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Charlottetown cabinet retreat cost taxpayers almost half-a-million

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Ryan Thorpe

“Spending more than four hundred grand on a three-day retreat to tackle affordability is tone-deaf and unacceptable”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s three-day cabinet retreat to Prince Edward Island last summer cost taxpayers at least $412,000, according to government records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Figures contained within online proactive disclosures, discovered by the National Postincreased the total cost of the cabinet retreat to $485,196.

Trudeau and his cabinet ministers gathered at a waterfront hotel in Charlottetown, P.E.I., from Aug. 21-23, 2023. The retreat was aimed at tackling the affordability and housing crises facing Canadians.

Expenses from the retreat include $100,000 worth of hotel rooms, $22,000 spent on food and drink, and a $52,000 “banquet.”

“Spending more than four hundred grand on a three-day retreat to tackle affordability is tone-deaf and unacceptable,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Canadians don’t need politicians wasting this type of money, we need them to stop raising taxes that make life more expensive.”

At the cabinet retreat, Trudeau claimed they were “rolling up our sleeves to talk about affordability, to talk about economic growth for everyone, to talk about how we’re going to solve some of the housing challenges.”

Ministers also heard a presentation from the head of the B.C. thinktank Generation Squeeze, a leading proponent of the federal government implementing a home-equity tax. A home-equity tax would tax the money Canadians receive when selling their home.

“It seems like the Trudeau government’s only solution on affordability is to waste other people’s money flying around the country talking to each other,” Terrazzano said. “It’s a shame they don’t have offices in Ottawa, or Zoom accounts, so they could do some of this work without spending thousands of dollars.”

The records obtained by the CTF were released in response to an order paper question from member of Parliament Tracy Gray (Kelowna-Lake Country).

“Expenditures related to the cabinet retreat are as Nov. 27, 2023,” according to the records. “Some travel claims may still be outstanding. As a result, expenditures related to the cabinet retreat may increase slightly.”

The Charlottetown retreat was held nearly a year after the Trudeau government organized an earlier cabinet retreat in Vancouver, which was billed as an anti-inflation summit.

The three-day Vancouver retreat cost taxpayers more than $275,000, and saw Trudeau and his ministers drop tens of thousands of dollars at a café serving up an $88 “millionaire’s cut” steak and lobster plate.

During a press conference on the final day of the Charlottetown retreat, Trudeau acknowledged Canadians are “really worried” about the state of the country and “looking to blame anyone they can for it.”

“So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a politician,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau announced no new plans to address the affordability or housing crises during the retreat.

“So yeah, it’s not an easy time to be a taxpayer,” Terrazzano said.

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Trudeau pledges another $3 billion to Ukraine, including $4 million for ‘gender and diversity’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent Ukraine over $13.3 billion, including $4 billion in direct military assistance since 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sending another 3 billion taxpayer dollars to Ukraine, including $4 million for a “gender and diversity” initiative in the embattled country. 

On February 24, Trudeau’s office announced $3.02 billion in funding for Ukraine as it continues its war against Russia, including millions of taxpayer dollars to promote “gender-inclusive demining.” 

“Canada will provide critical financial and military support to Ukraine in 2024, including new financial support for Ukraine to meet its balance of payments and budgetary needs and stabilize its economy,” a press release promised, without explaining why it’s Canada’s role to prop up Ukraine’s economy.   

Within the 2024 funds, Trudeau promised $4 million to promote “gender-inclusive demining for sustainable futures in Ukraine.” However, the government failed to explain what gender or diversity have to do with demining, and how it is in the interest of the Canadian taxpayer to fund ideologically driven initiatives in foreign countries. 

“This project from the HALO Trust aims to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainians, including women and internally displaced persons, by addressing the threat of explosive ordnance present across vast areas of the country,” the press release said.  

“Project activities include conducting non-technical surveys and subsequent manual clearance in targeted communities; providing capacity building to key national stakeholders; and establishing a gender and diversity working group to promote gender-transformative mine action in Ukraine,” it added.  

Additionally, $1.5 million is being given to the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining to “enhance the capacity of Ukrainian mine action institutions to implement effective and gender-responsive mine action operations, develop country-appropriate information management solutions, and lead efficient mine action donor coordination platforms.”  

Since the Russia-Ukraine war began in 2022, Canada has given Ukraine over $13.3 billion, including $4 billion in direct military assistance.   

Trudeau’s ongoing funding for Ukraine comes as many Canadians are struggling to pay for basics such as food, shelter, and heating. According to a recent government report, fast-rising food costs in Canada have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation” with nowhere to turn for help. 

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Alberta

Canadians in three provinces will spend roughly the same on debt interest as K-12 education

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From the Fraser Institute

By Grady Munro and Jake Fuss

From 2008/09 to 2023/24, the federal government is projected to have run deficits every single year, with no interruptions. This has resulted in federal net debt (total debt minus financial assets) increasing by $603.6 billion (inflation-adjusted).

For more than a decade, Canadian governments have increasingly relied on borrowed money to fund their excessive spending habits. However, as debt has continued to pile up so have the costs associated with this debt—namely interest costs. A recent study shows that in some of the largest provinces, governments now spend nearly as much or more on debt interest costs than on K-12 education.

Since the 2008/09 financial crisis, governments across Canada have fallen into the habit of utilizing debt to fund their spending habits. For example, consider the federal government.

From 2008/09 to 2023/24, the federal government is projected to have run deficits every single year, with no interruptions. This has resulted in federal net debt (total debt minus financial assets) increasing by $603.6 billion (inflation-adjusted). Conversely, from 1996/97 to 2007/08, the federal government actually lowered its net debt by $348.1 billion (inflation-adjusted). Clearly, there’s been a shift in the government’s approach towards debt accumulation.

This is not simply a federal problem, as provinces have also seen their debt burdens rise as well. Cumulatively, provincial and federal net debt has increased by $1.0 trillion (inflation-adjusted) from 2007/08 to 2023/24.

Government debt carries costs, primarily in the form of the interest payments, which represent money that doesn’t go towards paying down the actual debt amount, nor does it go towards providing government services or tax relief. And since governments must utilize tax revenues to pay interest, taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for servicing government debt.

But how much do Canadians actually pay in debt interest costs?

Using data from the most recent fiscal updates, a new study compares combined (federal and provincial) debt interest costs for residents in three of the largest provinces (OntarioQuebec and Alberta) with what those provinces expect to spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. The study utilizes combined debt interest costs because Canadians are ultimately responsible for interest costs incurred by both the federal government and the province in which they live. The following chart summarizes the comparisons from the study.

As is clear from the chart, combined interest costs for residents in these provinces are nearly as much or more than their province expects to spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. Specifically, combined interest costs are $31.5 billion for Ontarians, which is only $3.2 billion less than the province will spend on K-12 education in 2023/24. Combined interest costs for Quebecers ($20.3 billion) will actually exceed the $19.9 billion the province will devote towards K-12 education. And combined interest costs for Albertans are only slightly lower than the $8.9 billion that will be spent on K-12 education.

In other words, taxpayers in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are paying nearly as much or more to service federal and provincial government debt than they are paying to fund K-12 education in their province. This budget season, it’s important to remember the costs associated with growing government debt.

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