The News Rundown
- On last week's show we talked about Trudeau's new cabinet heading into the very short fall session next week. Among the many interesting changes was North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson being named the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
- Wilkinson takes over for Catherine McKenna, who had become a lightning rod for criticism of the Trudeau government's overly ambitious climate policy and attempts at virtue signalling.
- Oftentimes McKenna has said some really dumb things. She once gave advice on talking points, saying “If you actually say it louder, we’ve learned in the House of Commons, if you repeat it, say it louder, if that is your talking point people will totally believe it”. What we've seen out of the House of Commons and the Trudeau government is exactly that.
- Three days after the federal election, McKenna discovered someone had spray-painted her campaign office with vulgar graffiti. Ever since then, she's gone on a Twitter rant and frequently mentions it.
- Wilkinson will have a chance to have a clean slate on a rocky ministry with Canadians, and be able to have a chance to right the wrongs of the Trudeau government on the environment file that has divided Western Canadians. Said Wilkinson himself: "I think we have an opportunity in this minority Parliament to reset things."
- CBC has had glowing reports on Wilkinson, and has made special note of the fact that he grew up in Saskatoon. They also note, that unlike McKenna, he's not a woman, and therefore will have an easier time being Minister of the Environment.
- Aaron Wherry of the CBC describes this of Wilkinson: "His personality defaults to "dry." He identifies as a policy wonk. In question period, he has seemed wholly uninterested in partisan theatrics. He is also not a woman."
- Shannon Proudfoot of Macleans said that there are reasons to believe that the venom directed at McKenna had something to do with the fact that she is a woman.
- He's trying to make a point that McKenna was denounced because she was a woman, but she wasn't. She was denounced because the policies that she was pushing for were unpopular. McKenna or Trudeau could have done more to limit these regional fractures. Trudeau's stray verbal gaffe about phasing out the oilsands during a town hall in 2017, for instance, opened a wound that not even $4.5 billion for the Trans Mountain project could heal. However, the media glosses over that completely, and makes it all about gender instead.
- Speaking to reporters following Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony, Wilkinson said the federal government is committed to reaching its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, while also being mindful of energy-reliant provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta. He said he will reach out to stakeholders in both provinces: "The issue is one that relates to the hydrocarbon-producing regions of this country — how we address climate change in a way that addresses their legitimate economic concerns. That is something that we need to be thoughtful of."
- Wilkinson's file will also include contentious issues such as the carbon tax opposition in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Conservatives won 47 of 48 ridings in Alberta and Saskatchewan, shutting out the Liberals entirely. The lack of Saskatchewan and Alberta representation in Trudeau's minority cabinet has been the subject of much speculation. Longtime Regina MP Ralph Goodale was defeated, ending a 26-year run in Ottawa. Goodale was an experienced voice in cabinet and was the de facto deputy prime minister. All of Trudeau's ministers were re-elected except for Goodale and Edmonton MP Amarjeet Sohi.
- Both Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have launched legal challenges of the constitutionality of the carbon tax. Saskatchewan's case is scheduled to be argued at the Supreme Court in March.
- A week after the election, Moe sent a letter requesting a "new deal" with Canada, which included cancelling the carbon tax and a commitment to pipeline projects. The letter also asked for a one-year pause of the carbon tax and a re-evaluation of Saskatchewan's climate change plan.
- One of Kenney's post-election requests was for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to be removed from the file. McKenna has been a target of criticism from both provincial premiers.
- In a meeting last week, Moe and Trudeau held their positions on the carbon tax. Moe called the message from Trudeau "more of the same."
- Alberta is known for its political histrionics, last week was an impressive example of this with the passage of Bill 22.
- For those who haven’t, we invite you, go listen to WC 145 - I Spy.
- In the past we’ve seen the debacle of Allison Redford’s private jets, over expenses to Nelson Mandela’s funeral, and of course who could forget the infamous sky palace that happened under the nose former Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk.
- Some say the Redford Tories were worse than the NDP, some say equally as bad, one thing is clear though, there’s always a tendency for drama in the Alberta legislature.
- The media this week was still covering the fallout from Bill 22 which as we mentioned, if you read the text of the Bill, it’s clear that everything continues on. And, this week the office of the Chief Electoral Officer announced they will continue with many of the policies of the Electoral Commissioner.
- This week though the NDP accused the UCP of “corruption” in relation to a liquor purchase from Edmonton based Prestige Liquor.
- This week Notley tweeted, “Well, the corruption keeps coming. A government ministry purchased $35,608.77 worth of alcohol from a company named Prestige Liquor, owned by a long-time conservative donor and financial supporter of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign.”
- It turns out though that the purchase was made in February 2019 while the NDP was still in power and it was to stock the restaurant at the Royal Alberta Museum.
- The former Premier did not apologize and instead the Alberta NDP Caucus Facebook page issued a statement formally apologizing to Prestige Liquor.
