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Linda Talks Column

  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

The Joke’s On Us:

Today marks April Fool’s Day, and once again the joke’s on Canadians, who are being taken as fools.

We wake up to a new hosing at the gas pumps, as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals hikes the federal carbon charge on fossil fuels by 30% from $50 a tonne to $65, meaning we cough up another 3 cents a litre to fill up, when cash-strapped Canadians can’t afford to keep food on the table, let alone drive our cars. Meanwhile, the world’s largest oil giant, Exxon, who owns Esso gas stations, posted a profit of US$56 billion in 2022 – a record for any publicly-traded oil company.

This latest gouging means natural gas bills for heating and cooling our homes are going up too, not to mention another spike in our grocery bills, as it will cost more to deliver to food stores, where prices are already at record highs, pushing inflation through the roof. If you buy groceries on credit cards and can only afford a minimum payment, you’re being gouged again with higher borrowing costs. And how unfair is this? While many are forced to visit food banks, food and agribusiness billionaires saw their wealth grow by 42% in the past few years, while in Canada, Loblaws enjoyed a 40% hike in its 2022 earnings.

More nasty jokes:

When Canadians already pay the highest telecommunications bills in the world, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are allowing a powerful oligopoly in Canada to grow bigger by approving the Rogers-Shaw merger.

What a joke, when Francois-Philippe Champagne, Liberal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, had the gall to say with his conditions, this C$20 billion ($14.7 billion) deal will be good for consumers. Let’s get real: Even with Freedom Mobile being spun off to Videotron, owned by Quebec magnate Pierre Karl Peladeau (Pile-of-Dough) - Bell, Rogers and Telus still own about 87% Canada’s telecommunication industry. As Laura Tribe, head of consumer watchdog group OpenMedia told the CBC: “Today’s decision is the largest blow to telecommunications competition and affordability we’ve ever seen.” Ben Klass, a telecom researcher at Ottawa’s Carleton University, adds, “This is a merger that is going to help the billionaire families who own these companies, not average Canadians who have to pay mobile bills at the end of the month.”

The list of jokes goes on: Like buried in Justin Trudeau’s latest budget, there’s a promise to strengthen air travellers’ rights, after we’ve being brutally beaten up by unacceptable flight delays and cancellations, long line-ups, and baggage gone missing. But guess what? Strengthening these rights is going to cost us, with a 32.85% hike in the security charge levied on customers by May 1, 2024. And what happened to a much-needed clampdown on big airline players gobbling up the little ones?

Another joke is the Liberals’ pledge to clamp down on predatory lenders by changing rules under the Criminal Code, which means scuzzy payday loan operators offering two-week, $1,500 loans to vulnerable and low-income Canadians, can only charge $14 on each $100 borrowed. That’s an annual interest rate of 336%. That’s usury. That should be banned.

But this joke gets the biggest laugh. Justin Trudeau Liberals, known as the party of conflicts of interest, are condoning the appointment of Martine Richard to interim Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, who will oversee the federal Conflict of Interest Act. And who’s Martine Richard? The sister-in-law of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who’s a close friend of Justin Trudeau.

And who’s kidding who? Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are spending billions more in their new budget with Canada’s net debt in the trillions while our country’s combined total federal/provincial debt doubled since 2007 with the debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product or economic growth) rate at a staggering 75%. This is no laughing matter. Today’s debt are tomorrow’s taxes, and we’re already taxed to death.

Then there’s the latest scare that Artificially Intelligence systems are growing so powerful, they are a threat to humankind, and could be used as a weapon to bring down our democracy. Wow, AI teams up with Russia and China. That’s no joke.

If all of this is too much, and you want to drown your sorrows in a drink, here’s a final joke. It’s going to cost you more beecause today, the cost of beer, wine and spirits goes up too.

Happy April Fools’ Day.

Linda Leatherdale, former Money Editor of the Toronto Sun, is a tax crusader and defender of hard-working Canadians.

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  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

𝐏𝐈𝐓𝐘 𝐏𝐎𝐎𝐑 𝐕𝐎𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐒: Pity poor Canadian voters heading to the polls on Sept. 20 in an election we don’t want and certainly cannot afford at a cost of more than half a billion dollars.

Promises, promises, promises. The list is staggering and confusing, as mainstream parties and fringe groups vie for our vote. The nagging reality is none of these promises will be kept. But more worrisome are the far-right agitators showing up at rallies, throwing stones and slurs in an attempt to undermine our democratic rights and freedoms, just like the insurgents south of the border

So, while we watch in disbelief as this Rocky Horror Political Show unfolds and each party leader is guilty of misleading voters with idle promises and no regard to how the taxpayer will pay – let’s take a closer look at some of the most pressing issues Canadians face today, and possible solutions.

