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Should Canada join other countries and take a gas tax holiday? – CBC News

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If U.S. President Joe Biden is successful in his bid to pause gas taxes in the U.S., Canada will be the only G7 country not to bring in a tax cut or subsidy to help deal with prices at the pump.

Biden on Wednesday called on Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months. Meanwhile, the U.K., Italy, and Germany (lower taxes), France (a consumer rebate) and Japan (a subsidy to wholesalers) have all taken similar action.

As inflation — headlined by gasoline price hikes — hits highs not seen since Billie Jean was topping the Billboard charts and Return of the Jedi was in theatres, will Canada follow suit? Should it?

So, far the answer from Ottawa is: not at this time. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said earlier this week the federal government has no immediate plans to cut prices at the pump with a temporary reprieve from the federal gas tax.

Canada is instead looking to stabilize global oil prices by increasing supply, something Wilkinson said is starting to happen. He also said aid for Canadian families is, in the meantime, focused on areas Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland highlighted in a speech last week: increases to federal benefit cheques, cuts to child-care costs and upcoming increases to Old Age Security and the Canada Workers Benefit.

Conservatives have called on the Liberals for months to cut gas taxes, including lifting the GST from gasoline, temporarily suspending the carbon price, or lifting the 10 cents per litre federal excise tax.

Not the solution, experts say

Rory Johnston, founder of the oil market data service Commodity Context, says any type of gas tax holiday would appear to help the poorest in society, who are most affected by gas prices as a percentage of their income. However, he told CBC News, that approach is the wrong tool for the job at hand.

The main reason for high gas prices is an acute supply shortage, he said; artificially reducing the price at the pump won’t help. 

High prices are seen on gas pumps in Yellowknife. Gas prices have driven inflation to levels not seen since the early 1980s. (Jared Monkman/CBC)

“The prices are going to rise until you kill demand so that the market can balance,” he said. “We’re just draining inventories right now, left and right. So by creating a holiday for gas tax, you are essentially subsidizing further consumption at even lower prices.”

Johnston says he’s not sure why the Liberals haven’t moved more quickly to reduce prices at the pumps but speculated the government is concerned about the narrative around the transition to cleaner energy. “Since I’m generally against the move [toward a tax holiday], I’m not disappointed,” he said. 

Prof. Kevin Milligan of the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia agrees a tax holiday is not a sound policy, given how tight oil is on the supply side. 

Ottawa urged to take action on soaring gas prices

3 days ago

Duration 1:57

The opposition parties are among those urging the federal government to take action on soaring gas prices. The Conservatives want a GST break and the NDP are calling for rebates for low-income families.

“When that’s the case, the market producers have more power,” he said; and that means a tax cut is more likely to increase producer profits than bring down consumer prices. 

Out-of-the-box solutions

Johnston says he understands the pressures governments around the world are under to do something.

“This is a moment, I think, that calls for creative, out-of-the-box policymaking — things that we haven’t necessarily tried before.”

He offered three ideas:

  1. Rethink the gas tax. Create a sliding escalator tax, that drops when gas prices rise, but goes up when prices drop, removing some of the volatility from gas prices. 
  2. Offer direct cash, but only to the lower end of the income spectrum. Sending money instead of lowering taxes would make life more affordable without artificially subsidizing the price of a scarce resource, he says. But both Johnston and Milligan warned that simply writing cheques for everybody to deal with gas costs risks making inflation worse.
  3. Look into restarting some facilities, like the Come by Chance, N.L., refinery, which was shuttered early in the pandemic and is now being converted for renewable diesel. Bringing back oil production “will help reduce that refining bottleneck and to get the price we’re paying at the pump back down closer to the price of overall global oil,” he said.

Milligan, for his part, says the federal government has a number of areas under its control that it can and should focus on to bring inflation down — relieving bottlenecks at airports, improving supply chains and lowering tariffs on imports — which would directly lower prices for Canadians in stores.

