ARE CARBON TAXES A TAX OR CASH GRAB?

Are Carbon Taxes a Tax or Cash Grab? It depends on how it’s implemented. Some politicians don’t even consider it a tax.

But, my first question is Who’s Paying? According to Trudeau: “major carbon polluters in this country face no consequences”, and “we should make the companies that are polluting responsible for their pollution — by paying.” (d) However, if the people are paying the carbon tax then the regular people are paying, not the companies.
You could say that the people are the polluters (although that’s not what Trudeau et al is saying) and the purpose is to get the people to transition to clean energy. But, even if all the people of Canada did transition off fossil fuel, the companies would still be polluting because they would still be extracting oil and gas, refining, etc. and sending it out of country.

A carbon tax “is a fee based on the amount of carbon in a fossil fuel. Fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal contain carbon. When burned they release the potent green house gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), into the atmosphere. The fee is based on the tonnes of carbon dioxide the fuel would generate, and it would be collected at the earliest point of entry into the economy — well, mine or port.” (a) The fee will increase every year. The tax is then passed on in the price of the products purchased such as gas. Note that the “fee is based on the amount of carbon in a fossil fuel ” (a) and, to my knowledge, does not take into consideration toxic tailing ponds, polluted soil and water, abandoned wells, etc.

Purpose: “With Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation, it is clear to citizens that prices for fossil fuels will go up every year. Part of their motivation is to save as much of their dividend check as possible rather than spending it on more expensive fossil fuels. They can do this by changing over to energy efficient lighting and appliances, upgrading their insulation or windows, replacing that old oil furnace with a geothermal heat pump, etc. When it comes time to get another vehicle, they would consider one that gets better gas mileage or an all-electric vehicle. They can then buy clean electricity (where available) through their utility to charge their car, getting them off fossil fuels altogether. The motivation is to reduce cost in the years to come. The same is true for investors and for fossil fuel companies: as the fee increases, and the cost of doing business rises with it, the rising dividend will ensure that the true cost of doing business will be paid by those in that business. It will extend the lifetime of a valuable non-renewable resource in Canada: petroleum, which is a critical component of many industrial processes and every items.” (a)

If all the tax collected goes back to the people in the form of a dividend then the carbon tax is not a tax or cash grab. It is revenue-neutral. And, as commenter Paul Lailey noted, that includes the GST.

HOWEVER: I expect the politicians will pervert this as they do everything else. For example, they may use the carbon tax to increase transit, ‘green’ public buildings, etc. That is not to say that these things should not be done but it should come out of general revenue. Otherwise, the carbon tax is a cash grab, a new sales tax and it is not revenue neutral. Nor should the carbon tax be used to help businesses transition to renewable energy or to buy more energy efficient fridges (see future post How the Rich Get Richer, Loblaws/Westons), or for the ‘greening’ of the tarsands (what an oxymoron). Again, this is not to say that loans/grants shouldn’t be given to companies who ‘need’ the money, such as renewable energy start-ups, but it should come out of general revenue.

Some provinces are already using the carbon tax as a tax/cash grab, including at least one (BC) that had promised it would be revenue neutral. (c)

Since the politicians cannot be trusted to use the carbon tax as they promise, and if they want to convince me that the plan is not a scam, I need to see:
– the government create a section, either on the the federal website (www.canada.ca) or a link from there to a separate website to provide details on the carbon tax
– the money collected in a separate fund, and, in law, cannot be used for anything but refunding directly to the regular people, by dividend, every penny the regular people paid in and the money cannot be put into general funds at some point in the future
– a detailed plan outlining how much emissions, specific to carbon taxes, are expected to be reduced in each year, and by each sector (for example, household emissions, personal car emissions, tarsands emissions, etc.).
– an update each year showing how much of the emissions reduction target was achieved
– how much solar, wind and battery prices, etc. are expected to come down without carbon tax vs with the carbon tax. I want to be convinced that the carbon tax isn’t a delaying tactic where the politicians just increase the carbon tax each year, while reducing the cost of oil/gas (see next post for more on this) until the market does what it was going to do without carbon tax which is reduce the cost of renewable energy below fossil fuel. The politicians, of course, will take credit for, in essence, doing nothing.
– A list of exactly how much money was collected from the carbon tax and its specific source such as oil/gas companies and other carbon intensive companies, other businesses and the people (gas, home heating, etc.)
– how much was paid to the people in dividends – how did the government calculate dividends for single people, families of four or six, etc.
– If money is given to businesses, from a carbon tax payment that could not be passed on to citizens, there should be a specific description and appropriate reason on how it will be spent (available for viewing by citizens of Canada). There should be a follow-up to ensure the money was spent appropriately. Some businesses should be expected to bare the cost of reducing emissions as a cost of doing business. For example, if a business retrofits to reduce energy emissions and energy costs, they should not receive citizens dollars and pocket savings in energy costs.
– how much money was returned to companies, why and which companies
– how much carbon tax is being charged on the carbon intensive companies, who are being exempted and why
– details on what the provinces are doing

The federal government has talked about doing some of these things such as preparing a detailed plan but I not aware of it being anything more than words. If you read the auditor general’s report you will find that the federal and provincial governments have a mishmash of targets, baseline years, etc. “As a result, it was unclear how the federal, provincial, and territorial governments would measure, monitor, and report on their individual contributions to meeting Canada’s national 2030 target. Many governments did not have detailed implementation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For the most part, auditors found that governments’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consisted of high-level goals, with little guidance on how to implement actions. Details often missing from the plans included timelines, estimates of the reductions expected from individual action items, and information about funding.” (b)
An audit in lieu of the website would not be acceptable as the government sets the terms of the audit and the government is too ‘cosy’ with the auditors (see future post How the Rich Get Richer, Part ?).

This website would also allow us to ensure that the carbon tax does not get incorporated into general revenue. Once the carbon tax has fulfilled its role of transitioning people to a low carbon economy, or the market does it despite the politicians, then the carbon tax should be eliminated. Although, I am sure it will be hard to pry the money from the parasitic hands of the politicians (whatever brand).

I want the carbon tax to work. Hell, I’m onboard for pretty much anything that will work to reduce carbon emissions and give us a low-carbon world. But does it make sense to have a carbon tax while you are subsidizing the oil & gas industry? Why not just eliminate the oil/gas subsidies and their costs will go up. So, the politicians will have to prove to me that this is not just another scam.

Will the politicians set up a website, with the details of the carbon tax? I don’t think so. We have a right to this information but they don’t like transparency. It interferes with their corruption.

(a) Carbon Fee and Dividend – Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
(b) Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada – A Collaborative Report from Auditors General – March 2018
(c) Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is revenue neutral..for now. – Neil Macdonald, 24 April 2019, CBC News
(d) Trudeau defends price on pollution in anti-carbon tax – John Paul Tasker, 13 Sept 2018, CBC News

HOW MUCH ARE WE PAYING THE OIL AND GAS CORPORATIONS TO TAKE OUR RESOURCES

As a Canadian citizen, I’m asking how much are we paying for (enslaved to) the oil and gas corporations?  And why are we paying all these subsidies to/for the corporations?

Some people put fossil fuel subsidies at about $3.3 billion per year. (e)(s)  Plus, an additional “$2.89 billion into financing fossil fuels production”. (x)  Some of this is paid for by provincial governments and some by the federal government.  I suspect the cost to Canadians is much higher.   And that’s without including $5.3 billion in subsidies for LNG Canada’s new Kitimat megaproject (cc), or the $8 – $12 BILLION support provided by the Export Development Corporation to the oil and gas industry (k), the $5.4 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline or the billions for its expansion.

A few examples of subsidies:

Infrastructure – roads, bridges, drinking water, generation facilities, power lines, substations, etc.  

Government grants and contributions – the grant money will never be paid back to Canadians; for example: numerous research chairs, in fossil-fuel-related areas, at post-secondary institutions (j) “Numerous provincially-funded institutes and funding envelopes.”

