Author Archives: Jay Currie

Music for Max

Justin Trudeau told the New York Times Magazine,

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.” (link)

And I suspect he believes this. Why not? It makes easing into a post national world all that much easier.

Maxime Bernier seems to think that this may not be true.

So a suggestion for Max. While public choice theory is all very well, and right more often than not, music is visceral. It hits our hearts not our heads.

I was buzzing around the ‘nets tonight and ran across this benefit concert for John Mann, the lead singer for Spirit of the West who, sadly, has early onset Altzheimers. Take a watch and give what you can:

And, yes that is the divine Sarah and Jim Burnes and a bunch of other Vancouver musicians. But like any other red blooded Canadian male I needed to know who the beautiful, blonde, fiddler was in the middle of the pack. (And, no, that isn’t Peter Garrett…that would be Australian Max.)

The answer was Kendel Carson who you can see here with Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea singing Barrett’s Privateers in a none to sober evening in Halifax.

And there is grand stuff from Quebec.

Fiddles, a beat, and a calling back of traditional music.

Poor Donald Trump seems to think that the pleasures of the Rolling Stones – not to be discounted – are the way to open rallies.

Max needs to be smarter. Whether recorded or live, he needs to begin his own appeal for a better Canada with an appeal to our hearts. This music goes there.

(And, yes, I have no doubt that all the performers are soibois to the n’th degree. But that is what you have staff for. A great fiddle band to open with could flip the switch in a lot of ridings.)

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No News is No News

Just watched the 20 minute Chrystia Freeland “news” conference.

Apparently she’s promised “not to negotiate in public” which means she is unwilling to address any substantive questions at all.

This week’s talks have ended but they will be back at it Wednesday of next week.

Just one problem, which Freeland, of course, dodged, Trump has basically said that he is not moving on any of the key points and that he’d be just as happy to drop a 25% tariff on Canadian made cars. Kinda tough to negotiate around that.

Which means that, after a week of “intense” negotiations Freeland is going back to Canada with nothing except the fact that The Donald is planning on taking his bilateral agreement with Mexico and notifying Congress that it will be signed 90 days from now.

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Perfect!

Rachel Notley ,Transmountain, pipeline, climate change Alberta will pull out of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national climate change plan until construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets back on track, Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed approvals for the project.

“As important as climate action is to our province’s future I have also always said that taking the next step, in signing on to the federal climate plan, can’t happen without the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Notley told reporters in a live address Thursday evening.

“So today I am announcing that with the Trans Mountain halted, and the work on it halted, until the federal government gets its act together; Alberta is pulling out of the federal climate plan,” she added.

“And let’s be clear, without Alberta that plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” CBC

Of course the national climate change plan was idiotic from the get go; but I love Notley underbussing it when the Federal Court crashes Transmountain. It is, needless to say, purely Alberta political; but Notley is essentially saying that she only signed on to get “social licence” rather than to save the Earth. Faced with the delay, if not death, of a means of shipping Alberta oil to the sea, the Hell with “saving the Planet”. Ace!

Which goes to show just how seriously the great and the good take this “climate change” thingee. The national climate plan would have done sweet fuck all to reduce global temperatures because a) science, b) Canada’s tiny emissions footprint as compared to the Chinese et al, c) it’s virtue signalling all the way down. Alberta put up its virtue signal but it was just not enough for the Federal Court.

So she’s pulled. And good for her. And good for Alberta.

The wheels are coming off the climate change bus. The hypocrisy is being exposed and no one seriously thinks Canada’s efforts are going to make a speck of difference (even assuming the science is right which it isn’t.)

Trudeau, and the egregious “Climate Barbie”, are losing this tournament of idiots. They don’t have the science, they don’t have the policy and now they don’t have Alberta.

All good.

It’s Complicated, Intentionally Complicated

Transmountain pipeline, First NationsCanada’s Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the Trans-Mountain pipeline’s going ahead. It is a long decision but it came down to two things: first that the Federal Government did not sufficiently consult with First Nations, second, that the National Energy Board’s report upon which the Federal Government relied in finally approving the pipeline did not consider the impact of the shipping required to carry the oil.

