Let’s celebrate today, this weekend and all year long. Canada’s birthday – our 150th at that – is reason to rejoice. Canada is an improbability in so many ways. I’m not sure it would be possible to create a country in today’s world like Canada. Seemingly, everything that could cause failure is present but despite the geography, languages, (far more than just English and French), cultural differences, crazy weather, enormous wilderness areas, mountains, rivers, mosquitoes, artery hardening poutine, economic challenges, political silliness, and everything else that conspires to make Canada impossible, we’re still here. 150 years and still rocking on! Happy Birthday Canada!


I know this is way before your time and mine, but 1967 was our centennial, Expo 67 was taking place in Montreal and everything was possible. The idea of terrorism, internet, cellphones, 60 inch TV’s, GPS, or another Trudeau in office didn’t occur to anyone. A little known band leader named Bobby Gimby became the Pied Piper of the country with this song:

Happy Birthday everyone and the world needs another 150 years of this!


Well, it’s that weekend again. Time to pull “that” file folder out of the cabinet, separate and create piles of receipts, papers and other paraphernalia on my desk top and start entering numbers into the tax software. I know that most people dread the thought of having to file a tax return but if you are organized and have the ability to read and follow instructions, it is not really all that bad. There is however, a bigger picture to consider here and I wish that parents, schools and politicians would spend more time explaining the benefits and purposes of income taxes so that people could rethink the negative stigma of “doing their taxes.”

I’ll touch on misguided tax applications later but it is important to remember that taxes create roads to drive on, schools to teach our children, hospitals to heal our sick, armed forces to protect our freedom, police to keep us safe, libraries to encourage reading, parks to play in, and so much more. A fair and reasonable process for collecting taxes and using them is the hallmark of a civilized society. Of course, we could revert to the good old days where the toughest son of a bitch in the surrounding country would simply bang on our door and demand a portion of our worldly goods. It’s still done that way in some parts of our planet, so be grateful.

It bothers me how many people turn this element of their life over to complete strangers because they think, or at least say, that preparing and submitting taxes is too complicated. This is a straight out opinion on my part, but often those people say that because they simply haven’t tried or are lazy enough to believe what someone else has told them. I am more than shocked by the number of people who have a simple income slip or perhaps just a social assistance slip and run to a tax preparer and pay money (which is obviously a scarce commodity for them) to have somebody with a few hours training submit their return. It would take about 2 minutes on the phone with the tax department to explain how to do it themselves. Seems like an appropriate time to offer this week’s


There are several versions of the song, “Money,” the first of which was written by Berry Gordy, the legendary head of Motown, in 1959 and released by Garret Strong. It went on to become the first hit song from Motown. It has been covered by absolutely everybody over the years. For me, the best rendition was created by the British alt rock band Pink Floyd on the mega hit album, “The Wall.” It was unique because of a 20 second loop they included that had the sound of an old fashioned cash register, the tossing of a roll of coins into a container and the iconic sax solo. Give it a listen:

When it comes to most people, taxes make sense when they think about it but their chief concerns are twofold, 1) the amount of taxes they pay and 2) how their taxes are spent – hello Bombardier. These two concerns are directly linked as we give the power to spend to our politicians who turn around and constantly bribe us with our own money. The sad part is that as an electorate we continue to fall for this scam and think that the “government” giving us some of our own money in the form of pensions, social benefits and other tax inducements is a good thing. We then proceed to complain about how much tax we pay.

I started doing my own taxes a long, long time ago and then enlisted the aid of a tax software program about 10 – 15 years ago and I have some tricky parts on my return – foreign income/business income and expenses – thanks for buying my books – but the process is pretty painless. My point about taxes is that it is such a vital part of our financial lives and represents such a large portion of our earnings that I can’t understand why otherwise intelligent people would turn over this process to someone else. Honestly, you will have a much better understanding of your own money by taking on the task yourself. There is all sorts of help available including tutorials and videos – if you are in Canada, go here if you need it.

OK, time to sit down, haul out the file folder (you have one don’t you?) and assemble your tax return, submit and relax. You are making a difference in your life and the lives of others with your contribution to the greater good. Once you finish, perhaps you would like to join me in this celebration recipe for dinner.



EIFFEL TOWERTo Mr. Justin Trudeau,

Prime Minister


Mr. Trudeau, the events of the past few days and the hasty decisions of your government are keeping me awake tonight. You started your tenure as leader of this great country by honouring our armed forces on Remembrance Day and respecting the sacrifice of our citizens in the fight to keep the world safe. You are currently taking your place on the world stage in the G 20 conference in Turkey to represent Canada, a nation of respect and honour. You witnessed the senseless slaughter of innocent people in Paris as terrorism has yet again reared its ugly and cowardly head. And, I cannot believe this, you have ordered our troops out of the fight against ISIS. The connections among Remembrance Day, Paris and troop withdrawal are too powerful to ignore. This is a country of the brave and courageous who stand on guard for thee – thee meaning all people who need our help. You have committed to bringing 25,000 refugees from Syria to a better life in our land – we have welcomed refugees to Canada since our inception. Yet, we would abandon the fight to protect their homeland??? In our brief history as a free country, we have never run away from the battlefield but rather, as witnessed on Parliament Hill on November 11, we have run into the fight. Why are we now abandoning the greatest fight of this generation – the fight against terrorism? We do a great disservice to the brave young men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom by leaving the fight to protect what is good, free and right in this world. Now is not the time to run away but rather the time to recommit more resources in the fight against terrorism, wherever it cowers. Perhaps your election promise to withdraw our troops was “politically correct” but it is time for leaders to be leaders and make the right decision not necessarily the popular one – this is what you were elected to do. Please admit the error of premature withdrawal and show the world and your country that we are the Canada of our forbearers and that we stand for the rights of the innocent against the tyranny of those who would kill and slaughter for their personal aggrandizement. Support our troops with better resources and commit them to doing the job they freely offered to do – make the world a better place and in so doing, make our country the proud land that it needs to be. This is when the going gets tough, when we do not abandon our allies, when we stand up for our values, when we protect the innocent, when we stay on the battlefield until the job is done.

Robert J Bannon

Proud Canadian