Showing posts from 2018

The only way that the legislature debacle becomes an NDP/Liberal proxy war is if the narrative is spun that way

One of the most disappointing articles I've read in a long time was published by Rob Shaw, where he suggests that the current debacle under way at the BC Legislature is a proxy war between the two major parties in BC.

That itself is a BC Liberal talking point. Its a "both sides" argument being made.

Its false, but that's how this is being spun, and it serves BC Liberals that this be told in that narrative.

In short, Speaker Daryl Plecas and his special assistant Mullins uncovered some shady things they believe worthy of a police investigation. So they forwarded whatever they had to the police. Two special prosecutors are now involved because of the politically sensitive nature of the investigation.

In the ordinary world, had you done anything or accused of doing something shady, until it could be proved beyond doubt; you could rightly be expected to be suspended with pay as the investigation does whatever it does. In the case of the legislative duo in question, their…

The problem with FPTP

One of the most outrageous lies told by the anti-reform folks is that 'proportional representation' will trigger the arrival of extremist politicians. That is a lie. Voters choose the parties they wish, they get the government derived from the ballot box. Its fair to suggest that our current system has done more to hasten the arrival of more extreme politics than the option of changing the system.

As evidence, it was under FPTP in Canada that thanks to the regional concentration of the right-wing separatist BQ in Quebec, a party with no more than 12% of the popular vote nationally became Her Majesty's Official Opposition in 1993' this is despite the former PC party winning a significantly larger share of the popular vote, but spread out across the nation so that they lost all but 2 seats.

Equally, the regionally concentrated, ultra conservative Reform Party in that same election went from one seat to 3rd party with over 50 seats despite a lower proportion of the popula…

A little primer on proportional representation

One of the more insidious talking points of the anti reform side is that changing to a proportional representation system will give rise to extremist groups.
This is bullshit.
The electoral system doesn't determine who gets seats, it determines how they're elected. Ultimately, voters choose who gets to represent them.
But to the false point being made by the chicken-little movement, consider Alberta for a moment. To consolidate conservative votes into one party in order to beat the NDP in '19, Jason Kenney has formed his UCP movement. 
Mathematically, it works. If you take all the right leaning votes that had split into 2 or 3 parties and replace with 1 option (assuming all vote for #1), then you win. The trouble is that among the conservative spectrum in Alberta, they have...issues.
I'll pause here for a moment and underline this: not all rational conservatives are extremist in their views. While I don't necessarily agree with their political or social views, I…

Carbon Tax: the trap that isn't

Global writer Keith Baldrey penned an opinion piece on the coming storm regarding the carbon tax.

More than anything, it muses about the politics around the carbon levy and its future. My bet is that it isn't going anywhere. Both Justin Trudeau and John Horgan have little to be concerned about regarding the political noise being made around it.

The legal challenge.

Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have filed a legal challenge to attempt to stop the federal government from imposing a carbon tax (in the absence of a provincial one) of up to $50/tonne once fully in place. The trouble is that the federal government, constitutionally, has no limit to what tax it can impose. Literally, in Article 91(3) it reads, "The raising of Money by any Mode or System of Taxation.". So if I was a betting man, this challenge doesn't go far.

The Confidence and Supply Agreement

The NDP and Green Party in BC signed a "CSA" in 2017 that put the NDP into office for the first tim…

This is not ok.

Article: "Times Colonist: NDP's draft gag order could limit public dissent on party positions." (link)There is a time for internal confidentiality and there's a time for public debate. A healthy political party knows the difference and isn't afraid of the latter. So, with that, I oppose any gag order placed on party officials. I didn't join this party in 1995 to watch this party become an organization of yes-men.It is fundamental to the health of a democratic organization that it listen to voices of dissent and disagreement to help a course correction if drifting off path too far.So now what? Should a local party official (read: activist and volunteer) speak against a govt policy that runs opposite of party philosophy, is that person going to be stripped of their role? Let's be honest. If you're a member of a party, in this case the NDP, chances are that you're onside for probably 90-95% of what the govt is doing. That's what puts us all in th…

Another miscalculation by Andrew Wilkinson

Today, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson challenged Premier John Horgan to a debate on electoral reform. In an instant, I thought to myself, what a stunningly foolish thing to do. Already, Andrew has been on the wrong side of history on several issues.

