The News Rundown
- The 2020 Speech from the Throne was read out on September 23 by Governor General Julie Payette. The text entitled ‘A Stronger and More Resilient Canada’ would lead many to believe that a course correction is ahead.
- We could run through the speech itself and highlight the number of promises or future policies that were outlined but that would be a waste of everyone’s time.
- The policies mentioned are either subtle tweaks to last year's election platform or are those commitments themselves yet again.
- We see pledges for a national pharmacare program, national sick leave standards, and national child care.
- One of these, sick leave in particular, has secured the NDPs support of the throne speech. On Friday afternoon NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that a deal had been reached on sick leave and if the details are as negotiated in a Bill to be tabled Monday then he will support the throne speech’s confidence vote.
- Singh went even further suggesting that the NDP could support the Liberals for their full term if they keep “bringing about things, like paid sick leave” which is something the NDP have fought for.
- The NDP should consider their actions and look to see the Greens in BC today and the Liberal Democrats in the UK after they supported David Cameron for a full term.
- It didn’t bode well for both!
- The throne speech mentions COVID-19 in particular and the government’s push to ensure Canadians stay healthy and that the necessary social supports are there if they become underemployed or lose their jobs.
- But we all know this was a choice made by most governments of the world and now they are racing to save the day.
- Unemployment though was referred to though as if women, racialized Canadians, and young people were the only ones affected.
- This throne speech is heavy on division and puts equity first over equality.
- Why should the 25 year old male get ignored in this throne speech? Unemployment is a problem for ALL Canadians just not the subset that this throne speech implies.
- “Unemployment is in the double digits, and underemployment is high. Women, racialized Canadians, and young people have borne the brunt of job losses.”
- The throne speech also lays out the government's intent to tax tech companies.
- “Web giants are taking Canadians’ money while imposing their own priorities. Things must change, and will change. The Government will act to ensure their revenue is shared more fairly with our creators and media, and will also require them to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of our stories, on screen, in lyrics, in music, and in writing.”
- Once again as talked about last week, the problem isn’t the lack of Canadian content, it’s that there’s not enough competition in this space to foster growth of platforms that support that content.
- And if the government wanted to go one step further, they’d foster that competition among these tech companies.
- The throne speech also doesn’t mention oil and gas, and in particular only says that the “know-how” of the energy sector is needed “to transform to meet a net zero future.”
- Yes but as we talked about in the Alberta segment, there are many countries that still need our clean ethical energy exports.
- All in all this throne speech doesn’t add anything new, it’s more of the same, and as Jason Kenney said, it’s “a fantasy plan for a mythical country.”
- Oh but wait, this has to be just his opinion and no one else’s right?
- CNN said that the throne speech reads like a “fairy tale.”
- This is the same CNN of course that has become the gold standard of Trump resistance in the United States.
- The CNN piece says what most Canadian journalists can not, “Nearly every paragraph of this speech represents billions of dollars in spending.”
- And they also carried word from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that of course warned that this could "burden future generations with a crushing debt load.”
- But we’re full steam ahead now on this plan with the Prime Minister and cabinet backed up by the NDP in all likelihood.
- Trudeau is also of course blind to how this looks, he said that calls of eroding national unity and western alienation were, ‘crazy.’
- “Thus, to try and sneak in this approach, this political attack, its simply irresponsible and crazy.”
- Whether it be a fairy tale or a plan simply brought about by incompetence we’re set on this path now and gone are the discussions of WE and the numerous ethical breaches this government engaged in.
- The channel change was a success because there was nothing in this throne speech that a month+ prorogation was required for and all those in the media and Laurentien elite are looking at their shiny new objects when in fact nothing has changed.
- Canadians must not forget that we are dealing with perhaps the most corrupt government in all of our history.
- On last week's episode, I spoke about 6 BC NDP cabinet ministers deciding to not run in the next election, that number has now reached 7. I speculated that the announcements were a precursor to Premier John Horgan calling an election while getting all his ducks in a row beforehand.
- After weeks of public speculation, Horgan has decided to call a fall election during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Election day will be on October 24th, about a year ahead of the next scheduled election on Oct. 2021.
- On Monday Horgan defended his decision to call the election now, rather than wait until 2021: “We are not at the end of COVID-19, we are at the beginning. This pandemic will be with us for a year or more and that’s why I think we need to have an election now. Let’s address the differences we may have now so that we can come together after the 24th of October and work together to meet the needs of all British Columbians.”
