David Marsden: Trudeau chooses the wrong path

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a mistake by sending $2,000 a month to every Canadian who applied for the benefits intended to help shoulder the burden of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It has become apparent that abuse is rampant, and he doesn’t care.

It’s wiser to send a cheque to anyone who wants one, rather than expect the sort of checks and balance that are routine whenever money is changing hands, according to the Liberal leader.

“Getting that help to the 99 per cent of Canadians who needed it quickly and rapidly — even if it meant accepting that one or two per cent might make fraudulent claims — was the choice that we gladly made,” said Trudeau.

Some might be temped to think well of the prime minister as he’s holed up at the posh cottage on the grounds of Canada’s Governor General, but it’s not his money he’s giving away.

It’s our money. Trudeau will do quite well, thanks to his personal wealth, public perks and charm.

It is the rest of us who will have to pay for his misuse of public spending. It is questionable whether the sums can ever be paid back.

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Trudeau should not have ignored the wisdom of public workers who monitor the payments to Canadians. They are the ones who are issuing these cheques and they speak of widespread abuse that they’re told to ignore.

The federal government has acted on many fronts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, of course.

For instance, it has made sure banks extend the mortgages of those who cannot make their monthly payments.

It has committed to pay employers 75 per cent of the wages of workers.

It has guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 to ensure small businesses can stay afloat.

The policy is similar to that of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., which assists families that can’t pull together a fulsome down payment to buy a home. That’s many of us.

It seems a smart approach to extend a hand to those who need it, rather than dropping Canadians’ wallet on the floor in a fog of self-indulgence. That’s the path Trudeau has chosen.

Instead of sending cheques for $2,000 a month to everybody who wants one, the government should have guaranteed, through the banks, there was an extension of Canadians’ line of credit, which most families have as part of their personal finances.

The government should have worked with the people who issue credit cards, to ensure Canadians aren’t unnecessarily punished for living hand to mouth by paying punitive interest rates. The government hasn’t done that.

The government should have ensured that those in need of help receive it, as we have always done as a caring nation.

Trudeau should not have created a program where everyone who wanted a public handout gets one.

The prime minister is bent on turning Canada into a socialist country.

There is no nurturing of free enterprise that allows our companies to be the best in the world.

There is no encouragement of Canadians to save for the future in case things go wrong.

What we have are indiscriminate payments that will cripple Canadians with debt that will be punishing to pay back and hamstring governments in the future.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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