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SLOBODIAN: ‘Let them eat cake’ Trudeau relaxes in luxury as Canada’s seniors suffer

Opposition MPs have been flooded with calls from blindsided seniors who suddenly had their GIS drastically reduced.

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Justin Trudeau earns, or more accurately, is paid about $371,000 a year.

Subtract his housing and heating costs and he’s left with only $371,000.

Canadian seniors who rely solely on Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS), are eligible to receive up to $1,830 monthly but $1,333 is the average.

Subtract housing and heating costs and they’re going through the Walmart checkout with pasta and juice crystals in their carts.

But Trudeau’s the prime minister, therefore, should be well compensated, you say. What’s the point? The irony.

Seniors built this country.

Trudeau, a professed member of the Xi Jinping Chinese Communist Party fan club, is destroying it.

Trudeau’s salary increased 1.8%, about $6,400 a year, on April 1.

But don’t think of accusing him of being apathetic to the plight of seniors needing dentures and drugs while struggling to survive the rising costs of pretty much everything.

This month, his Liberals granted seniors a hefty $8.04 increase on monthly OAS.

However, these generous Liberal souls have their limits.

The $8.04 increase was more palatable to them than a proposed $110-a-month boost to OAS benefits proposed in March.

A motion in the House of Commons was supported by the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois and NDP. 

The Liberals voted against it. The same Liberals who cast a nay vote got the 1.8% hike, bringing the base salary of MPs to $182,000 and $269,800 for cabinet ministers.

When COVID-19 created increased expenses and lost income, seniors unable to work to supplement their pensions were among the Canadians who received the monthly $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Countless seniors weren’t warned about clawbacks now leaving them in dire circumstances.

There were calls for clarification on whether CERB payments would be optioned out of calculations for single, widowed or divorced seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), a monthly payment based on income below $18,984. Service Canada dallied, saying it was waiting for clarification

Canada Revenue Agency assured Canadians that repayment of CERB doled out to those later deemed ineligible wouldn’t be an unfair burden on low-income households and they’d create a repayment plan based on income.

“The payment arrangement parameters have been expanded to give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their ability to pay,” read a statement.

“If an individual is unable to repay ineligible CERB amounts, we will evaluate their situation and follow-up when their financial circumstances change.”

That doesn’t apply to seniors.

B.C.’s Chris Sherlock, just learned the CERB benefit he received has rendered him ineligible for the GIS until CERB is paid back.

Unable to pay his rent, he faces eviction.

“This comes as a complete shock to me. No one…warned me that I would be losing my guaranteed income supplement because of this. There was nothing about having your pension cut in half for the next two years,” said Sherlock, 65.

Opposition MPs have been flooded with calls from blindsided seniors who suddenly had their GIS drastically reduced.

GIS is income tested. Emergency benefits have been factored into the previous year’s earnings. Seniors were just notified about reductions.

Sherlock, a former tree planter, didn’t earn a work pension. He supplements his income with gigs as a part-time musician, but because of COVID-19 couldn’t perform.

Now that the government reduced his GIS by nearly $500 a month, Sherlock receives $783 in combined OAS and CPP pensions.

“I’ve got no money and I can’t pay my rent.” 

Hopefully, Trudeau’s enjoying his renovated Harrington Lake summer cottage while seniors fret about losing their homes.

Let’s not forget Trudeau’s ‘let them eat cake’ attitude while he enjoys lavish vacations at taxpayer expense.

His trip to India cost $1.66 million; a visit to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas $271,000; and a Christmas vacation to Costa Rica was $200,000.

Trudeau, in a hopeless attempt to improve his image on the world stage, throws billions into World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank coffers.

In 2021, international assistance stands at $7 billion.

The Liberals gearing up for an election tried to woo the senior vote with a one-time $500 payment this month to everyone who will be 75 and over by the summer of 2022. They’re proposing a 10% boost to OAS to those over 75, a whopping $766 annual increase.

Aged 74 and under? Suffer.

Rosmarie Falk, shadow minister for seniors, didn’t make herself available for comment.

