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Sacred site or rallying point? The politicization of Canada’s National War Memorial



OTTAWA — The sacrifices of Canadians who fought and died for democracy and freedom during the Korean War were honoured during a small ceremony last week at the National War Memorial.

The ceremonial plaza, located a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill and which includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was built for such acts of remembrance.

This year, though, Canadians have seen far different images of the memorial, including acts of vandalism, and as a rallying point for those opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It has sparked concern about the sacred site dedicated to Canada’s war dead being used for political purposes, and a debate around what steps could be taken to better protect it.


Last weekend, someone was seen draping Canadian and American flags on the tomb as part of a ceremony streamed live online. Photos and video were widely shared on social media before the accounts, which appeared linked to supporters of the “Freedom Convoy,” were closed.

It sparked an outcry, including from Defence Minister Anita Anand, who called it a “desecration.”

It also prompted calls for more security, including from the Royal Canadian Legion, which had first made such a demand after the memorial was seen as disrespected, including through public urination, near the beginning of the three-week protest that seized downtown Ottawa this winter.

On the eve of Canada Day, army reservist James Topp addressed hundreds of people gathered by the cenotaph and compared himself and others fighting vaccine mandates to the unidentified Canadian soldier killed in the First World War whose remains were buried in the tomb.

Facing a court martial for publicly criticizing federal vaccine requirements while wearing his uniform, Topp had arrived at the tomb following a four-month march from Vancouver, during which he became a celebrity to many people opposed to vaccines and the Liberals.

“That’s us. We are the Unknown Soldier,” Topp told the crowd, which included a number of people wearing military headgear and medals to indicate their status as veterans.

“What did we have in common with that person? … We had courage.”

A group called Veterans 4 Freedom, which supported Topp’s march and includes members with links to the “Freedom Convoy,” also organized a rally at the memorial during the “Rolling Thunder” event in April, where members gave speeches against vaccines and pandemic restrictions.

“Canadians have to sacrifice to keep our freedom,” one speaker told the crowd. “They went to France. They fought in the South Pacific, the Battle of Britain. They sacrifice with their lives. But nowadays, we have to sacrifice in a different way.”

Veterans 4 Freedom declined to comment. Topp referred to his June 30 speech.

David Hofmann is an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick and co-lead of the government-funded Network for Research on Hateful Conduct and Right-Wing Extremism in the Canadian Armed Forces.

He said political movements need symbols to succeed, and that it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that some groups in Canada are now trying to turn the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to such purposes.

“It is a powerful symbol,” Hofmann said. “You have the Unknown Soldier, the ultimate martyr, someone who can’t even be remembered for their name. And you have these individuals … trying to equate what they’re doing with a sense of martyrdom.”

Retired brigadier-general Duane Daly, who was instrumental as head of the Royal Canadian Legion with the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier more than 20 years ago, disagreed with those wanting use the site “as a centrepiece for political dissent.”

“That’s a tomb,” he said. “If they want to make a statement like that, go to Parliament. That’s what it’s for, not the tomb.”

Others have suggested some of those using the memorial to amplify grievances against the government actually represent the opposite of the selflessness for which the sites are dedicated.

“The Unknown Soldier died for his country. He died in a selfless act,” said Youri Cormier, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute think tank.

“When you honk and scream about an idea of personal freedoms that excludes one’s duty to his or her nation, obeyance of the law and … respecting the principle that one’s freedom ends where it infringes on the freedoms of others, it’s putting self before nation.”

It is in this context that some such as the legion and Cormier, who noted that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va., is defended around the clock by armed military members, have called for greater security at the memorial.

“No one is allowed to usurp or appropriate the sacred ground of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for some stunt or campaign,” Cormier said. “This sacred space is not for the taking.”

Public Services and Procurement Canada says the site is monitored 24-7, but wouldn’t comment on calls for more security. While the Canadian Armed Forces has a ceremonial guard at the memorial for tourists, Ottawa police are responsible for site security.

The killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo by an Islamic State sympathizer in October 2014 prompted a review of security at the memorial, and the eventual placement of military police. But their job is to protect the ceremonial guards while they are on duty.

Exactly what type of security measures should be adopted now isn’t clear.

Most experts agree authorities should not limit or restrict public access to the memorial, partly because the vast majority of visitors to the site are respectful ⁠— but also because such a move could play into the hands of some groups.

“In some respects, that’s more dangerous because it feeds into the victim mentality that we’re being silenced, that we’re being oppressed,” said Barbara Perry, director of the Centre of Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University.

Officials erected fences around the memorial at the start of the “Freedom Convoy” after a woman stood on the tomb. But they were later taken down by protesters. Many of them identified themselves as veterans and said they were reclaiming the site — a message repeated as a reason for gathering at the cenotaph during the “Rolling Thunder” event this spring.

Retired lieutenant-general Mike Day also pushed back against the idea of American-style restrictions at the memorial, such as ropes and fences preventing the public from getting close.

“All national monuments need to be accessible. I accept that comes with a cost,” said Day.

“But I think the cost of walling them off and not making them accessible is greater. I accept, therefore, that there will be individuals like we’ve seen who will take advantage of that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2022.


Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It



Canada's Climate Crisis

Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.

Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.

What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?

According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.

Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.


Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:

  • Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
  • Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
  • Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
  • Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.

Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.

What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?

Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:

  • Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
  • Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
  • Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy

The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:

  • Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
  • Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
  • Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
  • Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
  • Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.

The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.

Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.

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Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?



If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?

Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.

Average debt by age group in Canada

First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.


These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.

Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:

Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.

The total debt measured includes:

  • Mortgage debt
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)

Median debt by age group in Canada

Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.

When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.

In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.

For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.

For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:

Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?

Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.

In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”

Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.

Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.

  • Pent-up demand and travel

Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”

It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.

  • Increased interest rates

To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.

Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.

Creating a plan to manage your debt

Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.

A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.

Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.


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Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River




The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island.
The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island. (CBC News)

The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.


The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.

The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.

The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.



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