He's opposed the popular speculation tax.He's opposed the elimination of the MSP.He's opposed ICBC reform.He's opposed the minimum wage increase.He's opposed to electoral reform.
But lets talk about electoral reform for a moment.

The NDP pledged a referendum to ask voters on an option for a proportional representation based system. Facing defeat, so did the BC Liberals in their ill-fated throne speech. Presumably, Andrew Wilkinson voted for it too.

But, here is the crux of my thinking on this:

Andrew Wilkinson has effectively made himself the leader of the anti-reform movement in BC. This is problematic in several ways (for him).

Those opposed to the BC Liberals, and recent polling puts that number between 60-65% of …

Doug Ford's power play on Toronto has implications far and wide

So here we are with a discussion around Section 33 of the Charter of Rights, known as the Notwithstanding Clause. Not a gripping debate in many circles, except that it should be. Its usage could have a profound impact on Canadians.

In a nutshell, it permits a government to set aside a court ruling on the constitutionality for up to 5 years (pending legislation to repair/fix what was judged, or an election). So if a court rules an act is unconstitutional, a government may invoke section 33 and disregard the court ruling - so that the offending law remain in effect.


Further, Section 33 applies (when invoked) on Section 2, and section 7-15 of the Charter. Meaning, section 2's fundamental rights could be swept aside by a bully Premier. If you're keeping track, Section 2 is where your right of everything you hold dear is nicely housed.

A union's right to strike, bargain in good faith, even "exist" are threatened by S. 33. But wait! That's not all. That thin…

Populist "rent freeze" catch phrase may bring unintended consequences

Again, I don't want to minimize the struggle by middle and modest income earners who already struggle to pay rents in BC, but this call for a 'rent freeze' by some civic political candidates I believe is misguided and fraught with risks.

A Rent Freeze by definition is a price control mechanism. BC already has a rent control device, which apparently is inadequate for it to allow a 4.5% annual maximum increase for 2019. Its true that the regulatory framework that the Residential Tenancy Branch uses to establish such rate controls could use some reform.

But to arbitrarily freeze rates would open a can of worms that I believe are unintended consequences of their intended goal. In real world experiences where this has been done, its triggered an ironical result of higher rent increases and a drop in rental supply; almost the same result as general price controls in the early 70's in the OPEC Oil embargo, fuel shortages were triggered. I haven't signed up to the neo-libe…

Opinion: Donald Trump is the leader of the Tea Party and white nationalist movement

Let this be a lesson to those looking to those looking to emulate the populism, reactionary philosophy of Trumpism elsewhere; your movement is a fraud and your God is a false prophet.

Donald Trump endeared himself to the racist fringe with his parroting of conspiracy theories about former President Obama's birthplace ("birtherism").

Because media and pundits would have eviscerated anyone for doing so, no one used the 'N' word in dismissing Obama's candidacy as far back as 2008, why not nullify him by professing that he's not a natural born citizen - and given the real world antipathy towards Muslim folks since 2001, accuse the guy of being Islamic too.

All of these patently racist, debunked theories were repeated by far-right hate-pimps, and it didn't matter that they were false. As a certain German cabinet minister in the 1930's proved, the bigger the lie, the more often its repeated, the more folks will believe it. That tactic, if nothing else, …

Unpopular opinion: annual maximum rent increase

Firstly, I completely commiserate with folks facing potential rental rate hikes of up to 4.5%. That's no small sum of cash, and unless you're in the CEO income bracket (which is almost none of you), you're going to feel this one.

So in light of this approved maximum rate hike, I've learned that the Residential Tenancy Branch made this approval based on a set of provincially established criteria.

Rental advocates are demanding that the NDP government act immediately to either suspend the increase or lower the increase. This is problematic because advocates here are demanding that there be political interference in an otherwise independent government agency.