- Horgan has not yet released the NDP's platform, but that it "will be released soon". Horgan and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson are expected to spend the bulk of the campaign in Metro Vancouver, while newly chosen Green leader Sonia Furstenau will look to grow her party’s existing three seats on Vancouver Island by running candidates in all 87 ridings.
- Wilkinson says the move to call an election is ‘cynical and self-serving’ from Horgan: “For no good reason whatsoever, we’re now being forced into a general election that no one in B.C. wants except the NDP. The only reason for this election is to try and secure the jobs of the NDP. To make this completely clear, think about why we’re having this election, it’s not necessary. The NDP is trying to secure their employment.”
- Hamish Telford, University of the Fraser Valley political scientist, in a recent interview that voters could punish the NDP for triggering a vote during COVID-19, and that Horgan risks voter backlash with no apparent need for an election, given that the Green Party was still wanting to work with the NDP as a part of their confidence and supply agreement signed between the two parties shortly after the 2017 election that saw Christy Clark's BC Liberal government fall to a non-confidence motion.
- Current Speaker of the Legislature Darryl Plecas, who was kicked out of the BC Liberal caucus for becoming speaker and propping up Horgan's government, has stated this week that he will not be running again.
- Former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who is the only other Independent MLA other than Plecas and also won't be running in the upcoming election, says he’s supporting NDP Leader John Horgan in the upcoming provincial election. It's a high-profile endorsement that comes as his Green successor accuses Mr. Horgan of rewriting history for saying his collaboration with the party was holding back his agenda.
- Horgan said the collaboration with the Greens that propped up his government for more than three years was impeding NDP plans, such as a promise from the last election of $10-per-day daycare. But Sonia Furstenau, who took over as leader 10 days ago, said the Greens worked with ministers to build quality, universal early childhood education in late 2018, and that they were prepared to continue.
- Horgan noted this election will be unlike any other but there will be many opportunities such as advance voting and mail-in ballots to make sure everyone is able to vote safely. Elections BC has already received around 160,000 requests for vote-by-mail packages since the provincial election was called on Monday.
- Chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said that the number of voters opting for mail-in ballots was expected to be higher this year because of the pandemic. Surveys conducted by Elections BC showed between 30 and 35% of ballots could be cast by mail. In previous votes, that number was around one per cent. With the update reported Thursday, it appeared 4.6 per cent of voters have already made the request.
- Screening of mail-in ballots to check eligibility and to ensure people haven't voted twice cannot take place until a minimum of two weeks after election day on Oct. 24, meaning we will likely not know the results of the election until well into November.
- One thing's for sure, as the month moves on, we will find out a lot more about each party's platform as Horgan's sudden snap call has put both the BC Liberals and the BC Greens off guard. If the Liberals want to retake government or the Greens want to remain in the balance of power they will need to get more exposure than they already have, as they run the risk of letting Horgan and the NDP set the narrative in the media.
- Justin Trudeau claims to be someone who is amenable to the concerns of the west and in particular the energy industry but the throne speech was anything but.
- In responding to the throne speech Alberta Premier Jason Kenney went on full assault.
- There’s a time for being nice and attempting to work around the edges but at some point the gloves have to come off and we are there.
- The terms oil and gas were not mentioned once in an almost 7,000 word speech and Kenney called it “a fantasy plan for a mythical country that only exists in the minds of Ottawa Liberals and like-minded Laurentian elites”
- This comes at the same time as Statistics Canada has said that 43,000 people lost jobs in the resource sector.
- It’s this same energy industry that supports 800,000 jobs total and is a vital source of revenue for the Canadian government.
- In the lead up to the throne speech Kenney pushed for the federal government to give back $6.5b lining up with the original intent of the fiscal stabilization program.
- The fiscal stabilization program is supposed to help provinces when they experience a shortfall in revenue.
- Alberta has paid more than $600b in federal transfers that help fund programs everywhere else in Canada.
- NDP leader Rachel Notley said that she was “alarmed” at the language used and that he’s just continuing a “fight” with Ottawa.
- She even went as far to say as that Kenney should not fight with federal politicians. We see where that got us under her leadership.
- But it’s not just Jason Kenney who’s upset. Premier Moe of Saskatchewan echoed similar sentiments about the energy industry. Premier Pallister of Manitoba expressed concerns about health transfers. Premier Ford of Ontario said the throne speech fell flat. And Premier Legault of Quebec was concerned about the federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction such as health and particularly child care in the case of Quebec.
- We could continue but every province east of BC to the maritimes had issues with the throne speech, and that’s a problem.
- But instead, here in Alberta, at a time when national unity has been pushed to the breaking point, the media isn’t highlighting the actual unity that exists between all the Premiers not in the maritimes and not running provincial election campaigns.