A Future Alberta article (j) lists the following, presumably most, or all, are grants, and their purpose:  $61 million, $26 million, $75 million + $75 million, $10 million + $10 million, $50 million, $440 million, $70 million, $13.5 + 15.3 million, $10 million, $8.2 million, $2.4 million, $1.9 million, $1 million, $1 million, $1 million, $1 million, $1 million, $950,000, $322,000 and, as the article says, the list of subsidies goes on… $1 billion on a series of grants and loan guarantees to build two to five partial oil upgraders.” (o) In all, Alberta is providing more than $3 billion in support for crude oil and bitumen partial upgrading and petrochemical upgrading. (q)                          Rachel Notley also signed a $3.7-billion contract to lease 4,400 railway cars to carry oil by rail. (aa) “But United Conservative leader Jason Kenney… has vowed to cancel the oil-by-rail contracts”. (y)

The Alberta government is giving “more than $2.3 billion in assistance to companies in the oil and gas sector” to cut methane emissions. (ff)  The Government of Canada has a “similar methane reduction commitment”, although the article does not say the cost of the federal program.(ff)

$50 million is being given through the federal Clean Growth Program. (i) (mm)

Titanium Corp., which developed technology to extract valuable minerals from oilsands waste, received a $40-million grant last month to help with its work remediating oil-sands tailings. Canadian Natural Resources, an Alberta oil-and-gas producer, got $22.3 million in March to help buy a new steam turbine to power its facilities in the Athabasca oilsands. (ss)

Government loans or loan guarantees at favourable rates –  Many, or all, of the loans may disappear without payment.  And, there is rarely any mention of how ‘favourable’ the interest rates are on the loans so Canadians may also have to pay for the interest cost of lending the money.                   

$235 million in loans has been given for orphan well clean-up. (p) “about $1 billion in commercial financing incentives through Export Development Canada (EDC), $500 million over three years in Business Development Bank of Canada financing to support smaller, ‘higher risk but viable’ fossils stay in business, and almost all of it in loans. (i)  The EDC has loaned up to $14.1 billion to the largest tarsands/oilsands corporations from January 2010 to July 2019 (oo); these corporations are making huge profits.(z)

Resources sold by government at below-market rates – “Alberta has long been criticized for having royalty rates among the lowest in the world” (gg)(kk)(nn) but Alberta thinks their rates are fair. (jj)                                                    

Research and development funding – for example:  The Government of Canada is investing $1.5 billion in a Oceans Protection Plan (n) in response to Kinder Morgan  pipeline court case (r) + 61.5 million + 167.4 million to protect the whales (mostly from the tankers). (g)  A lot of research and development funding is for oil sands “development and innovation” and “greening” and also falls under grants. (bb) 

Government intervention in markets to lower prices

Measures which reduce taxes payable – such as accelerated capital cost allowance of $14.4 billion (this includes other businesses besides oil and gas), (u)(f) various tax credits , tax exemptions and rebates.  For example:  Investment tax credit (ITC), Scientific research and experimental development credit (SR&ED), Atlantic Investment tax credit; plus, Canadian Development Expense – $1.018 Billion, Canadian Exploration Expense – $148 million, Crown Royalty Reductions – $1.161 billion, Deep Drilling Credit – 127 million (s)  B.C’s deep well credit of $5 billion over the last 10 years (v)

Pipelines – The $5 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline; the twinning of the pipeline for unknown billions more.

“Alberta’s NDP government has entered a 20-year agreement with TransCanada to ship 50,000 barrels of oil per day down the Keystone XL pipeline, to the U.S. (w) This is because “TransCanada can’t even get shipper agreements to fill Keystone XL,” Rubin said. “Shipper’s agreements are like long-term supply contracts which you need to get before you finance a pipeline.”  Albertans will be required to pay for any shortfall in the shipments.

Cleanup of orphan wells – which will cost between $58 to $260+ BILLION and that cost is growing. (a)   Canadians have already paid at least $30 million towards the cleanup. (a)  “Kenny proposes to … ask the federal government — taxpayers — to provide ‘tax incentives and financial support’ for energy corporations facing cleanup costs”.  (c)

All the costs of running various government departments, boards, agencies, commissions and research facilities to service the oil and gas industry.   These costs would include $31 million to promote the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion; (dd) and, now Kenney has a war room in the department of energy to fund ads/propaganda on behalf of the oil and gas industry. (ee) $80-million will be spent on this war room “to defend Canada’s energy industry from criticism”.  (l)

Some people would include all, or part, of the cost of air/water/soil pollution, plus more frequent and intense extreme weather, climate change impacts of fires, floods, funeral bills/hospital visits from heat waves/air pollution/fires, droughts, building seawalls, loss of shoreline, weakened infrastructure, increase costs in industries from farming to energy production and other costs of climate change currently being shouldered by the regular people.

The federal government announced investments of $22 billion to build climate resistant infrastructure, including $2 billion for a Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund“. (qq)

Remember, the subsidies listed above are just a few examples of what the regular people are giving to the tarsands/oilsands/gas corporations.  All, while Alberta’s biggest oil companies are raking in billions in profit. (z)

The politicians haven’t even been tracking how much was going into subsidies, much less if it amounted to a net benefit for Canadians.  In 2017, ‘auditor general Michael Ferguson said he tried to test the progress being made on phasing out the subsidies but blasted the government for refusing to provide documents that would allow him to do so’. (t)  When “Canada’s Auditor General told the federal government that it had to start tracking its subsidies to the fossil fuel industries” (and that would be the Liberals very limited definition of a subsidy), the Liberals said “it may not be made public” (k), in other words it won’t be.  The same thing is happening in B.C.; As Ben Parfitt reports “in an ominous development, our government says we are not even entitled to know how much the government actually subsidizes individual energy companies. (ll)

In 2018/19 the Auditor General’s office at least got to audit the Department of Finance.  They found that “Department of Finance Canada’s assessments to identify inefficient tax subsidies for fossil fuels were incomplete, and that advice it provided to the Minister was not based on all relevant and reliable information”, “did not clearly define how a tax subsidy for fossil fuels would be inefficient”, and so on. (pp)  In short, it was pretty much a farce.

Firstly, that tells us they have something to hide, and secondly, this is not democracy.  In a democracy the public has a right to know who their money is going to, how much and for what purpose.  Thirdly, it says that if they have to hide the total of the subsidies we are paying  then we, the regular Canadians, are getting very little, or, I suspect, we are paying, from what little we have, the oil and gas companies to take our resources, line their pockets, pollute our environment, and make us suffer and die.

And Trudeau had just continued a long trend.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, saying taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be used to harm the planet.

He said: ‘Many people still think that to give fossil fuel subsidies is a way to improve living conditions of people.

‘Nothing (could be) more wrong. What we are doing is to use taxpayers’ money, which means our money, to boost hurricanes, to spread drought, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals, in one word: to destroy the world.’” (rr)

 

 

 

(a)  Alberta regulator privately estimates oilpatch’s financial liabilities are hundreds of billionsMike De Souza, Carolyn Jarvis, Emma McIntosh & David Bruser, 01 Nov 2018, National Observer
(b) Here’s How Canada’s Oil Sands Could Collapse by 2030 – Geoff Dembicki, 14 Aug 2017, VICE
(c)  Both Notley and Kenney Hiding from a $260-Billion Cleanup Problem – Andrew Nikiforuk, 01 Apr 2019, TheTyee.ca
(d)  How NOT to Fix Alberta’s Hurting Jobs Economy – Gil McGowan, 11 Apr 2019, TheTyee.ca
(e)  LASER TALKS:  Fossil Fuel Subsidies – 06 Feb 2018, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
(f)   Fall fiscal update earmarks in excess of $17-billion in new spending over six years – Ethan Rotberg, 21 Nov 2018, Globalnews
(g)  Government of Canada takes further action to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales – Government of Canada
(h)  Environmental groups call subsidies to fossil fuel industry an ‘anti-carbon tax’ – Bob Weber, 15 Nov 2016, National Observer
(i)  Alberta Pans New 1.65B Fossil Lifeline from Ottawa –  Phil Heidenreich and Karen Bartko, 19 Dec 2018, GlobalNews
(j)  Government funding for oil sands R&D – date (after 06 Feb 2019), Future Alberta
(k) The $10-billion dollar elephant in the room – 08 Jun 2018, Above Ground
(l)  Alberta’s UCP reveal platform that would reduce spending, replace carbon tax with levy on large emitters – Justin Giovannetti, 30 Mar 2019, Globe and Mail
(m) New Study:  Fossil fuel subsidies undermine carbon pricing in Canada, Environmental Defence, 15 Nov 2016, Cision
(n) Inside Ottawa’s rush to dispute science before pipeline approvals – Carl Meyer, 16  Oct 2017, National Observer
(o)  1B upgrader plan aimed at getting Alberta off boom – Todd Coyne, 26 Feb 2018, CBC News
(p)  Orphan oil and gas wells adopted by rookie Alberta energy company founder – Dan Healing, 25 Aug 2017, National Observer
(q)  Made-in-Alberta Plan Moves $2-billion Investment Forward – pmnationtalk, 23 Jan 2019, NationTalk
(r) On the Record:  Why the Court Overturned the Pipeline Approval – Tyee staff, 30 Aug 2018, TheTyee.ca
(s)  Unpacking Canada’s Fossil Fuel Subsidies – International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
(t)  Canada’s billions in fossil fuel subsidies to go under the microscope – Mia Rabson, 15 Jun 2018, National Observer
(u)  Highlights of Bill Morneau’s 2018 fiscal update – Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press, 21 Nov 2018, CBC News
(v)  How BC’s Gas Giveaway Fuels Alberta’s Oilsands – Ben Parfitt, 08 Aug 2018, TheTyee.ca
(w) Alberta’s Notley government signs on as Keystone XL customer – Tom Vernon, 18 Jan 2018, Global News
(x) Rebuilding Fort Mac, and Our Energy Economy –  Crawford Kilian, 09 May 2016, TheTyee.ca
(y) Cenovus swings to profitability but frets over Kenney’s oil-by-rail cancellation threat – Geoffrey Morgan, 24 Apr 2019, Financial Post
(z) How Alberta’s biggest oil companies are still raking in billions – Sharon J. Riley, 12 Jun 2019, The Narwhal
(aa) Alberta’s election platforms compared:  Where the NDP and UCP stand on everything from child care to carbon taxes –  Justin Giovannetti, 12 Apr 2019, The Globe and Mail
(bb) Can technology lower the carbon footprint of Canada’s oilsands? – James Wilt, 19 Mar 2018, National Observer
(cc) LNG Canada project called a ‘tax giveaway’ as B.C. Approves massive subsidies – Sarah Cox, 03 Oct 2018, The Narwhal\
(dd) Alberta has spent $31 million promoting Trans Mountain pipeline expansion –  Kevin Maimann, 31 Aug 2018, The Star
(ee) Kenney and Scheer vow to fight ‘lies’ of oil and gas opponents –  Drew Anderson, Helen Pike, 25 Oct 2018, CBC News
(ff) Alberta giving oil/gas producers $2.3 billion over 5 years to cut methane gas emissions – Jude Hislop, 25 Apr 2018, EnergiMedia
(gg) Are Albertans collecting a fair share of oilsands wealth? – James Wilt, 14 Aug 2018, The Narwhal
(hh) Alberta’s Problem Isn’t Pipelines:  It’s Bad Policy Decisions – Andrew Nikiforuk, 23 Nov 2018, TheTyee.ca
(ii) Revealed:  oil giants pay billions less tax in Canada than abroad – Martin Lukacs, 26 Oct 2017, The Guardian
(jj) Oilpatch-friendly royalty system takes effect in Alberta – Kyle Bakx, 03 Jan 2017, CBC News
(kk) Comparing royalty rates in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Texas and North Dakota – Tracy Johnson, 20 May 2016, CBC News
(ll) Ben Parfitt: British Columbians shortchanged billions from fossil fuel industry revenues – Ben Parfitt, 27 May 2018, Vancouver Sun
(mm) Oil and Gas Clean Tech Program – Natural Resources Canada, www.nrcan.gc.ca/
(nn) Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Holds Lessons for Canada – Susan Ormiston, 20 Mar  2015, CBC News
(oo)  Fuelling the Oil Sands – 15 Jul 2019, Above Ground
(pp) Report 3 – Tax Subsidies for Fossil Fuels – Department of Finance Canada – Heather Miller, Sylvie Marchand, Tristan Matthews, Suzanne Moorhead, 28 Feb 2019, Auditor General
(qq) Canada’s 7th National Communication and 3rd Biennial Report – Government of Canada, 2017
(rr) Greta Thunberg tells Vienna conference world leaders aren’t doing enough on climate change – Daily Mail, 2019-06-13
(ss) Liberals under fire after announcing more than $12M in Funding to Loblaw – Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, 09 Apr 2019, CTV News

 

 

WHY DID GOOGLE SHUT ME OUT

WHY DID GOOGLE SHUT ME OUT

As past readers of my blog will notice I have a new website location.

Interesting things were happening with Google, which hosted my last website. They let me know that they knew exactly where I was located and even what computer I was using. At one time I happened to use a different computer to access my blog which requires me to enter my email address and password. Because I was using a different computer, Google wanted all sorts of information to prove that I was person to whom the blog belonged, including my phone number, which I had never given them. I decided to wait until I was back at my regular computer. I had never had this issue before when using a different computer.

I was posting my May 6, 2017 post when it quit posting, leaving some of my sources unposted. I contacted Google and asked why I coudn’t post and they said to ‘ask their lawyers’, which I don’t consider a real answer. To my knowledge I had done nothing illegal and I have never received any notification that I had done anything illegal; my blog is still online and nothing was removed, I was just not allowed to post anymore. Curious.

I also found it interesting how fast they acted. I was in the process of posting and they shut me down. Were their lawyers watching my every move? Is being shut down by Google a badge of honour?

But this may have been a pre-emptive strike by Google because they have been concerned that I would write about them and their ‘research’ arm. I will be in a future post.

It has taken me some time but I believe that I have found a website to host my blog that supports people who raise awareness and speak the truth. It is a European website, not a U.S. Website (one more thing off my ‘do not support the U.S.’ list). The Europeans are far ahead of us, and certainly the United States, on protecting citizens privacy.

 

WHY ARE ALBERTANS PROMOTING THE TAR SANDS/OIL SANDS

What I don’t understand is why Albertans are subsidizing the tarsands/oilsands at all, much less with billions and billions of dollars. (j) Even “internal studies by a group of analysts within Shell known as the ‘scenarios’ team had concluded that global demand for oil might peak in as little as a decade—essentially tomorrow in an industry that plans in quarter-century increments”, so Shell is transitioning to the renewable economy. (b) And, to quote Geoff Dembicki’s article “Alberta can transition from oil and gas and have a strong economy” so why don’t Albertans transition to a low-carbon economy; why don’t they let the oil gas business decline. (j)
Some reasons for the governments/Albertans to subsidize/promote the oil/gas industry may appear to be obvious; they want the jobs and the money. But are they really gaining or losing their future (and ours).
Instead of putting the money of Canadians (from the federal and Alberta governments) into the future, the renewable industry, politicians are putting billions of Canadians dollars into the dinosaur, oil and gas industries. (i) Why? Some reasons may be (not in order of priority):

