Canada's banking system has been the subject of international praise from economists grappling with global turmoil, but one 12-year-old girl begs to differ.
Victoria Grant of Cambridge, Ont. is earning a reputation as a financial pundit after her tirade against her homeland's borrowing practices went viral on YouTube.
Grant is already a veteran of the financial lecture circuit, but her appearance on April 27 is garnering unusual attention. A video of her address, shot at the Public Banking in America Conference in Philadelphia, has already attracted nearly 65,000 views since being posted a week ago.
For six minutes, the casually clad youngster holds forth to conference attendees on the reasons why so many of the world's countries are facing staggering debt.
'The banks and the government have colluded to financially enslave the people of Canada.' —Victoria Grant, 12-year-old lecturer
Her well-rehearsed speech, delivered in a clear, youthful voice, takes aim at Canada's modern day financial system and champions a greater role for the country's central bank.
"The banks and the government have colluded to financially enslave the people of Canada," she says.
Grant lays out a brief history of the Canadian banking system, referencing obscure historical figures such as former Vancouver mayor Gerald McGeer and explaining that the Bank of Canada held primary control over government lending until the 1970s.
Starting then, she says, governments began borrowing from private banks instead at considerably higher interest rates than those available through the central bank.
The result, Grant argues, is a rapidly increasing national debt.
The pint-sized pundit is quick to offer a solution.
"If the Canadian Government needs money, they can borrow it directly from the Bank of Canada," she says. " ... Canadians would again prosper with real money as the foundation of our economic structure."
Calls to Grant's home were not immediately returned.
Child's speech attracts supporters, critics
Her arguments have been championed in more orthodox financial circles.
Last June, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a plea from retired finance professor George Crowell, who now works on behalf of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform.
Such a change in monetary policy, combined with crucial changes in tax policy, would make available tens of billions of dollars that are urgently needed to rebuild our public infrastructure, protect our environment, and strengthen Medicare and other social programs so vital in meeting human needs," Crowell said.
Critics of Crowell's arguments contend inflation rates would soar if the central bank was able to lend money below commercial interest rates.
Reaction to Grant's video was largely positive, with U.S. financial media outlet Bloomberg featuring a link to her speech on its web page.
YouTube commentators bubbled over with praise, saluting her for explaining complex concepts in comparatively simple terms.
"Good for you Victoria, if you even understand half of what you are saying, you are doing better than half the Canadian public," wrote one YouTube user. "I have for years tried to explain this very simple fact to people around me, and they think I am crazy. Maybe if they saw it from a 12 yr old they would be shamed into paying attention."
One Twitter user offered more concise praise: "Victoria Grant For Prime Minister!"
Others, however, were skeptical that Grant's words were truly her own.
"If you believe that she wrote it and it was impromptu, you are nuts," wrote one commenter on the Huffington Post Canada website.
"It was a put up job by Toddlers and Tiaras parents."