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Today I'm jumping straight into the meat grinder to a look at a money matter which encroaches upon my 5th principle – integrity. We all like to think that, when push comes to shove, we will maintain our integrity and take action based on what is right rather than serving to line our own pockets.

While it’s been almost 2 months since the news, I feel it’s prudent to bring up a piece of news from late March, which was reported during the quickly escalating coronavirus conundrum. It’s a time when the average Canadian was hunkering down at home, counting beans, trying to figure out how life will be managed for the foreseeable future.

The promise of $2,000 per month for 4 months, as needed, from the federal government was a refreshing sigh of relief for many, to say the least. In hindsight, its timing is rather suspect. Why? The initial financial relief announcement came on March 25th. A mere one week later, the annual pay raise for MPs took effect.

That’s right. Back in 2005 Members of Parliament grew tired of having to deal with bad press every time they resolved to increase their own pay. So instead, they made the pay raises automatic. Every year, on April 1, their pay increases based on some sort of tracking they do of private and public sector wage increases. (1)

That’s all well-and-good for discussion, Adrian but surely our level-headed leaders had the integrity and courage to postpone or forgo their pay increase this year. Why, it was in the midst of so much financial agony that no one in their right mind would’ve accepted the pay raise.

This, out of the Toronto Sun, in a March 30th piece:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed surprised that the annual raise would be an issue when I asked him about it on Monday.” (2)

Surprised? Really? No one in his government even stopped to think about the optics of parliamentarians receiving pay raises at a time when the middle class, which his government purports to stand for, was struggling to get through the difficult times?

Mr. Trudeau’s response:

“I haven’t heard the Parliament of Canada having those discussions, but I’m sure they will reflect on it. Now that you’ve asked the question.”

So, had this pesky journalist not asked the question, absolutely no one in Parliament would have considered it?

Now, I get it. Sometimes when things are automatic, it’s difficult to remember. But usually, most people are told/reminded of their pending pay increase a few weeks, or even months, ahead of time, to minimize surprises when the higher amount hits their bank accounts. So, again, absolutely no one stopped to think, “wait a minute, is this a good idea right now? What will the middle-class citizens of this country, who by most accounts carry the majority vote, think of this?”

Parliamentarians must have a very low opinion of the middle class since they thought no one in the difficult to define segment would even notice.

Well, maybe they also need to take care of their own situation and needed the pay raise. Who’s to say they’re not hurting financially as well?

Fair. But how many of you dear friends earn $178,900 per year? Does that sound like a base salary that needs to be bumped up?

Or what about those MPs tasked with the extra burden of being committee members or cabinet ministers, which nets an EXTRA $85,500 in pay? That is, over and above the $178,900 I just mentioned? Does it sound like they’re hurting financially right now?

And, I know, standing in front of the nation every morning with long hair and a greying beard can’t be easy, especially at the entryway of such a grand home. Surely the Prime Minister can go without an increase on his $357,800 salary. Times are tough, to be sure, but can he not squeeze out a living without the pay raise?

As if that’s not enough, April 1st also marked the day the carbon tax jumped from $20 a ton to $30 a ton.

Why, you ask?

“…rather than hit the pause button, Trudeau said it’s full steam ahead because it’s a tax that puts more money in your pocket.”

Please tell me you’re laughing right now. Whose pocket was he referring to? Again, optics. They’re raising a tax on the same day they’re increasing their own pay?

Yes, I know corporate executives take ludicrous pay raises, often at absolutely the wrong times as well. I agree they should be called out for it and they often are. But how is it that there is zero blowback for these pay and tax raises, especially right now?

I've talked taxes many times before. Here’s living proof that the government takes money out of one of your pockets, lines its own pockets and then returns a small semblance back to your other pocket, in an attempt to appear having your best interests at heart. All the while, most people are grateful they have such zero-integrity benefactors saving their lives.

Government: “OK, citizen, we’re going to take that $100 bill out of your left pocket, keep $90 of it, and then place $10 back in your right pocket. Oh, and you’re going to like it.”

Citizen: “Oh, thank you so much, my highest and noblest of liege protectors and givers of life and happiness…”

Sure, the likes of Andrew Scheer and several of his Conservative Party peers indicated they will donate their raise to COVID-19 related charities. On the surface, that may seem laudable. But, has anyone asked are they doing this because their hands were also caught in the cookie jar?

“Yes, mama, my hand is in the cookie jar. But, I swear, I was bringing the cookie to you.”

All the while thinking, “Darn, she noticed.”

C’mon! Yes, I’m fired up because my integrity as a small business owner is questioned at every turn, every day. I have no doubt the same is true for every other small business owner out there. Yet no one calls these actions out and holds our esteemed leaders to account.

My friends, we do so at our own peril. While I wholeheartedly believe our own human condition is our own to mold and maintain, and we’re best not to blame others, it shouldn’t be done with government hands down our pockets too.

I’m not one who likes to talk politics but in such cases, I make an exception, since it relates to your money and your ability to make something of your life, especially at times like this. Banksters come in many different shapes, sizes and forms. In some cases, that form is political. I won’t allow that to be an excuse not to engage them, just because the wrapping is political.

#Integrity #government #taxes




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