Between Justin Trudeau’s fights with Donald Trump, and his maladroit musings on the Kokanee Grope, it’s been easy to lose sight of the struggles of Jagmeet Singh, the Brampton MPP who captured the NDP leadership less than a year ago.
Singh has been trying to win over the NDP caucus and prepare the party for next year’s election, even agreeing to forego a party salary. This is no small hardship, given that Singh has no pension from his time as an Ontario MPP, no other apparent income, and was recently married. His in-laws must be thrilled.
Not all are supportive of the Trudeau Government’s trade negotiation tactics with the United States.
With Canada’s national election only 16 months away, it is now anticipated that the fate of the trade agreement with our southern neighbor will be a central campaign issue. Lawrence Solomon, policy director for Toronto-based Probe International, suggests Trudeau is using the trade talks to position for a tough re-election year by creating a boogeyman and a crisis: “NAFTA necessarily thus becomes not an economic exercise but a political one.”
In Ottawa, there are two prevailing threads of thought on what has become the never-ending saga of the Canada-U.S. Trade Talks. One is rallying behind Prime Minister Trudeau and supporting the Liberal Government’s attempt to reason with an unpredictable U.S. President. The second is highly critical, suggesting that the Liberals are purposely sabotaging the negotiations for their own domestic political gains. The next three columns will review the political gamesmanship between Canada and the U.S. and assess what all the public posturing may mean for the outcome of the trade talks – and for the 2019 federal election.
For months, Ottawa’s political networks and national press corps have been wholly focused on U.S. President Donald Trump and his every utterance on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canadians are anxious. Given the magnitude of trade between our two countries, NAFTA has a large impact on our country’s economic growth and maintaining our standard of living.
Despite my confident prediction last week, Justin Trudeau’s “Kokanee Grope” refuses to disappear into the British Columbia mist.
To recap: In April, the satirical magazine Frank posted a 2000 editorial from the Creston Valley Advance in B.C. The editorial accused Trudeau of “groping” the paper’s young female reporter, who was covering the Kokanee Summit, a music festival that Trudeau attended as an onstage guest. Trudeau was accepting the festival’s donation to the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign, which was building a backcountry cabin in memory of Trudeau’s late brother Michel and other avalanche victims.
As Parliament recessed for the summer, news leaked out that the Trudeau Government quietly renewed the current federal equalization formula for provinces through the year 2024.
In the 584-pages of 2018 budget documentation, Finance Minister Bill Morneau had buried a provision that extended the existing equalization formula, providing no formal notices to provinces or the public. With the passage of the omnibus budget legislation, stealthily, Morneau unilaterally assured the renewal of the federal-provincial equalization arrangement — to the huge benefit of Quebec, and over the vocal protests of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the western provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
As if Justin Trudeau hadn’t done enough to disrupt my always-shaky peace of mind, he’s added another offense: he’s revived my pity for Patrick Brown.
It was just five months ago that two anonymous accusers ended the political career of then Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown. Each woman alleged that Brown had pressured her into sex several years prior, with one woman claiming she was still a high school student at the time. Brown’s political staff and MPPs abandoned him, and he resigned as leader. A few weeks after CTV aired the explosive story, Brown refuted the allegations with witnesses and other information that suggested the incidents could not have taken place. One of the accusers later admitted that she was not in high school at the time.
On Parliament Hill, time stood stand, or rather any sense of time was lost in the surreal tension of Wednesday, May 2. Members of Parliament were shocked. News travelled in whispers of disbelief. And then there was an oppressive sadness that enveloped the Nation’s Capital and left anguished MPs groping for words, as we all do when faced with a close friend’s passing.