But the Conservative MP for Saskatchewan’s Battleford-Lloydminster offered the Western Standard the following statement:

“For many seniors across Canada, collecting the CERB was a financial lifeline – but the system created by the Liberal government has left them in a process mired with endless delays, confusion, and uncertainty…Canada’s seniors can’t afford to continue to be an afterthought for the Trudeau Liberals, Conservatives will continue to stand up for Canada’s seniors.”

Yup, that’s it. Hardly a fierce battle cry.

Despite Trudeau’s opulent tastes, self-indulgence and scandals, he’s amazingly got an edge in the polls.

Apparently, those who think he’s doing a swell job don’t realize they too will one day be seniors possibly at the mercy of a government that places them last on the list of priorities, then gouges them without conscience.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. She has been an investigative columnist with the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, and Alberta Report. lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pamela Bridger

    August 9, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for bringing Linda onboard. I am thoroughly enjoying her articles and investigative reports. Keep em coming!!

  2. Steven

    August 6, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Linda Slobodian’s article, in my opinion is misleading how the OAS works.

    The OAS is adjusted to reflect cost of living increases, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is done every three months. Sometimes there is an increase sometimes not reflected below.

    2020 OAS
    From Jan to Mar OAS No change $613.53
    From Apr to Jun OAS No change $613.53
    From Jul to Sep OAS No change $613.53
    From Oct to Dec OAS increased $613.53 to $614.14 = .61c p/m

    2021 OAS
    From Jan to Mar OAS increased $614.12 to $615.37 = $1.25 p/m
    From Apr to Jun OAS increased $615.37 to $618.45 = $3.08 p/m
    From Jul to Sep OAS increased $618.45 to $626.49 = $8.04 p/m due to inflation costs !!
    From Oct to Dec OAS to come

    https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/old-age-security/payments.html

    The Guaranteed Income Supplement is about “useless” to low income pensioners with it’s low amounts determined on it’s web sight. As a single pensioner your income has to be less than $18,984 or $1,582 p/m to receive the GIS. Illegal Migrants to Canada through Roxham Rd. are well treated by Trudeau while Canada’s seniors get his finger.

    https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/old-age-security/guaranteed-income-supplement/benefit-amount.html

  3. Left Coast

    August 6, 2021 at 11:10 am

    It has become apparent to any Canook with more than 3 functioning Brain Cells that our lifelong Trust Funder famous last name Crime Minister is an abject fool and completely incompetent.
    For 6 years he has been the “Dumbest” Leader on the friggin Planet, only to be moved to No. 2 by the China Puppet new US President Senile Joe Biden. Senile Joe had already brought in a Million Illegal Aliens from all over the World, over 10% of them with Active Covid Cases.

    The Question now is . . . Will Western Civilization survive these abject Morons who are our leaders?

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Opinion

Poll shows Tories led the pack into Monday Senate election, but PPC support doubles from September

42% said that they plan to vote for the Tory slate, 18% for the PPC slate, 24% for independent candidates, and 17% for a combination of candidates across parties and independents.

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A Mainstreet Research poll conducted exclusively for the Western Standard shows the three Conservative Party of Canada candidates for Alberta Senate nominee are on track to win Monday’s election, but the PPC vote share set to double its Alberta results from the September federal election.

Among decided respondents to the poll who said that they intended to vote, 42% said that they plan to vote for the Tory slate, 18% for the PPC slate, 24% for independent candidates, and 17% for a combination of candidates across parties and independents.

Albertans can vote for three candidates on their Senate nominee ballot across all parties. Of Albertans surveyed in the poll, 67% said that they intended to vote.

Source: Mainstreet Research, Western Standard

Including undecided voters however, the Tory lead is less daunting. Fully 28% of respondents indicated that they didn’t know how they would vote.

Mainstreet President and CEO Quito Maggi said while he “expects a slate of Conservatives to be elected”, he “was surprised at the number of people who were going to select a mix.”

The poll was conducted between October 12-13, 2021, among a sample of 935 adults with automated telephone interviews using both landlines and cellphones. The results are weighted for demographic and geographic balance and contains a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.2% at a 95% confidence level.

In addition to the full CPC and PPC slates, seven independents are on the ballot, some with ties to leftist parties.