- Premier Kenney this week Tweeted out a photo of him at Prestige Liquor saying that he was stocking his bar for the holiday season.
- Also this week NDP member for Edmonton Gold Bar Marlin Schmidt had to make 4 apologizes in a 15 minute monologue for referring to the UCP members as the “incel caucus”
- The NDP continued their accusatory tone this week by attempting to derail the public accounts committee. The public accounts committee is the only committee chaired by an opposition member and the UCP still holds a majority on that committee.
- NDP MLA Shannon Phillips made a point of privilege in the meeting and then claimed that the proper procedure was to adjourn the meeting when someone made a point of privilege. The clerk later clarified that the matter had to be put to a vote and the UCP majority decided to carry on with the business of the committee.
- This was because the UCP delayed the committee meeting until after Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson had been let go since the NDP wanted Gibson to testify at the committee.
- The NDP this week is quite frankly acting like a bunch of children not getting their way. Alberta’s economy is still in crisis and all hands on deck are needed going forward.
- There’s currently developing news out of the UCP AGM and there’s a good chance there will also be major news on the provinces public work force over the next week. We’ll be following any and all of these stories that don’t get fair media coverage.
- For many years now, BC has been able to brag about our stellar economy and credit rating, and through many years of both BC Liberal and BC NDP governments, the government has been able to post a surplus each quarter. Very soon however, that may change.
- BC Finance Minister Carole James continues to hang to a shrinking budgetary surplus amid slumping retail sales, a collapsing forestry sector and worsening losses at the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
- James lowered the projected budget surplus to $148 million during her second-quarter financial update Tuesday. That’s a $31-million drop from September’s first-quarter figures, and a larger correction from the $274-million surplus projected in February’s 2019-20 budget.
- Nonetheless, James promised to hold course on her plans to balance the books by looking for more savings within ICBC and continuing cutbacks to discretionary spending within government. She still has a $550-million contingency fund and a $500-million forecast allowance, according to Tuesday’s figures. That gives her roughly $1 billion in emergency financial wiggle room for the last half of the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2020.
- Opposition Liberal finance critic Shirley Bond said the NDP continues to be reliant on taxes to keep its budget balanced while economic growth slows: “John Horgan’s government has no more money to pay for the billions of dollars of promises they made like $10-a-day child care, the $400 renter’s rebate and the elimination of school portables, these are all broken NDP promises.”
- The largest risk to the budget remains ICBC, which lost a court case to limit the use of medical experts last month and Attorney General David Eby has said will need to take a $400 to $500 million hit this fiscal year.
- ICBC has lost almost $2.5 billion over the past two years due to rising claims costs and legal fees. The corporation was projected to lose $50 million this year, but James said Tuesday that historic claims have escalated losses to $91 million.
- Premier John Horgan has brushed off any suggestion his government would run a deficit budget if financial pressures continue to mount, thereby giving him fiscal room to fund some of his election promises.
- James acknowledged Tuesday she’s heard some calls for change to her balanced-budget approach, but has rejected them entirely: “The job is to manage the economy well for the people of British Columbia, to make sure you are spending within your means, that you are balancing the budget, that you are providing that support,” she said.
- Though savings have been found with cuts to discretionary spending, like governmental travel, contract staff, and ministerial spending, other economic sectors have brought the surplus down lower.
- Several months of forestry mill closures, and almost 4,000 jobs lost in the sector, have hit the budget in the form of an 11-per-cent drop in forestry revenue worth $133 million. James said she’s “concerned” at the downturn.
- Tuesday’s financial documents also showed provincial sales tax revenue is down $49 million due to slow retail sales on building supplies, new appliances and vehicles. B.C.’s cannabis sales targets have also missed their mark in the first year of legal sales, with $18 million less revenue than projections due to the slow rate of stores opening and fewer sales.
- Last month, credit rating agency S&P threatened to downgrade BC’s AAA credit rating amid concerns about rising debt to revenue rates.
- According to S&P, BC is not prepared to withstand any economic shocks or downturns should debt levels continue to rise. The NDP’s fiscal plan is reversing a steady trend of declining debt that started under BC Liberal management in 2014.
- S&P’s report states that “if fiscal slippage or other policy decisions cause this ratio to rise notably above current expected levels, it could begin to erode B.C.’s resiliency to the next economic downturn. We could lower the rating by one notch as a result.”
- We'll have to hope that Carole James is watching the finances closely. Soon, we may not have bragging rights about our economy anymore, and if the expected downturn hits, BC may be in for a rougher ride than last go-around.
- “I am staying on to fight the fight” — said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer this week.
- Andrew Scheer unveiled his senior leadership team for the upcoming parliamentary session. It includes amongst others former Liberal MP Leona Alleslev who crossed the floor to sit as a Conservative last year and was one of only 3 Toronto area MPs to win re-election this October.
