The News Rundown
- If you’re a critic of the carbon tax, you want to “make pollution free again” according to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
- Was this remark given in the House of Commons? No. Was it given to the media? No. It was given to an audience of high school students at the Anthropocene art exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.
- "They would let Canada fall behind in the new economy. They look only to our past, rallying Canadians to ’make pollution free again’. I know, and you know, there’s no future in that.“ — Justin Trudeau
- This is perhaps the clearest admission from the Prime Minister that his government is aiming to create a new green economy. Gerald Butts, the PM’s principal secretary, is also on record of desiring a new economy as well.
- The economy cannot be transformed overnight and this provides great indication of why the government is acting slowly on appealing the court’s decision regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
- Doug Ford shot back: To be clear, when PM Trudeau talks about polluters he’s really talking about commuters. Whether you’re doing errands, going to work, or picking your children up from hockey practice you will pay more at the pumps because of Trudeau’s carbon tax.
- Pollution is not free and has not been free for decades. Cars and industry are all subject to emission standards.
- By using the phrase, “make pollution free again” the Prime Minister outright admits that Canadians in general will be paying more under the national carbon tax.
- This was lost on the media as the media currently views make great again as a negative connotation among Canadians.
- A carbon tax on everything. Heat, food, gas.
- It doesn’t lower pollution.
- The future is in technology and innovation.
- BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has asked Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser to rule on whether Attorney General David Eby should be allowed to participate in debate around legislation that would restrict union and corporate donations to recall campaigns. The question from Wilkinson to Fraser reads: “Does the participation by a member in the debates and votes pertaining to Bill 53 constitute a conflict of interest within the meaning of the Members Conflict of Interest Act in circumstances where the member is aware of a pending recall targeting him/her?”
- British Columbia is the only Canadian jurisdiction that provides a legislative framework for voters to remove an elected member from office. The Legislative Assembly enacted representative recall in 1995, after a Social Credit 1991 referendum in which voters voted overwhelmingly by roughly 80% in favour to enact recall legislation. Even though the new NDP government didn't have to abide by the referendum, then Premier Mike Harcourt agreed to pass recall legislation.
- So what is recall legislation? Voters in a provincial riding can petition to have their representative in parliament removed from office, even if that MLA is also the premier. If enough registered voters sign the petition, the speaker of the legislature announces in parliament that the member has been recalled and the lieutenant governor drops the writ for a by-election as soon as possible, giving voters the opportunity to replace the politician in question. By January 2003, 22 recall efforts had been launched. A B.C. MLA has never been recalled under the existing legislation.
- Recall petitions cannot be initiated until at least 18 months after an MLA is elected. That would make Nov. 13 the earliest opportunity to apply to recall an MLA elected in last May’s provincial election.
- Eby has introduced legislation on Tuesday that would ban corporate and union donations as well as restrict advertising rules for recall campaigns. The legislation catches up on changes the province made to ban union and corporate donations to political parties.
- Eby explained the legislation thusly: “Recall campaigns have the potential of removing people from elected office, and it’s only fair that the rules for elections apply to recall campaigns as well. Following the changes our government made last year, this legislation will ensure that we remove the influence of big money for those in favour and opposed to a recall of an MLA.”
- Under the Recall and Initiative Amendment Act 2018, corporate and union contributions will be banned. Individual British Columbians will only be able to give $1,200 to a petition proponent, an MLA subject to a petition, or to any one third-party advertising sponsor. The $1,200 annual limit will apply to political contributions made to the MLA, the MLA’s political party or constituency association during an election. This means that individuals cannot give more than $1,200 annually for any combination of recall and political contributions. Third-party advertisers will have a spending limit of $5,000 during a recall petition limit.
- The amendments will also prohibit concurrent recall petitions in a single electoral district, meaning that only one petition can be circulating in a district at any given time. Applying for a recall petition in the six months immediately before general voting day for a scheduled general election would also be prohibited.
- So, essentially, the BC Liberals feel that by introducing and campaigning upon legislation that Eby will personally benefit from, it's a conflict of interest. Which is something that you definitely don't want in an attorney general, the supposed top legal expert to the government.
- Three MLAs are currently being targeted by organized pre-recall efforts: Langley East Liberal MLA Rich Coleman, Abbotsford South independent MLA and Speaker Darryl Plecas, and Eby.
