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National credit card maxed out, says Poilievre, as Liberals plan massive increase in debt ceiling to $1.8 trillion

Pre-budget consultations reveal Freeland wants authority to increase borrowing from $1.2 trillion to $1.8 trillion

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Liberal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the “prudent” federal borrowing limit is $1.8 trillion, the largest increase in Canadian history.

Speaking before the finance committee, held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, Conservative MP (Carleton) and finance critic Pierre Poilievre questioned Freeland regarding proposed borrowing limits in the new budget – a key fiscal anchor absent since the last Liberal budget presented in March 2019.

Freeland delivered what was obviously the key speaking point – “prudent” – five times during her answers.

Poilievre: “What is the minister proposing to raise the limit to?”

Freeland: “Mr. Speaker (sic), we have outlined very carefully – and I believe very prudently – our plans on the borrowing limit. We believe that the prudent level is 1.8 trillion.”

Poilievre: “And that would bring us how close in debt-to-GDP numbers to the level we reached in the 90’s, when Canada almost defaulted on its debt. Just looking for the number.”

Freeland: “Actually Mr….uh, Mr. Chair, it’s an inexact question, because we are not proposing to borrow that amount of money, we are simply proposing to raise the limit… because that’s the prudent thing to do.”

Poilievre: “Well, if you’re not proposing to borrow that amount, you don’t need to the authority to do so.”

Freeland: “Uh…uh… Mr. Chair, uh… actually, that’s not the case at all. A prudent government always se (sic)… creates buffers, and creates fiscal space, but there is, as the member knows, a very clear difference between borrowing authority and the amount the government has actually borrowed.”

Poilievre: “Well this is the biggest increase in borrowing authority ever sought by any government in Canadian history. It’s a monstrous increase to $1.8 trillion. Why should parliament give the government that authority if the government claims it doesn’t even need it?”

Freeland reiterated the Liberals weren’t actually borrowing the money, simply seeking authority to borrow it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already created one of the largest budget deficits in the world through his COVID-19 support programs, and now plans to continue spending.

When Freeland delivered the Liberal “fiscal update” – instead of a budget – on November 30, the national debt was forecast to reach an unprecedented high of $1.2 trillion. Now, just over a month later, that number has increased to $1.8 trillion – a 50 per cent hike. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates Canada’s GDP in 2020 was $1.71 trillion.

An increase in national debt to the proposed ceiling of $1.8 trillion would raise Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 105.26 per cent.

In 2014 the debt-to-GDP ratio was 85.7 per cent.

A study by the World Bank found that countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 77 per cent for prolonged periods suffer significant reductions in economic growth.

Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is now forecast to stay above 100 per cent through 2025.

Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at kgrafton@westernstandardonline.com

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Charles Martell III

    January 11, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    If the West was smart they would start planning to get off this sinking ship soon . . . just sayin!

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Madu out as justice minister

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has removed Justice Minister Kaycee Madu from his job after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a distracted parking ticket he received.

Madu was fined $300 on March 10, 2021 after an Edmonton police officer caught him talking on his cellphone while driving through a playground zone.

Madu soon phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, and discussed the ticket with him. 

“Minister Madu did contact me via the telephone concerned about a ticket. But just to be very, very clear, he never asked to get out of the ticket,” McFee told CBC News in December, adding he didn’t know exactly what was on the ticket.

“Everybody has to wear their decisions.”

McFee did say during their discussion, Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers. Madu is black.

“The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone. I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket” said Madu.

“Later, I spoke to Chief Dale McFee. Due to the timing of the incident, I wanted to ensure that I was not being unlawfully surveilled following the controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Police Service. I also raised concerns around profiling of racial minorities that was in the media at the time.

“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Kenney who, after CBC broke the story, removed him from his post because it is “essential the independent administration of justice is maintained.

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation,” Kenney tweeted.

