The (Right) News Rundown
- Last week we brought you the story about the BC government engaging in more consultations that would ultimately lead to the restriction of the amount of diluted bitumen that could be carried by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
- This week the actions taken in this dispute reached a new level, Alberta has banned the import from wine from BC.
- Last year Alberta spent $72m on BC wine, 95% of the wine in Canada comes from BC.
- As we saw last year the BC wine industry earned $72m from Alberta alone.
- Compare this to our oil industry, in 2016-17 royalties to the Alberta government on the oil sands (or bitumen) were $1.48b alone. Back in 2015, the oil sands were responsible for inserting almost $23b cash into the economy of Canada.
- Fighting with BC on the level of wine does not make sense.
- Immediately after the ban went into place the talk turned from pipelines to wine.
- The talk in the media became one of which how wineries will be affected in BC and how restaurants and consumers will be affected in Alberta.
- There was even talk online from Global News stating that Quebec activists are buying BC wine to stand in 'solidarity' with the west coast.
- When we are talking about sanctioning an industry that does less than 10% of the revenue than the one we're concerned about with, that's a problem.
- The revenues of the BC wine industry come in at only 4.8% of the royalty revenue alone of the oil industry.
- Things got even more bizarre on Twitter, for numerous days this week Premier Notley would quote messages of support from all over BC on her Twitter account. These weren't tweets but were supposedly calls or letters into the premier's office of support.
- When you're trying to make a point, talking about something completely different doesn't really help.
- This is the equivalent of an umbrella salesman talking about how sunny it is outside. It doesn't work.
- BC Premier John Horgan isn't biting and isn't going to retaliate.
- The people in the interior who this affects most didn't vote NDP or Green in BC.
- BC gets the majority of its gas from Alberta with the rest coming from Washington state.
- Earlier this week gas prices in the lower mainland were hovering at around $1.45 per litre. Alberta could stop gas exports to BC and drive the price of gas up in BC.
- If the BC government feels so strongly about fossil fuels let's see if the commuters of downtown Vancouver can get by when gas prices skyrocket beyond their current price of $1.45.
- Who will then be mad?
- The talk needs to return to oil, natural resources, and pipelines. Not wine.
- The federal government hasn't taken sides yet but insists the pipeline must be built. Though we'll talk more about what the federal government is doing later.
- The federal government if it wanted to could shut this down by invoking section 92(10) section c of the constitution stating that the project is to the "Advantage of Canada". This power has been invoked at least 422 times but not since 1961, and mainly for railways.
- Jason Kenney has called for an emergency debate in the legislature but the Premier's spokeswoman said that there's little point to convening the legislature on an issue the parties agree on.
- Meanwhile late this week Premier Rachel Notley created a task force of Canadian experts to look at further ways to respond to BC. The group includes former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, former deputy Prime Minister and federal justice Minister Anne McLellan, former Syncrude Canada President Jim Carter, and legal scholar Peter Hogg.
- Just a few hours after last week's episode, the BC Liberal Party concluded their leadership race triggered by the resignation of former Premier and party leader Christy Clark on August 4th last year. And boy, this was not an easy one to predict. After many months of debate, and an election that went a full 5 rounds of voting, Andrew Wilkinson has been chosen as the new leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, edging out former Conservative MP Dianne Watts by 53% on the fifth ballot.
- Let's talk about the candidates a bit. Many thought that Watts, the only woman in the race and the only candidate to not have ties to the BC Liberals, would win. She was considered the front runner during much of the campaign, yet failed to connect with voters and poor showings at the debates and a lack of policy led to her eventual downfall on the fifth ballot. Her campaign had recruited many thousands of new members but faltered when it came to getting them to vote. Apparently fewer than half of the Watts recruits actually turned out in the three days of balloting.
- Others thought that Michael Lee, the rookie MP from Vancouver had a good chance. The Vancouver based lawyer had the business community on his side, and he had a strong campaign. However, by not being in the legislature very long, he did not have as much name recognition as other candidates. Still, he put good numbers and finished in a respectable 3rd. Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun notes that Lee’s organizer in the South Asian community was Sukh Dhaliwal, a longtime federal Liberal and no fan of the Conservative Watts. His recruits may well have been instructed to make their second choice anyone but Watts.
- Former Transportation Minister Todd Stone did not do as well as he wanted to, but this was due to news breaking out a couple days before the election that his campaign had to cancel almost 1400 party signups after party auditors found they included fake email addresses. That compounded with the recent news of ICBC's financial ruin (see last week's episode) which along with the transit troubles in Metro Vancouver, was partly his responsibility under his cabinet portfolio from 2013-17 under Clark's government. All in all, voters did not trust Stone with the reins.
- Someone trusted even less than Stone was former Finance Minister Mike de Jong. Normally Finance Ministers have lots of name recognition as the most important cabinet role, but in this case, it didn't work well for de Jong. His previous stellar record of posting surpluses was tainted by the siphoning of money from crown corporations such as BC Hydro and ICBC. Former Vancouver mayor and current Vancouver MLA Sam Sullivan also ran, but placed in 6th and was never expecting nor expected to do any higher than he did.
- But let's talk now about the winner Andrew Wilkinson. When a relative unknown is elected as leader, the media likes to make dire predictions about what the type of leader they'll be, or what radical agenda they might have, or to make unfavourable comparisons to former leaders. This is what the national media did right after federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer's election, which I detailed in full on Episode 19.
- Soon after the election, the National Post and other syndicated newspapers ran with the title "'He reminds me of Gordon Campbell' : Meet Andrew Wilkinson, the newly elected leader of the B.C Liberals". Now most people, when they remember Gordon Campbell, will either think of two things, either his 2003 drunk driving misdemeanor while on vacation in Hawaii, or his implementing of the Harmonised Sales Tax shortly after the 2009 election when it wasn't campaigned on. HST also would increase taxes on sectors that had previous PST exemptions, which was seen as a way to increase tax revenue. It was soon voted down in a referendum, and Campbell's approval rating dipped so low that he ended up resigning. While he did many good things in his 10 years as premier, like turning around BC's economy, and boosting industry and job growth, along with lower taxes, he is mostly known for those two bad things. So a major newspaper leading with the headline "He reminds me of Gordon Campbell" is very misleading.
- Especially when we look in the article, and we find that the expanded quote reads as “He reminds me of Gordon Campbell, but far less charming,” from David Moscrop, a liberal political scientist at Simon Fraser University. His bio describes himself as "currently working on a book about why we make bad political decisions and how we can make better ones." Despite trying to appear objectively neutral, his twitter feed reads much like one of the cabinet ministers of Trudeau or Horgan. Why his opinion matters so much that it should be the headline on one of the country's most read newspapers, and on an article that should be describing Wilkinson to people who probably don't know much about him, is beyond me.
- Now let's talk about Wilkinson himself. He's got the education and experience needed to run a party. He's a trained doctor and lawyer, a Rhodes scholar of Oxford, and he was the BC Liberal president from 1998-2001, as well as deputy minister in the Campbell government. He has also served as president of the BC Civil Liberties Association from 1993 to 1995, and as mentioned before was in Clark's cabinet upon election in 2013 as the Minister of Technology, Advanced Education, and Attorney General.
- He said his party has a few main priorities, one of which is to win the upcoming Feb 14th byelection in Kelowna West, vacated after Clark's resignation. His next plan is to oppose the NDP's electoral referendum, and to build awareness as to what the NDP and Greens want to accomplish with a Yes result. After that, he says that he will work towards "making BC the best place in the world to do business", by streamlining regulations, lowering small business taxes, and making it easier for new businesses to register, whilst privatizing liquor and marijuana stores.
- He also wants to bring the BC Liberals back to their roots of free enterprise and fiscal conservatism, saying “We have to build on the past. We’ve got the heritage of having put together the values that have led to success in the past. Those are things to build upon not to discard.” So those thinking that Wilkinson will radically change the party will be disappointed, but he will likely have his own method to success that will differ from the Campbell and Clark governments. Wilkinson said Saturday he is looking forward to debating the New Democrats in the legislature and asking questions to make “their skin crawl.” As with all things, we'll have to watch him closely to see how he will do. As with any strong stable minority government, an election could happen at any time.
- Early Thursday Environment Minister Catherine McKenna released a statement that the National Energy Board would be dismantled.
- In its place a new body called the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada would be created.
- This will all happen through Bill C-69 which is a 340 page Bill that must be passed through Parliament.
- The selling point to those skeptical is "One project. One assessment."
- The idea is that everyone will be involved, all aspects from economic to environment to social to indigenous will be examined.
- If a new review is carried out and to be successful the hope is that there will be less interference later on the project, i.e. Energy East and now Trans Mountain.
- An assurance that when a decision is made, the project will go ahead.
- The Government of Canada will also have an override.
- Existing projects will be unaffected by the new framework.
- "The legislation we are introducing today aims to restore public trust in how the federal government approves major projects like mines, pipelines and hydro dams. These better rules are designed to protect our environment, while improving investor confidence … they will also make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive" -- Catherine McKenna
- The government also aims to shorten the maximum timeline for review from 720 days to 600 days.
- The "expert panel" in question also wants to include in-situ oil-sands projects and fracking within the projects that must now be reviewed.
- The government is suggesting that if a province has a hard cap on emissions, in-situ projects could be exempt from this lengthy approval process.
- The exact list of projects that will fall under this new regime are unknown. That is to be determined and the list could ultimately grow longer than what we have now for the National Energy Board.
- With an unknown list of projects and an unknown list of stakeholders that can be consulted, it's hard to believe that the time taken for a review will actually decrease.
- There's also the message that this sends to the business community, any time there is uncertainty in the economy, large investment projects will stall.