There are lots of political angles on this most of them entirely predictable. But what interested me was that the consultation requirements and the consideration of shipping seem so self evidently a necessary part of the process.

The NEB seemed to have taken the position that its expertise did not extend to oil tankers, potential spills and attempts to mitigate marine risks. Which, realistically, is almost certainly true. However, it would not have been beyond the Federal Government to order up a seperate risk assessment from people with the necessary expertise.

The issue of the adequacy of the Federal Government’s First Nation consultation is much more difficult. The decision outlines what the government did in terms of consultation, but it also describes what the government did not do which includes taking account of traditional First Nations knowledge and several other fairly vague deficencies.

What the Court essentially asked was, “Did the Federal Government consult  enough?” and then concluded, “No, not enough.”

How much is “enough”? That is a question which this decision really does not answer. And I suspect it does not answer it because there is actually no answer which is even close to true.

In a normal process a reasonable level of public consultation would be reached when the public has been given an opportunity to comment on the matter at hand. Which is a bit vague but there is case law which fleshes out what such an opportunity might look like.

However, once environmentalists and First Nations are engaged it is not at all obvious that merely having the opportunity to comment is sufficient. Unlike a rezoning application, an application to build a pipeline (or, realistically, virtually any other large undertaking) creates the opportunity for First Nations to talk about everything from ancient hunting rights, to sacred grounds, to former village sites, to disruptions to present First Nation culture and so on. Having the enviornmentalists involved ensures that the relatively easy solution of simply paying the First Nations’ people for their consent, is off the table. That solution will be denounced by the enviros as cultural genocide and worse.

All of which creates, and might arguably have been intended to create, a Gordian knot when it comes to considering major projects. Consultation becomes an endless task and one which has no defined parameters. The decision today indicates that an extensive consultation process is not enough but it does not indicate what might be enough.

Delightfully, the shareholders of Kinder Morgan – which owns TransMountain – voted today to sell the project to Canada’s feckless Federal Government for several billion dollars.

I suspect the CEO danced a little jig relieved that he no longer had to guess at how far consultations have to go. But Canada is stuck with a completely disfunctional system which is being exploited by enviornmentalists and First Nations to prevent infrastructure from being built. That will have to be fixed.

[A fix in this sort of case might well be to sit with the FN people at the outset and ask what they would like to be consulted about. Make a list, discuss the list and then take the list to a supervising court for certification. Once that list is certified it would then be incumbent upon the proposing party to consult on those topics and only those topics. If a new concern arose it could be taken back to the supervising court which might add the topic to the list if there was a good reason or if the parties had no objection. But, if people are thinking about spending several billion dollars on a project, they have to have a process they can be certain of rather than being blindsided well down the road.)

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Here’s Hoping

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Sundance is a remarkably well informed American commentator who pays attention to trade. The above is not confirmed but if that turns out to be the Canadian position the politics will be fascinating.

A complete capitulation to Trump would make Trudeau look like the wimp most of us already think he is. It would also give us a chance to catch the tailwind of the current American economic boom.

It would, I suspect, cause the left in Canada to implode simply because it would suggest that their hero Justin takes business more seriously than posturing. And when you give up posturing what does the left have left?

As Trump would say, “We’ll see what happens,” but real Canadian patriots have to hope that common sense prevailed and that we are on the road to genuine free trade with our friends to the south.

[Note seeing much action on the CDN/USD front. If the above is true I would expect a fairly sharp rise in the value of the Canadian dollar.]

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So, Justin, nice little country you got there….

Trump, Trudeau, trade, Mexico“Canada will start negotiations shortly. I’ll be calling the Prime Minister very soon. And we’ll start negotiation, and if they’d like to negotiate fairly, we’ll do that. You know, they have tariffs of almost 300 percent on some of our dairy products, and we can’t have that. We’re not going to stand for that.

