that matter deeply to our citizens and the world, whether it be fighting terrorism or standing up for human rights, and we will continue to do that.” (When he said this, Trudeau had yet to speak with Macron.)

Sun Media summed up this Trudeau-Macron incident by stating the obvious: “Free speech matters here in Canada.” The paper’s lead editorial noted: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has changed his tune and has stepped forward to take a stand for free speech. That’s good news. But it’s sad that it had to take a snub from another G7 world leader for Trudeau to get on the right side.”

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/pm-trudeau-has-us-questioning-what-constitutes-free-speech/

Our Take-Aways from the U.S. Election

The Niagara Independent, November 6, 2020  – For months Canadians have had an insatiable fascination with the United States election. Canucks have been mesmerized by the political slugfest and media circus of the drawn out presidential race. Today there is an equal amount of marvel and shock with the vote results. In reflecting on what just happened south of the border, here are some key take-aways Canadians may wish to reflect on about our two Nations.

The U.S. is a country that is truly politically divided. Of the more than 141 million votes cast for the president, Joe Biden took 51.2 per cent of the vote, while Donald Trump took 48.8 per cent (at the time of this writing). Across the whole of the country there were only 3 million votes separating the two presidential candidates. Of note, Biden outdistanced Trump by 5 million votes in the States of New York and California. Therefore, figuratively speaking, these two populous States crowned the winner.

The electoral map of the U.S. clearly defines a geographical divide in America. There is a great “red sea” of Republican support in what Democrat operatives refer to as the “fly-over States.” There are two solid strips of Democrat blue connecting the largest American cities along the east and west coasts.

The tight results and the geographical definition of voter support can also be found in Canada’s 2019 election. Our last federal election was the first time in Canadian history that no single party received more than 35 per cent of the popular vote. The Liberals formed government with 33 per cent of the vote, while the Conservatives took 34 per cent and the other parties combined received 31 per cent (third place NDP had 16 per cent). With 6 million votes the Liberals captured 157 seats, largely won in the urban areas of the Greater Toronto Area, Montreal Island, and Vancouver. Canada’s cities are crimson red. Roughly the same number of votes turned the map of Canada west of the Ontario border Tory blue.

With one notable exception, Canadian Leaders demonstrated respect and due regard for the democratic process unfolding in America. Both PM Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole assumed statesmen postures and refrained from indicating any preference on the political outcome in the U.S. In media scrums leading up to the election, the PM and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland vowed repeatedly to work with whomever wins. In striking contrast, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh played to the media on U.S. Election Day to make Canadian headlines with the tweet “VOTE HIM OUT” and the statement, “I think it would be better for the world if Trump loses and I hope he loses.” Perhaps spirited on by his Leader, NDP MP Peter Julian liken the Republicans to the Nazis Party of 1933. (As a humourous aside, an American news commentator quipped about Singh’s slights that the Republicans and President Trump would not be aware of who Singh is – and they will never know him.)

But what does one make of the results when most opinion surveys indicated right up to voting day that Joe Biden held an average lead of ten points nationally and healthy margins in swing States? For example, one of the state polls by ABC-Washington Post gave Biden a 17-point lead in Wisconsin. Biden was declared winner in Wisconsin on Wednesday morning with a squeaky 49.5 to 48.9 per cent margin.

Robert Cahaly, the chief pollster of Trafalgar Group, surmised that the pollsters were incorrect because people are frightened of the aggressive tactics of the cancel culture. Cahaly said, “In this day and age, where people are shamed for their political opinions and canceled and all that nonsense, people just want to play their cards close to their chest.”

Cahaly comments that in media there may appear to be a distinctive narrative, yet in reality there is a substantial number of people who are silent — the proverbial “silent majority.” In Canada, we saw this recently when 74 per cent of Canadians expressed their belief that public statues of past leaders should not be destroyed or removed, even though our politicians are currently kowtowing to an outcry to crate statues and change the historical names of streets and buildings.

The exit polls in the U.S. provide a glimpse of the rationale of the nearly 70 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. Three of the four who voted for the President marked their ballot on the basis of his stance on issues (only one in four voted “personality”). And the issues that were most important: jobs and the economy (35 per cent), racial equality (20 per cent), the pandemic (17 per cent), and crime and safety (11 per cent).

At the core of Trump’s support, people are feeling a great deal of anxiety with the change that is occurring around them. Many believe the Democrats pose an existential threat to U.S. culture. Matt Dallek, a political scientist at George Washington University, states, “Trump has really been masterful at tapping into the idea that the other side is this left-wing socialist enemy that is going to destroy American culture.”

Dallek contends Trump appeals to those Americans who feel alienated by progressive politics: “He is signaling just constantly that there is a more liberal, tolerant, urban, multi-cultural America that is coming for their culture and their country.”

Dallek points out that nearly three out of every five white voters in America are Trump voters. He also notes Trump was able to attract more ethnic minorities to vote for him than any Republican presidential candidate in a generation. His is an appeal that resonated with all who feel anxious about the change in the world and Dallek observes, “Americans are not so divorced from their Western-world cohorts.”

Lorrie Goldstein, Sun News columnist, draws the focus back onto current events on Parliament Hill, “Meanwhile, in Canada, the Liberals are filibustering the parliamentary committee trying to investigate Trudeau’s We Charity controversy and the parliamentary budget officer rebukes the Trudeau gov’t over spending secrecy. But … Orange Man Bad.”

With his Trumpian excuse, Goldstein may have provided our greatest take-away from the past few weeks: “Any Canadians sneering at the shit show election in the U.S. aren’t paying attention. Canada has its own circus going on.”

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/marvel-and-shock/

Revealing national COVID-19 statistics

The Niagara Independent, October 30, 2020  – Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam released the annual report of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) this week providing statistics on fatalities directly attributed to COVID-19, and on the fatalities and addictions consequential to the country’s management of the virus crisis. The report also features a clarion call for structural change to Canadian society that would have greater authority transferred to public health officials.

On Wednesday Dr. Tam began her press conference reporting a milestone statistic, “Sadly, we are reporting over ten thousand deaths for the first time today, with 10,001 deaths among the total cases to date.”

Dr. Tam then presented the PHAC report, informing Canadians of other sobering numbers. Since the first cases in March 2020:

  • there have been 222,887 recorded cases of COVID-19
  • of the COVID-19 patients hospitalized 92 per cent had at least one underlying health condition
  • of those recorded cases, 4.5 per cent died
  • a total of 96.7 per cent of the deaths were over 60 years of age

Health Canada further breaks down the total deaths per province: Quebec has 6,172 (62 per cent), Ontario has 3,103 (31 per cent) and the rest of Canada has 726 (7 per cent) of the country’s COVID-19 fatalities.

The PHAC report sheds light on COVID-19’s broader consequences revealing a troubling story of deteriorating health for many in 2020. Opioid deaths have skyrocketed; mental health issues are a concern; and alcohol, tobacco and drug use are increasing. In summarizing the grim picture painted by PHAC, CBC news stated: “Canadians used to be among the happiest people in the world. That’s changing.”

Perhaps the most startling data produced is on Canada’s opioid drug toll. PHAC reports that in B.C. this year, there were more than 100 drug overdose deaths per month for six consecutive months (March to August), and more than 175 such deaths each month in May, June and July. In July, paramedics responded to an average of 87 overdose calls a day – 2,706 over the month.

As an aside, an Insights West survey of British Columbians found that their fear of COVID-19 eclipsed the issue of drug overdose. Those surveyed are more concerned about the coronavirus than opioids (91 to 81 per cent) even though between January and July the Province reported 195 COVID-19 deaths and a disturbing 911 overdose deaths.

PHAC used surveys by Statistics Canada to report that Canadians have increased their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs during this pandemic. Alcohol consumption was up 19 per cent, tobacco smoking rates up 3.9 per cent, and cannabis use climbed 8.3 per cent. Couple this data with the fact that more than 60 per cent of Canadians are spending more time on the Internet and TV and it is evident that our population’s physical health has been considerably impacted by the COVID-19 related stress and the pandemic lockdowns.

Mental health and child abuse is also a concern for public health officials. Through the lockdowns, women and children are trapped within their abusive relationships. PHAC flags abuse reports from child welfare agencies, but the report states, “This may be the result of fewer detection opportunities, as children are likely to be isolated at home and without community involvement.”

Statistics Canada also has tracked Canadians feelings of “happiness.” In 2018, 68 per cent of Canadians reported excellent or very good self-perceived mental health. This figure has been dropping like a stone through 2020, and in May sank to 48 per cent. Many Canadians feel isolated and lonely: 70 per cent said they were concerned about maintaining social ties and 54 per cent of respondents with kids said they were very or extremely concerned about their children’s loneliness. PHAC found that Indigenous people, the disabled, and low-income Canadians have reported experiencing more suicidal thoughts in 2020.

On the issue of suicide, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem reported this week the economy is still down 700,000 jobs since pre-pandemic – far worse than the peak 425,000 job loss in 2008-09 recession.  A new University of Toronto study suggests that Canada’s economic challenges, particularly unemployment, could lead to an increase of up to 27 per cent in deaths by suicide (as many as 2,114 above the Canadian average) by the end of 2021. U of T Professor Dr. Roger McIntyre observes, “We’re seeing some of the highest unemployment rates in this country since the early 1980s, we’ve seen the loss of 15 years of job creation in Canada in only two months.” Prolonged unemployment will weigh heavily on Canadians’ minds.

To address these disturbing health and wellness trends, Dr. Tam and the PHAC recommend that our government leaders need to accept a health equity approach that would prompt a beneficial structural change in our country. Canada’s top doctor prescribes three actions for government (at all levels):

1) focus on health and societal inequities and the special needs of the disadvantaged;

2) emphasize social cohesion to have Canadians observe public health measures; and,

3) provide more resources to Canada’s public health system to strengthen its capacity.