- Much of the focus was on Leona Alleslev and whether Scheer should have chosen someone who was a Liberal to be the deputy leader for the party. Formerly Lisa Raitt, also from Ontario, was deputy leader of the party.
- "I am staying on to fight the fight Canadians elected us to do… Now is not the time for internal divisions or internal party politics – that is an unfortunate part of the Conservative tradition in this country.” Scheer told media reporters after he unveiled his team and the questions about his leadership started.
- On Friday, Andrew Scheer addressed the Alberta UCP AGM highlighting the successes of the Conservative Party in the election winning in Atlantic Canada, beating projections and winning 9 additional seats in BC, and winning the popular vote.
- Atop of taking the fight to Justin Trudeau he also said, “only a united conservative party can keep this country together, the Conservative Party is the only party representing every region, and when Canada is united our opportunities are endless and the full potential of the country will be realized.”
- Apt words to say in front of the United Conservative Party, whose primary objective upon founding was to unite two conservative parties and rid Alberta of its NDP government largely caused by vote splitting.
- Conservative supporters and those who want Andrew Scheer gone should take note of what happened in Alberta.
- Fresh questions about Scheer’s leadership arose this week when he unveiled his team and fired chief of staff Marc Andre Leclerc and communications director Brock Harrison.
- Kory Teneycke who was Stephen Harper’s director of communications and ran both of Doug Ford’s successful campaigns started a group called Conservative Victory alongside Jeff Ballingall who founded Ontario Proud and Canada Proud, two websites dedicated to defeating Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau, and former Conservative MP John Reynolds who co-chaired the 2006 Conservative election campaign that resulted in a minority government.
- It is natural for there to be questions for a leader following the loss of an election campaign but we need to bring some clarity to just what is going on.
- Both Teneycke and Reynolds were involved in Maxime Bernier’s leadership campaign.
- They feel that Scheer doesn’t have enough support to win the leadership review at the Conservative convention in April and want him to step aside sooner to get the leadership contest rolling.
- There’s been lots of speculation as to whether this is a move by Doug Ford or Stephen Harper. To the even ludicrous that Maxime Bernier may be looking to come back into the party. But from Bernier’s emails to party members, he’s content on building the People’s Party as an alternate conservative voice.
- The thresholds for Scheer’s success isn’t defined. But history tells us that leaders who get less than 70% support have a hard time staying on.
- We need to underscore one point: Conservative members attending the convention in April will decide Andrew Scheer’s fate.
- Not third party groups, not the public at large, not conservative voters, and certainly not the media will decide Andrew Scheer’s fate. Simple.
- This didn’t stop a flurry of reports this week.
- A full feature of the new group in the Globe and Mail courtesy of Robert Fife.
- Stories in the CBC suggesting conservative veterans such as Ed Fast and Rachael Harder turned down shadow cabinet roles due to a lack of confidence in Andrew Scheer.
- On this, Ed Fast had to say, “Mr. Scheer, I believe, is entitled to surround himself with a team that fully supports his leadership and I’m looking forward to remaining fully in the affairs of our Conservative caucus and to holding Justin Trudeau to account for his actions, his words and how he leads this country.”
- An article inside Macleans ran with the headline: Has anybody checked Andrew Scheer’s pulse?
- The article sums up conversations with defeated candidates in Quebec who are rightly upset and then pivots to the Conservative Victory group.
- And CBC’s The National ran a 10 minute+ At Issue panel with Chantel Hebert, Andrew Coyne, and Paul Wells asking “How long can Andrew Scheer last as Conservative leader?”
- Most of the talk on the panel focused around the lack of a “strong palace guard” in the House of Commons to the point he appointed a former Liberal as deputy leader and that there’s an “unprecedented ground swell” of activity against him.
- One thing noted by the panel was true, the people who spoke out against Scheer mainly were from Toronto or the parliamentary press gallery.
- In the Calgary Herald, Don Braid said that Scheer is “the weakest political speaker I’ve ever seen among national conservative leaders, going back to Robert Stanfield in 1968. He makes Joe Clark, a workmanlike speaker, sound like Winston Churchill.”
- Meanwhile in Alberta at the UCP AGM in Alberta about 12 people in a room of 100s left while Scheer was speaking. Instead during the speech many held up Scheer placards and he was greeted with a standing ovation as his speech concluded.
- If reception is anything like what he received in Alberta come convention time in April, Andrew Scheer will be sticking around as Conservative party leader.
- What we have seen this week is a concerted effort to paint the party that ultimately won the popular vote as losers in an attempt to take down and smear Andrew Scheer.
Word of the Week
Histrionics - exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Hilarious Histrionics
Teaser: The CBC notes that the new Minister of Environment is not a woman, Rachel Notley blames the UCP for her alcohol purchases, BC’s economic machine starts to slow down, and an effort by the media to smear Andrew Scheer is rebuffed by Conservative members.
Recorded Date: November 30, 2019
Release Date: December 1, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes