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Federal government keeps violating self-imposed fiscal rules

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Grady Munro

By continually violating its own fiscal anchor, the Trudeau government has rendered the rule meaningless and abandoned the discipline it’s meant to impose.

Last week, after tabling the Trudeau government’s fall fiscal update, which includes evermore spending and borrowing, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland called it a “responsible fiscal plan.” Upon closer scrutiny, however, the finance minister has once again abandoned her self-imposed fiscal rules and continues to spend, borrow and tax at unsustainable levels.

Fiscal rules, also known as “fiscal anchors,” help guide policy on government spending, taxes and borrowing. They’re supposed to prevent a deterioration in government finances, with an eye on ensuring debt is sustainable for future generations.

After taking office in 2015, the Trudeau government announced its fiscal anchor—balance the budget by fiscal year 2019-20. When the government quickly realized it would not achieve this goal, it dropped a new fiscal anchor—reduce Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio, a common measure of a country’s ability to pay back its debt. However, the 2019 fall fiscal update revealed the government had violated its new fiscal anchor before the pandemic, as debt-to-GDP ticked up slightly from 30.8 to 31.0 per cent. In other words, federal debt grew slightly faster than the Canadian economy.

Then the government spent and borrowed hundreds of billions during COVID, driving debt-to-GDP up to 47.2 per cent in 2020-21. Afterwards, as the economy rebounded, the ratio levelled off and stabilized around 42 per cent in 2022-23.

Last week, Minister Freeland indicated the government will violate its own fiscal anchor at least two more times—debt-to-GDP will increase to 42.4 per cent in 2023-24 then climb higher in 2024-25. Again, federal debt is growing faster than the Canadian economy.

By continually violating its own fiscal anchor, the Trudeau government has rendered the rule meaningless and abandoned the discipline it’s meant to impose. There’s little direction for federal finances and almost nothing to ensure the government is disciplined with spending and debt growth. In such a scenario, politics—not responsible fiscal principles—governs decisions over the public purse.

So, what are the consequences to this wholly undisciplined approach to fiscal policy?

All else equal, a rising debt-to-GDP ratio means that debt interest costs will rise relative to the size of the economy. Spending on rising debt interest costs will divert money away from government programs and/or crowd out any fiscal room for tax relief for Canadian families.

And debt interest costs are rising rapidly. In 2020/21, when interest rates were at historic lows, the federal government spent $20.4 billion on debt interest. This year, interest costs will reach a projected $46.5 billion, more than double what they were three years ago. And will hit a projected $60.7 billion by 2028/29—double what the government plans to spend on employment insurance benefits that year.

Finally, according to last week’s fiscal update, debt-to-GDP will begin to decline after 2024/25, but this should be taken with a huge grain of salt since this government has consistently increased spending and debt beyond its original projections. And there’s nothing preventing the government from scrapping these commitments like they have with all their other fiscal anchors. Given the government’s clear preference for spending financed by borrowing, our debt-to-GDP ratio will likely continue to grow.

Unfortunately, there are few signs the Trudeau government will transform into a responsible steward of public finances and take meaningful steps to control debt and debt interest costs. And of course, Canadian taxpayers will pay the price.

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Maxime Bernier warns Canadians of Trudeau’s plan to implement WEF global tax regime

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If ‘the idea of a global corporate tax becomes normalized, we may eventually see other agreements to impose other taxes, on carbon, airfare, or who knows what.’

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier has warned that the Liberal government’s push for World Economic Forum (WEF) “Global Tax” scheme should concern Canadians. 

According to Canada’s 2024 Budget, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working to pass the WEF’s Global Minimum Tax Act which will mandate that multinational companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15 percent.

“Canadians should be very concerned, for several reasons,” People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier told LifeSiteNews, in response to the proposal.

“First, the WEF is a globalist institution that actively campaigns for the establishment of a world government and for the adoption of socialist, authoritarian, and reactionary anti-growth policies across the world,” he explained. “Any proposal they make is very likely not in the interest of Canadians.” 

“Second, this minimum tax on multinationals is a way to insidiously build support for a global harmonized tax regime that will lower tax competition between countries, and therefore ensure that taxes can stay higher everywhere,” he continued.  

“Canada reaffirms its commitment to Pillar One and will continue to work diligently to finalize a multilateral treaty and bring the new system into effect as soon as a critical mass of countries is willing,” the budget stated.  

“However, in view of consecutive delays internationally in implementing the multilateral treaty, Canada cannot continue to wait before taking action,” it continued.   

The Trudeau government also announced it would be implementing “Pillar Two,” which aims to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate. 