One of the hottest issues in this election is how the dream of home ownership has gone up in smoke, and our children cry they will never be able to afford a home.

Believe it or not, there once was a day in this fair land when the dream of owning a home was within reach for most Canadians. But, after years of listening to real estate gurus brag that globally Canadian real estate was cheap - we are now home to the most expensive property values in the world. Take Vancouver, where the average price is expected to top $1.2 million next year and where home values already eat up 13.8 times buyers’ median income. Vancouver is now the second most expensive market in the world, next to Hong Kong which has held the title for most expensive for years. Toronto, where the average price hit over $1 million this year to eat up 9.9 times buyers’ median income, is not far behind to rank in fifth place.

What’s to blame? Pundits argue there is not enough supply for demand, especially during this pandemic which lit a fire under an already overheated market, as more buyers moved out of cities to work remotely from home. Also, supply has not kept up with the influx of new immigrants. But it goes deeper. Foreigners have been buying up our property. Speculators have been renovating and flipping homes, a frenzy fueled by cheap mortgage rates. And then there’s money laundering. Anti-corruption experts warn up to $100 billion in ill-gotten gains from criminal activity is being laundered in Canada’s real estate market every year, while an expert panel studying the B.C. market put the value at $46.7 billion in 2018 alone, to push up Canadian prices by as much as 7%.

And how fair is this? While Canada’s market remains wide open to all foreigners, in China a foreigner can only buy one property, and it must be residential. Also, in Beijing, you must pay taxes and social security for at least five years before you can buy a property.

On the election trail, our leaders are promising quick fixes ranging from tax-free Home Savings Accounts, slashing CMHC mortgage insurance rates, re-introducing 30-year CMHC-insured mortgages, doubling the Home Buyers Tax Credit to $1,500 - to building more affordable homes, a Home Buyers’ Bill Right making transactions more transparent, and a two-year moratorium on foreign buyers.

Years ago, I advocated for the Home Buyers’ Plan allowing RRSP money to be used tax free for a down payment, but with the stipulation the money had to be repaid into the RRSP, plus I advocated for the 5% down payment plan. So, I’m all for any plan that helps keep the dream of home ownership alive, especially for young families struggling to afford to get into this overbaked market.

But beware: Though leaders are smart enough to steer clear of a new capital gains tax on our principal residences, the threat has not gone away. This bonehead idea was advocated by Generation Squeeze, a group of younger Canadians who took part in a UBC study, supported by a grant from CMHC, to look at housing wealth and inequality.

My message: Hands off our homes – which are already among the highest taxed in the world, and the biggest asset for many Canadians heading into retirement.

Think about it: Almost 40% of what an average family earns in Canada goes to paying total taxes, with many of these taxes (payroll, health, sales, property, fuel, carbon, etc.) paid for in after-income tax dollars. A capital gains tax will mean even higher income taxes. For example, let’s say you paid $500,000 for your home, and later sold it for $650,000. With a new capital gains tax, 50% of the gain or $75,000 would be added to your income, and taxed at your income tax rate. Meanwhile, you are already paying high taxes on your home –everything from property (among the highest in the world) education, land transfer taxes to HST on new builds (with possible rebates), real estate commissions and legal fees.

Enough. Here’s what I believe is a better solution: Immediately, close our market to foreign buyers, unless they plan to live and pay taxes here. Put the money laundering thugs in jail by tightening our lax laws, and clamp down on home flippers who avoid paying tax by declaring it’s a principal residence.

Also make Money 101 mandatory in all our schools, so our children will learn how to save for a down payment and not become slaves to expensive consumer debt.

A side note: The Bank of Canada is now warning higher interest rates are on the way – which will be a blow to over-leveraged Canadians who owe almost $2 trillion in mortgage debt and home equity lines of credit. This could be the prick to burst the bubble.

Next issue: How do you kill off a free, democratic economy? Kill off the young workers.

A scourge of illicit drugs (fentanyl, meth and synthetic opiates) has killed 23,000 Canadians in the past five years, taking more lives than guns incidents and car accidents, and leaving a wake of the walking dead, with acute mental health and addiction problems

Politicians espouse more drug consumption sites and free access to the overdose drug, Naloxone.

But we need more: Decriminalize simple possession, declare war on the pushers, beef up policing at our borders, and clamp down on the money laundering of the drug cartel’s criminal gains.

Next issue: Big players hosing the little guy:

From big banks to a growing oligopoly in the telecommunications industry, poor Canadians are being gouged. For example, our cell phone bills alone are among the highest in the world.

Some leaders are espousing a new profit tax on our big banks. Let’s be real. The banks will merely pass on the additional cost to us.