Tam stated, “I do see COVID-19 as a catalyst for collaboration from health, social and economic sectors… It’s shone a spotlight on the importance of public health. What I’m really, really keen to see is that this continues… The report is calling for this to be a more sustained approach.”

Yet, it seems a stretch to think Canada’s public health officials’ ideological advice on societal transformation will help the opioid crisis, the addictions, the conflicted mental health issues or the disturbing rise in suicides. Sun News columnist Anthony Furey faults Dr. Tam and the PHAC report for attempting to frame the pandemic data “through the lens of academic progressivism” and he advances that it is time to start questioning their agenda. Furey writes, “One gets the impression after reading this report that the pandemic has been a happy accident for public health ideologues, an opportunity for them to roll-out their preconceived notions to a very captive (hostage?) audience.”

With 10,001 COVID-19 deaths and counting, as Furey suggests, Canadians would be best served if Dr. Teresa Tam and her PHAC colleagues applied their expertise to the medical and health issues of the day – and left the societal and economic challenges to the country’s duly elected representatives.

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/revealing-national-covid-19-statistics/

It is time for Canadians to take stock of the country’s fiscal mess

The Niagara Independent, October 23, 2020  – Though no date has been announced, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is to provide Canadians with a fall economic update in the coming weeks. Don Drummond, Senior Fellow at C.D. Howe Institute and former chief economist for TD Bank, is hoping that Freeland’s financial statement will prompt a national debate over the country’s economic and fiscal future.

Drummond believes the pandemic, and government response to the crises, have amplified the economic, social, and health vulnerability of many Canadians. He observes, “We are now at a crossroads… We have been locked into a path of mediocre productivity and real income gains for far too long.” Drummond warns Canadians that it is time to take stock.

Recent economic data suggests the Trudeau Government has stumbled badly through the pandemic: Canada today has the biggest deficit amongst the G20 countries and the highest unemployment in the G7. At 19.9 per cent of GDP, Canada has the largest deficit among all countries and the federal Parliamentary Budget Office estimates the federal debt at more than $1.45 trillion by the year’s end and $1.6 trillion by 2021. The international forum, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, announced that Canada’s August unemployment rate of 10.2 per cent is the worst in the G7, well above the OECD 7.7 per cent average.

In the past few weeks there has been a constant trickle of embarrassing news stories concerning federal government spending.

  • The federal Infrastructure Bank, which was created in 2017, has managed $35 billion of government grants to fund private investment in public works. In three years the bank has zero projects to show for its spending — a fact revealed when PM Trudeau announced the Infrastructure Bank will pursue a new “growth plan” to spend $10-billion on greening infrastructure projects.
  • More than $20 billion spent on 20,000 infrastructure projects remain unaccounted for by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna. There is no documentation for these projects. And a new federal audit of the infrastructure program reveals the federal department has “serious control failures” and its funding process lacks “due diligence.”
  • The Liberals refuse to provide details to Parliament of the contracts awarded to 41 undisclosed companies as part of the government’s $5.8 billion pandemic response to supply masks, gloves and testing equipment. MPs have uncovered that more than 60% of this money has gone to foreign-owned companies offshore.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux stated in a Hill Times interview this week that he’s found it “much more difficult to get information out of the minister’s office” since Chrystia Freeland assumed responsibility for the nation’s finances. Giroux is troubled that there is no transparency about government expenditures and spending plans.

Lorrie Goldstein of Sun Media had the most colourful description of the Government’s economic performance through 2020, “Canadians shaking hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or any Liberal MP these days would be wise to count their fingers afterward. At this point, they have the collective credibility of carnival barkers.”

Don Drummond, on the other hand, provides a humourless assessment that Canada’s fiscal future is “foggy.” In a recently released C.D. Howe report, Drummond presents four unattractive scenarios for the country to manage its fiscal deficit spending and mounting debt load.

Scenario one has the Trudeau Government continuing with its habitual spending ways and deferring all pandemic spending costs to a future generation.

Scenario two has the government commit to a lower annual deficit of $25 billion – a move that would have Trudeau curtail his spending promises for Canada to “build back better.”

The third scenario is to place a higher ceiling on the government’s annual deficits (i.e. $50 billion) to provide more room for program spending, which would place a greater burden on future taxpayers.

The fourth scenario is to peg the annual deficits even higher – at $100 billion – and have the government find innovative ways to manage the growing debt burden.

In the C.D. Howe report, Drummond makes the point that the Trudeau Government’s deficit spending since 2015 has limited its ability to introduce massive government spending programs while effectively managing the country’s fiscal record.

John Robson, political columnist for the National Post, responded to this report with a siren cry: “Canadians need to wake up to the financial mess we’re in.” Robson sees that Canadians are sleep walking through the country’s fiscal nightmare. He presents five fundamental fiscal objectives that could be a starting point to get the country’s economic house in order. His objectives are:

Wealth must be created before it can be distributed;
Money is not wealth;
Borrowing has costs;
Who does not work shall not eat; and
Stealing from your kids is wrong.

Robson quotes American economist Thomas Sowell when lamenting that Canadians are being willfully ignorant about the consequences of overspending and incurring larger amounts of debt. Sowell wrote: “Too many people have always believed we can have whatever we can imagine, provided our sunny ways turn to a vicious snarl if anyone tries to disturb our pipe dreams of world peace, free love or free money with practical difficulties and past experience.”

Robson forewarns Canadians: “The day the county hauls our belongings away ’cuz we’re busted, dumping us unceremoniously on the bare floor, we will wonder how we could have been so stupored.”

As both Don Drummond and John Robson suggest, Canadians need to pay attention to the government’s economic and fiscal plan. For not to be fully engaged in the discussions of Finance Minister Freeland’s financial statement this Fall may cost us dearly.

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/it-is-time-for-canadians-to-take-stock-of-the-countrys-fiscal-mess/

PM Trudeau continues to dodge the WE scandal – but for how long?

The Niagara Independent, October 16, 2020  – In the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can, the lead character Frank, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, successfully performs a string of cons worth millions of dollars. Frank is masterfully manipulative, having his way with people with his impeccable charm and easy-going personality. In the end (spoiler alert) Frank succumbs to hubris — being ego-centric and over-confident — and is caught when his deceptive ways become predictable.

This Hollywood flick is apropos of the drama being played out in Ottawa with PM Justin Trudeau, his family, the Kielburger brothers and a host of supporting actors. Though the ending is still to be written, there is a growing fascination around whether the government’s botched WE Charity handout may yet be the scandal that entraps the Prime Minister.

For months there has been a steady trickle of revelations of misdeeds involving the $912 million sole-sourced government deal with the WE Charity. This week’s pitched rhetoric between PM Trudeau and Opposition MPs has again drawn a spotlight on the WE saga and the PM’s attempts to dodge all scrutiny of his family’s involvement with the Kielburger’s charity.

MPs have begun to dig at unanswered questions about $43.5 million in administration fees, the WE’s $300,000 payment to Margaret Trudeau and further hundreds of thousands to Trudeau family members, and the government’s due diligence in approving the sole-sourced contract. Today, MPs want to understand under whose authority was a government cheque of $30 million written and handed to Craig and Marc Kielburger before the WE grant proposal was approved by Cabinet or Treasury Board.

It is now confirmed that Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, misled the House of Commons Ethics Committee. Chagger testified back in July that she knew nothing about the WE charity’s application to government. Furthermore, Chagger could not tell committee MPs whether the Kielburgers had repaid the $30 million given to them (in fact, they did repay the money weeks later). Another line of questioning that is being ignored related to the $45 million worth of real estate assets the brothers acquired while operating their charity — was this money pocketed when the Kielburgers hastily closed the charity’s doors this summer? Or should it be subject to a CRA audit?

Lest it is forgotten with all these plot twists, PM Trudeau and former Finance Minister Bill Morneau are still being investigated by the Ethics Commission. In question is why the two men did not recuse themselves from the Cabinet approval of WE Charity’s $912 million contract, though both their families had pecuniary interests with the charity.

So, in mid-August, amidst the barrage of embarrassing questions at two parliamentary committees, the PM unexpectedly prorogued Parliament to remove WE Charity from the news headlines. Though Trudeau succeeded in this short term goal, opposition parties have returned to Parliament prepared to pick up where the inquiries had been aborted. Conservative ethics critic MP Michael Barrett set the tone, “Conservatives will continue to fight for answers that Canadians deserve… [the Liberals are] more focused on covering up Justin Trudeau’s unethical behaviour than helping Canadians.”

It has been only two weeks since Parliament has resumed and now Opposition MPs claim the Liberals are “inappropriately shutting down” the proceedings of two Parliamentary committees that seek to reopen WE Charity investigations. In Parliament’s ethics committee, Liberal MPs filibustered for 4 ½ hours in order to avoid a motion to release details of speaking fees paid since 2008 for the PMs’ wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, mother Margaret Trudeau and brother Alexandre Trudeau. MPs are interested in fact checking the financial records against WE and government statements that the Trudeau family received $560,000 in speaking fees between 2016 and 2020 — and MPs are also interested in knowing how much more the Trudeau family made from their relationship with the Kielburgers. 

Meanwhile at Parliament’s finance committee, its chairman, Liberal MP Wayne Easter, cut the mic on a Conservative MP and abruptly adjourned a meeting in a move to avoid a vote that the Liberals were sure to lose. Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre decries the committee’s legitimacy is now in question, “Committees are supposed to hold governments accountable. It’s not appropriate for the chair to simply slam the gavel, flip the switch, and turn out the lights when the government is embarrassed.”

Conservative chief opposition whip MP Blake Richards has since commented in media on the Liberals tactics, “(The rules) were clearly broken. There’s clearly an effort here to avoid the meetings. There’s clearly an effort to cover up the matter at hand, which is the WE scandal.”