Wednesday morning, Gordon Brown – Gordie to everyone who knew him – had started his day playing hockey with friends at the Ottawa Morning Hockey League. The MP made it to his Hill office and sometime shortly before 10 o’clock he had a heart attack. Paramedics performed emergency resuscitation efforts en route to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
When it was revealed a week ago Monday that Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow had suffered a mild heart attack, it was a startling but almost fitting coda to the drama and verbal fisticuffs that surrounded the G7 meeting in Quebec. Luckily, Kudlow was released from hospital two days later and is expected to be back at work soon.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne, linking to a news item about Kudlow’s heart attack, tweeted: “You come at the prime minister of Canada, you’d best not miss.” Coyne was referring to Kudlow’s appearance on American television the day before, in which Kudlow had attacked Trudeau for having “really kind of stabbed us in the back,” adding that Trump “is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around.”
The rights of parliamentarians to oversee government spending dates back to 1215 and the signing of the Magna Carta. Since that agreement between the King of England and Lord Barons, parliamentarians have voted on the details of how a government will spend the tax dollars raised from the people of the land. In Canada, expenditure estimates for each of the government’s departments are tabled in parliament so MPs can question the respective ministers on their spending plans.
You can say one thing about this year’s G7 that you couldn’t say about most of the previous ones: it was newsworthy. Sunday gave interested parties and observers the opportunity to react to and analyze the bad feelings and ugly words that erupted after the G7 meeting of world leaders in Charlevoix.
And there was a lot to analyze, because Sunday was like those tell-all shows The Bachelor/Bachelorette does after the finale, so the contestants can say what they really think of each other, in case their passive-aggressive antics during the competition didn’t make that clear.
There are only two weeks left in the House of Commons calendar before Members of Parliament break for their summer recess. Although they may soon be spared the cut and thrust of Parliamentary debates, there will be little relief as MPs are sure to feel the heat – both literally and figuratively.
The recent national polls from Nanos Research and Angus Reid have the Conservatives overtaking the governing Liberals in popular support; the Reid results show the Conservatives with a comfortable 10 percentage point lead (40% – 30%) in popular vote. Yet, what is most unsettling for Liberal MPs is the pollsters’ regional breakdowns that reveal the Liberals would be wiped out west of Quebec. PM Justin Trudeau could lose more than half his Ontario MPs and the Liberals would be annihilated in the western provinces.
The first thing I need to say is: it’s about time, you SOBs.
The Nobel committee gave Obama the peace prize before he even did anything. Here I am, Canada’s hottest progressive politician for four decades, and what do I get? Bupkes. I didn’t even get to be Governor-General. Too bad I didn’t say I identified as a black woman. But this is nice. Heck, any time I can get a free meal that hasn’t been thrown at me by CUPE it’s a good night.
Looking forward to taking a legal toke on July 1st? Don’t buy a new bong just yet.
Just over a year ago, the Trudeau government announced that it would make marijuana legal by July 1, 2018. After discarding our beautiful Dominion Day for the dull and generic Canada Day, and reducing the 150th anniversary of Confederation to a sad exercise in shame about native Canadians, the Liberals seem intent on wedding what’s left of our national holiday to glassy eyes, stinky dreadlocks and Doritos.
Oh, but that’s an outdated, unfair portrayal of cannabis users, you say? We’ll see. But just seven weeks out from the Liberals’ target date, completing the necessary legislation, regulations and infrastructure for legal pot is proceeding like a foot race at a nursing home.
I should have bought the book a week ago.
Tuesday afternoon, I picked up Jordan Peterson’s blockbuster book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Despite perusing it until 3 a.m. Wednesday, I had yet to reach the chapter that tells you how to deal with the brutal unfairness of a death too soon, too soon in more ways than one: Ontario MP Gord Brown’s came less than 24 hours after my purchase.
I knew Gord a little in our days in youth and campus conservative politics in the 1980s. Gord was then known as Gordie Brown. As if having the quintessentially Canadian given name ‘Gordon’ wasn’t enough, he carried the diminutive forever associated with Gordie Howe. Erstwhile foreign affairs minister John Baird was then known as Rusty Baird, and I had styled myself rather pompously as Joan J. Tintor, always refusing to disclose what the ‘J’ stood for. Gordie decided that it stood for Juanita, and mischievously addressed me as such from time to time. (Today, both of us would be accused of anti-Latino stereotyping.)
It seems March madness isn’t limited to the basketball courts south of the border.
In Ottawa, the spending frenzy that occurred annually prior to the fiscal year end of March 31 appears to be back in full swing. Federal bureaucrats ordered about 31,000 smartphones (nearly 15 per cent of the government’s total) and required delivery within five weeks so they can be charged to the 2017-2018 budget. Total cost to tax payers is about $23 million.
Macaulay Culkin, the most successful child star of the 1990s, was on the Ellen DeGeneres show earlier this week. Culkin mostly stays out of the spotlight, but has been gamely making the talk show rounds this week to promote his podcast/website, “Bunny Ears.” Bunny Ears is Culkin’s most serious hobby – as he calls his pursuits – since he basically retired from acting over 20 years ago.
During her interview with Culkin, DeGeneres flashed some throwback photos and asked Culkin for his reactions: sort of a celebrity Rorschach test. When a photo appeared of Culkin posing with Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser), Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of Bel Air), and Jaleel White (Urkel), Culkin quipped: “That is the most 90s photo I’ve ever seen,” and “I’m probably wearing Reebok pumps.”
Mad Max got his sanity back.
Quebec Conservative MP and recent leadership runner-up Maxime Bernier has halted publication of his book Doing Politics Differently: My Vision for Canada, which was to be released in November. Bernier’s decision came after a preview chapter of the book caused an uproar in the Conservative caucus. The chapter discussed Bernier’s long-time opposition to Canada’s supply management regime for dairy, eggs and poultry. In it, Bernier partly blamed his narrow loss in the leadership race on “fake Conservatives” in rural Quebec, who joined the party “only interested in blocking my candidacy and protecting their privileges.”
While Conservative leader Andrew Scheer declined to comment on the book excerpt, it was discussed vigorously in Conservative caucus on Wednesday, and Bernier put a stop to the book soon after. On Twitter, Bernier wrote “This book and the ideas it contains are very important to me. But now is not the right time to publish it. After consideration, for the sake of maintaining harmony within our party, I have decided to postpone its publication indefinitely.”
For the longest time in Canadian politics, Justin Trudeau ascending to the office of Prime Minister just seemed to be a fait accompli. Name, looks, aura – all pointed to it.
From the time he eulogized his late father during a nationally covered address, Liberals spoke about Trudeau Junior as their Great Hope. He became an MP narrowly winning in his own riding. Then he won the Liberal leadership with over 80 per cent of Liberal party members’ vote. Even when he ran for Liberal leader in the 2015 election, Harper and the Tories offered up little resistance to the inevitable ascendancy of Trudeau and the Liberal party. After winning the majority in October 2015, the expected Trudeaumania in full force, even Tories talked about him being at least a two-term Prime Minister.
Having read several economic forecasts in the first quarter of 2018 from well-respected sources, including economists from the various Schedule A banks in Canada, I am reminded of the basic fundamentals and environment that support Canada’s ranking as the 10th largest nominal GDP on the planet.
The Canadian economy is largely recognized as being highly diverse and sophisticated, hosting some of the most advanced industries in the world.
The diversity of our vibrant economy consists of various sectors like the skilled trades, health care, finance, education, food and retail. Canada also has a sizable manufacturing sector, with the automobile and aircraft industry being especially important.
Remember the early 90s? Among the top TV shows were Roseanne, Murphy Brown, and anti-racism riots in Los Angeles and Toronto.
A quarter-century later, Roseanne is back with boffo ratings. A rebooted Murphy Brown is also on its way, in which Murphy’s adult son will no doubt prove that Dan Quayle was wrong about single motherhood (social science data be damned). Anger about racism is back too, though one hopes without the riots.