The Liberals and NDP have not traditionally contested Senate elections, however the Liberals did run a candidate in Alberta’s first race for the upper chamber in 1989, which was won by the Reform Party’s Stan Waters.

Until 2021, all previous Senate votes were held between provincial parties, however the Alberta UCP government changed this practice in recent legislation, making it a federal contest.

Stan Water’s win in 1989 was actually fought under the banner of the “Reform Party of Alberta”, which was registered for the sole purpose of allowing the Reformers to contest the race against the Progressive Conservatives.

The change from provincial to federal parties for the Senate election excluded the Wildrose Independence Party and Alberta Party from the ability to run candidates.

The change is likely to buoy Tories fortunes, with the federal Conservatives vastly ahead of the Alberta UCP in all opinion polls.

The winners of the Senate election are unlikely to take their seats in the red chamber anytime soon however, as Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that he will continue fill vacancies with his own handpicked appointments to sit as largely unofficial liberal independents.

Federal Senate voter intention falls largely along provincial party allegiances with some notable exceptions.

Among provincial UCP supporters, 75% intend to vote for the federal Tories, 7% for the PPC, 3% for independents, and 4% for a combination of candidates.

Among Alberta NDP supporters, 5% plan to vote for the Tory slate, 2% for the PPC, 34% for independents, and 16% for a combination, with a huge 44% undecided.

Without a federal cousin party, 43% of Wildrose voters plan to vote for the PPC slate, 20% for the Tories, 6% for independents, and 12% for a combination. A relatively high proportion of 19% are still undecided.

The Tory slate is strongest in Calgary (33%) and in the rural north (36%), and weakest in Edmonton (20%) and the rural south (32%).

The PPC slate was strongest in the rural north (20%), rural south and Edmonton (both 15%), and weakest in Calgary (7%).

There are two Alberta vaccancies in the Senate.

Hoping to fill those positions are the Conservative Party of Canada’s Erika Barootes, Pam Davidson, and Mykhailo Martyniouk, and the People’s Party of Canada’s Kelly Lorencz, Nadine Wellwood, and Anne McCormack.

Independents on the ballot are Rick Bonnett, Doug Horner, Duncan Kinney, Jeff Nielsen, Karina Pillay, Chad Jett, and Sunil Sookram.

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Opinion

EDITORIAL: On Monday, vote ‘Yes’ to end equalization

“A big ‘yes’ vote to kill equalization will not end those payments overnight, and frankly, they are unlikely to yield any reform whatsoever without a clear “or else” option for Ottawa and Quebec to ponder; but without it, we are endorsing the status quo of an exploitative federal system that is unworthy of Canada’s history.”

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Jointly written by the Editorial Board of the Western Standard

Albertans are a generous and patriotic people, but the exploitive nature of Canada’s fiscal federalism is turning many away from an unquestioning salute of the maple leaf. 

Since Canada’s centennial year in 1967, Alberta has contributed a net $600 billion more to the rest of Canada than it has received back in transfers and spending, despite our relatively small size.

Albertans make a net contribution of $15-27 billion in an average year, over $3 billion of which goes toward the $20 billion equalization program. Albertans pay another$3 billion (net) in the Canada Health Transfer and Canada Social Transfer more than is returned back to the province. 

All in, the average family of four in Alberta pays $20,000 a year in extra taxes that are sent directly to Quebec and other recipient provinces, after being laundered in Ottawa.

Many Albertans may not have minded this kind of charity in good times, but in tough times, Canada has not been there for Alberta beyond token trinkets. When Alberta needs to build pipelines to tidewater in order to keep producing the wealth that gets sent to others, many of those others stand in the way. 

Quebec – which receives more than $12 billion a year – has rejected the construction of pipelines that would transport what its premier calls “dirty oil” across her territory. The federal government – which is supposed to be the guarantor of the free movement of goods, services, and capital across all of Canada – has barely lifted a finger. In fact, the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois leaders have all promised voters in Quebec that no pipeline would be constructed there without their support. 

And what constitutes support? In British Columbia, the clear majority of people support pipeline construction, but governments have kowtowed to a vocal, radical minority. 