The Liberals’ stonewalling has now led to both the NDP and the Conservatives requesting that a special Parliamentary Anti-Corruption Committee be created to examine the WE Charity scandal in full. The NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Conservatives are all calling on the government to revise the excessively redacted WE documents so that MPs can properly conduct their review. MP Barrett observed, “There has to be something pretty significant, pretty explosive in those documents, to shut down Parliament, to stop their release and then, once Parliament resumes, to filibuster committee for days on end to prevent their further release.”

The PM answered the Opposition’s call by smiling into a camera on Tuesday and firmly stating: “We are entirely focused on the second wave of COVID-19. We will continue to stay focused on what we need to do to support Canadians facing a very difficult time right now. The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE Charity, so be it…. “We’ve been open and transparent on these questions.”

However, not all reporters at that press conference were accepting the PM’s line. Sun Media encapsulates up to a half-dozen national press corps articles in its lead editorial entitled: “Shameless Liberals obstruct WE probes.” The editors opine: “Apparently Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t want to disclose the total amount of money the Trudeau family was paid in speaking fees and expenses for appearing at WE Charity and other events…. Trudeau’s tortured logic is that (a) he’s only capable of focusing on one thing at a time and (b) he gets to choose which one. In the real world, this is just more Liberal obstructionism on the WE scandal and Trudeau’s role in it.”

With political pundits and media editors beginning to question the PM’s intent and sincerity, is this the beginning of his final scenes? In Catch Me If You Can, a pressured Frank responds by flashing his smile and brushing his hand through his splendid locks. In Ottawa, Trudeau unknowingly mimics DiCaprio’s enchanting gestures. The similarities are uncanny.

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/pm-trudeau-continues-to-dodge-the-we-scandal-but-for-how-long/

Federal Government will need to introduce a list of new tax measures

The Niagara Independent, October 9, 2020  – Next week the Trudeau Government will set a record for having gone the longest in Canadian Parliamentary history without presenting a federal budget (on Friday it will be 316 days). When asked just after the Throne Speech whether there would be a budget before the fiscal year-end March 31, 2021, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland simply dismissed the question. It appears neither PM Justin Trudeau nor Minister Freeland wish to account for the money spent or the new taxes that will be levied by this Government.

Recall in July, former Finance Minister Bill Morneau released a “fiscal snapshot” that reported a government operational deficit of $343 billion for this fiscal year. Since July, PM Trudeau has made a litany of program announcements totaling tens of billions of dollars in additional spending. For the fiscal year 2020-21 economists expect the government deficit to be approaching $400 billion and Canada’s national debt to have climbed beyond $1 trillion.

This is a dubious record for the Trudeau Liberals: the total federal government program spending is more than all previous federal government fiscal deficits combined through Canada’s history. For a country with a population of less than 38 million, these numbers are huge. The Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux warns that it is an imperative for the government to rein in its spending in the next two years or the country’s debt load will be “unsustainable.”

So the question is: How do Canadians pay for this? Short answer: With increased taxes.

In a Toronto Star feature this week, financial expert Gordon Pape listed the various new taxes the Trudeau Government will need to introduce to begin to pay for its unbridled spending since 2015 and its unprecedented pandemic spending through the last six months. Pape observes, “None of this is going to happen immediately. Imposing new taxes on a staggering economy would drive the country into a depression that could last for years. But a year or two from now, when the pandemic is under control and the economy is in recovery mode, watch out. Someone has to pay the bill, and it’s going to be us.”

Here is the checklist of new taxes Canadians should expect in future federal budgets.

Hike the GST rate to six or seven per cent.  This consumption tax collects $7 billion in additional revenue for every percentage point and Pape views it as “very tempting for any cash-strapped government.” The Liberals have repeatedly expressed concern over wealth inequity so a tax on consumer spending is fairest. Wealthier Canadians spend more and will be taxed more with their spending.

Eliminate the capital gains tax exemption on principal residences. A new home equity tax would have the sale of your family home subject to a 50% capital gains tax that will rake in billions of dollars annually for the federal treasury. The government commissioned the University of British Columbia to research this home tax. In its report, UBC researchers identified homes as “tax shelters” and described homeowners as “lottery winners.” Liberals have been quick to distance themselves from the report, however the idea keeps resurfacing in their finance policy discussions.

Raise the inclusion rate for taxable capital gains. In the 2019 election, both Liberals and the NDP campaigned that the capital gains exemption is a tax break for the rich. There have been trial balloons floated to increase the current 50 per cent rate for taxable capital gains to 75 per cent, or the full 100 per cent. The government factors a 75 per cent rate will raise $8 billion in tax revenue annually. This measure is very likely to appear in the upcoming budget because the minority Liberals are certain to receive support from the NDP to “tax the rich.”

Increase the carbon tax and introduce new carbon taxes. On April 1st the federal carbon tax increased from $20 to $30 a tonne on emissions. For consumers, that costs us an extra 2.5 cents per litre of gasoline at the pumps. (The Canadian Government was the only government in the world to raise taxes during the height of the pandemic this Spring.) Next year the carbon tax is to rise again, and the following year it is to rise yet again. On top of these tax increases, National Post reporter John Ivison warns: “Get ready for the Liberals’ secret new carbon tax — as Canadians emerge from COVID-induced hibernation, the Liberal government is preparing a plan to make their lives more expensive to meet its climate targets.” The Trudeau Liberals are introducing a new Clean Fuel Standard Tax that will have Canadians paying an additional 11 cents per litre at the pump. These are the carbon tax measures scheduled; it is unknown what further taxes Canadians should expect with the Trudeau Liberals’ green agenda.

Introduce new wealth taxes. The recent Throne Speech announced the Government will introduce wealth taxes in the immediate future. No surprise here. The Liberals and NDP campaigned in 2015 and 2019 to introduce new taxes on individual and family net worth. The Liberals also proposed a 10 per cent luxury tax on the purchase of cars, boats and private aircraft and a new speculation tax on vacant residential property. The latter two taxes will raise an estimated $850 million annually for Ottawa (actually, less than what the Liberals were going to pay the Kielburger brothers and WE this year). Former Liberal Finance Minister John Manley commented that proposing a new wealth tax is “one of the dumbest things” in the Liberal agenda. Manley stated: “There’s a basic problem with it that there aren’t enough rich people, and secondly, if you tax them enough, they’ll leave.”

In his column Gordon Pape also mentions that the Liberals will need to consider when to introduce new corporate taxes on Canadian business owners; eliminate tax free savings accounts established for individuals’ retirement planning; and, raise personal income taxes.

There is another highly contentious tax measure that Pape does not address, which is currently being publicly mused about in Ottawa: the introduction of an inheritance tax. As recorded in Blacklock’s Reporter, Liberal MP Sean Fraser, who serves as Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Minister, believes that an inheritance tax addresses a “plague” of income inequality in our country. At Finance Committee this week MP Fraser boldly stated of the new tax: “if it requires us to ask the wealthy to contribute a little bit more, we will not be afraid to make that demand.” To which Calgary-based, political blogger Cory Morgan quips: “Not content with indebting our children and grandchildren with record government deficits, the Trudeau government is now considering taking their inheritance too.”

In considering Gordon Pape’s list of likely tax measures, it is suffice to say that Canadians should brace for future federal budgets. In the coming years we will be tapped to pay for the Trudeau Government’s prolonged spending spree. They are sure to be taxing times.

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/federal-government-will-need-to-introduce-a-list-of-new-tax-measures/

Canadian prairie provinces’ future prosperity put on track with A2A Rail

The Niagara Independent, October 2, 2020  – One week after the Trudeau Government’s Throne Speech ignored the economic distress of the oil and gas (and agriculture) industries of western Canada, United States President Donald Trump heralded a new era for Canadian and American natural resource exports.

The U.S. President issued a presidential permit for the development of a $22 billion (Cdn.) Alaska-Alberta rail line that will link Albertan oil sands and prairie resources to Alaskan deep-sea ports. The Alaska to Alberta Railway (A2A Rail) announcement is a godsend for western Canadians, promising new economic growth and prosperity where there has been little hope with PM Justin Trudeau’s design for a decarbonized nation.

The A2A Rail is a privately owned, Calgary-based corporation with plans for a 2,570-kilometre mega-project that will provide “a modern, safe, and efficient way to transport a wide range of bulk commodities, including grain, ore, and other resources, in addition to containerized goods and passengers.”

The new rail line will connect the network of railroads from Fort McMurray, Alberta to Alaska’s deep-water ports. For Americans, it completes a railway system that can move freight from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska, and provide new economic development opportunities for the residents and businesses in isolated Alaskan regions. For Canadians, the rail line will open up export markets for the oil, natural gas, potash, ore, and agricultural products from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A2A Rail Founder and Chairman Sean McCoshen stated this project provides “the missing link” to connect Alaska with the rail systems throughout North America. In a company press release Tuesday, McCoshen said, “We estimate that this rail line could unlock $60 billion in additional cumulative GDP through 2040 and create more than 28,000 jobs. In addition, A2A will lift household incomes by an average of 40 per cent in the communities we pass through in northwestern Canada and Alaska.”

A2A Rail construction can start as early as this Fall and it is anticipated to be complete by 2025, with trains beginning to roll in 2026. In the next five years there will be more than $15 billion spent in Canada to complete the rail line – which can be described as nothing less than “exciting” for western Canadians. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney commented, “The Government of Alberta is glad to see the approval of A2A rail project in the United States. We support the development of trade corridors that can unlock new markets for Alberta’s products.”

