On Monday, Calgary city council voted unanimously to abandon its bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi and his council colleagues had no other option after losing last week’s plebiscite, in which 56 per cent of Calgarians voted ‘no’ to hosting the games. What a contrast to the frenzy in Toronto, prior to it losing two summer Olympics bids: in 1990 (for the 1996 games) and again in 1997 (for 2008).
Of the games’ anticipated cost of $5.1 billion, Calgary was expected to contribute $390 million. Alberta and the federal government were on the hook for $700 million and $1.423 billion, respectively. To put Calgary’s contribution in perspective, the city’s entire operating costs for 2019 are budgeted at $4.1 billion, and its capital expenditures at $1.7 billion.
Calgary 2026 chair Scott Hutcheson regretted that the debate over the bid had become sharply divided: “I think building a dream and articulating that with our social media-type of environment today and a populist movement makes it more challenging”, Hutcheson told the Calgary Herald. “Almost on every issue, things are polarized today in a new way.”
Parliament Hill is seized with pipeline politics. Our country’s oil and gas sector is pitted against Ottawa’s bureaucracy. Western Canadians are feeling betrayed and victimized by Prime Minister Trudeau. It’s déjà vu all over again!
This drama is unfolding in the Senate of Canada where a piece of legislation is being hotly debated on the floor of the Upper House. Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, will establish new federal government environmental assessment processes for the development of all major resources projects in Canada. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna claims it will restore public trust and provide greater transparency in government approval processes, for it ensures greater public input, greater participation by Indigenous peoples, and it is intended to ensure decisions will be informed by scientific evidence.
Over the weekend, western leaders (and Vladimir Putin) attended various events to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. As with most such gatherings these days, it became all about Donald Trump. On Saturday, Trump was criticized for being a no-show to an event at a cemetery where many American war dead are buried. Critics charged that he feared wetting his pompadour in the rain. Then Trump and Melania were late to Sunday’s Armistice Day ceremony. Explanations centering on security were ridiculed. And on it went.
French president Emmanuel Macron used his remarks on Sunday to warn the assembled leaders against nationalism, which he described as the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests.” The consensus seems to be that his remark was aimed at Donald Trump, who unabashedly identifies himself as a nationalist. Macron’s remark will have absolutely no effect on Trump, except perhaps to lower Macron further in his eyes.
Recent government announcements and news reports have provided Canadians with an accounting of how much our Canadian governments are in debt. The current federal government, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, seemingly pays no heed to the size of their annual deficits. Add the sum of all provincial governments’ deficit budgets and one soon realizes that our governments are burying us in a deep, dank financial hole; from which no Canadian alive today will likely climb out. The reported numbers are startling.
In Ottawa, the federal government recorded a shortfall of $19 billion for the last fiscal year, repeating the deficit amount of the previous year. The government reports its federal spending continues to rise and is now $332 billion – $332,000,000,000 – the highest amount of government spending ever recorded.
Does Liberal virtue signalling turn your stomach? You better stock up on Pepto-Bismol then, because we are going to be fed even more sugar-coated Liberal vanity over the next 12 months.
The Trudeau government is expected to introduce its Poverty Reduction Act this week, which will set Canada’s first official poverty line. Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos said in an interview with the Huffington Post last week that having an official measure and target in place will force the government to be accountable for its poverty reduction goals.
Interest rates are rising and many Canadians will begin to feel the pain. Last week the Bank of Canada hiked its key lending rate and major lending institutions followed suit, raising prime interest rates. This is the fifth time since the summer of 2017 that rates have risen and the Bank of Canada has indicated they are about to become more aggressive in 2019 and 2020. Some financial analysts point to recent comments made by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz to forecast the rate could climb as high as 3.5 percent.
What does that mean for an average household? Over the past 15 months, the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes have added an average of $2,500 in costs for Canadian households. Should the rate go as high as 3.5 percent, the costs would double again. If this were to occur, financial surveys indicate that one in two Canadians’ ability to service their existing debts will be directly affected. Half of Canadian households.
Is Justin Trudeau worried about next year’s election?
