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Black Entrepreneur Support Announcement: Well Intentioned but not Black and White

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“There shall be maintained in the Department an Indian Register in which shall be recorded the name of every person who is entitled to be registered as an Indian under this Act.”

– Subsection 5(1) of the Indian Act (Canada)

In the tax and business community, we are used to seeing targeted government programs for various groups to provide support. Examples include (but are not limited to) support for:

  • Low income
  • Seniors
  • Students
  • Young families
  • Single parents
  • Northern Residents
  • Farming and Fishing
  • Technology sector
  • Investment in Environment-friendly areas
  • etc.

The above list are described usually by specific definitions of what the terms mean. Age, industry type, geographic location, education status, marital status, dependant status, energy consumption/efficiency, etc.

We occasionally see other support for things like (again, not an all inclusive list)

  • Women in business
  • Small businesses
  • People with Disabilities
  • Indigenous supports

Require a little more clarification of the definitions on gender vs sex, size of business (number of staff, amount of revenue, etc), ownership, disabilities, and of course an example I led with – a definition of ethnic background.

So the recent announcement of creating additional support for “Black Entrepreneurs” while the intent would be to be help those that need it – the definitions are yet to be determined – which is where the problem lies.

I started this article by quoting from legislation called the Indian Act. This legislation is far from perfect, has many problems, not the least of which is the creation of a list of a type of people.

However, as flawed as the legislation is, it has attempted to create a definition of what an Indian (the word defined in Subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act) is.

Canada does not have a “Black Register” or a list of “Black-status” individuals. It does not have a legal definition of the word “Black”.

Now please don’t take things out of context.

I applaud anything that will help small business owners, and hope that this program will work as well. However, with my experience in tax legislation and interpretation I can already see the problems that can arise when layman words are used instead of legally defined terms.

What classifies as a “Black-owned Business” or a “Black Entrepreneur” for this program? This has yet to be defined.

In a country as diverse as Canada, we have many different backgrounds from all over the world living side-by-side in (relative) “peace” (by comparison to other conflict regions in the world).

But what does it mean to be “Black” for the purposes of this program?

Now I know that I am not likely to meet the future legislated definition of what it means to be “Black”. I’m of european descent on both sides, as far back (that I know of), and I’m sure the announcement by the government is not intending for me to get this support as an entrepreneur.

There may be simplicity in those situations that are, like me, of 100% “non-Black descent”. But, like the Indian Act has tried to do – and has been challenged in court for decades – it is not that easy to define someone’s ethnic background.

How do I advise my business-owning client, that has one “Black parent”, and one “White parent”? Do they qualify for the program because they have one “Black parent” – or do they get disqualified because they have one “White parent”?

What about one grandparent?

How far back to we look? Great-Grandparents? Does ancestral place of birth matter? etc.

How will they assess eligibility?

Is it solely based on skin pigment? How would that be fair to those that may otherwise meet the criteria, but don’t look “Black”?

Will there be blood tests?

I know you are thinking to yourself, ‘Cory, that’s pretty extreme’ … you’re right and that is my point.

I really do want this program to succeed, and I will help my clients that qualify for it to get it, but do you have a concrete suggestion for how to define what “Black” actually means for this program?

Every government program has the devil in the details, and without a clear definition of what a “Black Entrepreneur” is, we can expect the administrators and financial institutions implementing such a program to be in a nightmare from the beginning.

We’ve already seen the problems with the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) when they expanded the program but went away from defined terms like amount of 2019 payroll, and moved towards subjective terms like “non-deferrable expenses”.

When you open things up to subjective interpretation, things become less clear and you end up with a lot of “grey area” as a layer of complexity not wanted.

The Indian Act has been around since 1876 as a combining of the Gradual Civilization Act (1857) and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869).

Scholars more intelligent than myself have battled with this flawed piece of legislation but this is the closest we have in Canada to a prior government attempt to define a race of people.

I want support for entrepreneurs that need it, however when my client asks me on whether or not they qualify for this vague announcement I want to be able to give them a simple “Black” or “White” answer.

Note: I used “quotation marks” throughout this commentary to emphasize the lack of a standard legal definition for any of these terms.

Cory G. Litzenberger, CPA, CMA, CFP, C.Mgr is the founder of CGL Strategic Business & Tax Advisors (CGLtax.ca). Cory is an advocate for small business; converts legislation into layman terms; and provides Canadian tax advisory services to other CPA firms and their clients across Canada.

Biography of Cory G. Litzenberger, CPA, CMA, CFP, C.Mgr can be found here.

CEO | Director, Canadian Tax Advisory CGL Strategic Business & Tax AdvisorsWith the Income Tax Act always by his side on his smart-phone, Cory has taken tax-nerd to a whole other level. His background in strategic planning, tax-efficient corporate reorganizations, business management, and financial planning bring a well-rounded approach to assist private corporations and their owners increase their wealth through the strategies that work best for them.An entrepreneur himself, Cory started CGL with the idea that he wanted to help clients adapt to the ever-changing tax and economic environment and increase their wealth through optimizing the use of tax legislation coupled with strategic business planning and financial analysis.His relaxed blue-collar approach in a traditionally white-collar industry can raise a few eyebrows, but in his own words: “People don’t pay me for my looks. My modeling career ended at birth.”More info: https://www.CGLtax.ca/Litzenberger-Cory.html

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Alberta

History of Red Deer’s Second Courthouse

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It has been witness to a great many events and stories in the 90 years it has stood on the corner of Ross Street and 49th Avenue in Red Deer.

The Gaetz Company building as seen in 1912. It was the courthouse for the region from 1916-1931. It is the current site of Mason Martin Homes. Canada’s first female juror served in this courthouse in 1922.  Photo courtesy City of Red Deer Archives photo.

As the solidly constructed anchor for both provincial and the Court of Queens Bench for 52 years, this sturdy structure has also been a sanctuary for artists, the setting for movie productions and most recently home to numerous professional offices. It also was the backdrop for the last murder trial in Alberta which saw the defendant sentenced and hanged under capital punishment in the province.

Construction of the new courthouse well underway. City of Red Deer Archives photo P2610

This readily recognizable icon celebrated the anniversary of its official opening earlier this month and is showing no signs of retiring any time soon.

View of the Lyndall Limestone columns in the Palladian Style entrance. Photo by Duane Rolheiser.

This was the second courthouse for the steadily expanding central Alberta city. The earlier one had opened in 1916 after having been converted from a coverall factory. Talk about being adaptive and creative!

Construction of the “new” courthouse was significant for many reasons. The Great Depression was in full swing so this project provided a much-needed injection of both money and jobs into the community along with a sense of pride that such a fine building would bring to the region.

Brick exterior with Lyndall Limestone detailing. Photo by Duane Rolheiser

This would be the last courthouse built in the province until the 1950s, the final version  of a series of Alberta courthouses built in the classical revival style. Both Wetaskiwin and Medicine Hat received similar structures during this era.

Testament to the quality of the design and materials used in construction of the building is the fact that it remains steadfast after more than 8 decades of use.

Constructed using hot riveted steel beams, brick and mortar, then graced with pillars shaped from the legendary Lyndall Limestone from Manitoba, this grand historical resource will stand for a great many more years to come.

Original 1912 era boiler. Converted from coal to natural gas.
Photo by Duane Rolheiser.

In the spirit of the type of practicality and resourcefulness often seen during the depression, heating for the building would be provided by a boiler built in 1912 and  repurposed from a ship!

It was converted from coal burning to natural gas in 1949 and has since been replaced by modern, efficient boilers yet it still remains in the building as evidence of a different era.

Every building of a certain vintage usually carries a story or two about otherworldly spirits or energies. Why not the old Courthouse? It was thought that the ghost of Robert Raymond Cook inhabited the building.

On one particular evening, the caretaker for the courthouse was heading into the boiler room to grab some tools. When he flicked on the lights, they popped briefly and went dark. Despite this, the caretaker walked alongside the boiler in the direction of his tools when suddenly he was slapped in the face by an unexpected soft force! Was it the apparition of the hanged murderer?

When he had regained his composure a time later, the caretaker investigated the boiler room once more to discover the source of the slap in the dark. A frightened pigeon had flown up in his face when startled in the boiler room!

Judge bench in the original courtroom. Photo by Duane Rolheiser

This magnificent building was the home of the judicial branch of the province for the Red Deer region from 1931 to 1983 when its replacement was constructed just down Ross Street to the east.

A law office has made good use of the original architecture. Photo by Duane Rolheiser.

The courthouse was the venue for a great many legal tales over the years but probably none more famous than the 1959 murder trial for 21 year old Robert Raymond Cook of Stettler, AB who was accused of murdering all 7 members of his family in a most violent manner.

RCMP mugshot of Robert Raymond Cook, 1959. Photo used with permission by Legal Archives Society of Alberta.

His trial began on November 30th, 1959 and Cook was found guilty and sentenced to hang for his crimes. His defense appealed the conviction and a second trial was held in Edmonton but his conviction was upheld on June 20th, 1960.

On November 14, 1960, Robert Raymond Cook was hanged. His death sentence was the last ever carried out in the province of Alberta.

the actual witness bench where Robert Raymond Cook would have sat Photos by Duane Rolheiser.

Numerous books were written about this trial as the murders captivated and horrified the population who followed the course of the investigation and trials.

Even a dramatic play was created, called “The End of the Rope”, reenacting this historic trial which was developed and was even staged in the actual courtroom where the all too real drama actually took place all those years ago.

exterior of the courthouse while it was home to the Community Arts Centre in the 1980s. Photo courtesy Red Deer Archives.

In 1983, the  building was sold to the city of Red Deer for a dollar and turned into the Old Courthouse Community Arts Centre. The grand structure housed painters and potters among numerous artistic pursuits for 18 years

An artist displaying his works during a Christmas arts fair in the courthouse, 1987. Photos courtesy City of Red Deer Archives.

The old courthouse has seen real life dramas and reenactments of legal dramas including being the location for filming  scenes from the TV Movie, “While Justice Sleeps” starring Cybil Shepherd in 1994.

Even a dramatic one-man play was created by Aaron Coates called “The End of the Rope” in 2003, re-enacting this historic trial. It was developed and staged in the actual courtroom where the all too real drama actually took place all those years ago. Cook’s lawyer, David MacNaughton even answered questions from the crowd after the performance.

Promotional ad for the TV movie “While Justice Sleeps” starring Cybil Shepherd. Photo from IMDB

The old courthouse made its most recent transformation in 2001 when it was purchased by Jim Dixon and Dick McDonell.

Interior details.
Photos by Duane Rolheiser.

The new owners invested close to a quarter of a million dollars in upgrading the building including installation of new boilers, restored doors, energy efficient windows and new flooring  throughout. 1930s era lighting was sourced to replace fluorescent fixtures, giving the rejuvenated structure a proper historical feel.

Today this 90-year-old icon of downtown Red Deer proudly carries on as the home to numerous professional organizations from lawyers to architects and with its new owners and numerous upgrades, this beautiful structure should be proudly welcoming people to downtown for a great many more years to come.

Red Deer’s old courthouse sits as the centrepiece of Red Deer’s historic downtown and is celebrating its 90th birthday. Come spend some time downtown. Visit the city’s unique Ghost Collection, many of which are within a few blocks of the Old Courthouse.  For more information on leasing opportunities in this beautiful building, please email Davin Kemshead or phone 403-318-6479.  

 

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Central Alberta

Evaluation Assistant – Part-time Casual

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Evaluation Assistant – Part-time Casual

The Evaluation Assistant will be part of the Evaluation Team at the Red Deer Primary Care Network (RDPCN) working under the direct supervision of the Evaluator. The main responsibilities include data collection, data entry, as well as supporting both analysis and reporting for a broad spectrum of RDPCN programs and services. The successful candidate should be competent at working both independently and in a team environment; accurately managing data, and contributing to high quality reports and other deliverables.

Key Strengths of Candidates;

  • Bachelor degree in social sciences or health-related area
  • Experience in applied research or evaluation, quantitative and/or qualitative (minimum 2
  • years preferred)
  • Excellent command of Microsoft Excel, Word, Power Point and Outlook
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Detail orientated and organized
  • Able to work flexible hours with some evenings
  • and/or weekends.
  • This position is part-time casual, with varying hours

Act now. APPLY

Submit your curriculum vitae to [email protected] (with “Evaluation Assistant” in the subject line), or by fax to 403.342.9502. A full job description can be found at https://rdpcn.pcnpmo.ca/Careers.

Closing date: April 19, 2021 or until a successful candidate is found. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

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