1. Politicians want to protect jobs. Alberta has 140,000 people employed in the oil and gas industry. That is a lot of people. But, ‘thousands of workers in the oil industry have already been displaced as industry moves to automate away their jobs. After the oil price crash in 2014, companies made job-eliminating ‘efficiencies’ a top priority — a trend they have assured their shareholders will continue’. (a)(b)(g)(h) Whereas the renewable is growing in employment.
There will also be a large number of baby boomers in the oil and gas industry retiring. So, why not train the younger generation in the renewable industry and leave the remaining middle-aged people in the oil and gas industry to continue working while the oil and gas industry transitions downward? No one loses their job.
Even a big oil and gas corporation like Shell says: “We know that the tarsands/oilsands will have to end, or at the very least, go into a decline, at some point. The only question is whether it will be in two or three decades, whether they will be a manageable transition downward or whether it will be a deep dive due to changing…… or other factors”. So, if you know this industry will go downhill but the renewable industry will go uphill, why would you invest in the dinosaur industry instead of the new economy? Where’s the logic?”
So, are the politicians backing the oil and gas industries on a false premise?
UN general secretary Sharan Burrow said that there are “no jobs on a dead planet”. “But then dead people, on a dead planet, don’t need to work.” (c)
2. By throwing billions of dollars to the oil and gas industries, the politicians get a lot of photo-ops and may look, to some Canadians, like they are actually doing something positive — they’re not; it’s a con.
3. The oil and gas companies are a few, large companies who, I suspect, put large amounts of money into the pockets of politicians, and provide lucrative after-politics jobs. I believe the renewable sector is many, but smaller, companies, less able or willing to provide the same “service”.
4. NAFTA. I do not think Canada can impede the oil and gas industries under NAFTA or NAFTA 2.0 but the federal and Albertan governments also do not have to support it with subsidies.
5. Didn’t Trudeau say that Canada would become a leader in the renewable sector? Did Washington say No, the U.S. would be the leader? Will the US/Chinese companies control the renewable sector in Canada?
6. The politicians and their one-percenter friends just want large numbers of people to die? After all, with the increasing use of robots, what do they need the normal people for? Better to get rid of them before they cause problems.
7. Is it a distraction from the fact that they have no other plan or vision. Although creating a plan to support the low-carbon economy (other than a few breadcrumbs) is, maybe, too obvious for self-serving politicians
8. The oil and gas industries, some making record profits (c), don’t have enough money and must beg from Canadians.
9. This is a plan by the politicians to raise the GDP so the deficit looks smaller. Putting out forest fires, rebuilding/repairs after fires/floods/high winds, funeral services from heat waves/pollution, etc. all add to the GDP.
10. They just lack the backbone to take on the oil and gas companies.
11. The politicians are in a hurry to drill as many wells as possible because they know that fossil fuel usage is going the way of the dodo bird. But why do it for next to nothing or less than nothing? I have to assume it’s for one of the reasons above or any equally obnoxious reason that I haven’t thought of.
12. The oil and gas industry/banks have major investments in the tarsands/oilsands and they want to squeeze every penny out of that investment, regardless of the cost to regular Canadians. Kevin Taft believes that “’global warming is a death sentence for the fossil fuel industry.’ To delay that sentence, Taft argues that the industry has spent untold millions to capture key democratic institutions including political parties, governments, regulators and universities “. (l)
13. Maybe Albertans like the idea of ending up with billions and billions of dollars of orphan well liabilities, along with polluted water, soil and air.
14. Does Alberta want to be a loser province? When the oil and gas industry declines, which are inevitable, will Alberta have a diversified economy to rely on and will they have missed the new economy? They have, I think, a perfect opportunity to transition to the new economy and they are throwing it away; an opportunity they may never get again. But Kenny, with the support of Albertans and the federal government, is throwing billions of dollars at the tarsands/oilsands while putting road blocks in the way of the new economy.

“British Columbians have seen first-hand the benefits climate leadership brings: international recognition, new clean technology jobs, investment in clean energy and technology, a low-carbon competitive advantage and a healthier environment.
Clean technology companies thrive when faced with the challenge of developing a sustainable business that cuts carbon pollution. Lessons and technology learned at home can then be exported at a profit, in a growing cleantech market now valued at an estimated $2 trillion.
As Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme said in a CBC interview earlier this year, ‘the future markets, the technologies, the energy systems will be low-carbon….Whether you’re building the next pipeline or not…the economy of Canada will not be centred around a fossil-fuel based extractive economy.”’ (d)
But, British Columbia has since taken a major step backward by approving, and subsidizing with billions of dollars, significant carbon emission LNG plants. (e)(f) And, of course, there will not be any future markets if we are all dead.

I’m sure there are some Albertans who want the tarsands/oilsands to transition to the renewable sector. But we rarely hear from them. I recently read about a few groups supporting the transition to the new economy – Student March for Climate, Climate Justice Edmonton (CJE) and Beaver Hills Warriors (m); plus, Iron and Earth, Energy Futures Lab, Oil Change International (j). I applaud these groups for caring about today (multiple fires burning, pollution, flooding, heat waves, etc.) and the (near) future when things will get worse. Usually, all we hear from is people like the ‘convoy’ group with their big trucks, burning lots of oil/gas, travelling across Canada, giving the people of Canada and the world the proverbial finger. (k) Basically, they are saying that they don’t give a damn if the people of Canada/the world suffer and die, as long as Albertans get to keep pumping oil. Amazingly, they don’t seem to understand, or care, that suffering and death will also happen to Albertans.
The premiers of Alberta like to paint the picture of Alberta vs British Columbia but this isn’t true; its Alberta vs the world.

As much as possible, I’ve decided not to buy products from Alberta. It just doesn’t make sense to support people who want to make me and the rest of the world, suffer and die. I have already eliminated Alberta food products because of my concern that they have been grown/fed/on toxic soil/grass. I was looking for a Canadian shampoo and came across one from Alberta but I wouldn’t buy it, and so on. However, I may make an exception if I find the product is from the new economy.

Some people say that other countries might not meet their Paris Agreement commitment so why should we. Because, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the rest of the world to meet our commitment, to do our part, we gave our word and it reflects on our reputation. And if we do our part then we are in a position to encourage others, or embarrass them, into doing their part.

At one point I thought that the effects of climate change wouldn’t really be felt in my lifetime but things are happening faster than anticipated. But it’s the children who will feel the brunt of our greed and narcissism. I don’t understand why parents and grandparents and other relatives/friends don’t get this or why they don’t care.

I am mind-boggled by, what I can only assume to be, the stupidity of the people in Alberta (not all). They want the oil industry; it’s like they are saying – give me a shovel, a backhoe, a whatever, and, as long as I’m being paid now, I will dig my own grave and that of my children and grandchildren (if any are born). Are they brainwashed by the oil industry/politicians, are the media reports just oil industry/political propaganda? But, there is a thing these days called the internet to get a balance of information. Albertans should be out protesting, demanding that the jobs transition to a low-carbon economy – NOW.

I am truly sad and perplexed that Albertans care so little about us and themselves.

 

 

(a) Alberta Is Playing a Dangerous Game with Pipeline Ad Campaign – Mitchell Anderson, 24 Jan 2019, TheTyee.ca
(b) Inside Oil Giant Shell’s Race to Remake Itself For a Low-Price World – Jeffery Ball, 24 Jan 2015, Fortune – pg. 4
(c) How Alberta’s biggest oil companies are still raking in billions – Sharon J. Riley, 12 Jun 2019, The Narwhal
(d) Three Big Questions About British Columbia’s Climate Plan, Merran Smith, 19 Aug, 2016, Climate Energy Canada
(e) BC’s shiny new climate plan: A look under the hood – Policy Note, Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), 17 Dec 2018, Times Colonist
(f) LNG Canada: Short-term politics trumps long-term climate responsibility: Policy Note – Marc Lee, 04 Oct 2018, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
(g) Suncor Energy says driverless trucks will eliminate a net 400 jobs in the oilsands – Dan Healing, 31 Jan 2018, National Observer
(h) Oil’s Boom-and-Bust Cycle May Be Over. Here’s Why – 01 Mar 2018, Harvard Business Review
(i) How Much Are We Paying the Oil and Gas Corporations to Take Our Resources – http://hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
(j) Alberta Can Transition from Oil and Gas and Have a Strong Economy. Here’s How – Geoff Dembicki, 31 Jul 2019, TheTyee.ca
(k) United We Roll protest: Truck convoy arrives at Parliament Hill – Taylor Blewett, 21 Feb. 2019, Ottawa Citizen
(l) Canada’s Petro Paralysis, Diagnosed – Chris Tollefson, 2019-01-28, TheTyee.ca
(m) If Alberta Is The Front Line of Climate Change, Young People Are In The Trenches – Melanie Woods, 17 Aug 2019, HuffPost Canada

ALBERTA SAYS THEY HAVE DONE THEIR PART – HAVE THEY?