- In an interview with Postmedia News last week, Eby said the timing of the legislation was designed to land before recall campaigns could officially begin. And he mentioned his own potential recall campaign, noting he doesn’t want to be in a situation where supporters fundraise to defend him by accepting the kind of donations from unions and corporations he’s fought to eliminate.
- Eby said “So there is a challenge for me in terms of introducing the bill facing a recall, but the challenge is that having a bunch of big money donations flow into my own constituency to support me, while I’m in government, after having banned big money, is a really untenable situation for me.”
- I'm not entirely sure if the sentiments of the BC Liberals will hold true with BC residents especially after the huge support there was (and is) to ban big money from politics, but it's true that British Columbians dearly love their democratic and voting rights, including referendums, and recall legislation, and anything threatening that might be looked upon harshly.
- “A new report by analysts at RBC Capital Markets suggests the Notley government could bolster distressed oil prices in Alberta by taking steps to offer a “royalty holiday,” effectively using its own royalty barrels to temporarily curb production from the province.”
- Royalty Holiday: Suspend the royalty that Alberta receives from oil producers in exchange for producing less oil.
- “Veteran oilman Hal Kvisle, the former CEO of TransCanada Corp. and Talisman Energy, believes the province should examine returning to an allotment system for producers used during the Lougheed era.”
- If we reduce production of oil by seven or eight per cent, that differential would go away” — Kvisle
- WCS vs WTI. $15 vs. $63
- We are not Saudi Arabia
- RBC who first suggested the royalty holiday says that the market is oversaturated by between 160k and 185k barrels of oil per day.
- “It makes a lot of sense” — Eric Nuttall, senior portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners
- This would serve as “a gift” to operators closer to market (in the US) to fill the gap according to Gary Leach, President of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.
- NDP Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd said that the royalty holiday idea is a non-starter.
- “All of these solutions are complex, and getting collective buy-in from industry and governments won’t be easy. At this stage, however, Albertans are searching for answers to an intricate problem that needs to be resolved, sooner rather than later.”
- The importance of pipelines, national energy, and investor confidence.
- Reducing per capita spending, by 20% to the same level as BC would rectify a lot of Alberta’s revenue problems government wise.
The Firing Line
- Bit by bit, we're becoming able to peel back the layers covering the Trudeau Liberals and we're now seeing what their plans are for Canada in the future should they win another election in 2019. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced that Canada will take in 40,000 more immigrants in 2021 than this year, totalling 350,000 in that year alone, which those astute in math will see is 1% of our population, just incoming in one year.
- Hussen explains the increase by saying that many of the new arrivals will be immigrating based on economic programs "designed to address skill shortages and gaps in the labour market". Hussen goes further, saying that "economic immigration is badly needed in areas across the country that are short on workers and long on older residents".
- "In certain regions the hunger for workers is huge. This plan is making us very competitive in the global market. It enables us to continue to be competitive, it enables us to continue to present Canada as a welcoming country and to position us to continue to be (a leader) in skills attraction."
- One of the few things that rings true from Hussen's mouth is that Canada is currently facing a skill worker shortage. A record 47 per cent of small Canadian businesses report that they are experiencing a shortage of skilled labour, a monthly survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has found.
- Provinces where the greatest shortages in skilled labour were reported included British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario. Industries reporting the highest shortages in skilled labour were construction, transportation, personal services and natural resources.
- However, while businesses might want to increase immigration to create competition for jobs (and thus lowering the wages they have to pay, more on that later), it definitely appears that many Canadians disapprove of the government's plan to bring in more immigrants.
- At a press conference, Conservative Immigration Critic Michelle Rempel cited an Angus Reid poll from August which found that 49 per cent of Canadians wanted to see the country reduce its immigration intake – up from 36 per cent four years earlier and the highest number in the 43-year period since the question was first asked. She said "Justin Trudeau has no credibility to set Canada’s immigration levels."
- Hussen recently said this about the Liberal Immigration plan: “We cannot take what we have for granted. The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee rhetoric that is all around us — we are not immune to that. This is the challenge before me and all of us — to double down on immigration, but also to really, really communicate, and listen carefully and communicate the real benefits of immigration locally. Because if we don’t, it’s going to be difficult for certain people who have anxieties about the economy and about their future to see immigration as a positive thing.”
- Hussen was also on CBC's Power and Politics, and was asked about Ontario MPP and cabinet minister responsible for immigration Lisa MacLeod's assertion that approximately 40% of Toronto's shelters are filled with refugees. He disagreed, and said it was fear mongering, that the number was not factual, and that the current number of refugees seeking shelters was "unknown". CBC then asked the City of Toronto, which then said that the number was at 37.3%.