I think with Canada, frankly, the easiest thing we can do is to tariff their cars coming in. It’s a tremendous amount of money and it’s a very simple negotiation. It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day.” President Trump in phone call with President of Mexico announcing bilateral trade deal

The orange bully, poopy head is being mean to our mighty Prime Minister and his trade negotiators. Basically the US, having been insulted by our PM and getting thoroughly fed up with the gender equality/climate change/social justice pretensions of the Great White North, cut a deal with the Mexicans. Sunset clause and all.

Now, Trump may call Justin – assuming Justin is in the office – and he may be willing to do a bilateral trade deal, but there is no particular reason the US needs a deal. And they certainly don’t need one with big dairy tariffs and gender equality.

See the big stick? Yup, auto tariffs. Which is to say the end of Ontario’s economy.

Now, our brilliant Prime Minister and his advisers are pretty convinced that the path to their next majority lies in running against Trump. Because Canadians hate Trump and they line up to demonstrate their patriotism by supporting Justin when he stands up to the orange ogre.

Here’s the thing: Trump and his people don’t care.

Justin’s tough guy stance has reduced Canada to the status of ankle biter among nations. We used to box above our weight internationally – or at least we told ourselves we did. Trump is a realist. He doesn’t need Canada. And he certainly doesn’t need a dim, virtue signalling Canadian Prime Minister to tell him about climate change and indigenous people.

So, realistically, it may be a while before the Prime Ministerial phone rings.

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Max

Maxime BernierMaxime Bernier is a smart, charismatic, libertarian leaning guy with significant voter appeal. So it made sense that the Conservative Party, not wanting to worry the Liberals, chose the other guy to be their leader. Andrew Scheer is an earnest, anti-charistmatic, middle of the road guy with pretty much no voter appeal. It was going to be tough not to beat the feckless Trudeau in the next election but the Conservative Party seems to have found a way.

Max is having none of it. Today Bernier announced that he was leaving the Conservative party and beginning his own “movement”.

He has been hitting themes like abolition of the dairy supply management system, a serious re-evaluation of multiculturalism and a reduction in imigration levels. He pretty clearly thinks “climate change policy” is a hoax and he is a pretty solid fiscal conservative.

He makes the valid point that the Conservatives are not going to beat the Liberals by running as “Trudeau-Lite”.

The push back is already starting with the MSM rushing to figure out if Bernier is a Nazi or merely a fascist and the Conservatives making the usual “split the right and the Liberals have won” noises. The Lying Jackal is chortling:

What does it say about Consevatives? It says that they never ever change: Tea Party vs. Establishment Republicans, Reform vs. PCs, and so on and so on. Conservatives are always at war with themselves.

This also proves my Justin Trudeau theory, yet again: he may not be as smart as his Dad, he may not be as politically skilled as Chretien, he may not be as principled as Dion. But, Jesus, is he ever lucky.

When your main adversaries are The Mango Mussolini, Blandy Scheer, Mad Max and the Guy Who Leads the NDP, you can’t help but win.

In fact, if Bernier is clever about it, the Liberals might be heading for a bigger defeat than Scheer alone could deliver.

A couple of points: Max is just coming off a very successful run for the Conservative leadership. He came very close and one of the reasons he did was that he had good organizations in literally hundreds of ridings across the country. He still has those phone numbers and emails. So he is starting with the skeleton of an organization.

Second, he has a seat in Parliament – something which he keeps even if he resigns the Conservative whip.

Third, unlike previous 3rd Party candidates, Bernier is popular in Quebec and, hey, he is fluently bilingual.

Most importantly, Bernier does not have to play the traditional Canadian political game. The world has changed. First off, he does not have to run a candidate in every single riding in Canada. While he said he would today, he needs to rethink that position. Thirty or forty will be more than enough to ensure his new party has a national presence. But, and this is important, he can make a virtue of this necessity by making sure not to run against the many actual conservatives who currently sit, silently, in Parliament. Even better, he can endorse them.

Using a targetted riding strategy would put paid to the idea that a vote for Max is a vote for the Liberals.

With a targetted riding strategy Max can also avoid the always looming disaster of a crazy person – actual Nazi, major anti-Semite, massive homophobe – gaining a nomination in a hopeless riding and then being pinned to the party by a hostile media. Finding 30 or 40 really excellent candidates and then backing them hard pre-Writ might create the conditions for multiple wins.

Which ridings to target will be a tough choice but other than making sure to have a couple in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – for media exposure – they should be ridings without a currently sitting Conservative and where the demographics do not massively favour the Liberals (thus suburban and rural). And they need to be air accessible because Bernier is going to spend his campaign on an airplane.

Most importantly, Bernier needs to create a positive message. One of the problems the Conservatives have is that they are barely against most of the Trudeau Liberal positions and don’t seem to have any of their own. Bernier needs to define a Canadian message. Free Trade, economic expansion, jobs are one side of it, Canadian unity instead of division could be the other. Bernier’s objection to increased immigration and the fragmentation of multiculturalism will resonate if he can package them in a “making Canada stronger” theme.

Right from the go Bernier should avoid any suggestion that his party will form a government. Instead he should be talking about keeping the politicians in Ottawa honest and in touch with Canadians. Balance of power is the goal.

 

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Loving Australian Politics

Wet PM Malcolm Turnbull looks to be out in a, and this gets fun, “partyroom” “spill” set for Friday. Details here.

Turnbull stabbed conservative Tony Abbot in a partyroom spill a couple of years ago and has governed from the soft left, in a conservative coalition, ever since. He made the idiot error of diving into climate change politics with a goofy energy plan which would ensure Australia had very little, very expensive, energy but was adhering to the Paris Accord.  (He’s been backing away ever since but what was he thinking?) Dumb does not begin to describe it.

The actual conservatives are having none of it and several ministers resigned today. The next leader would appear to be Peter Dutton who is a fairly rock ribbed conservative about whom I know very little. (There is some question as to his eligibility to sit in the House in Canberra. Some variety of conflict of interest over ownership of a couple of childcare centers.) However, the current Treasurer, Scott Morrison, promises to run against Dutton.

I wish Canadian politics were half as exciting. Because then Max Bernier would have a shot at replacing Andrew Scheer on no other grounds than he would have a decent shot at beating Trudeau. But, I fear, the Great White North is not quite ready for Aussie Rules Politics. Everyone gets two downs and then they punt.

Sad.

Update: Julia Bishop jumps in. So wet she drips…let’s hope sense prevails.

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State of Play

After the Manafort verdicts and the Cohen plea deal, if you were watching MSM, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump would be packing his bags and getting ready to resign rather than be impeached. Forgiven but still more than a little wrong.

What has actually happened is that one former associate has been convicted on eight out of 18 counts of assorted financial irregularities a decade ago. No Russia, no Trump. But the Cohen plea deal is much more interesting. Essentially Cohen, as part of the allocution leading to the guilty plea, said that he was directed to make payments which would influence the outcome of the election and that this constituted a campaign finance law violation and therefore the person giving him the direction also violated the law.

Cue the Democrats and the MSM. Trump committed a crime, Trump conspired, Trump is not a legitimate President, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee should not be considered because Trump is only in the White House because he committed a crime…and so on. The theme of the day yesterday and I expect pretty much all this week is that Cohen admitted to criminal behaviour and therefore Trump is a criminal for telling him to commit the crime.

When it comes to Trump the MSM is willing to seize on any reed, no matter how slender, to come up with something, anything, to do him down.

Paying off the floozies, or settling lawsuits or paying out subcontractors is pretty normal course business. But wait, this was not billionaire Trump doing it, it was candidate Trump so that’s different…its a reportable campaign contribution and he didn’t report it. Probably not. Watching relatively sane people discuss the question, a reportable campaign contribution is a payment made to, exclusively, further the campaign. Buying a new suit may enhance a candidate’s appearance and therefore contribute to his campaign, but it is also just a normal course transaction and therefore unlikely to be found to be a reportable campaign contribution. And you can go a long way into those woods if you really start looking at the law going to reportable campaign contributions.