Rachel Notley, previous premier of Alberta, released a climate change policy plan and said that Alberta had done its part to gain social licence for a pipeline expansion with the associated tarsands/oilsands expansion.
The plan included “five key pillars:
1) Carbon will be priced economy-wide at $30/tonne by 2018.
2) Coal-fired power plants will be phased out by 2030.
3) Oilsands emissions will be capped at 100 megatonnes (Mt) per year (recent Environment Canada figures predicted a 2020 output of 103 Mt from the sector), which amounts to allowing current construction to go ahead, but that’s it. That means to expand production beyond current projects, per barrel emissions will need to be reduced.
4) Methane emissions from oil and gas operations will be cut by 45 per cent in 2025.
5) 30 per cent of all electricity will be generated by renewables by 2030.”

“Prime Minister Trudeau says Alberta’s 100 million tonne “absolute cap on oilsands emissions” was a key factor in approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion” which will pipe oil from Alberta to B.C.’s coast for export. (b) He is also using this same cap as a reason to “exempt some oilsands projects from environmental assessments”. (c)

So, What has Alberta done?
(1) The carbon price has been removed by new Alberta premier Jason Kenney and Alberta has taken the federal government to court over the federal climate plan. (d) Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reductions (TIER) fund “would target large industrial emitters, requiring them to reduce their emissions intensity — notably, this is different from their total emissions, as it is dependent on economic output — compared to their own recent annual averages”. (i) I suspect this is mostly window-dressing.
(2) “Coal-fired electrical plants which need to close by 2030 under federal law would be allowed to remain open indefinitely if federal rules change. The UCP would require coal facilities after 2030 to be as clean as the most efficient gas-fired plants.” (j)
(3) The 100 Mt limit is “43% above 2015 levels”, so room to expand and pollute. (e) According to a National Observer article the 100 Mt. Limit has very large loopholes. The Electricity co-generation is exempt, the primary oil production is exempt, Upgraders are exempt, all emissions in Saskatchewan are exempt, enhanced recovery is exempt, and experimental schemes are exempt. (h) There are, as yet, no regulations regarding who gets to pollute and who doesn’t when they hit the l00 mt limit. (d) So, as Ian Hussey, research manager at the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta says “Alberta’s oilsands’s emissions cap is not operating in practice”. (i) In other words, so far, it’s just words on paper, a scam “Oil Sands Emissions Limit Act legislating the 100 megatonne emissions cap” is the law` (d) but when the 100 Mt limit has been reached, the “law” can be ignored or changed in a heartbeat. And the emissions numbers can also be “creatively” determined so they stay below 100 Mt.; scientific studies “show that AB oil & gas industry emissions are grossly under-reported”. (d) So, at this point, the “law” is just words on paper. Kenney has said he will remove the cap (j) and has said that he will “rapidly accelerate the approval of new drilling”. (c) But he really has no reason to remove the cap until it reaches the limit. In the meantime it’s a great con to get the pipeline approval and exemptions.
(4) methane gas emission – According to the Pembina Institute if Alberta follows the “federal methane regulations enacted earlier this year by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), they would only reduce methane gas emissions by 36%, not the 45% stated in their climate plan”. (f)
(5) Kenney has said he will “no longer provide subsidies to uneconomic wind and solar power generation”. (f) “Alberta too should get out of the subsidy business to ‘keep the door wide open’ for increasing wind and solar energy projects where they’re affordable.” (g); fine but then quit subsidizing the oil and gas industry because apparently they are not really affordable. (l) The oil and gas subsidies, I suspect, make it harder for renewable projects to be affordable when it’s competing on an uneven playing field. But, maybe that’s intentional.

So, what has Canada really gotten in return for the approval to expand the pipeline: NOTHING
Worse:
(1) We won’t be able to meet our Paris Agreement commitments, and unknown numbers of species, including us, will suffer and many will die
(2) The $4.5 billion cost of the Kinder Morgan pipeline PLUS the unknown billions more for an expansion
(3) Canada’s reputation. Trudeau said “Canada is back my friends”. (k) I thought that we would leaders in carbon emissions reduction and the new economy, exporting our knowledge and technology. Instead, we will be seen as the farcical hypocrites that we are.

And yet, despite the fact that we are getting nothing in return, Trudeau has recently approved the expansion of the pipeline (m). So, when “Prime Minister Trudeau says Alberta’s 100 million tonne “absolute cap on oilsands emissions” was a key factor in approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion” (c) and that the pipeline was necessary to get Alberta into the carbon tax program, he lied, he was conning us; it was just the cover story to get the pipeline expansion built.

Do I think the other parties would do better? NO.

(a) Alberta Climate Announcement Puts End to Infinite Growth of Oilsands – James Wilt, 23 Nov 2015, The Narwhal
(b) ‘Hard cap’ for oilsands climate pollution has loopholes the size of Nova Scotia – Barry Saxifrage, 20 Mar 2018, National Observer
(c) Ottawa will exempt some oilsands projects from environmental assessments – if Alberta keeps its emissions cap – John Paul Tasker, 02 May 2019, CBC News
(d) Alberta’s election platforms compared: Where the NDP and UCP stand on everything from child care to carbon taxes – Justin Giovannetti, 12 Apr 2019, The Globe and Mail
(e) Three years after promising to cap oilsands pollution, Notley government still needs more time – Carl Meyer, 14 Dec 2018, National Observer
(f) Alberta’s methane regulations will fail to meet provincial reduction target – 13 Dec 2018, Pembina Institute
(g) Kenny’s pledge to end wind and solar subsidies would ‘roll back the clock,’ says energy expert – Helen Pike, 22 Feb 2019, CBC News
(h) ‘Hard cap’ for oilsands climate pollution has loopholes the size of Nova Scotia – Barry Saxifrage, 20 Mar 2018, National Observer
(i) Eight environmental issues at stake in the Alberta election (that are not pipelines) – Sharon J. Riley, 10 Apr 2019, The Narwhal
(j) Alberta’s UCP reveal platform that would reduce spending, replace carbon tax with levy on large emitters – Justin Giovannetti, 30 Mar 2019, Globe and Mail
(k) In Paris, Trudeau ‘Here to Help’ but Quiet on New Emissions Targets – Geoff Dembicki, 01 Dec 2015, TheTyee.ca
(l) How Much Are We Paying the Oil and Gas Corporations to Take Our Resources – http://hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
(m) Eight Hard Questions for the PM of Pipelines and Climate Emergency – Michael Harris, 19 Jun 2019, TheTyee.ca

POLITICIANS, BOOTLICKERS AND GROUPTHINK

I’m sure many people have read about Trudeau mocking a person who raised the issue of Indigenous people suffering from mercury poisoning. (a)(b)  Now we all say things ‘off the cuff’ that we regret and Trudeau apologized and returned the $1,600 fee to the person for attending Trudeau’s fundraiser.

But two problems exist:

  1. The federal government had promised ‘that Ottawa would fund the development and construction of a treatment facility for people exposed to mercury-related illnesses in Grassy Narrows’. So far it’s just been words. The poisoning happened 50 years ago. (c)  But the politicians didn’t have a problem giving Weston/Superstore $12 million for a freezer upgrade (d); a company that made net earnings of $800 million in 2018. (e)(i)

Trudeau had time to attend a fundraiser but no time to visit the Grassy Narrows community.  A profitable corporation, a fundraiser versus sick and dying people – politicians priorities are obvious.

  1. I have not read anything about the roomful of ‘people’, who laughed and applauded at Trudeau’s comment, apologizing. Not one of them had the courage, the backbone, the common decency to stand up and say to Trudeau something like ‘Excuse me, Mr. Trudeau, but I believe you need to rethink your comment’ or ‘I don’t think you really heard what the commenter was saying’ or ‘I think you misunderstood the seriousness of the comment’. Instead these fawning, bootlicking, sycophants just laughed and applauded at a mocking comment to a very serious issue; apparently, people suffering and dying is humourous to them.  Maybe they and their families should go drink mercury

And this is certainly not the first time that politicians and their friends found the suffering of regular people to be humourous.  George Kerr, Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 1970, “declared that the Wabigoon river would recover on its own, without a cleanup or intervention. He said it would happen naturally in 12 weeks.  Decades later, in a 2010 eulogy for Kerr, the MP Norman W Sterling said Kerr simply made up the 12-week number, and quoted him as saying: ‘“If I had said it was going to be flushed out in one or two years, they would never have believed me.”’ The anecdote was met with laughter in the Ontario parliament.” (c)  The politicians and their friends just don’t change.

This is also called groupthink.  It prevents different points of view from being expressed.  “Janis (1972) said that groupthink is ‘a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.’ Essentially, people within a group become so consumed with the group, maintaining group cohesiveness, and doing what is important for the group that they themselves lose their ability to think independently and make good, sound judgments.” (f)(g)

The one I recall learning about was the explosion of the U.S. space shuttle Challenger in 1986. “Eager to launch the shuttle on schedule, NASA managers ignored warnings about launching in low temperatures. They also knew of a flaw in the shuttle’s O-rings but did nothing about it. Engineers who first opposed the launch for safety reasons later assented. Seventy-three seconds after the shuttle took off, it burst into pieces, killing all seven of its crew members.” (h)   As I recall, the top bosses didn’t want to hear that there were any problems; they had a ‘window of opportunity’ to launch and they didn’t want to miss it so they weren’t told.  So, what did they gain?  The shuttle blew up, seven people were killed and the U.S. space program was set back a long time because of negative public opinion.  In short, they gained nothing and lost a lot.

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott did not succumb to groupthink (see post Jody Wilson-Raybould and Other Heroes).  They thought independently and made good, sound decisions.  But political leaders, and the handful of people (most not elected) who actually make the decisions, don’t want this, they want sycophants/bootlickers.  And that’s one of the reasons they are soooo good at screwing things up.

And all political parties are the same.

 

(a)  Trudeau to Grassy Narrows Protester:  ‘Thank You Very Much For Your Donation’ – Ryan Maloney, 28 Mar 2019, HuffPost Canada

(b)  Trudeau apologizes to Grassy Narrows protester thanked for ‘donation,’ kicked out of Liberal Party fundraiser – Matt Prokopchuk, 28 Mar 2019, CBC News

(c)  The Warrior Society rises:  how a mercury spill in Canada inspired a movement – Robert Jago, 16 Oct 2018, The Guardian

(d)  Liberals under fire after announcing more than $12M in funding to Loblaw – Mia Rabson, 09 Apr 2019, CTV News

(e)   Loblaws 2018 Annual Report

(f)   Groupthink, Psychology Glossary, Alley Dog.com

(g)  Groupthink, Wikipedia

(h)  What is Groupthink, Definitions and Examples – Communications Studies

 

 

 

 

 

TRUDEAU DOES BUT DOES NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SNC-LAVALIN VIOLATION

Finally, someone in the government determined the obvious.  “Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, contravened Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act through a series of ‘flagrant attempts to influence’ then Justice Minister Jody Wilson‑Raybould to reach an agreement with SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution.” (Andrej Ivanov/Reuters) (a)  Trudeau said that, in essence, he does but does not take responsibility for wrong-doing.  This is the typical two-facedness of a politician, with a couple of exceptions (see post JWR and Other Heroes).  He does not agree “that any contact with the attorney general on this issue was improper”.  (a)  Excuse me, but isn’t that what the issue is all about.

Also, if Trudeau was going to take responsibility, he should have done so months ago and he would still have two decent politicians in his party.  Now, there is no believability to claim to take responsibility; it’s just a political ploy.  And, he is still using the ‘jobs’ excuse even though it has been shown to be a total scam. (b)   In Trudeau’s continued attempts to demean Jody Wilson-Raybould and to cover for his violations, he only demeans himself more.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the ethics commissioner has no authority “to impose sanctions for such a violation”.  In short, the ethics commissioner and his office is pretty much another ‘do-nothing office’, similar to the privacy commissioner’s office.

As for the other eleven people who tried to influence Wilson-Raybould, the “ethics commissioner said he would not investigate them because they “acted in accordance with the general direction set by Mr. Trudeau in September 2018 …”.  So, if a hit man/woman gets caught she/he is not guilty because he/she took direction from the person who hired her/him?  If four thieves rob a store and get caught, only the leader of the four is guilty because the others took direction?   I find this very ‘odd’ and concerning.  Somehow I don’t think a court would agree.

 

 

 

(a)  ‘I take responsibility,’ Trudeau says in wake of damning report on SNC-Lavalin ethics violation – John Paul Tasker, 14 Aug 2019, CBC News

(b) Jody Wilson-Raybould and Other Heroeshttp://Hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org     

 

 

 

JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD AND OTHER HEROES

What the SNC-Lavalin scandal revealed was Jody Wilson-Raybould and other heroes but it also clearly exposed how the government works, who works for whom and the non-existent accountability of politicians, at least in a majority government.

I see a light of ethics, morals, and integrity flicker in politics.  Thank you to Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR), Dr. Jane Philpott, Kathleen Roussel (director of public prosecutions), and Louis De Jaeger (p) for working for the people.  There are other heroes I have written about on past posts, John Doyle, former auditor general of British Columbia, and Alana James, a lawyer who formerly was a British Columbia Senior health information advisor and whistleblower (see posts re B.C. Health Ministry Scandal), Mary-Ellen Turpel, former B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, and a former judge (see posts re The Children), Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers .

I did not think it would be possible to have decent human beings, who actually represent us, the regular people, in politics.  I thought the whole system would have to be torn down and rebuilt and it still may have to be.  But these people have shown that ethics, morals, and integrity can happen if only for a brief moment.  They are leading the way; if enough others would follow we could have a government system that is truly democratic, one the people could trust and respect, not the farce that we currently have.

It speaks to who the politicians are, and who they serve, that they would regurgitate this loss of 9,000 jobs when there appears to be no substance to it.

– Gerald Butts (former principal secretary to the PM) and Carla Qualtrough (Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility) could not name a source for the 9,000 jobs (n).  How could Butts or Qualtrough not know who gave them the information?  Did they just get together and make up a number?  Would the source have been embarrassing?  Did they just LIE because they have such contempt for the people?  They just used this number as a reason for issuing a DPA and kept stating it to the press.  Seriously disgusting.
– SNL-Lavalin stated that they never claimed that 9,000 jobs would be lost (s) and then backtracked (t) presumably after they got a call from the PMO’s office.
– SNC-Lavalin has current jobs to last several years (g) and skilled engineers are in high demand, (c)
– The ban would only be on federal projects, not provincial or municipal projects (g)
– The government contracts will be awarded to other companies who will hire employees.
– Jules Bourgeois – ‘province is dealing with an acute labour shortage…; in a situation of full employment….everyone’s looking for good employees (b)
– Around 2012 approximately 10,000 employees have left the company, many voluntarily. (g)(m) Apparently, most or all got other jobs.

So, why are the politicians lying/blackmailing Canadians, AGAIN?

– Possibilities:

  1. Trudeau is buddies with SNC-Lavalin management and didn’t want to see them go to court even when they didn’t qualify for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).
  2. Trudeau wanted a made-up crisis so he could fake being the saviour and get Quebec votes in the next provincial and federal elections. “He also acknowledged that during his Sept. 17 meeting with Wilson-Raybould, he pointed out that he was the MP for Papineau, a riding in Quebec — where SNC-Lavalin is based — but denied he was pressuring her for partisan interests.” (i)
  3. SNC-Lavalin is still handing out bribes
  4. All of the above

But any way you look at it, the partisan reasons are, I understand, illegal in obtaining a DPA.  Martyn Brown said ‘“But if the public interest argument is based on a lie, and they knew that, then all that you’re left with is a political motive, an electoral motive that would be self-serving. And that to me would raise questions of obstruction of justice, breach of trust, all sorts of things that the RCMP would suddenly be concerned with.”’ (u)

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Kathleen Roussel were doing their jobs, serving the people of Canada (and trying to protect the Prime Minister from his own follies), which is what they were hired to do.  Jane Philpott was doing the same by standing up, and being counted, in the defense of the people of Canada and what’s left of our democracy, our freedom, our rights.