That would be one explanation for his petty, off-brand decision to call a by-election to fill just one of the four empty seats in Parliament. It keeps NDP leader Jagmeet Singh hanging on –possibly as long as next March – before he can run for the Burnaby South seat vacated by Vancouver’s new mayor Kennedy Stewart.
It was announced over the weekend that voters in the late Conservative MP Gordie Brown’s riding of Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes will choose a new MP on December 3rd. As a side note, it seems to me that when the number of MPs is getting larger (the House of Commons may well surpass the American lower house in my lifetime), the names of ridings should not be getting longer and longer. Brown’s riding used to be known simply as Leeds–Grenville.
It was barely a month ago that I observed in this space that Justin Trudeau seems determined to re-fight the 2008 election on the same carbon tax that defeated Stephane Dion. That was Trudeau’s first election, which can be the only logical explanation for his nostalgia.
He confirmed my suspicions about redeeming Dion on Tuesday, when he announced his “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.” Despite this Dr. Seuss-like pan-bamboozler of a name, the Liberals have already lost the first battle of the war they have launched: nomenclature. Everywhere beyond a one-mile radius of Parliament Hill, it is being called a carbon tax, just as Dion’s “Green Shift” was. Not to mention that ‘pan-Canadian’ is a rather deceptive name for a scheme prompted by a desire to rein in four recalcitrant provincial governments. ‘Pan-conservative’ might have been more honest.
When it comes to climate change, the Trudeau government insists that we must act today lest the planet be uninhabitable in a few decades. Yet the Liberals continue to wave away the short-term economic and fiscal calamities that they are courting daily with their reckless financial decisions.
We all remember Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promise to run deficits of no more than $10 billion a year for three years, and return the budget to balance in fiscal 2019-20. That promise went out the window in finance minister Bill Morneau’s first budget, and subsequent budgets have promised no return to balance. When the $17.5-billion deficit for 2019-20 is added to the total, the Trudeau regime will have posted $72.8 billion in deficits over its four-year mandate. The federal finance department has projected that there may be federal budget deficits for the next 30 years, which would coincide with the oldest baby boomers approaching 100.
As of Wednesday this week, Canadians can possess and share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. We can legally buy it and we can grow up to four pot plants per residence for personal use.
Reaction by our national leaders has been rather mellow. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reassured Canadians the country is ready for this drug, admitting he has regularly enjoyed it through the years. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh stated his greatest concern is how fast the federal government can expunge Canadians’ criminal records for pot possession.
Canadians have been reassured by Vancouver police chief Adam Palmer, who is president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Chief Palmer stated emphatically, “I’m here to tell Canadians that police are ready.” (At the same time, he admitted enforcing new laws around legal weed will be “a work in progress.”)
I remember once serving as a scrutineer for an incumbent city councillor. One of his challengers was a young pastor who had never run for office before. At the poll I was watching, I stood alongside a young lady who was scrutineering for this novice candidate. After observing the voting for a while, she naively asked me: how do the poll clerks know that voters are Canadian citizens? Like the jaded veteran I was, I told her coolly: they don’t.
People don’t have to prove they are Canadian citizens to vote in federal elections either, even though only Canadian citizens can vote. All they have to prove is who they are and where they live. If they have a driver’s license, that covers both bases. If they don’t, there’s a long list of ID to choose from, from which they must supply two. The 48-item list includes passports, health cards, social insurance cards and the like, and goes all the way down to a letter confirming residence in a homeless shelter. So long as one of the two shows their current address, they can vote. And even if they don’t have something with their address on it, another voter at the same poll can vouch for their address.
September not only marked the start of a federal election year, it also marked the beginning of Justin Trudeau’s two-year campaign to get Canada a temporary seat on the United Nations’ Security Council for 2021-22. Ten foreign affairs bureaucrats are working full time on
the bid. The campaign also features a maple leaf logo in multiple colours, though the predominant hue is a dark red that looks more like dried blood than the traditional true red of our flag. It’s an unfortunate choice, given the UN’s stated objective of increasing the peace.
Trudeau has been gunning for the security council seat since before the 2015 election, when Canada’s failure to win a seat in 2010 was a handy dart to hurl at then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2010, Canada was up against Germany and Portugal for two of the council’s 10 temporary seats (the five permanent security council members are the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia). The security council votes on issues such as suspending economic and diplomatic relations between countries, imposing blockades, and authorizing the use of armed force.
Tuesday morning the CBC ran a headline story: “’Yay!’: How the Canadians won the argument that opened the door to a NAFTA deal” reporting a confident Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying, “There was [on Saturday] a sense things were falling into place.” In most news reports this week Canadians have been reassured that PM Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (dubbed “the warrior princess”) were victorious in wrestling U.S. President Donald Trump to concede to Canadian terms on an improved NAFTA deal.
That is the Canadian story. But, how is this 11th hour deal being received south of the border? (Warning: Americans have a remarkably different take.)
In the slowly unfolding farce that is the Justin Trudeau era, the rare successes stand out. So get ready to spend this entire week hearing about Canada’s barely salvaged trade deal that replaces NAFTA: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
In the same way that Doug Ford’s plan to cut Toronto council in half seemed to overshadow everything else he implemented in his first weeks in office, Trudeau managing to hitch Canada to the month-old US-Mexico deal at the 11th hour may temporarily sideline the government’s many poorly handled files. These include Tori Stafford’s killer now being housed in a native ‘healing lodge,’ the impending pot legalization on October 17th, and the backlog of dubious asylum seekers.
In December, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a tax plan that effectively cuts America’s top corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 20 per cent and allows companies to immediately deduct from their tax bills the full cost of capital spending. Proponents of the tax package predict this will boost business investment in the United States and encourage U.S. companies to repatriate money they previously held abroad.
In a recently released economic report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Canadians are warned that the American tax plan will siphon 650,000 jobs from Canada over the next 10 years as businesses shift their activity south of the border.
This is the strategy Justin Trudeau is gambling will win voters over to his besieged carbon tax in next year’s election, as he explained it to Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells in a lengthy interview last week. The high-minded piffle was reminiscent of erstwhile Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s ill-fated Green Shift platform from the 2008 election, in which Trudeau was first elected to Parliament.
Like Trudeau seems poised to do, Dion tried to convince Canadians that they would pay more taxes and end up with more money in their pockets at the same time. How? By taxing industrial carbon emitters. Dion claimed his carbon tax would subsidize a tax cut to people in the lowest three tax brackets, fund a new child tax benefit, and increase benefits to seniors and low-income families. With that kind of sales pitch, it’s hard to believe the guy lost.
Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leona Alleslev surprised everyone on the first day of the Fall Session of Parliament, rising in her place on the government backbenches to announce that she will “cross the floor” to join the Conservative party caucus.
It is remarkable that a MP would leave a government caucus to sit with an opposition caucus. However, what is most startling is what this rookie MP had to say about her Liberal colleagues’ abilities to manage the affairs of the country. Her assessment of the state of Canada was both focused and sobering.
“We find ourselves in a time of unprecedented global instability. We see fundamental shifts in the global economy, while trade relationships, international agreements and defence structures are under threat.
Surprising more than a few people, Maxime Bernier has made good on his threat to start a new political party. It is called the People’s Party of Canada, and has a logo eerily similar to the old Reform Party logo.
Many doubted Bernier’s promise to build a party from the ground up, which was his parting – and unscripted – shot from his bombshell news conference on the eve of the Conservative Party convention in Halifax last month. Quitting the caucus after several testy months and some controversial tweets on multiculturalism, Bernier declared the Conservative Party “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.”
This week, the Liberal Caucus met in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan while the NDP Caucus hunkered down in Surrey BC. News out of both federal caucuses revealed that the MPs have been given their election scripts to begin their long march towards the 2019 vote.
The two caucuses met with a backdrop of contentious Canadian news items dominating the national conscience. Canadians are pre-occupied with the faltering NAFTA negotiations, the fate of the recently nationalized TransMountain pipeline project, the strong provincial opposition that has risen against Ottawa’s planned carbon tax plan, and the seemingly lack of controlling the flow of irregular migrants crossing our Canadian borders.
Even the most sympathetic observers will concede that Justin Trudeau has had a pretty bad few weeks, thanks to the Federal Court’s delay of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and the worrisome NAFTA negotiations. But besides the imminent legalization of pot, Trudeau still one thing going for him: the NDP.
The federal NDP caucus will be in British Columbia this week to strategize for the upcoming session of Parliament and next year’s election. “No one’s afraid of admitting there are challenges and things we need to work on,” NDP caucus chair Matthew Dubé told the Globe and Mail. Good. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
The New Democrats under Jagmeet Singh have a lot to recover from, if they hope to pose a serious threat to the Liberals’ re-election next year.
Headline news from the Nation’s Capital through the summer focused on the fate of NAFTA and the evolving asylum seekers-border issues. A vast majority of Canadians enjoying their summer escapes likely missed any other federal news. Here are six news items (in no particular order) from the month of August that should not pass unnoticed for those interested in the developing stories of our federal government.
As Canadians anxiously await the restart of Canada’s trade negotiations with the US tomorrow, many smart observers have concluded that we will have to sacrifice our protected dairy industry to protect our auto industry.
“They [Canadians] have tariffs of almost 300 per cent on some of our dairy products. We can’t have that. We’re not going to stand for that,” Trump said at a news conference last week. “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’d take in a lot of money the following day.”
Trump was exaggerating the ease and payoff of this scheme, of course, and overlooking the impact of auto tariffs on the US auto industry and American consumers. But it is no exaggeration to say that the tariff he is threatening would be devastating to Canada’s auto assemblers and parts manufacturers. TD Economics estimates that tariffs of 25% on vehicles and 10% on parts would cost Canada at least 160,000 jobs, the bulk of them in Ontario.
It is tempting to finger Donald J. Trump and Justin Trudeau as the only villains in this late-August NAFTA conflagration. There is certainly no shortage of evidence to support the shorthand indictments of each leader. Trump has been untruthful and mean. Trudeau has been arrogant and naïve.
Since he announced his run for president over three years ago, Trump has been railing against ‘unfair’ and ‘stupid’ trade deals which he believes are taking America to the cleaners. Many Americans agree with him, which is one of the reasons he prevailed over Hillary Clinton in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
When I first made arrangements a couple of months ago to attend this past weekend’s Conservative Party of Canada convention in Halifax, who could ever have imagined the dramatic turn of events that would take place in the interim? Maxime Bernier’s defection from Conservative ranks and his announcement that he was planning to create his own political party just prior to the conference’s start meant that a very different mood prevailed at the meeting than was originally envisaged.
Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of anger among most attendees at Bernier and the cheap shots he took at his former colleagues and other Conservatives on his way out the door. The fact that Bernier had clearly not gotten over his loss of the party leadership a year ago was certainly well-known, as was his disagreement with party positions on several issues such as immigration and supply management in the dairy sector, but virtually no one expected his sour departure from the party in such an undignified way.
Trade is the lifeblood of the Canadian economy.
That’s why it’s so concerning that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have failed to adequately protect markets and jobs that rely on international trade.
Canada’s Conservative Party is willing to work with the Government to get misguided U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum removed and pre-empt threatened tariffs on our critical auto sector.
A few thousand Conservative party members, MPs and Senators are heading for Halifax later this week, for the party’s first national convention since Andrew Scheer was elected leader last year. The news leading up to the convention and the convention’s agenda, combined with a couple hundred MPs and reporters in one place, promise lots of opportunity for conflict.
With the election campaign just over a year away (or sooner, if the Liberals see an advantage), the conflict that Conservative brass will want to highlight is that between Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau. No doubt Scheer’s speech on Friday night will contrast him and his potential government most favourably against Prime Minister Personal Day and his crew of bunglers and lightweights.
Last week the City of Victoria voted to remove the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that had stood next to the entrance of its city hall for 36 years. Two days later, Sir John A was horizontal on a flatbed truck, laying on a bed of foam on top of a wooden pallet. At least they put a Tory blue blanket on top of him.
