The News Rundown
- May 30th is the day. But before that, a throne speech will take place next Wednesday though opening the new session.
- The day in which the Alberta carbon tax and the climate leadership plan of the defeated NDP government will be repealed.
- This means that there will be no more government rebates for light bulbs, low flow shower heads, or expensive solar investments atop homes.
- It remains to be seen if and when Trudeau will impose the federal carbon tax on Alberta and how much it will cost compared to the NDP tax.
- The repeal of the carbon tax if accompanied by a repeal of Justin Trudeau this fall will lower costs for all Albertans of everyday life.
- Bill 2 will be the Open for Business Act that will repeal many of the NDP labour code changes.
- Some of these include a new $13 minimum wage for youth workers and new rules for calculating holiday pay that made employers pay employees for stat holidays, even if they didn’t work will be repealed.
- Also as we reported previously on episode 70 the NDP removed the need for a secret vote to verify a union, this Bill will restore the mandatory secret ballot.
- And then we have Bill 3, the Job Creation Tax Cut
- This Bill will reduce Alberta’s corporate tax rate to 11% on July 1 of this year, 10% on January 1, 2020.
- At this point, Alberta will have the lowest business tax rate in all of Canada.
- The tax will tick down a point each year until January 1, 2022 when it reaches 8%. At this point it will be lower than the tax rate of 44 of the 50 US states.
- Dr. Bev Dahlby estimates that the tax cut will create 55,000 new jobs and we will see the effect multiply over time culminating in a 6.5% higher real GDP than the base rate under the former NDP government.
- This is a psychological boost to Alberta’s economy. In the modern era the tone and rhythm of a government is as important or if not more so than its actual policy.
- Diversification (of the economy) by attraction of new business
- Restoring the Alberta Advantage, this is step 1.
- Step 2 involves getting pipelines built.
- Step 3 involves returning Alberta’s 10% (or lower) flat tax.
- With this, Albertans and by extension Canadians, can be an energy superpower.
- All the news in BC this week has been on the opening of the public inquiry on money laundering. As I talked about this issue at length on last week's episode, I won't be covering it again this week, but it is important to note.
- What got swept under the rug this week with the news of that public inquiry is the little things the BC NDP government under John Horgan are doing to stifle industry and business in this province. While the media shines a light on all the good things Horgan and company are doing with money laundering, better late than never of course, they aren't talking about all the things that the government is doing that shouldn't be.
- On April 11, Horgan’s minister of forests, Doug Donaldson, tabled Bill 22, containing major amendments to the Forest Act to restrict the transfer of cutting rights and to limit other changes of ownership in the forest industry. The target was those same major forest companies that Horgan had gone courting the week before. But as Donaldson’s own officials disclosed in briefing the Opposition, the New Democrats sprang the bill on the industry with zero consultation.
- Donaldson had this to say on the bill: “We now have a forest sector dominated by a handful of major players who can set terms with smaller companies who, in a more competitive market, would be business partners. Our major industry players are world leaders, without a doubt … But the concentrated industry we have does not lend itself well to competitiveness or to innovation.”
- The text of the legislation left no doubt. Bill 22 makes Donaldson himself the arbiter of future changes of ownership and transfers of tenure and cutting rights. Companies are obliged to give him 30 days’ advance notice of any changes. He can immediately suspend the company’s rights and review whether the change should be approved.
- But Bill 22, the aforementioned changes to the Forests Act, was tabled without any advance consultation, leaving industry feeling blindsided.
- West Fraser’s Ted Seraphim and Canfor’s Don Kayne, respectively the outgoing and incoming chairs of the Council of Forest Industries, wrote a statement about Bill 22: “Given the magnitude of the potential impacts, we would have expected to have the opportunity to discuss with you before the changes were introduced, in keeping with the collaborative approach you have spoken about."
- "Our understanding of the Bill is that it will give the minister the authority to define and apply a ‘public interest’ test that can result in conditions being placed on the transfer. The release clearly states that the government wants to ‘exert more control’ and makes no attempt to clarify what will qualify as ‘public interest.’”
- The meaning is left to a combination of regulations, to come later, and ultimately a judgment call on the part of the minister and his cabinet colleagues.
- Not knowing what would and would not be approved would only add to the uncertainties facing the industry at a time of declining markets in the United States and rising log costs here in B.C.