The other politicians in the Liberal party kept repeating that she had to be loyal to the party, they had to serve the leader of the party and the handful of others, most not elected, who run the party/country (w, x); this is also called Groupthink. (see future post Politicians, bootlickers and groupthink)  They didn’t care about the people of Canada, just the party which includes themselves.  If a politician asks for my vote so he/she can represent me I will call them what they are – LIARS; they represent the party, not me.  And maybe I will tell them and their families to go drink mercury (see future post Politicians, bootlickers and groupthink)

And the people of Canada cannot hold the politicians accountable.  The justice committee and ethics committee are both Liberal dominated so they “reviewed” in a manner beneficial to the Liberal party.  Andrew Coyne said “In our system, the prime minister decides whether the prime minister should be held to account. Virtually all of the mechanisms by which he might theoretically be required to answer to credible charges of serious wrongdoing — and meddling with a prosecution is about as serious as it gets — are under his control. That certainly includes the committee, whatever pretense of independence might be maintained”; and (o) “Got a complaint, likewise, about the government’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for investigating itself? Great: take it up with the government.” (o)  The results will be same as the ‘do nothing’ office of the privacy commissioner.

The politicians have people who will write op-eds without identifying that op-ed is being written on behalf of a political party, as stated by Katie Telford    Ms. Telford, chief of staff to the prime minister, also offered to line up “all kinds of people to write op-eds saying that what (Ms. Wilson-Raybould) is doing is proper”; in other words they will say whatever the politicians want them to say.   Isn’t this propaganda/brainwashing/indoctrination/newspeak?    Is Susan Delacourt one of them? (v)  And I suspect all political parties do this.  People judge what they read, at least partly, based on the source of the article.   The people have a right to know if, for all intents and purposes, the source of the article is the prime minister’s office, at least in a real democracy.

And yet, Philippe Lagasse claims “We know our system is working when the safeguards we’ve put in place to address government chicanery kick in and do their job”.  (y)  What safeguards, a ruling party-controlled committees fake “investigations”?  Two people who had to quit the party because one of them dared to speak the truth?  It’s a healthy democracy when two people can have a difference of “opinion” without one losing their job.  Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick, while culpable, were the fall guys so the Prime Minister was protected, the party was protected and nothing had to change.

He also states “But our constitution has mechanisms to hold governments to account”. (y) Perhaps he could explain those mechanisms, and how they are operating in this case because I don’t see them happening here, quite the opposite.  What the SNC-Lavalin scandal demonstrates is that we not only do NOT have “a healthy democratic immune system at work” but that, we don’t have much, if any, of a democracy.

Are the other political parties any different?  Not that I can see.  In fact, they don’t even have one, much less two, politicians that work for the people of Canada.

If I was in the riding of JWR or Dr. Philpott I would vote for them.  But since I’m not I will not be voting for someone who does not represent me; I will not willingly be their sucker. (q)

The system we have doesn’t work for the regular people of Canada.   JWR wants to change the party system: “Wilson-Raybould believes that the party system as it now exists has to be re-invented. It is not parties per se that are the problem, but the way in which they have evolved. They are too leader-centric, and far too partisan. In her view, both the PM and other party leaders have to be responsive to parliament, not the other way around.

‘I don’t believe in blind loyalty or blind partisanship. I do not believe in making decisions that set aside important public policy for the sake of political power. I do not believe that the best public policy is just getting re-elected. I believe in doing good public policy, regardless of what party is in power.”’  (z)  I hope she, and Jane Philpott, get the opportunity to change the party system and, if we’re lucky, it might work.

It would also be interesting to see what would happen if independents held the balance of power or formed a minority government.  Would the people of Canada actually be represented and would we get good public policy?

a. A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s somewhat murky past–  Kathleen Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 08 Feb 2019, CBC News
b.  Why many Quebecers want SNC-Lavalin to Stand Trial – Simone Nakonechny, 09 Mar 2016, CBC News
c. Four questions without answers about the SNC-Lavalin scandal – David Thurton, 12 Mar 2019, CBC News
d.  Liberal MP Who Led Committee Shutdown Denies Coverup, Says It’s Time For ‘Shift’ in SNC-Lavalin Debate – Kathleen Harris, 14 Mar 2019, CBC News
e.  Butts Sinks Trudeau Government Deeper into the Muck –  Michael Harris, 08 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
f.  A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s somewhat murky past – Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 08 Feb 2019, CBC News
g.  An economic reality check on SNC-Lavalin:  Are 9,000 jobs really at stake? – Diana Swain, 08 Mar 2019, CBC News
h.  Here’s what a 10-year ban on federal contract bids would mean for SNC-Lavalin – The Canadian Press, 17 Mar 2019, CBC News
i.  What you need to know about the SNC-Lavalin affair – Mark Gollom, 13 Feb 2019, CBC News
j.  Budget documents show widespread use of ‘consultancy cost’ code – Dave Seglins, 15 May 2013, CBC News
k. Wilson-Raybould’s SNC-Lavalin claims set ‘all alarms sounding’ at OECD: spokesman – Joran Gowling, Vassy Kapelos, 13 Mar 2019, CBC News
l. World Bank Debars SNC-Lavalin Inc. And it’s Affiliates for 10 years – The World Bank, 17 Apr 2013
m.  SNC-Lavalin Affair –Wikipedia
n.  Trudeau’s No Good, Very Bad Week –  David Beers, 14 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
o.  Andrew Coyne: Sooner or later the truth comes out.  But in our system, not so much –  Andrew Coyne, 13 Mar 2019, National Post
p. B.C. Riding association leader quits after Trudeau ousts ex-ministers from caucus – Jessica Peters, 03 Apr 2019, Cloverdale Reporter
q.  Why I Don’t Vote – Update
http://Hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
r.  A Closer Look:  The 11 People Wilson-Raybould Said Were Involved in the SNC-Lavalin Affair –  Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 01 Mar 2019, Globe and Mail
s.  SNC-Lavalin CEO says firm never cited 9,000 jobs as reason for deserving DPA – Canadian Press, 20 Mar 2019, CBC News
t.  SNC-Lavalin backtracks on CEO’s comments surrounding potential job losses – Canadian Press, 25 Mar 2019, National Newswatch
u.
Trudeau a Threat to Liberal Chances, Must Go:  Martyn Brown –  David Beers, 25 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
v.  SNC-Lavalin affair:  Philpott and Wilson-Raybould aren’t lifelong Liberals, and some say that’s the problem – CBC Radio transcript, 05 Mar 2019

w.  Trudeau defends actions as Philpott asks if Wilson-Raybould was sidelined over SNC-Lavalin – Kathleen Harris, 21 Mar 2019, CBC News
x.  Jody Wilson-Raybould:  ‘The Liberal party is not something I understand anymore’ – John Geddes, 04 Apr 2019, Maclean’s
y.  The SNC-Lavalin scandal is proof our system of government is working.  Seriously –  Philippe Lagasse, 05 Mar 2019, Maclean’s
z.  Jody Wilson-Raybould on Her Path to Independence –  Michael Harris, 10 Jun 2019, TheTyee.ca              

BC PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION REFERENDUM

The BC Proportional Representation Referendum is to be held in the fall of 2018. ”Vote PR BC would be the official proponent group and No BC Proportional Representation Society would be the official opponent group”. (1) Both sides are run by politicians.

Suzanne Anton, who is running the No BC Proportional Representation Society, is another politician.   She wrote a post which, in my opinion, exemplifies why I have such contempt for politicians. (2)  She just lied, just like they did during the last referendum.  For example, she says ”PR will lead to weaker, not stronger, local representation” and claims that Vote PR BC side is wrong when is says that ”Only an MLA of your political persuasion can represent you” (2) and then goes on the to explain how people select MLA’s based on their qualifications, and paints the MLA’s as virtual saints.

