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Readers Advocate

Politics or public service

A couple of years ago, journalists connected to WikiLeaks revealed a trove of information on hundreds of wealthy Canadians who may (or may not) be hiding piles of cash in offshore bank accounts in order to evade paying their taxes.

Until that public revelation, the Canada Revenue Agency did not act on the leak, because they did not have the information. They did not have the information because, unlike its American and European counterparts, the CRA at the time did not pay for information.

Well, now they do. And that must make it easier for the agency to go after waitresses who don’t declare their tips or day labourers who work on construction sites for cash.

The millionaires with their fortunes in Zurich or the Caribbean? There’s been some tough talk but so far, not a whole lot of recovery reported. A CBC News story — about a year old now — noted the CRA had discovered about $22.4 million in unpaid taxes due from offshore accounts, and recovered about $8 million.

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Making it all add up

Whenever the education experts (including media pundits), government bureaucrats and parents would all line up to bemoan the latest international test scores of Alberta students — and then proceed to blame the teachers for them — I would always tell myself how glad I was that my kids were safely out of school.

And then I started having grandchildren. Does this mean I have to be invested in the next round of the “new math” debate, all over again? I guess so.

Here’s a question from an international Grade 8 level math test: Find 1/3 minus 1/4.

Four possible answers below the question are presented to test whether the student knows the method to finding the answer, which is 4 minus 3 over 3 times 4 (that’s 1/12 in the old math I was taught).

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Wellness Foundation can’t deal with what kills us

Does Alberta need another arms-length or autonomous foundation, funded by a dedicated tax levy, to convince us that better lifestyle choices can lead to better health?

Apparently many of us do. An informal coalition of communities and organizations representing fully a million Albertans is asking the provincial government to create a new foundation that would fund wellness initiatives around the province.

It’s easy enough to get those kind of numbers if you ask municipalities to join your cause. It’s not like Red Deer city council, for instance, would be using any of its own money to promote this initiative. So last week’s decision to join the coalition doesn’t come with much of a downside.

Quite the opposite. The upside potential for the city is huge, considering what is spent here by the city and partner organizations dealing with the outfall of illnesses and conditions that better lifestyle choices can easily prevent.

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