This is a big deal for the oil sands industries, and the natural resources and agri-food producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is also a big deal for prairie communities that are currently experiencing challenging economic and societal conditions. Consider:

  • In the past five years there have been billions of dollars of lost revenue as Canadian resource companies decided to not invest and/or pulled up stakes to leave western Canada. The latest example of this exodus was the $20 billion Teck Frontier mine project in Alberta that was scrapped – a loss of 7,000 construction jobs, 2,500 mine employees and $55 billion in taxes and royalties to Albertans.
  • Alberta (Calgary specifically) is experiencing the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Recent published research about suicide and the economy reveals that for every one per cent increase in Alberta’s unemployment rate, 16 more people die by suicide. There is great distress in Alberta that has resulted in 15 of 100,000 people choosing to commit suicide compared to a Canadian average of 11 of 100,000.
  • In the west there is a pervasive feeling of abuse by the federal government – recently exacerbated by the Throne Speech. The mounting frustration with Ottawa has spawned the separatist movement Wexit. Western Canadians increasingly feel alienated: 4 of 5 Albertans and Saskatchewans believe the country has never been as divided, and one in two feel “angry” with the outcome of the 2019 election. A third of Albertans believe they would be better off separated from Canada.

The certainty of getting natural resources to tidewater and the potential of a larger export market holds tremendous promise for the new growth and prosperity in western Canada. To appreciate just how significant the A2A Rail project can be for Alberta’s oil sands, consider the following Natural Resources Canada data on the country’s oil sector.

  • The Alberta oil sands has 96 per cent of Canada’s proven oil reserves and they account for 64 per cent of Canada’s oil production or 9 million barrels per day in 2018.
  • Canada is the fourth largest producer and fourth largest exporter of oil in the world with 96 per cent of the country’s exports – 3.5 million barrels per day – going to the U.S.
  • Western Canada export shipments of crude oil by rail have more than doubled since the start of 2018. Today there is an estimated rail loading capacity out of western Canada of approximately 2.8 million barrels per day.

The Canada-U.S. crude oil trade figures and the climbing exports to the Asian market reveal the incredible economic potential supported by the A2A Rail project.

  • Asia is the biggest importer of U.S. oil exports accounting for 56 per cent of total U.S. oil exports in mid-2018 (this is even after China stopped importing U.S. oil as a result of the Sino-U.S. tariff negotiations).
  • The S. is now the top oil-producing country in the world accounting for 18 per cent of the world’s production. American crude oil exports accounted for 35 per cent of total U.S. gross petroleum exports in 2019.
  • By Fall 2019, Canada’s heavy oil exports to Asia via the U.S. had surged to record highs; the U.S. exports rose to an average of 2.9 million barrels per day.

Given this data it stands to reason that by opening access by rail to the Alaskan deep-water ports, Americans and Canadians will be poised to increase their Asian exports of Canadian crude oil as well as a host of other natural resources.

This glowing horizon for westerners and their future prosperity starts with a rail line out of Fort McMurray. And, it has not gone unnoticed in Canada’s prairie provinces that the A2A Rail project is being hailed by the national leader in Washington D.C., and not Ottawa.

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/canadian-prairie-provinces-future-prosperity-put-on-track-with-a2a-rail/

Trudeau is prepared to give everything to everyone (except the dollars needed for health care)

The Niagara Independent, September 25, 2020  – Wednesday, with pomp and ceremony, Governor General Julie Payette presented the Trudeau Government’s Speech from the Throne. The GG took 55 minutes to pedantically work her way through the 17-page regal address to set out the government’s plan to manage our current health and economic crises.

The Throne Speech suggested a four-pronged approach to pandemic survival and recovery and, in sharing his laundry list of old commitments, PM Trudeau succeeded in promising everything to everyone.

The federal government offers Canadians a national pharmacare plan, a “Canada-wide” child-care program, the extension of wage subsidies and a new, more generous employment insurance program along with the largest jobs training program in the country’s history.

Other promises include ending systemic racism in the justice system, further toughening gun laws, giving more support for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and introducing a new disability benefit regime.

The federal government pledges its green spending will create one million new jobs. It is also laying the cornerstone of the “resiliency agenda” by promising legislation that will establish the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and provide the unspecified amount of necessary cash for green technologies to achieve that goal.

The government’s promised agenda came with no price tag and no timelines; however, in summarizing, the GG pronounced, “Taken together, this is an ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality.”

Conservative Party Deputy Leader MP Candice Bergen, succinctly observed that it is “irresponsible” to make all those big-ticket spending promises with no plan to pay for them: “They’re still talking about how budgets will balance themselves, so it’s very, very concerning.”

Media editors’ and pundits’ reaction to the Throne Speech was uncharacteristically uncharitable towards Trudeau and Co. The Globe and Mail led with “Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament – for this?” The Washington Post headlined: “Trudeau’s new agenda is full of old promises and unrealized hopes” and stated the major take away was that “it was quintessential Liberal,” “a letdown,” and “more of the same.” Brian Lilley of the Toronto Sun quipped: “The Throne Speech is much like “Oprah’s Favourite Things.”” Chris Shelley in the National Post concluded: “It’s a muddle, a mess, a Liberal greatest-hits album played on shuffle.” Shelley wrote: “You don’t need to haul the governor general out of bed to add specifics to pre-existing promises, let alone to simply reiterate them, as this speech does over and over again.”

In the event that Canadians may not have fully appreciated the weightiness of the Throne Speech as delivered by GG Payette, the Prime Minister felt compelled to take to the airwaves a few hours later to reiterate his government’s plan. CBC News profiled the PM’s TV appearance as “an attempt to command the moment” and compared it with former PM Mackenzie King’s addresses to the Nation – in 1936 in the midst of the Great Depression and in 1945 days after the end of the Second World War.

All the networks granted PM Trudeau prime time exposure to tell Canadians that we are “at a crossroads” with the second wave of COVID-19 now upon us. He surmised: “It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.” And then he went on to repeat much of the key elements from the Throne Speech. PM Trudeau repeated the tone and tenor of the GG’s afternoon oration with his own personal reassurance that “We’re Canadians. And there’s nothing we can’t do.”

Again, media reaction to the political infomercial was less than kind. Perhaps the best analogy for the PM’s TV spot was the National Post’s column referring to it as a “Winger Speech” in reference to the sitcom Community. The comedy’s central character is known for his “glib, eloquent monologues designed to win arguments and mend problems through the power of silver-tongued charisma”; relying on “emotion, rhetorical gimmicks, clever-sounding turns of phrase.” The National Post assesses: “Like Trudeau last night, Winger appreciates that what often counts is what it sounds like you’re saying rather than what you’ve really said.”

For all that was said in the Senate Chamber and again in the TV talk, Canadians did not hear about the issue that they are most concerned with: Health Care. Earlier in the week, the Canadian polling firm, Ipsos, released its latest public opinion survey which found that 33 per cent of Canadians chose “immediate health measures to respond to the pandemic crisis” as their priority concern. Darrell Bricker, Ipsos CEO states: “The biggest priority item for Canadians, they tell us, is support for health care initiatives to fight COVID.”

The Premiers convened in Ottawa last Thursday with the expressed purpose to call on the federal government to provide $70 billion in health transfers this year to help with management of the second wave of COVID-19. The additional funds would be used for increased testing, staffing the expected surge in the country’s hospitals and for increased measures to ensure seniors are safe in their long-term care homes.

The federal government’s silence on the health priority was disappointing for the Premiers and two of them let their frustrations show. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said, “Sadly, the federal government’s Throne Speech ignored one of the most pressing issues in our country to date, growing health care wait times. Demand is growing at a record level, federal support has never been lower, and Manitoba will continue to lead in standing up for better care sooner.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement: “Provinces require stable, long-term funding for health care. Today the federal government missed a critical opportunity to commit to a desperately needed increase to the Canada Health Transfer. I will continue to work alongside my provincial counterparts to advocate that the federal government invest its fair share in health care.”

The six days of Parliamentary debates on the Throne Speech are not yet scheduled and the vote on the Trudeau Government’s plan is unknown. Yet the Bloc Quebecois was quick to state their condition for supporting the Throne Speech: it is looking for the federal government’s commitment in the next week to “provide unconditional transfers to Quebec for health care.” Pushing all the political rhetoric heard this week aside, it is a rare instance when the separatist party from La Belle Province speaks for all Canadians’ desire.

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/trudeau-is-prepared-to-give-everything-to-everyone-except-the-dollars-needed-for-health-care/

A Review of Key Issues in Ottawa

Canada’s Parliament resumes with a Throne Speech on September 23rd. Here’s a review of the key issues Canadians should follow as our MPs return to Ottawa and the business of the Nation.

What is to become of the unanswered questions?

Here are ten issues that PM Trudeau hopes and trusts Canadians will soon forget when enchanted by the exciting promises presented in his Throne Speech.

The consequential fiscal facts on Canada’s economy

Here are current fiscal facts that are certain to be consequential for the country’s economy and our future prosperity.

Trudeau and Freeland “Moving Canada towards full-blown Socialism”

Canadians are placed on notice: PM Trudeau and Finance Minister Freeland will advance “a bold, new progressive agenda.”

A primer on the Trudeau Liberals’ Green Energy Plan

With the pretext of jump-starting the national economy in the wake of the pandemic’s fallout, the Liberals are telling Canadians they are ready to “build back better” with a bold, progressive environmental agenda. Their new national Green Energy Plan is expected to be one of the cornerstones placed in the Government’s Throne Speech.

A Pivotal Week for the Trudeau Liberals’ Green Agenda

There now is Trudeau, Freeland and Carney (with a cast of supporting actors McKenna, Guilbeault and Wilkinson) all aligned to “build back better” by shifting Canada’s economy away from oil and gas and towards green energy, and introducing bigger, interventionist government to caretake national welfare, immigration, childcare and universal basic income programs.

Morneau will leave an unenviable record as Finance Minister

The federal Liberals, under the watch of Bill Morneau, are outspending all past federal governments, including those governments that had to respond to world wars and global recessions.

The Trudeau Government’s horrible week of scandalous stories

Warren Kinsella: “There’s a name for a government like Justin Trudeau’s – a government run by those who seek status and personal gain at the expense of the rest of us. It’s a kleptocracy.”

 

These columns were first published in The Niagara Independent through the months of August and September. 

A primer on the Trudeau Liberals’ Green Energy Plan

The Niagara Independent, September 18, 2020  – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a cadre of his senior ministers have not missed an opportunity in the past three months to forecast the launch of the Liberals’ Green Energy Plan. With the pretext of jump-starting the national economy in the wake of the pandemic’s fallout, the Liberals are telling Canadians they are ready to “build back better” with a bold, progressive environmental agenda. Their new national Green Energy Plan is expected to be one of the cornerstones placed in the Government’s Throne Speech next week. So, here is background on the genesis and core elements of this plan.

The chief architect of the Liberals’ Green Energy Plan is PM Trudeau’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts. As an ardent environmental activist, Butts has always been the driver of the green agenda for Liberals across Canada. In the 2000’s, Butts was Premier Dalton McGuinty’s principal advisor who designed the bundle of pricey renewables industry incentives introduced in Ontario’s Green Energy Act. He was then instrumental in assembling the package of green promises in the Liberal Party’s 2015 and 2019 election platforms. More recently, he has been counselling an orchestrated lobby by Canadian environmental groups advocating for billions of dollars of government money in “green recovery investments.”

Since 2015, Butts has been central to Canada’s international environmental commitments and to the implementation of the federal government’s carbon tax regime. The PM, Deputy PM-Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and a host of ministers such as Catherine McKenna, Steven Guilbeault and John Wilkinson are all scripted to suggest that the federal government restore the country’s economy with green investments. To quote the PM: “We need to reset the approach of this government for a recovery to build back better. And those are big, important decisions and we need to present that to Parliament and to gain the confidence of Parliament to move forward on this ambitious plan. This is our chance to build a more resilient Canada, a Canada that is healthier and safer, greener and more competitive, a Canada that is more welcoming and more fair.”

Note the PM’s usage of the term “build back better;” a catch phrase employed by globalists and environmentalists. In Canada, it is a code for “greening” the country’s energy supply; to pursue policies that will subsidize green industries while applying tougher regulations on transportation and oil and gas sectors. As they have with its new laws regulating pipelines and banning oil tankers on the west coast, the Trudeau Liberals are prepared to further throttle back the resource sector. Finance Minister Freeland pulled no punches in her first news conference when she stated: “To the question about decarbonization as part of our economic plan going forward: Of course, it has to be part of it. I think all Canadians understand that the restart of our economy needs to be green.”

The Liberals also intend to jolt Canadians out of their energy habits so that the government may meet its Paris Accord emissions targets. In its Fall budget, the Government has signaled it will introduce a new carbon tax – the Canadian Fuel Standard. This new tax will be an equivalent of $350 per tonne tax on fossil fuels, in addition to the $50 per tonne carbon tax already scheduled for 2022. The tax will directly increase heating and transportation costs for households and businesses and indirectly increase prices of goods and services for all Canadians. John Ivison of the National Post recently sounded the alarm on this new tax, commenting: “As Canadians emerge from COVID-induced hibernation, the Liberal government is preparing a plan to make their lives more expensive to meet its climate targets.”

Canadian main stream media is filled with commentary about green energy and global climate concerns. And serving as a supporting chorus for the Liberal Government has been a new lobby group: the Task Force for Resilient Recovery – an “independent group” of Canadian sustainability leaders, including none other than Gerald Butts and Bruce Lourie, another architect of Ontario’s green program. This Task Force has the inspirational motto “Let’s make that recovery resilient” and its stated objective is to develop “actionable recommendations on how governments can help get Canadians back to work while also building a low-carbon and resilient economy.”

The Task Force released its final report, “A Bridge to the Future,” this week which calls for “five bold moves, supported by $55.4 billion in investments, to kickstart Canada’s long-term economic recovery from COVID-19.” In the report, the group couches its “green recovery investments” as a bridge to “a decarbonized and digitized world” that will take Canadians to “Canada’s natural capital and low-carbon future.”

In reviewing the 22 recommendations made by the Task Force, many are mirror images of the “bold moves” found in Ontario’s Green Energy Act back in 2009. In the $55 billion menu of proposed expenditures is $27.25 billion to be spent on retrofitting existing buildings to “make them more energy-efficient and safer from the effects of climate change.” There are also proposals that call for “new investments” in clean energy, such as hydrogen, and increased production and promotion of zero-emission vehicles. And there is the promise that the billions spent with the green recovery will create construction jobs, develop new green industries, all the while cutting carbon emissions and reducing Canadians’ energy bills.

Echoing the promises told to Ontarians by Premiers McGuinty and Wynne, the Task Force has painted a rosy picture indeed for the Liberals Green Energy Plan. Except consumer watchdog Dan McTeague, of Canadians for Affordable Energy, has fact checked the results of Ontario’s green policies to conclude: “Gerald Butts and Bruce Lourie are two folks well on their way to bankrupting Canada.” McTeague writes, “Ontario residents were not only massively subsidizing the generation of green energy in the first place – they then paid an additional subsidy to other jurisdictions, such as Michigan, to take the energy created “off our hands”… in 2016, Ontarians who were paying $100 in energy usage were actually paying $23 dollars for energy and $77 dollars for… the hidden tax used to pay for the green energy and associated mess-ups.”

In fact, McTeague points out that Ontario residents have paid, and will be paying dearly for the plan devised by Butts, Lourie and the Province’s environmental lobbyists. Ontarians’ energy bills increased 70 per cent from 2008-2016. The Province has some of the highest electricity rates in North America. Ontario’s Auditor General estimated that the Green Energy Act has cost the Province $170 billion over 30 years.

The Toronto Sun editorial team also recently warned Canadians of the potential of repeating Ontario’s fiascos: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vision of a taxpayer-funded, green energy revolution powering Canada out of the COVID-19 recession is the same one former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty had in Ontario during the 2008 recession. Trudeau is telling us now, as McGuinty did then, that we can spend ourselves rich by cashing in on a global green energy bonanza.”

Last word to Candice Malcolm of True North media who perhaps put it best: “Trudeau may pretend to be a visionary selling a green new future, but anyone who has lived through the nightmare of destructive green energy policies knows a snake oil salesman when they see one.”

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/a-primer-on-the-trudeau-liberals-green-energy-plan/

 

What is to become of the unanswered questions?

The Niagara Independent, September 11, 2020  – Proroguing Parliament was a diversionary political tactic to turn the page on a scandal-laden script that had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government on the defense. Heralding a bold Throne Speech that is to propel our country into a new progressive direction is another diversion designed to capture media headlines and take Canadians’ attention away from the current mess the PM and his PMO operatives find themselves in. This is the age-old bait-and-switch game that, when successfully executed, will produce a new political narrative and leave the prickly questions of corruption and ineptitude unanswered.

Here are ten issues that PM Trudeau hopes and trusts Canadians will soon forget when enchanted by the exciting promises presented in his Throne Speech.

#1. The on-going revelations of misdeeds involving the $912 million WE charity scandal got even more interesting this week with the news that the charity was closing its doors in Canada and its co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, are immediately stepping away from the organization. Canadians learned last week that the brothers repaid the $30 million cheque advanced to them; however, there is no word what is to become of the brothers’ $45 million real estate assets that were tied to the charity. Conveniently, it appears the prorogued Parliament has allowed the brothers enough time to shut down and high-tail it from Ottawa, avoiding any further troubling questions from the MPs’ inquiry into the WE sole-sourced contract. PM Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau are still being investigated by the Ethics Commission for breach of ethics. The WE saga will continue to unfold but Canadians may never know the full story now that the Kielburgers have left the scene.

#2. Related to the WE scandal, it is now evident that MP Bardish Chagger, the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, misled MPs on the Ethics Committee when she testified she knew nothing about the WE charity’s application to government and that the bureaucracy had advanced it. Recently released documents clearly identify Minister Chagger as the key player in the application process and Cabinet’s decision to have WE administer the nearly billion dollar student-volunteer program. In any other country, this falsifying evidence under parliamentary oath would result in the removal of the Minister. Yet with the proroguing of parliament, the MPs investigation is suspended – allowing the PM to turn a blind eye to his culpable minister.

#3. There is potential wrongdoing in an $84 million government contract outsourced to a mortgage company tied to the husband of the PM’s Chief of Staff Katie Telford. It is now known that Telford’s spouse, Rob Silver, lobbied ex-finance minister Bill Morneau to change the rules to the multi-billion dollar emergency wage subsidy program to benefit his company. Silver is not a registered lobbyist (but then he did not have to be given his closeness with the senior staff of the PMO and Finance Minister). Opposition parties have called for an ethics probe; Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has called for Katie Telford to be fired. The PM skirted having to take any immediate action when he prorogued Parliament.

#4. There remains tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects that are unaccounted for by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna’s department. The Parliament’s Budget Office reported that there are no public documents for roughly 20,000 projects totaling approximately half of the program’s $57.5 billion budget. No official explanation has been forthcoming from Minister McKenna or any of her officials.

#5. The Government has avoided releasing any details of $5.8 billion worth of federal contracts awarded during the pandemic response. Senior bureaucrats in Public Services and Procurement Canada refuse to share with MPs any details on the basis of protecting Canada’s supply chains. What MPs do know of the billions being paid to private companies is that less than 40% of the contracts were given to domestic suppliers – more than 60% of Canadians’ money is going to foreign-owned companies offshore. The question remains whether MPs, and by extension Canadian taxpayers, will continue to be kept in the dark on these expenditures.

