Category Archives: Canadian Politics

The wrong way to mask

COVID-19, British Columbia, mask mandate

“Until now, B.C. has resisted calls for a mandatory mask order, instead making it the responsibility of businesses, transit operators and community service agencies to implement their own rules.

“The mask mandate is not something that in and of itself has made a difference in terms of transmission,” the province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as late as Wednesday.

On Thursday, she said the change in policy was due to increasing public pressure, including from businesses, expressing concerns about putting the onus of enforcing piecemeal policy onto workers.

The mask mandate isn’t being implemented by public health order, but by B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth under the extraordinary powers granted by the province’s record-breaking state of emergency. It’s not clear when it will take effect.” ctvnews

I had been under the impression that Dr. Henry had changed her mind for public health reasons. Apparently not.

Now the government’s public health policy is being dictated by “public pressure”. Whether masking works or not is a matter of scientific debate. My own reading of the literature suggests that “mask mandates” have virtually no effect. (Which is not the same as saying that masks don’t work. They may in certain circumstances.) But that literature has been tossed under the bus by “public pressure”.

To date I have been rather impressed with the BC Government’s tempered response to COVID. Through Dr. Henry it has treated British Columbians as adults. But, most of all, there was a deference to the best science Dr. Henry and her colleagues could access. That has gone out the window.

At a guess, when case numbers continue to rise, “public pressure” will mount for full, enforced, lock down regardless of the fact that the science is, at best, equivocal as to the efficacy of full lock downs. And there may well be “public pressure” to close the schools, again in the face of very little evidence that school closure helps much.

At the moment the public, goaded by an hysterical media, is terrified. Which will mean that “public pressure” can be mustered for virtually any policy which appears to have some effect on COVID. Worse, as the CTV article illustrates, if one province is doing something there is an expectation that other provinces should do the same thing. This is irrational.

If anything, the need is to be more granular. Take a look at regions and sub regions and tailor the public health response to the facts on the ground. Simply working very hard to protect out elderly may have a better public health outcome than masking, lockdowns and school closures. But if “public pressure” is all it takes to make sweeping, province wide, restrictive orders the scientific basis, medical outcome and economic consequences of such orders will be moot.

BC, through the grace of Dr. Bonnie Henry, held onto science as the basis for decisions. We have now succumbed to the Karens.

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Case Counts and Lockdowns

In the UK, France, Ontario and various other jurisdictions COVID case counts have risen at an alarming rate in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, mandatory masking and strict lockdowns seem to be the only tools governments feel they have in the face of case count surges.

It can be argued that the increasing case counts may be an artifact of more testing. Or a product of the sensitivity of the tests themselves; but the actual case numbers keep going up.

Our media, God bless them, at a national level seem to be entirely focused on case counts to the point where, in this CBC story on Ontario’s numbers, there is simply no mention of the “death count”.

Why could this be? Well, take a look at these two graphs from Ontario:

If you look at the top graph the sky is falling and masks, social distance, lockdowns, school closures and “stay at home” all make a lot of sense. If you look at the bottom graph, COVID is over.

In Montreal over this last weekend up to 100,000 people marched against mandatory masks. The mainstream media downplayed the turnout and suggested that there were all sorts of conspiracy theorists, Qanon believers, far right and Trump supporters marching. There probably were. But I suspect the vast majority of the marchers were responding to the disproportionate response of the Quebec government to graphs which look very much like Ontario’s.

People are more than willing to go along with governmental measures they can see the point of. “14 days to flatten the curve and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed” made sense back in April. And the measures taken then may well have worked. But it is mid-September and the hospitals and their ICUs are not even slightly overtaxed.

So what is going on? Let’s simply dismiss the loonier conspiracy theories about Gates wanting to inject everyone with micro chips and Soros wanting to impose unlimited lefty control and the UN pushing Agenda-21 under the guise of the virus and a host of other wingnut positions. The more reasonable position is that the media reports “newsworthy” stories and low or no deaths does not make the grade and, politicians and public health people were completely overwhelmed at the start of COVID. With the best will in the world they relied on models which, it turns out, wildly over-estimated the spread and the severity of the virus. Now they are like cats up a tree. Easy to get up, not so easy to get down.

Here’s the problem: politically, opening up too soon and seeing a rise in actual deaths, is seen as fatal. All the more so when case numbers are rising. The precautionary principle has taken hold and politicians see a huge downside to anything but the most draconian measures. After all, what happens if the death count goes up?

Add to that political calculation the fact about half the population is heavily invested in the idea that COVID is very dangerous for everyone and that there is no precaution too stringent to protect us. That part of the population wears their masks, stays home and hopes there will be a vaccine before Christmas. In terms of the graphs above, these people remain in the last week of April. These are the people who look at case rates and demand everyone mask up.

The rest of us have moved on, taking sensible precautions for the locations in which we find ourselves, but trying to resume a normal life. We tend to look at “case fatality rates” and try to get statistics broken out by locality and demographics. Vigilant but optimistic.

For the moment, case counts and masks seem to be winning the day. Lockdowns are being re-imposed. Halloween looks to be cancelled and Thanksgiving may be limited to immediate family. Christmas, whatever happens, will be muted. “Out of an abundance of caution,” seems to be the prevalent sentiment. The fact that the hospitalization rate and death count curves have flattened and, in fact, fallen is not cutting through yet.

I suspect it will be the New Year before the tide turns. People have been scared witless and it will take a while for them to calm down. Even as the general population begins to gain perspective, the economic damage will only be starting. Everything from supply chains to commercial real estate to personal debt will have to re-calibrate to a world which has, effectively, lost a year economically.

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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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A month later

I have not been writing much about COVID and its consequences simply because, day to day, very little changes.

I am very lucky. I live in British Columbia which has had among the lowest per capita case rate and death rate in the developed world. There are a variety of reasons for this first among them the provincial government’s decision to treat its citizens like grown ups. The government has shared its statistics, its models and its recommendations. It has issued very few “orders” nor has it locked down the economy. Social distancing, the ubiquitous plexi glass barriers at the cash tills, maximum occupancy to prevent over crowding are pretty much it in terms of required measures. No sit down dining in restaurants and bars closed. We are encouraged, but not required, to “stay at home”.

Yesterday there were only 15 new cases in the province. The curve has been decisively flattened. On Vancouver Island, where I actually live, there have been only 126 cases overall. There were no new cases yesterday.

The rest of Canada ranges from New York City levels of illness in Montreal to very little illness on the prairies and in most of the Maritimes. Ontario, particularly Toronto, has been hit pretty hard and has reacted with broad lock downs and fines for illicit dog walking or hoops shooting.

Right now, BC is coming back online in a phased way and I suspect most businesses will be operating with capacity restrictions by mid June.

Now the question is how much economic damage has the virus done.

While it is convenient for politicians and economists to think of the economy at the macro level with unemployment rates and money supply and such like, the actual economy is a vast set of tiny transactions and the habits which power those transactions. Before we can really talk about the effect of the virus on such lofty things as aggregate demand, we have to think about the very small scale exchanges of daily life.

To give one example: if a person who, before the virus, went to an office everyday is now working from home their web of tiny transactions will have changed shape – gas bought once a month rather than once a week, no dry cleaning, no Starbucks, no lunch in the food court. The question is whether, even if they keep their job, they will be going back to the office. Increasingly, the answer seems to be no as everyone from the Bank of Montreal to Facebook have announced that they are looking at leaving their workforce at home.

These sorts of choices – whether made by the individual, companies or governments radically and unpredictably change the economic balance in ways we will not fully understand for years. There is no way to model this sort of change because there is no way to predict what a shift to working at home will actually mean economically. Nor do we really have much ability to work through the ramifications of extremely limited air travel or fanless sporting events.

Now, add to these and countless other shifts in behaviour, there is also the uncertainty as to the rate of change in that behaviour. Air travel is, at the moment, very, very limited. Flights are cancelled, air crew furloughed, smaller planes deployed where possible. That happened at the beginning of April and is ongoing. It is not, directly, the result of government saying “reduce air travel” but rather a consequence of lockdowns and “stay at home” edicts. It is also a very rational response to the virus itself – who wants to sit in close quarters with someone who is asymptomatically infected? Will that change and if so how fast?

A lot of the day to day transactions of life require a background of general trust, a sense of confidence. You can flatten the curve, lift the lock downs and generally stimulate the economy with helicopter money but until trust and confidence are restored you are essentially pushing on a rope.

I suspect we are coming to the end of the first wave of the virus. A good, hot summer, may see the end of it. However, the possibility of a second wave, potentially worse than the first, cannot be dismissed. Which is just one more worry to pile on top of the profoundly out of kilter economy.

In many ways the biggest obstacle to economic progress is the very idea that we will somehow “get back to normal”. The fact is that there is no longer a “normal” to return to which means we will be going forward into a economy which we will be inventing as we go. Which might sound scary but, realistically, market economies have always invented their own futures.

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The Conservative Dilemma

Frank Graves and Michael Valpy ask the question, “What if the Conservatives had a ‘centrist’ leader?” like Rona Ambrose or Peter MacKay. To their credit Graves and Valpy recognize that while a centrist Conservative party would appeal to the media and various elites in Canada it would effectively maroon the 30% of Canadians who might loosely be described as “populist”.