  1. First, I believe that most people select the party, not the MLA. I know there are ridings that have voted for a particular party for many decades, as the MLA’s come and go. In fact, during elections most parties focus on the ‘swing’ ridings which are a riding that could vote for any party.
  2. MLA’s, or MP’s for that matter, do not represent the people. They represent the party, that’s why the party selects the one person who will run in a riding.
  3. Do you think a person who is against the Kinder Morgan pipeline will get much, if any, help from a Liberal MLA? Do you think a person who is pro-immigration will get much, if any, help from a Conservative? Do you think the MLA will promote the person’s thoughts/ideas to the party?  Not to mention, that the handful of people who the party are not interested in what the MLA has to say.
  4. MLA’s are anything but saints; just read about the scandals. The MLAs lie when they say they represent the people and do little or nothing but read the party talking points, go for photo-ops and vote the way they are told to vote. I suggest you watch the documentary Whipped by Sean Holman on YouTube.

Quite frankly, I think we could get rid of MLA’s, but leave the qualified staff to continue to work for the people, and few would notice except when the previous MLA’s don’t show up at the usual photo-ops. And we would have money for schools and hospitals (the politicians like to use these two for blackmail) and affordable housing, etc.

I recently found time to read a book called Tragedy in the Commons. At first I thought it would be a whitewash as the authors interviewed former MP’s but I consider the authors analysis of the comments to be very good.  And I believe that you could just change MP for MLA, federal for provincial because they operate almost the same way.  The following is one of their insightful comments,  although I disagree with the part about MP’s (MLA’s) devoting substantial time to helping the constituents because I believe the politicians are taking credit for the work of the office staff (whose wages we pay):

”MP’s are devoting substantial time and office resources acting as customer service representatives for the federal bureaucracy, thereby raising questions about bureaucratic accountability. But the impact of their efforts was more like plugging a single leak when the entire plumbing needs repair.  If they are interested in processing immigration or veterans’ claims, they should join the civil service.” (4)  The authors also say that the politicians should be spending their time fixing the system so people wouldn’t have these problems.

I don’t think local representation is much of an issue. I think it is important to have the handful of people who actually run things, at the table, in proportion to the vote across the province, to negotiate how the province will move forward.  This would help avoid the swings that happen when one party replaces another and they undo most of what the previous party had changed so little actually gets done.  It would probably reduce a lot finger-pointing because most parties become responsible for what is or is not done.  I think it would allow for long-term planning instead of election-to-election planning.

STV is my preferred electoral system to date, as selected by the BC Citizen’s Assembly, which in this election would be the Rural-Urban Proportional Representation choice. ”Of the three systems on the referendum ballot, RUP is the only system that lets voters rank individual candidates in order by preference. The use of ranked ballots means that all candidates must compete with one another for a voter’s coveted first place ranking, including candidates running in a multi-member district for the same party.” (1). This means that the politicians are competing against others, on the ballot box, in his/her party, to be elected by the people and, therefore, must balance representing the people and the party, not just the party.  It gives a little power back to the people.

Actually my preferred governance system is one that is designed in Canada by the Canadian citizens, for the Canadian citizens, and doesn’t include politicians (what a nice thought) (see Post – What Can You Do – Political, 2015-12-23). But, until then, I would prefer the RUP system.

 

  1. British Columbia electoral reform referendum, 2018 – Wikipedia
  2. Proportional Representation Means the Loss of Local Representation – Suzanne Anton, 2018-08-21, TheTyee.ca
  3. How Electoral Reform Would Strengthen Local Representation – Seth Klein, 2018-08-03, TheTyee.ca
  4. Tragedy in the Commons, Former Members of Parliament Speak Out about Canada’s Failing Democracy – Alison Loat & Michael MacMillan, 2014, pg. 230-231, pg. 106-113 gives more depth to the statement.

 

STUDENTS AND ELECTORAL EDUCATION

I suspect Trudeau will keep this platform promise:

“We will engage with first-time voters and encourage more Canadians to vote.

Every young person should be registered to vote when they turn 18. We will work with interested provinces and territories, and Elections Canada, to register young Canadians as a part of their high school or CEGEP curriculum.”

“To ensure that no young person loses the opportunity to vote, we will mandate Elections Canada to stay in contact with them if they change addresses after graduation.

Finally, to encourage more voter participation, we will support Elections Canada in proactively registering Canadians from groups that historically have lower turnout, such as students.” (1)

Trudeau attacks the sympton, not the cause. He disillusions voters, including young voters, by lying. R​​​eal Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, said young people “appear to be particularly outraged” by the government’s electoral reform backtrack, (2) and then Trudeau tries to force the young people into voting. Why should they vote? Instead of being honest with voters, the politicians need to try to force/manipulate students into voting to try to make up for all the votes I suspect they will lose in future elections. And isn’t “forcing” or “coercing” the students into registering anti-democratic; the decision to vote or to register to vote should be an individual decision. Not voting, for many people, is a means of protesting. What will be the penalty if they don’t register and vote; will they fail high school, will they be denied jobs, etc.?

How will Elections Canada track the students after graduation? What method(s) will Elections Canada use to “stay in touch” when students change address; what method(s) will be used to “proactively” register students?   Will a tracking device be attached to the students on graduation day? Will Canada Post forward any change of address to Elections Canada? Will all government/crown corporations be required to forward information to Elections Canada (Revenue Canada, etc.), taking away the taxpayers choice?   Will there be a database tracing their every move? Wherever they go, will the student’s information be shared with political parties (and all the political parties friends) so the politicians can harass them into voting and contributing to their party’s funds? Will the students not have a choice? It is interesting that the methods to be used were not mentioned.

Wouldn’t it be better to teach the students about the various electoral systems around the world, how they work and discussing, truthfully, the pros and cons of each system? This could be a course starting in the first year of high school and continuing each year. This is already being done to varying degrees but in some cases they just look at the major ideologies and political systems. I think it would be useful to have an understanding of other systems. I would also hope that the discussion would open the minds of the students to the possibility of a system without politicians, more citizens assemblies, a horizontal and integrated system instead of a top-down system, a made-in Canada system, and so on; in essence, thinking outside the box.

I would also like to see a similar course(s) offered through evening/weekend/online programs to the rest of the citizens; this course(s) should be free. And it should be designed, and taught, by qualified teachers who are non-partisan. Each electoral option should answer the same questions, for example how do independent politicians fit into each option; are the potential politicians selected by the parties and beholden to them or, as in the case of STV, do the parties select several possible candidates and the people select the one they like which means the candidate must work for the people, as well as the party, to win the vote. [Disclaimer: my preferred system, to date, is the single transferable vote (STV), as recommended by the citizens committee in British Columbia].

Fair Vote Canada has put on small seminars to explain three forms of electoral systems. However, while in many respects a good effort, the seminars were not long enough, did not appear to be prepared by qualified teachers, did not have enough examples, and left some people confused. In addition, Fair Vote seemed to be ‘pushing’ their preferred choice. Fair Vote also calls itself a multi-partisan organization and has politicians such as David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election, (3) and Bob Rae, on the national advisory board of Fair Vote Canada (3), was an Ontario NDP leader and was interim leader of the Liberals (Wikipedia). I think the involvement of politicians taints the organization.

How can people vote for an electoral system if they don’t know/understand the choices? I suspect the politicians would like to keep the citizens ignorant so the politicians can “advise” the people on how to vote; and the politicians would advise the people to vote for the system that benefits the politicians not the citizens. And that usually means no change at all.

 

  1. Liberal election platform – Liberal Party of Canada, 2015
  2. Voting reform groups ‘disappointed’ by abandoned Liberal promise – Brendan Burke, 02 Feb 2017, CBC News
  3. Some Liberals join NDP in push for ‘fairer’ voting system – Leslie MacKinnon, 21 Sept 2013, CBC News