- Instead the media is focusing on cow dung.
- In Jason Kenney’s response to the throne speech he pointed out that developing countries need oil and gas to become greener.
- He said, “They don't have the luxury of repeating all these California-style pieties. They want to stop burning cow dung.”
- For many in the media and middle-upper class in the developed world they see electricity as something where you plug your appliance into the wall and it magically works.
- They forget what goes into generating that power. That’s why states like California who are shuttering nuclear face rolling blackouts in the hottest of months, because of a limited electrical supply.
- One of the simplest ways to generate electricity is through a steam boiler. You can heat that steam boiler with wood, a decaying soil like peat, or animal dung.
- It’s a simple matter of fact that in parts of the developing world, this is the only way and clean burning natural gas or oil would actually emit far less than burning bio matter.
- Many in the media and on the left called this racist but Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda who grew up in rural India talked about what happens when bio matter, wood, cow dung, or charcoal is burned.
- He said, “Canada is energy rich - an “energy superpower” in the words of Prime Minister Modi. Sadly, we have squandered opportunities to supply countries like India with our energy by ‘delaying to death’ countless projects. Fuels that emit large quantities of particulate matter and cause health problems for far too many poor Indians are the norm in many parts of India. This isn’t an academic discussion, it’s something I witnessed growing up.”
- So yet again the media and modern left frame an issue they don’t understand and then paint their opponents as the racist in the room while ignoring more than half the country and the main story of the week.
- It seems like much of the news this week has stemmed from Justin Trudeau's Wednesday throne speech, and this next story is no exception. Shortly before his outline of his government's plans for the next term, the federal and Ontario governments struck a deal with Ford Motor Company and are pledged to spend up to $500 million to make the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont., able to build electric vehicles.
- The future of the plant has been a key question for Canada's automotive industry ever since the Unifor union started negotiating with the automaker for a new three-year pact to cover the company's Canadian workforce. The two sides struck a deal a few hours after a midnight strike deadline on Tuesday morning, one that will see the company commit $1.98 billion to build five new electric vehicles and an engine contract that could yield new jobs in Windsor, Ont. Ford has previously committed to spending $11 billion US to develop and manufacture electric vehicles, but so far all of that money was earmarked for Ford plants in Mexico and the company's home state of Michigan.
- Currently, the plant builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, but concerns over the plant's future emerged earlier this year when a report suggested Ford was contemplating scrapping the Edge altogether. With this news, Ford’s Oakville assembly plant got a new lease on life beyond 2023 — when it will stop producing Edge SUVs — and will start manufacturing as many as five different electric vehicles starting in 2025.
- Not to be outdone, Quebec and the feds stated their intention of also manufacturing batteries in Canada. As with most federal Liberal proclamations, there were no hard numbers attached to its ambitions, but TVA claims the Quebec government alone has earmarked $1.4 billion for battery production. As shows of support for domestic auto production and electrification go, proclamations simply don’t get any bigger.
- The benefits, of course, are obvious: high-paying unionized assembly-line jobs are being saved, new battery manufacturing plants will supercharge a struggling economy and, most importantly, at least if you’re Justin Trudeau, it allows you to smugly proclaim that “Canada is on track to reduce our emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.”
- The new vehicles will come as welcome news for the plant, even as demand for the electric vehicles has so far just not been growing in line with the proposed investment from all vehicle manufacturers. The half billion investment comes as Trudeau's government shifts to remake Canada's economy into what they call a "green economy", a shift in government policy of their own making after forcing economic shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said the investment into electric vehicles will give Canada an advantage by positioning itself as the chief North American supplier of batteries for electric vehicles: "We recognize we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of our skilled labour force and we know we have a long and proud history of manufacturing vehicles, planes, ships and trains, and we also have an abundant amount of natural resources. We could be a world leader in [electric vehicle] battery manufacturing if we leverage our natural resources like lithium, cobalt ... nickel, aluminum — the key ingredients that are required in batteries. Then we want to make sure that we manufacture them here and ... use them in our trains, our buses, our ships and our planes."
- This advantage that Bains mentioned, which Canadian Taxpayer's Federation director Aaron Wudrick called "[o]ne of the goofiest lines in the throne speech" because of the need for a $500 million dollar subsidy to make it happen, echoes the throne speech's mention of the investment giving Canada a "competitive edge".
