Tag Archives: Niagara_Independent

Quebec’s nationalistic interests – the tail wagging the dog

The Niagara Independent, May 21, 2021 — The Province of Quebec’s expressions of self-interests have once again exploded onto the federal political scene. Premier Francois Legault pronounced his intention to rewrite certain sections of the Canadian Constitution to ramrod new French language rights and assert La Belle Province as a sovereign “nation” – notwithstanding any criticisms from the anglophone minorities in Quebec or Canadians outside of the province.

The Quebec government has introduced Bill 96, a 100-page piece of legislation that introduces sweeping measures to reinforce the French language within the province. The new measures include:

  • creating a Ministry of French Language in order to police language laws;
  • removing bilingual requirements for judges;
  • permitting municipalities to drop their bilingual status where English is not a majority;
  • introducing stricter French sign regulations;
  • allowing French-only language workplaces in smaller businesses and government offices;
  • requiring that all communications to new immigrants be in French only;
  • providing free French language training; and,
  • capping the number of students that can attend English CEGEPs.

The most contentious section of the legislation is the initiative that has the Quebec government unilaterally introducing a proclamation into the Canadian Constitution that the province is a “nation” and affirming “the only official language of Quebec is French.” To punctuate this measure, Premier Legault is pre-emptively invoking the notwithstanding clause to shield Bill 96 from any Charter of Rights and Freedom challenge.

The premier explained that he has every right to open up the Canadian Constitution to amend the section relating to the Province of Quebec. He is exercising this right because Quebec does not require approval of any other body, including the federal government. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, Premier Legault asserted this is an “act of affirmation with regards to our particular and historic responsibility towards the sustainability of the French language in America.”

On Tuesday, PM Trudeau publicly responded to the premier by stating it is “perfectly legitimate” for Quebec to unilaterally rewrite the section of the Canadian Constitution pertaining to its province.

“In regards to the Constitution, our initial analysis, in terms of the Justice Department, has highlighted that it is perfectly legitimate for a province to modify the section of the Constitution that applies specifically to them. That is something they can do while ensuring the rest of the Constitution including the sections that protect linguistic minorities like anglophones in Quebec continue to be respected,” said the prime minister.

In addressing the issues, the PM ignored the fact that Premier Legault is invoking the notwithstanding clause to avoid any court challenge by Quebec’s anglophone minorities or concerned Canadians.

In Quebec City, Premier Legault expressed his satisfaction with PM Trudeau’s response.  “I’m happy. He confirmed we were right when we said we can unilaterally amend the Constitution to say two things: First that Quebec is a nation, and second that French is the official language of Quebec. We are happy to see the Prime Minister of Canada confirms we have the right to do so.”

In Ottawa, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, immediately moved to table a motion in Parliament calling on all MPs to “totally and fully” back Quebec’s Bill 96 and the province’s right to amend the Canadian Constitution. In doing so, the BQ leader cleverly set a trap for the governing Liberals, who are jostling with the BQ for Quebecers’ support in advance of the impending federal election. Blanchet stated, “If he [the prime minister] had responded in a different way, he would have threatened many of his elected members in Quebec. I will test his resolve with a motion.”

The BQ motion supporting the Quebec government is a powerplay that has all political parties falling in line to appease Premier Legault and Quebec nationalists. Recent polling has Liberals’ support in Quebec at 33 per cent; BQ at 25 per cent; Conservatives at 18 per cent; and NDP at 11 per cent. Given the politics of the province, the BQ motion is expected to pass through the federal parliament uncontested.

The free pass provided to Premier Legault by federal politicians, however, is not supported by Canadian constitutional experts, who view Bill 96 as a serious overreach that could bring about a national crisis.

University of Alberta faculty of law professor Eric Adams states that Quebec is not within its rights to unilaterally affirm its nationhood because this declaration “extends beyond the traditional bounds of the “provincial constitution.”

Emmett Macfarlane, a University of Waterloo professor and constitutional scholar agrees that Quebec does not have the authority to open and change Canada’s Constitution.

“The Prime Minister’s claim that Quebec can unilaterally amend the federal Constitution is an abdication of democracy and the rule of law as embodied by the amending formula. If indeed he received advice that Quebec is free to unilaterally amend the Constitution Act, 1867, then he has received bad advice,” said the professor.

Professor Macfarlane reasons that Quebec is free to pass legislation recognizing Quebeckers as a nation, “But it is not free to have the national Constitution confer that recognition via unilateral amendment, without the other partners of Confederation having their say.”

Another of the country’s constitutional experts, lawyer Sujit Choudhry, asserts any amendment declaring Quebec a nation requires the support of two-thirds of the provinces, with 50 per cent of the population. He also contends that declaring French the sole official language requires federal consent or unanimity among the provinces.

What is unfolding with Quebec’s Bill 96 is troubling and problematic for the unity of Canada, not so much for what is in the provincial legislation, as for the acquiescence of our federal politicians – particularly that of the prime minister, who should always stand as a stalwart champion of national interests.

The absence of national leadership was best reflected on this week by 92-year-old Montrealer Clifford Lincoln, who has been at the centre of Quebec’s language war and seen a thing or two in his life. Lincoln is the former cabinet minister in Robert Bourassa’s Quebec government who quit in 1989 to protest the then premier’s use of the notwithstanding clause in enacting and defending the Bill 101 language law. To Lincoln, the tactics employed by Legualt are dé jà vu.

“The language issue in Quebec has become like water torture. It never ends – it rears its head every several years, and as soon as there’s some sort of peace, you can be sure it’s going to start again and you wonder how far it’s going to go,” Lincoln lamented.

In responding to Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks this week, Lincoln expressed disappointment and suggested it may spell trouble for national unity.

“Already [they] seem to be giving in, according to what Trudeau said yesterday…what would stop Alberta or Saskatchewan or any English-speaking province from doing the same in reverse? That’s what I think his father would say.”

Indeed, much like the proverbial tail that wags the dog, Quebec’s Bill 96 has the potential to shake the country.

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

(Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot)

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/quebecs-nationalistic-interests-the-tail-wagging-the-dog/


Trudeau government is adrift – and rudderless

The Niagara Independent, May 14, 2021 — One cannot look at the news from Ottawa these days without wondering whether our Canadian ship of state is adrift – and rudderless. Is there anyone manning the bridge and steering the Trudeau government? Here are a few scandalous items to consider when attempting to answer this question.

Allowing Vance off the hook

There appears to have been an abrogation of any responsibility when the sexual misconduct of the country’s Chief of Defence Staff is willfully ignored by those who should take the lead in bringing this man to justice. General Jonathan Vance became chief in 2015 with a pledge to fight sexual misconduct in the Canadian military. Yet, through his career he himself was engaged in clandestine affairs with subordinates. Seeking justice, Major Kellie Brennan went public to accuse General Vance of misconduct and reveal a 20-year affair that saw her bore two of Vance’s children. She even recalled that she had sex with Vance the night before he was sworn in as chief, when he sought her advice on his speech condemning sexual misconduct in the Forces.

Brennan testified about Vance, “As he told me, he was untouchable.” And, as it has played out in the corridors of power, it appears people were stumbling over themselves to stay clear of the sex scandal. The current Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan has been accused of ignoring the Vance allegations. MPs at the National Defence Committee heard that Sajjan “physically recoiled” when presented with evidence that his former military commander was entangled. Sajjan deliberately did not want to hear the details and threw the file (unopened) from his office.

Canadians learned this week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford also declined to be informed of the details of the wayward General when first told about his exploits in 2018. Telford testified she deliberately kept the Vance file from the PM’s eyes. Her modus operandi is evident: see no evil; hear no evil…presto, there is nothing the PM or Prime Minister’s Office will be responsible for. Scandal averted by rejecting the onus of responsibility. (It is incredible that the public airing of these sexual misdeeds would be suppressed by this feminist-active government.)

Policy initiatives not worth sharing

Here are two major policy initiatives that have not been highlighted in mainstream media.

First, this week the Trudeau cabinet formally listed all plastic items manufactured in Canada as toxic. As Blacklock’s Reporter uncovers, the “toxic” listing applies to items from auto parts to carpets, fertilizer bags, floor covering, fridges, furniture, “glass substitutes”, kettles, packaging, piping, stoves, textiles, toys and water bottles. Going forward Canadian plastic manufacturers will need to consider federal “risk management measures.” No details are given on what Canadian companies will be subjected to – although it is understood these national standards will not apply to imported plastic goods.

Second, the Trudeau government chose not to announce that it would be adding another five years to its self-imposed timeline to end First Nations water advisories. Justin Trudeau promised in the 2015 election campaign to end all long-term drinking-water advisories with First Nations by 2021. However, apparently, there is an extended deadline to 2026 – as revealed in Indigenous Services Canada documents that were buried in the government’s public accounts files.

A fascination with censorship

The drama around the legislation amending the Broadcasting Act have left many to question both Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s competency and the government’s unstated intent to censor Canadians. The minister is publicly stating that the government wants internet giants like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon to “pay their fair share” and promote Canadian content. In the Bill C-10 legislation Guilbeault empowers the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to create their regulatory regime at some future time (after the election). Critics of Bill C-10 are concerned this plan would give unelected federal bureaucrats the power to regulate and censor Canadians’ internet content, including user-generated content. There is a serious question that this legislation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights.

In a National Post interview, former CRTC commissioner Peter Menzies stated the proposed government plan “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.” One of Canada’s leading scholars on the internet, Professor Michael Geist, has also spoken out strongly against Guilbeault’s over-reach. Jordan Peterson has also stepped into the fray: “I have a million more YouTube subscribers than our national broadcaster CBC. So does that make me a broadcaster to be regulated by Trudeau’s pathetic minions?…Just try and regulate my YouTube channel and see what happens Justin Trudeau.” In the House of Commons, the PM and his minister have resorted to name-calling and ridiculing critics by stating they are nothing more than conspiracy theorists wearing tinfoil caps.

An inability to secure oil (and vaccines)

Just this week two more critical issues came to the fore as a direct result of the federal government’s inaction. On Wednesday, there was a high-drama showdown caused by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s deadline for turning off the taps of Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. This pipeline moves more than half a million barrels of Western Canada crude oil a day to refineries in Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Ontario and Quebec motorists are dependent on this oil supply – and Toronto Pearson International Airport is fully serviced by the fuel pumped through Line 5.

The Canadian government has warned that Line 5 shutdown would represent a threat to this country’s energy security – PM Trudeau even talked directly to his friend, U.S. President Joe Biden, on the importance of this pipeline. Still there is the possible likelihood that the oil will stop flowing and central Canadians will need to access other energy resources. Given no federal official – elected or otherwise – wants to speak publicly on this crisis, it appears the Trudeau government has no idea on how to deal with Governor Whitmer’s environmental zeal to bring the oil industry to heel. (It’s ironic that Trudeau is in this position given his government’s measures to throttle the Canadian oil and gas industry.)

There was also further disturbing news for Canadians on the subject of the country’s supply of vaccines. Canada currently ranks 39 in the world in “total vaccines per 100 people” and it ranks 87 globally for “fully vaccinated” citizens. With these grim facts, the PM held a press conference to announce to Canadians that they should expect “a one-dose summer” and perhaps that will lead to “a two-dose fall, when we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.” Trudeau told us that, “There is hope for a slightly better summer” in which we might be able to “see our loved ones and invite friends over for BBQs.” This is conditional on the numbers going down, if more Canadians are vaccinated (and left unsaid: if we have the supply of vaccines).

So, as our faint hopes for summertime BBQs fade, shall we return to the question of whether there is anyone in the Trudeau government willing to take responsibility for steering our ship of state?

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/father-and-son-trudeau-and-canada-then-and-now/

Father and Son Trudeau, and Canada Then and Now

The Niagara Independent, March 6, 2020 —  Former Timiskaming MP John MacDougall remembers the overwhelming feeling of relief on February 29, 1984, the day when PM Trudeau took his walk in the snow.

Sitting in the House of Commons chamber, the rookie MP representing an immense northern Ontario riding stretching from Lake Temagami to Moosonee, sensed Canada was teetering on a precipice – and from his vantage point, MacDougall worried that Pierre Trudeau was nonchalantly (perhaps intentionally) pushing the country over the edge. On that February 29th, he along with many Canadians were relieved to learn Trudeau was choosing to leave politics and walk away from the mess he had created.

In 1982, John MacDougall was swept to his bi-election victory on a wave of anti-Trudeau sentiment. Many Canadians had grown angry at how the Trudeau Government altered the face and character of Canada — Trudeau marshalled policies that buried the country in debt, weakened the country’s resource and business sectors, and gave rise to regional tensions and a separation movement. Today, MacDougall assesses the state of his country and, sadly, he sees a similar landscape. In 36 short years, now by a hand of a younger Trudeau, history is repeating itself.

“Pierre Trudeau was a brilliant individual; his son not so,” says MacDougall, who is animated when comparing and contrasting the father and son Trudeau – and Canada then and now. “There are two striking similarities between them that sum up their approach to governing. There is an arrogance in Justin that I saw in his father. It’s a disrespect for anyone with a contrary view. Pierre had a dislike for Parliament and he didn’t like Question Period and was often rude to MPs. He ran the country from his Prime Minister’s Office. It is fair to say Justin holds that same contempt for the House of Commons. He would rather speak with Gerald Butts and his PMO staff than consult with MPs.”

“Both also love big government – the bigger the better. They like a model of government like China where leaders dictate, where they can put in place laws and regulations and government programs that will control people from cradle to grave. Of course, big government comes at a cost. But that doesn’t matter for either of them. With Justin and (Bill) Morneau I hear echoes of Pierre’s finance minister Alan MacEachern when he laughed at us and said “What’s a deficit?” They have no regard for the taxpayer, no regard for the country’s economy. It is likely due to Trudeau’s upbringing.”

MacDougall won the ’82 bi-election and was re-elected in ’84. In 1988, he was the only PC MP from northern Ontario to be returned to Ottawa in the great Canada-US Free Trade election, overcoming the strong fears of what the new trade deal might mean for the resource-based regions of the country. MacDougall spent his time in Ottawa championing both the development of resources and the livelihood of single-industry small town Canada. Today he is troubled for northern Ontario and rural Canada.

“Pierre wanted control of the resources and he attacked the oil and gas sectors with the National Energy Program. Justin is even more damaging to the sector. This government is not listening to resource industries. It is introducing new regulations and new approval processes that will not permit industries to do their jobs. I see that Justin spoke at the Prospectors and Developers (Association of Canada) conference and said it is time for Canada’s industry to transition from a resource economy. Seriously, Canadians are to transition from these industries when countries such as China, Russia and India increase their wealth from developing resources? Like Pierre, Justin doesn’t consider the impact his policies are having on the resource sector, on rural Canada. I’d like to ask him what is going to happen to the hundreds of single-industry towns dependent on resource development across our country?”