He also stresses that the Bank of Canada must be allowed to do its job to bring down inflation.

Milligan said the challenge is that governments generally try to focus on the broad middle class during times of crisis.

“The problem is trying to find something that is not inflationary in itself that can help out the broad middle class,” he said. “That’s where a lot of the challenge comes in.”

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Vinclum cheat investors of $1.5m — with lure of $16m profits

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Alleged Vinclum Corporation fraudsters conned their creditors of more than $1.5m, a sum which was to be used to leverage $16m in an investment scheme that never took place.

Robert Allen, then director of Vinclum Corporation, Toronto, together with Daniel Carrasco, Wojciech Karcinski (often referred to as Peter Karcinski) and several other individuals employed by the Vinclum Group, allegedly persuaded their investors to wire funds for the scheme.

Allen and his associates reportedly convinced one financial services director to part with an initial $250,000.00, which in several stages would eventually generate profits of $16m. A second party, acting on behalf of six clients, invested a further $1.25m in the scheme. The funds would be used for the purchase of DLCs (Documentary Letters of Credit).

A DLC is a frequently used banking instrument in international trade. It instructs an issuing bank to pay a seller, normally in connection with the export of goods, with the bank acting as an intermediary in the transaction. The holder may be able to borrow against a future payment, at a loan-to-value ratio of up to 50%. Allen and the Vinclum Group were said to have connections with international banks that would facilitate a legal scheme to exploit this instrument.

Under the scheme, when a $4m DLC was redeemed, it generated cash of $2m. These funds would be used to purchase a larger DLC of $32m, which would generate $16m in cash, which would then be distributed between the alleged fraudsters and the victims.

The victims wired the funds with the belief that DLCs would be bought and monetized. However no such DLCs were purchased in relation to the agreement, it is claimed.

Despite repeated requests, and assurances by the Vinclum Group that the funds would be returned, no refund has been received.

A motion for injunction has been filed to freeze the assets of the accused while fraud investigations are underway.

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More Charges Dropped Just Days Before Trial Against Activists Who Exposed Animal Cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm

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ABBOTSFORD, BC – Several criminal charges were dropped by the Crown yesterday against three animal rights activists just days before their four-week trial is set to begin on Monday, June 27. Amy Soranno, Roy Sasano, and Nick Schafer are accused of exposing animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC in 2019, and still face a combined total of 14 indictable charges of Break and enter and Criminal Mischief. A press conference will be held in front of the BC Supreme Court in Abbotsford on the first day of trial.The Crown gave no explanation when it dropped some of the remaining charges yesterday against the three activists. The Crown similarly dropped all charges last month, without explanation, against a fourth activist, Geoff Regier, after his lawyers argued in a pretrial hearing that police and the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) had engaged in misconduct.Soranno, Sasano, and Schafer, who together with Regier are calling themselves the Excelsior 4. The three activists could each be sentenced to years in prison if convicted.

What: Press conference & start of four-week trial for the Excelsior 4When: Monday, June 27, press conference at 9am, trial at 10amWhere: BC Supreme Court, 32375 Veterans Way, Abbotsford, BC