I'm sure it could be done, but it runs opposite to those angry at the previous government for political interference with ICBC where insurance rate increases were held artificially low because elections. The result of that interference is the dumpster fire that the NDP is now charged with cleaning up. One of the …

Right on cue, conservatives over-reach on #TransMountain decision.

As if planned this way, Conservative cry-babies react to the Trans-Mountain decision by appropriating the pipeline setback as "western alienation".
Spare me for a moment while I try not to throw up.
Albertans and pro-pipelines folks are no doubt upset by the Appeals Court to overturn Cabinet approval for the pipeline project, but not because the Ottawa Liberals suddenly turned anti-West. 
To be sure, I have never seen such a pro-pipeline party as Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party; so much so that the Natural Resources Minister had to apologize for threatening to call in the military on pipeline protesters. Even Stephen Harper didn't go that far.
What Trudeau is guilty of is betraying a central campaign promise. He said that his new government would reboot the approval process as the 'current model' was flawed. He was right. The process was flawed - it is still flawed. That is why the court acted as it did. The problem is that Trudeau didn't deliver on his p…

Of Kinder Morgan, Trans-Mountain and the new reality

It seems like only yesterday that Premier Rachel Notley was demanding that protesters camped out on Burnaby mountain disperse after having lost another court challenge in regards to #tmx prep work being carried out. The Alberta Premier was loud and clear about her insistence that folks respect the law of the land and do as the courts demand. Well, funny thing about that; no sooner the Federal Appeals Court rules against the proposed pipeline that the good Premier throws a Trump-style tantrum and demands federal intervention.Now, I don't mean to make light of this; the pipeline project being put on hold (possibly stopped altogether) is a serious setback for a province who's primary industry is linked to the fate of said proposal.It wasn't long ago that 3rd party leader, Rachel Notley was campaigning on the notion of more diversification of the Alberta economy. She made serious political mileage in bashing 44 years of PC rule that put almost all of its economic eggs into one…

Maxime forgets an important chapter in Canadian history that creates the diversity we celebrate today.

Pseudo-libertarian Maxime Bernier made a stink during this last week. By railing against 'extreme PC and diversity', he woke up the crowd that also has a problem with diversity. This is music to the ears of those looking to replicate the Trump-style populism here in Canada, but its problematic as far as our own history.

This goes back a fair distance in time, but the legacy of multiculturalism and diversity was born out of the aftermath of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The 1759 battle settled the Anglo-France question in the colonies with the British Army vanquishing the French. Out of the Seven Years' War between the two global empires, Quebec was ceded to England. But in that acquisition, the french speaking, Catholic settlers of lower Canada were allowed to keep their civil code, laws and customs, language and religion.

The first patch was sewn into the mosaic of Canada, and its been that way ever since.

This may be an over simplification of matters, and doesn…

Statues, monuments and revisiting history

I am not very comfortable with removal of statues and monuments as seems to be a trend going on right now.

The City of Victoria voted to remove the statue of Canada's first Prime Minister, John A MacDonald on the 11th, and its stirred some serious debate since.

Before I continue, I need to stress something. By no means am I glorifying certain individuals in our history with a shady or controversial history. MacDonald himself was not an angel. 

And lets get some context here too.

Many of the monuments and statues to important people were erected within their lifetime or shortly after. For example, a good number of battlefield memorials, monuments and the like were erected shortly after the conclusion of the US Civil War. Two sides fought a bloody war over slavery (or the "state's rights" to maintain the grotesque institution). Hundreds of thousands of men on both sides were drafted into a war and never came home to enjoy the years of peace afterwards; they're owed…

I'm beginning to think some of those opposed to Jagmeet Singh do so for reasons other than political policy.

But. You should examine this for yourself.

It was announced that Jagmeet would seek a Burnaby area federal seat after Kennedy Stewart announced that he was bowing out for a run at the Vancouver Mayor's office.

No big deal, right? Federal leader of the NDP doesn't have a seat yet, hails from a suburban Toronto area while a suburban Vancouver seat opens up. Cool. Ultimately, voters get to decide this.

For reference, a chart was put together by Integrity BC that lists off some party leaders and their byelections over the years.
Missing from this chart is Stephen Harper who ran for a Calgary area seat after Preston Manning quit the house of commons.

At issue, raised by some, is that the act of triggering a byelection as a result of quitting parliament should have the outgoing MP/MLA (etc) be billed for the electoral costs of holding a byelection.

Problem 1: Never in the history of Canada has that been done. Why should it be done now that the brown guy with a turban is seeking a fe…

In obvious headlines: former BC Liberal insider unhappy with NDP govt policy

As it turns out, when a government that comes to office whose largest support base is from the centre-left including from organized labour, they may at times try to change the rules from the old regime whose support base comes from conservative and big corporate circles.

Also, as it turns out, making changes to governing policy that takes advantage away from said corporate circles and advantages the many groups elsewhere, it upsets conservatives.
Enter, the NDP's infrastructure policy.

Under the policy, there's a heavy emphasis in skills training and apprenticeships, hiring from under-represented groups, and local hiring, and union labour. Completely objectionable in the eyes of the former government supporters who landed in a lot of hot water in their public spending policy over infrastructure.

The notion of a 'project labour agreement' is reprehensible to BC Liberals. In eliminating the practice during their terms of office, the BC Liberals managed to find ways to b…

Ride hailing services are not the panacea it's supporters claim

It's a new industry, this on-demand ride hailing service that exists in several large cities around the world (and coming to BC).
It's being cited as a partial solution in the fight against climate change; reducing the need for car ownership while getting more usage from vehicles currently owned.
While valid points, ride hailing services also create issues that the new industry haven't yet answered.
Point/counter point. 2 bits

Government can't foot drag on ride sharing much longer

Despite the powerful taxi lobby in BC, the ride sharing companies cannot legitimately be stopped from entering the BC market. Not unless the government wants to expose the taxpayer to significant legal expenses. What the government can (and should) do, is regionalize the taxi certification/license process and require that anyone involved in a ride sharing operation be up to the same license and training standards as any taxi driver including the appropriate car insurance for their vehicle. Wanna be a taxi? Play by the same rules. My 2 bits

I learned a thing today. That white-nationalist talking points have infected Canada, and its chilling.

It started out as a curious discussion on a facebook group called "Canadian Political Forum" where the groups sole administrator opened up a thread to take a swipe at the notion that 'white privilege' is even a thing. According to the admin, the 'liberal-left' harping on about white-privilege is the same as hate speech. But don't take my word for it, read it for yourself.
Given that I identify as one of those in the liberal-left, I thought I'd add a response; initially mocking the notion that white men are under attack, given that white-European demographics in Canada are sitting at around 77% of everyone. White men occupy most of the seats of power in politics and the corporate world; in our country at least.
Just for your edification, remember that promoting hate speech is actually a crime. You cannot do that and not face the potential of legal sanction resulting up to including jail time.
To make a long story short, in trying to point out that in t…

Final thoughts on #gropegate

So this story appeared in the media recently where the then non-politician Justin Trudeau appears to have inappropriately touched ("handled"?) a young female reporter at a music festival about 20 years ago. I haven't a clue why it showed up now, except that, noteworthy, it was promoted or raised by a powerful federal liberal insider.

Fast forward to today and the reporter who's not in the industry anymore, reluctantly spoke out on the matter. In essence, she remarked that the issue came and went at the time, that Justin apologized at the time and she considers the issue closed...and that she doesn't want to participate in any further public dialogue on the matter.

So be it.

Its not my place to tell a victim or survivor how to deal with their incident or fallout later on in life. She wants the matter to go away and be left alone and folks to respect her and her family's privacy. So she should.

But Justin's managing of the messaging of this speaks to the co…

NDP isn't allowed to reach out to voters

In an article today, Justin McElroy builds a case that the NDP in attempting to reach out to voters in a fun and innocent 'dad joke' is doing something shady in requesting very simple contact information on their party built web page designed for this purpose.

