With their first budget in two years, with the pandemic as an impetus, the Trudeau Liberals blew billions of additional dollars of borrowed moneyinto the wind as if as it werefree.
Revenues, as in money coming in from COVID-weary and cash-strapped taxpayers, were put off for another day. But it will take multiple decades for the books to ever be balanced again.
It was an election–oiling budget.
With $101.4 billion tossed out in new spending — $30 billion for $10-a-day daycare — the projected deficit is now $354 billion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Finance MinisterChrystia Freeland are not executive business types, of course. He is largely a drama teacher, and she is a former journalist who had a distaste for plutocrats.
Revenues, to them, are more easily borrowed than attained through taxation. If Trudeau gets more involved in the pandemic, however, the present crisis will become aspectacular disaster.
His government’s track record says enough.
But what about stolen revenues? Surely any legitimate government would want to stop this thievery from happening, which is one reason why the average Joe gets his annual income taxes randomly audited for being a potential avoider.
And it can be hell.
There are stolen revenues, however, that get little mention so as not to offend the participants, which are the dozen-plus organized contraband cigarette criminalswho use Indigenous lands such as Ontario’s Six Nations, Quebec’s Kanesatake, and the New York portion of Akwesasne, to run off 10,000 illicit cigarettes a minutebecause they know the cops — the RCMP and particularly the OPP — will not step foot onto a reserve because of a wealth of bad experiencessuch as Ipperwash, Oka and Caledonia.
Reserves areessentially criminal safe spaces.
In 2018-2019, for example, when tobacco tax revenues were already faltering, Ontario’s cigarette taxes brought in $124 million in revenues for the province. Projections for this year, said the budget, are $106 million from cigarette taxes, down $18 million in just two years.
Contraband tobacco, which represents upwards of 35% of the cigarette market, and tax-free as opposed to what was a 70% taxation on the legal product, has basically pocketed that $18 million, and has raked in millions more by the retailing of their cheap smokes — some $40 (or less) a carton as opposed to what was $135-plus if purchased legitimately.
A third of the way through the epic 773-page document, the federal budget saw the expectedhike to the excise tax on cigarettes, raising the price of a carton of 200 cigarettes by $4, which will only make contraband smokes more desirable—meaning multi-millions more in lost taxes.
Still, the Trudeau Liberals expect smokers to play along, and are projecting revenues from this new tax to rake in $2.1 billion over five years.
The contraband players must be laughing.
But buying contraband cigarettes is hardly a victimless crime. Organized crime and outlaw biker gangs use contraband tobacco to fund the purchase of drugs, guns, and the resources to traffic women for prostitution.
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When police moved in on Project Cairnes, they seized 11.5 million contraband cigarettes, with a street value in British Columbia of$2.6 million; 1,714 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of $2.5 million; three handguns; a cocaine press; 1.14 kilograms of cocaine; 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl and $236,750 in cash.
The profits of this operation were north of 300%.