I think Graves and Valpy are right and I can’t wait for that exact outcome.

Scheer managed to hoodwink a lot of natural populists with a combination of Liberal-lite policies and some goofy socon gestures (I am not sure Pride Parade non-attendance really counts for much with the serious socons.)

Graves and Valpy maintain that this was enough to avoid “orphaning the party’s biggest lump, and he more or less cut off oxygen to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC).” It might have been last election but if the CPC goes centrist with its next leader, the lump will be looking elsewhere.

I am fairly certain that the CPC will go for a centrist leader if only because there are really no populist candidates available to it. Pierre Poilievre might fill the bill but it is not obvious that the CPC will be willing to support an MP who is as “direct” as Poilievre.

Which will leave “the lump” looking for a home. Graves and Valpy give a rundown of the lump’s core issues,

“Like the United States, the United Kingdom and sizeable chunks of Western Europe, Canada has a significant portion of citizens—about 30 per cent—who are attracted to the current psychographic and demographic binge of ordered populism. They are profoundly economically pessimistic and mistrustful of science and the elites. They have no interest in climate change, they don’t really see an active role for public institutions and believe there are too many immigrants. Of those immigrants coming to Canada, they think that too many are not white.”

Other than the dig about thinking “too many are not white”, that is a pretty good summary. (On the “not white” thing, I suspect it is more nuanced than that: more along the lines of the current Quebec government’s desire to preserve its culture in the face of immigration.)

I would make only one other correction and that is that they are not economically pessimistic, rather they are deeply worried that the current government has no clue what it is doing economically. There is a difference.

I would also add that the 30% lump tend to take a “leave me the fuck alone” with respect to gay marriage, trans rights, abortion and a host of other social justice causes. They are not so much opposed as annoyed to have gay pride parades and Drag Queen story hour as touchstones of moral correctness. They are not so much social conservatives as people entirely fed up with the hectoring of assorted minorities.

The lump tends to look at “climate change” in much the same way. They may accept the consensus “science” but they are annoyed at the BS virtue signalling of not having plastic grocery bags and being dinged for a “carbon” tax which will make no difference at all to world CO2 levels.

All of which add up to the Conservatives’ dilemma. The brain trust of the CPC is pretty sure that the road to 24 Sussex runs through 25 marginal seats in and around Toronto. These are seats which may have significant immigrant populations and lots of nice middle class ladies who don’t like that mean Mr. Trump or that vile Doug Ford. The logic is that to win those seats the Conservatives need a leader who is the very opposite of the Bad Orange Man, in fact, a leader very much like that handsome Mr. Trudeau. Who cares about the planet, loves Pride Parades and embraces multi-culturalism and family class immigration as “the one, true path” to national salvation.

The fact that such a leader would be anathema to the Conservative heartlands in the West and even in smaller places in Canada does not matter to the CPC brain trust because, well, who are they going to vote for?

Graves and Valpy edge up on the answer to that question, ” The danger, of course, is that the positions of those in the ordered camp are so dramatically offside the centre on issues like immigration and climate change that they may either stay home or perhaps consider the PPC. The People’s Party is now at nearly five per cent of total voters, and they could be a magnet for this segment if the Conservatives went too centre.”

Yup. And it would not even be a hard decision if a screamingly Red Tory like MacKay became the leader.

Here’s the thing: in the last election “the lump” voted CPC because it was generally believed that Bernier and the PPC had no chance of winning seats and “the lump” was desperate to see Trudeau defeated. Next election, if the CPC picks a centrist, “the lump” will have no real reason to vote CPC. Especially if Max continues to barnstorm the country.

Trudeau won with 33% of the vote. The wholesale collapse of the CPC vote under a Trudeau-lite leader and a rapprochement with the Bloc could put Max into contention.

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Interesting Day

#1 UK Election. Polling puts Boris 9.5 points up. But “polling” ain’t what it used to be and national polls in a 600+ seat race are more than a little useless. Boris is counting on voters a) wanting the end of the waffling on Brexit, b) not wanting Corbyn anywhere near Number 10. I think he is right on Brexit but I am less convinced that Corbyn is that toxic. Corbyn is certainly anathema to the old-time conservative voter, but to the kids, the ethnics and the tribal, Corbyn is not so scary. In fact, his old school Marxism and refusal to condemn terrorists, whether Irish or Islamic, puts him in stark contrast to the smoother, Blairite, Labourites. Corbyn is not a moderate and there is a sizable fraction of the voting population who will see that as a good thing. We’ll know soon.

