Category Archives: Canadian Politics

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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Cannabis Crunch

Cannabis, pot, marijuana, Canadian legalization of marijuanaI have been joking for a year that when Legalization Day arrives in BC we won’t notice any difference. I suspect that will be true tomorrow simply because very little of the infrastructure of legalized pot will be ready to go on Day 1.

The biggest difference will be that the people who will assemble to enjoy being able to smoke pot without the slightest chance of arrest (not that there is much chance of arrest now) will all be smoking illegal pot because there is, according to the Globe and Mail, exactly one fully licenced pot shop ready to go for Day 1. Plus there is and will remain a significant supply shortage as the various licenced growers ramp up the production of their “biological assets”.

The great error of the Canadian marijuana advocates was to accept “legalization” rather than demanding “decriminalization”. This has doomed Canada to repeat the American experience of creating a heavily regulated cannabis industry with so called “seed to sale” product tracking, licenced pot shops, provincial wholesale monopolies and all manner of other state intrusions. The layers of regulation might even suggest that the idea that pot is harmless does not reflect the Liberals’ actual thinking.

At the same time, the personal grow show exemption allowing the cultivation of up to four plants for personal use is going to hole the great barge of regulation under the waterline. It will not take all that many people growing to provide an abundant, unregulated, supply of potlatch pot. The potlatch element comes from the fact you cannot sell your crop, but you can give it away. A mildly competent grower – and there are plenty out there – should be able to grow a pound of pot per plant. An ambitious grower should be able to harvest 3 or 4 times per year. A pound is roughly 450 grams and if you think about that at the notional rate of $10 a gram, that is $18,000 worth of untaxed pot every quarter.

There is no question that home grows in closets will be a thing, the only question is how big a thing.

At the moment there are some very big companies involved in the cannabis business in Canada. Companies whose market caps are several times the estimated size of the Canadian retail recreational marijuana market. There are also plenty of large scale growers who have not jumped through the Health Canada regulatory hoops. There will be pressure on the federal and provincial governments to enforce the seed to sale regulation of legal pot. But there will be market pressure to ignore the regulatory scheme from pot activists, “independent growers” and, I suspect, urban and rural First Nations who have no particular stake in the regulatory scheme. Just as I can drive three miles from my home and buy fireworks on a nearby reserve in defiance of municipal and provincial law, it would hardly be surprising to see excise stamp free marijuana for sale in those same locations.

Astoundingly, the legalization of marijuana is likely to be the only basic accomplishment of the first Trudeau government. The early indications are October 17 will be celebrated with clouds of illegal pot, regulatory chaos and a boost to the grey and black markets as police and Crown will no longer have even the threat of possession charges. A few months from now there will be the inevitable “oversupply” of recreational marijuana with the corresponding drop in wholesale and then retail prices. Which, in its turn, will collapse such tax windfalls which legal pot were promised to bring.

The chaos of the Canadian “legalization” of marijuana will take a year or so to really hit home. Just in time for the October 2019 federal election.

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Bullet Dodged

Apparently, there are still some adults left in Ottawa and they realized that Trump and his trade negotiators really were not bluffing. Soooo. NAFTA 2.0.

Frankly, I think we won by not actually losing. JT realized that the automotive trade was worth more than gender equality in trade terms. We keep trading with the US, they ship more dairy tariff-free, we get to buy up to $100 bucks an order online from Amazon without duty, keep a dispute mechanism, cultural industries (which apparently include banking, who knew?) exempted…But the big bonus is that we never again have to see Chrystia Freeland in a far too tight dress again. Thank you, President Trump.

Now, this sort of blows Justine’s prospects of running against the Tyrant Trump in a year. I mean, the Liberals will be there in spirit, but it will be impossible to spin this agreement as both a win for Canada and standing up to the big, orange, American bully.

Sensible people do what they need to do to get a deal they need. Encouragingly, there are still a few sensible people in Ottawa.

Update: Only a flesh wound,

“However, the USMCA includes language that requires signatories to give notice if they plan to negotiate a free trade deal with a “non-market country,” and to allow the other two signatories at least a month to review any agreement before it is signed. It explicitly states that if one of the signatories enters into such an agreement, the other two have the right to withdraw from the USMCA with six months’ notice.” national post

My charming elder son texted to suggest that I was full of it and that this deal was essentially NAFTA 2. No major changes.

Well, this language is a major change and a direct restriction on our sovereignty. I don’t think it is a particularly bad restriction but it does mean that the USMCA is more a trade bloc than a free trading area.

Sundance, over at The Conservative Treehouse sees this as a way of stopping the quaint Mexican and Canadian practice of allowing foreign companies to ship parts to those countries and then put the parts together and claim that the finished product is “Made in Canada/Mexico”.

I don’t think that is correct as it only deals with “free trade agreements” rather than the piecemeal import and re-export shenanigans which have characterized NAFTA. However, at a guess, that brokerage business will be curtailed by the rules going to place of origin which stud the various side letters.

Which, in my view, is no bad thing. It is one thing to buy your printed circuit boards from China, it is quite another to have entire control modules shipped in pieces and “assembled” by putting in a couple of screws in order to evade tariffs.

The Trumpians want to bring actual manufacturing home to the USA, or, at worst, to its trading partners Canada and Mexico. We can argue the economics of this but what Trump sees is jobs. Decent jobs to bring Americans – particularily black and Latino Americans – back into the workforce. So far he seems to be hitting that goal. So much so that there are now more jobs than (technically) unemployed people.

Creating an “employment” economy is very good news for the deplorables, black people and Latinos. Where the demand for labour increases so will its price. For a very long time America seemed to be mired in an economy in which the rich and the upper middle class took the lion’s share of the money and the struggling middle class and the poor and lumpen unemployed were left with crumbs, disability and oxy. Trump’s economics and his concept of “fair trade” seem to be shifting that trend. If he can keep it going he’ll win the mid-terms and he’ll win re-election.

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No News is No News

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

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

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

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

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

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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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