Editor's Page

Guest Editorial by Paul Jackson


A Canadian friend shows me a report from the prestigious World Economic Forum that says his country’s banking system is the safest and most secure in the world. Switzerland’s much-fabled banking system is down in the 14th ranking.

The United States’ banking system comes in at an alarming Number 42th, behind those of some black African dictatorships and tin-pot South American regimes.

Not a single Canadian bank or financial institution has asked for government help. How did this come about? Well, a decade ago a number of Canada’s banks wanted to merge and go ‘world-wide.’ But the Finance Minister at the time, Liberal Paul Martin (who went on to be a short-lived prime minister) vetoed the move.

Martin figured if the banks merged they might become “too big to fail.”

Where have we heard that saying before? Here’s more about your friendly northern neighbor. Canada’s social security system—known as the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)—is said by insurance experts to be secure well into the 22nd century.

That’s a staggering 100 years from now.

Compare that to the U.S. social security system that wobbles from month to month because no president, Democrat or Republican, has had the courage to do what must be done.

What happened in Canada? Again it was Liberal Paul Martin. Martin, himself one of the richest men in Canada who doesn’t need a pension himself, overnight upped social security premiums by a whopping 72%. It was the biggest tax hike in Canadian history. And there was no escaping paying the premiums.

No under the table cash. Everyone gnashed their teeth. But, now, when they hit 65, they know the money is there.

Add to these two examples of fiscal sanity, there is no sub-prime housing crisis in Canada. Why not? Because less than 3% of Canadian houses have sub-prime mortgages compared to more than 30% in the United States. How come?

Because current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government toughened the mortgage rules. Harper, who never made more than $100,000 a year before becoming prime minister, and whose Calgary home is a modest 1,200 sq. ft., figured that if a person couldn’t save a 5% down payment and handle a 20-year mortgage (versus no downpayment and a 40-year mortgage) that person likely couldn’t afford to buy a home.

How can you knock that logic?

Here’s another smart thing the folks Up North did. In Canada no corporation, no company, no union, no law firm, no lobby group and no association or club—no matter what it may be—can give money to a political party. That includes Mom and Pop grocery stores or the auto mechanics shop down the street. Hollywood celebrity-types at big ticket fundraisers, too. Only individuals can make political contributions and those contributions are limited to $1,100 a year.

During an election campaign third party advocacy advertising is banned.

So there’s a level playing field in Canada for all political parties. Money can’t buy an election. The election reform laws were started off by the Liberals, but toughened rigorously by the Conservatives and New Democrats (Socialists).

Coincidentally, the Liberals suffered most by the new laws they started because they generally relied on big business for financial support, the New Democrats suffered next because they lost their huge union financial base, while the Conservatives, being basically a populist party that depended only on small individual donations, reaped the most benefits. Yet, all three parties backed the new rules.

Add up the math on all the above and you have to admit maybe these crazy Canucks aren’t so crazy after all. Could it be the weather?

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