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Linda Talks Column

  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

𝓦𝓮 𝓝𝓮𝓮𝓭 𝓐 𝓢𝓾𝓻𝓿𝓲𝓿𝓪𝓵 𝓢𝓾𝓶𝓶𝓲𝓽

My first Survival Summit was held back in 1994 when Canada was struggling with a nasty recession and our country was fast tracking to hit the Debt Wall.  By the final quarter of 1996 we hit that wall, with total government debt reaching an unsustainable high of 90.26% of GDP (gross domestic product or economic growth.)

Linda Leatherdale, Money Editor of the Toronto Sun, hosts the Survival Summit at the King Edward Hotel.
Linda Leatherdale, Survival Summit at the King Edward Hotel.

We convened in a room at the King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto, with the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) Debt Clock sitting in the lobby, reminding all of our dire fiscal situation. In our meeting room were brilliant minds from the CTF, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Bankers’ Association, the Canadian and Ontario chambers of commerce, and, of course, editorial and management brass from the Toronto Sun, who sponsored this important gathering. We also brought in feisty Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, and New Zealand’s then labour finance minister, Sir Roger Douglas, who steered his country off a collision course with debt.

Our group came up with Seven Summit Solutions. We then invited federal finance Minister Paul Martin to our second gathering to hear our solutions. At first, he rejected our ideas. But then, as Ottawa was preparing the 1996 budget, out of the blue I got a call from Liberal MP Dan McTeague who said Martin wanted to meet with me.

Behind closed doors, Martin revealed he was going to grant us our biggest wish.  He would balance the budget and lower taxes, while weaning Canada off its insatiable appetite for debt.  Martin, to this day, is my hero.

Fast forward to 2020, and the year of the Great Pandemic.

Unprecedented times take unprecedented measures. The world’s worst nightmare, a global COVID-19 pandemic, saw global  leaders open up budgets and spend, spend, spend, to help families and businesses financially survive this crisis, as lockdowns gripped nations.

Here in Canada, the warnings began.  Our national deficit for 2020-21, originally projected to be $34.4 billion, would jump to $343.2 billion – a level not seen since the Second World War. Ottawa’s net debt (combined annual deficits) would jump to $1.2 trillion, or 49% of GDP (gross domestic product or economic growth).  But here’s what’s so scary.  Total government debt is Canada, which includes the provinces, is projected to hit 97% of GDP by the end of this year – a level higher than our 1990s crisis. That’s $24,464 owed by each Canadian.  And that debt takes a whopping $75 million a day in interest payments.

Yes, the landscape has changed from our 1990s crisis, compared to today’s crisis.  The biggest is borrowing is so cheap, with the Bank of Canada rate hovering at a record low of 0.25%.  That’s why our leaders are telling us, “don’t worry, be happy.”  We will survive. But, what if rates rise?  Then, there’s another crisis looming. Canadians, who were once savers, are now addicted to debt – owing a whopping $1.7 trillion. For every $1 we have in disposable income, we owe $1.77.

Canadians spend more than 45% of our income to pay taxes to all levels of government – many which are paid for in after income-tax dollars. Yet, the solution our leaders are looking at are higher taxes, including a new home equity tax on our principal residences – which for most of us is our biggest asset, especially in retirement.  Believe me, Canadians cannot afford higher taxes.

As I said, unprecedented times, takes unprecedented measures, and leaders who will listen. So, I want to hear from you, and have your voice heard at our next Survival Summit. This is a time for brilliant minds.  This is a time to have your voice heard.

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  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

𝓘 𝓐𝓶 𝓒𝓪𝓷𝓪𝓭𝓲𝓪𝓷

It is time for all of us to stand up, stand tall and declare to the world – “I am Canadian” and proud to live in the second best country on this planet.

Linda Leatherdale, I Am Canadian

In a world so full of hatred, divisiveness, racism, pestilence, corruption, and every unimaginable atrocity, including murder, terrorism, genocide, biochemical warfare, child exploitation, and more – Canada came in at second place as the best in the world in 2020, according to a survey by U.S. News and World Report.  Beating out the Great White North was Switzerland, which has consistently ranked number one.

We need to celebrate this milestone, as we lead in quality of life, entrepreneurship and believe it or not, the ease of doing business, despite all the government bureaucracy and red tape, not to mention high taxes.  But be wary:  Democracy worldwide is under attack, nationalism is on rise, and the respondents noted conditions worldwide are worsening, with the gap between the rich and the poor continuing to grow.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Canada needs a healthy, wealthy Main Street and the narrowing of the income gap in order to maintain our standard of living, and we will need brilliant minds to lead us out of the economic fallout of this pandemic.

More on this survey: Japan ranked third place, the U.S. seventh place, Russia, 23rd, and India 25th.

Another interesting survey comes from Credit Card Genius – which lists the top 10 places to live in Canada.  This survey is a help for young folks, who feel shut out of Toronto’s and Vancouver’s red hot real estate markets, and are seeking to escape highly populated hubs.

Ranked Number One and best overall is Quebec City, one of Canada’s most beautiful historic locations, where average home prices are $254,700, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $883, and a single person can live on $2,009 a month.  If you choose Quebec City, you may want to brush up on speaking French.

