A number is never just a number: Words to retire in 2014

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Government wage freezes, job and spending cuts are adding to the post-recession fiscal drag on Canada's economy. Even the IMF says it was wrong about austerity. Time to put austerity out of our misery. (Source)


Attrition, the euphemism used to justify the end of Canada Post home mail delivery -- savings through the attrition of up to 8,000 jobs -- is defined by the dictionary as: "constant wearing down to weaken or destroy". (Source

Hard-working middle-class families

The 2013 catch-all terminology for politicians trying to show they feel our pain. Often accompanied by hollow promises. What about those who aren't middle class? Those who are not raising a family? Those who are without work?

Special interests

Derogatory term invoked by politicians when they don't like what they're hearing or if they aren't angling for a vote from the group pressing for change.

War on the car

Drivers love their cars. But to cast cyclists' demand for safe bike lanes and commuters' need for better public transit as a 'war on the car' is unnecessarily divisive. We all want to get where we're going safely and efficiently.

Ford Nation

No politician has ever owned Toronto and no one ever will. Mayors come and mayors go. Public support waxes and wanes. Ford Nation is a social construct. It doesn't actually exist. (Source

Union bosses

Labour-busting politicians invoke the imagery of 'union bosses' to distract the masses from Wall Street/Bay Street. The correct term is actually 'union leaders'. They are democratically elected by their own membership, representing the majority will of a democratic movement (the labour movement). (Source)


Often used in the context of 'modernizing' laws or 'cutting red tape.' Code for putting the corporate fox in charge of the regulatory hen house. (Source

Working poor

Working poor in prosperous Canada? How about banishing working poverty by making the minimum wage a living wage. Bonus: paying low-income workers more can be good for economic growth. They spend all their earnings and they buy local. (Source)

Unpaid internships

With high levels of youth joblessness in Canada, internships are a way for young people to gain experience and get a toehold into the labour market. Those interns deserve to be paid for their work. (Source

Debt Crisis

The latest volley from Canada's right creates a government debt crisis where it doesn't exist -- cherry-picking provinces for political gain while ignoring the decades of tax cuts they've promoted that clean out government coffers.

Tax haven

Calling tax evasion a 'tax haven' makes it sound like a temporary holiday, when it's actually a permanent strategy used by some of Canada's wealthy to avoid the social responsibility of paying their fair share of taxes. Reframe: tax evasion. (Source

Tax burden

Compared to 2000, Canadians now pay $38 billion less a year in income taxes. It's part of a long-term political agenda cast as 'relief' from the tax 'burden', creating a new burden: the pressure tax cuts place on shrinking public services. (Source


Of course, we are all taxpayers, but we are, first and foremost, social citizens who invest in each other and in our communities. That's the gift we give each other every time we pay our taxes. Group hug. (Source

See more here.

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The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's Trish Hennessy has long been a fan of Harper Magazine's one-page list of eye-popping statistics, Harper's Index. Instead of wishing for a Canadian version to magically appear, she's created her own index -- a monthly listing of numbers about Canada and its place in the world. Hennessy's Index -- A number is never just a number -- comes out at the beginning of each month.

Photo: kool_skatkat/flickr

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