Category Archives: #cdnpoli

Music for Max

Justin Trudeau told the New York Times Magazine,

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.” (link)

And I suspect he believes this. Why not? It makes easing into a post national world all that much easier.

Maxime Bernier seems to think that this may not be true.

So a suggestion for Max. While public choice theory is all very well, and right more often than not, music is visceral. It hits our hearts not our heads.

I was buzzing around the ‘nets tonight and ran across this benefit concert for John Mann, the lead singer for Spirit of the West who, sadly, has early onset Altzheimers. Take a watch and give what you can:

And, yes that is the divine Sarah and Jim Burnes and a bunch of other Vancouver musicians. But like any other red blooded Canadian male I needed to know who the beautiful, blonde, fiddler was in the middle of the pack. (And, no, that isn’t Peter Garrett…that would be Australian Max.)

The answer was Kendel Carson who you can see here with Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea singing Barrett’s Privateers in a none to sober evening in Halifax.

And there is grand stuff from Quebec.

Fiddles, a beat, and a calling back of traditional music.

Poor Donald Trump seems to think that the pleasures of the Rolling Stones – not to be discounted – are the way to open rallies.

Max needs to be smarter. Whether recorded or live, he needs to begin his own appeal for a better Canada with an appeal to our hearts. This music goes there.

(And, yes, I have no doubt that all the performers are soibois to the n’th degree. But that is what you have staff for. A great fiddle band to open with could flip the switch in a lot of ridings.)

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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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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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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.

https://goo.gl/images/3YzxN8

Canada Day!

Canada, Canada Day, Trump. tariffsThere is nothing I like being more than a Canadian. My compatriots may drive me crazy but our disagreements are political rather than patriotic.

Sadly, our current federal government thinks it can win an election – in a year – by picking a fight with our friends in the US. The PMO’s polling tells them that Canadians a) can’t stand Trump, b) will rally around a PM who stands up for Canada no matter how wrong we might be. I suspect that polling is right but premature.

No one wins a trade war and today the smartypants Liberals are embarking on a series of deliberately political retaliatory tariffs designed to hit Republicans where it hurts, at the polling booth. There are many things wrong with this strategy beginning with the fact it won’t work. Tariffing soy sauce because North America’s largest soy sauce plant is in retiring GOP speaker Paul Ryan’s district looks clever but isn’t. After all, at best, that plant ships about 10% of its production to Canada. Our tariff will be an annoyance rather than a game changer. And just as Canadians claim to be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with Trudeau in opposing the Trump monster, Americans are perfectly capable of supporting the industries we target.

Canadians win when we come up with creative compromises. Flat out telling the US that we will not accept a five year sunset clause on NAFTA is stupidly beligerent. Intelligent compromise would have created a process – general review at 6 years, sectoral review at eight based on the general review and the possiblilty of revision at 10. It’s boring but it is very Canadian. Same thing with the steel and aluminum tariff. Figure out what the Americans are actually after (likely an end to the transhipment of Chinese commodity steel) and figure out how to make that happen while enhancing the Canadian position.

Unfortunately, this very Canadian approach is not very sexy. It is not going to save a floundering Liberal government. To do that, the geniuses in the PMO realize they somehow have to cast the next election as a referendum on Trump rather than a review of the Trudeau government’s meager list of accomplishments. To that end picking a fight with the US seemed like a good idea.

It isn’t.

With a year in hand, the US can pretty much destroy the Canadian economy and flatten what manufacturing is left in Ontario. They don’t need to do much, just impose a 20% tariff on all cars coming into the US and fail to exempt Canada. Boom, done. Like the rest of the world, Canada enjoys access to the American market because we have negotiated that access and the Americans, to date, have had no particularily compelling reason to restrict that access. Indeed, up until the fracking revolution, there was a strategic reason to keep Canadian oil and gas flowing to the US. That reason has gone.

