Category Archives: Canadian Politics

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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We Need a Sunspot Tax

“The resulting summary curve reveals a remarkable resemblance to the sunspot and terrestrial activity reported
in the past millennia including the signifcant grand solar minima: Maunder Minimum (1645–1715), Wolf minimum (1200), Oort minimum (1010–1050), Homer minimum (800–900 BC) combined with the grand solar
maxima: the medieval warm period (900–1200), the Roman warm period (400–10BC) etc. It also predicts the
upcoming grand solar minimum, similar to Maunder Minimum, which starts in 2020 and will last until 2055.” Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale, Nature

Peer-reviewed and everything.

For a long time, I have maintained that climate “science” is not robust enough for policy work. If Zharkova et al are even close to right the entire CO2 hysteria and the malinvestments resulting from that hysteria are worse than useless. If we are, in fact, heading into 35 years of a grand solar minimum we need steady, reliable, scalable energy sources – nuclear springs to mind.

Now, the interesting thing about Zharkova et al is that they make a testable prediction, namely that we are heading into a Maunder Minimum like period. So we should expect longer, harder winters, an overall drop in global temperature and shorter growing seasons. And we should see those effects in the next couple of years.

I trust Climate Barbie is on top of this.

 

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The Real Scandal

It seems pretty clear that Trudeau and company’s response to the SNC-Lavalin issue is to muddy the waters, deny responsibility and move on. Given the supine nature of Canada’s media and the Liberal’s majority in Parliament, this might just work. Especially if the focus remains on whether or not there was “inappropriate pressure” exerted on Jody Wilson-Raybould when she took her decision not to intervene.

However, there is a more basic problem here as outlined in Andrew MacDougall’s excellent article in Mcleans.

“By late that same summer, the federal government launched a public consultation on its integrity regime, including the possibility of including deferred prosecution agreements into Canadian law. The change wanted by SNC now had its chance to find broader support. And a few months later—and featuring a submission from SNC—the consultation concluded.

And then, as if by magic, a proposal for deferred prosecution agreements was buried into page 202 of the 2018 federal budget.” Michael Wernick’s SNC-Lavalin problem Mcleans

Read the whole thing because it is a very clear look at how this scandal tracks back to the PMO, PCO and Finance with Jody Wilson-Raybould principled decision essentially being roadkill in the drive to extricate SNC from its own folly.

And there, of course, is the real scandal. No one is disputing that SNC broke all sorts of laws in pursuit of its business interests. What is in issue is what the consequences of that lawlessness should be. The Deferred Prosecution Agreement language is an attempt by a private company to create its own get of jail free card. That the Trudeau government would even entertain, much less pass, such legislation, makes its systemic corruption obvious.

Long before the Liberal establishment – from the Prime Minister on down – behaved badly toward Wilson-Raybould it had already betrayed the Canadian electorate by enshrining a sweetheart deal in the Criminal Code.

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Amateurs

The great and the good huddled in a Commons Committee to consider how they would investigate the allegation that Prime Minister Trudeau or his gunsels leaned on the AG, Jody Wilson-Raybould with respect to the SNC-Lavalin affair (as the CBC so delicately puts it).

Here’s a hint lads: you call all the people who were involved or who might have been involved. Otherwise the “investigation” is a farce from the go.

Here’s the other hint, people notice this stuff.

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New Year, New Attitude

Alberta’s truckers are planning to drive to Ottawa in February to express their displeasure with the feds refusal to get on with building pipelines and the lunacy of the Trudeau carbon tax. Leaving aside the rigours of driving the trans-Canada in February, this is a very un-Canadian sort of activity. Because it is activity. Canadians normally sit around the bar grumbling, they don’t “do” anything which is what our masters in Ottawa and the provincial capitals count on.

While the truckers are driving in protest, an Alberta rancher is taking a stand against that province’s carbon tax. Remembering that Alberta’s Premier originally introduced the carbon tax to, somehow, gain social licence for the much-needed pipelines and noting that those pipelines have not even been started, rancher Sheila Griffith is refusing to pay the carbon tax portion of her propane bill.

While the truckers will make better copy, Ms. Griffith represents a far greater threat to “business as usual”. If more than a few people join her the Alberta government will, quite quickly, notice a hole in its budget. Apparently, the propane company will just tack the unpaid portion onto her next bill – but it will not halt delivery.

These two items, as well as the appearance of “yellow vests” at other Alberta protests, suggests that in Alberta at least, people are getting fed up with simply being ignored. They are getting fed up with the Tweedledum/Tweedledee routine of Trudeau and Scheer.

Simple, direct, action will not change the Liberal’s fixation on the tax grab which is the carbon tax or the endless kowtowing to minority First Nations opposition to pipelines or Quebec’s reluctance to replace Saudi oil with Alberta oil. It might have a small effect on Scheer’s fixation on being so bland that he wins the next election by default (a bad strategy but apparently all he’s got.) What it does do is set up the conditions for a revolt at the ballot box come October.

Right now Maxime Bernier needs to be in Alberta. He needs to visit and encourage Ms. Griffith and go to a trucker’s rally or two.