Lets be clear about a few things. After campaign finance reform that the NDP promised for three elections, we are now in a post reform era. No union, no corporate donations. Neither of the big parties (and none of the smaller parties) are allowed to take financial contributions from said organizations. Most of us think this is the right thing. This isn't to suggest that the law enabling such reforms is perfect, certainly it can take some tweaks to make it better, but that's the law nonetheless.

Regardless, parties are now obligated to reach out and expand their base, accessible voter pools by whatever means are left. They all do it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Every party does this very basic ou…

Nothing matters anymore

Another election comes and goes, this time in Ontario, where well reasoned progressive values and ideals ran against populist conservative ideas and lost.
Ontario just voted for a party and leader who pledged $1 beer, 10 cent/litre fuel price reduction, multi-billion dollar tax cuts that benefit the 1%; all are uncosted liabilities to the Ontario budget that poses a deficit and debt risk like none seen before. But, who cares about that, right?
What Ontario is getting is a new regime that will shift to austerity to fund these promises; because the tax cuts pledged therein will not fund themselves. Doug Ford and his PC party campaigned on a trickle-down platform, and the mathematical fact is that trickle-down economics has never worked in the history of ever. NEVER. It won't magically work this time either. So, enjoy your $1 beer Ontario, its going to cost you teachers, nurses, highway maintenance, child protection services to start with.
But none of that matters because now Ontari…

Anti #pr4bc folks need to stop with their hysterical what-ifs and realise that its because of FPTP that extremist parties rise in Canada

There I said it.

The current winner-take-all approach to elections in Canada (and USA for that matter) are responsible for the rise of extremist parties in our country.

FPTP allowed that separatist BQ became Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in 1993 with less than 14% of the vote, while the national, PC party with almost 17% landed only two seats. First Past the Post ("FPTP") gives power to regionalist, special interest parties where any form of proportional voting would give the proper weight to a party based on their actual vote share.

Where extremist parties rise anywhere in the democratic world is because your mainstream parties fail to pick up on rising trends. Spikes in unemployment and income inequality are quickly seized upon by far right and left as evidence that the whole thing is broken; and the only path to salvation is to smash it to bits by voting for parties off the mainstream grid. Extremists always play this message, but in desperate times and little action…

According to some on the right, Meghan Markle isn't fit to be a royal

Given that many celebrities (and Royal) figures lend their names to causes all the time, it strikes me as strange that a contributor to Rebel Media came out swinging against new Royal bride Meghan Markle as unfit to be a royal. Meghan has loaned out her celebrity name for causes too. She's come out against modern slavery, clean water access in poor countries, and a women's rights activist especially in countries where women's disposition is far from equal. Certainly she isn't the first to use her celebrity status for such causes, and that it upsets certain conservatives goes without saying. But I'm wondering if there's another factor and at play here. Meh. Maybe I'm just grasping at straws here. You be the judge. My 2 bits


This is going to be uncomfortable for some, but if you voted NDP to "stop fracking" or shut down the LNG trade, then that's an unrealistic expectation and incorrect interpretation of their platform and if you're that person, you have yourself to blame.
The NDP, in fact, has supported LNG. When in power in the 90's, they oversaw a significant expansion of the natural gas industry in the north east. It paid off too; billions of dollars in provincial revenue in support of healthcare and education, roads and highways, etc. Good paying, family supporting careers.
Where the NDP differed significantly from the BC Liberals is where the Campbell/Clark gov't put so many eggs in one basket. Their policy narrative was that LNG would be bigger to BC than oil would be to Alberta. This is the crux of their imaginary trillion dollar Prosperity Fund™ that never materialized.
After destroying 30k private sector jobs in the forest sector because of ill thought out reforms, …

Epiphany: We've all been had (again) by Trudeau

Justin Trudeau is getting a fair amount of ribbing in international and domestic media about his apparent misfire while on his trip to India. What I mean is that images coming out of his official trip show him and his young family dressed in brightly coloured traditional garb in a way that yells out 'cultural appropriation' from the rooftops. And perhaps this was ill advised; he looks ridiculous. But give it three days, almost on cue, liberal supporters trot out images of Stephen Harper also wearing culturally significant garb in the many international travels he had as Prime Minister.