MacDougall acknowledges politics today is a lot different from when he was in Ottawa. “In many ways the world has gotten smaller. There are more outside influences factoring into Canada’s politics. Lobbyists and special interest groups are well funded and are involved in every aspect of our government. We have seen international lobbyists impacting our country’s economy – for example, how the Rockefeller Foundation is closing down Alberta’s oil sands. It has become much harder for MPs to have a voice on issues affecting their ridings. There are too many hidden agendas being played out by people beyond our borders – including at the U.N.”

“MPs’ voices has also been silenced by today’s Party discipline. Pierre Trudeau called MPs “nobodies” and his son has the same attitude: MPs are to be seen and not heard. I was fortunate to serve under Brian Mulroney who respected his MPs’ concerns for their constituents. We had votes in the House where we could vote our conscience and vote for our constituents. Today, every vote is whipped and the Liberal backbencher must support the Government or else. If you represent a mining or oil town, you cannot speak up for your constituents’ concerns about the damage the carbon tax is doing to your community. The strict party discipline is one-step closer to dictatorship, to Trudeau’s China-styled government.”

Asked to sum up his thoughts on the Trudeaus – both Senior and Junior – MacDougall is reflective, “I have been fortunate to live and work through the years in a Canada that is a source of great pride. But today I look at the next generation, and the debt and counter-productive policies in place in Canada, and I know they will not have the same opportunities for work or quality of life. I do feel for the younger generation and I feel for those in rural Canada. I have that same, sick feeling in my stomach that I had in 1982 when I ran. We live in the greatest country, yet we are squandering Canada’s riches.”

John MacDougall’s remarks are recorded from two conversations this past week, on the anniversary of PET’s “walk in the snow” and on March 3rd.   

Photo Credit: Pierre Trudeau (Chiloa/Flickr) and Justin Trudeau/Facebook

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/father-and-son-trudeau-and-canada-then-and-now/

“Pandemic failure is Trudeau’s biggest scandal yet”

The Niagara Independent, April 30, 2021 – Diane Francis, opinion columnist for the Financial Post, pulled no punches this week when she stated the “pandemic failure is Trudeau’s biggest scandal yet.” Francis takes the Trudeau government to task for the country’s shortage of vaccines. However, the mismanagement of the supply of vaccines is but one of the costly mistakes made by the federal government that has placed Canadians in such a difficult situation.

“The Trudeau government’s incompetence is causing death and economic dysfunction,” contends Francis. She points out that “Canada’s provincial health-care systems are in crisis, the economy is locked down and the Liberal government’s dose-delay edict is putting lives at risk.”

In looking back to January 2021, Canadians have repeatedly heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that we can expect millions of vaccine doses to arrive in the coming days. The script has PM Trudeau promising millions of doses – and usually Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand explaining a few days later why the shipments are delayed. Media trumpets Trudeau’s announcement and often buries Minister Anand’s pardon. This routine has been repeated so often it has become tiresome.

In her column, Francis quotes a health-care professional (who asked to remain anonymous) as saying, “I’m upset every time the media repeats the government’s claims about the number of vaccines that are planned or expected to arrive at the start of any given week, rather than reporting at the end of a given week on how many vaccines had actually been received.”

But the facts speak volumes. Francis compares Canada to the US: “as of April 24, in the United States, 67 doses have been administered for every 100 people – 41 per cent of the population have received one dose and 27 per cent have been fully vaccinated; Canada, on the other hand, has administered 32 doses for every 100 people – 29 per cent of the population have gotten one dose and a mere 2.7 per cent have been fully vaccinated because the Liberals have permitted four-month delays in giving second doses.”

Because there were no vaccines, mid-April clinics throughout Toronto and the GTA had to close their doors. The hotspot of York Region closed its mass immunization clinic at Canada’s Wonderland. Scarborough Health Network and Toronto’s flagship University Health Network were limiting and cancelling appointments. Just this week, we heard from the Ontario Pharmacists Association that pharmacies will run out of doses within 7 to 10 days.

At the time of writing, Canada ranked 37th globally in “total vaccines per 100 people”, with barely 2.8 percent of Canadians fully vaccinated. The other countries in a similar state are all located in the Third World. Francis underlines this failure: “This metric – the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated – is what counts, and Canada is the only country in the world that is officially denying people their vital second shots for four months.”

Indeed, Canada’s lack of vaccines have resulted in the country’s vaccination programs resembling one big social experiment. Canada is the only developed nation to approve and implement a four month delay between vaccine shots – against the pharmaceutical companies’ expert counsel. There is some medical evidence suggesting people with only a single vaccine dose will have an increased risk of getting the virus.

Our country’s health officials are in slim company when approving certain vaccines for certain ages. This week we learned that, because of the uncertain supply of vaccines through the summer, the province of Quebec will be the first jurisdiction in the world to approve the mixing of vaccines. Quebecers will be offered no guarantee that they can receive a second dose of the same product. (Health Canada has yet to make a statement on this breaking news.)

Remarkably, the provinces seem to be taking the brunt of the criticism, despite the obvious source of the problem. Mainstream media, abetted by federal politicians and officials, seem to willfully ignore the reality that it is impossible to operate a vaccination program without a reliable supply of vaccines. Take for example the headlines federal Health Minister Patty Hadju made in making her backhanded comment about Ontario having vaccines in freezers. Few reporters factchecked this story to find Hadju was referring to shipments that had been delivered to the province less than 24 hours earlier. The headlines this week relate to federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s political powerplay in refusing a solution proposed by the Ford government that would immediately make available paid sick days for Ontarians.

It is remarkable that national media does not responsibly report on the country’s lack of vaccines and the challenges this presents for the provinces – and for all Canadians.

The vaccine supply is not the only harmful misstep the Trudeau government has taken in the past year. The federal government has the sole responsibility of protecting Canada’s borders. It has sole responsibility for the country’s airports. On two separate occasions the government failed to take timely action in cancelling flights from global hotspots. In early 2020, the Trudeau government failed to act on flights from China. This month, it again failed to promptly ban flights from India and Brazil when it had become apparent dangerous virus variants were originating in those countries. India, in one day this week, recorded 2,767 deaths and almost 350,000 new cases. World Health Organization experts warn of the deadly Indian ‘double mutant’ COVID-19 variant.

Who could not foresee that the coronavirus variant in Delhi would spread to the GTA with the hundreds of passengers arriving at Pearson airport? Parliamentarians continue to call on the PM to halt international flights until Canada can get infection rates under control. Again, the federal government’s actions are directly impacting provinces with their health and safety measures. In the case of India, Ontarians are struggling under a prolonged lockdown because of the community spread of the variants in Toronto and the GTA.

There is still much to learn about how unprepared Canada was in responding to the coronavirus. In March 2021, Canada’s Auditor General Karen Hogan published a report that began to probe the country’s pandemic preparedness. The key takeaway from the AG’s work was that Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) “underestimated” the potential impact of COVID-19 and was ill-prepared to respond.

With this report Canadians began to understand how the federal government ineptitude worsened our country’s ability to manage this health care crisis. In 2018 and again in 2019, the Trudeau government made the critical decision to shut down the country’s pandemic surveillance system within PHAC – the very system that provided Canadians with crucial intelligence before and during the 2003 SARS crisis and 2009 H1N1 outbreak.

This week Canadians learned that in December 2019 the PHAC dumped literally millions of high-grade N95 masks, surgical masks, and surgical gloves and gowns from our country’s emergency stockpiles. This action along with the fact we shipped tonnes of medical supplies to China in early 2020, left our country’s health care system short of needed supplies. NDP MP Matthew Green recently called this a national scandal, “24,000 people died. There was absolutely a duty of this government to distribute critical life-saving personal protective equipment to frontline health-care workers, and that failed to happen.”

From an unreliable supply of vaccines, to porous airports, to shortsighted decisions that have proven to be grossly irresponsible, if the federal government’s pandemic failure is not “the biggest” it is assuredly Justin Trudeau’s most serious 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/forget-we-snc-lavalin-and-blackface-trudeaus-most-serious-scandal-to-date/

Photo credit: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

No new funds for health care amid health crisis

The Niagara Independent, April 23, 2021 – This week’s federal budget has been characterized as “the calling card for “spendoholics” – a political document that has money for everybody and everything – except for what Canadians desperately need, a long-term federal commitment to improving our country’s public health care system.

In this week’s budget address, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland proudly announced more than $100 billion for the Government’s new green agenda, an additional $17.6 billion for Canada to exceed its 2030 carbon emissions targets, and an additional $18 billion going to Indigenous communities to “improve the quality of life.” The centrepiece of the spending announcements was the $30 billion expenditure over the next five years to create a nationwide childcare system (with a string attached that it is to be a 50-50 split with cash-strapped provincial governments).

With respect to the country’s ledger, Freeland told us the federal deficit for the past fiscal year (ending March 31, 2021) is $354.2 billion and for the 2021-22 fiscal year it will be $154.7 billion. The budget numbers reveal a federal debt that will top $1.4 trillion by 2026, effectively doubling since the start of the 2020 pandemic. The budget also reveals that this Liberal Government has no plan to return to a balanced budget, ever.

So, this federal budget introduced a historic amount of government spending – pronouncements of billions and billions of dollars – and not a word of its commitment to the country’s health care system.

 When Tommy Douglas first introduced Canadian medicare it was understood that the federal government was to cover 50 per cent of health care costs. Through the decades that number has been whittled down to 35 per cent. However, the federal government currently covers only 22 per cent of the total cost of health care.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed that our beloved public health care system has been bending under the strain of federal government under-investment for some time.

Today, Canada’s provinces spend $188 billion on health care and, in some cases, health care costs account for nearly half of a province’s budget. The provinces have repeatedly asked the federal government to honour its previously held promise of 35 percent of health care costs.

The total federal investment to the country’s health care should be $70 billion per year. But, at present, the federal government only transfers $42 billion for health care to the provinces each year – a $28 billion per year shortfall.

In pre-budget consultations, the premiers held a media conference to call on the federal government to announce an immediate long-term funding commitment for the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The premiers were pleading for financial support to address the structural costs of the health care system and ensure Canadians have timely access to quality services.

Quebec Premier François Legault, speaking on behalf of all premiers, stated: We can’t afford to wait until after the pandemic to address this issue. We can’t continue to manage the pandemic, while addressing the future sustainability of our health care systems. The next federal budget must reflect the federal government’s commitment to long-term, sustainable funding for health care through the CHT.”

Remarkably, with the country seized by the largest health crisis Canada has ever experienced, this federal budget said nothing about the CHT. Why were there no new health care dollars announced amid a global health crisis!?

On a related matter, the pandemic has sadly illustrated the decades of neglect by governments of all stripes toward the country’s long-term care system. The budget did mention long-term care. The federal government stated that starting next year (2022-23) there would be $3 billion spent over five years “to improve long-term care.” In looking at the details, this money will go to Ottawa bureaucrats in Health Canada and Statistics Canada. As for actual dollars to the provinces for supporting staff or better infrastructure, there is nada. This money will not be assisting the strapped provinces with their immediate long-term care COVID-19 issues.

Provincial leaders were quick to voice their concerns on the Trudeau government’s lack of commitment to the country’s health care system. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was frank in his reaction: “We’re asking for a stability in a health-care system that is in crisis now because it’s clearly demonstrated its weaknesses throughout this pandemic and there’s not one mention. So it’s like, here’s a budget, clearly an election budget designed to appease everyone in some way, but in the main way it’s an election budget that has missed everyone because everyone’s impacted by a health-care system. We’ll look back on this and we’ll say we knew health care was in crisis. We knew, every territory leader and provincial leader knew this, and yet it was completely ignored in the most expensive budget in the history of our country.”

In the House of Commons, when questioned by Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on the failure to address the CHT, Prime Minister Trudeau said his government will increase health transfers – in the future. PM Trudeau said, “…the decision about how much, and how to exactly do that, we have decided needed to wait until we’re through the worst of this crisis… Over the long-term, yes we will increase health transfers.” There has been no further elaboration on the PM’s comments.

Andre Picard, Globe and Mail health reporter, made the following observation about this government’s “we’ll-wait-until-later” attitude regarding health care: “The federal government made a strategic decision that it will get more political bang for the political and economic buck by investing in child care than spending more on the seemingly bottomless pit of sickness care. That’s probably a good short-term bet. But, eventually, the backlog of neglected care over the past year, and the swelling desire for better elder care in the future, is going to catch up with governments, and that debt will have to be paid – in full.”

While, President of the Canadian Medical Association Dr. Ann Collins said: “[The association is] disappointed that this budget did nothing to address the problems faced by the nearly five million Canadians who must navigate medical issues without consistent access to a family doctor or primary care provider… As provinces and territories continue to struggle with the ever-increasing cost of providing care, the federal government must follow through on its own promise to work with premiers on revisiting the CHT.”

“This has been an enormously difficult year for patients and healthcare providers alike as they have been trapped in a system that has been neglected for too long,” added Dr. Collins. “Small cracks have become gaping holes. Building resiliency for the future must include real commitments to health care. If anything, this pandemic has shown us where the problems are, but we must address them before it’s too late.”

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/no-new-funds-for-health-care-amid-health-crisis/

Photo credit: Canada’s Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland presents the Liberal government’s 2021 budget before the House of Commons, Monday, April 19. Photo credit: Twitter/Chrystia Freeland

Three strikes against Liberals’ new green plan

The Niagara Independent, April 16, 2021 –If this were a game of baseball, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not get to first base with his government’s approach to establishing a responsible – and sustainable – environment policy. There has been a slew of recent government reports and business statistics that reveal the Liberals’ Green Plan will cost Canadians in a number of significant ways.

Strike One: Their green plan requires considerable private sector investment that is just not there

Canadians have heard the wonderful promises of our federal government “building back better” with a greener economy. We have been told the Liberals’ Green Plan has the potential to create or maintain 6.3 million green jobs. With $109 billion worth of investments by the federal government over the next 10 years, Canada is expected to generate $790 billion in green initiatives which will, in turn, result in a net-zero economic recovery.