#6. Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP, was sole-sourced a lucrative $237 million contract to make 10,000 pandemic ventilators – even though Health Canada flagged the Baylis Medical Company’s machine as not being approved in Canada – or any jurisdiction. It has been further uncovered that an additional $422,946 “research contract” was awarded to Baylis. The company has yet to produce the ventilators and it is unknown what research has been completed.

#7. Ottawa awarded a $6.8 million contract to a Communist China state-owned company to install and run x-ray scanners in Canada’s 170 embassies, consulates and commissions around the world. When pressed, government officials say little but that the contract went to the lowest bidder – a fact that has been disproven. The Trudeau Government is upholding its decision even though the Canadian International Trade Tribunal has launched a review of the contract on behalf of a Calgary-based firm that lost the bid.

#8. It is now almost 650 days that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been imprisoned in China on unspecified national security charges. The two Michaels remain cut off from family and friends hopelessly languishing in crowded jail cells. The PM and foreign affairs officials remain silent about this travesty of justice and most serious violation of Canadians’ human rights.

#9. Prior to shutting down Parliament, MPs had been probing the government’s mismanagement of emergency medical supplies and why it chose to ship 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to China in mid-February; after the World Health Organization had already declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” and had predicted “severe coronavirus-related disruptions” in supply of PPEs. In return, China failed to provide medical equipment in our time of need – and when it did, the shipments proved unusable or faulty. MPs have identified the shortage of medical supplies as being both a serious health and national security issue, and they still hope to understand what occurred with China and why.

#10. While Parliament has been suspended, the Trudeau government used Orders in Council regulations to expand its list of banned guns to over 1,500 models. This move has frustrated legal, licensed gun owners. It has pitted urban Canadians against rural; easterners vs. westerners; law abiding gun operators against anti-violence advocates. Given that gangs and gun crimes continue to rise in urban centres, critics charge the government’s ban of hunting rifles is more about the appearance of taking action rather than on implementing an effective law. MPs want a Parliamentary review of gun crime and for the matter to be brought from behind the closed-doors of the PMO.

Each of these issues is complex and prompts multiple queries. But again, when PM Justin Trudeau reopens Parliament, his plan is for the bravado of the Throne Speech’s bold, progressive agenda to overwhelm any further inquiry into these matters. Canadians are to take the bait and leave the questions unanswered.

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/what-is-to-become-of-the-unanswered-questions/

The consequential fiscal facts on Canada’s economy

The Niagara Independent, September 4, 2020  – In a CBC interview this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We are asking Canadians to embark on an entirely different direction as a government. We are going to rebuild the Canadian economy in a way that was better than before.”

The Liberals’ intention to restructure the country’s post-pandemic economy is being described by many political pundits as a “bold plan.” One unnamed senior Ottawa mandarin stated in a Toronto Star article that the bundle of social programs and spending about to be showcased in the upcoming Thorne Speech is “a structural change in the way government in this country operates.” A senior Liberal political insider who is familiar with the plan (who wished to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak publicly) commented, “It’s all going to take money on a scale we haven’t seen before.”

Through a seemingly orchestrated series of insiders’ leaks, the Prime Minister’s backroom appears to be preconditioning Canadians for an economic recovery plan the likes of which we have never seen or experienced in our country. This foreboding forecast has many in Ottawa, on Bay Street, and in boardrooms and living rooms across the country bracing themselves.

National Post political newsman John Ivison reports, “Trudeau’s “literally frightening” spending plan has some Liberals, bureaucrats very worried.” In the Post’s feature column on Thursday, Ivison writes of the Liberals’ design to remake Canada in their own progressive image and he quotes an Ottawa insider as saying, “It is literally frightening. I am very worried about my kids’ future and their capacity to service that level of debt. The fact is that the government is embarking on a major policy shift and this is a government that is not worried by deficits of 10 per cent of GDP.”

In advance of the Liberals Throne Speech promises, here are current fiscal facts that are certain to be consequential for the country’s economy and our future prosperity.

On government spending, the deficit and national debt: In three months, between April and June, the Finance Department reports the government operated a $120 billion deficit. The Government recently projected a $343 billion deficit for 2021, but this does not include Finance Minister Freeland’s recent announcement of an additional $37 billion in spending. This fiscal deficit is more than the total federal government program spending was through last year – and more than all previous federal government fiscal deficits combined through Canada’s history.

By the end of the fiscal year, many expect the deficit to be nearing $400 billion. Canada’s national debt will have climbed beyond $1.2 trillion.

On the country’s economic health: With many businesses shuttered, it is not a surprise that the Canadian economy shrank from April through June. Statistics Canada reports Canadian economic output dropped by 11.5 per cent compared with first-quarter GDP in 2020. This is the largest recorded quarterly decline since Statistics Canada began reporting quarterly figures in 1961.

There is no good news in the current economic numbers: Government revenues plummeted by 37 per cent, down $52 billion over the quarter. Household spending on goods was down by 8.4 per cent, and down by 16.7 per cent for services. Business investment fell 16.2 per cent, as a direct result of plant closures, low oil prices, and heightened economic uncertainty.

On costly mismanagement of pandemic support funds: The Fraser Institute released a report that estimates one in every four dollars of pandemic income support payments — a total of up to $22.3 billion — was sent to people who did not need support.  Financial Post columnist Diane Francis opines Canada’s pandemic funding was “distributed with a fire hose, rather than targeted at those in need.” Francis points out Canada’s stimulus package is dramatically higher than what other countries – the equivalent of 15 per cent of its GDP, compared to 10.6 per cent in Australia, five per cent in France, 8.9 per cent in Germany, and 4.9 per cent in Italy.

On Canada’s economy showing signs of systemic weakness prior to the pandemic: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the value of reduced output in Canada this year will be $113 billion. And recall prior to the pandemic the Canadian economy was absorbing the loss of $20.6 billion investment in the Teck Frontier mine project, as well as the collapse of Quebec’s $9 billion Energie Saguenay pipeline project – and a recorded $200 billion of investment lost in the Canadian resource sector since 2015. The IMF has recently calculated the total economic losses already incurred by Canadian businesses and those projected due to the pandemic will be $226 billion.

On rising personal / household debt: Today, one out of two Canadians are within $200 of insolvency at the end of each month. In fact, insolvencies are on the rise. Equifax Canada reports consumer debt is rising in Canada, reaching $1.9 trillion. Canadian households owe $177 for every $100 of disposable income (up from $106 in 1999). Just released IMF data factors that Canadian household debt is growing nearly 50% faster than the country’s economy. In a recent financial report for Global News, David Akin surmised that the pandemic “began as a public health crisis then metastasized into an economic crisis is likely to finish as a debt crisis that could end up swamping not only some governments but also hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Canadian households.”

All the fiscal facts aside, the upcoming Throne Speech will regale for Canadians the Trudeau Government’s bold plan to spend our way to recovery – “to build back better.” This illusory panacea of unbridled government spending is summed up in the bromide offered recently by Finance Minister Freeland: “Our government has taken on more debt so Canadians didn’t have to.” What an absolutely wonderful thought – reassuring for many Canadians.

Yet, if you still subscribe to the adage that “there are no free lunches” (and you remain doubtful that “budgets will balance themselves”), then consider Ayn Rand’s cautionary statement about blissful reassurances: “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-consequential-fiscal-facts-on-canadas-economy/

Trudeau and Freeland “Moving Canada towards full-blown Socialism”

The Niagara Independent, August 28, 2020  – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has revealed to Canadians that when the shuttered Parliament reopens on September 23 his government will deliver a Throne Speech to introduce “a bold, new progressive agenda” designed to restructure the country’s social safety net and address climate change. The Trudeau government is ready to bring in sweeping changes to Canada’s social welfare framework, revamping unemployment insurance, expanding health programs, and bolstering all forms of social assistance.

The Prime Minister has said a number of times in the last couple weeks that the pandemic crises provide an “unprecedented” opportunity to restructure the country’s economy and “fill gaps” in the federal government’s social safety netting. Trudeau asserts, “This is our moment to change the future for the better. We can’t afford to miss it because this window of opportunity won’t be open for long.”

Repeatedly PM Trudeau has signaled that his prescription for economic recovery is introducing more spending, more programs, and more government. Having installed Chrystia Freeland as his new Finance Minister, he has empowered a trusted ally who aligns with the PM’s ambitious government interventionist plan.

At her initial press conference, Finance Minister Freeland indicated she shares the PM’s vision, “This is a once in a lifetime challenge for our whole country and our commitment as a government is to do whatever it takes to support Canadians as we get through that challenge.” Freeland gushed that the government wants “to turn this tremendous challenge into a fabulous opportunity for our country.”

Yet, Freeland takes over the financial levers of a country drowning in debt, with a projection of $343-billion deficit in 2021. Through the past four years, the federal Liberals have outspent all past federal governments, including those governments that had to respond to world wars and global recessions. The government’s recent fiscal snapshot suggested the federal fiscal planning would not balance the budget until at least 2040 (and this was assessed before COVID-19).

Unfazed by these details, Finance Minister Freeland told a press conference this week: “Our government has taken on more debt so Canadians didn’t have to.” Freeland proceeded to report that the government intends to spend by the end of the fiscal year an additional $37 billion on an extension of CERB support program and an estimated $15 billion on an expanded unemployment insurance program. With these increased spending measures, the Trudeau government’s deficit this fiscal year will be nearly $400 billion and the federal deficit will have climbed beyond $1.2 trillion.

David Rosenberg, founder and chief economist of Rosenberg Research & Associates Inc. of Bay Street says the Liberals approach is nothing more than “a damn-the-torpedoes, full-steam-ahead fiscal policy response.” Lorrie Goldstein of Sun Media agrees, writing that “Trudeau’s big plan is to spend ourselves rich… all Trudeau’s bold vision for the future seems to be is a promise of more spending and more debt facilitated by low interest rates, which Canadians had best pray continue for decades to come.”

