Tag Archives: Niagara_Independent

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/

A Canadian Christmas Carol

The Niagara Independent, December 25, 2020  –  With apologies to Charles Dickens and the wondrous legacy of The Christmas Carolhere is a modern day story of the spirit Jacob Marley, who last evening visited a weary Canadian — cynical soul who has lost all hope for hination and its promise. As Marley successfully illuminated the crevices of Ebenezer Scrooges heart of stone, he appears this Christmas Eve to forewarn our Canadian (let’s call him Canuck) that there needs to be spiritual reawakening to appreciate and ensure all that is possible for Canada. Marley tells Canuck he is to be visited by three apparitions…

As the story goes, the Ghost of Christmas Past ferried Canuck back to 1890, to a snowy December night in Kingston, Ontario. There he came face-to-face with John A. Macdonald sitting in front of a fireplace with a blanket pulled up over his 75year old frame. Macdonald was preoccupied writing campaign notes. Early in the new year he is planning to lead his Conservatives into an election with the cry of “The Old Flag. The Old Policy. The Old Leader.” The PM seems as determined as ever that his National Policy will ensure the young country will survive the ambitions of American politicians and businessmen.

Canuck is fascinated by the elder figure hunched over, absorbed in his work. Indeed, Macdonald had won five majority governments for the Conservative Party and by all accounts had realized his remarkable dream of a united Dominion from sea to sea. It was he who advanced the scheme of a confederation in the decade leading up to 1864; who became Canada’s first prime minister; and who forged a national conscience by laying down a ribbon of steel and demanding steadfast loyalty to Westminster democracy.

Macdonald was responsible for the completion of the Intercolonial Railway to Halifax and celebrated the engineering feat linking east to west via the transcontinental CPRAs an exemplar Parliamentarian, PM Macdonald championed protectionist trade measures against the U.S. and negotiated the entry of provinces PEI, Manitoba, and B.C., and the acquisition of all lands in between. For these accomplishments, the knighted Sir John A. Macdonald is to be forever regaled as the chief architect of Confederation and the primary Founding Father of the budding nation Canada.

In the quiet of his den, Macdonald sipped his mulled wine. Canuck thought of the PM’s love of alcohol and then of the many blotches on the PM’s political career. Yet, as he watched Macdonald scribbling the campaign notes he was suddenly overcome by the magnitude of this man’s perseverance inestablishing a country that aspired to the laudable principles of peace, order, and good governmentClearly, the illustrious results of this man’s work must not be taken for granted.

Then, in what seemed to be a blink of an eye, the Ghost of Christmas Present took Canuck by the hand and led him to a remote prison in China. There behind bars he met a thin, unhappy figure who he identified as Michael Spavor. “The two Michaels” as all Canadians have come to know them – Spavor and Michael Kovrig – are spending their third Christmas in cellsCanuck shivered at the thought that the two Michaels have been languishing in captivity now for almost 750 days, away from their families and friends, and from their country.

Canuck reasoned it was not right that these men were held as payback for the arrest of Huawei Technologies executive Meng WanzhouHis mind wandered to disturbing accounts of other Canadians who were jailed by the Chinese Communists. Behind bars in China meant rounds of tiresome interrogationsinfrequent meals, and the cellblock lights shining 24 hours a day. There were reports that the two Michaels also spent time in overcrowded cells. The communists had denied them visitors, news of the outside world, and any word from home.

Stupefied, Canuck thought how Communist China is so unlike Canada (even though, he mused, PM Justin Trudeau admires the Chinese Government and it seems hhas accommodated and made excuses for countless Chinese misdeeds). It troubled him to think how little Canadians consider the foundational underpinnings of our countryObviously, the two Michaels knew too well the differences between our countries. On the one hand, Canadians can be grateful for our luxuries of abundant food, clean water and warm surroundings. On the other hand, the Michaels are being held by a suppressive government that has little regard for freedom of speech and movement, for an independent judiciary, for individuals’ rights and possessions. Though this year in Canada we may have seen Trans Mountain blockades and Maritime lobster pound standoffs, we have not experienced the tragedies of the Uighur Muslims or Hong Kong democrats.

There are many contrasts to be made mused Canuck, yet here sits Spavor. If we do not speak out about our difference and defend our libertiesbut for the grace of God go I.