However, this plan hinges on the Canadian private sector investing $681 billion. For every one dollar the government is to invest, the Trudeau Liberals believe they can encourage the private sector to invest six dollars. With this model, let’s look at the record of this government’s last public-private investment plan. Consider the record of the Canada Infrastructure Bank over the past three years – a Liberal initiative that bankrolled $35 billion of taxpayers’ money and was to attract two or three times that in private dollars. To date, the government institution has committed only $4 billion to infrastructure projects and none of the dollars it has spent has come from private investors. Though it has an expressed mandate to generate joint funding with the private sector for its investments, it has failed to secure one thin dime.

It is highly unlikely with the post-pandemic state that Canada’s business community is in that the government is going to be successful in engaging private sector involvement in its green schemes. A recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business calculates 180,000 small- to medium-sized businesses across Canada will shut down due to the pandemic, shedding 2.4 million jobs. CFIB reports 58,000 businesses have already closed their doors. Statistics Canada looked back on 2020 and reported that the Covid-19 economic shutdown directly affected 5.5 million Canadian workers, including 3 million who lost their jobs.

This economic picture does not reflect a business community prepared to invest heavily into government partnerships. (One has to wonder what kind of “opportunity” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland sees in the pandemic.)

Strike Two: Their green plan will result in massive job losses and lasting hardship  

A new report from TD Economics estimates 450,000 of Canada’s direct and indirect oil and gas jobs will be lost by 2050 with the Liberals’ Green Plan. That figure totals three-quarters of Canadians employed in oil and gas – with a great many of them employed in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The report signals the federal government should develop worker transition plans immediately to prevent disastrous consequences. TD Economics analysts warn that it is wrong to assume that displaced oil and gas workers will find new jobs in the clean-energy sector. That is because the skill sets in the two sectors are different. But, more significantly, green jobs are likely to be more geographically dispersed, not tied to the natural resources found in the prairies or the waters of the Atlantic.

The report concludes the workers in the communities that lose their major oil and gas employers as a consequence of the government’s green agenda will join the permanent ranks of the unemployed or underemployed.

Over and above this personal despair, the purposeful throttling of Canada’s oil and gas industry will have profound economic impacts on the whole of the country. Not only will the country lose approximately 5 per cent of its GDP, but Canadians will become increasingly dependent on fossil fuels imported from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. 

Strike Three: Their green plan is only sustainable with continuous government subsidies   

At a Parliamentary Canada-U.S. Economic Relations Committee meeting this year, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told MPs that the government is prepared to subsidize any and all green projects in the country. He said, “We’re willing to look at anything really, you know, if it seems like it’s a good idea and it can help us lower emissions and protect our workers.”

The Trudeau Liberals have been subsidizing green projects without any regard for costs or return on investment. A Department of Environment 2019 audit complained of little oversight of subsidized projects: “There is no departmental plan in place for conducting recipient audits. There is no guidance,” wrote auditors. A federal Treasury Board memo from 2018 said green subsidies for clean technology were run through a hodgepodge of programs with no assurance of returns to taxpayers: “Outcomes, target-setting and reporting are weak across the system…Right now it is not clear what is being funded.”

It is evident to government officials that government cheques to green projects will be on-going. In a recent 2020 audit by the Department of Industry, the government reported green tech companies were three times likelier to rely on taxpayer subsidies through grants, subsidies and non-repayable contributions than other small- and medium-sized businesses.

Minister O’Regan’s own Department of Natural Resources has concluded that few green energy projects are viable without subsidies. In internal memos uncovered by Blacklock’s Reporter, the department claimed the Renewable Energy Deployment Program was addressing “a market failure” with Canada’s solar, wind, and geothermal industries. It concluded that “most projects would not have been financially viable” without the support of more than $1.4 billion of government subsidies.

Department investigators reported, “None of the projects generated sufficient market revenues to be profitable without the Renewable Energy Deployment funding.” They also found the energy projects received additional subsidies from provinces including contracts for power at guaranteed prices, tax credits, taxpayer-funded research and other aid.

Now consider that the Trudeau Government recently made public the intention to introduce 64 new measures as part of their green plan. Environment Canada officials state that the measures will cost Canadians $15 billion in federal investment. That’s $15 billion to begin with – as Ontario taxpayers have come to learn, green programs designed by government and established with government subsidies are costly to introduce and then costly to sustain.

That’s three strikes against the Liberals’ Green Plan. Is it not time for Canadians to call them out?

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/three-strikes-against-liberals-new-green-plan/

Photo credit: Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan at a press conference in June 2019. Alongside the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, O’Regan’s ministry is responsible for the Liberal government’s new green plan. Photo credit: iPolitics / Andrew Meade


Canadians will get to vote on the carbon tax

The Niagara Independent, April 2 & 9, 2021 – The federal government once again hiked the carbon tax on April 1st as per its publicized schedule of annual tax increases. Recall this time last year, during the height of the pandemic crisis, Canada made international headlines as the only country that was hiking taxes while the global economy was shut down.

PM Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberals are wholly committed to the carbon tax. The Conservative Party has announced it is opposed to the tax. So, it appears, Canadians will get a chance to vote on the carbon tax regime in the next election.

The Trudeau Liberals argue that taxing pollution is an essential component of the country’s environmental commitment and the PM has stated ad nauseum that this carbon tax is revenue neutral. Conservatives point out that both these claims are false: a tax does not constitute a serious environment policy and this carbon tax is nothing but a tax grab. Organizations from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, to Canadians for Affordable Energy, to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) have been similarly critical, stating this carbon tax regime is adversely impacting Canadians.

On Thursday the federal carbon tax increased by $10 to $40 per tonne, which increases pump prices by approximately nine cents per litre according to the Canada Revenue Agency. It also raised Canadians’ cost of heating their homes (although the CRA have not provided the exact figures for these increased bills).

The bottom line is that the Liberals’ carbon tax hikes are going to raise the cost of everything for Canadians. According to the government’s own schedule of tax hikes, taxes paid at the pump on each fill-up by 2030 will be an additional $27 for a minivan, an additional $45 extra for a pickup truck, and truck drivers will pay an additional $204 to fuel their tractor trailers. Consider what this means for commuters each week.

Canadians will also experience increased taxes on their home heating, natural gas and propane bills. One estimate from the CTF factored that a home using 2,700 cubic metres of natural gas per year would be dinged an extra $240 in taxes each year.

This tax will hit farmers and truckers hard and Canadians will experience hidden tax increases with groceries and merchandise bills. It will be difficult to factor and track these tax increases as they will be unseen, folded into the cost of goods.

There is also the additional GST that is collected on all of this tax. The federal government is taxing the carbon tax. The CTF estimates, in 2019, Ontarians alone paid $243 million in GST on top of carbon tax charges.

These tax increases are only a third of the story when it comes to the Liberal Government’s tax grab. The government has announced a three-prong carbon tax regime: 1) the scheduled carbon tax hikes; 2) a new Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) carbon tax on the country’s business community to take affect January 1, 2022; and 3) multiple green measures and subsidy programs that are estimated to cost Canadians $15 billion in the short term.

With the yet-to-be-imposed CFS tax, the federal government estimates this new tax will increase energy costs by an additional $208 annually for households by 2030. There is no CFS rebate system planned to defray these increased taxes.

Add all the carbon taxes up and the average Canadian will be paying north of a thousand dollars in additional taxes each year. And perhaps much more according to the Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. On the news that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the federal government’s right to impose the carbon tax, a delighted Minister Wilkinson told CBC News that the next step for the country will be to set new emission targets that will exceed the targets stated under the Paris Agreement. One can assume from this statement that the schedule of Liberal carbon tax hikes will be recalculated and – hiked.

In a fall government document on their environmental agenda, the Liberals explained the rationale for their carbon tax. The document states: “The principle is straightforward: a carbon price establishes how much businesses and households need to pay for their pollution. The higher the price, the greater the incentive to pollute less, conserve energy and invest in low-carbon solutions.” By taxing Canadians increasing amounts, the government intends on meeting its emissions targets. (Yet this strategy is questionable given Canada’s emission levels have notably increased since the imposition of the carbon tax.)

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole vehemently disagrees with this approach of taxing Canadians and has promised to provide a viable alternative to meeting Canada’s emission targets. O’Toole states, “We’re in the process of creating a very comprehensive plan that will reduce emissions without some of the negative aspects of Mr. Trudeau’s Ottawa-imposed carbon tax.” O’Toole explains the Liberal carbon tax “will hurt some of the people at the margins, will hurt small businesses who cannot be made whole for the cost, and will hurt some of our cross-border opportunities because there is no carbon price in the United States.” O’Toole adds, “It’s not a market-based approach if our largest competitor does not have the input price for carbon.”

O’Toole explains the Conservative approach to scrap the carbon tax is not denying Canada’s role in contributing to global warming solutions, “Climate change is real and it’s important for us to have a serious approach. I want to have a plan that Canada can meet its targets. I’ve also said I’d like to see a net-zero approach plan, a made-in-Canada net-zero approach plan over the longer term, which is the 2050 timeline, but to do it without taxing people. As I said the carbon tax impacts our competitiveness and it hurts people in the margins the most. I think it’s backwards to be honest.”

Current public opinion suggests that one in two Canadians agree with the Conservative Leader. A recent Leger research poll indicates 52 per cent of Canadians do not support annual carbon tax hikes. One in three (32 per cent) are in favour, and the balance (16 per cent) are undecided. More than two-thirds do not like the tax increases at the pumps (68 per cent) or on home fuel (67 per cent); half (49 per cent) do not like the fact that Canadian businesses are being taxed extra; and half (49 per cent) do not believe the carbon tax is revenue neutral.

When Canadians already are spending considerably more of their income on taxes than on life necessities, to insist on a schedule of increased carbon taxes may be too much to ask. For a growing number of tax-weary Canadians, the upcoming federal election will bring a welcomed opportunity to vote on the matter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explains the carbon tax thus: “The principle is straightforward: a carbon price establishes how much businesses and households need to pay for their pollution. The higher the price, the greater the incentive to pollute less, conserve energy and invest in low-carbon solutions.”

Since the Trudeau government introduced its carbon tax, Canada has repeatedly failed to meet its carbon emissions targets.

The rationale for raising the tax is to cause greater economic pain so that Canadians will pollute less and the country will meet its emission targets. The political spin is “Canadians must pay their share to save the world.”

Yet, here are five uncomfortable truths about the carbon tax that suggests this punitive taxing approach is not only a policy failure that has zero percent chance of making any real difference with lowering emissions in Canada or around the world, but that it is an unfair tax that disadvantages both lower income Canadians and our country’s economy.

  1. The current tax is a proven failure to lower emissions.

Canada adopted a 2050 target of net zero emissions, but it is on course to miss the emission levels at every milestone along the way. Last year, the government reported that emissions in Canada had actually risen over the past decade from 543 to 577 million metric tonnes. The country missed its Copenhagen 2020 targets and, according to the United Nations Emissions Gap Report, the U.N. estimates Canada is set to miss its 2030 emissions target by 15 per cent.

Even with the schedule of carbon tax increases, it is questionable whether the country’s emissions will marginally decrease, let alone meet our future targets. This is one reason why Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has stated the country must set more aggressive targets over the decade, presumably imposing an even more aggressive schedule of tax increases. It is also why the federal government is considering the introduction of a carbon-offset system that will allow Canadian industries to pay for maintaining their emissions levels. In both cases, our taxes will increase, while the country’s carbon emissions will not decrease in any meaningful way.

  1. Our country’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions accounts for a miniscule 1.6 per cent and our efforts to reduce carbon emissions is insignificant.

The reality is that if Canada were to eliminate all carbon emissions tomorrow, the coal plants currently being built in China would more than replace this accomplishment. (Did you know: China is building 184 coal plants and, in 2020, China built more than three times as much new coal power capacity as all the other countries in the world combined?)

Our country ranks tenth on the list of global polluters, but it is a small fraction of the world’s greatest emitters. Some 53 per cent of the world’s emissions come from four sources: China 27.2 per cent, U.S. 14.6 per cent, India 6.8 per cent, and Russia 4.7 per cent. At today’s measurements, China emits in 20 days the carbon emissions Canadians pollute in an entire year. The country may have made headlines signing onto the U.N.’s emissions program, but the Chinese government doesn’t plan to begin reducing emissions for another two decades.

  1. The carbon tax is unevenly applied across the country – undermining the fairness and effectiveness of the tax.

The federal carbon tax directly impacts Alberta industries and is not applied to Quebec industries. Motorists in Ontario pay a greater amount of tax at the pumps than motorists in Quebec. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador pay no carbon tax at the pumps or on home fuel. The April 1 tax hike was not felt in provinces like Quebec because the schedule of tax hikes through the 2020’s will not bs imposed on Quebecers. The federal government states the new tax rate is factored at $40 per tonne, but Quebecers are still being taxed at a rate of less than $20 per tonne.

In theory, as explained by Trudeau, the punitive nature of continuously increasing carbon taxes will move Canadian individuals and businesses to change their behaviour and pollute less. But how is that to work if half of Canadians do not feel the pain of the turning of the screw? What are the consequences for those industries being taxed in the various parts of the country where the tax regime is not evenly applied and administered?

  1. The carbon tax is a greater burden on lower income Canadians, and it is not revenue neutral.

A Finance Canada analysis on the carbon tax recently concluded that “increases in transportation fuel and home heating expenses would disproportionately impact lower and middle-income households [and] those living in single detached households or those without control over the energy efficiency of their dwellings that use heating oil.”

While, an Environment Canada report concluded that the government is not fully rebating Canadians the tax dollars it collected with the carbon tax. In 2019, the government collected $2.6 billion in carbon taxes from Canadians and rebated only $2.2 billion to households, small and medium-sized businesses, and public institutions. Ontario residents were shortchanged almost $400 million. Some 40 per cent of Ontario households pay more in carbon taxes than they get back in rebates. 

  1. The carbon tax is increasing the cost of living – and this will seriously impact all Canadians.

The carbon tax will raise the cost of everything for Canadians. It raises gas prices for commuters and personal travel. It raises fuel prices to heat homes. It increases costs for our farmers, manufacturers, miners and energy producers, and the truckers who deliver almost everything we need. In this way, the carbon tax will raise the price of all groceries and consumer goods. And, incredibly, on top of the carbon tax, the federal government also charges the GST (collecting a further tax on the carbon tax).

This week a national survey found 53 per cent of Canadians are $200 or less away from being insolvent. Thirty per cent of Canadians say they are already unable to pay their bills and manage their debt obligations – there is no money left over at the end of the month. Now, imagine Canadians paying more tax.