However, there is a much more significant and disturbing aspect to Trudeau’s and Freeland’s approach to fiscal planning than the Liberal’s increased spending. Financial reporter Kait Bolongaro of Bloomberg News editorializes that, in placing Chrystia Freeland at the helm of Canada’s finances, the PM “signals the most decisive lurch to the left in economic policy in at least four decades.”

Bolongaro foresees a much greater interventionist agenda as Freeland remakes the country’s socio-economic architecture: “It’s a major expansion of the federal government along the lines of the one overseen by Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who increased program spending and deficits in the early 1980s to combat a recession.”

“In a minority government that continues to profit from pandemic protocol and prorogation, she’s been given the chance to put her affinity for far-left global economics into practice,” observes Bolongaro.

Ottawa political commentator Spencer Fernando concurs and goes as far as to warn: “The Liberals are moving Canada towards full-blown socialism.” In criticizing the new economic and social imperatives the PM and Finance Minister have foreshadowed for the impending Throne Speech, Fernando writes: “The Liberals are moving from measures that were good and important – providing people money when the economy temporarily collapsed due to CCP Virus – to something that is dangerous, providing a massive disincentive against work. So, the Liberals are going to simultaneously give out a bunch of money – at the expense of working class and middle class Canadians – to provide a disincentive to work… That is an absolute disaster, and all Canadians should be afraid of the consequences of this.”

Sun News political columnist Anthony Furey alerts Canadians to the opening of Parliament next month: “Is Trudeau really going to try to sneak an entirely new political agenda, one that he did not receive a mandate from voters for during the last election, into the same confidence vote that contains the renewal of COVID-19 measures? It looks that way.”

Furey suggests the Liberals’ philosophical shift in economic and social policy necessitates an election call: “This is cynical and dishonest politics. It would be far more honest to just separate the COVID-19 measures from what is sure to be a deeply ideological agenda. If Trudeau has finally given up pretending to be something of a centrist Liberal and is now embracing far-left progressivism, then he needs to seek a mandate from the people to enact it.”

So, Canadians are placed on notice: PM Trudeau and Finance Minister Freeland will advance “a bold, new progressive agenda” — and it is incumbent for Canadians to assess the costs and question where this shift to the left will lead our country.

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/trudeau-and-freeland-moving-canada-towards-full-blown-socialism/

A Pivotal Week for the Trudeau Liberals’ Green Agenda

The Niagara Independent, August 21, 2020  – Canada’s drama-teacher-turned-Prime-Minister provided plenty of theatrics this week by first switching Finance Ministers and then bringing the curtain down on Parliament. With his performance, Justin Trudeau succeeded in consolidating power in his Prime Minister’s Office and placing trusted globalists in the government’s finance and economic portfolios.

This has been a pivotal week for advancing the Trudeau Liberals’ Green Agenda.

The Liberal organ Toronto Star highlighted a story recently in which Canadians learned PM Trudeau and his inner circle were strategizing on how to coincidentally shut down parliamentary debate on his government’s scandals and implement a “bigger and bolder” post-pandemic government intervention and green economy agenda for the country. We were told Trudeau and his insiders did not want a Fall election and were looking for a way to simply assert their will on the country.

Toronto Star reported an anonymous Liberal backroom stagehand explaining the theme: “[It’s an] opportunity for us to think big to think about child care, to think about how we can accelerate the transition to clean energy and how we can fight climate change, how we can help vulnerable people, how we can root out discrimination and level the playing field for working people and on all the progressive ideas that we’ve talked about and made progress on but in a different context. So can we actually present a big vision? I think we can.”

With the Star’s idyllic prelude, CBC reported their anonymous sources foreshadowing the first act of the week: “Trudeau, Morneau clash over green plans, soaring deficit.” The CBC script read: “A deepening rift between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his finance minister about coronavirus spending is also fueled by disagreements over the scope and scale of proposed green initiatives… Trudeau, who campaigned on a platform to tackle climate change, believes the 2021 budget should have an ambitious environmental element to start weaning the heavily oil-dependent economy off fossil fuels…”

Exit stage-left Morneau; enter wire-flying Mark Carney from his United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Action position; and…

PM Trudeau surprised his captive audience by heralding Minister-of-Everything Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s new Finance Minister and then directed his embattled Governor General Julie Payette to shutter Parliament – promptly closing down the work of the committees reviewing the billion-dollar WE scandal, the PM’s ethical breaches, and China-Canada relations.

PM Trudeau took centre stage to deliver a soliloquy on his actions (in case the audience was confused by what they just witnessed): “We need to reset the approach of this government for a recovery to build back better. And those are big, important decisions and we need to present that to Parliament and to gain the confidence of Parliament to move forward on this ambitious plan. This is our chance to build a more resilient Canada, a Canada that is healthier and safer, greener and more competitive, a Canada that is more welcoming and more fair.”

(As an aside, note the Prime Minster used the phrase “build back better.” This is a reoccurring mantra that environmentalists are echoing around the globe to describe their green agenda to be supported by a new global order. “Build back better” was also uttered by U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this week in his battle cry for a new American economic plan.)

On cue, Canada’s freshly ensconced finance minister used her first media scrum in Ottawa to reemphasize the Liberals’ plot. Finance Minister Freeland said matter-of-factly about restoring Canada’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic: “To [the] question about decarbonization as part of our economic plan going forward: Of course, it has to be part of it. I think all Canadians understand that the restart of our economy needs to be green.”

So, in the Ottawa troupe, there now is Trudeau, Freeland and Carney (with a cast of supporting actors McKenna, Guilbeault and Wilkinson) all aligned to “build back better” by shifting Canada’s economy away from oil and gas and towards green energy, and introducing bigger, interventionist government to caretake national welfare, immigration, childcare and universal basic income programs. True to that Toronto Star prelude, the Trudeau Liberals are using the pandemic to fundamentally change the way the Canadian economy operates. (It’s a page ripped from Obama backroom advisor Rahm Emanuel’s playbook: “Never let a crisis go to waste.”)

The stage-managed events in the National Capital this week elicited scorn from a range of Canadian economists, financiers, energy experts — and from the editorial board of Canada’s leading national paper. Here is a sampling of the critical reviews:

  • Ross McKitrick, Economics Professor at University of Guelph and a senior fellow of the Fraser Institute assesses: “Green technologies that were known money-losers before the pandemic are still money-losers today. The only thing that’s changed is that we have even less money to work with, so the need to avoid wasting it is higher than ever. It’s critical to choose investments that will lead to real growth and job creation.”
  • Dan McTeague, former Liberal MP and now head of Canadians for Affordable Energy, panned the Liberals’ vision of “a new green, eutopia”: “Carney, like Butts, McKenna, and other Canadian climate fanatics, see this economic disaster as an opportunity for the deconstruction of the Canadian resource sectors. These are the sectors that contribute billions of dollars to our economy, and underwrite the affordability of everything we take for granted. Moving away from a resource-based economy will only result in greater financial hardship for Canadians, and more expensive energy for a long, long time.”
  • Jack Mintz of the School of Public Policy at University of Calgary is concerned about the $50 Billion price tag on the recommendations forwarded by the Government’s “self-appointed Task Force for a Resilient Recovery, arranged by the PM’s former principal secretary, Gerald Butts.” Mintz writes: “Subsidies will widen a federal deficit that has already turned from pink to deep COVID red… The Trudeau government seems bent on bribing voters with mountains of new debt that it will leave for others to pay.”
  • Sun Media editorial succinctly states: “We need recovery, not decarbonization… What the Liberals should focus on is getting the economy firing on all cylinders, not using an ideological agenda to favour one sector over the others.”

The closing lines for the week go to the Globe and Mail editorial board who are alerting Canadians to PM Trudeau’s powerplay. In its lead editorial entitled “Justin Trudeau’s cynical disdain for Parliament, and for Canadian voters,” the paper suggests the PM is jeopardizing our country’s economic prosperity and undermining Canada’s democracy. Referring to PM Trudeau as a “callow scion” who is “ruthless, cynical and disdainful” the editorial trumpets: “Canadians should be alarmed by the way the Prime Minister is cynically trying to use this national emergency to his political advantage.”

With the Ottawa theatre now dark, Canadians need to be ever-mindful about what is unfolding off-stage in the recesses of the Prime Minister’s Office.

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

Photo: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign stop at the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area in Sudbury, Sept. 26, 2019. 

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/a-pivotal-week-for-the-trudeau-liberals-green-agenda/

The Trudeau Government’s horrible week of scandalous stories

The Niagara Independent, August 14, 2020  – Though he was hiding away at an undisclosed summer holiday rental on Georgian Bay, this week proved particularly bad for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a steady stream of stories emerged relating to multiple scandals that threaten to swamp the Government’s agenda.

On Wednesday, Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet threatened to trigger a Fall election if the PM, his Chief of Staff Katie Telford, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau do not resign. Blanchet said, “Keeping people in office who are “mismanaging” the government would be more dangerous than sending Canadians to the polls in a pandemic.”

In the House of Commons, Conservative MP Candice Bergen received a standing ovation from the Opposition benches when she criticized the Liberals for “evasive non-answers.” Bergen stated: “Six months into this pandemic, and six years into this government, and the Prime Minister will be remembered for a $343-billion deficit and for setting the lowest bar ever for a prime minister’s conduct in the history of this country….  With the Liberals, it really is about who one knows, not what one knows. This makes the Liberal sponsorship scandal look like child’s play, actually. Can the Prime Minister tell us – oh sorry, he is not here. Can somebody on that side tell us why the Prime Minister thinks the rules do not apply to him?”