Next is Moncton, New Brunswick, described as the best place to find work and the cheapest place to live.  There, home prices average $200,961, a one-bedroom rental apartment costs $814, and the cost of living for a single person is $2,016.

The list continues:

Third Place: Saint John, New Brunswick, coined the best place to buy a home. Average home price, $200,961, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $814, and $2,016 cost of living for a single person.

Fourth Place:  St. John’s, Newfoundland, the best place for outdoorsy types.  Average home price $239,500, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $854, and $2,264 cost of living for a single person

Fifth Place:  Hamilton, Ontario, a blossoming hub with a reputation as one of Ontario’s up and comers.  Average home price, $504,101, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $1,367, $2,280 cost of living for a single person.

Sixth Place: London, Ontario, best city for digital creatives.  Average home price, $484,884, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $1,230, and $2,202 cost of living for a single person.

Seventh Place:  Ottawa, Ontario, best place for adventurous foodies.  Average home price, $575,600, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $1,600, and $2,784 cost of living for a single person.

Eighth Place:  Edmonton, Alberta, best city for renters.  Average home price, $319,900, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $910, and $2,356 cost of living for a single person.

Ninth Place:  Charlottetown, P.E.I., best place to raise kids.  Average home price, $277,000, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $1,350, and $2,093 cost of living for a single person.

Tenth Place: Calgary, Alberta, best city for people who love cities.  Average home price, $410,000, average rent for one-bedroom apartment, $1,186, and $2,406 cost of living for a single person.

Of course, there is more than cost of housing and cost of living to consider.  Go to, for all the details, including weather trends, unemployment rates, median income, median age, etc.

Bottom line is this: I love Canada, and I am proud to say  “I am Canadian.”

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  • Writer's pictureLinda Leatherdale

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

𝓕𝓻𝓮𝓮 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓵𝓪𝓿𝓮𝓼

The desperate plea from a fan broke my heart.  “Linda, please help.  I lost my job in the restaurant business. I can’t pay my rent, I can’t afford food, and my credit card is maxed out.  Now, because I have missed some payments, my bank hiked my interest rate.”

Those heartless blood suckers. Have they no soul especially during these difficult pandemic days? No, because greed prevails in this money-driven world where, like lemmings falling off a cliff, consumers have become slaves to debt.  In Canada alone, households now owe a record $2.33 trillion, and while $1.53 billion is mortgage debt with more affordable rates of the interest, there’s still another $802.1 billion in consumer debt, including credit cards which commonly charge rates of 22.99% and higher, plus annual fees.  This is usury and a political sin considering the Bank of Canada rate sits at a record low of 0.25%. 

Linda Leatherdale, Free The Slaves

Now, here’s what you may not know: That once upon a time on this planet charging interest was banned, and considered one of the worst sins - an abomination that broke God’s Eighth Commandment, “thou must not steal.”

In fact, to this day, the Islamic faith rules that charging interest is forbidden, which is why institutions in countries like Iran, Sudan and Pakistan have taken steps to eradicate interest from their financial systems.

Centuries ago, under Jewish law, loans made to fellow Jews had to be interest-free. But charging interest on loans to non-Jews was allowed. Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, once condemned charging interest, but by the 19th century and with the rise of capitalism, the practice of charging interest became more and more common.

Still, the Bible’s message is clear - that charging interest hurts our fellowman. The Book of Ezekiel classified usurers as people who have shed the borrowers’ blood.  And Proverbs 22:7 warns: “the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

So, here we are today: Slaves on the never-ending debt treadmill, while the misery grows. For every $1 in disposable income, Canadians now owe $1.77 – with our household debt ratio now hitting at an unsustainable 176.9%.  And while the most vulnerable get hurt by usury credit card rates – falling mortgage rates encourage homeowners to take on even more debt, by borrowing from skyrocketing home equity, while our kids are shut out of the housing market.  And poor seniors, who want to protect their savings by investing in safe, interest-bearing vehicles, like guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) which are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. (CDIC). With GIC rates of return close to 0%, they are forced into the roller coaster stock markets, where there are no guarantees, and where they do not have time on their side to make up for big losses.

For years, as a crusading Sun Media financial editor/columnist in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton, I campaigned against the high cost of credit – taking this crusade to Parliament Hill, just as my predecessor Garth Turner did back in the 1980s when he took busloads of angry homeowners to Ottawa to win a moratorium on mortgage renewals when rates hit as high as 22%.

We won a few battles, but not the war.

Let me be clear: Rates will rise, and rates will fall – but the greedy will always find ways to fleece our pockets, and too often our regulators are blinded by the light.

The subprime mortgage madness is a prime example. The wolves on Wall Street cleverly got rich promoting rotten loans to home buyers, then bundled up this rotten debt into investment vehicles, called Asset-Backed Commercial Paper, slapped on Triple A credit ratings, and floated it to the world – bankrupting nations like Greece and Iceland.  Not one of those Wall Street wolves went to jail.

The year 2009 ushered in the Great Global Recession. Now it’s 2020, and we’re suffering from the Great Global Pandemic, plus a record number of atrocities that are plaguing Mother Earth.

In the book of James, chapter 5: 1-5, it was prophesied that in the last days the rich “will heap up treasures” by exploiting the poor.  And the book of Revelation warns a Day of Reckoning will arrive.  This is the Great Global Armageddon.

It is time to free the slaves.

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