Former Liberal MP Dan McTeague, and now the outspoken head of the group Canadians For Affordable Energy, believes that “politicians who care about the issue of affordable energy can, and should, make the case against carbon taxes.” McTeague states the punitive tax regime “requires a pushback against the many people who insult everyday Canadians who are sick and tired of watching their taxes go up.”

In the upcoming federal election, the Trudeau Liberals will want to frame the tax as the responsible way for Canadians to do their part for global climate change. The Conservatives will want to talk about the ineffectiveness of the tax regime, promising to relay how Canadians can meet their international obligations to reduce emissions without a carbon tax. Quite apart from this political debate is the reality of what the carbon tax is costing the country as it places an increasingly difficult burden on the backs of Canadians. These issues will be debated – come the next federal election, Canadians will ultimately get to vote on the carbon tax.

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadians-will-get-to-vote-on-the-carbon-tax-part-1/

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadians-will-get-to-vote-on-the-carbon-tax-part-2/

A few questions on transparency in advance of the federal budget

The Niagara Independent, March 26, 2021 – What caused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do such an abrupt about-face? One week he was stating repeatedly that the government would not deliver a budget in March or April and then, the very next Monday, his finance minister announces the budget date for mid-April.

This week Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland rose in the House of Commons to inform Canadians that April 19 would be the date of her much-awaited federal budget address.

Between the PM’s insistence that there was to be no budget and Freeland’s announcement, there was a phone call on March 18 between PM Trudeau and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Recall, in early 2021, the IMF urged the Trudeau Government to adopt a “fiscal anchor” so that it might retain credibility with its management of the public accounts. This was in response to the government’s announcement that Canada’s federal debt as a percentage of GDP will peak at more than 52 percent this fiscal year.

So, here is a reasonable question: what was discussed between the PM and the IMF head last week and did this exchange prompt the government to announce its budget sooner than it planned?

The April budget will be Minister Freeland’s first since assuming responsibility for the country’s finances. In this budget, the government will need to address its record high spending during the pandemic – the greatest per capita spending in the world; its record national debt as a percentage of GDP (now worse than Greece’s debt); and, the highest unemployment rates of the G-8 countries. There is a great deal for Minister Freeland to answer to.

In its economic statement in November, the government reported Canada’s total debt rising to $1.1 trillion in 2021, up from $721 billion in 2019. It projected the country’s debt to top $1.3 trillion in five years. At that time, Freeland also announced the government’s intention to spend another $100-billion over three years to help with the pandemic crisis, although there were no details on the measures that were to drive the economic recovery.

The debt levels are worrisome but it is the lack of an economic plan that most troubles Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. This week O’Toole sent a letter to the PM to caution him on the debt and demand a detailed plan for the economy. O’Toole wrote, “We need a road map to reopen, and we need it now. As Conservatives have stated, you have asked Canadians for a blank cheque without presenting a budget to show how or when you plan to use that additional borrowing capacity. I note that this historic and massive increase in our country’s debt also includes $100-billion for additional stimulus measures. Despite repeated requests for you to explain how, when and where this money will be spent, you have refused to be transparent about your plans.”

The Conservative Leader was referencing a Finance Committee vote by MPs on Tuesday that approved a 56 percent increase in the federal debt ceiling, from $1.168 trillion to $1,831,000,000,000. The new debt ceiling permits the government to spend more money on its reset agenda to build back better by subsidizing green energy programs and reforming capitalism with greater government interventionism.

Though the exact details of the Trudeau Government’s fiscal and economic recovery plans are yet to be made public, the state of the Canadian economy is something that has been producing troubling headlines for weeks:

  • Statistics Canada recently reported that Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 5.4 percent in 2020. This drop represents the biggest contraction for Canada’s economy since the Great Depression.
  • Finance Canada reported that the Canada Recovery Benefit payments to Canadians of $2,000 per month was initially estimated to cost $6.3 billion to the end of March. It is now estimated to have cost the federal treasury nearly double — $11.1 billion.
  • The Conference Board of Canada has warned about the “inescapable” ramifications of the “gigantic fiscal hole” dug during the pandemic. Plunging revenues, record deficit spending, and the country’s rising health care costs have the potential to be “catastrophic” for the Canadian economy.

BNN Bloomberg reports this week that the Bank of Canada is looking to scale back its purchasing of government bonds — forecasting an end to free-spending government initiatives. The central bank purchased a record amount of over $250 billion worth of government bonds in 2020. The news agency reports: Deputy Governor Toni Gravelle used a Tuesday speech to lay out ground rules the central bank will use to slow the pace of its purchases of Canadian government bonds… It currently owns a little more than 35% of the total market of outstanding government of Canada debt. Governor Tiff Macklem has said that when holdings rise above 50%, market functioning could get distorted.”

The Canadian business community and international banks are anxious for the Trudeau Government to make public its fiscal and economic recovery plans. It has been too long between budgets. Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux has been constant in his criticism over the government’s lack of transparency. “What we’re missing when there’s no budget is an overall snapshot and also a sense of where the government is heading in coming years.”

William Robson, Chief Executive of the C.D. Howe Institute has echoed this concern, saying he is concerned the government has simply “penciled in” the spending plans and has failed to properly account for its expenditures.

Goldy Hyder, Business Council of Canada President and CEO wants to see a detailed economic growth plan. “To build confidence, the federal government must present a comprehensive and credible plan that spurs investment, private sector job creation, and long-term economic growth.”

As the budget date draws nearer, there are two important outstanding questions that would provide greater transparency and greater public confidence in this Government’s plans. 1) What did PM Trudeau and the head of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva discuss in relation to her concerns about Canada’s fiscal affairs? 2) What potential conflicts of interests does Finance Minister Freeland have preparing this budget when she sits on the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum and is seat mate with the same Kristalina Georgieva?

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-few-questions-on-transparency-in-advance-of-the-federal-budget/

It’s time to discuss Canada’s Arctic policy

The Niagara Independent, March 19, 2021 – Decisions about the federal government’s Arctic policy are long overdue. With recent activities in the Arctic by Russia and China, it has become critical that there be discussions about development in the north and the defense of North America. Further to this, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan appears to be vacillating on Canada’s participation in renewing and updating North America’s early warning defence system.

The government’s silence on all matters relating to the north has brought into question Canada’s commitments to the territory.

Earlier this month Canadians learned of two Russian reconnaissance aircraft being intercepted in Canadian airspace. The North American Aerospace Defence Command answered the call to steer the Russian planes clear of the area. Cat and mouse games in the Arctic are now common as both Russian and Chinese military increase their air and naval activities in the region. But more disturbing is the advances being made in hypersonic missile technology by these countries – advances that make defence of the Arctic imperative for the U.S. (and presumably Canada).

With respect to North American security issues, the Arctic is now identified by the U.S. military intelligence as “a zone of international competition.”

This week there was an announcement about a NORAD Arctic air defence exercise involving both American and Canadian military aircraft. Joint forces will conduct missions across northern Canada and Greenland to practice emergency scenarios involving hijackings, calls of unknown aircraft – and “airspace restriction violations.” A written NORAD statement read: “This air defence exercise provides us the opportunity to hone our skills as Canadian and U.S. forces operate together with our allies and partners in the Arctic.”

Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck commented on the need for this exercise, “Last year, NORAD responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War. These Russian military operations include multiple flights of heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence collection platforms near Alaska.”

Communist China has also become an issue with respect to sovereignty in the north. Although China is not geographically within the region, the country is a member of the international Arctic Council, which includes Canada and all countries within the Arctic Circle. In 2018, the Communist China Party made public its Arctic policy that pronounces an interest in expanding China’s reach through the Arctic territories. Entitled “Polar Silk Road”, China’s design is to integrate its northern development strategies with its international economic expansionist plans as set out in the “Belt and Road Initiative.”

The Chinese are most interested in the Arctic’s resource reserves, including oil, natural gas, and the rare-earth minerals used in manufacturing everything from computers and iphones to solar panels and car batteries. China has taken a multi-prong approach coopting Canadian partnerships. In recent years China entered into a number of scientific research initiatives with Canadian research bodies and universities and these ventures are allowing a growing presence in the Arctic.  Its military has also participated in joint military winter training exercises with Canadian Forces. Furthermore, Chinese state-owned mining companies have attempted to purchase stakes in mining properties in Canada’s north.

China’s publicly stated “practical cooperation” approach to Arctic development has not been embraced by Canadian officials in the Department of National Defence. In fact, Deputy Minister Jody Thomas has tagged the Chinese interests as an “Arctic threat.”

In a recent Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, Thomas warned of China’s intent to deplete Canada’s rich natural resources, “We should not underestimate at all that threat of resource exploitation in the Arctic by China in particular. China has a voracious appetite and will stop at nothing to feed itself, and the Arctic is one of the last domains and regions left and we have to understand it and exploit it and more quickly than they can exploit it.”

The Canadian defence official also did not mince her words concerning Russia’s military presence in the north. She noted the construction of the Russian Arctic military bases and the new fleet of 13 Russian polar icebreakers and stated, “Nobody would invest the kind of money in building up the military capacity in the Arctic without reason, intent or purpose. We should not be naive about that. It doesn’t mean it is immediate – but it is there.”

As the darkened storm clouds gather, the Trudeau government and its Defence Minister remain silent. The reason for that silence is likely money. With the government’s pandemic spending and its endless promises in increasing social programs and orchestrating Canada’s green recovery, the multibillion dollar price tag to rebuild North America’s defence early-warning system may be problematic. In the Trudeau government’s 2017 defence policy the NORAD defence costs were omitted. But cost estimates for this project are as high as $15 billion. Given that the operational life of the current warning system comes due in 2024, there will soon need to be a public discussion and accounting for the NORAD defence system.

In a recent CBC News commentary of the government’s posturing on Arctic policy, James Fergusson of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba is quoted: “With the public largely uninformed and disinterested, the media paying only sporadic attention … it is no wonder that the Trudeau government has remained silent.”

Ferguson surmised, “Yet, repeatedly over time, silence backfires on government when the issue suddenly and unexpectedly explodes onto the public agenda.”

Canadians can only hope Ferguson’s choice of words is not prophetic. For multiple reasons on multiple fronts, it is time to discuss Canada’s Arctic policy.

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/its-time-to-discuss-canadas-arctic-policy/

The failed federal COVID response

The Niagara Independent, March 12, 2021 – Canadians commemorated the one year anniversary of the global coronavirus pandemic this week. Monday marked a year since the country recorded its first death as a result of COVID-19, the virus that has contributed to 22,000 Canadian deaths. As we reflect on our annus horribilis it is hard not to conclude that our federal government failed Canadians multiple times and that its vaccine program is perhaps the Trudeau Government’s greatest (on-going) scandal.

Recall the early days of the global pandemic when Italian doctors were recounting horrific scenes in overrun hospitals and the virus was surging through European countries… what was the federal government’s response to this forecasted tragedy? From the Prime Minister to the Health Minister to senior health bureaucrats, Canadians were told not to “overreact.” Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam said, “As I have always said, the epidemic of fear could be more difficult to control than the epidemic itself.” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in the House of Commons in early February (after the U.S. had banned flights from China) that “one of the interesting elements of the coronavirus outbreak has been the spread of misinformation and fear across Canadian society… [Conservatives] sensationalize the risk to Canadians.”

Throughout February and March 2020 – even after the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 “a pandemic” – Minister Hajdu and Dr. Tam repeatedly asserted “the overall risk to Canadians remains low.” PM Justin Trudeau flatly refused to restrict flights from the virus hotspots in China and Europe, or to institute self-isolation practices for travelers, stating “there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe.” Additionally, on a number of occasions, our government leaders suggested Canadians were being racist in their reactions.

Most troubling, a Globe and Mail investigation recently revealed that in 2018 the Trudeau Government dismantled the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). This organization is responsible for the country’s epidemiological intelligence to monitor heath threats, tracking deadly viral outbreaks, and providing global advance warnings. It was used during H1N1, Ebola, and SARS, after which scientists and health officials recommended that GPHIN be enhanced. Yet a few years ago the government quietly stripped the network of its expertise and resources.

In a Senate committee hearing this week, Canadians learned just how unfit and unaware officials were at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Senator Eric Forest stated, “The Agency lacked everything. There was mention of a lack of capacity and many shortcomings, lack of expertise, lack of management experience.”

The best summation of those early days was offered by Andrew Coyne of the Globe and Mail who wrote: “From the shuttering of Canada’s GPHIN shortly before the outbreak; to the failure to follow the advice of not one but two expert panels set up in the aftermath of the SARS epidemic two decades ago; to the refusal to close the borders until long after it was too late; to the confusing and contradictory public advisories on everything from risk levels to mask wearing; to the manifest bollixing of vaccine procurement, the failures of government throughout this crisis have been many and profound.”

The government’s procurement of vaccines have been the subject of inquiry throughout this past year. On numerous occasions, the PM trumpeted his accomplishments in securing the greatest per capita amount of vaccine in the world. Yet, pre-ordering vast amounts of vaccines has clearly not resulted in the delivery of vaccines. And because these contracts are being kept secret, Canadians do not know the terms and conditions set for when pharmaceutical companies do not meet their production and delivery deadlines.

We know that PM Trudeau’s botched deal with China to manufacture a Sino-Canadian vaccine placed our Government in a “catch-up” position to sign contracts with pharmaceutical companies in the summer – and what has this cost Canadians? Given Canada has purchased many more vaccine doses than required, why is the government continuing to purchase new orders? And why has it embarrassingly taken from COVAX, the agency mandated to deliver vaccine to third-world countries?

Another Globe and Mail investigative report found “Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine promises were out of step with reality.” The analysis concludes: “…Trudeau government’s lofty promises [on vaccine delivery] were never consistent with several hard realities: a severe lack of manufacturing capacity in a world obliged to vaccinate their own citizens first, as well as contracts with vaccine suppliers that appear to contain less-advantageous delivery schedules than those inked by Britain and the U.S.” The paper’s editorial board concluded: “The best-laid plans got clocked. Canada’s vaccination rate is near dead last in the developed world.”

The dismal procurement effort has resulted in the government taking a health gambit with its vaccination rollout plan. This week the National Advisory Committee on Immunization signaled it has approved extending the interval between the first and second “booster” shots from six weeks to four months. This new approach will ensure more people can receive their first vaccination while doses are still limited — and all Canadians will get one jab by the summer’s end.

However, the pharmaceutical manufacturers of the three vaccines approved for use in Canada have publicly stated they do not recommend an interval of four months between shots. The American Food and Drug Administration has also spoken out against a four month span between doses. Additionally, Canada’s chief science adviser Dr. Mona Nemer questions this policy decision that has placed Canada as an outlier in vaccination rollout plans, “I’m not aware of data that would support a four-month delay. I think it would be really important to be transparent about the data that is forming the basis of the decision [and] to be transparent about what we don’t know.”

Lorrie Goldstein of Sun Media assesses the situation this way: “Now, because of our dire vaccine shortage for COVID-19 and its variants, Canada is launching a nationwide experiment no other country has attempted, using us as guinea pigs.”

The national press corps has consistently pointed to the high costs paid – and to be paid – by Canadians as a result of the Trudeau Government’s decisions through the pandemic. In a probing Hill Times column this week, David Crane wrote, “The pandemic showed that the federal government lacks the analytical and strategic capabilities to pursue an innovation strategy that delivers real results…”

In another Globe and Mail editorial, the national paper opined: “Canada thinks of itself as one of the world’s best-managed countries, but our pandemic fight has rarely been well managed, and our results tell the tale…. And Ottawa’s vaccine-acquisition strategy, which aimed to put us ahead of the rest of the world, has so far left Canada lagging far behind.”

The National Post recently surveyed experts to provide an accounting of “what it will cost Canada to endure this pandemic longer than almost any other country with similar wealth and resources.” The experts found each day under lockdown the country’s economy loses between $500 and $850 million of revenue. And should the pandemic continue through 2021, with the new waves and variants, it is conceivable that as many as another 46,000 Canadians will die.

From the outset, Canadians have been disadvantaged by its federal government’s policy decisions and, now, one year into the pandemic it appears we are at the mercy of some novel vaccination experiment. Given what is at stake, Justin Trudeau’s many COVID-19 missteps must be considered his most scandalous.

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-failed-federal-covid-response/


Is the Trudeau Government “the worst Canadian government ever?”

The Niagara Independent, March 5, 2021 – To Canadians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he does not want an election, yet to his Liberal campaign team he confides “it looks like” there will be a Spring vote.

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez suggests the Liberals need a renewed mandate because Conservatives are “playing politics all the time in the House.” Rodriguez bemoans, “It’s delay, delay, delay and eventually that delay becomes obstruction.” And Canadian mainstream media repeats the Liberals’ battle cry suggesting an election is necessary so that the Government can efficiently deliver its much needed pandemic relief.

The political posturing by PM Trudeau and his senior cabinet ministers – from Rodriguez to Melanie Joly to John Wilkinson – prompted the MPs on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee to unanimously pass a motion against a snap election call. The Committee urged the PM “to promise” he would not call a federal election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week CBCGlobal, the Toronto Star and others have all highlighted the PM’s election musings. In answer to this media echo chamber, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre tweeted out, “State media, who in my opinion are PMO mouthpieces, are out beating the drum for an early election today. With the worst joblessness, deficit & vaccine rates in the G7, we should be talking about Trudeau’s resignation, not a promotion.”

Though most of the national press corps serve to promote the Liberal agenda, there are a few vocal critics of this Trudeau Government, and perhaps the most poignant in his observations is Rex Murphy. In a recent National Post column, Murphy asserted: “This is the worst Canadian government ever.” He observed, “The country is in an economic coma. The House of Commons is a movie set. We are shamed in the international community. And the list goes on…”

Murphy states, “It’s a mess. It’s a shambles. It’s an embarrassment. It is the worst ever by any reasonable measurement.” Indeed, this is a harsh assessment and it raises an interesting question. Is this current Government’s record that bad — that it could be described as “the worse Canadian government ever?”

Rex Murphy highlights in his column the daily revelations about the government’s mishandling of the country’s vaccination procurement. Argumentatively, Canada’s vaccine shortage is perhaps the Trudeau Government’s greatest scandal (next week’s column will review the details of this debacle). In looking beyond these current headlines, to address Murphy’s assertion, herein is an attempt to catalogue the more egregious missteps of the Trudeau Government.

First there are the ethical breaches of Justin Trudeau, who has the notorious distinction for being found three times in violation of Canada’s ethics laws while Prime Minister. 1) The PM’s family and friends vacation on Aga Khan’s private island – a clear conflict with Khan’s organization being the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian federal grants. 2) The PM and PMO staff members obstructed justice for the benefit of SNC Lavalin in pressuring Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. 3) The WE Charity scandal that had $912 million sole-sourced to the Kielburger brothers, who had personal connections with PM Trudeau and handsomely paid his wife, mother, and brother for guest appearances at their youth events.

Canadians are well aware of Justin Trudeau’s celebrated history of questionable ethical behaviour:  the “Mr. Dress Up” family excursion to pose in front of India’s landmarks, the “Kokanee Grope” incident when the female news reporter and Justin experienced their encounter differently, and the infamous blackface episodes that were captured in yearbook photos and in a school club video.

The Trudeau Government has had an on-going series of dubious dealings with SNC Lavalin, a Quebec engineering firm with strong Liberal ties. This company:

  • was facing charges regarding bribes to Libyan officials and, as mentioned above, coopted the PMO to pressure the Justice Minister in order to avoid trial;
  • made numerous illegal donations to the federal liberal party for a period of 5 years ending in 2009;
  • has received 142 government contracts worth $25 million between January 2019 and June 2020 – this after being found guilty of bribery and suspended from entering into federal contracts; and,
  • was awarded a $150 million untendered sole-sourced contract in April 2020 to design and deliver COVID-19 field hospitals – with “no fixed delivery date” for the project.

The Trudeau Government has awarded many highly questionable contracts through the pandemic crises. Just a few by way of example:

  • Frank Baylis, a former Liberal MP, was sole-sourced a lucrative $422,946 “research contract” and another $237 million contract to make 10,000 pandemic ventilators – even though Health Canada had not approved its products;
  • the Government has refused to release to MPs any details of $5.8 billion worth of federal contracts awarded during the pandemic response; and,
  • there remains more than $25 billion dollars in roughly 20,000 infrastructure projects that are unaccounted for by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna.

On issues of justice, this Trudeau Government appears to have no regard for the law of the land as the PM and/or PMO have consistently been caught in the middle of scandalous behaviour. Consider:

  • the PMO obstruction of justice scandal involving SNC Lavalin resulted in the uncomely departures of three senior Liberal MPs: Jody Wilson-Raybould, President of the Treasury Board MP Philpott and Parliamentary Secretary MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes;
  • Vice Admiral Mark Norman accepted an undisclosed sum in an out of court settlement after being wrongfully accused by a senior cabinet minister of leaking cabinet documents relating to a shipbuilding deal;
  • the judicial appointment process is being repeatedly brought into question due to the PMO vetting process and reports that judges are being selected from Liberal donor lists – including a recent appointment who appears on Justice Minister David Lametti’s donor list; and,
  • the PMO-directed $10.5 million payment to Omar Khadr.

Through the years, Trudeau’s PMO has done a remarkable job of hiding wayward Liberal MPs’ misconduct – in some cases keeping it from the public for months. In no particular order, the rogues’ gallery includes MPs Raj Grewal, Marwan Tabbara, Scott Brison, Kent Hehr, Darshan Kang, and Hunter Tootoo. The latest PMO maneuvering involved a quick cabinet shuffle and Minister Navdeep Bains resigning “to spend more time with his family” – all the while worrying that a potential RCMP investigation into a shady multimillion dollar Brampton land purchase would become public. All of these embarrassing MP wrongdoings were masterfully dealt with, so much so that today they are forgotten.

The reality is that most of these wrongdoings will not be mentioned in the heat of the election campaign. However short Canadians’ collective memory is, this catalogue serves as a reflection of the character of Justin Trudeau and his Government. It is a reflection of the “mess,” “shambles” and “embarrassments” Rex Murphy writes about; and, in his learned opinion, of “the worst Canadian government ever.”

SOURCE:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/is-the-trudeau-government-the-worst-canadian-government-ever/

MP Baldinelli: Liberals playing politics with gun legislation

The Niagara Independent, February 26, 2021 – “The Government’s gun legislation will not reduce gun crimes,” states MP Tony Baldinelli. The Niagara Falls MP is not alone in this frank assessment as the Liberals’ latest firearms legislation introduced last week has been roundly criticized from victim rights groups to gun owners, from police associations to city mayors.

Baldinelli expresses frustration with the Trudeau Government’s tactics of making every serious policy matter a wedge issue to garner votes. The MP assesses, “I’m disappointed that, in the midst of a pandemic, the Liberals would play politics and introduce wholly inadequate gun legislation. The Liberals are advancing their own ideological agenda on something as important as gun control. They want to take rifles away from law abiding gun owners rather than addressing the vast majority of firearm crimes, which are committed on the streets of our cities with illegally obtained hand guns.”

The government’s firearms legislation (Bill C-21) introduces amendments to federal law that enables municipalities to impose bylaws that will ban handguns as well as more tightly manage the storage and transportation of guns within their city boundaries. The legislation also provides funding for counselling youth and Indigenous communities to avoid criminal behavior, imposes stricter restrictions on registered gun owners’ import, export and sales, and it increases the maximum criminal penalties for gun trafficking.

The legislation also introduces amendments that will “combat intimate partner and gender-based violence, and self-harm involving firearms.” The Minister and Prime Minister – and every Liberal who has spoken about the new gun law – speaks about the ever present threats of spousal abuse (males wielding guns) and the need to disarm these dangerous individuals.

Bill C-21 builds on the government’s previously announced measures to prohibit assault-style firearms. It provides $327.6 million to develop a voluntary buy-back program that will eventually be implemented by provinces and territories and their police agencies. Recall in May 2020, the PM announced the ban on the use, sale, and imports of more than 1,500 makes and models of guns. The ban was enacted through a Cabinet Order in Council and criminalized hundreds of thousands of legally owned firearms – registered by law abiding Canadians. The government refers to these firearms as “military-grade” and “assault-style weapons” — and now, though the details remain unknown, registered gun owners will be required to voluntarily hand over their firearms.

In introducing Bill C-21, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair stated that the government’s firearms legislation will “keep Canadians safe and guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” The Minister reminds Canadians that “Gun ownership in this country is a privilege, not a right” and PM Trudeau states, “One Canadian killed by gun violence is one too many. The tragedies we have seen in Ste-Foy and Portapique, and more recently in Toronto and Montréal, should never happen.” And, voila, the Liberal unwrap Bill C-21 to better manage both gun ownership that will, in turn, ensure safer streets.

The criticism of this legislation was instant from almost all quarters. Heidi Rathjen with the gun control lobby group PolyRemembers was emphatic in a CBC interview that the Liberals had broken their promise to take guns off the streets. “It’s a cop-out. It’s a way to pass this hot potato to jurisdictions that don’t want it…. The Liberal government would be better off putting forward something real instead of this ridiculous empty shell of a Bill that’s good for talking points but not good for public safety.”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police also immediately stated that it will not be backing this legislation because “the majority of cases involving gun violence, the handguns being used are already illegal and it makes no sense to ban something that is already prohibited.” The National Police Federation, the union representing the RCMP, echoes this thought” “the vast majority of violent crimes involving guns are committed with illegal handguns, many of which are smuggled in from the United States. Banning a different category of guns that are legally owned does nothing to address this problem.”

There’s much more:

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones stated the Province would prefer legislation to focus “on action that makes a real impact in reducing illegal gun and gang violence.”
Alberta’s Justice Minister Kaycee Madu observed, “Albertans are smart enough to know that made-in-Toronto calls for city gun bans are futile, since criminals flagrantly using guns won’t follow such a bylaw anyways.”
The City of Montreal immediately released a statement: “By offloading the power of action over handgun control to cities, we’re missing a golden opportunity to establish clear, harmonized and effective rules across Canada.”
Even the Toronto Star, the reliable Liberal shill, issued an editorial: “Still not the handgun ban Canada needs — It’s an ineffective gesture on handguns at a time when cities desperately need help to curb rising deadly gun violence.”
Then, in a bizarre turn of events later in the same week, the Liberal Government introduced new legislation to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences on violent crimes – including an exhaustive list of gun offensives like armed robbery, gun trafficking, possession of a loaded handgun and possession of weapon obtained through crime. Brian Lilley of Sun Media cuts to the chase: “Isn’t that exactly what the government claims they want to stop? With this bill, Justin Trudeau is showing he isn’t serious about dealing with actual gun crime and any claims otherwise are simply electoral smoke and mirrors.”

Tony Baldinelli believes the Liberals are just playing games, “They voted down a Conservative Bill that would stiffen penalties for smuggling guns and increase border controls. Then introduced legislation that ignores illegal firearms and gangs and handguns. And then they followed that by reducing mandatory sentences for gun crimes – and that’s all in one week!”

The Niagara Falls MP offers an alternative approach to tackling gun crime. Baldinelli explains, “Conservatives support a common sense approach to firearms that is based on evidence and not ideology. We respect the rights of Canadians and do not believe the problem lies with law abiding gun owners.”

“Our approach would provide greater powers to the Canada Border Services Agency which is fighting the proliferation of illegal hand guns in our country. It would provide more support for police anti-gang and gun units that are on the front line. We want to take guns off the streets of our cities and out of the hands of dangerous criminals.”

The politics of Bill C-21 upsets MP Baldinelli. Minister Bill Blair and the Liberals have failed to address the realities of border smuggling and gang and gun activities – and for the Niagara Falls representative that is precisely where the attention needs to be focused.

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/mp-baldinelli-liberals-playing-politics-with-gun-legislation/

The Ties that Bind the Trudeau Liberals to Communist China

The Niagara Independent, February 19, 2021 – Canada-China relations dominated the news in the Nation’s Capital this week – more accurately, Canada’s many questionable dealings with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The fact is the governing Liberal Party has multiple tight relationships with the CCP and this factors into all matters between the two countries.

On Monday we learned that the federal agency Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is spending $4.8million to partner with Huawei Technologies in sponsoring computer and engineering research at Canadian universities. The projects are to include chip-to-chip communications over heterogeneous fabrics, intelligence computing memory systems, brain-inspired photonic computing and privacy-preserver graphic analytics. The intellectual property is to be jointly owned – and this is the concern given Huawei’s direct ties with the CCP.

Top universities around the world – from Oxford to MIT to Stanford – have halted all research projects with Huawei over intellectual-property and national-security concerns. Governments have as well. Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance have all banned or restricted Huawei’s work developing their respective 5G mobile networks. In Canada however, our Government heralds its research collaboration with the CCP and it remains the lone holdout of the Five Eyes countries to continue working relations with Huawei.