From the week’s headline news, there are many outstanding questions to be answered. Foremost, there are on-going revelations of misdeeds involving the $912 million WE charity scandal: questions about $43.5 million in administration fees, WE’s $300,000 payment to Margaret and Trudeau family members, and the government’s due diligence in approving the sole-sourced contract. Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, told the House of Commons Ethics Committee Tuesday that an initial payment of $30 million was paid to the Kielburger brothers and she did not know whether they had returned the money upon the cancellation of the contract. This raises important questions as to how the government paid the Kielburgers before approval from Treasury Board and Cabinet? Who wrote the $30 million cheque to them and under whose authority?

PM Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau are being investigated by the Ethics Commission for not recusing themselves from the Cabinet approval of the $912 million contract, though both their families have pecuniary interests with the charity.

Then there is potential wrongdoing in an $84 million contract outsourced to a company tied to PM Trudeau’s Chief of Staff’s family. The story this week is that neither the PMO nor Finance Minister Office will disclose whether Katie Telford’s husband Robert Silver communicated with them since becoming senior VP of a mortgage company in January 2020. NDP MP Charlie Angus is seeking answers on how this $84 million contract was sole-sourced, “That’s very disturbing, considering that both the prime minister’s and finance minister’s offices are already under serious investigations for ethical lapses in conflict of interest. We have ethical standards, and if they can’t answer that question, it really raises the question whether or not the Liberal government believes that the laws actually apply to them.”

Also this week, two more questionable contracts made headlines. News broke that a Montreal-based company owned by Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP, was given a lucrative contract to make 10,000 pandemic ventilators by October 21st, even though Health Canada flagged the Baylis Medical Company’s machine had not been approved by any jurisdiction. There was also news of a $381 million sole-sourced contract to produce medical masks to a Quebec firm Medicom Inc, despite the fact that this firm had no manufacturing facilities in Canada and will be producing masks in factories in China, Taiwan, the U.S. and France. Medicom has yet to deliver any surgical masks.

There’s more. MPs are pressing the Trudeau Government to reveal details of $5.8 billion worth of federal contracts awarded during the pandemic response through the last few months. However, senior bureaucrats in Public Services and Procurement Canada are refusing to make public any details on the basis of protecting Canada’s supply chains. So, $5.8 billion of taxpayers’ dollars has been given to private companies and there will be no public accountability. Furthermore, the latest figures provided by the federal department reveal that less than 40% of these contracts were given to domestic suppliers – in other words more than 60% of this money is going to foreign-owned companies offshore.

And further to this, we are now aware that there are tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects that are unaccounted for by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna’s department. The Parliament’s Budget Office (PBO) has been unable to find any evidence of roughly 20,000 projects totaling approximately half of the program’s $57.5 billion budget. Head of PBO Yves Giroux reported to MPs that he is perplexed how 20,000 records of infrastructure projects are nowhere to be found.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre summed up the MPs’ frustrations with the Liberal Government’s cone of silence. “Our economy will take a $100 billion hit this year. And what is the Prime Minister focused on? Not on getting Canada through this crisis or rebuilding our economy, but on helping his friends, helping his cronies and creating programs that are so complicated that only the most sophisticated, with the best lobbyists and consultants, can benefit and profit.”

Warren Kinsella, long-time Liberal party strategist and former PMO staffer to PM Jean Chretien was more pointed in his criticisms of the Trudeau Government’s modus operandi. Kinsella stated: “… the allegation is that Trudeau’s cabal sought to enrich themselves during a pandemic that is impoverishing millions of Canadians… the governed were losing their homes, losing their jobs, losing their futures. While Trudeau’s gang were apparently making out like bandits. That is not merely wrong, it is actually evil. It is beyond the pale. Beyond words.”

Kinsella’s blog post this week concludes: “It goes on and on and on. It never stops, this fetid, foul stew of corruption and moral blindness. Even during a pandemic, the Trudeau government’s descent into the muck continues unabated. So, there’s a name for what we’ve now got. There’s a name for a government like Justin Trudeau’s – a government run by those who seek status and personal gain at the expense of the rest of us. It’s a kleptocracy.”

It was indeed a horrible week for the scandal-plagued Liberals in Ottawa — a fine time for the PM to be enjoying the sunny skies over Georgian Bay.

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-trudeau-governments-horrible-week-of-scandalous-stories/

 

Morneau will leave an unenviable record as Finance Minister

The Niagara Independent, August 7, 2020 – If rumours come to be true, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will soon fall on his sword as the fall-guy for the Prime Minister and his Liberal insiders who are all caught up with the government’s WE ethics scandal.

Bill Morneau’s departure from the Ottawa scene is being forecasted throughout media, including many Liberal-friendly news agencies. The Toronto Star suggested that the Finance Minister is “blinded by his own privilege” and that he is “painfully out of touch with Canadians.” The National Post tagged Morneau as enjoying “a privileged life” having inherited a hugely profitable family business. CBC News did an investigative “gotcha” report that dissed him: “WE employees say they were told to attend 2018 holiday party in Bill Morneau’s riding.”  The Toronto Sun had a lead editorial that critically assessed the Finance Minister: “Morneau’s integrity appears to be kept in his cheque book.”

It appears inevitable that when the PM gets around to sharing his cabinet shuffle plans, Morneau’s cue will be “exit stage left.”  His leaving will lead to reviews of his record at the helm of Canada’s finances. Here is an overview of that record.

Recall that when newly elected Justin Trudeau unwrapped his first Liberal cabinet in Fall 2015 it was no surprise that he appointed a Toronto financial services businessman to manage the Liberal Government’s fiscal plan. Bill Morneau has always been the Trudeau Liberal’s finance backstop. In his first federal budget address, Morneau indicated there would be a new direction in fiscal policy, a “fundamental change” that would include substantial “investments by government.”

Despite the 2016 Budget projections, which stated the Liberal Government would balance the books in five years, the Trudeau Government ran $89.1 billion in accumulated deficits over the five years of their first mandate under Morneau’s stewardship. In those five years, spending on federal government programs increased every year and, in total, by nearly $70 billion or at a striking 27.2 per cent rate. In fact, the Trudeau Government has the dubious record of three of the highest levels of per-person program spending per year in Canadian history – and that is before the COVID-19-impacted recession.

Fast forward to the 2019 Liberal campaign platform and it is obvious that Bill Morneau and PM Trudeau had rejected the need to balance the country’s ledger. The Liberals’ second mandate was to feature a projected four years of $20 billion-plus deficits and an additional number of huge, uncosted spending items including pharmacare.

Morneau’s pre-COVID-19 fiscal management has proven costly. As a result of tax changes in the federal budgets through 2019, a vast majority (80 per cent) of middle-income Canadians have experienced increases to their personal income tax. Also, the mountain of new debt will prove an even greater burden on future generations of taxpayers. Former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair wrote in a Sun Media editorial earlier this year: “Trudeau will have created $10,000 of new debt for every man, woman and child in Canada during his time in office. The sums are staggering…. Once again, this generation of leaders is putting everything on the maxed-out credit card of our grandchildren.”

The Trudeau Government’s pre-COVID-19 fiscal record has been brought under greater scrutiny with the pandemic pressures now bearing down on Canada’s economy. In the “fiscal snapshot” last month, Bill Morneau revealed the deficit for 2020-21 is expected to rise to $343.2 billion. This is greater than in any single year deficit during the Great Depression; ten times the projected $34.4 billion deficit before the pandemic hit!  Due to $212 billion in direct support to individuals and businesses, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise to 49 per cent this fiscal year, up from 31 per cent in 2019-20. (This is alarming given the 49 per cent rate is far above what the International Monetary research tells us is the optimal 26-30 per cent of GDP.)

To put all these numbers in context, this is by far the worst financial statement in Canada’s history. The federal Liberals, under the watch of Bill Morneau, are outspending all past federal governments, including those governments that had to respond to world wars and global recessions. And despite the unbridled government spending and persistent year-over-year deficits, the Finance Minister has offered no plan to reach a balanced budget. Yet, in his silence, the federal department of finance has come forward to estimate that with the current fiscal planning, deficits will last until at least 2040 (note that this estimate pre-dates COVID-19).

The Morneau fiscal plan is failing Canadians according to Fraser Institute economists who opined that “The Liberal mix of higher taxes, more government spending and deeper indebtedness did not result in a robust economy as promised…. GDP and income growth have slowed and business investment has collapsed. And that all happened before anyone had heard of COVID-19.”

If Pierre Trudeau and John Turner go down in Canadian history as “the fathers” of our national debt and the fiscal innovators who introduced the notion of “deficit financing,” then Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau will be notorious for their seemingly unrestricted spending and being responsible for amassing the country’s burdensome $1 trillion-plus national debt.

Conservative finance critic MP Pierre Poilievre recently provided this analogy in an editorial: “The economy is like a horse carrying big bags of debt on his back up a hill. There is just one horse who must carry not only federal government debt, but also all the provincial, municipal, household and corporate debt. As of 2018 (BEFORE COVID-19!), total public and private debt equaled about 356 percent of GDP. So, the horse carried more than three and a half times his weight that year…. [Now] total private and public debt could reach 400 percent of GDP by the end of this fiscal year…. these debts will break the horse’s back. Whispering in his ear about imaginary “balance sheets” will not stop him from collapsing. He is a horse after all. Not a unicorn.”

This dark assessment of Canada’s financial situation is a marked difference from the Liberals’ sunny-days prediction that “a budget will balance itself.” If one is to accept ministerial responsibility, the dismal reality of today’s numbers must be attributed to the fiscal stewardship of Minister Morneau. And it is for his record as finance minister that Bill Morneau should be removed from his cabinet post, and not because of some PM power play to save face in the aftermath of the WE scandal.

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/morneau-will-leave-an-unenviable-record-as-finance-minister/