Have your say: Did Trudeau’s debt answer satisfy?

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Gary Mauris had a one-on-one sit-down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and asked him about one issue that seems to perennially be on every broker’s mind. Did his answer satisfy?

“The biggest issue and the biggest challenge that I see in this country right now and the one area I believe you can really, really help with is regulating credit card debt,” the president of Dominion Lending Centres said to Trudeau during a special CBC segment, entitled Canadians interview the prime minister about issues that matter to them. “If you’ve looked at a credit card statement these days, if you make the minimum payment, it takes you 125 years to pay off your credit card.”

Mauris continues: “Canadians are getting absolutely buried, strangled in credit card debt and it’s the one area that no government has actually focused on and you could actually leave your DNA in this country, you could make such an impact, just by shoring up that one area.”

Excluding mortgages, Canadians hold an average of $21,028 in debt.

And while the government has implemented various plans to curb mortgage debt, brokers have long been frustrated by the government’s inaction when it comes to minimizing this more cumbersome debt.

It’s an issue Trudeau said the government is taking seriously.

“You highlight the challenge of household debt and personal debt. We’re working with banks and making sure regulations are in place that will keep Canadians safe,” Trudeau told Mauris. “Get people the financial literacy needed to know that you can’t borrow now and hope that you’ll be OK later.”

Trudeau failed to go into specifics, even after being asked by Peter Mansbrige in a followup question whether the Prime Minister is worried about the amount of credit card debt in Canada – and what he plans to do about it.

“This is a real challenge but the easy solution of suddenly legislating something like that is not necessarily going to have the consequences people want,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “We have to be very, very thoughtful about when and how we regulate financial institutions and banks and make sure we’re doing it in a way that is actually going to help Canadians.

“And scapegoating different institutions when it’s about personal responsibility as well … these are things that all go together.”

For his part, Mauris was unsatisfied with Trudeau’s answers.

“He gave a political answer by putting some of the responsibility back on the consumer,” Mauris told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “I would have liked to hear him say he will get the ministers together to review this and see how it is impacting Canadians, as well as an action plan to say steps are being taken to learn more about the impact, and to put together a framework to oversee it.”

Still, he was impressed with the Prime Minister’s willingness to subject himself to such a rigorous interview process.

“It was unprecedented in this country – most politicians are well-insulated and avoid the tough questions,” Mauris said. “Doing this was a real feather in his cap.”

Did you think Prime Minister Trudeau’s answer was sufficient? Have your say in the comments below.
  • Wolfram on 2016-02-02 9:14:43 AM

    Find it hard to see this as a "feather" in the PM's cap. What's the point of making himself available if he's not ready to give any answers of substance. What's more he doesn't come across as really understanding the concerns put to him. He's got very little real world or leadership experience to draw on.

  • Barry Parsons on 2016-02-02 9:39:21 AM

    No Trudeau gave an answer. Just to give a response to the question. I am sure the action that is required will not be taken to solve this ever growing problem.

  • average citizen on 2016-02-02 9:43:20 AM

    I have to agree with the prime minister Canadians do not need to be babied when it comes to managing debt such as credit card debt. What is needed is better education and brokers could step in to fill this need. Regulating unsecured debt like Mortgages is not going to solve anything because the risk is fully born by the lender. The bigger issue is financial literacy, learning self discipline and control of where ones money goes. If there were to be any regulations implemented they could look at possible regulating how credit cards are marketed rather than the approval criteria.

  • Joe Janovich on 2016-02-02 9:49:06 AM

    No. PM's answer was simply political fluff, although he was very good at it: he side-stepped the issue without looking like he side-stepped it.

  • LanceH on 2016-02-02 10:03:56 AM

    I'm totally against CC regulations. We already rely too heavily on Gov in this country to run our lives. The more dependent you become, the more dependent you become! Ppl need to learn responsibility for their actions, even if they get their the hard way!
    It takes 10yrs to adopt a baby in Canada. This is why ppl are going to Russia. It's a great example of Gov strangling our society, our economy with regulation. It creeps. Less is more!!

  • TimB on 2016-02-02 10:13:57 AM

    I agree with the PM's statement regarding the consumer bearing some of the responsibility..the Credit card companies are "making us rack up our cards"...however as a mortgage broker I see peoples credit reports all the time, and when there is history of missed payments it is almost always regarding a credit card or higher interest vehicle loan.
    If the gov't really wants to help Canadians then they need to regulate sub prime vehicle financing and credit card companies. I have seen car loans at rates in excess of 29% - they basically can do whatever they want.

  • Rosemary Madden on 2016-02-02 10:24:54 AM

    The PM absolutely sidestepped the issue but did Gary Mauris REALLY expect anything more. This young man was not voted into power due to his experience and business acumen. As I recently read, if his name was Justin Thompson would we even be discussing him at all, I think not. This young man was voted into the most prominent position in the country because of his pedigree and certainly not for his for what he has accomplished and from what we see, that has been far from inspiring.

  • Jason Lewis on 2016-02-02 10:28:49 AM

    To properly answer whether or not he provided substance I had to rewind to the beginning to review his answers. Try it and you will see that he has the same non-committal answer about his care for Canadians and the importance of protecting them. Blah blah blah. The real issue is that he has no idea what he is doing and hence has no real solutions to problems he can not understand. Growing up in a privileged environment without ever accomplishing anything noteworthy, aside from somehow riding the family name to victory and promising things he cannot ever deliver, does not predispose him to be able to sufficiently address the real issues facing this massive corporation called Canada with 30,000,000 shareholders. He needs to be held accountable for his promises and the costs he must avoid to ensure our economy grows. Just one shareholder's opinion.

  • IMHO on 2016-02-02 10:46:52 AM

    The issue wasn't put to the PM entirely correctly. The govt keeps regulating mortgage debt. A product that is fully secured, in most cases amortizing, and also its' corresponding asset is appreciating steadily, with almost zero delinquency. Credit card debt is unsecured, so has no asset appreciation, with higher delinquency. It is unregulated and it is the area that should have higher qualification standards and tightening applied. It's the lack of qualifying standards that is hurting consumers. It was also said "consumers aren't refinancing for spending- they are refinancing for high credit card debt". This high cc debt came from SPENDING! whether straight from a refi or from a credit card.

  • KBowles on 2016-02-02 10:49:30 AM

    He answered the question the same way he did his campaign. With pre written talking points. He didnt even attempt to answer the first question he just focuses on tax deductions to the middle class. I loved Garys comment that" this is not Sherwood Forest and he's not Robin Hood. "

  • Bob on 2016-02-02 10:50:37 AM

    Its very simple, if government force credit card companies to reduce the rates, they either reduce/eliminate the rewards or increase the interchange fee. Reducing/eliminating the rewards will punish the consumers who wisely pay off their balances monthly. Increasing the interchange fee will punish small businesses with the increased costs. If the government change how consumers qualify for a credit card then more and more people will have to resort to payday loan companies when they don't qualify for unsecured credit. Consumers choose how they spend their money/credit and it shouldn't be controlled by a government body, people need to be responsible for their own actions and be accountable for their debt burden.

  • L Groves on 2016-02-02 11:03:41 AM

    Yup... just political fluff... I think likely he sidestepped the question because the banks are as powerful as they are. It's easy to regulate mortgages when a crown corporation holds the key to regulations (CMHC) but otherwise, I highly doubt that they can or will do anything. The government has no teeth and with no teeth they won't be able to do anything to stop the blatant throwing credit card money at everyone. Like Gary said... mortgages are not the problem credit cards are!

  • Tomas on 2016-02-02 11:14:01 AM

    Could a few of you brokers simply say what the actual 2 or 3 credit card regulations you want are?

  • Michael on 2016-02-02 11:43:20 AM

    That is where the advice part comes in during an interview with the applicant. Getting a loan approved is the easy part. Figuring out the person's financial lifecycle and establishing a budget for some folks is more important than the loan itself. As a broker/lender we have to ask ourselves, are we helping them out financially or just getting them more in debt. I always go by the "sleep at night factor". Declining a loan is the right thing to do in some cases even if you know they will get approved elsewhere. You don't build loyalty by putting people into debt, you build loyalty getting them out of deby.

  • Claypool on 2016-02-02 11:46:47 AM

    Totally skirted the issue by bringing up the Vancouver and Toronto real estate market. And the way he addressed that wasn't satisfying either. Really? Foreign investment is buying up our homes not only in Vancouver but now the Greater Vancouver Area - hitting us in the burbs where most of working people live and raise our families. Most of these homes are vacant and the owners do not directly contribute the local economy which the PM seems to be all about.

  • Maureen on 2016-02-02 11:48:47 AM

    “And scapegoating different institutions when it’s about personal responsibility as well … these are things that all go together.”
    The truth is the most profitable product a financial institution has is their credit card portfolio and banks have lobbied for years to have the government leave this product alone with respect to legislation. Any legislation should be with respect to maximum interest rates charged and maximum fees charged. If there is a ceiling the banks would have to be more prudent as they would not have the room to realize the same profit and cover losses due to bad debt. At the end of the day they have to report to their shareholders.

  • Tomas on 2016-02-02 11:59:44 AM

    Enjoy the facts. Park the hyperbole please.

    http://canada.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/canada-credit-card-debit-card-stats-international-1276.php

  • Frank on 2016-02-02 12:11:20 PM

    Gary could have done a lot better. His main point was that the rich were paying too much in taxes even though in making their money they created jobs for others. He wanted less less clawing back money from the rich (who use our resources to make their money) but more regulation to prevent other people from choosing to take risks by taking credit. We don't need the patronizing kind of legislation he thinks could work. Gary was self-serving if you ask me. The Prime Minister's look said it all, he could see right through him.

    Gary could have tried to be less concerned with himself and showed some concern for others. Then again, this was meant to be a cross-section of Canadians and not just ones highly qualified to speak on their topic. For those who think the Prime Minister needed to give more committed answers, it would be irresponsible for the Prime Minister to speak on behalf of all of government, especially off the cuff. He showed good leadership. He kept his composure even when Gary was trying to come across as aggressive and in charge. Trudeau was impressive.

  • Sarah on 2016-02-02 1:27:25 PM

    Actually... His response was spot on and what it should be. Mortgage brokers need to understand something that is fundamentally different between the credit card market and the one you are used to operating in (mortgages). The government provides backing to the vast majority of mortgages booked in Canada, so they are directly exposed to the risk associated with this lending platform. They do not back credit card or other forms of consumer debt, and never have.

    This is very basic stuff and something that 15 years ago was taught in the BC broker course. It is very unfortunate that (a) it is not a part of the broker course anymore and (b) that other provinces have never had it as a part of their licensing curriculum.

    Brokers need to have a fundamental understanding of the NHA and the history of mortgage lending and other credit in Canada. To not have this basic education is doing an extreme disservice to any consumer that is receiving advice from a mortgage broker. How many of you know when it became legal for banks to lend mortgages? That is actually a trick question… because it is actually not legal for a chartered bank to lend on mortgages… so how can they lend? Who were the primary mortgage lenders prior to that date? When did the proliferation of credit cards actually start happening? Who regulates credit cards? I wonder… can Gary Mauris answer any of these questions off the top of his head? Based on the interview… I would wager that he could not.

    Yes. Credit card debt is significantly higher than it once was. Yes it is a problem. But who’s problem? The governments? The banks? Or is it the consumer who can’t live within their means? No one is forced to spend like they do. You do not NEED to have a BMW, you do not NEED to have a coach purse, or those designer jeans. You do it because you want them. You do it because you want to live the dream. Well, that dream costs money, and if you make the choice to spend today so that you can keep up with the pack and show off how “rich” you are… then you need to live with those consequences.

    It is, in reality, no different that the oil patch millionaires that lived the dream while the price of oil was good. They spent their way into a hole and now that things have gone south, they are demanding that the government step up and bail them out. I have several friends that worked the oil patch and there are two kinds of people there. The first is the kind that spent like mad and lived the good life buying toys, fancy homes, etc. Then there are the ones that lived reasonably and saved. They are the ones that are now saying, OK we knew that this would happen eventually (as anyone with half a brain would because it’s happen A LOT in the history of the province) and we are prepared.

    So because some people were foolish does that mean that the rest of us should be accountable for their foolishness? We should bail them out? Should we restrict credit cards for those that spend out of control and spend tax payer dollars doing so?

    When you ask a government to start regulating to this level you are essentially telling them that Canadians do not have the capacity to be self-managing or accountable for the choices that they make. They need the government to do it for them. That is a very slippery slope. Where does it end? When do people start understanding that the choices they make in life have consequences?

    Anyone who supports a free market economy, or even true democracy, would never ask the government to exert this much influence over the day to day lives of their citizens. That is particularly true of anyone who supports the conservative government… they were as far away from being socialist as you can get in Canada. I for one, not a conservative supporter (Actually NDP), would never support this level of regulation.

  • David I on 2016-02-02 1:55:14 PM

    No the PM didn't answer the question and he avoided any inference that he would look at an action plan. The most obvious reason to me is the banks have a controlling interest in the government. Banks make billions off the backs of Canadians in credit card debt and the interest that is paid. There is no way the banks are going to allow anyone to mess with that much money. I don't have a problem with the interest rate on credit cards because if it was low and manageable people would simply charge more and the debt would be higher. I think if there is to be a solution there needs to be banking policy (not government regulation) in place where consumers needs to have their balances paid to zero within a responsible amount of time before credit purchases resume. First time credit card holders should be issued special cards where monthly statements are required to be paid in full before they can charge again. After 2 years there is a better chance they have learned responsible credit card use and with good credit can apply for a regular card.

  • Kevin R. on 2016-02-02 2:20:12 PM

    @Tomas THANK YOU for sharing this piece of information. One thing that is interesting... the stats do not support the comments made by Gary Mauris - AT ALL.

    If you are going to go on national television and talk... make sure you know what you are talking about first. To do other wise is embarrassing for everyone in our industry... but more so for the people who are part of the companies you own.

    http://canada.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/canada-credit-card-debit-card-stats-international-1276.php

  • Not Impressed on 2016-02-02 3:00:30 PM

    I think the Prime Ministers response was appropriate and as it should have been.

    What I am "Not Impressed" with was Gary Mauris. I do not think he represented the mortgage broker industry favorably, nor was he relatable by the majority of Canadians. A review of public comments on CBC will confirm this.

    Gary's focus on personal income tax for the 1% of Canadians was pretentious and self-serving. The Prime Minister corrected him so as not to confuse "personal income tax" with "corporate tax" as businesses are being recognized for their contribution to employment and the economy.

    His continual interruptions and comments on "Robin Hood" were unprofessional, inappropriate and rude. His lack of understanding of the difference between secured and unsecured credit lending further demonstrated his ignorance and lack of expert knowledge the majority of practising brokers possess.

    This was a wasted opportunity to demonstrate the strength of home ownership, what this does for consumers and the economy and how we, mortgage brokers, can help to educate and support consumers. This was an opportunity to focus on self-employment, reduction of government red-tape for small business, and missed opportunities for public consultations with 'every day Canadians' versus the big banks and high paid executives who are out of touch.

    I think the PM answered the questions properly. They were just the wrong questions asked by the wrong person.

  • Peter A. on 2016-02-02 5:44:12 PM

    Excuse me... but... doesn't DLC sell credit cards? I have been told by their people on more than one occasion that it is a great revenue source for them.

    Talk about being hypocritical!

    Also... does Gary really think that the PM is stupid and that his people would not have done research on his company BEFORE the interview happened?

    Based on the fact that the guy used incorrect statistics when talking to Mr. Trudeau, and that he has a company that sells branded credit cards... I think he is lucky that Trudeau didn't put him on the spot about it.

    Goes to show you who the true professional and gentleman is... and his last name is NOT Mauris.

  • Anthony on 2016-02-02 5:47:01 PM

    Where do people get the figure 21K for credit card debt? Do we not know how to read a report people?

    That is ALL consumer debt, including vehicle financing. Credit card debt is average less than $4000 per person.

    Drowning in credit card debt? Really Gary? Have you so little understanding, or are you just surrounded by peers that can't be bothered to give you accurate information so you don't sound like a fool on national television?

  • James on 2016-02-03 7:16:41 AM

    What was he supposed to say? I grew up with a silver spoon and I don't know what the problems are with the peasants?

  • Jerry Quigley on 2016-02-03 8:15:22 AM

    Well said, Sarah.
    I watched the interview but found it hard to stay with it to the end. Will we need government approval to get our next credit card?
    I suspect that after Gary Mauris watches the interview, he might want to change half of it.

  • Sylvia R. on 2016-02-03 12:00:43 PM

    It is the responsibility of the consumer to be financially responsible; not the government. You got yourself into debt; get yourself out of debt. There are more important issues for Trudeau to deal with than to worry about someone's irresponsible handling of their finances.

  • Independent BC Broker on 2016-02-03 12:23:25 PM

    As one of the few independent brokers left in the country non-affiliated with any natinal broker, I can confidently say that Gary Mauris has more talent in his baby finger then most of the people negatively commenting on his interview. He was poised and confident and although perhaps most of you can't relate to being in the top 1%, I can and his question was excellent. Why should the top 1% always be the ones hammered to pay more. There should be some sort of incentive for owners. How would all you DLC brokers feel if Gary decided he didn't want to do it anymore and shut the house down? What he he said, its not worth it all the hours, dedication and hard work to just turn around and give the gov't 58% of his income? Then what? People like Gary don't come along every day - he is the bright star in our industry. Yes, he was passionate about what he was saying but isn't Gary always passionate about everything he says? Image earning 200K but taking home 98K.....It BITES! Wake up people!

  • average citizen on 2016-02-03 12:44:35 PM

    After watching the interview again I focused more on the body language this time. Try watching the video on mute and pay close attention to the handshake at the end, the way that the Mortgage exec is sitting vs Trudeau, the facial expressions etc... Unbelievable.

  • Another Independent BC Broker on 2016-02-04 12:38:30 PM

    @Independent BC Broker... with all due respect to your comments... the 1% are NOT always hammered to pay more. Under Harper personal income taxes for the rich declined. I also think that you need to realistically look at the numbers and understand something that is pretty fundamental here... 1% of 200k is $2000 or $166 per month... that's it.

    If you make 200K and you can't afford to pay another $166 per month to help ease the burden on those people who are struggling to make ends meet...

    I make over 200k per year, but you know with my write offs as a self employed person I actually pay about the same tax in a year as my son who is an employee and earns just shy of 70K per year. For him to get a tax break means he has more money for things like daycare for the grand kids, paying for sports, etc. With the cost of housing being what it is in the GVRD, any extra money for them makes a huge difference.

    Obviously as a grandparent I help out as much as I can, but there is a certain sense of pride for him - he wants to be able to do it for himself. Something that most people understand.

    Does Gary work hard? Sure he does, just as hard as any other successful business person. Probably no harder that Colin Dreyer, or Michael Beckett for that matter. The point is not if he works hard or not, the point is how he represented our industry.

    He sat there, as an industry professional and quoted wrong facts. He confused small business tax with personal income tax, and he was discourteous. His tone and body language were confrontational from the moment he walked into the room. After reading Average citizens comments I too watched it with the volume off... and I have to say... Trudeau's body language and facial expressions were open and there was a demonstrated eagerness to engage in the conversation. The closed body language and facial expressions of Mauris displayed palatable aggression. The slight rolling of the eyes when Trudeau started to speak, etc.

    This is not what our industry needs as a spokes person. We need someone who is aggressive yes, but also one that understands how to engage effectively - especially in a public forum.

    Gary had the opportunity to address the number one topic for most Canadians - housing affordability.

    Sit in a room with the average person from most major cities, and listen to the conversation... We all talk about the weather (it is a Canadian Passion!), and the cost of housing / the real estate market. We, through Gary, could have been advocates looking for a solution for this common issue. Instead we focused on taxes on the rich.

    Here we had someone who is a self declared industry spokesperson who had that opportunity, and missed it. By such a wide margin that it is beyond comprehension.

    As for the naysayers... when there is commentary from the general public about a segment that is negative, guess what? That is the most important commentary to pay attention too. They are our customers. What we think matters little. What our customers think... that can change the world.

    Brokers claim to be working for the customer, for the average Canadians, for first time home owners. Do you really think that they care about the amount of tax a rich person pays? They are trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

    Give your head a shake.

  • Salaried, 214K earner... on 2016-02-04 12:46:12 PM

    @independent BC broker:

    I make 2014 per year I am going to take home more that 98K. I would strongly suggest that you purchase a new calculator. The one you are using is broken.

    and for the record, I don't actually mind paying an extra $2140 per year. I get a lot for my taxes... most importantly I live in a country that has a great standard of living where I do not have to worry about bombs going off. My kids can play without me worrying about them being shot. I live in a home that the vast majority of people in the world only dream about. I drive a car that 80% of the population of the planet can't afford.

    You people and your first world problems. You all need a serious reality check because you sound like spoiled children.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 2016-02-04 1:17:16 PM

    No Comment on the interview, I choose to be Switzerland. Neutral.

    The commentary about the tax however made me curious so I did some investigation. Here are some interesting stats to put things into perspective for us all.

    The last long form Census was done in 2013 and according to that, combined with information gleaned from the CRA there are 26,172,530 income earners in Canada.

    Of those people 338,960 people earned more than $200,000.00 in a year.

    That means that 25,833,570 made less than 200K per year.

    22,210,820 earned less than $75k per year.

    18,187,590 earned less than $50K per year.

    The average median income in Canada is $32, 020 per year.

    Again - neutral on the interview and only my personal opinion on the tax situation.

    The government is doing what a democratically elected government is supposed to do. Look after the interests of the majority first. Lower income earners are the majority, and they did lower business tax to ease the burden on small business.

    So I will pay more income tax yes. I am not really excited about that. Who would be!?!

    BUT more Canadians will be in a better situation to save to buy a home and that means more business. I kinda think it's worth it.

    Remember, we have the lions share of the market for first time home buyers. Very few of them fit in the 200k+ market. More money for them means more money to buy a home which translates into more business for us. That translates into more commission.

    Just my two cents. For what it is worth.

  • James on 2016-02-05 8:11:32 PM

    where is the link to the interview? I heard Gary totally blew it!

  • Embarrassed for Gary on 2016-02-11 11:58:10 AM

    1st... I did not vote Liberal.
    2nd... I think Trudeau is over his head on a day to day basis.
    3rd... #1 and #2 only matter to make it clear I am not supporting Trudeau
    4th... For the life of me, I can not grasp how Gary Mauris gets to represent the mortgage industry. That entire video was a complete embarrassment. His body language, the way he sits in the chair, his numerous interruptions, his fake ass-kissing, and his shameless sales pitch about mortgaging the renovations on Sussex Drive, not to mention the fact he doesn't know the difference between his corporate tax rate and his personal tax rate. And if he was so concerned about people swimming in credit card debt he would get rid of his Don Cherry inspired Dominion Visa, or Master card... or what ever it is. Each time I see this guy speak I can't help but think of how loudly people laugh at him. Where is Boris Bozic, Ron Swift, Colin Dreyer, Doug Farmer, or anyone of regard, that could take on this roll of industry representation?

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