The fact that Michael Cohen, in his allocution, said it was a contribution designed to further the Trump campaign is immaterial, particularly as an allocution is only evidence as against the person making it. Cohen’s – or more precisely, the SDNY Assistant DA’s – characterization of the law is not actually the law and, because this will not be going to trial, is not in any sense a finding of law.

It also contradicts Cohen’s prior versions of his story. Plus, it is the statement of a man who has a prosecutorial gun to his head in the form of a sentencing recommendation on the other charges which are, pretty clearly, actual violations of the law.

From Trump’s perspective, Manafort and Cohen are now off the board. It is possible that one or both of them, faced with decades in prison, will “remember” some form of “collusion with the Russians” but, unless they have really solid evidence, those memories are unlikely to gain much purchase. Manafort is already fading from the headlines simply because nothing he was convicted of has anything to do with Trump. Cohen will have a slightly longer half-life if only because his lawyer is an old-time Clintonista and is more than willing to suggest that Cohen has the real dirt on Trump.

But the excitement of bringing these two rascals to court is going to fade fast. Meanwhile, the Dems are hollering for “Impeachment”. It is not very clear that failing to report a possible campaign contribution quite clears the bar of “high crime and misdemeanour”; but no matter, the Democrats want a chance to impeach the Orange Menace.

For the next two months, Trump will be on the road campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates. He’ll stage rallies, tweet his “full and total endorsement”, brag, goose the economy, invite people to the White House and push his band of deplorables to get out the vote. The Republican vote. The Mueller investigation will grind on but it is increasingly irrelevant simply because it has not managed to come up with any actual links between the Trumpsters and the evil Russians.

However, the Mueller investigation is not the only politically significant investigation in operation. The Congressional investigation into the activities of the FBI and the DOJ with respect to the Hillary emails, the DNC hack, the surveillance of the Trump campaign, the Steele dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, the improper unmasking of American persons by Obama administration officials, the complicity of MSM in the partisan leaks of the FBI and the general corruption of the FBI/DOJ under Obama is coming to a boil. Unlike the Mueller investigation or the trial of Manafort or the plea of Cohen, Trump holds all the cards in the corruption scandal because he can declassify the documents, texts and emails which document what is almost certain to be the largest, most insidious, scandal ever to hit American politics.

Right now this scandal is missing two things: a convenient, memorable, nickname like “Watergate” and an insider whistleblower who can simplify and connect the dots. I suspect both things will be supplied around the second to third week of September. Real crimes committed by senior government officials all of whom supported, well, Hillary. The Democrats won’t stand a chance.

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The Consolations of Ignorance

If you drive down Victoria’s Pandora Avenue this what you will see:

img-0-3462152-jpgYou might think that this image of a couple of the literally hundreds of homeless people would drive Victoria City Council to action. (And it has to some degree – a few years ago City Council was looking at banning boulevard camping.)

However, faced with an intractable problem which is only growing worse, City Council decided to clean up another blight on Pandora, this:

sir-john-a-macdonald-statue

It appears that the statue of Sir John A. MacDonald is offensive to First Nations and that Victoria’s “City Family” (not a task force you understand) want it removed in the interests of “reconciliation”. Sir John’s great sin was a belief that the assimilation of Canada’s First Nations was the appropriate goal for government policy. This goal has now been recast as “cultural genocide” and who would want a statue of a genocidaire near a public building? The Times Colonist has a surprisingly well balanced story on the question.

I have no great fondness for Sir John and it is not a statue of striking artistic merit but I wonder if removing statues of historical figures for contemporary political reasons isn’t simply an empty gesture in the face of an inability to actually face real issues.

The mighty City Council of Victoria may think it can atone for the sins, real and imagined, of the Victorians’ belief in assimilation by consigning Sir John’s statue to a sub-basement. But that does less than nothing for the many First Nation’s people who are up the street “boulevard camping”.

There is hard work to be done on First Nations’ issues. Removing statues and renaming schools and bridges is not that work. Walking three blocks up Pandora and thinking very hard about the issues which send hundreds of people, including First Nations people, “boulevard camping” is the beginning of that work.

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