“The Excelsior 4 case started three years ago with a total of 21 charges hanging over us,” said Amy Soranno, one of the Excelsior 4 defendants going to trial on Monday. “But before the jury has even been selected, the Crown has dropped all charges against one of us and reduced the number of charges against the rest of us.”Until last month, Regier had faced similar charges for his role in blowing the whistle on Excelsior. In July 2019, Regier made contact with the BCSPCA—the only animal abuse enforcement agency in BC—and provided the private charity with video evidence of criminal animal cruelty at the hog farm. However, instead of recommending charges against Excelsior, the BCSPCA violated its own confidentiality policy in order to turn Regier over to police. The trial comes more than three years after the exposure of animal cruelty at Excelsior, yet the hog farm has never had to answer for the video footage clearly depicting animal abuse. A short video was recently published about the Excelsior 4 case, with an incisive look at how industry has avoided accountability, how the police mishandled evidence, and how the Crown is criminalizing activists. View the 7-minute video here: https://youtu.be/FJGAI02SWzw. “The fact that we still face prison time while Excelsior Hog Farm is free to continue its abusive practices is a mockery of justice,” said Soranno. “This case further illustrates the clear bias against animals and activists by the animal agriculture industry, BCSPCA, and police. Our trial will shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior, and the failure to hold them and other animal farms accountable.” The trial also comes more than a year after a Freedom of Information disclosure revealed that the BCSPCA has no capacity to enforce anti-cruelty laws at animal farms in BC. Activists point to the abuse carried out at Excelsior as just one example of the BCSPCA’s failure to take enforcement action despite ample evidence of criminal animal cruelty. “BC needs an enforcement agency that is accountable to the public, not a private charity that is unfit for the role and only answerable to its board of directors,” said Soranno. In addition to demanding that the hog farm be held accountable, the Excelsior 4 and animal rights activists across the province are calling on BC Agriculture Minster Lana Popham to replace the private charity BCSPCA with a more accountable government agency to enforce against animal cruelty in BC. In the interest of transparency and accountability, activists are also demanding the installation of Closed-Circuit TV cameras at all animal agriculture facilities in BC. “With no national regulations governing animal welfare on farms and virtually no government oversight on farms, one of the only ways abuse and mistreatment of farmed animals comes to light is through whistleblower and hidden camera exposés,” said Animal Justice in a recent statement. “Preventing journalists and animal advocates from exposing animal abuse restricts freedom of expression, one of the most important human rights in Canada.” For more information about the Excelsior 4, the story behind their charges, and how to take action against animal cruelty: www.excelsior4.org/.
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Is The Canadian Online Gambling Industry Regulated?

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Like in many western countries, gambling is a popular pastime for many Canadians. Throughout Canada’s evolution, it has strived to give its citizens the freedom of gambling across the provinces. Thanks to this, casinos in the country have grown and thrived over the years, from land-based casinos to the more modern online gambling sites.

Interestingly, government-sponsored sites have also joined the online trend. While other nations globally move from one extreme to the other in terms of their stand on gambling, Canadian lawmakers have generally used an even-handed approach despite the attraction of quick and easy money.

Generally, the country’s laws are flexible while simultaneously protecting the public’s welfare.

 

History of Canada’s Gambling Laws

The ‘90s marked a new age for the gambling industry in Canada because of the computer and internet boom. The first online casinos also launched during this era, and you no longer had to risk gambling in unlicensed casinos in Sweden if you could not access legal casinos. Avid gamblers could simply go online, although they were much fewer in number.

The first reason for this was only a few people owned computers. There was also a concern about the absence of online casino regulations. As the industry expanded, governments began establishing rules to control the sector. Today, traditional and online gambling is prevalent in the country since accessing casinos is much simpler now than before.

 

Is the gambling sector legal in Canada?

Online gambling had been illegal for years in Canada until quite recently. Now, it is legal in Canada in different forms. All the ten provinces and the three territories have the premise to set their own rules. The minimum legal gambling age in Canada is 19, apart from Alberta and Quebec, where players are only allowed to gamble upon turning 18.

All casinos, lotteries, racetracks as well as other gaming establishments must abide by the rules stipulated by their territory or province of operation. As previously mentioned, some forms of gambling are legal in parts of Canada and illegal in others. The country has two gambling laws; the First Nations Law and the Provincial Law.

The latter accords each territory or province control over gambling activities within its jurisdiction. Subsequently, some provincial laws are stricter than the federal regulations.

 

Take away

Today, many Canadians enjoy gambling online, from sports betting and live tables to traditional games like slots. Now that it is legal, you can safely access any reputable and legal casino online and physically.

 

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