Category Archives: Canadian Politics

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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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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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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Voice Suppression

free speech, walled gardenOn this holiday Monday I was lolling around in bed flipping through websites on my phone.

Over at Drudge I came across the fact that Apple and Facebook had taken down pages and podcasts from Alex Jones on the basis that they constituted “hate speech”. Apple’s spokesperson said,

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”

Facebook was a bit more specific, the pages were removed “for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

I have no interest in Alex Jones per se – my own sense has always been that he was crazy rather than dangerous – but I was interested in Apple and Facebook both denying him access to their platforms. Something which, as private companies, they are entitled to do.

I then had the interesting experience of watching the brownshirts of the liberal left engage in the silencing – in a very noisy way – of a young black woman.

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These children were not really protesting what Miss Owens was saying so much as her mere existence as a young, female, black, conservative.

The idea of silencing people you disagree with rather than actually engaging with them and debating the points they raise is gaining traction on the left because, in the face of Trump, they have really run out of arguments which hold any appeal for the broader public. Yelling, blowing whistles, banning and mobbing opponents are all tactics suggesting desperation.

And no one is more desperate than the dwindling, ragtag army of global warming/climate change believers. Concern about climate change is fading fast in the US (and, more slowly in the rest of the world) and those pesky, heretical, skeptics seem to have begun winning the policy debate. So, what to do?

Media Matters knows: “Zuckerberg has expressed concern about climate change, arguing last year that the U.S. should not pull out of the Paris climate agreement and noting that rising temperatures are melting the glaciers at Glacier National Park.

But he is not using the immense power of his platform to halt misinformation about climate change. To the contrary, Facebook is enabling and disseminating climate denial on multiple fronts. In addition to the problems outlined above, the platform helps bogus climate stories to spread — like a hugely popular climate-denial storyfrom YourNewsWire, a fake news site that Facebook refuses to ban even though fact-checkers have debunked its stories at least 80 times. And one of Facebook’s most high-profile scandals involved handing user data over to Cambridge Analytica, a shady political consultancy that has close ties to fossil fuel companies and climate deniers.”

For outfits like Media Matters yelling at Facebook to ban opinion they do not like is a very effective strategy. They are taking the street tactics of the little Antifa brownshirts and aiming to silence dissent. They are well aware that the climate scare message is floundering largely because alternative perspectives are being offered. Rather than trying to address those alternative perspectives, leaning on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube to have those perspectives silenced is an effective strategy.

It worked with Alex Jones so why won’t it work along other vectors of wrong think?

The power of entities like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube rests on their capacity to deliver audiences to content. Unfortunately, any number of content providers have succumbed to the temptation of larger audiences and have started publishing their content directly on these platforms. Which, of course, means accepting the Terms and Conditions these private companies impose. And if these Terms and Conditions are interpreted to exclude particular points of view, well, tough nuggies.

A more robust – and realistic – approach is to publish content on websites which you actually can control and relegate FB and Twitter to their proper place as publicity machines for your content. It is not, of course, a perfect solution – after all, ISPs and my pals at WordPress have their own Terms and Conditions – but it takes away a good deal of the power Facebook, in particular, has accumulated over public discourse.

I suspect, over time, FaceBook will go the way of MySpace and cease to have much of a role in the public square. Were it not for Trump, Twitter would already be on the downslope of public popularity. However, the promise of the internet in allowing dissident voices to be heard, can be destroyed if those voices voluntarily walk into the walled gardens of Facebook or Twitter or Apple. The good news is that there is nothing which compels anyone to stay inside Facebook’s walls.

Time to #Walkaway.

 

 

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Canadian Trade Debacle

“It is highly unusual, after more than a year of three-party talks, for Canada not to participate in the new discussions between U.S. and Mexican negotiators,” said Chris Sands, head of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Indeed, recent developments point to a steady souring of relations between Ottawa and the White House. Formal, three-way talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement have not been held since May, though had been expected to restart after the Mexican presidential election earlier this month.

A third source briefed on the negotiations said the U.S. side, fuelled in part by Lighthizer’s dislike of Freeland, has decided to not even let Canada back into the process until it makes some kind of substantive concession. national post

If you are not in the room you are not part of the deal. The dimwitted PMO and Trade Pixie Chrystia Freeland seem to think that “standing up to the Americans” is good trade policy as well as political catnip. After all, if Trudeau can be cast as Canada’s champion tilting with big, mean, Trump he should win the next election in a walk. (Or so the Ottawa thinking, I am inclined to think Canadians are not that dumb; but I’ve been wrong before.)

The politics of trade are one thing, the actual effects of “no deal” are quite another. The combination of no trade deal with the US and the anti-business consequences of the national “carbon” tax make investment decisions in Canada very easy: why would any US company or Canadian company for that matter, build a factory in Canada when that same factory could be built in the US or Mexico and enjoy access to the US market?

No one has to love Trump to figure out that Canada is better off with a trade deal with our largest trading partner. If that means abandoning our weird desire to enshrine gender equality in such a deal or, more substantively, accepting a negotiated sunset clause or the gradual elimination of tariff barriers in the dairy industry, we should get on with it.

Unfortunately, the political class in Canada – and our awful media – seem to be holding on to the idea that somehow Trump is not the “real” President and that, even if he is, he’ll be gone soon because he’ll be impeached or convicted criminally. Bouncing around Washington to speak to mainly Democratic Senators and Representatives in the name of a “charm” offensive likely re-enforced the perception that Trump is just a bad nightmare which will be over soon. And, hey, mid-terms!

The happy thought of Trump’s departure is the bedrock of leftist delusions about many things. The reality that Trump is going nowhere and that he seems to be accelerating his agenda apparently does not register in the collective Ottawa political brain. It is too horrible to contemplate. So long as the Liberals and their enablers in the media cling to the vision of the quick demise of Trump’s America (and a restoration of those nice Democrats) they will blunder along gaining no traction at all in trade or on any other file.

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Faisal Hussain

The slaughter on the Danforth was awful. It needs to be investigated and we need to know as much as we can about the puke who killed two women and injured another dozen people.

When his name was released – 24 hours after the shooting – a message, purportedly from his family, was also issued. In this statement, the claim was made that Hussain suffered from what was apparently an untreatable mental illness. It was a beautifully written statement which you can read here. It is possible Hussain’s parents actually wrote it. But as immigrants from Pakistan, in a moment of incredible stress, the language was a bit too professional to pass the smell test. But that might be wrong. (I note that we have not actually seen either his father (who is apparently in hospital) or his mother, whereabouts unknown.)

It is not unreasonable, even in light of the claim of mental illness, to ask a few questions:

  • where was he treated for this mental illness?
  • by whom and with what result?
  • where did the handgun come from?
  • has he travelled since he was an adult?
  • if so, where?
  • was he on any police or RCMP watchlists?
  • what happened to his social media (if any)?
  • if his social media was deleted, who gave the order to do that?
  • What evidence, if any, does the RCMP or CSIS have as to his online or RL contacts?

Here is the problem: at this point, we have his parents’ “statement” as to his mental illness and not much else.

You don’t have to be an Islamophobe to wonder if this man had motives other than being plain nuts for shooting up the Danforth. And, if it turns out that he did have other motives, what were they and did they connect to Islamic terror? These are reasonable questions and they need to be answered, publically.

We also need to know what efforts have been made to shape the narrative. My own sense is that the “statement” was not written by a family of Pakistani immigrants or a grieving father from his hospital bed.

The great and the good in Canada, like their peers in Europe, go to great lengths to minimize the Islamic aspects of these acts of terror. “Mentally ill” is a fairly common and difficult to refute explanation. And it might well be true – in which case the psychiatric paper trail should be released.

Hussain may very well have been known to the authorities. But was it as a nutter or as a potential terrorist?

Pulling a veil over the entire, horrible, episode and waving away public concern with a parental claim of “mental illness” is simply not going to cut it. We have all heard it too often. The shooter is dead. He no longer has privacy rights. Let’s find out how he came to be in possession of a handgun and why he chose to use it – and let’s make sure that the public knows exactly what happened.

A Second Thought Where Hussain got his gun is an obvious question for police. As various people have pointed out, unless you have a licence you need a very good connection to get a pistol in Canada. Who has those connections? Well, gangsters and terrorists (usually through gangsters). Was Hussain gangster connected? It is quite possible. And if he was it is very likely that he’ll be in a police database. While it may not look like it, the Canadian police and the RCMP are actually pretty good at tracking the members of the various gangs who operate in Canada. So was Hussain in such a database? Oddly enough, I would be relieved to know he was. Because that would go some distance to ruling out a terrorist angle.

But here is the thing, the police need to let the public in on what they have. We have a right to know if this crime was committed by a crazy person, a gang banger or a terrorist.

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