The News Rundown
- Our podcast this week comes to you after Canada Day, the first Canada Day since 2019 that people have celebrated mostly normally.
- People across the country have been waiting and hoping for things to return to normal and they mostly have this year.
- The question that has come up from some, including the Prime Minister, is whether or not Canada Day should be divisive and what our flag should mean.
- There has been discussion since the convoy protests in February about whether or not the flag has had its national symbolism diminished.
- Justin Trudeau said, “Today, we celebrate the place we all call home. I know for some, our country’s historic wrongs can make that difficult. But while we can’t change history, we can put in the work to build a better future; one that reflects our values of hope, resilience, kindness, respect, and generosity.”
- He continued, “Today is an opportunity for us all to recommit ourselves to those values – values that the Maple Leaf represents. Because our flag is more than a symbol, it’s also a promise. A promise of opportunity. A promise of safety for those fleeing violence and war. And a promise of a better life.”
- Numerous media outlets from the Ottawa Citizen to CBC to the Toronto Star featured articles and columnists talking about the “debate” or “tug of war” surrounding the flag.
- But what these columnists fail to realize is that those involved in protests were using the flag as their symbol since they were protesting for their own vision of a better life and commitment to Canadian values.
- The Ottawa Citizen piece in particular talks about how the Canadian flag for some now represents a symbol of patriotism like those seen in the January 6, 2021 riots in the United States.
- This is an interesting angle because the Canadian Flag always represents Canadian patriotism, it’s just not on display that often.
- For many because of the protests we saw in January and February the flag has become a symbol that causes unsettling feelings.
- Continuing from the Ottawa Citizen we’re left with a mish-mash of words describing that feeling: “the sight of Canada’s flag, for many, is accompanied by the sickly feeling that comes with the knowledge that the core beliefs we’ve always recognized as inherently Canadian are not so universal and that the beliefs many are noisily “defending” and the loyalty professed by these groups are not what Pearson hoped the new flag would inspire.”
- This is one long run-on sentence. A run-on sentence that needs to be read 2-3 times before understanding what the author is going for.
- Typically the best and most resonating points are made quickly and in a few words.
- The “word salad” approach as it has been called tells us that what the author saw earlier this year broke their vision of what Canada is.
- And that might be true but to figure out why that’s the case we need to get to the bottom of what’s been happening in our country.
- We live in a society where people are increasingly siloed and the views of the other side can often seem alien.
- But if you strip back what was said, even with the Prime Minister’s statement this year, the universal goal is that the Canadian flag represents us as a country and our values.
- The question of debate around the flag is not new and has always been a question when it comes to what Canada stands for.
- For media outlets to act like it’s a new effect and amplify stories of the flag as some say hurting their heart, only amplifies the problem of division that so many see in this country.
- At the end of the day the country is divided because of a government of 7 years pushing people and regions against one another while the media amplified their divisions.
- At the same time with Canada Day now mostly behind us we must remember that we all share the same flag and people on both sides have greatly taken for granted what we have here in Canada.
- Instead people on both sides should be cheerful and grateful for what we have instead of honing in on the divisions of the past.
- After five years in the role, John Horgan announced on Tuesday afternoon he plans to step down as premier of British Columbia and has asked his governing party, the NDP, to hold a leadership convention later this year.
- Speaking to reporters in Vancouver, where he has been attending a cabinet retreat, Horgan said he wanted to address the speculation surrounding his future as premier. The announcement comes amid Horgan's recent bout with cancer and a controversial project involving the Royal B.C. Museum.
- Horgan said while he is cancer-free and his health is good, his energy "flags as the days go by." Recent conversations with his wife also had him reflect on what he wanted to do, he said. "I wish I had the energy to do more, but I don't. I get tired and I come home and I fall asleep."
- Horgan acknowledges that "There has been endless speculation as a result of my recent battle with cancer about what my plans would be. I want to put the speculation to rest so we can get back to what really matters, and that's the issues before British Columbians."
- He will remain as premier for the time being and says he has asked the president of the B.C. NDP to work with the party's governing body to select a date in the fall for a leadership convention.
- Horgan said: "This has been the thrill of my life to be the premier of British Columbia and I will be the premier of British Columbia tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that."
- As chair of the Council of the Federation, a body made up of the premiers from Canada's 13 provinces and territories, Horgan said he plans to hold the federal government to account on resolving the country's public health crisis, namely the Canada Health Transfer that is provided to provinces and territories for health care. The next meeting of the council is set for July 11 and 12 in Victoria.
- Horgan said during Tuesday's news conference. "The prime minister committed to me that his team would be there to have that conversation and to make progress, and I am going to hold him to that."
- Horgan, 62, has served as premier of B.C. since 2017 and became leader of the B.C. NDP in 2014. In November, he announced that he would start radiation treatment after a cancerous growth was found in his throat. The premier had previously undergone successful treatment for bladder cancer in his 40s. In January, Horgan said he had completed his recent cancer treatment after going through 35 rounds of radiation.
- As early as May, Horgan said he would not rule out a third term in office, even though his tenure has not been without its challenges. Last week, Horgan announced that the province would "go back to the drawing board" after a public outcry involving the Royal B.C. Museum. The province had previously released thousands of pages of documents supporting its decision to replace the museum for approximately $800 million.
- When Horgan does indeed step down, we'll do a retrospective on his tenure as BC Premier, and a critical look at whether his policies and government have bettered BC and its people.
- Now of course, the speculation turns to who will lead the BC NDP, and therefore the province, after Horgan does step down. Names of almost a dozen potential successors to Horgan are being bandied about including Attorney General David Eby, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen, Infrastructure Minister Bowinn Ma, and Finance Minister Selina Robinson.
- David Black, an associate professor in communication and culture at Royal Roads University, says that the next leader will need to engage both urban and rural voters like Horgan and previous BC Liberals Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark had done.
- When we get more information on when the convention will be held, or to whoever decides to throw their hat into the ring, we will be here to provide full coverage.
- The financial results for Alberta’s 2021-22 fiscal year are in and the province made a $3.9b surplus.
- With that the surplus for 2022-23 that was forecast to be under a billion will be much much larger.
- This is of course due to the increase in oil prices that at budget time were forecast to be $46/barrel but instead were $77/barrel over the year. WTI oil prices currently sit at $108.
- With this the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust fund has been expanded to $20b. The fund is an investment savings fund which produces income to support programs in Alberta.
- The debt has been paid down by $1.3b.
- Debt payments have been reduced by $123m.
- And there’s a ton of options going forward of what could be around the corner with the amount of revenue that the province sees.
- It’s also important to note that 2021-22 came in over budget in terms of expenditures.
- The province spent $2.5b more than was budgeted for.
- The province is being very cautious in that fortunes could reverse as quickly as they turned positive.
- Finance Minister Jason Nixon said that, “The government is dedicating itself (to) not be on the rollercoaster and instead to be more strategic with these large windfalls and resource revenue.”
- The province also gained $2b by partially revising previously expected losses around the Sturgeon refinery.
- The Sturgeon Refinery deal was announced when Energy Minister Sonya Savage made decisions to reverse the refinery agreements because the government viewed the contracts as restrictive.
- In particular the province wanted the ability to renegotiate financing and have a say in the operations and cost controls around the refinery.
- The Alberta government was previously paying 75% of all costs associated with the refinery and the changes made saved this $2b.
- This represents more than half of the recorded surplus.
- There is an impressive opportunity here if the current financial trends continue to see surpluses in the 10s of billions over the next couple years.
- This offers a chance to do practically anything in the province.
- There will be those who call for more spending and there will be those who call for blanket cuts.
- But the province also has to be creative in terms of how it saves the money going forward and should consider using the surpluses as an opportunity to build a warchest to disconnect the province from the energy cycle.
- There’s also nothing off the table with UCP leadership contender Rebecca Schulz calling on the province to re-index income tax brackets to account for inflation.
- Travis Toews touted himself as the candidate responsible for this performance.
- Brian Jean announced that royalties will not need to be paid on any barrel of oil refined in Alberta potentially lowering gas prices by another 15 cents/litre.
- The province says that they still intend to strike a panel this year to review revenue sources for the government to determine what should be done to ensure we don’t end up in a situation like we saw previously when energy prices tumbled.
- Barring the dark times of the past two years, lack of extra pipelines, and a federal government hostile to natural resource projects the province would be booming.
- With these resource revenues it’s also entirely possible that an NDP led government would’ve balanced the budget as well with their past fiscal projections.
- The May StatsCan job numbers show that 69% of all new jobs in Canada were created in Alberta while we represent 12% of the population.
- Unemployment and bankruptcies are down. Housing and business starts are up. Wages are up. Rig counts are up. By all marks Alberta is doing well.
- This is exactly the mandate that Jason Kenney and the UCP promised in 2019 yet the actions taken by the UCP government were not enough for the grass roots to keep Kenney on.