“Pillar Two of the plan is a global minimum tax regime to ensure that large multinational corporations are subject to a minimum effective tax rate of 15 per cent on their profits wherever they do business,” the Liberals explained.  

According to the budget, Trudeau promised to introduce the new legislation in Parliament soon.  

The global tax was first proposed by Secretary-General of Amnesty International at the WEF meeting in Davos this January.  

“Let’s start taxing carbon…[but] not just carbon tax,” the head of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, said during a panel discussion.  

According to the WEF, the tax, proposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “imposes a minimum effective rate of 15% on corporate profits.”  

Following the meeting, 140 countries, including Canada, pledged to impose the tax.  

While a tax on large corporations does not necessarily sound unethical, implementing a global tax appears to be just the first step in the WEF’s globalization plan by undermining the sovereignty of nations.  

While Bernier explained that multinationals should pay taxes, he argued it is the role of each country to determine what those taxes are.   

“The logic of pressuring countries with low taxes to raise them is that it lessens fiscal competition and makes it then less costly and easier for countries with higher taxes to keep them high,” he said.  

Bernier pointed out that competition is good since it “forces everyone to get better and more efficient.” 

“In the end, we all end up paying for taxes, even those paid by multinationals, as it causes them to raise prices and transfer the cost of taxes to consumers,” he warned.  

Bernier further explained that the new tax could be a first step “toward the implementation of global taxes by the United Nations or some of its agencies, with the cooperation of globalist governments like Trudeau’s willing to cede our sovereignty to these international organizations.”   

“Just like ‘temporary taxes’ (like the income tax adopted during WWI) tend to become permanent, ‘minimum taxes’ tend to be raised,” he warned. “And if the idea of a global corporate tax becomes normalized, we may eventually see other agreements to impose other taxes, on carbon, airfare, or who knows what.”   

Trudeau’s involvement in the WEF’s plan should not be surprising considering his current environmental goals – which are in lockstep with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – which include the phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.    

The reduction and eventual elimination of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum – the aforementioned group famous for its socialist “Great Reset” agenda – in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.     

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Higher Capital Gains Taxes cap off a loser federal budget

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From Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Lee Harding

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

New taxes on capital gains mean more capital pains for Canadians as they endure another tax-grabbing, heavy-spending federal deficit budget.

Going forward, the inclusion rate increases to 66 per cent, up from 50 per cent, on capital gains above $250,000 for people and on all capital gains for corporations and trusts. The change will affect 307,000 businesses and see Ottawa, according to probably optimistic projections, rake in an additional $19.4 billion over four years.

A wide chorus of voices have justifiably condemned this move. If an asset is sold for more than it was bought for, the government will claim two-thirds of the value because half is no longer enough.  It’s pure government greed.

If you were an investor or a young tech entrepreneur looking for somewhere to set up shop, would you choose Canada? And if you’re already that investor, how hard would you work to appreciate your assets when the government seizes much of the improvement?

Even before this budget, the OECD predicted Canada would have the lowest growth rates in per-person GDP up to 2060 of all its member countries.

In a speech in Halifax on March 26, Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers put the productivity problem this way: “You’ve seen those signs that say, ‘In emergency, break glass.’ Well, it’s time to break the glass.”

What can Canadians bash now? Their heads against a wall?

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

No kidding. Not since the first Prime Minister Trudeau (Pierre) have Canadians been able to count so reliably on deficit spending, higher expenditures, and more taxes.

Long ago, it seems now, when Justin Trudeau was not yet prime minister, he campaigned on “a modest short-term deficit” of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years and a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

His rationale was that low interest rates made it a rare opportunity to borrow and build infrastructure, all to encourage economic growth. Of course, the budget never balanced itself and Canada has lost $225 billion in foreign investment since 2016.

The deficits continue though the excuse of low interest rates is long gone. Despite higher carbon and capital gains taxes, this year’s deficit will match last year’s: $40 billion. Infrastructure seems less in view than an ever-expanding nanny state of taxpayer-funded dental care, child care, and pharmacare.

Of course, the Trudeau deficits were not as modest as advertised, and all-time federal debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion in less than a decade. Debt interest payments this coming fiscal year will be $54.1 billion, matching GST revenue and exceeding the $52 billion of transfers to the provinces for health care.

In 1970, columnist Lubor Zink quoted Pierre Trudeau as saying, “One has to be in the wheelhouse to see what shifts are taking place . . . The observer . . . on the deck . . . sees the horizon much in the same direction and doesn’t realize it but perhaps he will find himself disembarking at a different island than the one he thought he was sailing for.”

Like father, like son, Justin Trudeau has captained Canada to a deceptive and unwelcome destination. What started as Fantasy Island is becoming Davy Jones’ Locker.

Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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