In what seems like an attempt to tide us over until The Bachelorette starts, men are fighting over women in the halls of power in Canada. And, as on The Bachelorette, the fights are just about as sincere.
This week’s bout was on Parliament Hill, where Conservative MP Lisa Raitt ran a reality check on finance minister Bill Morneau’s recent budget, which is going to make all women go to work, whether they or their families like it or not (she who does not toil outside the home does not count, I guess). At a finance committee meeting, Raitt pointed out that Morneau had a lousy record of hiring women, both as a private employer and minister of the Crown.
There hasn’t been much hubbub around Canada’s Senate since we were dissecting the living arrangements and expense reports of Conservative Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, and Liberal senator Mac Harb.
At the height of the Duffy scandal, then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made the bold move of kicking all the Liberal senators out of the Liberal caucus, rendering them independent Liberal senators. I guess the Senators Formerly Known as Liberal would have been too cute by half, and Trudeau pretty much has a monopoly on political cuteness for the foreseeable future. Trudeau promised that, if elected, he would end the appointment of partisan senators. Instead, his appointments to the still-unelected Senate would be based on merit, and vetted and recommended by an independent committee. Sort of an Order of Canada without the jewellery.
Spring is in the air, summer is just around the corner and with it, the legalization of marijuana in Canada. At least, that’s the pledge of the Liberal government. However, with the bill to legalize marijuana currently before the Senate, it seems there are more questions than answers when it comes to this proposed legislation.
Chief among them . . . how and why?
Let’s start with the how. How is this legislation going to achieve the number-one thing this government says it will do? How will legalizing marijuana keep it out of the hands of young people?
You have to admit the socks had a good run.
There were the Star Wars socks with OG androids C3PO and R2D2. There was Chewbacca. There were the multi-coloured, striped Ramadan ones. There were yellow ducks at Davos. And by golly, how the media – even in other countries – ate it up like foot fetishists, while grumpy old Conservatives cringed. But it all came crashing down around Justin’s bare feet in India.
“You buy the ticket, you take the ride,” goes the old warning. For erstwhile actor and highly-paid public speaker Justin Trudeau, this could translate as: When you elect a model, you get a fashion show. And in India, what a show it was. A different, elaborate Indian-themed ensemble every day, complemented by lovely wife Sophie and their three cute children, similarly garbed. And, as a final flourish, an impromptu dance onstage at a dinner in New Delhi.
Last week the federal government and Bank of Canada unveiled the latest re-design of the $10 bill, featuring Viola Desmond. Desmond replaces tired old nation-founder John A. Macdonald, whom the government had already started “disappearing,” Where’s Waldo-style, on a new $10 bill issued just last year. On that $10 bill, Macdonald was thrown into a lineup with three other former parliamentarians. Quick – name the other three! Just kidding. Of course you can’t.
Do not let anyone tell you, however, that this is some kind of insult to Sir John A. Reportedly, Macdonald is to be moved to the $50 note, and Wilfrid Laurier from the $5 to the $100. No, this is really a step up for Macdonald, who will be honoured in your wallet for years to come, every time a convenience store refuses your $50 bill.
In 1967, Pierre Trudeau, acting as Justice Minister, introduced a controversial bill in the House of Commons calling for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. The bill included the decriminalization of ‘homosexual acts’ performed in private, telling the nation “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Seems like his son Justin wasn’t at the kitchen table to hear that lecture. The younger Trudeau and his current Liberal government continue on their social engineering spree not only with Budget 2018, but with other sneakier pieces of legislation currently sliding under proper public scrutiny (except for one of Canada’s leading business writers, the ever vigilant Terence Corcoran). Trudeau would like to intervene in the bedrooms, boardrooms and lunchrooms of Canadians and Canadian businesses. Not to mention the lectures he chooses to give around the world to other governments, that if they don’t step up and buy into his socially engineered view of the world, they won’t be doing business with Canada.