- By all accounts the government did what they said they were going to do and politically have the economic data to back up their decisions.
- Going forward it is going to be important for the UCP leadership contenders to remember that this is the position we are in and doing anything to stray from the mainstream of Albertans is going to be dangerous.
- The typical media establishment and some in Alberta see the province as this conservative heartland to experiment with but in reality, the cities of Edmonton and Calgary mean that any government in Alberta needs to take a moderate approach and not swing too far left or right.
- This budgeting story also shares ramifications for other provinces and the federal government as well showing how it’s important to treat the economy as an engine based on psychology, infuse it with the right policies, and time them with global events to make the best of our situation no matter how precarious it may seem.
- At a time when inflation is hitting hard, many governments in the Western world are rolling out policies that aim to make life more affordable for everyday people. In Canada, not too many governments are following that trend. The federal government of course is not playing ball, as we've said many times before that their policies are specifically crafted to keep gas prices high, and the debt spending while relying on the housing market to keep GDP high has artificially propped the economy up all while prices surge.
- In BC, instead of tax relief, we get another tax just got added to the list, this time on goods bought through online marketplaces such as Amazon. Starting on July 1st, the B.C. government has made changes that require these online marketplaces that have annual gross revenues of more than $10,000 to collect the provincial sales tax on goods and services sold on their sites.
- In doing so, it shifts the responsibility to companies like eBay and Amazon to collect the PST, rather than the small businesses that may use a marketplace facilitator site to sell their products. In addition, these marketplaces are also being required by the province to charge PST to individual sellers for use of their services, such as help with listing the sales of goods, advertising, warehousing and payment collection.
- The B.C. government expects the PST rule changes will generate an additional $100 million in revenues this fiscal year and $120 million the following year. The Retail Council of Canada says the move to treat online marketplaces the same as brick-and-mortar stores makes sense because it puts businesses on an equal footing, but cautions that BC's businesses may become more uncompetitive as a result.
- The addition of the PST for services purchased by sellers in B.C., often small businesses, will simply add costs for consumers here and make local sellers uncompetitive as other jurisdictions in Canada have not introduced a similar measure.
- Karl Littler, senior vice-president of public affairs for the Retail Council of Canada said: “It doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s a new tax between a marketplace facilitator, like an Amazon or like a Best Buy or like a Facebook, and somebody who’s selling goods.”
- The council is concerned that small B.C. merchants will be paying seven per cent on these online marketplace services, irrespective of whether the end-customer is in B.C. or elsewhere. This will make them less competitive versus other businesses operating in other North American jurisdictions.
- In B.C., people who buy goods and services through online marketplaces will be charged the PST on top of the now higher-priced goods themselves, a form of double taxation, argued the retail council. As well, the changes serve as a disincentive to marketplace services to locate facilities, and thus jobs, in B.C., says the retail council.
- Werner Antweiler, a professor in the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., said having online marketplaces collect the PST on goods and services closes a loophole in taxation and helps collect tax from sellers abroad. What’s different about B.C.’s approach is the inclusion of the PST on online marketplaces services provided to online marketplace sellers, said Antweiler.
- It may be that other provinces or the federal government will follow suit, but this new rule may disadvantage online facilitators setting up in B.C., as B.C. would be hard pressed to enforce tax collection outside its own jurisdiction, even in another province.
- Antweiler says: “There is a trade-off. While the economic rationale to tax all services, including online marketplace services provided to sellers, is sound, B.C. going this alone puts B.C. at a disadvantage.”
- BC going it alone is not a new thing, as Canada's westernmost province has often broken ground on innovative policies that the rest of Canada has followed on. Unfortunately, lately it seems all of those innovative policies are taxes that take more money out of people's wallets and into the hands of the government instead.
Quote of the Week
“Thank you to the ever-capable Premier John Horgan for everything you have done for British Columbia and Canada. We may have our differences, but I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated working with you to help make a difference in our provinces. I am proud to call you a friend.” - Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on Horgan’s impending retirement.
Word of the Week
Siloed - isolated from others.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: New Leaders and Taxes
Teaser: We celebrate Canada Day when the media doesn’t, BC Premier John Horgan is retiring, and Alberta posts a $3.9B surplus. Also, a new online tax in BC could make businesses uncompetitive.
Recorded Date: July 2, 2022
Release Date: July 3, 2022
Edit Notes: Pause after AB story
Podcast Summary Notes