Category Archives: Canada

OMG

OK, the Libs have gone nuts.

They are proposing a bill which:

“The Bill clarifies that the Act applies on the Internet. Clause 1 would add online undertakings as a distinct class of broadcasting undertaking subject to the Act. Online undertaking would be defined in the Act as an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet to the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus.” (link)

There is nothing about the internet which, remotely qualifies it as a “broadcast undertaking”.

This sort of loose language would meant that my little blog, and possibly my tweets, makes me CTV.

Now the summary suggests that I might not be CTV for purposes of the Act; but the mere idea that one may become a “broadcast undertaking” simply by being on the internet and that this would subject one to CRTC oversight is, frankly, insane.

It is idiot legislation but the important question is “why”? Why would the Trudeau government think it necessary to bring pretty much the whole internet under CRTC regulation?

(And, by the way, what is this nonsense about “programs”. No one really publishes “programs”.)

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Spend!

Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland wants to stimulate the Canadian economy by encouraging/forcing Canadians with savings to spend some of those savings. Right wing twitter is convinced that she’s prepping us for a “bail-in” where the government just comes in and takes a chunk of the money you have saved. Which may very well be true but that is not actually what she is presently saying.

She asked for ideas so here are a few:

  1. Registered Recreation account. Modelled on the other registered vehicles, the RRA would allow individuals and families to deduct the costs of recreational activities from their taxable income to a certain limit each year. Essentially, keep the receipts from restaurant meals and take out, (when restaurants are open), hotel stays for non-business purposes, whale watching, ski passes, rec center memberships, sporting equipment. End of the year, tote up the receipts and enter it as a non-refundable credit. The RRA would target many of the businesses hardest hit by the lockdowns.
  2. Small Business Bond: At the moment, the savings of Canadians are locked up in accounts which pay, at most, 1.5% interest. We’d all like to do better. Why not create a backed by the Government of Canada “bond scheme” which pays and interest rate of 5% and which lends working capital to small business at, say, 7% on easy terms. Flexible denominations starting at, say, $100 with an individual limit of, say $100,000. This would be the middle class helping out the middle class.
  3. The First Nations Water Bond: Many Canadians are ashamed that the Government of Canada can’t “fix” the crisis of bad water on hundreds of reserves in Canada. Promises are made and broken. OK, let’s try a different approach. Let’s offer 5%, tax-free, bonds to fund a serious private/public/FN approach to real solutions here. Do 20 year bonds but spend the money in the first two years.
  4. A Travel Tax Credit: Go see Canada! Reconnect with Family and Friends. Basically allow individuals and families to take a non-refundable credit for any plane or rail trip to another province where you stay for at least three nights. (And yes, you can “double dip” with the RRA…we’d like you to.)
  5. The Original Art/Performance Credit: Buy a Canadian Painting, go to a Canadian play or musical performance. Keep the receipt and you get a non-refundable tax credit.
  6. Shop Canada! Get a $100 non-refundable tax credit for every $500 spent when you buy from Canadian owned retailers. Must be cash or debit – no credit cards. Cumulative monthly.

Mobilizing Canadian savings is not rocket science: offer a decent rate of return, a tax nudge and the guarantee of the Government that the funds will be returned and money will flow. Give people non-refundable tax credits and they will hit the stores.

None of this needs to cost much. The non-refundable tax credits are tax expenditures but they should have a ripple effect which will offset those expenditures. The Small Business Bonds and the FN Water Bonds would be a charge on the Treasury but the Business bonds would be paid back and the Water Bonds would fund something the Government should be doing in any event.

What Freeland is actually talking about is accelerating the velocity of money in the Canadian economy. You can print as much money as you want but, if no one is spending it or spending it on inert assets like houses, it does very little economic good. There is an old saying that money is like manure, it does the most good when it is spread around. Get spreading Chrystia!

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Free Money

Back in March I wrote a couple of posts about how it made sense for governments to shovel some money into the wallets of people displaced by the COVID pandemic. What I did not anticipate was that the free money train would run into October. Nor did I anticipate that the virus itself would continue along for this long.

Now, the good news is that while case numbers are still high – and getting higher in some locations – the hospitalization, ICU and death rates have dropped significantly. COVID is still a nasty disease that you do not want to catch, but it is not anything like a death sentence for the vast majority of people who catch it.