Here’s what we need: A Consumer Bill of Rights in Canada, which caps gouging rates and excessive fees. And we need a new Competition Watchdog in Ottawa, with sweeping powers to bust up oligopolies and usher in true competition to drive down rates. But instead, we watch in horror as Rogers plans to swallow up Shaw Communications, leaving two dominant players to hose our pockets more.

And speaking of hands in our pockets – it’s time to rein in the taxman. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a reputation of going after the little guy or as some refer to low-lying fruit – like the self-employed and gutsy entrepreneurs who risk it all to start a new business with no safety nets, like EI to fall back on. I know the heavy handedness of the CRA. Since I left my job at Sun Media, where I was the tax-crusading Money Editor, who led revolts like my Stop the Tax Madness rallies – I have been a victim of relentless audits. One was a mistake made by my accountant, but the others, I am told, were random.

Meanwhile, five years after the Panama Papers revealed tax cheats avoided paying $2.6 trillion in taxes through sophisticated offshore havens, with almost 900 identified as Canadians - the CRA has not laid one single criminal charge, and recouped only $21 million, while other countries have filed tax evasion charges, secured convictions and recouped hundreds of millions.

And this interesting: Stephen Bronfman, who was a chief fundraiser for Justin Trudeau and a close friend who helped Trudeau get the plum PM job, is named in the Paradise Papers, which identifies $1.4 trillion in unpaid taxes through tax havens used by the idle rich, including public figures, celebrities, sports stars, etc.

One last burning issue: Canadians deserve to know how this pandemic began – and why a high ranking officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army is linked to the scandal at Canada’s high security infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg, where two Chinese scientists were fired in January and sent home. These two scientists were involved in the shipping of Ebola and Henipah viruses from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China in 2019.

What’s criminal is how Trudeau’s government went to court in June to block the release of any details from this scandal. Then last month, with the heat on, the government dropped the order.

Believe me, the world has yet to suffer the full brunt of this pandemic scourge. We need the truth.

Now, get out there, hold your nose and VOTE.

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  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

𝓓𝓸 𝓨𝓸𝓾 𝓗𝓪𝓿𝓮 𝓐 𝓦𝓲𝓵𝓵?

As the saying goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Well, be warned: Without a will, you could end up losing your way, with governments meddling in your affairs.

November is Make A Will Month, so let’s talk about this important subject.

I often tease my kids saying if I only knew my “best before date”. Or, even more important, I’ll quip I want to know my “expiry date.” Bottom line is none of us know when the grim reaper will come calling – and all too often we are guilty of putting off estate planning, including making sure we have a legal and binding will, to ease the burden on family members when we do expire.

David Newman, founder and principal director of Fiscal Agents Savings and Investments in Oakville, says estate planning is a key part of smart financial planning, and completing a will, plus selecting executors and powers of attorney for finance and health, will offer families peace of mind.

“Implementing a comprehensive, well-designed estate plan can represent true peace of mind especially for maturing people who want to enjoy their remaining years in the company of old friends and family,” says Newman. Fiscal Agents, Canada’s renowned independent deposit brokerage, offers free downloads of their financial planning guides to help in the task. Visit, On this landing page you will myself and Newman offering advice on a wide range of financial topics. Or for just estate planning, visit

So, let’s do a quick estate planning refresher.

What is a will? Simply put, it is a person’s will in a written document that sets out the person’s wishes about how his or her estate should be taken care of and distributed after death. It takes effect when the person dies.

What is a living will? This is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill, and cannot communicate your wishes about treatment.

Many people ask, can I write my own will? Yes, there are many online guides, where you can put your wishes on paper, but my advice is always get legal advice. A trusted estate planning lawyer can become your best friend.

What is an estate? An estate is the property that a person owns or a legal interest in. The term is often used to describe assets and liabilities left by a person after death.

What is a trust? A trust is created to hold property or assets for the benefit of a particular person called the beneficiary, and is often used for minors. It is managed by a person called a trustee, who has an obligation to carry out the deceased’s wishes.

What is the executor? This is the person you appoint to carry out your wishes after death, and is responsible for distributing your estate to the beneficiaries. Fiscal Agent’s Newman warns this can be a daunting task, and will take time and knowledge. For example, if assets are distributed to beneficiaries without outstanding taxes being paid first, the executor will be on the hook.

What about powers of attorney for finance and health? You should pick people you trust to carry out these duties. If you become incapacitated, their responsibility is to make decisions on your behalf for your finances and health. Newman advises, if possible, do not pick the same person for both finance and health

There is so much more to learn, so get started now. Newman sums it up: “For most people, estate planning is a difficult subject to discuss and to plan for, because it forces us to come to terms with our own mortality. Yet it is something you need to discuss openly with your loved ones today, because you can’t do so after you’re gone.”

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