- And besides, when was the last time we heard of a government introducing a 340 page Bill to actually decrease regulation or at the very least streamline it?
The Firing Line
- As we mentioned on last week's episode, Trudeau was completing his town hall tour with stops in Edmonton and Nanaimo. Honestly, I doubt that we would have thought any of it would be newsworthy beforehand, but then a story came out of the Edmonton one that reverberated around the world, was broadcast on international media in the UK, US and other locales. Partway through a woman's 4 minute long rambling question at the Edmonton Townhall, a substantial portion of which consisting of her proselytizing for her church to the growing annoyance of the audience, Trudeau interrupted her to teach us all a word that didn't get much use until now. Have a listen:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDAYH0GSDWs 1:09:28
- Yes, that's right, peoplekind. It was something that grew slowly on Twitter and Youtube, and then as other media sources picked up on it, it quickly became a viral sensation viewed around the world. Well, other than the CBC of course, their only stories were that the "US far right seizes on 'peoplekind' comment ahead of NAFTA talks", which is some pretty serious editorializing, as well as an article with a linguist saying that he's not actually the first in peoplekind to use the word. I jest of course. But it's hard not to treat it as a joke, until you start thinking about the ramifications of such a joke.
- Now, Trudeau has brushed off the story, saying to reporters outside of the HoC that “You all know that I don’t necessarily have the best of track records on jokes. I made a dumb joke a few days ago that seems to have gone a little viral. It played well in the room and in context. Out of context, it doesn’t play so well. It’s a little reminder to me that I shouldn’t be making jokes even when I think they’re funny.” Truly words of wisdom for all of us.
- Trudeau has a history of making weird off-the-cuff jokes that land poorly. Most infamously, at a conference in October 2014, he made a cringe-worthy joke when asked a serious question about whether he would continue the combat mission in Iraq. “Why aren’t we talking more about the kind of humanitarian aid that Canada can and must be engaged in?” he said. “Rather than, you know, trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are. It just doesn’t work like that in Canada.” The phrase “whip out our CF-18s” dogged Trudeau for months afterwards, as he was accused of being a politician who can’t be taken seriously on the world stage.
- However, not everyone has treated it as just a bad joke. Trudeau was subject to mockery for his awkward demeanor, as well as accusations of virtue signaling and mansplaining - where a man explains something to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was one to call Trudeau out on his mansplaining. The Conservatives also got in a few jabs, with Lisa Raitt urging the prime minister to “person up” during an exchange in the House of Commons.
- Piers Morgan was especially scathing of the Prime Minister, calling him a "spineless virtue-signalling excuse for a feminist". Tongue in cheek, he later said "When Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, said it was 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,' he could have had no idea how offensive he was being."
- Others mentioned that in Trudeau's world, a gentleman by the name of Guy Manson would be called "Person PersonPerson".
- The program Fox and Friends had Dr. Jordan Peterson on for an interview. He said, “It’s quite the performance. I’m afraid that our prime minister is only capable of running his ideas on a few very narrow ideological tracks.”
- Mankind has been a term used for centuries, derived from the Saxon word "Mann" which was used to refer to humans in general. It's used quite frequently in literature, usually interchangeably with humankind, another well accepted term if you truly want to be gender neutral. But “peoplekind”? Nobody says that. Why Trudeau chose to go with that word instead of the significantly more natural options might be the real mystery here.
- Many mainstream outlets also covered the gaffe, such as CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian, and others. However, Gerald Butts, Trudeau's chief PMO advisor, took to Twitter a few days after the incident to say that "The lesson to take from this joke being torqued by Infowars and other alt-right nazi friends of the Rebel is they're paying attention. Game on, #TeamTrudeau.".
- First of all. Calling media organizations Nazis, is an insult to those who suffered persecution from actual Nazis. Such as the Jewish people in the Holocaust. You know, the people that the Trudeau government actually somehow left off of the Holocaust Memorial?
- Second of all, this wasn't just covered by the so called "alt-right" friends of The Rebel, whoever those might be. This was pretty much covered by every media organization around the world.
- Third of all, as Ezra Levant said, "It’s not "odd" that The Rebel, a Canadian media outlet, is paying attention to the country's Prime Minister...what we really "learned" from Butt's tweet is actually the reverse — that Trudeau’s office, and Butts in particular, is paying attention to little old us, and other online critics."
- At the end of all this, it's clear that as well as it being a really bad joke, Trudeau actually believes that we should actually use peoplekind instead of mankind. And that should worry all peoplekind everywhere.
Word of the Week
Mankind - human beings considered collectively; the human race. "research for the benefit of all mankind"
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Show for Peoplekind
Teaser: Alberta halts BC wine imports in response to Trans Mountain stalling, the BC Liberals elected Andrew Wilkinson as leader, the NEB could be replaced by the fed govt to streamline energy assessments, and we learn about Trudeau’s use of the word peoplekind.
Recorded Date: February 10, 2018
Release Date: February 11, 2018
Edit Notes: None