The consequences of “free money” turn out to be more difficult to determine. Garth Turner does a short survey at his blog today:

“Third, did Canadians blow this? Handing over $94 billion in direct deposits made real estate less affordable, goosed motorcycle sales and drove the price of two-by-fours through the roof at the same time 25% of all homeowners with mortgages decided to stop making payments and unknown numbers of tenants welched on rent. There’s a growing sense we might come out of this in way worse shape thanks to the unregulated flow of CERB cash. More spending did not reduce debt. In fact, household borrowing just hit a new high of $2.33 trillion.

Covid really messed things up. The political response was extreme. Maybe that was the right response. Perhaps not. Obviously a lot of people needed income support when their livelihoods were erased. Others found CERB cash replaced the need to look for a job. Others quit work to collect it. Small businesses complained of a lack of willing employees. And the gush of cash, along with crashed interest rates, has inflated prices and increased personal obligation. Now we have an unfathomable shortfall in public finances, and a government unbothered by it.”

Add to “free money” significant changes in how people actually live – working from home being the biggest – and the idea that the old normal is coming back is fading.

For lots of people, the old normal was not all that great. Minimum wage is pretty unattractive when you have had six months of no deductions $2000 a month. An hour’s commute each way to a cubicle in the sky is not enticing when your current commute time is 10 seconds. Going back to university classes seems a little pointless when it can be taught remotely – and yes, university is about more than just the classes. Same with high school. It is not obvious who misses shopping in malls or shopping in general. Some of this might return when the virus is finally contained; but it will not return unaltered.

Justin Trudeau is planning on rolling out a comprehensive strategy for the re-opening/re-structuring of Canada in the post COVID world. I expect a hodge-podge of dim green ideas and some sort of Universal Basic Income. Unfortunately, I do not expect any serious proposals as to who is to pay for it and how. Unless I miss my bet completely, Trudeau and his people will take the position that additional spending can simply become part of the Canadian National Debt financed at the current incredibly low interest rates. Which can work for a while provided that the money is cycled into economically productive activity (like building pipelines or very small nuclear reactors). Somehow, I doubt that is what the Liberals have in mind.

Instead, I suspect we will get a bunch of witless green energy schemes along the lines of the green disaster which hollowed out the Ontario economy.

Which will be a missed opportunity as an intelligently designed UBI combined with a serious infrastructure commitment might well serve Canada. By well designed, I mean a program which consolidated all of the payments government – federal and provincial – make to individuals into a single monthly payment. The would include welfare, disability, Child Tax Benefit, GST Credits, EI, CPP, OAP and a raft of other payments. In 2019, on just CPP, OAP, EI and the Child Tax Benefit, the federal government spent 100 billion dollars. In 2017 (the last year I could find numbers for) the provinces and territories spent 69 billion on “social protection” programs which include welfare and disability.

There are roughly 30 million Canadians over the age of 15. A $24,000 a year UBI would cost 720 billion, a little less than twice the federal goverment’s total program spending for 2019. However, a UBI program properly designed would likely make full monthly payments to no more than 10% of the adult population. The rest of the population would have the right to claim the benefit only if their income fell beneath a certain threshold. By basing the UBI on income some of the perverse incentives inherent in the scheme (such as work shyness and the penalization of effort) could be reduced.

The great advantage of a UBI lies in its elimination of the need for everything from EI to OAP to welfare. It is not administratively complex – just like the GST Credit or Child Tax benefit, you file a tax return and receive your payments if eligible.

Now, if you do the math on a 10% eligibility at $24,000 per year, the program would cost 72 billion a year, far less than the $169 billion the federal and provincial governments are now spending. In fact, if 20% of Canadians were eligible, this UBI would still be cheaper.

A critical feature of a well designed UBI is making sure that additional income from employment is encouraged rather than punished. Realistically, $24,000 is not much money (though still better than BC current welfare or disability rates). Being able to earn without forfeiting the UBI is very important. Were it up to me I would set maximum earnings at at least $12,000 a year and, ideally, $24,000 before the UBI was tapered off. And I would treat couples as individuals as is the case under the current tax system.

This sort of well designed UBI with the corresponding elimination of other forms of income support would take a while to implement effectively. Which is where having a bit of “free money” would be a very good thing. But the best part of this sort of UBI is that, net, it would actually reduce income support spending at both the federal and provincial levels. Reductions which will be vital because “free money” is not going to last forever.

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Doldrums

It has been a glorious summer on Vancouver Island. Sunny, not too hot, with just enough rain to keep things green. COVID has largely passed the Island, especially the south Island, by. We never were in “lock down” but people stayed home in April and May, over the summer they have been venturing out. Social distancing has become second nature and about half the people you see are wearing masks indoors. (I am not. But, then again, I am almost never in stores or other indoor spaces.)

From a business perspective, this summer has been as quiet as most other summers are. Working with the junior mining industry you get used to the rhythm of the seasons. Right now, the majority of our clients are out drilling, mapping and soil sampling. They will have news in September and then we will get busy. As I have worked from home for a couple of decades COVID has made next to no difference to what I actually do with my days.

Having said that I cannot help but notice that COVID and its economic consequences seem to have befuddled the politicians and the markets. In Canada we have seen a 30% plus crash in the GDP but, with the exception of the March crash, our stock markets just motor ahead. Our Federal politicians have thrown fiscal caution to the wind and are heaping money on a grateful populace. Where is this money coming from? Well, the simple answer seems to be “The Future”.

The logic is that in an emergency it makes sense to keep things going by borrowing and then counting on future earnings to repay the debt. Interest rates are at an effective zero so this is, in principle, costless. More importantly, no one seems to be looking too carefully at the various programs designed to keep people and businesses going when there is no work and no trade.

Does this make sense? Can it make sense? I am reading a wonderful book on Keynes, The Price of Peace, and my sense is that the later Keynes would be fine with this unfettered spending. After all, the alternatives are too bleak to be contemplated.

Which is worrying because it means that there does not seem to be a plan to deal with the economic consequences of this exercise in emergency spending. What happens when interest rates go up even a little? What happens when mortgage deferrals end? What happens when the CERB runs out? If no one goes to the office but instead works from home, what happens to downtown infrastructure, businesses and buildings? What happens when the stock markets notice a 30% drop in the GDP?

There is a whole literature devoted to both the last summer before WWI and the last summer before WWII. I don’t think we are on track for war but I do think we are going to have the answers to the questions above in the next few months and we are not going to like them at all.

To some extent these questions will be asked in all the Western, developed, economies and the answers will differ significantly. Unfortunately, Canada, while having avoided a really awful COVID outcome, does not seem to have thought through how we rebuild our economy. Worse, at the federal level, we have a minority Liberal government which seems to think the coming economic distress will be ideal for resetting our economy along greener (and possibly, more gender/race inclusive lines). The idea that it might be useful to put as many people back to work as quickly as possible does not seem to have occurred to the Liberal government.

Regardless of government action, the “Market” is, eventually going to have something to say about how Canada has responded to and will respond to the economics of COVID. A 30% drop in GDP will not mean nothing; but it is hard to anticipate what will actually happen. Especially as our trading partners have, in many cases, experienced a similar collapse.

As they say in the stock market, things are looking “toppy”. Thrilling as Tesla and Apple’s share price rises have been, it is not unreasonable to think that parabolic is not sustainable. Solid as the Canadian bank share prices have been, as mortgage payment deferrals roll over into defaults, you have to think there will be some contraction. Real estate is hitting new highs with the abundance of cheap money available for mortgages, but if people do not have jobs, how can they pay those mortgages?

Modern economies are built on certain key assumptions. The most basic of those assumptions is that, more or less, production and consumption are in rough balance. While states and central banks have tinkered at the fiscal and monetary margins, until relatively recently, massive interventions were pretty much reserved for wartime emergencies. That restraint has now vanished.

Which is interesting as a matter of policy but what will its actual effects be on the day to day reality of economies. In a wartime emergency, spending big is not done to stimulate the economy, it is done to fight the war. Money is spent on war fighting tools which are very quickly consumed without leaving any trace in the overall economy. (Yes, wages for war work will rise but that usually reflects the scarcity of “manpower” which building armies and navies creates.)

The present circumstance is very different. Money is being spent and created at a wartime pace, but there is no wartime economy to finance. In fact, there is only a 70% peace time economy.

The consequences of the GDP collapse may be able to be postponed for a few months or a year, but, eventually they will begin to show up. Personal income will fall, tax revenue will drop: but there will still be the debt taken on during the COVID emergency.

I am taking my young dog down to Moses Point for a bit of a frolic. In 1914 and 1939 anyone with any awareness at all realized that war was imminent. Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn, Anthony Powell’s, The Kindly Ones capture the sense of a last, good, summer. The water sparkles in the sun, the boats cruise by, but best to take a jacket because the cool breeze of fall is blowing and Moses Point is quite exposed.

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Kinsella and the CPC

Warren Kinsella, Lying Jackal, CPC, PPC, Max Bernier, Andrew Scheer
Jackal taking down a Scheer

Last week the CBC released a tape recording (well I have to bet phone actually) of Warren Kinsella coaching his troops at his company Daisy. He pointed out that he had painted various conservative politicians as racists in the past and that he would do the same thing with a real racist in the form of Maxime Bernier. He counselled hatred as a communications strategy. And so on. I am neither shocked or surprised at the tape’s contents. Kinsella has been practising this sort of “kick-ass politics” for decades. Anyone who follows Canadian politics knows exactly what sort of slime Kinsella and those associated with him are.

Which means Andrew Scheer, his campaign staff and the cheque writers at the CPC knew exactly what they were getting when they hired the Jackal to dirty up Max Bernier and the PPC. They wanted Kinsella’s brand of nasty, deceitful, underhanded political hackery and, apparently, they got it.

The sheer lack of ethics and paranoia hiring the Jackal demonstrates pretty much proves that Scheer is not fit to lead the CPC or to be Prime Minister. A fact which is dawning on the CPC itself as it struggles to figure out what to do with their present leader. Before Kinsellagate it was possible to say that Scheer was a decent, if uninspiring, leader. Now? It is indecent to hire a political mobster to beat up your opponents. Which leaves Scheer as merely uninspiring. I would be astonished if he survives a leadership review.

The revelation of Kinsella’s filth may sink Scheer but it burnishes Bernier’s reputation. Virtually all the accusations of “racism” levelled against the PPC and Max personally either were manufactured by Kinsella or occurred in a climate of hate created by the Jackal. I have never seen a credible accusation and now we have a pretty good idea why.

The PPC, even with Kinsella’s disinformation campaign, secured over 300,000 votes from a standing start a year before the election. If the CPC tears itself apart with a red/blue fight, a lot of thoughtful, conservative, people will give the PPC a second look. Conservative MPs looking for an alternative to the nastiness and vindictiveness of the Scheer people might well be tempted to join the PPC. Max had a lot of caucus support for his CPC leadership run. He was careful not to unfairly attack conservative positions, rather, during the campaign, he attacked CPC positions which were, in fact, Liberal-lite positions.

Political pundits, as they do after every election in which the Conservatives fail to win government, solemnly inform us that it was because the Conservatives failed to move towards the middle. The fact that only 30-35% of Canadians are even a bit right-leaning is trotted out to show how impossible it is for the Conservatives to win government unless they move left. I think this analysis is entirely incorrect. A solid, right of center party which had libertarian social views would hold that 30-35%. From there it is simply a matter of finding 3-5% in carefully targetted ridings. To do that a party would have to come up with policies which, while conservative, do not alienate middle-class voters, immigrant communities and women.

I don’t think there is a chance the CPC will manage that simply because they are too tied to establishment politics in Canada. Yeah multi-culti, boo climate change only echos the Liberal Party’s bland formula for success.

Proposing a real energy policy with the objective of reducing families’ energy costs would be a real differentiator. Taking a harder line on illegal immigration and fraudulent refugee claims could win a lot of votes. Especially if Scheer or his successor continue down the Liberal-lite path.

Most importantly, Scheer hiring Kinsella gives the PPC an ethical stick to whack the CPC with. It is always easy to attack the Liberals’ ethics, but now Scheer has proven that the CPC is really no better. The PPC should be talking about bringing ethics, trust and the rule of law back into politics. Max should just hammer Scheer and his gunsel Kinsella.

300,000 votes, candidates in every riding, was an amazing start. Now Scheer has handed Max a huge opportunity. I am hoping he takes full advantage and, in the process, kills off the Frankenstein creation which is the CPC.

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Nickel a KWH

Poor, stunned, Scheer really had no clue what to do during the election. Leave aside the abortion and the gay marriage hit jobs, the poor bugger had no counter for the climate hysteria whipped up by Trudeau, McKenna, Greta and Lizzie May. He lacked the courage to actually take on the bogus, not ready for policy, “science” which underlies the “climate emergency” and he really had no coherent, simply stated, policy of his own. Now a decade of non-stop climate hysteria with very little push back has left us in the invidious position that to win votes a party has to hew to climate orthodoxy.

Sigh.

However, there is nothing which demands that a political party accept orthodoxy when it comes to addressing the much hyped emergency. So here is a suggestion for the Conservatives, rather than debating the finer points of a pointless carbon tax or a cap and trade disaster or how many windmills will fit on the head of a pin, why not come out with a positive program which treats reducing carbon emissions as a happy by-product.

Canada has an abundance of hydro electric power. In BC, if you ignore the emissions costs of the components of most electric vehicles, you can actually drive essentially emissions-free all the way back to the generation of the electricity. We have that much hydro and are building more.

Quebec is a hydropower powerhouse as well. The problem is the grid and the distances involved in getting power to the people.

The solution to that problem is nuclear. A few, relatively small scale, nuclear plants of modern design and safety, could mean cheap, abundant, baseload power was available throughout Canada and in Canada’s North. Add a nuclear station at Fort McMurray and you radically reduce the emissions of that key energy asset.

But for the Conservatives to sell the program they need a slogan, I would try “Nickel a kilowatt hour” but, “Nickel a kilowatt” is snappier if less accurate, (though more accurate than labelling carbon dioxide “carbon”).

Electricity so cheap you would be foolish not to run your car on it and heat your house with it. Instead of raising energy prices with punitive taxes to reduce demand for “dirty” energy, why not drop the price of clean energy to essentially zero and see the demand soar as people voluntarily switch to so called cleaner alternatives.

Canada has lots of uranium. Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin is lousy with the stuff. We have significant expertise in building small, safe, nuclear reactors. Along with the reactors we’d also look at developing more hydro power and building, if not a national grid, then very strong regional grids to meet increased demand.

“Electric Canada” is a positive way to respond to the “climate emergency” and it even has the merit of being useful during the coming, sun driven, cold period which is far more likely than global warming.

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A Wasted Election

If the polls are at all accurate tomorrow’s vote will be a virtual tie between the Lib and CPC and the outcome will be down to voting efficiency. As it stands, Scheer’s CPC is likely to run up huge majorities across the prairies but may lose squeakers in “vote rich” Ontario. All of which translates to a minority CPC government – best case – or, more likely, a minority Lib government with NDP/Green support – worst case.

As campaigns go this was extremely dull. The hobgoblin of climate “emergency” was embraced by all but the People’s Party. Trudeau apparently wore blackface on several occasions. Jagmeet Singh turned out to be a very likeable candidate. The Canadian media was happy to give Trudeau a pass on SNC-Lavilin, blackface, allegations of teenager groping and a host of other scandals. The Canadian media also obsessed about whether or not Scheer was an American. Trudeau spent most of his campaign running against Doug Ford and Stephan Harper. In late-breaking, inside baseball, news apparently Scheer hired Warren Kinsella aka “The Lying Jackal” to run a campaign to smear Max Bernier and the People’s Party as racists. (I don’t know why they would pay the Jackal to do this, he seems more than willing to smear for free.)

The only thing which will really interest me in tomorrow’s results is to see what popular vote Max and the People’s Party get. The polls seem to suggest 1-2%. To succeed, Max has to significantly exceed this predicted vote. If the PPc can take 5% of the national popular vote with a few hot spots of 10% or better, the party will be on its way.

Right now Canada has four national parties who essentially agree with one another that there is a climate emergency, immigration is an unalloyed good thing (and you’re a racist if you say otherwise), that deficits are not to be taken seriously and that taxing an ever-expanding class of persons known as the “wealthy” is a moral imperative. The only difference between the Greens, NDP, Cons and Libs is the speed they want to go down an already agreed upon highway.

It is a commonplace in Canadian politics that about 70% of the nation leans left. Which would leave 30% or so leaning right. I suspect there is a bit of fluidity to those numbers but the people who run the CPC seem to believe that they cannot stray far from the liberal/progressive/green orthodoxy or, well, soccer mums won’t vote for them.

Forty years ago – before he went mushy – Preston Manning challenged that orthodoxy. He challenged from the West and was branded a bigot and a racist and a separatist. He kept slogging forward. In 1988 the Reform Party got 2.09% of the popular vote, in 1993 it got 18.69% and in 1997 it got 19.35%. It became such a threat to the Conservatives in Name Only that the Progressive Conservative Party merged with it to form the Canadian Alliance which later morphed into the Conservative Party of Canada.

If Max can beat the 2% he’s predicted to get the building of the PPc can proceed apace. This is especially true if Scheer fails to win and faces a leadership review.

For a legitimate conservative/libertarian party to exist in Canada the tottering old structure of the CPC needs to collapse. Scheer’s Conservative Party serves no real purpose as it has walked away from conservative principles for fear of frightening Ontario voters. The sooner the CPC is destroyed the sooner a real conservative party can unite the right.

As President Tump would say, “We’ll see what happens.”

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The Day After

I’ve cast my vote here in North Saanich-The Islands where Lizzie May is going to win in a walk. I voted for Ron Broda the PPc candidate. The objective being to add to Max’s popular vote.

Apparently, Jagmet Singh is surging which makes sense as he did very well in the debates and his policies are no crazier than the Libs, Greens, CPC or Bloc. Between Singh and the Bloc it is looking like Trudeau will be denied a majority. But it is not at all obvious that Scheer will win a majority.

Singh’s performance has done two things: ensured that he will remain leader of the NDP into the next election and, if the votes go his way, put paid to the stupid belief that Canadians could care less about “turbans”.

On October 22 we’re going to wake up to a politically very different Canada assuming that JT is unable to win a majority. The first thing which will change is Trudeau’s position. He could be Mr. Dressup with a majority but in a minority position – assuming he can form a government at all – his Teflon coating will have worn off. It is just possible that the bought and paid for Canadian media will rouse itself from its slumber and begin to ask slightly harder questions.

The second thing which will change is that third, fourth and even fifth parties will matter. For Trudeau to form a government he will need at least the NDP’s support and, perhaps, the Greens. To get that he is going to have to buy into a lot of nonsense which will be extremely bad for the country. The Liberals have plenty of idiotic policy but they don’t hold a candle to either the NDP or the Greens for economically useless virtue signalling.

Scheer would have an easier time of it in a minority position. His only possible ally would be the Bloc and while the Bloc wants to break up Canada they are financially sound and not nearly as eager as the NDP or the Greens for open borders and looney carbon taxes.

The key thing to remember is that regardless of who forms the government, that government is not going to last very long. In a sense, this election is about the next, more decisive, election. If Trudeau loses as big as he looks to be doing the Liberal Party will be looking for another leader. If Scheer ekes out a workable minority he will be looking to call an early election (in the face of the idiotic Fixed Terms act we have saddled ourselves with) to crush that new leader.

For Singh, especially if he picks up seats as well as popular vote, the election will cement his place as the NDP leader and silence the people who are talking about his unelectability. Lizzie May will be hailed as an emerging force in Canadian politics if she manages to pick up a couple more seats on Vancouver Island and, I suspect, that is exactly what she is going to do. (Old, white, retired, rich people just love a party committed to never changing anything.)

And what about Max? Obviously, he needs to hold his own seat. Which may be tough but I think he will pull through. I very much doubt he will win any other seats for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with Max or his policies. New parties take a while to gain traction. For Max, the biggest issue is how he does in the popular vote. Sitting at 1% is not going to cut it, but pop up over 4% and the table changes. Anything beyond that and Max will be the election night story.

The one thing this election has underscored is that there are four parties in Canada – Libs, CPC, NDP and Greens – who are committed to significant spending increases, looney climate emergency measures and endless, unlimited immigration. And there is one party which wants a balanced budget, better science on climate and hard caps on immigration.

A pal of mine tweeted that 70% of Canadians lean left. I think the number is lower but the fact is that the left and soft left vote is being split four ways. If Max continues to articulate his solidly right positions, next election he’ll pull lots of votes and win more than a few seats. He has a wide-open run at 30-40% of the electorate.

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Dog Days of Summer

My friends back East are gently broiling in temperatures not seen since my 94 year old mother was a girl. No AC then, but no idiots or Liberals telling you that the heat was caused by CO2. Judging from the ever reliable Twitter just about no one is actually buying that nonsense.

Twitter is covering itself in glory on other fronts. Having banned Megan Murphy for daring to report on the chap who wants his testicles waxed and is taking any number of waxing providers to BC’s Human Rights Commission in a transparent shakedown, Twitter has now banned Lindsay Shepherd for discussing Yaniv’s junk. [I note for the record that Yaniv, in full drag, has one of the most punchable fat faces I have ever seen. And, as I am quite certain he is not in the least bit genuine, I am certainly not going to use his appropriated pronouns.] Sheperd’s banning and the lifting of a publication ban on Mr. Yaniv has led all sorts of significant platforms to investigate Mr. Yaniv and to discover that he might not be a super great guy. Apparently, he has a rather greater than normal interest in how very young girls handle menstruation. Nice work Twitter.

Then, in the last few days, Twitter has been playing silly buggers with the hashtag, “TrudeauMustGo”. It was trending, then it wasn’t, then some dimwitted Liberals and CTV decided that it was being promoted by “bots”, then it came back to trending and now, last time I looked, it’s gone.

And, just because it can, Twitter floated the idea that it might be a good idea, in Canada, to allow people to remove replies to their tweets. The replies would not be deleted. They would simply not be visible on the same page as the tweet itself. Twitter got ratioed hard on this looney idea. My own sense is that this came up because poor Cathy McKenna is butt hurt that her prodigious climate change bad, carbon tax good Twitter output attracts nothing but negative, fact-based, replies. As Climate Barbie has announced she has no time for political adversaries who deny climate change is real, eliminating replies to her fact-free tweets would free up a lot of staff time.

Possibly the best news Andrew Scheer has had in some time is that the “Brain of Justin” and Twitter hate monger, Gerry Butts is back (assuming he ever left) advising youngish Mr. Trudeau. The Libs had made a good deal of progress in burying the SNC Lavalin interference with justice scandal. Now Justin has brought back Butts who is on record as saying, and I will provide full context,

“When Butts and Telford suggested seeking legal advice to review the SNC-Lavalin decision, Prince told them it would inappropriately interfering in the decision. “Jess, there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference,” Butts told her, according to text message transcripts from Wilson-Raybould.” national post

If we had an independent media in Canada, that quote would be hung around Justin’s neck from now until a) the election, b) Butts leaves any position, formal or informal, of influence. Unfortunately, as Andrew Coyne (quite clever except about Trump when derangement makes an ugly appearance) points out, we no longer have an independent media. We have a media which is looking desperately to be bailed out by the Federal Government. And the legacy media is intent on excluding dreadful upstarts like Rebel Media or the Post Millennial so an “independent panel of experts” is setting the criteria for “what sorts of publications should be accredited as Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations” and what, exactly, a journalist is. (Extra points if you are in JT’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford’s Op-Ed go to Rolodex.)

$600 million for legacy media and $1.2 billion for the CBC and, I suspect, the Libs will think they have pretty much sewn up positive media coverage for Justin. If only. Here is a little experiment: take a stroll through a shopping district or mall (thank you air conditioning) and look at people having coffee. Are any of them reading newspapers. The old style, printed on paper, newspapers? If so, is that person over or under the age of, say, forty? Let me know if you spot one. Most of us get our news from the internet. We might read the National Post online, but we will also have the opportunity to read The Rebel, Post Millennial, Spencer Fernando, Blazing Catfur and CEO.CA and literally thousands of other outlets.

Legacy media may limp along for another few years but, to quote Coyne,

For an industry whose chief shortage is less cash than credibility, this is a dire turn. The mere prospect of government funding has already opened us to accusations, on any occasion we are less than critical of the government, of singing for our supper. And not entirely without cause: whatever our claim to impartiality in other matters, there is no doubting our views on the supper. national post

With the arrival of federal government subsidies the legacy media will become even more identified with the interests of the Liberal Party (if that is possible) and even less reliable. It’s ability to decide what is and is not news, already under attack will be destroyed. After all, when the “gatekeepers” are paid by the Federal Government it is reasonable to suppose that they take dictation from Katie Telford and the PMO. Not all the time and not all that directly, but Certified Canadian Journalists are bright enough to know who is buttering their toast.

So are we.

 

 

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Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day, Canadian ElitesMy little town on the Saanich Peninsula really puts on a show for Canada Day weekend. Because of the competition from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, we have our fireworks on Canada Day Eve. My youngest son, a fireworks enthusiast, rode his fixed gear bike the five miles in and five miles back. Tons of fun. Today there will be a parade, concerts and a general sense of a holiday. There are Canadian flags everywhere – we are not quite American with our flag mania, but there are a lot of them on display. Curmudgeons such as myself make sure our kids know that the real name for July 1 is Dominion Day and all that.

Meanwhile, the CBC has been polling Canadians and found that “nearly 80 per cent of Canadians either strongly or somewhat agree with the statement: “My country is divided between ordinary people and elites.” CBC At that link there is a long article suggesting that populist politicians are making use of the term “elite” in a derogatory way and that no one really quite knows what “elite” means.

Given that, in democracies, there is a certain amount of delicacy which surrounds frank discussion of elites, it is not surprising that no one is able to precisely describe what makes up an elite. The CBC and the guy on the street they interview are clear that it is not “money” per se. In fact, culture is more important than money in determining a person’s elite status and that culture, while in principle accessible, is, in practice, exclusionary. And it is exclusionary in very subtle ways.

To give an example, a million years ago I arrived for my first day at a very elite law school. It was actually, on the numbers, harder to get into than Havard Law. If ever there was an elite in embryo it was the hundred and fifty young men and women in that class. After a silly welcoming speech, there were cocktails and we set about getting to know each other as only a group in which fully 50% had been their high school president can. After a while, it got a little tedious as people humble-bragged about going to a “Boston area college” and how doing a triple honours degree set them up for the rigours of a legal education. My mind wandered and I began looking at the actual appearance of this class. There were virtually no fat people. In general, both the men and women seemed a bit taller than average. There were few, if any, people of colour. There were lots of WASPs and lots of Jews (the school shut down for Jewish High Holidays). There were lots of what I later came to understand were “good” hair cuts and the clothes were casual but lots of Ralph Lauren. But what was most striking were the teeth. So far as I could see there was exactly one person in that class who had not either been born with perfectly straight teeth or had access to orthodontry from an early age.

Now, having straight teeth does not make you a member of the elite, not noticing how unusual it is for a group of a hundred and fifty people to have straight teeth, does.

The CBC interviewee, Tony Laino, at Fordfest, said describing elites, “”Those that think they’re better than me,” he said. “Because I don’t espouse their beliefs.”

Which misses the point. Elites really don’t think of guys like Tony Laino at all. Largely because, as Charles Murray points out in Coming Apart, the new upper class rarely, if ever, meets the Tony Lainos of the world. Murray was writing about white people in America but much the same social bi-furcation is taking place in Canada. Murray looks at education, wealth, marriage, access and what he refers to as the rise of the super-zips, areas where highly educated, well connected, well off people live with others of their class and kind. It is an accelerating phenomenon in the US and it is plainly visible in Canada. Murray quotes Robert Reich as calling this, “the segregation of the successful”.

Inside elite communities “the issues” look very different than they do in the more pedestrian parts of the country. A few pennies extra for gas or heating oil or natural gas to fight the universally acknowledged menace of “climate change” makes perfect sense if your income is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It is downright terrifying if you are making $50K. Only bigots and racists could be anti-imigration when you, yourself, live in virtually all white, old stock, Canadian enclaves and welcome refugees and migrants who you will never see.

The populist moment has not yet come to Canada and, if Andrew Scheer’s brand of Liberal lite wins in October, there will probably be another decade of elite consolidation before a proper populist movement gets off the ground. Whether it will be right populism a la Trump and Farange, or left populism with a firebrand NDP leader, is hard to say. However, as the Canadian elite grows more insular and disconnected from the ordinary life of Canada and Canadians, that populist moment draws closer.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

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