“Minister Madu told me that he did not ask to have the ticket rescinded, nor was it his intention to interfere in the case, and that he promptly paid the ticket. I understand that Chief McFee has confirmed that at no time did the Minister seek to have the ticket rescinded.

“Nevertheless, it’s essential the independent administration of justice is maintained. That’s why I will appoint a respected independent investigator to review the relevant facts and to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice in this case.”

Energy Minister Sonya Savage will take on the duties of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

The scandal will be a blow for Kenney as Madu was one of his biggest supporters in an often fractured caucus.

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Home buyers and sellers can now use bitcoin

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.”

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Canadians will soon be able to buy and sell their homes with bitcoin.

Edmonton-based Bitcoin Well announced Tuesday they have signed a deal with Greater Property Group (GPG) where customers use bitcoin and other digital currencies to buy and sell residential and commercial real estate.

The signed letter of intent will see both companies promote the other through their respective websites and real estate transactions involving bitcoin will be conducted through the joint venture.

Bitcoin Well will provide digital currency services and licensing, compliance strategy and required Know Your Customer processes. GPG will provide real estate services, licensing and strategy.

“I canʼt wait to begin working with GPG,” said Adam OʼBrien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well.

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.

“Working with GPG is an exciting look at how the bitcoin infrastructure we’ve built can scale. We have the pieces in place to help set the stage to help global industries adopt bitcoin. It’s exciting to see real estate being one of the first.”

Officials with GPG say they welcome the agreement.

“As a brokerage that facilitates buying and selling houses with cryptocurrency, we couldnʼt be happier to be partnering with Bitcoin Well on this venture.” said Nathan Singh, managing partner of Greater Property Group.

“The applications for cryptocurrency in real estate are limitless, and we look forward to bringing that investment power and flexibility to more and more transactions and agents from coast to coast.”

The completion of the joint venture agreement is expected in the first quarter of 2022.

Bitcoin Well is the first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM company in the world and is traded on the TSX.V under the ticker BTCW.V

Publisher’s Note: Bitcoin Well is an advertising client of Western Standard New Media Corp.

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Calgary lawyer applauds Shell’s reversal of vax mandate

“The woke thing to do right now is bring in these mandates. It has nothing to do with science or safety,” said lawyer James Kitchen.

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In the wake of Shell Canada temporarily removing its mandatory vaccine policy at its Scotford site in Alberta, Calgary lawyer James Kitchen called it a “good and lawful” move.

Kitchen — a civil litigation lawyer focused on constitutional rights, human rights, and health freedom — represents a number of clients in the oil and gas sector, including CNRL staffer Naomi Smart who was the first employee dismissed without cause for refusing to adhere to the mandatory vaccine policy.

“There are two potential things happening here,” Kitchen told the Western Standard in reference to Shell’s decision to change its vaccine policy at the Scotford site.

“Either Shell is concerned with defending themselves legally — as the vaccines have little to no effect on transmission — or, there are decent human beings (who) run Shell who are looking at the science and they realize this is the sensible thing to do.”

Kitchen said Shell could be “showing some good business sense” and now, after “spending all this money and realizing nothing we do will stop it (the spread of COVID-19),” they are looking to get back to work.

“The woke thing to do right now is bring in these mandates. It has nothing to do with science or safety,” said Kitchen.

When asked if the move from Shell to reverse its vaccination policy might affect the outcome of current legal cases — including some of his own — Kitchen said he’s doubtful.

“Generally speaking, the court doesn’t care. The industry does what it wants so in a strictly legal sense, no. But in a broader sense, it does matter,” said Kitchen.  

“It’s like a band-wagon effect,” he said adding if other companies follow suit, “it could give pause and change course for policymakers.”

“I don’t expect others to follow, but I’m hopeful,” said Kitchen.

Kitchen applauded Shell for what he called, “the most reasonable, lawful positions I’ve seen in a long time.

“They have chosen not to be willfully ignorant of what is good, right and lawful and have chosen against coercion and tyranny,” said Kitchen.

“I hope it’s a harbinger of things to come.”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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