Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama formally proposing “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” if that is what’s needed to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through America’s heartland, CBC News has learned.
Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.
The letter, sent in late August, is a clear signal Canada is prepared to make concessions to get the presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.’s controversial $7-billion pipeline, which will connect the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas.
Liberals, you see, are quite sure every Canadian is a Liberal whose vote was stolen by Conservative skullduggery in the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2011. Canadians, in this view, think marijuana use is harmless fun, and they will blame politicians who want to harsh the national buzz. So a Liberal friend of mine was genuinely surprised when she plunked herself down behind the Liberal party table at a local community event and got her ear bent by voters, many of them from immigrant communities, asking why Trudeau was soft on drugs.Ja
The realization that many Canadians believe illegal drugs should stay illegal is one surprise awaiting the Liberals. Another is that a lot more Canadians have complex, conflicting or frankly hypocritical views on drug policy— but that it’s not drug policy that will determine their next vote. Millions will vote based on their best guess about which party will best ensure a strong economy whose bounties improve their own life and their family’s. And Justin Trudeau just spent a month talking about something else.
This is something else that Liberals cannot understand: the notion that most Canadians are no longer properly grateful for the work Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin did to clean up deficits in the 1990s. In fact, a growing number of Canadians, even the ones who don’t smoke a lot of pot, have dim memories of the 1990s or none at all.
This helps explain a Harris-Decima poll from the end of August that inquired about respondents’ opinions of the national political parties. Trudeau’s net favourable impression is way higher than Harper’s and a fair bit higher than NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s. Respondents were likelier to believe Trudeau “shares your values.” He’s having a strong year in the polls. But Harper still has a slight edge over both Trudeau and Mulcair on “judgment,” and on “economic management” it was a blowout: 39 per cent prefer Harper to only 20 per cent for Trudeau and 15 per cent for Mulcair.
Trudeau hasn’t the faintest intention of campaigning in the 2015 election with pot legalization as his main plank. But changing deep-seated attitudes toward a party takes time. And because the Liberals took two years to pick a leader after the 2011 elections, Trudeau only has three summers to define himself before facing voters, and he pretty much just blew one.
For much the same reason, I’m not sure Tom Mulcair picked the right issue when he used part of his summer to travel coast-to-coast campaigning for Senate abolition. For reasons explained elsewhere in this issue, Canadians are angry at the Senate right now. That’s not the same as believing any party has the ability, once in power, to do much about it. His Senate tour illustrates a little-noticed difference between Mulcair and his predecessor Jack Layton. Layton came from Toronto city politics. He hadn’t the faintest interest in constitutional tinkering. The NDP stood for abolishing the Senate, as it always had, and Layton never talked about it. Mulcair comes from Quebec provincial politics, where a generation grew up believing that if you have no constitutional scheme to peddle you cannot be serious.
Layton’s prosaic fascination with voters’ kitchen-table preoccupations helped him supplant the Liberals as the first choice for voters eager to block the Conservatives. Next time around that vote will be up for grabs again. Mulcair and Trudeau both plan to try to take Harper’s economic credibility away from him. They haven’t gotten around to it yet, but they believe they have time. Harper’s opponents always believe they have plenty of time.
I forgot to post this but we had a great interview with the Leader of the Opposition Cam Broten the other night. The interview went well, the behind the scenes did not.
Last year I was at Cam’s house for a meeting (he is my MLA) and his wife Ruth made these cookies that everyone was raving about. The plate went around and ran out before it got to me (am pretty sure Frank Quesnell took two). I was sitting right beside Cam so I couldn’t really make a run at the cookies while he was talking. The cookies were so good that their goodness actually interrupted the meeting as people savoured the cookies.
Later Ruth came out with batch number two of the cookies but Cam declined then and because of sitting arrangements, the guy next to me got the cookies and the scene was reversed. Long story short, everyone went on and on about how awesome the cookies were. I went home and made a note of never sitting beside a politician if there are cookies being served.
Cam showed up for the podcast with a bribe, some fresh out of the oven cinnamon buns made by Ruth. I was momentarily excited and then I realized that I had a MacBook in front of me and computers but cinnamon buns do not mix. As soon as the podcast was done, Sean Shaw made a move for them but only took one of the two containers. I scared Hilary off when I pulled a cutting torch out of my bad and pretended to head towards her bike.
There I was, the last cinnamon bun. If I had worked fast, it could have been mind then but we were driving to the Rook and Raven in Shaw’s new Volkswagen and if I had gotten it sticky, he would have made me walk home.
After some beverages (Diet Coke), I make it home, open my bag and before I can pull out the cinnamon bun Wendy grabs it and eats it. Says it was the best cinnamon bun she ever had in her life. I have never been so betrayed.
I went to the fridge, gagged back a glass of V8 and went to bed.
You can listen to our podcast with Cam below. I’m off to find something to eat.
The Speaker of the Legislature, Dan D’Autremont had a party to unveil his office renovations which I am told feature a lot of dead African animals. He didn’t just have a regular party but a dress-up party featuring MLAs. It’s like we have elected a group of 12 year olds to run the province. Thanks to Murray Mandryk for sharing this.
In the next few years, as Washington looks to cut spending across the board, the public’s aversion to homelessness could contribute to its return. We have seen that some constituents have successfully lobbied to overturn some parts of the sequester, such as the FAA cuts. But the homeless population has notoriously low voter turnout, and certainly has little money to spare for campaign contributions. They are unlikely to have much power in an age of austerity and there seems to be little recognition or reward to be gained for politicians by serving the homeless.
As quietly as homelessness has fallen, so too it will go up quietly – unless there is major intervention. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that sequestration cuts from homelessness programs are set to expel 100,000 people from a range of housing and shelter programs this year. That’s nearly one sixth of the current total homeless population. Far from gently raising the homeless rate, it would undo a full decade of progress.
In a lot of cities, politicians are unreachable and need to be lobbied. Saskatoon isn’t like that as we have a culture of approachable politicians at the civic and provincial level. How approachable are they? Well some even troll citizens. Check out this tweet by my city councillor.
— Darren Hill (@darrenhill1) August 24, 2013
Of course the background was that I have been criticizing council (and Darren Hill) for voting for six lanes on the bridge when the city’s own report says it isn’t going to be necessary. We have been taking lots of shots at him (and others) on Twitter and in person for the bridge and last night he replied with that tweet which made me burst out laughing.
Some politicians take their jobs and their positions very seriously but its good to see some of them being able to laugh and make fun of themselves and in their case, troll those that disagree with them, even if the 6 lane North Commuter Bridge is still a bad idea.
These were some of the replies
— Hilary. (@theotherHilary) August 24, 2013
— Jordon Cooper (@JordonCooper) August 24, 2013
— Hilary. (@theotherHilary) August 24, 2013
— Hilary. (@theotherHilary) August 24, 2013
His body is his temple: no pollutants shall enter. When the Trudeau family wants some kicks, they all crowd into a canoe and go floating down the nearest river (where photographers just happen to pop up to record the occasion). Between family outings he installs dimmer switches in their typically suburban home, wearing his typical weekend garb of T-shirt and cargo shorts, (carefully recording it on Twitter, if a video crew doesn’t happen by.)
Raising the question: is this guy really one of us? He has no vices. He never enters the sort of places most average Canadians hang out. If he was somehow forced to visit a Timmies, he’d order a dry multigrain bagel and a small green tea. Remember when Stephane Dion was accused of eating a hot dog with a knife and fork? He never did connect with voters.
Seriously, the core of the emerging Liberal strategy is to position Justin Trudeau as a representative of a younger generation of middle class Canadians, in tune with their needs, concerns and aspirations. But, four months into his leadership, he seems about as middle class as Michael Bloomberg. He’s the millionaire son of a famous Canadian, who grew up with a trust fund and earned $277,000 in four years just giving speeches. He’s been in the public eye since birth. His wife is a model and TV host. You couldn’t sit down with him to discuss the issues over a beer or a coffee. Does he really understand what it is to deal with student debt, a hefty mortgage, maxed-out credit cards, an obnoxious boss or the simple, excruciating struggle to find a job?
Of course Bloomberg became a pretty good mayor of New York City and the same could be said about Trudeau’s father who ran on the idea of a just society.
I keep being asked why Saskatoon roads are so bad and the answer can be found in this chart which comes from a 2011 report on roads
As you can see, from 2000 to 2003 we used to fix hundreds of thousands of metres of local roadways. Then when Don Atchison was elected in 2003, you will notice a (downward trend) until we pretty much stopped doing any road repair on our local roads. You can only do this for some many years and eventually our roads look like they do now.
The paved street network in Saskatoon has an estimated replacement value of $1 billion. The City of Edmonton, in their 2010 Infrastructure Report, stated that funding for paved streets should be at least 2 per cent of the replacement value each year. For Saskatoon’s network this would be $20 million per year. The City of Edmonton has a roadway network that is almost four times the size of Saskatoon’s. Their 2011 budget for roadway and sidewalk preservation is approximately $235 million. Edmonton plans to replace all the roads and sidewalks (five to seven neighbourhoods per year) over the next three years. Some of this work is funded through a tax levy which is 1.5 per cent of the replacement value of their road network, or approximately $50 million annually. The City of Regina’s roadway network is approximately 15 per cent smaller than Saskatoon’s. Their 2011 budget for roadway and sidewalk preservation is approximately $18 million. Regina has an extensive sidewalk replacement program, and many of the walks are replaced when the roadway is replaced. Regina funds all walk replacements with local improvements that generate over $3-million of their $18-million budget annually. The current roadway and sidewalk preservation budget for the City of Saskatoon is $7-million the budget would have to be increased by over $21-million. To meet the same funding level per square metre as Edmonton, the budget would have to be increased by approximately $80 million.
The decision to focus on the primary roadways was all of councils but it has been apparent that it is a failed strategy for the last couple of years and yet the city does nothing about it, that is where the frustration comes in for me. I have heard almost every city councillor say, “we keep hearing about road on the doorstep and yet when it came budget time, almost no new money was spent on roads because the tax rate increase had to stay under 5%. Governance by tax rates rarely turns out well, especially when your road costs rise by 15% every year.
Which leads us back to this: Be it resolved, there is now a single homogeneous Canadian political culture, expressed via the three main party shadings. How long until platforms themselves become irrelevant? Partisans will argue their own beloved expression of Canadian liberal democracy is not only best, but distinct – as the Tories, Grits and NDP were a generation or two ago, when they disagreed about country-changing issues such as North American free trade, in 1988, or membership in NATO, in 1968.
But tick through the list of assumptions at the heart of the state today – from socialized health care to capital punishment, abortion or free trade, deficits or tax rates – and you find unanimity. The Conservatives must be for gay rights, or be written off as reactionary by the majority. The New Democrats must be for industry and thrift, or be written off as loopy dreamers by that same majority.
This convergence can create a mash-up, as political parties struggle to create differentiation amid their essential drab sameness. Thus, John Baird’s defence of gay rights in Russia doesn’t go far enough, says the NDP’s Paul Dewar. He must crank it up to 11, like the guitar amplifier in Rob Reiner’s Spinal Tap. The Liberals, meantime, are beginning a two-year effort to implant the idea, by every means other than saying it, that they can be more conservative than the Conservatives when it comes to economics, and more new and democratic than the New Democrats when it comes to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. “Tough on crime” is still exclusive Conservative territory – but only because it’s one of the few old planks they haven’t ditched in the hunt for centrist votes. And, to be frank, it’s not popular enough for the other parties to bother to steal.
Taken together, this still-unfolding spectrum collapse sets up a contest of almost pure personality in 2015. Through the next 24 months, Harper will seek to recast himself as more constructive; Mulcair, happier; and Trudeau, more solid. The ad war will be personal as never before, culminating in televised debates understood by all to be winner-take-all. And the pollsters, perhaps as never before, will be flying blind. Interesting times.
The Conservative government’s defence of gay rights abroad appears to have sharply divided Canadian conservatives. Some say it’s a natural fit for a government that has made the promotion of human rights on the world stage a priority, and aligns with the priorities and values of Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.
“It’s just the right thing to do, to stand up for the rights of the individual no matter what country they live in,” said Stephen Taylor, director of the conservative National Citizens Coalition. But others have warned it will cost Prime Minister Stephen Harper support from within his own party.
“I’ve already seen some feedback from some of the conservative, the real conservative base,” said Brian Rushfeldt, president of the right-wing advocacy group Canada Family Action. “I think the potential of Harper and the Conservatives losing some support is very real.”
Even Conservative MPs are divided over the issue, which on the surface appears to be an outlier among many other foreign policy positions the Tories have adopted since coming to power.
“We’ve got much more important things to be doing in terms of a foreign affairs agenda along the lines of trade and health issues and various other issues that we can help these countries in,” said Conservative backbencher Maurice Vellacott. “So I don’t think we have to be promoting that in other countries. We have far too much and far more important things to be doing.”
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird refused to say Friday whether he was worried Conservative members and supporters will turn against the government over the issue.
I am not sure that Vellacott speaks for many others than himself on this issue. Even the right wing Toronto Sun is speaking out in favour of John Baird.
Canada is a defender of human rights. Full stop.
That’s pretty much our response to REAL Women of Canada picking a fight with John Baird.
The foreign affairs minister has recently spoken out against the oppression of gay people in various countries — such as Uganda, with their proposed “kill the gays” bill.
REAL Women don’t like that. They think Canada has no business poking around in Uganda’s affairs — despite the fact we send them tens of millions in aid every year.
They also don’t like Baird chastising Russia for their bizarre new law against non-traditional lifestyle propaganda — whatever that means.
What it seems to mean is that gay people could be arrested for waving a flag, writing their opinions or having a parade.
Well, sorry ladies, but Canadian athletes will soon be heading to Russia and we should do all we can to make sure they compete and come home safe and sound.
Telling other countries what to do and wading into their social issues should be kept to a minimum. But sometimes you’ve just got to stand up for your values. And persecuting people because of their religion, gender, sexual orientation and so on, is one of the things we oppose as Canadians.
And there you have the problem of the religious right in Canada. They scream loud and clear when someone they agree with is persecuted but if that person doesn’t, they don’t even want them protected and everyone sees that. I have no problem in having a belief system but no one deserves to persecuted for theirs.
North Carolina’s radical change of direction — along with growing protests by thousands of citizens every Monday – has caught the attention of the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, the Nation, Slate and, probably, many other national media outlets. It’s been embarrassing to many citizens of what is, in truth, a politically moderate state.
Newspaper editorial pages have decried the illogical actions by the General Assembly. Many of the liberal websites have. Some news stories have raised a metaphorical eyebrow over some of the actions — WRAL is particularly good, I think. But I wish more of the mainstream news stories would have called bullshit earlier and more often. If there is anything the news media needs to do to distinguish themselves from the pack — and make themselves valuable to their readers — it is to demand the truth from the powerful. Enough with the even-handed “he said, she said” presentation.
* Republicans say that the new voter ID plans are to cut out voter fraud. “Voter fraud is still very real in this state,” Sen. Ralph Hise of Madison County said. Actually, no, it isn’t. At least not that anyone has proved. But legislators say that it does without citing any substantiation, and it’s often printed. Every news story should follow the voter fraud claim with the facts. And, of course, reducing the number of days for early voting and eliminating straight-ticket voting do nothing to reduce voter fraud.
* We now have a bill, soon to become law, that bans Sharia law in North Carolina’s courts. Here is Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson, the bill’s sponsor: “Unfortunately we have judges from time to time … that sometimes seem to forget what the supreme law of the land is, that sometimes make improper rulings.” Wild, huh? Where and when did that happen in North Carolina? (Never.) So, why specifically is it coming up?
This feature documentary retraces the century of haggling by successive federal and provincial governments to agree on a formula to bring home the Canadian Constitution from England. This film concentrates on the politicking and lobbying that finally led to its patriation in 1982. Five prime ministers had failed before Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau took up the challenge in the early 1970s. Principal players in this documentary are federal Minister of Justice Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister Trudeau, 10 provincial premiers and a host of journalists, politicians, lawyers, and diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic.
This was an incredible documentary to watch. One of the best things I have seen in the last couple of years.