This is because Alberta simply doesn’t matter politically. Our economy is big enough to pay the bills, but our population is too small to decide elections. 

Alberta is underrepresented in the House of Commons and wildly discriminated against in the Senate, where we hold almost half the seats of tiny New Brunswick, but have twice the population of all four Atlantic provinces combined. When we try to elect our own senators, the federal government more often-than-not ignores the democratic will of Albertans. 

It’s time to fight back. The first big step in this is voting ‘yes’ to remove equalization from the Canadian constitution on October 18. To be clear, this will not actually result in the removal of equalization from the constitution on October 19. What it will do, however, is trigger a constitutional obligation on the part of the federal and other provincial governments to negotiate the issue, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Quebec Secession Reference case of 1998. 

In that case, the court ruled that if a clear majority of Quebecers voted ‘yes’ on a clear question of independence, then the rest of Canada would be constitutionally obliged to negotiate in good faith. Unspoken however, was the threat that in the event that the rest of Canada did not negotiate in good faith, that Quebec could make a unilateral declaration of independence; something that could only be circumvented by a military invasion of the province and the forceful deposition of its government; a prospect laughable in its improbability.

Alberta is not voting on independence however. It is voting on removing a confiscatory policy principle from the constitution. But what unspoken threat does Alberta have if the rest of Canada fails to negotiate in good faith? As yet, there is none. The Alberta government has pre-emptively taken more dramatic options off the table. This is a mistake. 

There are several organizations across Alberta that have done excellent work making the case for abolition, reform, and alternatives, including Fairness Alberta, the Alberta Institute, Project Confederation, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, FightEqualization.ca, and others. 

Missing in the campaign was Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. He has wisely decided to keep a low profile, knowing that his unpopularity could jeopardize a successful ‘yes’ vote. While some Albertans may wish to send the premier a message by voting ‘no’ to what they perceive as his pet project, this would be a grievous error. It would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. 

The project of an equalization referendum goes back well before Kenney even considered going into provincial politics, to a report from the old Wildrose Party’s Equalization Fairness Panel in 2016. 

There are positive signs that Albertans are putting the fight for a fair deal above partisan politics. A Mainstreet Research poll conducted for the Western Standard found that a 66% majority of Albertans intend to vote ‘yes’ on October 18. That poll saw that a majority in every region of Alberta – Edmonton, Calgary, rural north, and rural south – all intend to cast a ballot for change to the status quo. And while a majority of NDP voters intend to vote for the status quo, a sizeable minority of them intend to break ranks and vote with the rest of Alberta. 

A big ‘yes’ vote to kill equalization will not end those payments overnight, and frankly, they are unlikely to yield any reform whatsoever without a clear “or else” option for Ottawa and Quebec to ponder; but without it, we are endorsing the status quo of an exploitative federal system that is unworthy of Canada’s history. 

On October 18, we encourage Albertans to send Ottawa a message. On October 19, we encourage Albertans to make sure that our provincial government doesn’t let Ottawa forget it. 

Jointly written by the Editorial Board of the Western Standard

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Opinion

MORGAN: We can no longer trust the government’s COVID death statistics

“After the Alberta government lied about the cause of death of young Nathaneal Spitzer, we have good reason not to trust what they are telling us.”

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When it was announced a 14-year-old boy had succumbed to COVID-19 in Alberta, the tone from Dr. Deena Hinshaw was somber. The mainstream media dutifully reported the death of a child and how this means the virus clearly threatens us all, not just the old and vulnerable.

The response from COVID-19 lockdown proponents and the NDP was morbidly welcoming, in a sense. None of them would celebrate the death of a child, but they could not contain their excitement they now had evidence to indicate that COVID-19 was deadly to children. Their moment of glory was short-lived.

Simone Spitzer is the older sister of the child who passed away. She was horrified her brother’s death was being used as a political football and she took to Facebook to call it out. Spitzer exposed her brother Nathanael had been in the hospital for months and had passed away from terminal brain cancer, not COVID-19, as had been reported by government and media alike.

Spitzer’s post went viral on social media, but remained entirely ignored by the mainstream media. When the Western Standard began reporting on the AHS misrepresentation of the cause of Nathanael’s death, Hinshaw was forced to apologize and retract the statement.