Repeatedly, often inexplicitly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet Ministers excuse CCP wrongdoings and even go to the extent of chastising those who are critical of Xi Jinping and the CCP. Canadians have seen this posturing on many issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Again this week, the PM’s reluctance to say anything that criticizes the CCP was highlighted with his non-responses about human rights violations respecting the Uyghurs of Xinjiang. MPs called on the Government to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and then followed that up with a Parliamentary debate on the CCP’s forced labour and systemic genocide of the Muslim Uyghurs.

At a scheduled press briefing, PM Trudeau’s statement regarding the CCP’s treatment of the Uyghurs was nonsensical: “On determinations of genocide, the principles of international law and the international community in general, I think rightly, takes very, very seriously the label of genocide, and needs to ensure that when it is used, it is clearly and properly justified and demonstrated, so as not to weaken the application of genocide in situations in the past… That’s why it’s a word that is extremely loaded.”

When reporters pressed the PM on whether Canada would stand up to the abusive CCP, Trudeau curtly turned and walked away from the microphone.

Political commentary on the PM’s apparent absolution of the CCP was universally critical. Sun Media reporter Anthony Furey mused “Is Canada really back?” when our PM refuses to call out China for genocide.” The Globe and Mail headlined Liberal MP Wayne Easter stating the government had better “wake up and smell the roses.” Ottawa columnist John Robson wrote that PM Trudeau has a “willful blindness” to the evils of the CCP: “If you asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether Xi was a communist, he wouldn’t admit it.” Chris Selley of the National Post expressed it colourfully when he wrote: “When it comes to China and “genocide,” Trudeau is a panda in the headlights.”

Though it may have been painful to watch PM Trudeau fumble his comments about the CCP human rights abuses, his response was most likely scripted so as not to undermine the senior ranks of the Liberal Party. In connecting the dots, this week’s political theatre may be interpreted as a “Business as usual” approach for the many corporate and personal relationships dating back generations between senior Liberals and China’s ruling elites.

The Liberal Party of Canada is inseparably linked to today’s CCP, and the foundation of most Canadian-Chinese business relationships is Power Corporation, the jewel in the crown of the Desmarais family fortune. The Liberal Party and Power Corp are interchangeable:

  • former PM Jean Chretien’s son-in-law Andre Desmarais is President and co–CEO;
  • former PMs Paul Martin, Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau all served within Power Corp;
  • former PM Chretien has served (may still) as a Power Corp lobbyist in China;
  • John Rae, brother of former Liberal leader Bob Rae is a long-serving senior manager; and
  • Senator Peter Harder, one of PM Justin Trudeau’s lead advisors on China, was Board Member of Power Financial Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corp.

Here is some relevant history about Peter Harder. He served as President of the Canada-China Business Council, a business advocacy founded in 1978 by Paul Desmarais and funded by Power Corp. Harder left this position when he was named to the Senate of Canada by PM Justin Trudeau. Interestingly, the Council is led today by Olivier Desmarais, grandson of Paul Desmarais and Jean Chretien. (What wonderful symmetry.)

The Desmarais family’s Power Corp has significant investments in China. These include assets bought from the China International Trust Investment Corporation, a conglomerate owned by the CCP with one of the largest pools of foreign assets in the world. On top of this, Power Corp also holds more than a quarter of the stakes in one of China’s biggest asset managers – China Asset Management Corp, which currently oversees $245 Billion of Chinese investments around the world.

The Trudeau Government’s multifarious business interests are not limited to Power Corp’s empire. Consider the ties the Trudeau-appointed Ambassador to China and his wife have in China. Ambassador Dominic Barton lived in China for decades operating within corporate and financial circles, serving in senior managerial posts at McInsey (the same company recently exposed for promoting Chinese street opioids worldwide). His wife, Geraldine Buckingham, is now in Honk Kong as Senior Managing Director and Head of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock – where she manages billions of dollars of investments in Asia-Pacific. This multimillionaire power couple has numerous business and personal relations within China and the CCP (which may explain Ambassador Barton’s caution this week not to rush into any condemnation regarding the genocide of the Uyghurs).

From boycotting the Olympic Games to condemning human rights abuses, Canadians need only to follow the money and connect the dots between the main players of the governing Liberals to comprehend PM Trudeau’s unintelligible – and unprincipled – responses to the CCP.

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-ties-that-bind-the-trudeau-liberals-to-communist-china/

Where is Chrystia Freeland’s priority?

The Niagara Independent, February 12, 2021  –  In Ottawa she is referred to as the “Minister of Everything.” As Deputy PM, Chrystia Freeland is at the very centre of all policy decisions in the Trudeau Government. She is responsible for Canada’s fiscal policies and its economic recovery from the pandemic. As Canada’s Finance Minister she is scheduled to deliver a federal budget in the coming weeks.

Chrystia Freeland also happens to hold stewardship responsibilities at the World Economic Forum (WEF). For the past three years, she has sat as a trustee on its Board. She was placed on the Board by celebrated globalist Klaus Schwab, who is principal architect of The Great Reset. As an executive member of the WEF now, Freeland is committed to advancing its global agenda and she works closely with Schwab.

Freeland’s multiple responsibilities to multiple agendas have raised questions about potential divided loyalties. What should Canadians expect from this “Minister of Everything?”

To get a sense of what motivates the woman, one must glance back at Freeland’s path to Ottawa and the friends she made along the way. Freeland is a journalist by profession. The 53 year old started her journalism career as a stringer in Ukraine for the Washington Post and Financial Times. She assumed greater responsibilities through successive editorial positions with UK News, the Globe and MailReuters and eventually with Thomson Reuters Digital in New York.

In that time covering international financial news, Freeland wrote two books – the second of which gained her some recognition. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. The book presented Freeland’s thesis that globalization has created a class of uber-wealthy people, which she describes as “a nation unto themselves.” Freeland observed, “The big danger, though, is … as the people at the very top become ever richer, they have an even greater ability to tilt the rules of the game in their favour.”

On the surface the book provides a critical look at the uber-wealthy sect, yet Freeland endeared herself to a few key members of this exclusive circle with her description of “good, technocratic friendly plutocrats.” She lauded the agenda of a New World Order and the visionary merits of “good oligarchs” such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and George Soros. It is from this writing experience that Soros and Freeland become close friends – even to the extent that she was commissioned to write the multi billionaire’s biography.

The Freeland / Soros connection cannot be overstated as today she is a known personality among the Davos elite. The connection likely played a part with WEF Founder Klaus Schwab personally sponsoring Freeland to the Board of Trustees. As a trustee, Freeland is part of a small group of financiers and billionaires who oversee a 700-person bureaucracy mandated to coordinate a global response to economic, environmental, social and technological challenges.

With this as background, now fast-forward to January 2021 when the WEF held virtual Davos Meetings that featured discussions on The Great Reset and a new document Davos Manifesto, authored by Klaus Schwab. In short, these meetings presented Schwab’s plan to take advantage of the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus and to redesign capitalism. Schwab writes in the Davos Manifesto, “We should seize this moment to ensure that stakeholder capitalism remains the new dominant model.”

Introduced as Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Freeland attended these WEF meetings to take part in public and private meetings, and to participate as a panelist in the discussion “Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism.” The obvious question arises: which hat(s) was Freeland wearing — lead minister in the Canadian Government or board trustee of the WEF, or both?

Though the potential for divided loyalties and compromising policy positions is clearly evident, not one media reporter or political commentator in Canada would raise this issue — that is but for Rupa Subramanya. In her February 2nd National Post column, Subramanya wrote of the WEF meetings and The Great Reset, “There’s no need to invent conspiracy theories. The attempt by global elites to subvert local democracy is fully on and in plain view.”

To her full credit, Subramanya honed in on the fundamental concern about Chrystia Freeland’s multiple interests with the WEF, “These board memberships are far from symbolic. According to the WEF, the board of trustees “act as guardians of its mission and values” and are its “highest-level governance body”…  What would happen if acting as a “guardian” for the WEF came into conflict with acting as a guardian for Canada’s public finances, which is Freeland’s day job?”

Subramanya tweeted even more pointed observations: “From being a critic of plutocrats to being on the board of trustees of their favourite stomping board, Chrystia Freeland’s strong ties to WEF raises legit questions about how their agenda could conflict with her day job as Canada’s FM and Deputy PM.” And she concluded in another tweet, “The optics are beyond bad and should concern Canadians… Chrystia Freeland’s side gig with the WEF is endangering Canadian democracy.”

So, there are numerous ethical questions. Has Canada’s Deputy PM and Finance Minister declared her WEF interests and had them cleared by Parliament’s Ethics Commissioner? Does Freeland receive WEF Trustee fees, expenses, or other benefits from the WEF? Does Freeland publicly declare what official positon she represents when appearing in a meeting where there could be a conflict of interest – such as at the WEF Davos Meetings or policy meetings with foreign politicians? Does Freeland recuse herself from Cabinet discussions when it is deliberating on matters pertaining to the policy objections of the WEF?

There are also practical questions around Freeland as Finance Minister managing the country’s fiscal policy and its economic recovery plans. Freeland will deliver the highest deficit in the G-20 and announce spending plans that will top an astounding trillion dollars of Canadians’ money. The federal government issued 100,000,000 government cheques to individuals in the last 10 months and it continues to hint at an uncosted guaranteed income for Canadians. Both Freeland and the Prime Minister have said they see the pandemic as “an opportunity” to build back better with a green agenda – and Canadians can expect both carbon tax hikes and billions of dollars of subsidies in new green programs. Is this all in Canadians’ best interests or is it part of the WEF’s plan to redesign capitalism and reset our economy?

With the upcoming federal budget, will Freeland stand in the House of Commons to deliver a WEF or a Canadian document? This is a reasonable question for Canadians to ask when you are “Minister of Everything.”

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/where-is-chrystia-freelands-priority/

Chrystia Freeland: We have a mandate to tax carbon

The Niagara Independent, February 5, 2021  – “Our government has put a price on pollution across the country, a carbon price. We fought the 2019 election on that decision, and we were re-elected. We really believe we do have a national mandate to move forward.”

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, made this comment while participating as a panelist discussing “Implementing Stakeholder Capitalism” at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Davos summit.

This year’s Davos summit featured presentations and closed door meetings to discuss the WEF’s Great Reset Initiative. Political and corporate globalists are implementing a plan that takes advantage of economic disruption caused by the coronavirus in order to redesign capitalism, advance an international green agenda, and establish a new global order governed by the United Nations.

Both Minister Freeland and federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu were active participants in this year’s Davos meetings – and Minister Freeland attended public and closed-door sessions.  It is unclear whether Freeland was wearing one or both of her official hats as a lead minister in the Canadian Government and as a board trustee of the WEF. (More on Freeland’s role with the WEF in next week’s column.)

In her comments about advancing stakeholder capitalism in Canada, Freeland explained that her government has successfully established a green agenda in Canada, citing that it is an “ambitious plan” that will exceed the 2030 targets set by the Paris Accord. She referenced job creation opportunities with government programs that will retrofit buildings, build electric car charging ports, and plant trees. Freeland said, “These are three concrete examples of how Canada intends to build a green agenda into a recovery and jobs agenda.”

The Canadian Finance Minister waxed on about green initiatives that will create employment. She failed to mention that the government’s green agenda depends directly on increased taxes, government subsidized programs and, in order to meet the country’s carbon emission targets, the gutting of Canada’s natural resource industries.

On increased taxes, the Trudeau Government was the only government in the world that increased taxes during the pandemic crisis and, now as a result of its Fall Economic Update, Canadians are facing significant carbon tax hikes in 2021 and 2022 that will raise costs on literally everything. Canadians must now brace for a three-prong carbon tax program: 1) scheduled carbon tax hikes that will add a further 53 cents of tax per litre at the pump; 2) a new Clean Fuel Standard carbon tax on the country’s business community that will add hundreds of dollars to a person’s annual heating and driving costs; and 3) multiple green measures and subsidy programs that are estimated to cost Canadians $15 billion in the short term.

Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy – a former Liberal MP – stated the hikes in carbon taxes are “extremely cruel” and assessed the government’s green agenda as a “real mess.” McTeague observed in a recent Blacklock’s Reporter interview, “I have been in government and I have never seen a government inflict this kind of cost on consumers.”

Aaron Wudrick of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation also says that it is dishonest for Minister Freeland to suggest the Liberals were given an electoral mandate to hike carbon tax. Neither the government’s “aggressive” green agenda nor its scheduled tax increases were part of the 2019 Liberal campaign narrative. In hearing Freeland’s comments at the WEF event, Wudrick tweeted: “Fought the election on it? They explicitly said they weren’t going to increase it, then after the election announced an increase.”

As she prepares the government’s budget documents, Finance Minister Freeland must reconcile the government’s green agenda and drive to implement an economic reset with a budget that will springboard the Liberals into a Spring election. She has found the country’s debt and the unbridled government spending (one trillion dollars in 2020!) are problematic for introducing new green initiatives. Canada has the largest federal deficit in the world at 19.8 per cent of the country’s GDP. The Trudeau Government is the global leader in government spending with a fiscal plan that will result in the federal debt doubling to $1.4 trillion in the next five years.

So, even with the hikes in carbon tax, Freeland will need to find new sources of revenue. In recent public statements on the country’s economic condition, Freeland has mused about finding ways to tap into Canadians’ savings accounts. Finance Canada has been floating a series of trial balloons introducing new taxes: a wealth tax on high income earners, increased the capital gains rate, a new capital gains tax on the sale of primary residents, and an inheritance tax.

These suggestions have been met with criticism from taxpayer and business groups that claim the imposition of new taxes will slow down the country’s economic recovery. One illustrative criticism came from Jasmine Moulton of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who factored the government’s suggested wealth tax would pay for only three days of Ottawa’s spending. Respecting capital gains tax, the Fraser Institute argues any increase will negatively impact investment and entrepreneurship and would prove to be “economically damaging.”

Yet Chrystia Freeland has been shuffled into Finance Canada to find a way to pay for the Liberals green agenda and the Trudeau Government’s reset plan. Furthermore, the globalist Michael Sabia was parachuted in as Finance Department’s Deputy Minister. Financial Post columnist Terence Corcoran surmises that the tandem of Freeland and Sabia points to increased government interventionism – the WEF’s “stakeholder capitalism.” Corcoran states, “Under the new capitalism, corporate economic freedom is replaced by corporatist economic controls.”

As a final note respecting Canada’s deteriorating financial state, Finance Minister Freeland recently tabled in Parliament a borrowing authority legislation that will raise the government’s debt ceiling 56 percent – more than $660 million to $1.831 trillion. Truly remarkable figures. Freeland reports that last year the government borrowed at the rate of a billion dollars a day. She predicts in 2021 that there will be “uncertainty with regards to government spending.”

Still, Minister Freeland is looking to spend even more to establish the Government’s green agenda and implement its reset plan – and Canadians can expect increased taxes to pay for it.

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

Photo: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland participate in a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, in 2018

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/chrystia-freeland-we-have-a-mandate-to-tax-carbon/


MPs trying to get to the bottom of why Canada has no vaccines

The Niagara Independent, January 29, 2021  – This week marked the one year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case diagnosed in Canada. Through the year, Canada recorded more than 750,000 cases and Canadians mourned over 19,000 deaths. As countries around the world now rush to vaccinate their citizens, Canada has no vaccines.

On Monday MPs returned to Ottawa from their Christmas recess and immediately began to assess the federal government’s national vaccination program — sans vaccines and without promise of a steady supply of vaccines.

Each day news trickled into the Nation’s Capital: Pfizer is cutting its shipment to a quarter of what was expected for next week; Pfizer is calling on Health Canada to get more doses from each vial; the European Union will impose controls on drug exports – but the Canadian shipments from Moderna’s facility in Switzerland will not be impacted; and, a Canadian drug manufacturer has been frustrated by federal delays to get their made-in-Canada vaccine to clinical trial.

Then the Globe and Mail dropped the bombshell that for three months the Trudeau Government hid the fact that its Canadian deal with a Chinese vaccine maker had fallen apart less than 72 hours after it was made public.

MPs were frustrated. NDP MP Don Davies said, “The fact is we’re receiving no vaccines this week. We’re receiving 79,000 vaccines next week. The United States last week vaccinated an average of 1.1 million people. We haven’t even vaccinated 800,000 people in Canada to date.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole led-off an Emergency Debate in the House of Commons stating, “Today the Prime Minister is telling us that everything is fine, but I refuse to bury my head in the sand like him. We have to be honest with Canadians: Everything is not fine…. The key to getting our country back on track is vaccines. We need a reliable government. The truth is that there is now a shortage of vaccines. The Prime Minister talks a good game, but the reality is that we will not receive any Pfizer vaccines this week.”

At a Health Committee meeting MPs unanimously passed a motion to summon the Health Minister and Public Works Minister to answer for the government’s pandemic planning. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner urged MPs for a quick review, “We are facing a monumental challenge in this country and we do need to have answers on why we have a vaccine shortage, and more importantly what the government is going to do to fix it. That’s the only hope we can offer Canadians right now.”

In reply to the calls for answers, Public Works Minister Anita Anand rose in the House of Commons to repeatedly state: “All Canadians who wish to be vaccinated will have access to a vaccine before the end of September. We are on track with our strategy.”

Minister Anand substantiated her claims with a Public Health Agency report that forecasts eight percent of Canadians could be vaccinated by March 31st, and between 34 percent and 61 percent of the adult population by June 30th. The federal agency states Moderna and Pfizer will ship six million doses of vaccines by the end of March, and in the following three months we can expect at least 20 million doses.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also repeatedly assuring Canadians through the week that Pfizer shipments are ordered and scheduled for next month. At a Tuesday press conference the PM referred to the current drought of vaccines as a “delivery hiccup” and he observed, “The next few weeks will be challenging when it comes to deliveries. That said, [Pfizer CEO] Dr. Bourla assured me that hundreds of thousands of Pfizer doses will be delivered the week of February 15 and in the weeks to follow.”

Trudeau insists the country’s vaccine supply is in “good shape.”

However, the PM’s assertions came as Canadians learned from international media that Pfizer has already resumed its scheduled shipments to the U.K. and the European Union. Also, the E.U. is establishing the imposition of export controls on vaccines leaving Europe in order to guarantee ample supply for its member countries.

And then there was the Globe and Mail report about the Canada-China agreement that went bad. Back on May 16, 2020, PM Trudeau heralded an exciting vaccine deal for Canada. At the announcement he chose not to mention the deal was with CanSino Biologics, a Chinese pharmaceutical firm. Then three days later, when China withheld shipments of vaccine seed destined for a Canadian National Research Council lab – effectively shutting down the joint research project – the PM chose not to tell Canadians that his “exciting vaccine deal” was in jeopardy. The PM and government officials kept the collapsed deal hidden for three months, until August.

Documents tabled in the House of Commons this week confirmed that the Canada-China vaccine agreement was cancelled ten days after the deal was struck, only four days after it was announced.

With the government’s admissions this week, many MPs were highly critical of Trudeau’s faith in a deal with a China manufacturer. MP Rempel Garner speculated Canada was “late to the table with Pfizer and other companies because we were banking on CanSino.” Conservative Leader O’Toole flatly stated that this misplaced trust in China has placed our country’s inoculation efforts “in jeopardy” and has left provinces scrambling to meet vaccination targets and people’s expectations.

Sun Media news reporter Brian Lilley asked the obvious question about the fiasco: “The Chinese government is an unreliable partner at the best of times; they’d spent the early days of the pandemic lying to the world about the severity of COVID-19…. Why would the government not think that Chinese President Xi Jinping might pull the rug out from under us on a vaccine?”

The MPs’ week ended with more disturbing news that questions the credibility of the Trudeau Government’s management of the country’s vaccination program. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the U.K. issued a report that warns it will take longer than expected to immunize the world against the coronavirus. Many countries may not implement their vaccine programs until 2023, and lower-income countries will not see ample vaccine supply until 2024.

The EIU reports Canada will likely have their most vulnerable populations vaccinated by the end of March 2021, but the general population will only achieve its mass vaccination program by mid-2022. The U.S. and E.U. can expect their vaccination programs to be completed by the end of this year, but Canada’s efforts will lag behind a full six months primarily due its unsteady supply of vaccines.

Assuming the EIU report is wrong, the last word on the questionable government vaccination program and its timelines goes to MP Rempel Garner who asks a legitimate question: “I would like to check the Prime Minister’s math. He said that every adult would be vaccinated by September, which is 32 weeks away, and all the leading COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. There are approximately 30 million adults in Canada and under 2 percent have received a single dose so far. This means that Canada, on average, needs to be administering roughly two million doses per week to meet this goal. This week’s total is zero. How the hell did this happen, and what are the Liberals doing to fix it?”

MPs spent this week trying to get to the bottom of why Canada has an unreliable vaccine supply. Canadians deserve more than the PM’s bromide promises that the government’s vaccination program is only experiencing a “delivery hiccup” and that our vaccine supply is in “good shape.”

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/mps-trying-to-get-to-the-bottom-of-why-canada-has-no-vaccines/

“Let’s stick to the facts… Canada has NO vaccines.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to tell Canadians there will be no vaccines coming next week. 

The Niagara Independent, January 22, 2021  – Heather Forsyth, former provincial minister in Alberta, summed up the country’s current dire predicament: “Let’s stick to the facts. We are in the middle of a global pandemic and we have NO vaccines. That’s all that needs to be said.”

Yet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a host of ministers have spent a week attempting to obfuscate the details about the country’s vaccine supply and the scheduled delivery of vaccines to Canada. The official government story has evolved quickly over the past few days.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a news conference last Friday that 2,000 more people are expected to die over the next 10 days as the country will surpass a death toll of 20,000 before February. Dr. Tam reported that Canada is dealing with both the fast-spreading U.K. variant and the South African variant. The number of people in hospital and critical care is rising across the country – and it is now a race against the clock to get Canadians vaccinated.

Following Dr. Tam’s sobering news, PM Trudeau announced to Canadians that there was going to be a minor reduction of Pfizer vaccine shipments in the coming week. He said from his Rideau Cottage lectern, “I want to be very clear: this does not impact our goal to have enough vaccines available by September for every Canadian who wants one.”  Procurement Minister Anita Anand echoed the PM in her own media scrum statement, “This is unfortunate. However such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits. It’s not a stoppage.”

However, Canadians discovered within 48 hours that it is a stoppage. We learned from a company press release that Canada is to experience a significant slowdown of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a result of the company upgrading its Belgium facilities. On Tuesday it was confirmed by government sources that the country will receive no Pfizer vaccine in January and, through the month of February, Canada’s shipments would be cut in half.

Meanwhile, international media was reporting that the European Union nations had successfully lobbied to have their shipments resume in a week’s time. Major-General Dany Fortin, the military commander in charge of the national roll-out, was offered up to Ottawa media to respond to this news. He was curt in saying, “Our entire shipment is deferred.”

When asked exactly what Fortin’s statement means for Canadians, the PM said, “This kind of issue is out of our hands and that’s why we pursued an aggressive procurement strategy in the first place. Pfizer’s global supply issues are not ideal, but that’s why we were so ambitious in the large numbers of contracts we signed and doses we secured.”

PM Trudeau went on to refer to his previous week announcement of “another” 20 million doses had been contracted – beyond the first 20 million Trudeau promised would be delivered in spring. Yet, as CTV News reporter Don Martin observed, “Ordering millions more vaccines than we need is one thing. When they’ll be delivered for injection is another question altogether.”

Then Trudeau explained about the tireless efforts of his Procurement Minister Anita Anand who “has been on the phone with the company every day.” This prompted questions about the Prime Minister’s own lobbying effort. International media reports revealed Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla received calls from European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. PM Benjamin Netanyahu called Pfizer’s CEO 17 times to ensure the delivery of the Israeli supply. Though the PM ducked the question about his contact with Pfizer, it was confirmed in subsequent media interviews Wednesday that Trudeau has not picked up the phone to call Pfizer’s CEO.

The federal government’s inability to secure a reliable source of vaccines has resulted in a heightened anxiety across the country. Many Canadians have begun flocking south to Florida where they can be vaccinated at clinics set up for tourists. The Provinces of Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba announced they would be extending the period between first and second doses for long-term care seniors and front-line hospital staff because they were experiencing shortages of vaccines. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had to postpone the planned vaccination of First Nations and Metis, reporting, “We have quite simply run out of supply… I’m deeply disappointed at the situation that we are now facing.”

In what is now recognized as the most animated press conference of the week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was exasperated when he suggested PM Trudeau should be more aggressive in his pursuit of Pfizer management. The Premier said, “Man, we have to be on these (Pfizer) guys like a blanket. I’d be outside that guy’s house and every time he moved, I’d be saying, ‘Where’s our vaccines?’”  And shortly after those comments, Premier Ford placed a call to Pfizer Canada President Cole Pinnow to discuss the serious impact the cancelled shipments will have on Ontario.

This week Premier Ford also made multiple direct pitches to the incoming U.S. President Joe Biden and his staff, pleading for the Americans to send one million vaccine doses from the Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ford: “Give your great neighbour — that stands shoulder to shoulder with you — a million vaccines to keep us going, to get us over the hump.”

Time is of the essence. On Monday, Canada officially passed 18,000 COVID-19-related deaths. When countries around the world have already vaccinated tens of millions of their citizens, in Canada there has been less than a million Canadians who have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Perhaps there has been nobody as brutally frank in assessing the situation as Diane Francis of the Financial Post when she states: “…the federal government now risks lives because of its inept vaccines roll-out.” Francis asserts, “The blame lies squarely with the prime minister and his crew. The provinces have borne the brunt by allocating funds and resources to meet the need. But Ottawa has failed to procure the number of doses required.”

The Financial Post columnist is highly critical of senior cabinet ministers in their handling of the pandemic crises. Francis writes: “Both of Trudeau’s key ministries during this crisis — health and procurement — are run by novices who lack credentials in either field. Health Minister Patty Hajdu became a member of Parliament in 2015 and before that worked as a graphic designer and community organizer… Likewise, Anita Anand, the minister of public services and procurement, has only one year’s experience in Parliament. Before that, she was a professor of law at the University of Toronto.”

Justin Trudeau does not escape Francis’ scorn. She concludes her column calling out the PM for his inaction, “Instead of moving mountains for Canadians, he has novices on mole hills who haven’t gotten results. For his part, Trudeau has sat out the crisis in a cottage, growing a beard and tending to his Liberal base before the next election strikes.”

In spite of the government’s attempts to confuse and excuse the issue, Forsyth, Francis, a host of Premiers — and an increasing number of Canadians — have honed in on the pertinent fact: Canada has NO vaccine.

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/lets-stick-to-the-facts-canada-has-no-vaccines/

Canada’s immigration about to increase to record level

The Niagara Independent, January 15, 2021  – Canada will welcome a record number of immigrants in 2021 – perhaps the largest number in our country’s history.  Since 2015 the Trudeau Government has implemented the most aggressive immigration program since the years preceding the First World War. In the last three years almost a million immigrants entered the country and in the next three years more than 1.2 million immigrants will find their way to Canada.

The plan for 2021 – 2023 was announced in Fall 2020 but received little media coverage given the public’s preoccupation with breaking news of the pandemic. In early November, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino released an “ambitious” three-year immigration plan that will welcome increasing numbers of skilled workers, family members and refugees annually into Canada.

The Government intends to bring into the country 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023 — a little less than the population of the Niagara Region will be brought into the country each and every year.

Only once in the history of the country has Canada welcomed more than 400,000 immigrants in one year and that was in 1913, when “new Canadians” totaled 401,000. The annual number of immigrants has never again come close to 400,000.

In the early 1900’s, it took the country more than a decade to increase its population by a total of five (5) percent through bringing in new Canadians. Today, a five percent increase in population represents a total of 2 million new immigrants. The Trudeau Government is intent on reaching this threshold in less than half the time it took a century ago.

To understand this dramatic planned increase, one must review the recent history of Canada’s immigration. In 2017 the Trudeau Government introduced “the most ambitious immigration levels in recent Canadian history.” The then Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen pledged to increase the annual number of immigrants to Canada to 340,000 by the year 2020 with the design to annually accept “new Canadians” equal to or slightly exceeding one percent of Canada’s population. Minister Hussen boasted that, with his plan, in less than three years the country would welcome more than a million new Canadians.

As reported in the publication Canadian Immigrant, the 2019 Report to Parliament on Immigration stated that its goal in 2020 was to welcome approximately 341,000 people as permanent residents. However, this did not happen because of COVID-19 and the disruptions that took place with global migration movements. So, the targeted 2021-2023 immigration levels will take an additional 150,000 “missing immigrants from 2020” and distribute them evenly over the next three years.

In making the government announcement this Fall, Immigration Minister Mendicino stated that the new immigration targets are set with an eye to supporting the Canadian economy’s recovery from COVID-19 and propelling long-term prosperity. Mendicino claimed he had support from business and union leaders when he reasoned that welcoming increased numbers of new Canadians will offset the negative economic impact of Canada’s aging population and low birth rate. The Minister stated, “Canadians have a long, proud history of welcoming immigrants, because we know immigration makes our country stronger.”

Numbers from Statistics Canada and Immigration Canada reveal that the Trudeau Government has been successful with their immigration plans through its mandate. Recent statistics show that:

  • 2016 census figures reported that the share of immigrants in Canada has reached 21.9 percent – the highest level in almost a century
  • In 2018, new immigrants made up 61 percent of Canada’s population growth in 2018
  • In 2019, Canada recorded a new high for the Trudeau Government with 341,175 immigrants ushered in, representing a 25 percent gain from 2015

In addition to the increasing immigration levels, in the last few years Canada has also taken in increasing numbers of refugees. The latest United Nations report on refugee relocation recognized Canada as a global leader in accepting the largest number of refugees of all 25 countries who participated in the U.N. resettlement plans. Canada took in 28,100 of 92,400 refugees managed by the U.N. in 2018. The U.N. also noted that there were about 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement.

Other interesting immigration trends reported in official federal government data of 2019 include the fact that a quarter of all new immigrants (25 percent) come from India, while Chinese and Philippine immigrants were the next two ethnic groups, accounting for 9 and 8 percent respectively. More than a third (35 percent) of all immigrants settled within the GTA – almost half (45 percent) of the total came to Ontario. The proportion of immigrants settling in Quebec continues a year-over-year decline as a result of the Province’s own target to reduce its immigration levels by 20 percent.

Statistics Canada estimates by 2036 immigrants could represent up to 30 percent of all Canadians. By 2068, the Canadian population could reach 55 million people – an increase of 37.1 million in 50 years. In the next 25 years, Ontario’s population is projected to increase to 20.4 million residents (an approximate 50 percent increase from 14.3 million today) – largely as a result of new Canadians.

The Trudeau Government’s immigration plan is being implemented without any parliamentary debate or oversight. It is being advanced in spite of public opinion. After Minister Mendicino made public the Government’s intention to accept 401,000 immigrants in 2021, a Nanos poll for Bloomberg News found only 17 percent of Canadians supported the measure (40 percent want the government to maintain the 2020 levels, while 36 percent want to see a reduced level of immigration). This echoed an October 2020 Leger poll, which found 52 percent want lower levels of immigration to be maintained until Canadians see their way through the pandemic. A Leger poll from June 2019 reported 63 percent of Canadians believe the federal government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts.

Yet, irrespective of public opinion and regardless of the pandemic crises, Canada is on course to accept historic numbers of immigrants this year and for years to come.

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/canadas-immigration-about-to-increase-to-record-level/

Federal government proving to be very taxing

The Niagara Independent, January 8, 2021  – The Trudeau Liberals’ “budgets balance themselves” approach to government equates to increased taxes for Canadians. Since first elected in 2015 there has not been one year that the Trudeau Government has not increased taxes in some way. With this Government’s unbridled spending before the pandemic and its excessive spending through 2020, Canadians are harnessed with the prospects of increased taxes for years to come.

The Canadian Consumer Tax Index for 2020 finds that last year the average Canadian family spent 42.6 percent of its income on taxes — more than housing, food and clothing costs combined (36.2 percent). The Fraser Institute’s index tracks the average Canadian household tax bill for both visible and hidden taxes: all federal, provincial and local government taxes, as well as income, payroll, sales, property, health, fuel and alcohol taxes, and more. Bottom line: Canadians spend more on taxes than on life necessities.

Given this hefty tax burden, it was a relief to hear PM Justin Trudeau in his year-end messages pledge he would not raise taxes further on Canadians. Trudeau stated in a Montreal radio interview: “It’s certain, we will not impose more on Canadians. We know that we must restart the economy. It’s not time to take away from people; it’s time to still offer opportunities for people to go through this [crisis] and rebuild the economy stronger for the years to come.”

Yet, despite what the Prime Minister assured, taxes in 2021 are going to increase for the average Canadian as predetermined by the government. In fact, the Trudeau Government announced in its Fall Economic Statement a number of new tax measures that will add an extra burden on household budgets.

For example, coming into effect on July 1this year, GST/HST will be applied on foreign suppliers of digital products and services to Canadians, a cost that undoubtedly will be passed along to consumers. There is also a plan to introduce as early as January 2022 a new “Netflix Tax” on all foreign-based digital services companies – yet another cost that will be passed along.

This Jan. 1, Canadians’ contributions to Canada Pension Plan have increased.  Maximum employer and employee contributions will hit $3,166 each in 2021. This is an increase of more than $250 that will come directly off a worker’s paycheque. Provincial finance ministers asked the federal government to delay the CPP increase due to the hardships that most wage earners are experiencing with the pandemic. MP Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative finance critic, was highly critical of the “mid-pandemic tax hikes.” Poilievre said, “It’s shameful that the Liberals think it’s a good idea to raise taxes on Canadians during a pandemic. If Justin Trudeau wants to support workers, he needs to lower taxes, not raise them… This means that Canadians will have less money to pay their bills.”

The most significant tax hikes in 2021 and 2022 will be the increased carbon taxes that will raise costs on everything for Canadians. The Trudeau Government has scheduled carbon tax increases for the next eight years, to result in an additional 53 cents per litre carbon tax in 2030. In the next 24 months, there will be an additional 15 cents per litre of carbon tax at the gas pump. And although the schedule of tax hikes has not been released, Canadians will also experience increased taxes on their home heating, natural gas and propane bills.

This may not seem like a lot, but consider the additional tax on each fill-up. Based on current gas prices, in 2030 Canadians will pay roughly an additional $27 in carbon taxes to fill up a minivan, $45 extra for a pickup truck — and truck drivers will pay an extra $204 to fuel their tractor trailers that deliver our food and merchandise.

These increases do not include the yet-to-be-made-public second carbon tax – the Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) – that is to be put in place in January 2022. According to official government estimates the CFS will increase energy costs by $208 annually for households by 2030. Unlike the much-touted rebates for pump prices and home heating, there is no CFS rebate system that will defray these increased taxes.

The government acknowledges this will pose a hardship for lower income Canadians. In an analysis on the new tax, a government report states: “It is expected that increases in transportation fuel and home heating expenses would disproportionately impact lower and middle-income households, those living in single detached households or those without control over the energy efficiency of their dwellings that use heating oil… single mothers may be more vulnerable to energy poverty and adverse impacts from increases to transportation and home heating prices…” along with other socio-economic groups such as seniors on fixed incomes…”

This week there was another report issued by Environment Canada that divulged the government was not fully rebating Canadians the tax dollars it collected with the carbon tax. PM Trudeau has continuously stated that the carbon tax would be revenue neutral and that 80 percent of Canadian households paying the carbon tax will be better off financially through the government rebate regime.

Yet, investigative reporting by Blacklock’s Reporter uncovered that Canadian households are receiving considerably less in rebates than what is being paid in carbon taxes. In 2019, the government collected $2.6 billion in carbon taxes from Canadians and rebated only $2.2 billion to households, small and medium-sized businesses, municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals.

In Ontario, the carbon tax raised $1.87 billion in 2019, with households receiving $1.49 billion in rebates. Forty (40) percent of Ontario households are now paying more in carbon taxes than they get back in rebates.

So, the claim by PM Trudeau that “our plan to put a price on pollution actually gets more money in the pockets of middle class Canadians” is false. Trudeau said, “The average citizens of those provinces will be better off with this price on pollution than they would be had there been no price on pollution.” Facts tell us the opposite.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation also makes the point that in addition to the carbon taxes the government failed to rebate, Ontarians paid $243 million in HST on top of carbon tax charges – and there is no intention to rebate that tax grab. CTF Jasmine Moulton comments, “We now know that the federal government took hundreds of millions out of Ontarians’ pockets through the carbon tax that continues to sit in government coffers… Anybody who has believed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rhetoric on the carbon tax is being made out to look like a fool. His government said it wouldn’t go up past $50 per tonne by 2022 and that it would put more money back into our pockets, but both claims have now been proven to be blatant falsehoods.”

The last word goes to Financial Post columnist Diane Francis, who states that Canadians cannot shoulder any greater tax burden. Francis reports that in 2020 Canada had a top personal income tax rate of 54 percent, top corporate rate of 38 percent, and a sales tax of up to 15 percent, depending on the province.  She states: “The inconvenient truth is that the Liberals are not trustworthy stewards of the economy. The fact is that Canada is already one of the highest-taxed countries on earth. There is no room left for tax hikes, without leading to more dire consequences.”

Dire consequences indeed. The Trudeau Liberals are proving to be very taxing.

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-proving-to-be-very-taxing/

A preview of PM Trudeau’s 2021 federal election

The Niagara Independent, January 1, 2021  – In his year-end messages, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coyly suggested on a number of occasions, “We might have an election.” Then he quickly adds that he personally is “not eager” to have one. Despite his stated reluctance the PM says the Liberals are battle-ready. It is an ill-kept secret that he has held Party caucus meetings to place his MPs and candidates on standby for an election call in early 2021.

In the past few weeks the CBC has heralded promising electoral predictions for the Liberals, such as this one: “If an election were held today, the Liberals almost certainly would win it — and perhaps capture a majority of the seats up for grabs, too.” The state-broadcaster reports that its polls have the Liberals in a very comfortable position: “With 2020 coming to a close, the Liberal Party is the only federal party in a much better position than it was 12 months ago… Nationwide, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lead with 35.7 per cent support, compared to 31 per cent for Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives… the Liberals have more support in every part of the country.”

In multiple reports through December, CBC reveals that the Liberals’ backroom operatives are itching to test the electoral waters. “Five sources familiar with the thinking in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party say a snap election is likely… Liberal insiders say the 48-year-old Trudeau, son of Pierre who was the third-longest serving prime minister in Canadian history, is determined to lead the party into the next election and win a majority. Another “senior Liberal said, “The problem about leaving an election until 2022 is that we will look less fresh, and if people are fed up they could be looking for an alternative by then.”

The apparent plan is to launch a “we have your back” campaign after delivering a March or April budget that will promise billions of dollars of further aid for individuals. The rationale for the snap election will be the Liberals’ need for a clear mandate to implement their bold, progressive agenda that will ensure Canada “builds back better.” Canadians will be asked to think big and be world leaders in our environmental policies and with our economic and social reforms. Liberals are counting on the PM to out-campaign the opposition parties; the election will turn on the question of leadership without any substantive debate on issues.

Canadians are to overlook the ominous national debt and the government’s fiscal policies. In her fall economic statement, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland reported a deficit projection of more than $381 billion – possibly ballooning to over $400 billion by March 2021. In just three months from April to June 2020, this federal government recorded a $120 billion deficit. In this same period, Canada’s economy shrank an unparalleled 38 percent. This year Canada’s overall economy is expected to shrink 6.8 percent — the sharpest drop since the Great Depression.

A recent CBC investigative series revealed the Government is spending billions – at a rate of $952 million a day – seemingly without controls and with no intention of accounting for the dollars spent. This past week, the National Post reported it had surveyed six former Department of Finance officials who expressed concerns over the Trudeau Government’s lack of fiscal transparency and accountability for its spending. Don Drummond stated, “The lack of transparency around the government’s intentions in its economic and fiscal forecast is not acceptable in a democracy. I think everyone should be concerned about this.”

David Dodge, the Deputy Minister of Finance for Minister Paul Martin in the Chretien Government, gave a damning indictment of the current Government’s performance, “The policies of the government in power, and the proclivities of the current prime minister, are not particularly oriented towards the hard work of generating economic growth, and that can make things difficult for the Department of Finance.”  Dodge assessed, “It’s a lack of discipline and a lack of focus on actually delivering. You send out a press release and that’s seen as the end game, whereas the real issue is in actually governing.”

The single greatest policy advanced by the Trudeau Government through its mandates has been its environmental agenda, which has essentially amounted to the imposition of increasing amounts of carbon taxes. Canada’s global leadership in cleaning and greening the planet is sure to be a main plank in the Liberals platform.  In the upcoming election, Canadians will be asked to consider the global climate challenge without factoring what impact the Liberal approach will have on their standard of living and the country’s economic sustainability.

Again, Canadians are to overlook the government’s three-prong carbon tax program that has been introduced in the last 12 months. First, there is the scheduled hike in the federal carbon tax that will have Canadians paying in 2030 an additional 53 cents per litre in carbon tax at the pump — and a still undisclosed increase for home heating, natural gas, and propane. Second, the government is introducing a new Clean Fuel Standard carbon tax on the country’s business community that, by the government’s own analysis, is going to add hundreds of dollars per year to a person’s heating and driving costs. Third, the government unveiled 64 new green measures and subsidy programs that are estimated to cost Canadians $15 billion.

Perhaps the most pressing reason for the Trudeau Liberals to prompt an early 2021 election call is their apprehension with how Canadians may respond to the government’s vaccination plan. It’s an unfolding story that likely will not have a favourable conclusion for the Liberals. This month PM Trudeau excitedly promoted the delivery of the first 19,000 doses of the vaccine to Canada. He has made the promise of 368,000 doses by the end of the year. The PM makes a point of reminding Canadians on the total numbers vaccinated across the country. As of Wednesday this week 85,256 doses have been administered in Canada (and it is important to note that each person is to receive two doses). Given the available doses for distribution in our country, we might hope that in early January a total of approximately 180,000 Canadians will have been vaccinated.

Now consider: the UK reported 138,000 people vaccinated in early December and 5,000,000 doses distributed through the month. Mexico is administering 1,400,000 doses for health workers by mid-January. Israel administered 650,000 doses as of Wednesday – 99,000 of those were vaccinated in one day this week. And most remarkable is the vaccination program south of our borders where the U.S. has administered 2,670,000 as of this week and it is planning for the roll out of 20,000,000 doses in early January.

So, while the Trudeau Government’s plan will have a little more than one million Canadians vaccinated by March 31st, the Americans are estimating that roughly 40 percent of their population (131+ million) will be vaccinated by March. Clearly, the Liberals will not want Canadians to be comparing and contrasting vaccination programs with the Americans, British and Mexicans.

As CBC and the Liberal campaign strategists spin it, PM Trudeau is to win his coveted majority mandate by reassuring Canadians that “budgets balance themselves,” and explaining that because “pollution is no longer free” we have the opportunity to “build back better.” And Trudeau himself will tell Canadians that this is all possible: “Because it’s 2021.”

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-preview-of-pm-trudeaus-2021-federal-election/