The Liberals are famous for turning an advantage from a mistake. The misfire morphed into trolling, and as if it had been planned all this time, it brought out some very racist backlash against the Liberal Party.

Just when Conservatives were making some inroads into Justin's stubbornly high approval ratings, the inadvertent trolling brought out the darkest elements of conservative outrage, b…

Dear, rest of Canada.

The news headlines are filtering out regarding the NDP's budget tabled the other day in regards to the real estate world we live in. Some are arguing that its unfair. But I would argue that your 'fairness' scale needs some re-calibration before you get to say that with any accuracy.
BC is home to the most perverse distortions in the real estate market in Canada. The market it seems has been turned into a form of commodity trading for folks looking to hold cash, make a quick buck or launder dirty money from abroad. Now, the NDP government proposals will not fix these problems overnight as they're far more complex than a couple of tax code changes, but they're a good first few steps. Other steps I believe will draw in the police, federal tax auditors, etc. But, this is not an area I'm an expert in.
What the NDP has done has put a fee to empty homes being held out of the market, unless you live and work in BC. The NDP is putting a fee to obscene property values t…

BC Liberals conflicted badly

I've been monitoring the reaction of folks in social media regarding the NDP'S first full budget since 2000. Most of the comments so far have been very positive. Some have raised a few technical questions, but overall be sense is that the budget is well received. Except if you're a BC Liberal. Naturally. Above all other predictable comments, the notion of a payroll tax of 1.9% on payrolls above $500,000 to replace the MSP premiums isn't being received well. By some. Taken at face value, the criticism has merits. But the policy is good for a number of reasons.MSP was a tax. Used by government to raise funds for general purposes. True, so is the payroll tax, but to free working folks of this fee they had to pay up front should at least count as a tax cut. Exempting small and micro business with payrolls less than $500k means they've not going to be hit with this new fee. My suggestion would be to index the $500k so that businesses under the threshold could give raise…

How dare BC ask its people their opinion on certain pressing environmental issues. The nerve. Who do they think they are? The government?

I remember watching the KXL debate unfold in the USA. It was a similar battle in that Big Oil wanted an expanded crude oil pipeline from Alberta's tar-sands to the gulf coast. The idea was sold as a means to wean America of foreign oil and create thousands of jobs. Those were lies. The oil wasn't for domestic consumption, it was for foreign sales. Nothing in the KXL proposal was to expand domestic oil/gas supply. And the jobs? Its true at first that jobs would be created in the short term; for the supplies and the construction of the pipeline. But how many would exist afterwards? 50. Fifty jobs.
The midwest was asked to support a pipeline that put at risk countless streams, rivers, farms, small towns, first nations, and other sensitive habitat. Other than the 50 remaining jobs, the benefit it seems for KXL was for big oil.

So we have a parallel situation in Kinder Morgan. To be clear, there already is a pipeline that sends tarsands crude all the way to Vancouver harbour. This…

Residency requirement is a good idea for real estate purchases

It's being floated about, the idea to ban foreigners from buying property in BC. I'm not an expert on this, but one thing I do know. A party offering a populist idea that pledges to ban foreigners from [activity] is bound to attract voters with a certain antipathy towards.. foreigners. Maybe that's the intention, maybe it isn't. But are we 100% sure that it's only foreigners cash that's distorted Vancouver's real estate market? Are we 100% certain that domestic or even local investment hasn't played a role in distorting with housing prices in the city? The answer is "no" to both. I don't claim to be an expert on housing, real estate and relevant regulations. But a narrative in BC that seeks to blame the foreigners isn't philosophically far from Trump's attack on #DACA folks. Blame the foreigners, kick 'em out, that will fix our problems. No. It makes us look like an asshole. My 2 bits.