Council had voted 8-1 to take down the statue, on the recommendation of its “city family” panel, comprised of the mayor, three councillors and three indigenous representatives. It was the panel’s first recommended act of reconciliation.
There has been much excellent commentary over the last week on the Trudeau-Freeland-Saudi Arabia conflagration, so much so that I hesitate to add to it (the commentary, that is, not the excellence). But Saudi Arabia’s reaction to tweets from foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland has overshadowed pretty much everything else on the national scene, and even made it into the US and British media. And when the American media are talking about us, it’s smelling salts all ‘round. The Hill Times recaps how it all began:
The blowback from Saudi Arabia started over tweets from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Global Affairs Canada last week that expressed concerns about the arrests of women’s rights activists, including Samar Badawi, and calling for their “immediate release.” Ms. Badawi’s brother, Raif, who has a Canadian wife and children, has also been sentenced to a 10-year prison term and 1,000 lashings for his criticism of the regime.
Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland boldly censured the unsavoury behaviour of Saudi Arabia’s morally-deprived monarchy earlier this week.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs rightly denounced the House of Saud for its recent, unjustified imprisonment of human rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah: urging Saudi Arabia to “immediately release” the pair.
Badawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, a blogger who has been incarcerated in Saudi Arabia since 2012 for apostasy and “insulting Islam”. The latter’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, has been a vocal opponent of the Saudi regime from her home in Sherbrooke, Quebec for years.
There are now five vacant or soon-to-be-vacant seats in the House of Commons, the most recent being the Montreal seat of erstwhile NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, who announced his retirement from Parliament last week. On Sunday, current NDP leader Jagmeet Singh tipped the media that he will be running in Burnaby B.C., another one of those vacant seats.
Another MP retirement was announced last week, this one closer to home. York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan, who has represented the riding since the 2004 general election, is retiring from the House of Commons on September 30th. He has joined the Toronto law firm of Aird & Berlis to resume his municipal and land use planning practice.
Over the last month, Conservative Party MPs have been meeting with business leaders, labour groups, and employees across the country to discuss the impact of Canada’s decreasingly friendly economic relationship with the U.S.
On June 1, President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on incoming aluminum.
Despite a feeble attempt to remedy the situation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unable to secure an exemption from the duties: unwittingly launching Canada into a trade war with the U.S.
Over the weekend, the CBC website carried a story originally reported in La Presse, about gifts that Justin and Sophie Trudeau received at last month’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Québec.
Unfortunately, the CBC buried the lede: Donald Trump gifted Justin Trudeau with a photo from the 1983 G7 meeting attended by Pierre Trudeau, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders of the day.
When Members of Parliament recess for the summer, they don’t don shorts and sandals to hit a beach like quick-change artists; but instead, the first step they take is to meet their local constituency staff and schedule “the summer break.”
The 2018 summer plans of Niagara West MP Dean Allison are a good example of what our elected representatives organize for themselves when they are not in the Nation’s Capital.
If there is any comfort to be found after the shooting in Toronto on Sunday night, it may be in the fact that the shooter, had he survived, would have been put away for at least 50 years. Having murdered two people in cold blood, he likely would have received two consecutive 25-year sentences for murder.
Consecutive sentencing (at a judge’s discretion) came into effect in 2011, thanks to Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. While all opposition parties said they supported the measure, some MPs could not suppress their true feelings. During debate, Liberal Marlene Jennings said: “This bill addresses a relatively minor concern, therefore, and would affect relatively few people.” She continued: “We think it is contrary to the principle of rehabilitation to completely eliminate any possibility of parole in sentences that could reach more than 50 years.”
To recap the last six weeks: on June 1st, the U.S. imposed hefty levies on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, in response to China, South Korea and Vietnam dumping these products into our country. On July 1st, Canada retaliated by placing tariffs worth a total of $16.6 billion on U.S. goods from ketchup and candles to shaving products and insecticides.
In turn, the U.S. is suing Canada at the World Trade Organization stating that the retaliatory tariffs are “completely without justification.” President Donald Trump has also publicly stated he is considering putting a further 25-per-cent levy on all cars and trucks imported to the U.S.
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.