Canadians are very reluctant to actually do “civil disobedience”. It is not who we are. The fact there are large protests tells me that, in Alberta at least, a tipping point has been reached. A smart, insurgent, politician and political party would be taking full advantage.

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No PR for BC

Well, that was crushing: 61% of the 41% of eligible voters who actually voted rejected proportional representation and opted to stick with “first past the post”.

Assorted lefties and millennials were unhappy. But, really, they have only themselves to blame.

I rather like PR but none of the options presented on the mail-in ballot was worth having. Because the lefties who supported PR wanted to ensure that the PR they would have would avoid the possibility of actual “representation” for any but the NDP and the Greens while increasing the voting efficiency of those Green and NDP votes.

I will leave it to voting wonks to explain the three useless choices presented as the PR alternatives; rather I will pay attention to a very simple idea which was, of course, not included.

Reduce the total number of MLAs elected by electoral districts by, say, one half. So the 87 current electoral districts would shrink to 43. Then take the 44 seats that would open up and run a province-wide list system with a threshold of 2.5% of the votes cast. So you would have one vote in a First Past the Post race in your electoral district and 44 votes to distribute to the 44 slots on the “At Large” lists. [And I would not allow a “straight ticket” single vote…you’d have to vote 44 times or once – because vote plumping would be encouraged.]

Essentially this is the system the Australians use to elect their Senate and it allows a wide variety of candidates to take a run for office with a decent chance of winning.

It would also be a wonderfully upsetting experience for the current parties.

Ezra Levant was happy to see the FPTP system retained but wistful because he would have run a Rebel slate and thinks he could get 10%. (Maybe, I rather doubt it.) But what would happen is that a ginger group of half a dozen to a dozen “list elected”

MLA’s could represent everyone from my own favourite Wine Tax Freedom (WTF) Party to a party composed of First Nations people and on to Christian Fundamentalists and Antifa. With a 2.5% threshold, you can pretty much guarantee the First Nations party would hold four or five at-large seats. So could a Teacher’s Party or a Resource Extraction Party (see Suits and Boots). Recent immigrants to British Columbia could run their own lists as could Aged Bald White Guys such as myself.

But this sort of radical democracy was not on the table in this referendum. Too scary for the NDP and the ultra-conservative Greens.

Because real Proportional Representation was not on the ballot PR lost.

Too bad.

(I might add that it was a huge mistake for the pro-PR forces to entirely align with the left and the greens. Essentially that alignment turned the referendum into a pseudo-referendum on the current Red/Green coalition. That is never a good idea on what is actually a process question.)

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Party of One

The National Post has a good article up about Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. It is a very fair article outlining where Max is coming from and the hurdles he faces.

I joined the People’s Party a couple of days ago. Paid my $10.00 for the two-year ride and signed up as a volunteer.

I live in Elizabeth May’s riding. Wealthy, white upper middle class, reactionary enough to return a Green MP and a Green MLA. Not at all Max’s sort of a riding. But what is?

The wonderful urban voters will go Liberal and the suburban voters may vote for Scheer – but I doubt it only because he is simply a paler pink version of the Libs.

The ridings which can be taken by the People’s Party are ridings like mine. Demographically, psychographically this is counter-intuitive. After all, why would fine, rich, white people give up the great privilege of signally their virtue by voting Green in order to vote for an actual conservative party. The Greens will deliver “no change” and as you blast down the Pat Bay Highway in the 911, why would you want change?

While you may not want change, change is going to happen. As the National Post article points out, Bernier is suggesting that we cut back immigration from 325,000 (which is actually closer to 450,000 when you include what might be called temporary immigrants) to 250,000. He is suggesting that we stop pretending that our “carbon tax” will make the least difference to alleged “climate change”. He does not much like marketing boards and he hates deficit spending.

In my riding, the next election is pretty much going to be a referendum on carbon tax. Do we waste a lot of money showing how green we are or do we recognize that Canada has very little impact on climate. It will be about pipelines and making sure they are safe.

But it will also be about Canada’s future. We can do the whole Green thing and the people in this riding will barely notice. My little part of Canada is in the top ten for wealth, the bottom ten for crime and will ride out any minor economic corrections just fine.

Which means a People’s Party candidate can hold Lizzy May’s feet to the fire and push for answers on the Green agenda, immigration and how best to help the poor people of Canada. The People’s Party candidate can go into the First Nation’s communities and ask them how they are doing under the Liberal administration. He or she can talk to older Canadians and ask how they are doing. Obviously, the Porche owning folks are doing fine. But there are two Porches and a hundred banged up Toyotas in the Save on Foods parking lot.

It is hard to be a Party of One. But when Preston Manning did it most of Vancouver Island went Reform.

Is that spirit here?

I don’t know. Running against a national leader (admittedly of one) is a hard thing. But a good ground game and a serious candidate and there’s a shot. Plus, of course, national media because “national leader”.

I’m in. Looking forward to a lot of other people who are fed up.

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The Things You Cannot Say…

Twitter kicked Meghan Murphy off the platform and she’s pissed.

“On November 15th, my account was locked again. This time, I was told I must delete a tweet from October, saying, “Women aren’t men,” and another, asking, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?”

After dutifully deleting the tweets in question in order to gain access to my account again, I tweeted, angrily, “This is fucking bullshit, @twitter. I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore? That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.” This tweet went viral, racking up 20,000 likes before Twitter locked my account again on Monday morning, demanding I delete it. This time they offered no explanation at all — not even a vague accusation of “hateful conduct.” (feminist current)

Ms. Murphy touched the dreaded third rail. She suggested that women are women and if you are a man in a dress, well, you aren’t.

The SJWs at Twitter were having none of that and Ms. Murphy was kicked to the tall grass.

As she flew through the air it occurred to Ms. Murphy that, perhaps, this censorship was a bug, not a feature of left-wing identity politics.

“While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets like the Daily Wire and The Blaze have either attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective, expressed support, or covered this undeniably ridiculous decision on the part of Twitter.” (feminist current)

When my pal Dr. Dawg, he of impecable lefty credentials, left Twitter voluntarily, he did so because of a similar crisis of identity politics. Either you are with us or you’re a fascist howled the Twitter brigades.

The SJW idea seems to be that self-identification trumps all and if you disagree, well, yer’a Nazi and you have no right to speak.

Saves a lot of thinking time.

Reasonable people can manage to hold somewhat contradictory ideas all at the same time. On the one hand a person self identifies as being of the opposite gender, on the other, that does not make him a woman or vice versa.

I might, simply to save on smokes, self identify as a First Nations person. It would be incredibly disrespectful but, on the SJW logic, my choice has to be respected in the face of all evidence to the contrary. My total lack of recognition by any First Nation should not matter.

It is possible, after a long journey and with a little luck, I might be “adopted” into a First Nations family and, with a ton of effort on my part, I might, maybe, be accepted as something of an adopted member of a particular First Nation. But I doubt it. Which is exactly right.

The complications of Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s claim of First Nation’s, what? Heritage? Ancestory? suggest that assertions of First Nations identity are, rightly, treated with a degree of scepticism by the First Nations themselves. (Great, long, article in the Globe and Mail on Boyden.)

Is it wrong to treat a man’s claim to womanhood or a woman’s claim to manhood with the same scepticism?

While it might be polite to respect a person’s choice in pronouns, it might be a slightly bigger deal to respect their choice in bathrooms and a very big deal indeed to accept their claims to the experience of growing up female or male. “I always knew I was a woman.” is not actually the same experience as “I grew up female.”

It is always fun to watch a lefty realize that conformity of opinion is a requirement, not an option, on the more radical fringes of the left. As Lindsay Shepherd discovered, even suggesting that people analyze “the other side” is enough to have you dragged in front of what amount to heresy tribunals. And the only people who supported her were us crazed, right wing, free speech advocates.

Ms. Murphy has, I suspect, made her career. Two weeks ago no one had heard of her or Feminist Current the webzine she edits, today she was invited onto the Dave Rubin Show and quasi-Con Ben Shapiro has a crush.

Most importantly, Ms. Murphy has, as the expression goes, spoken truth to power and been kicked in the teeth for her trouble. She seems very smart, a good writer and more than capable of connecting the proverbial dots.

 

 

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Getting it wrong

A few days ago I put up a map of Canada which showed how much electrical energy each province got from renewables. BC, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec all get the bulk of their electricity from hydro and nuclear.

Here’s another figure for your consideration:

To understand this graph you need to go to The Chill of Solar Minimum.

““We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

This is not “just weather” as the CO2 cultists like to describe any form of colder than expected conditions. This is one of the drivers of the earth’s climate and a basic component to climate.

Now, there are scientists who don’t see this as a mere temperature drop.

Habibullo Abdussamatov warns that a new Little Ice Age has begun.

A highly qualified and highly regarded scientist, Dr Abdussamatov is Head of Space Research Laboratory at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sunspots come and go, but the Carbon Dioxide alarmism persists in the face of new and better modelling, here’s another chart:

CO2 sensitivity is an attempt to estimate the effect on teperature of a doubling of the CO2 in the atomsphere. We’re at about 400ppm now, what would happen if that went to 800ppm?

To get buy in for serious carbon taxes you pretty much have to say that 800 is going to lead to 2+ degrees Celius of warming and then try to make the claim that this level of warming will kill lots of us. As the science becomes more exact it is becoming clear that a doubling of CO2 is going to have a hard time creating 2 degrees of warming. Worth reading this post.

I have argued for years that the science is not yet ready for policy purposes. But the Trudeau government and the Scheer Conservatives presume that Canadians are too dumb to notice that the science underlying a carbon tax or whatever dimwitted scheme Scheer is touting – apparently based on the failed Australian model – are going to cost a lot and change, literally, nothing.

It is going to take a while for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada to catch on. But Bernier is a climate sceptic and an economic realist. As people begin to realize that the “carbon” tax or cap and trade and, frankly, all the other non-solutions to a non-problem, are simply bogus ways of taking money out of their pocket, Max is going to become a lot more appealing.

 

 

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