#2 The Impeachment Follies. The Democrat’s lame attempt to impeach President Trump has dropped any pretence of bi-partisanship or basic procedural fairness. The articles themselves disclose no crimes, high or low, and are being torn apart in Committee. This weekend I suspect the GOP will be aggressive in attempts to get more moderate Democratic Representatives to either vote against or abstain when the Articles come before the full House. Given that the chances of the Senate convicting, never very good to begin with, collapse with these weak accusations, smart Democrats are surely looking for a way out. Censure is one alternative. Another is to actually defeat the Articles as they stand.

The biggest problem the Democrats have is that Trump is absolutely sure he did nothing wrong and nothing that the Democrats have managed to come up with shakes that position. Worse, the eternally combative Trump actually seems to be enjoying the process. He always knew he would be impeached if the Dems got control of the House and so he is well prepared to counter punch. The GOP may find Trump distasteful but they have rallied round and there is no appetite, on the Articles at least, to impeach a sitting President eleven months from an election.

It is great fun, however, watching the Republicans on the Committee bringing up Hunter Biden’s coke habits and uttering the taboo name of the “whistleblower” who wasn’t. Apparently, the betting is that Mitch McConnell wants any trial in the Senate to be short and sweet with very little investigation or exposure of the Democrats or the deep state they represent. However, the Congressional Republicans are having a grand time smearing the Bidens and underscoring the Democrat’s arrogant disregard for even the minimum procedural fairness. I can imagine Nancy Pelosi hoping that toad Nadler will get this over with quickly.

#3 Andrew Scheer. I didn’t vote for Scheer and I have no interest in the man. His resignation from the CPC leadership for whatever reason is a reasonable outcome of a disastrous campaign. His unfitness to lead was underscored by his willingness to hire Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella to go after Bernier with a bogus PPC=Racist campaign.

The CPC will now go through a year or two of trying to figure out how to “move to the center”. How to win the hearts and minds of assorted urban ethnic groups and how to appeal to women. They have plenty of mushy, urban, centerists – of both sexes and all genders – to choose from.

Unfortunately, the likely criteria for winning the CPC leadership will be a) can beat Trudeau, b) will not scare the ethnics, gays, ladies and the easily spooked Millenials. The idea that there might actually be conservative principles such as balanced budgets, limits on immigration, respect for provincial rights and support for a growing Canadian economy, will be largely absent from the CPC beauty contest coming to a city near you.

This is, frankly, a huge opportunity for the Peoples Party and Max Bernier. The brain trust at the CPC, fresh from its success in hiring Warren Kinsella, is going to go all in for the reddest, most inclusive, most climate friendly leader it can possibly find. The logic will be that you have to win in Toronto and places like Alberta and Saskatchewan are always going to be safe CPC territory.

Max needs to present a principled, conservative, platform and start rallying the real conservatives on the Prairies, in the interior of British Columbia and in the many parts of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes where Liberals and Liberals-lite are unwelcome options.

Could have had Max…and there is no reason why we can’t.

Update: So Boris won bigly. A working majority, many seats taken from Labour. Corbynism rejected and the pound went parabolic. Corbyn manage to lose bigger than Michael Foot – who was a lot smarter and far more fun, though deeply on the left. Momentum is saying it was a “Brexit” election and they are not wrong. But it was a rejection of Corbyn’s waffle on Brexit and his radical leftist positions and the base anti-Semitism the Labour party has fallen victim to. It was also an embrace of the intelligence and wit of Boris. Now he has his own mandate. He can get Brexit done and move on to the real issues facing the United Kingdom.

Andrew Scheer remains “resigned” (eventually). The red and pink Tories are lining up to take the position. The possible candidates are all of pinkish hue and interest me not a bit. I don’t think you beat the Liberals by being a slo-mo Liberal. Max has a huge opportunity.

But the winner of the interesting day was Jerry Nadler adjourning the Judiciary Committee without a vote on the Articles of Impeachment. The scuttlebutt is that he did this to ensure he gets on TV when the Committee passes those Articles.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps Nancy Pelosi has been counting votes and realizes that those Articles enjoy a bare majority of votes in the House. Or worse. They are remarkably dumb and Pelosi has noticed that Trump seems to be saying, “Oh please, Mr. Fox, don’t throw me into the brambles.”

Trump, along with Boris, likes jokes. He enjoys making fun and he has a fabulous sense of humour. It is one of the things which distinguishes the happy warriors on the right from the earnest, po-faced, scolds of the left.

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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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#Wexit + Max

This is interesting:

Meeting the Unity Challenge: An Agenda for Canada

Lots of names, lots of climate skeptics, lots of scholars, lots of Westerners.

Saturday Keynote? Maxime Bernier.

The great problem faced by the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance and any number of Western Separatists and serious conservatives is that they could never figure out how to “go national” while staying true to their regional identity and concerns. Allying with Max may be a fix for that.

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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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