The apologies, tweet deletions, and retractions then began to come in fast. NDP leader Rachel Notley had ghoulishly used Nathanael’s death as a hammer with which to attack the UCP. Notley had even attacked AHS for their daring to have mentioned “other complicating factors” when they announced the death. She dismissed those “other complicating factors” as an excuse from the UCP as a way of cleaning the blood off of their hands. She wanted to make it sound as if a perfectly healthy child had been killed by COVID-19, and Jason Kenney was directly responsible. Notley deleted her tweets and apologized to the Spitzer family, but the damage has been done.

As we near the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t pretend any longer we don’t know much about the virus. We should recognize and be thankful healthy children are almost entirely immune to the effects of COVID-19. While kids have tested positive for the virus leading to virtual evacuations of schools, they usually demonstrate no symptoms and suffer no ill effects. Rarer still are healthy children suffering severe effects.

Since the beginning of the pandemic — out of hundreds of thousands of Albertans under the age of 19 — only one has been listed as having died of COVID-19. In light of the Spitzer debacle, the cause of that lone death has now become a legitimate question of the government.

We have to thank the Spitzer family for speaking up in this time of tragedy and mourning to call this out. We should let them grieve in peace now, but media must also pick up and carry on with the issue this brave family has exposed. We can’t trust AHS’s numbers when it comes to COVID-19 death statistics.

How many times has this happened?

Almost 3,000 deaths in Alberta have been attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. With a population of 4.6 million and during nearly two years, that is a long way from the sort of numbers the Spanish Flu posted, though our governments are acting as if today’s pandemic is just as lethal. Now we have to ask ourselves: how many of those 3,000 deaths were actually caused primarily by COVID-19?

We do know 86% of the COVID-19 deaths in Alberta had comorbidities. That statistic needs some more detail filled in if we are to interpret the data correctly. Diabetes, obesity, and asthma are serious comorbidities, but they’re also manageable conditions. COVID surely robbed people of years of life despite their having serious conditions already. We want to prevent this as much as possible of course. What we need to figure out is how many of the people who died of COVID-19 were going to die at approximately that time anyway.

How many fatalities that had been attributed to COVID-19 were cases such as Nathanael’s, where he was about to pass away regardless of a positive COVID-19 test? How many cancer patients, people with heart conditions, or pending renal failure died and were added to the list of COVID-19 deaths, despite the virus actually being a secondary or even tertiary contributor to the person’s death?

The average age of a person dying from COVID-19 has dropped from 82 years, to 79 years. This is not a disease that is prone to taking people long before their time in most cases.

We need accurate numbers as we model government responses to the pandemic. We have set aside critical rights under the Charter and have justified this based on the risk the pandemic presents to the general public. Every restriction comes with costs – both social and fiscal. We need to do a cost-benefit analysis when making policies, and we can’t do it accurately if we are not getting truthful numbers.

We have to get realistic about who’s at risk from COVID-19, as well. The fearmongering with regards to risks presented to children is reprehensible. Not every disease puts everybody at risk equally, and we can’t properly model policies to battle the disease if we don’t use accurate facts. When I finished high school at the end of the 1980s, we were all taught HIV was going to spread rapidly throughout all communities and that we would all be losing loved ones to the disease. In reality, HIV remained contained almost exclusively among the gay male and IV drug-using communities.

HIV is now considered a manageable condition and its spread is well under control. How many more could have been saved had we targeted the truly vulnerable communities rather than pretending for years the virus put everybody at risk?

There are likely a not an insignificant number of cases of mislabeled COVID-19 deaths out there. Not every family is as brave as the Spitzer’s have been and they can’t be blamed. Upon losing a loved one, nobody is eager to jump into a political hornet’s nest. Alberta needs to do a full audit of the fatalities that have been attributed to COVID-19 so far. We can release a great deal of the medical details without compromising the privacy of the victims and their families.

We already have enough distrust of the government and its motivations in this pandemic. True and full transparency in the fatality statistics will help regain some of that trust. We can then start modeling our policy responses to the pandemic based on the real risks, rather than what clearly appear to be exaggerated ones.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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