Without warning, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come grabbed Canuck and sat him down in an office, in front of a woman pounding away on a keyboard. He scanned the desk and determined he had somehow skipped through time to the year 2050. Canuck was visiting an editor of Ottawa parliamentary publication, The Hill Times, who was preparing a year-end edition. He saw on the screen, the cover story read “States of Alberta and Saskatchewan Celebrate 25th Anniversary.”

The editor looked up into the computer screen to her news team; the meeting to review the papers’ editorial line-up commencedThe Alberta and Saskatchewan cover article will feature the economic boom of their resource-based industries and how these former provinces flourished as part of the United States. Three accompanying pieces are to provide a full picture of the former country Canada1) a review of the socialist reforms undertaken in the Republic of Canada; 2) trade and resource development news between British Columbia and China; and, 3) the Republic’s appeal to international bodies to assist with Russia and China military encroachments in its northern territories.

There are two parliamentary columns: one to cover the U.N.’s latest terms for the Republic’s debt payments, and a second one on the newly imposed goods and services tax of 33 percent. The lead year-end editorial will speak to how Canadians should be forever grateful: the Republic of Canada is providing womb to tomb state programing, including a guaranteed income for a majority of the population. secondary editorial is to draw a comparison between how past Canadian protests that removed statues of Sir John A. Macdonald are much like the current mobs who are pulling down the statues of the Republic’s Founding Father Justin Trudeau. The underlining message in this editorial is: Canadians must take lessons from and not erase their history.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come dropped Canuck back into the comfort of his bed where he stretched from his fetal position. What a dream… what a nightmare! Could it be? Would it be? Canuck immediately jumped out from under his sheets and hurried to the window. He chortled. No doubt, Jacob Marley and the apparitions had given him a great gift – and there was much, so much he must do in 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-canadian-christmas-carol/

2020’s top ten news stories in federal politics

The Niagara Independent, December 11 & 18, 2020  – The House of Commons will rise this week for the MPs’ holiday recess. This is an appropriate time to look back at what was an extraordinary year, and select the most significant news stories from the Nation’s Capital. In no particular order, here are “the top ten” federal political stories that, argumentatively, mattered the most to Canadians in 2020.

Changing of the guard at Finance Canada

In the midst of an embarrassing scandal, the Prime Minister replaced his embattled Finance Minister Bill Morneau with his most trusted Minister-of-Everything Chrystia Freeland. Hence, the stewardship of Canada’s finances and fiscal policy went from a Toronto financial services businessman to a Toronto journalist. Morneau left town holding the undistinguished title of the worst economic record in Canadian history. On Morneau’s watch, the Trudeau Government ran $89.1 billion in accumulated deficits and its program spending increased at a striking rate of 27.2 percent in five years. While he was at the helm of Finance Canada, the government added $10,000 of new debt for every man, woman and child. His lasting legacy: Morneau outspent all past federal governments, including those governments that had to respond to world wars and global recessions.

Enter Finance Minister Freeland, who is now overseeing unbridled government spending in response to the pandemic. Canada’s current federal deficit is the largest 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 have our federal debt double to $1.4 trillion in the next five years. In her first financial statement, Freeland offered no financial check and balances; instead, she is musing publicly about finding ways to tap into Canadians’ savings accounts.

Finance Canada also had a new Deputy Minister parachuted into its top spot. Financial Post columnist Terence Corcoran views the placement of Michael Sabia as entrenching “Trudeau’s plan to use sustainable environmental diversity, socially responsible governance and interventionism as the prime drivers of federal economic policy.” Corcoran believes the tandem of Freeland and Sabia points to increased state interventionism: “Under the new capitalism, corporate economic freedom is replaced by corporatist economic controls.”

The unaccounted for government spending

A recent CBC investigative story confirmed the Trudeau Government is spending billions seemingly without controls and with no intention of accounting for the dollars spent. Government financial statements document that Ottawa has spent $240 billion fighting COVID-19 in just eight months – that is an average of $952 million a day. The government has provided more than $81 billion financial support to 11,721,827 people – that is almost 40 per cent of all Canadian adults. It has also provided tens of billions of dollars to businesses and corporations.

The free-spending Trudeau Government has repeatedly frustrated officials and media who request a public accounting of its expenditures. To quote but one of these officials, Canada’s former Parliament Budget Officer Kevin Page states, “We should know more where that money is going… And not knowing really reduces our ability to understand how these programs are working and what role can they play in terms of supporting the economic recovery going forward.” Commenting on the recent federal economic statement, Page said, “It’s impossible to read. I have done this for years and I can’t even follow the money. I hope it’s not deliberate.”

The collapse of Canada’s resource development

In early 2020 (pre COVID-19), Calgary-based news agency, Second Street, reported that $213 billion of resource development projects had been cancelled or stalled in Canada since 2014. This astonishing total came in the wake of the announced cancellation of the $20.6 Billion Teck Frontier mine project –a prairie resource project that would have had 40 years of anticipated production, employ 2,500 workers, and generate more than $70 billion in revenue to governments. Equally devastating in early 2020 was the news about Quebec’s Energie Saguenay pipeline project losing its largest investor. Warren Buffett’s firm took $4 billion off the table and walked away from its investment in the $9 billion liquefied natural gas project. This mega resource project would have built a new 782 km pipeline corridor and a natural gas liquefaction complex at Port Saguenay.

Prior to the pandemic crises, the Trudeau Government’s natural resource development policies were making headlines as having a dramatic, negative impact on both large and small resource companies. There was much public discussion about the abandoned resource projects equating not only to lost employment but also to lost investments and future economic activity. For Canada to lose $213 billion of resource projects does not only damage our country’s current economic standing, it surely cripples the opportunities of future generations of Canadians.

The Great Reset and what it means for the Canadian economy 

PM Trudeau has publicly tied the country’s COVID-19 recovery to The Great Reset and to a series of United Nations’ 2030 objectives. The PM claims: “This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset. This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems…”  Trudeau’s script is taken directly from the pages of COVID-19 – The Great Reset, which forecasts the pandemic-induced global economic downturn as providing the catalyst for a reset of capitalism.

As the Fall Throne Speech proclaimed, the Trudeau Government is intent on introducing “a bold, new progressive agenda” designed to restructure the country’s social safety net and address climate change. The Trudeau Government’s economic policies mirror those policy objectives found in The Great Reset. Current fiscal discussions include increased carbon taxes and a new wealth tax, new tax regulations respecting business and individual finances, a withdrawal of support for resource industries, new funding programs for green initiatives, and greater government intervention and social planning measures to adhere to the U.N. policy agendas.

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole

In August the Conservative Party elected Erin O’Toole as its new standard bearer. O’Toole grew up in a blue-collar home in southern Ontario, excelled in his pursuits as a pilot in the Canadian Forces and then as a lawyer, before becoming a Member of Parliament. As MP, he represents the community he was raised in, and where he is raising his family. At age 47, O’Toole has been in Ottawa for eight years and he is described as “a moderate” within the federal Conservative caucus.

As the Conservative Leader, O’Toole has called for the government to take a tougher stand against the Communist Party of China. He announced a Conservative Government would meet the emission targets as set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. O’Toole has been critical of the government’s pandemic spending, stating it has been mismanaged and wasteful; and, he is pressing the government for transparency with its vaccine distribution plans. O’Toole’s greatest challenge is for Canadians to come to know him and to recognize his leadership as the alternative to Justin Trudeau, with whom he will be compared in the anticipated 2021 federal election.

WE Charity Scandal

Of all the political headlines from Ottawa in 2020, the most intriguing was the WE Charity scandal that enveloped the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and a good number of Cabinet ministers. This news item was the most personally damaging for the Prime Minister because it directly involved hefty payments and favours to the Trudeau family members. There are many questions about the near billion dollar contract that was to be awarded to the Kielburger brothers. What of the $43.5 million in administration fees; the hundreds of thousands in payments to mother Margaret, wife Sophie and brother Alexandre; the Cabinet circumventing its due diligence in bypassing Treasury Board; and, Minister Bardish Chagger purposely misleading MPs on the Ethics Committee about her part in fast-tracking the contract? And what of the $45 million worth of real estate assets the Kielburgers acquired through their charity operations – are these holdings subject to a CRA audit now that the charity has closed its doors in Canada?

Liberal MPs have effectively shut down all parliamentary inquiries, and succeeded to delay matters long enough for both WE and government officials to destroy all records of their dealings. The only remaining little detail that may concern Trudeau is the final report of the Ethics Commissioner. That report will determine the ethical breaches of the PM and Finance Minister Bill Morneau (recall they did not recuse themselves from the Cabinet approval of WE Charity’s $912 million contract, even though both of their families had pecuniary interests with the charity). As it happened, the Finance Minister used this shameful experience to fall on his sword and exit Ottawa. However, the PM seems sure he will survive yet another assessment of his ethical standards.

The two Michaels and Canada’s relations with Communist China

It has been over two full years since former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor were imprisoned in China on unspecified national security charges of espionage. For most of this time, the two Michaels hopelessly languished in crowded prison cells, cut off from family and friends. Though never candidly stated, it is understood their arrest was payback for the Canadian arrest of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant.

What should have produced a chill in Canada-China relations has not appeared to have phased the Trudeau Government’s working relationship with the Communist China Government. Throughout the year, Trudeau and his Ministers have stood with the communist regime: denying any questionable activities by China or the World Health Organization with regard to the origin of COVID-19 and the virus spread; refusing to restrict air travel from China; being the only western nation to not ban Huawei in developing the country’s 5G wireless network; and awarding a Chinese firm a major contract to install security screening in Canadian embassies. The most alarming news was just uncovered with the discovery that our Canadian Forces have held joint military exercises with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Base Petawawa. Our Canadian Forces were training the PLA in winter warfare tactics – maneuvers that the Chinese can employ in the snowy mountains of the China-India border and in the high Arctic. Through the year it has been “business as usual” irrespective of the two Michaels’ fate.

Losing the bid for the UN Security Council seat

It was to have been a crowning moment when PM Justin Trudeau could again crow “Canada is back.” However, the unthought-of happened and the PM failed to secure his coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council. In a vote of U.N. member states, Canada came third in a three-way contest with Norway and Ireland. This was a resounding rebuke for PM Trudeau who inserted himself into the bidding process and placed his personal appeal as a progressive world leader on the line. In the run-up to the vote, Trudeau provided keynote addresses at U.N. conferences, pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to U.N. programs, promised to champion third-world debt relief efforts, and made direct calls to a scores of world leaders.

A few days after the Security Council announcement, CBC reported that PMO spokespeople and Liberal MPs had identified that the blame for the loss (if any were to be attributed) lay with Stephen Harper and his failure to adequately fund the Canadian team tasked to win the U.N. seat. This embarrassment was not to be tagged on PM Trudeau when he had done everything possible to undo Harper’s mismanagement of the U.N. file.

Canadians’ preoccupation with everything Trump

This year Canadians have been treated to a deluge of U.S. election news and, in particular, anti-Trump commentary. Canadian mainstream media captivated its audience covering the vote south of the border as a prize slugfest. And while the Americans were busy exercising their democracy, Canadians remained unaware of the travesties of democracy occurring in the Nation’s Capital. In an erudite column this fall, Sun News columnist Lorrie Goldstein observed, “Meanwhile, in Canada, the Liberals are filibustering the parliamentary committee trying to investigate Trudeau’s We Charity controversy and the parliamentary budget officer rebukes the Trudeau gov’t over spending secrecy. But … Orange Man Bad.” Indeed, POTUS Trump proved a perfect foil for the Trudeau Government. As Goldstein acutely summarized, “Any Canadians sneering at the shit show election in the U.S. aren’t paying attention. Canada has its own circus going on.”

On another level, our national media bias did a great disservice to Canadians: it failed to provide context for what the country might experience in a post-Trumpian world. Only now are we beginning to anticipate what a Biden-presidency will mean for the Canada-U.S. relations… what the Democrat protectionist policies will mean for our cross border trade; the U.S. green recovery agenda and likely cancellation of Keystone XL and Alaska-to-Alberta Railway projects; and, Biden’s anticipated accommodation with China foreign policy and how this will impact world diplomacy and trade. With no Donald Trump headlines, Canadians now have the chance to refocus on the politics of Biden — and our own Prime Minister.

Trudeau’s mishandling of the pandemic crises

Space here does not permit a detailed review of the government’s missteps in responding to the health and economic crises presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding health and the failure to contain the spread of the virus: there has been one million air passengers enter Canada since the PM closed the airports; there were 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPEs) shipped to China in mid-February – and months later Canada received millions of faulty Chinese PPEs in return; former Liberal MP Frank Baylis was awarded a $237 million contract to make 10,000 pandemic ventilators – with no Health Canada approval and no means of producing ventilators in Canada; etc., etc.  Regarding Canada’s economy: Trudeau has spent more money per capita than any country in the world and Canada is now the most indebted nation; there’s tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects unaccounted for, and billions of dollars more awarded for pandemic relief to foreign-owned private companies; and, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has just unveiled a $100 billion stimulus plan with vague objectives and no details.

Worse than all of this is the Government’s deficient vaccination plan. PM Trudeau has made much of the arrival of the first doses of the vaccine on Canadian soil. However, the actual numbers are dismal: Canada received 19,000 doses on December 13th, is promised two shipments totaling 368,000 doses by the end of the year, and by the  end of March is promised another 1.8 million doses. While other countries are vaccinating tens of millions of their citizens, Canada will only vaccinate a little more than one million by April’s Fool Day. Canadians learned that Trudeau had counted on agreements with China to provide for our vaccine needs – agreements that have evaporated.

In an attempt to reassure Canadians, Trudeau reveals to us that the Government has ordered more vaccine doses than is required. But the stark differences in the figures of what the PM says is promised versus what is being actually delivered points to a political maelstrom for the Trudeau Government – and a whole lot of anxiety for Canadians.

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

LINKS: https://niagaraindependent.ca/2020s-top-ten-news-stories-in-federal-politics-part-1/https://niagaraindependent.ca/2020s-top-ten-news-stories-in-federal-politics-part-2/

The Trudeau Government and its (U.N.) green agenda

The Niagara Independent, December 15, 2020  – At an Ottawa press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled more of the government’s green agenda by providing details of a schedule of carbon tax hikes. Then on Saturday, PM Trudeau proclaimed to an international audience at a United Nations conference that Canadians are committed to ambitious emission targets and to paying for the U.N.’s international climate activities.

At the launch event in Ottawa, the PM pledged the country would exceed its 2030 emissions reductions targets under the Paris Accord – primarily through punitive carbon tax increases scheduled annually through the next decade. Trudeau stated, “During the campaign, our government committed to exceed Canada’s existing 2030 climate target and support new jobs for Canadians. Today, we have delivered our plan to reach that goal. At the same time, we are laying out new, more ambitious targets for the coming years. Canada will continue to lead in the fight against climate change.”

The next day, Trudeau played a supporting role to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres who urged all governments to declare a state of “global climate emergency” until the world has reached net zero CO2 emissions. At the U.N.’s Climate Ambition Summit, Trudeau boldly declared, “We will raise our emission reduction ambitions,” and he said Canada will “remain committed to making significant investments in international climate finance.”

Central to the Trudeau Government’s green agenda is a hike in the federal carbon tax from the current $30 to $170 a tonne in the next 10 years. In layman’s terms, the current price on carbon translates to Canadians paying roughly an extra 2.3 cents per litre of gasoline. By the end of 2022, the tax will be roughly 15 cents per litre. The carbon tax is scheduled to increase each year for eight years and will top off in 2030 at 53 cents per litre. (This per litre tax figure does not account for the Clean Fuel Standard tax that is to be levied next year, nor the GST that is applied on top of the taxes.)

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 $204 extra to fill one diesel fuel cylinder on the tractor trailers that deliver our food and merchandise.

Though specific details were not released, the Government also announced that the cost of light fuel oil for home heating, natural gas, and propane will rise through the decade as well.

The government explains the rationale for its green agenda in the climate plan document released by the PM on Friday. It 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.”

The document identifies 64 new measures that will cost Canadians $15 billion in federal investment. Government programs will soon be announced to fund home retrofits, provide rebates and tax write-offs for people who can afford zero-emissions vehicles, improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and fund dozens of proposed policies laid out over the documents 79 pages.

The government remains vague on its total spending plans although it suggests there will be many forthcoming policy announcements. The document outlines, “The Greening Government Strategy applies to all core government departments and agencies.” It announces that the federal government will look at the environmental impact of everything it manages: 32,000 buildings, 30,000 vehicles, and 20,000 engineered assets such as bridges and dams. It also suggests the government will be imposing new regulations that will impact the $20 billion of goods and services it purchases annually. Suffice to conclude, the total costs of the Trudeau green agenda will be unfathomable for the average Canadian to factor (which is likely why the government ignored providing the total costs).

The Trudeau Government’s green agenda was highlighted at the U.N.’s Climate Ambition Summit as an example of what can be done. In a Sun Media news column, Lorrie Goldstein reports on the U.N.’s message to its member states: that governments “have a major role in setting the conditions under which lifestyle changes can occur, through shaping policy, regulations and infrastructure investments … COVID-19 has provided insight into how rapid lifestyle changes can be brought about by governments … The lockdown period in many countries may be long enough to establish new, lasting routines if supported by longer term measures. In planning the recovery from COVID-19, governments have an opportunity to catalyse low-carbon lifestyle changes by disrupting entrenched practices.”

Goldstein reveals that the U.N. advises governments to achieve their climate change goals “through taxation and other policies affecting fundamental decisions we make about our lives, from what we eat (preferably meatless, low-carbon diets), to how we travel (less by air, more by subsidized electric cars), to how we power our homes (with wind and solar energy, at least for “higher income” earners, given the costs) and much, much more.”

However ideal this is for the U.N. objectives, some Canadian leaders have begun to push back. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has accused PM Trudeau and former Environment Minister Catherine McKenna of lying to Canadians when they repeatedly, categorically stated they would not increase the carbon tax beyond the 2022 tax of 15 cents per litre.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon called the tax “another attack on Alberta’s economy and Alberta’s jurisdiction,” stating that it will suppress investment and raise costs of everything for businesses and individuals. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Fraser Institute and Pembina Institute all expressed concern for the federal plan. Western Canadian Wheat Growers stated the tax increases are outrageous: “It’s going to kill agriculture in Canada and make us uncompetitive on the world market.”

Last word goes to Premier Doug Ford who plainly expressed his exasperation at the increased taxes imposed on Canadians, “I can’t understand for the life of me why anyone would want to put a burden on the backs of the hard-working people in this province. This carbon tax is going to be the worst thing you’ll ever see… price hikes on everything as increased transportation costs get passed on to consumers. God bless the environment, don’t get me wrong … but I’ve never, ever been more disappointed in an announcement ever since I’ve been in politics… We’re doing everything we can to create an environment for people to thrive, and all of a sudden a sledgehammer comes and hits you over the head.”

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-trudeau-government-and-its-u-n-green-agenda/

The Trudeau Government’s Extraordinary Christmas Present

The Niagara Independent, December 4, 2020  – On Monday, Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented Canadians with a Christmas present, the Government’s economic statement entitled “Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19.” The 237-page document was wonderfully wrapped in recycled, biodegradable paper, sealed with red tape and ribbons, and adorned with an oversized crimson bow. With her usual exuberance, Freeland explained she would provide details of the gift’s contents sometime in the future – and in so many words alluded to the idea that, in such troubled times, Canadians should be thankful for such a thoughtfully wrapped gift.

There were a few specifics revealed in the Finance Minister’s statement. The Liberal government is prepared to spend up to $100 billion over three years to kick start the economy, spending “whatever it takes” to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent. Freeland reported a deficit projection for the fiscal year ending in March 2021 of more than $381 billion (and possibly ballooning to over $400 billion).

Freeland made none of the anticipated major structural spending announcements, only offering “down-payments” on the Liberal promises of national child care, job training and green initiatives. She threw money at new federal secretariat bureaucracies: $4.3 million for national child care and another $15 million for Indigenous early learning and childcare. She pledged $447.5 million to implement a youth job program that will deliver 40,000 summer jobs for students (presumably not administered by the WE charity). And there were the Liberal’s hallmark green promises restated by Freeland: the $3.6 billion tree planting initiative that will plant saplings at $1.50 + per tree; and, another $1.5 billion on top of the billions already spent in the last five years to go towards clean tap water in First Nations communities.

With this economic statement the Trudeau Government also introduced a new “free form approach” of “fiscal guardrails” to guide its stimulus spending through the post-COVID economic recovery. These guardrails were not clearly defined but mention was made of assessing labour market indicators such as the employment rate, the unemployment rate, and total hours worked. Kevin Page, Canada’s former parliamentary budget officer commented, “I think the minister is breaking new ground.” In an interview with iPolitics, Alexandre Laurin of the C.D. Howe Institute warned, “… they’re not credible because they haven’t been described… We do not know what those fiscal rules are. We don’t even know the precise indicators they are following or what level would trigger anything.”

With Monday’s ministerial statement and the subsequent debates in the House of Commons through the week, Canadians have learned more about the country’s economic standing.

  • The government’s projected deficit has grown from $19 billion to $381 billion for this current 2020-21 fiscal year.
  • In just three months (April-June 2020), the federal government recorded a $120 billion deficit. In this same period, Canada’s economy shrank an unparalleled 38 percent.
  • Canada’s overall economy is expected to shrink 6.8 percent this year, the sharpest drop since the Great Depression. There is a dismal 1.4 percent economic growth projected each year through to 2025-26.
  • Canadian companies’ investments have fallen by around $40 billion this year.
  • In response to the pandemic, the federal government has spent the most per person than any other government in the world; and, today, Canada leads all countries in COVID-19 related debt, which is projected to top $600 billion before the pandemic threat has passed.
  • Government records show $54 billion was spent to compensate Canadians for $21 billion in lost income. The Globe and Mail reports “the government effectively gave households nearly $7 for each dollar of lost private-sector income.”
  • The unemployment rate is projected to be 9.8 percent in 2020 and 7.8 percent in 2021, which is the highest unemployment rate of the G-7 countries. C.D. Howe Institute reports there will be 1.3 million workers unemployed through the second wave of the virus.

Given the flood of red ink and uncertain times, the Trudeau Government’s fiscal approach has been met with dismay and a feeling of loss. Canadian Taxpayers Federation Federal Director Aaron Wudrick lamented Canada’s debt will hit $1 trillion within weeks. Wudrick stated, “Alarmingly, there are no fiscal targets, and the government actually pledged to add another $100 billion in debt after the pandemic ends, effectively committing to spend money before it even knows what to spend it on. There doesn’t seem to be any place where the Trudeau government has even tried to save money and there’s no tax relief. A pandemic isn’t a free pass to cynically increase spending on everything, especially when taxpayers are struggling.”

John Ivison of the National Post captured the sentiments expressed by many financial analysts and political pundits with his sobering observation about the fragile state of the Canadian economy. Ivison wrote, “The sad truth is, Canada is no longer where you want to be, if you are going for gold. We are consuming more than we are producing; we are swimming in debt and even companies based here prefer to invest somewhere else. The government’s fall-back is that interest rates are rising more slowly than the economy is growing, so we can keep expanding programs without having to pay for them.”

In the wake of Freeland’s Monday performance there came an announcement on Tuesday that reverberated through Ottawa’s corridors. Finance Canada Deputy Minister Paul Rochon tendered his resignation offering no reason for his hasty departure. Rochon provided no comment on his political bosses through the past six year – and perhaps his silence speaks volumes. In the last four months, the Trudeau Government has lost both its Finance Minister and Deputy Minister and a new finance brain trust is left to chart a course clear of the pandemic and debt pressures.

PM Trudeau followed-up this bombshell resignation by serving notice that the economic statement will be subject to a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Insisting he is not wanting an election anytime soon, the PM said he felt his pandemic relief measures should have Parliamentary approval. So, MPs will be forced to accept the Liberal fiscal plan unwrapped lest force a federal election in the cold of January. And as Tim Powers suggests in his Hill Times column, weary Canadians are sure to accept the Liberals’ generosity for “there is a chicken for every pot.” Therefore, we can expect in the coming weeks that Liberal politics will trump any sense of fiscal reality.

It appears the PM and his chief financial elf, Finance Minister Freeland, have delivered an extraordinary Christmas present.

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/the-trudeau-governments-extraordinary-christmas-present/

Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS / Sean Kilpatrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/trudeaus-environmental-agenda-repeated-promises-and-plans-of-plans/

 

PM Trudeau Implementing “The Great Reset” In Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/pm-trudeau-implementing-the-great-reset-in-canada/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadian-pm-and-u-s-president-elect-ready-to-build-back-better-together/

PM Trudeau has us questioning what constitutes “free speech”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/pm-trudeau-has-us-questioning-what-constitutes-free-speech/

Our Take-Aways from the U.S. Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/marvel-and-shock/

Revealing national COVID-19 statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/revealing-national-covid-19-statistics/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/it-is-time-for-canadians-to-take-stock-of-the-countrys-fiscal-mess/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK:  https://niagaraindependent.ca/pm-trudeau-continues-to-dodge-the-we-scandal-but-for-how-long/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/federal-government-will-need-to-introduce-a-list-of-new-tax-measures/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINK: https://niagaraindependent.ca/canadian-prairie-provinces-future-prosperity-put-on-track-with-a2a-rail/