It is a Canadian pasttime to bash Americans. All the more so with Trump in office. Where that comes from is not obvious but the reserves of anti-Americanism in Canada are, apparently, bottomless. And those reserves are filling fast as the American economy under Trump revives and thrives in contrast to Canada’s. I have no idea if Trump is Making America Great Again, however he is, unambigously, making America Rich Again. And he is doing that through tax cuts and deregulation which are anathema to the economic illiterates who surround Trudeau and infest the Finance Department. Normally, when the US economy surges, Canada enjoys a knockon effect. But between nitwit “carbon taxes” and unnecessary “trade wars” and an apparent inability to build pipelines, Canada is going in the opposite direction.

Between now and next Canada Day I suspect it is a good bet that Canada will make itself poorer. The only question is how much poorer.

If the PMO and the Liberal Party really think they will be able to run against Trump in a little over a year they have to pray that he does not continue to deliver jobs, growth, prosperity and a reassertion of American might internationally. They have to hope Trump will, somehow, be impeached, or lose the mid-terms decisively, or have his economic policies crash or walk into some other disaster – because if Trump’s successes continue and the Democrats fail to win big in November, he is going to be a much less attractive target.

Yes, if Trump does tariff cars at 20% he’ll be demonized all over the world. But where it counts, in the car plants in Ontario and in the parts manufactories, there is not going to be much left. Rail at Trump all you want, the fact is that it will be Trudeau who was dumb enough to poke the bear for political points.

I hope all my Canadian readers enjoy our National Holiday. And then I hope all my American readers enjoy July 4. In a year, we will still be celebrating Canada Day but, unless our politicians smarten up, we will be a poorer and less consequential nation than we are now. And, worse, that condition may very well be permenant as our jobs flow south.

This Canada Day our situation is serious but, with intelligence, not fatal. Next year?

Happy Canada Day!

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Milk Fight

shutterstock_175414571-1000x480The Donald seems obsessed with Canadian Dairy tariffs. As well he might be as they can go as high as 290%.

Over the next week or so, Canada and the US are going to have to climb down from their rather silly positions on everything from aluminium to felt pens.

A good place to start is with Canadian dairy. Why not announce a zero tariff on hormone/antibiotic free milk? It is a tiny percentage of American dairy production but a huge percentage of Canadian dairy is both hormone and antibiotic free.

Trump seems to be attracted by shiny objects and a “win” on dairy is very shiny indeed.

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True North

Justin Trudeau, Donald TrumpOnly in Canada would the rudeness of our Prime Minister to a departing guest be raised – admittedly by Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella – to a question of Canadian patriotism. Our Minister of External Affairs has wagged her stubby little finger at the Donald and called his response to Trudeau’s rudeness “inappropriate”.

In so far as there is any thinking at all in Ottawa I suspect some bright light in the PMO, in the wake of Ford’s victory in Ontario, has had the idea that the way for Trudeau to win the next election is to try and cast that election as an opportunity for good Canadians to vote against the monster Trump. It is just the sort of idea which will emerge from a gender-balanced brain trust a bit high on soy. Because decent, good Canadians hate Trump and if Trudeau is seen to stand up to the orange ogre we will all troop to the ballot box in Trudeau’s support. While I think that is unlikely, it is really all these clowns have left.

Which is very bad news for Canada. Because Trump is not kidding on tariffs and could care less if all the Canadas rise as one in support of the Little Potato. As I pointed out below, at virtually no cost to the American economy, Trump can pretty much wipe out the one bit of manufacturing which exists in the so-called “Golden Triangle”. And if Ms. Freeland thinks he is inappropriate now, imagine how fast her finger will have to wag if he hits oil and lumber with the same sort of across the board tariff.

A lot of diplomacy and trade strategy can be learned in a school yard. Six grade one students are unwise trying to take on the kid in grade seven. While they might be able to slow him down they can’t actually hurt him, but one solid punch from the big kid and a little kid is laid out flat. Is that fair? Of course not. But it is how the world works.

Poking a bear is never, ever, smart.

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