- Hussen also accused Ontario of employing a rhetoric of “fear and division,” and using the province’s refugee crisis to condemn people fleeing difficult situations. “Intentionally doing this is irresponsible, it’s divisive, it’s fear-mongering and it’s not Canadian and it is very dangerous.”
- So it's clear that the Liberal government, in their own words, are "doubling down" on a policy that not only do Canadians not want, but are actively making it difficult for anyone to criticize, because it's one small step from anti-immigrant and anti-refugee to racist and "not Canadian".
- One reason why employers may not be finding the skilled employees they need is because there is not enough investment into education and skills training programs. A recent report, Humans Wanted, from Royal Bank of Canada estimated that more than 25% of Canadian jobs will be heavily disrupted by technology and half will undergo a skills overhaul.
- The report is far from bleak, estimating that the economy will add 2.4 million jobs over the next four years, but warns that Canada’s education system and training programs are “inadequately designed to help Canadian youth navigate this new skills economy” and that Canadian employers are unprepared to recruit and develop the skills they need to make their organizations more competitive. Recommendations include increasing the focus on skills development over credentials, and integrating work and learning opportunities, both in terms of educational programs offering work placements and workplaces encouraging more lifelong learning.
- So rather than increasing immigration, why isn't our government investing in training and post-secondary programs to increase the number of skilled workers that this country needs as our economy grows and population ages?
- One of the main reasons Ahmed Hussen points to the need to increase immigration is Canada's supposed "record low unemployment rate". We've mentioned on the show before about using unemployment rates to justify policy changes.
- Canada’s unemployment rate is at 5.9%, close to a 40-year low. And yet, at least two key measures suggest that many Canadians — whether they’re looking for a job or already have one — are still struggling. The first gauge is the time it takes the average jobseeker to find employment. Right now, unemployment spells tend to last 19 weeks, or around four and a half months, according to Statistics Canada. That’s “scant improvement” compared to the typical, five-and-a-half-month job hunt Canadians used to suffer during the Great Recession, economist Brendon Bernard recently noted.
- The average duration of unemployment remains well above levels seen during other periods in which unemployment was bouncing around the six-per-cent mark. For example, in 2008, before the financial crisis started translating into layoffs, finding a new job typically took only 15 weeks, or three and a half months. So why are job searches still taking so long?
- Part of it has to do with the fact that many workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland are still coping with the aftermath of the 2014-2016 energy crisis. Unemployed workers in these provinces are still taking around five and a half months to find employment. “This really highlights that these labour markets haven’t fully recovered.”
- Yes, it's true, and the Liberal government has done little to support the resource industry.
- The other barometer that seems stuck is wage growth.
- In a tight job market, employers are usually forced to write bigger paycheques, both to attract qualified applicants and to retain their own workers. Until recently, however, wages have been growing by just 2.3 per cent per year, according to the Bank of Canada’s so-called “wage common” measure, widely regarded as the best available gauge of wage trends in the country.
- It should also be noted that Canada's Labour Participation rate, or the number of adult aged citizens able to work it's at its lowest point since the 1990s, dipping to 65.2% steadily month by month from a high of 68% just before the recession of 2008.
- So to sum all this up. Companies are not paying any more for their employees than they have in the past, post miserable wages on job sites, and are surprised when they can't get employees. Then they complain they can't get skilled workers to the government, and then the government decides to import people in that have no problem with working those low wages. This leads those unemployed to have to look longer for jobs, with many giving up the search completely (leading to a lower unemployment). All this is then used to justify a higher increase in immigration. Something is wrong when this is the conclusion that the Trudeau Liberals draw.
Word of the Week
Fearmongering - the action of deliberately spreading frightening and exaggerated rumors of an impending danger or the habit or tactic of purposely and needlessly arousing public fear about an issue.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: UnCanadian Fearmongering
Teaser: Trudeau invokes Trump rhetoric on carbon tax opponents, the BC Liberals claim David Eby is in a conflict of interest, and a crazy proposal to curb Alberta oil supply. Also, we cover Trudeau’s immigration plan and what could help workers in our economy.
Recorded Date: November 3, 2018
Release Date: November 4, 2018
Edit Notes: Internet drop before BC start.
Podcast Summary Notes