- More red tape on the forestry industry will lead to more uncertainty, especially ahead of what looks like will be another dry summer of forest fires.
- But the forestry industry isn't the only one surprised by the NDP's hard handed approach to reform. The B.C. government’s plan to expand union succession protection to a wide range of private sector contracted services is an “extraordinary” state intervention into the open market for labour, the Business Council of B.C. says.
- BCBC chief policy officer Jock Finlayson said the automatic transfer of union contracts for food services, security, building maintenance and bus transportation is the main objection of employers in the Labour Relations Code overhaul that is now before the B.C. legislature.
- The B.C. government has repeatedly pointed to “contract flipping” by operators of senior care facilities, some of which have seen multiple ownership changes that force employees to reapply for work and accept pay and benefits that may be reduced. Finlayson said the extension into private sector services will likely drive up costs across a large swath of the economy.
- “If there are examples of particular abuses or practices that a reasonable person would view as unacceptable, and those things do exist out in the marketplace, then the appropriate remedy is not to bring a sledge hammer down and try to take the competitive forces in contract provision out of the market,” Finlayson said. “If there is a real problem, the way to deal with that is through targeted measures.”
- He said many employers are not yet aware of the effects of changes expected to take effect when the legislation passes by the end of May.
- These are stories that have flown under the radar and have not received any widespread media coverage. Alone they might not amount to much, but together, they plus other industries mean that the NDP is collectively putting red tape on business which will stifle investment. The BC economy is strong, and for a long time has been. The last time an NDP government over regulated industry in the 90s was when our economy was at its lowest. Let's hope we don't return to that again.
- This week Conservative leader Andrew Scheer spoke to the Economic Club of Canada and outlined his vision for restoring national unity and prosperity.
- He pointed out that while economic indicators such as GDP growth, low unemployment (except Alberta), and a good stock market, many feel the economy isn’t working well for them.
- Psychology of the population vs. economic indicators
- He also highlighted the national unity crisis brought on by Trudeau and company over energy.
- Teeing up the economic side of the Conservative platform for the fall election Andrew Scheer has said he will be scrapping the carbon tax but he will also be suggesting the idea of a new east-west energy corridor, specifically a coast-to-coast right of way specifically set aside for energy projects.
- These will include new pipelines and also hydro electric projects.
- The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) predicts peak oil demand by 2030 at the earliest. That means we have at least a decade of ever increasing oil demand.
- Andrew Scheer said, "With a single corridor, we could minimize environmental impacts, lower the costs of environmental assessments, increase certainty for investors and, most importantly, get these critical projects done… The fact is, Canada has more than enough oil, not only to displace imports from the aforementioned rogue states but to put an end to all foreign oil imports once and for all.”
- The rogue states of course refer to Venezuela and Iran and other countries that are a majority oil exporter but lack decent human rights legislation.
- Any new spending under a Scheer government will also have to be found from savings within the government, this is part of the Conservative plan to reduce the deficit.
- There is a little known fact that Canada has third largest oil reserves of any country. The top two are Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
- Rounding out the top 5 after Canada we have Iran and Iraq. You have to go down to #11 on the list before you get to the United States before you get to another country with benchmark level human rights.
- As I mentioned in our Alberta story, by 2022 Alberta will have the most competitive tax rate in Canada and a better tax rate than 44 of 50 of the US states.
- With clean, responsible, and sustainable energy development Canada can become an energy superpower.
- Alberta will be looking into a levy on major emitters and Saskatchewan is putting research money towards small modular generation IV nuclear reactors for power generation.
- Gen IV Nuclear: Small reactor (size of a house), can use spent fuel from other reactors (eats nuclear waste), and operates at lower pressures and temperatures than a conventional reactor.
- Gen IV nuclear is about 10 years away. Gen III reactors have been deployed in Germany and the rest of Europe and haven’t had any safety issues, ever.
- Meanwhile Ben Chin and Sarah Goodman have moved into the Prime Minister’s Office as senior advisor and director of policy.
- Chin was Bill Morneau’s Chief of Staff but Goodman has a history around environmental advocacy and was a senior vice president at Tides Canada.
- The US based Tides Foundation is the very organization that sought to prevent Canadian oil from reaching the market.