- That explains the why, but the where — as in, where all these electric vehicles and batteries are going to be sold — remains an unanswered question. Automakers do not traditionally build entire plants in Canada just to service our domestic sales. Ditto battery manufacturing, any production facility needing a market far larger than our own to establish the kind of economies of scale needed to be price competitive. So where will they all go? Not to the United States, our traditional go-to export market. Lost in all the hoopla surrounding electrification is the fact that American plug-in sales have essentially stalled. Nor is this decline simple post-COVID economics; plug-in EV sales actually dipped in 2019 compared with 2018.
- Much of this could be attributed to US President Donald Trump's updated regulations on vehicle fuel efficiency. The basic gist is that while former president Barack Obama’s dictum required automakers to increase their fleet fuel economy by 5% annually, under Trump that has decreased to 1.5%. The Trump regulations are almost totally attainable simply by improving internal combustion engine efficiency on gas powered vehicles. That, of course, allows automakers to meet their U.S. regulatory requirements without ramping up EV production, and legacy automakers, with the possible exception of Toyota, never make a fuel economy improvement they’re not forced to, as would most corporations not pour money into improvements that wouldn't yield a direct profit. With cancellation of EV tax credits, EV production in the US has declined, as have sales.
- Because of this divergence in policy in the US, Canada, for the first time in recent memory, will set its own automotive emissions standards. As happy as that might make fervent nationalists and the legions of anti-Trumpers out there, such a divergence is extremely risky.
- Up until this point, Canadian fuel economy and emissions standards have essentially been photocopies of American regulations. In broad strokes, our CO2 mandates and fuel economy ratings are essentially metricized equivalents of U.S. dictums.
- Never mind the difficulty of attracting outside investment to our increasingly left-leaning economy, or the historic difficulty of allocating plants to satisfy domestic demand, the sheer cost of incentivizing those EV sales will be monumental, especially with such declines in sales in our neighbour to the south.
- Buried deep in something labelled a General Consultation Session on Midterm Evaluation dealing with light vehicle greenhouse gas emissions is the assumption that “companies would comply with a more stringent standard in Canada [i.e. our maintaining of the five per cent increase] by adjusting fleet mix.” In non-governmental jargon, that means if we want to meet a five per cent year-over-year increase in fuel economy when all the gasoline-fueled cars being imported into Canada are only improving their efficiency by 1.5 per cent, we’re going to have to sell a lot more EVs to compensate.
- How many more? Roughly four to five times the number sold now. In fact, the government estimates we’ll have to buy 162,056 battery electric vehicles and 40,514 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2025 if we want to maintain Obama’s dictates while selling Trump regulated gas cars. In even simpler terms, if Canada sticks with Obama’s 54.5-miles-per-US-gallons regs, we’re going to have to buy a grossly disproportionate share of North America’s electric vehicles.
- That would certainly explain Ford’s decision to rejig Oakville for EVs. There’s no way Ford would sign onto this investment — CBC is reporting that Ford is putting $1.98 billion in this deal — without a guarantee there will be a market for their future product. And with growth of the EV segment doubtful in the US — especially if Trump gets re-elected — more of Oakville’s production will be directed domestically than is traditional.
- Taking just the subsidy portion as a benchmark, governments would have to set aside $1.4 billion in 2023, $2 billion in 2024 and $2.6 billion in 2025 to coerce enough Canadians into plug-ins to meet its mandate. Extrapolate it out for Trudeau’s 2030 commitments and the number just grows exponentially. Whether this is brave or foolhardy policy is hard to determine. Norway is always used as the example of a small country that has managed to build a vibrant EV marketplace. But it has a US$1 trillion surplus — the country’s oil-fueled pension fund — to finance its EV subsidies, not the $1.2 trillion debt Canadians will be staring down by March 2021. In the end, one’s trust in such a radical policy shift will depend on your confidence in the politicians implementing it.
- Unfortunately, the Liberal government has proven itself so gaffe-prone, especially when it comes to the intersection between virtue signalling and fiscal responsibility, that this decision seems like just the latest in a series of well-intentioned miscalculations. I suspect Ford’s assembly line workers are praying that Trudeau has finally got his numbers right, but as is usually the case, they likely haven't. And this is the angle that the media missed this week in all the hooplah over Trudeau's EV announcement.
Word of the Week
Competitive - as good as or better than others of a comparable nature, prices low enough to compare with rivals
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Competitive Myth
Teaser: Trudeau’s fairytale throne speech promises to spend billions, British Columbians will vote on Oct 24th, and Alberta’s media focuses on a load of cow dung. Also, Ford will build EV’s in Ontario while Trudeau’s massive subsidies could blow up in his face.
Recorded Date: September 25, 2020
Release Date: September 27, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes