FRIGHTENING DEBT: Ontario man makes cemetery to highlight Canadian debt
The debt gravedigger from Amherstburg, Ontario is back again in time for Halloween.
Anthony Leardi put up a video of his lawn display on Facebook to raise awareness of the humungous debt load Canadians carry of over $650 billion.
“Because it’s Halloween in Canada and nothings scarier in Canada than Canada’s federal debt,” says Leardi in the video.
Leardi says no media have taken an interest in his political statement, other than third-party advertiser and Facebook group Canada Proud.
“Ontario Proud actually covered my provincial debt cemetery in 2018 and it got almost one million views on their site.”
The federal election debates and media coverage have instead focused predominantly on other issues such as climate change, indigenous issues and cost of living.
“When I show people these numbers, they are very concerned. They are especially concerned about the interest payments. And young people really get it when you tell them, “I’m 50. I won’t live long enough to pay this debt back. But you’re only 20. You will be paying interest on this debt for the rest of your life!”
The tomb stones list ghastly facts of the national debt, such as “Canadians pay $49,500 minute on interest on the debt.”
“When my son Andrew was 10 years old, he and I were talking about making Hallowe’en decorations,” said Leardi. “He suggested a cemetery and I added the part about “debt.” To this day, he takes credit for the whole thing!”
Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer is the representative for Cypress Hills—Grasslands (Saskatchewan).
In delivering their Throne speech, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals unveiled what could have been an opportunity to acknowledge the mounting difficulties Western Canadians are facing. Especially the millions of hard-working Canadians who are employed, or rather, were employed in the energy industry. Instead, what we heard was a complete disregard for the real threat facing national unity today: the collapsing energy industry.
On election night, Prime Minister Trudeau went on national television and told Western Canadians, “I hear you.” The throne speech made it very clear, he is not listening.
This was an opportunity for the Liberal leader to demonstrate he has heard the concerns of Saskatchewan and Alberta, who routed every Liberal candidate in their provinces and prevented any new ones from being elected. This was an opportunity for him to show that he has heard our message, which was strong and clear, and that he plans to switch tracks in this minority Parliament.
At the very least, I expected the speech to mention the production of a National Energy Corridor to help get our resources to market and unite our country. Instead, we received more of the same from a PM rich in rhetoric but thin in deed.
Western Canada—and I believe all of Canada at large—expected to see a government that had learned from the disastrous mistakes of its own past, that would work to heal our regional divides, that would strengthen our position on the world stage, that would get Canadians back to work in hard hit regions, and that would give hope to the millions of Canadians who continue to feel abandoned by Justin Trudeau. The Liberal government’s Speech from the Throne was an opportunity to bring Canadians together and express a renewed vision for national unity. But, there was nothing of the sort.
Despite this disappointment, I am excited to be a part of Andrew Scheer’s Conservative team in Ottawa. We are ready to tackle the challenges ahead. We will continue to fight for Canadians and hold to a vision of a Canada that is stronger when we work together. We will offer real solutions that will allow nation-building infrastructure projects, like the Trans Mountain pipeline, to get built, rather than let innovative ideas die as a result of government dithering and red tape.
As the Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, I was elected to serve my constituents, not prop up Justin Trudeau’s agenda. I will continue to work hard every day to ensure that all Canadians can have confidence that this country is one for all of us. Canada’s Conservatives, under Andrew Scheer, have heard your voices. We are here to serve all Canadians, from Coast to Coast to Coast, including Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Tax cuts Liberal government's 'first act', reconciliation and climate change top goals: Throne speech
Climate change, economic prosperity and indigenous reconciliation will continue to be the now-minority Liberal government’s focus according to Governor General Julie Payette’s Speech from the Throne–an outline of the ruling party’s agenda and authored by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“In this election, Parliamentarians received a mandate from the people of Canada..to fight climate change, strengthen the middle class, walk the road of reconciliation, keep Canadians safe and healthy, and position Canada for success in an uncertain world,” said Payette.
The governor general declared climate change to be the “defining challenge of the time”.
“From forest fires and floods, to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are living the impact of climate change every day. The science is clear, and it has been for decades,” Payette said.
“A clear majority of Canadians voted for ambitious climate action now. And that is what the Government will deliver… and it will do so in a way that grows the economy and makes life more affordable.”
Reducing Canada’s emissions to a net-zero position by 2050 and planting two billion trees over the next decade are among the government’s climate action goals, according to the speech.
On the subject of “middle class prosperity”, Payette said most Canadians can expect a tax cut.
“As its first act, the government will cut taxes for all but the wealthiest Canadians, giving more money to middle class families and those who need it most,” she said.
“The Government will also act on housing…(and) continue its crucial investments in affordable housing. It will also make it easier for more people to buy their first home.”
The Throne speech also reiterated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to cut cell phone bills by 25 percent, “more support for students” and a national pharmacare plan; each yet to be defined in more concrete action.
The speech also promised to “walk to road of reconciliation” with Indigenous people that includes “co-develop(ing) and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate.”
While the legislation to implement the UN declaration died in the Senate, Trudeau appears intent on following the province of British Columbia, which passed legislation to adopt the declaration in November.
The Liberal minority will also forge ahead with “banning military-style assault rifles and taking steps to introduce a buy-back program.”
“Canadians have seen firsthand the devastating effects of gun violence. Too many lives lost, too many families shattered,” said Payette. “It is time to show courage, and strengthen gun control.”
The “uncertain world” also loomed in the Throne speech.
According to Payette, the government will position Canada “as a coalition-builder… with like-minded countries to put Canada’s expertise to work on a global scale in… the promotion of democracy and human rights, the fight against climate change… and the development and ethical use of artificial intelligence.”
Twenty percent of Canadians do not expect to escape debt in their lifetime, according to Global News. Based on a study by The Manulife Bank of Canada, Canadians believe that household debt has increased too much.
More worryingly, however, 67 percent of those in debt believe that the rest of the country is in serious debt, too. This study has also revealed that Canadians are terrible at spending: 45 percent of Canadians say that their spending is increasing faster than their income, which is an increase from 33 percent who said this in the spring.
The study also reported that more than 50 percent of Canadians carry considerable non-mortgage debt, and 60% are in credit card debt. As a result of all this, many Canadians may be in debt for some time.
This study was carried out after the financial firm, Equifax, became concerned with the debt of ordinary Canadians. Since 2014, Canadian debt has surged from $57,000 to $71,979.
Over recent decades, Canadian have become increasingly financially insecure. This sentiment has transitioned into a cynicism for our financial system. Most zoomers (generation z) believe that they will never get onto the property ladder or become debt-free.
In the summer of this year, a study showed that half of the Canadian population was only $200 away from financial disaster.
The senator behind a new faction in Parliament’s upper chamber says #WEXIT was “tangentially” behind this, the latest attempt at non-partisan independence in the Canadian Senate.
In an interview with The Post Millennial, former Conservative senator Scott Tannas and leader of the nascent Canadian Senators Group said the move is geared toward having a say in committee picks, non-partisan research, and also suggested it could be a bulwark against “group-think”.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in this group at all, who thinks Wexit is a great idea, or it’s time has come. We’re all there to fight for Canada,” said the Albertan senator. “But in the context of making sure our regions are protected and advanced.”
The Canadian Senators Group also includes Doug Black (Alberta), Robert Black (Ontario), Larry W. Campbell (B.C.), Stephen Greene (Nova Scotia), Diane F. Griffin (P.E.I.), Elaine McCoy (AB), David Richards (New Brunswick), Josée Verner (Quebec), Pamela Wallin (Saskachewan) and Vernon White (ON).
Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, referred to the appointed legislature that provides regional oversight for government bills with power to introduce laws unrelated to spending, as chamber for “sober second thought”.
However, in contemporary politics and on the Main Street circa 2019, opinions on the Senate range from a desire for greater accountability (some provinces like Alberta actually hold non-binding votes for senate-appointees), to its abolishment altogether.
And for nearly 150 years, senators were appointed by the sitting prime minister, and for the most part showed unbroken partisan loyalty to their caucuses. But that all changed in April 2014 when Trudeau cut existing Liberal appointees in the Upper Chamber from the national caucus.
The rookie leader had been at the Liberal helm for barely a year before making this nation-changing decision – one that Dale Smith, a parliamentary reporter and author of a book on how Canada’s Westminster government operates, describes as “a slow moving train wreck ever since.”
“It goes back to when Trudeau kicked out his senators and said it was about wanting more independence in the Senate, it was really more about a bunch of (spending) audits coming out,” Smith told TPM. “It was like killing two birds with one stone, independent senators and not dealing with any blowback the Auditor General finds.”
That report by Auditor General of Canada Michael Ferguson, delivered in June 2015 after examining 116 senators’ expenses, found 30 to contain inappropriate claims (more than a dozen senators opted for arbitration to square accounts) and referred nine to RCMP for further investigation. No charges from Ferguson’s determinations ever materialized.
However, his audit was launched over questionable living expenses claimed by Stephen Harper appointees Patrick Brazeau and Mike Duffy, as well Liberal Senator Mac Harb, that resulted in charges against all three.
The Crown ultimately withdrew prosecution of fraud-related charges against Brazeau (July 2016) and Harb (May 2016), shortly after Duffy beat four of 31 counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that actually stuck and that the public prosecutor pursued at Ontario Superior Court.
Trudeau’s decision to abandon his Senate caucus occurred barely three months before Duffy was charged by RCMP, one of which included accepting a “bribe” from Harper’s then chief-of-staff Nigel Wright for $90,000 to cover disputed housing expenses. Strangely, Wright was never charged for tendering the cash.
After winning a majority government 18 months later Trudeau continued his senate-reform in January 2016, by way of Order-in-Council, establishing an advisory board to weed through applicants for “independents” to fill Senate vacancies.
By March of that year, the Independent Senator Group was formed; an amalgam of Trudeau’s original castaways and destination for new blood. It had also become haven for embattled Harper appointees tapped for the Senate, including Duffy, Brazeau and Wallin, who has now thrown her lot in with Tannas’ new venture.
But the senator from High River Alberta at the Canadian Senators Group vanguard, a former insurance agent whom Harper tapped for the Senate in 2012, distributes blame for the Senate’s current state of affairs evenly between the current prime minister and his antecedent.
“I saw the decision that Harper made not to fill 20-some senate seats he had (before leaving office). And both of those decisions, the one by Harper and one by Trudeau, had an enormous impact on where the Senate is today,” said Tannas when asked about the Trudeau effect.
“In my view, both things have accelerated what we’re seeing in the Senate now, to where we’re at a tipping point, where changes will become permanent changes.”
In rare public criticism of what’s come of the institution in the wake of Trudeau’s decision, Senate Director of communications Karine Leroux made the following comments about this recent turn of events in an email to TPM:
“We are currently living through the repercussions of Prime Minister Trudeau’s ill-thought-out idea of Senate reform. While he was leader of the third party opposition, Justin Trudeau miscalculated the need of having senators move forward the government legislation in the Senate. He failed to see the long term impact and implication of not recognizing the needs of having a Government Caucus and an Opposition Caucus. (Formation of the Canadian Senators Group) is the second example in the last two weeks that shows Trudeau’s ‘non-partisan and independent Senate’ isn’t working.”
The first example is the resignation of Trudeau appointee Senator André Pratte, who made his official intentions known on federal election night Oct. 21. His reasons: he could not fulfill his role “to the level of excellence expected”.
In the days following, Pratte penned an op-ed published by establishment media where the ex-senator blamed the Trudeau government for failing to codify rules of Senate independence in a regime that still included whipped Conservatives, and criticized Liberals for “exercising pressure on independent Senators so they vote a certain way.”
“One difficulty is that the new practices have not been enshrined in the rules of the Senate and in the Parliament of Canada Act. Consequently, it would be easy for a future government to return to the old system, where the Senate was a pale copy of the extremely partisan House of Commons,” writes Pratte.
“Another issue is that partisanship and the ‘party line’ are still very much present in the Senate. Conservative Senators are members of the national conservative caucus. They are whipped. Their agenda is to obstruct all government legislation, as much as the rules allow. And the rules allow quite a lot.”
A glaring example of “party line” Senators would be Liberal-friendly pollster Donna Dasko, appointed to the Senate by Trudeau in June 2018. Earlier this year, Dasko was slammed by Conservative senators for misusing her budget to commission a poll touting public support for Trudeau’s Senate reforms.
While the Independent Senators Group held an outright majority in the previous Senate, the emergence of the Canadian Senators Group resets the ISG’s balance of power to a plurality.
The so-called Independent Senators Group still holds 49 of the Senate’s 105 seats, but there remain 27 aligned with Conservatives, nine still representing as Liberals, six independents and 11 from the Canadian Senators Group. There are also three vacancies; one in Saskatchewan and two in Quebec.
From Tannas vantage, after nearly seven years in the Senate, his purportedly non-partisan CGS is a chance to get senate independence right. While the group welcomes additional members, it has pledged to cap membership at 25.
“We don’t all agree on our politics by any means. We are centrists most of us, centre-left or centre-right. But what does unite us is the approach to the job. We want good solid research that we can count on as being independent and fact-based that we can sandwich between the sales job from the government about why the bill is so wonderful…(and) from the Opposition about why it’s a terrible bill,” said Tannas.
“It will be up to us to work together to gather the facts, but come to our own views independently and to transmit those views, to be transparent about our decisions individually and be accountable individually, as opposed to in any kind of a group-think environment.”