- Tides Canada along with the David Suzuki Foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, among others have been the source of much of the push to prevent Canada from moving to get our ethically produced oil to market.
- These are the very groups that Jason Kenney has promised to set up a “war room” to fight and make their impact on the Canadian economy known.
- Just like the Alberta election, this years federal election will be a stark choice. Development or obstruction. Energy independence or foreign based dictatorialiship reliance.
- We know which way Trudeau is leaning based on this appointment and we know which way Andrew Scheer is leading.
- It’s up for Canadians to decide and through looking at the information and facts, voters can be put on the right side of the news. Will the media do this? Probably not.
- Prime Minister Trudeau was in Paris this week at the Christchurch Call Summit, which was initiated by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The summit was started in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings to “bring together countries and tech companies in an attempt to bring to an end the ability to use social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism.”
- The signatories to the Christchurch Call include the European Commission, Governments from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom; and the following online service providers: Amazon, Daily Motion, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Qwant, Twitter, YouTube. The United States declined to attend, expressing concerns that U.S. compliance with the agreement could possibly create conflicts with free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution; the administration did express nominal agreement "with the overarching message of the Christchurch Call for Action" and "endorsing the overall goals".
- The Christchurch Call, or Appeal was named as such after the New Zealand city where 51 people were killed in a horrific attack on two mosques. The attacker streamed the killing live on Facebook, which announced tougher livestreaming policies on the eve of the meetings “to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate.”
- Trudeau was also at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, where he announced a new "digital charter" and said that his government would hold social media companies to account for fake news, and that they had to make major improvements to their means of dealing with the issue or there would be “meaningful financial consequences.”
- He had this to say on the matter: "The platforms are failing their users. And they’re failing our citizens. They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation, and if they don’t, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences. It’s up to the platforms and governments to take their responsibility seriously and ensure that people are protected online. You don’t have to put the blame on people like Mark Zuckerberg or dismiss the benefits of social platforms to know that we can’t rely exclusively on companies to protect the public interest,"
- He announced that Canada would be launching a digital charter, touching on principles including universal access and transparency and serving as a guide to craft new digital policy.
- Speaking about Canada’s upcoming federal election, he said the government was taking steps to eliminate fake news and that a new task force had been created in order to identify threats to the election and prevent foreign interference.
- Here's the problem with this. The internet has long been one of the last remaining bastions of freedom for creativity, and as soon as governments and companies get together to decide what is acceptable for people to do online, it's worrying.
- Trudeau says he wants to fight fake news, but as we all know, fake news means different things to different people. It makes me worried that podcasts that cut through all the bias and sensationalism of the mainstream will be censored, and that alternative news sites will be subject to intense scrutiny. When the news sources are streamlined, it makes it easier for governments to be able to control what news we get, and how we get it.
- Zak Vescera, writing for The Tyee ahead of the Paris conference, said there are 6 different lessons that Canada can do to achieve balance on this delicate issue.
- 1) Be clear on what hate speech actually is (which Trudeau hasn't done yet)
- 2) Be transparent (which for Trudeau will be difficult)
- 3) Consider approaches beyond fining the companies to avoid having those companies overcensor to comply (Which Trudeau is sticking to)
- 4) Take a slow approach to avoid rushing policy through (which he isn't doing)
- 5) Avoid policies that can be twisted to censor free speech (and Trudeau hasn't mentioned free speech at all in his press conferences, and indeed has had a problem with free speech over his term as Prime Minister)
- 6) Tackle hate offline as well - as not all hate is limited to online sources, and that governments need to understand why people are adopting hateful views and address the cause.
- All in all, it will be hard to quantify what the Christchurch Call Summit will actually amount to. Without the US on board, and without governments taking a look at the root causes of violent terrorist attacks, no matter whether they're white supremacist or radical Islamic terror, or anything else, then we might be in for a post 9/11 style curbing of freedoms without any tangible benefit.
Word of the Week
Censorship - the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Cutting Red Tape
Teaser: The new Alberta UCP government is getting to work on the economy, the BC NDP is creating more red tape for industry, and Andrew Scheer unveils his energy policy. Also, Trudeau’s endorsement of the Christchurch Summit may lead to censorship of free speech.
Recorded Date: May 18, 2019
Release Date: May 19, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes