I was looking back over 2,600+ posts over almost five and a half years, and I realized that I have been repeating myself too often. Some things, a few things, do bear repeating but it seems to me that I have said my piece and you have all been patient and, mainly, kind in reading my ramblings. I am especially grateful for those who have commented and I want a few you to know that you have changed my mind on some issues.
I think it is time to say …
Perhaps something new will happen that will bring me back, but not soon.
Please, dear readers, try to be kind or, at least, civil to one another, especially to those with whom you do not see eye-to-eye … and, please, those who can (I am aware that a few of my readers live in places where voting is either not possible or is a sham) vote when the time comes. If you don’t bother to vote then you have forfeited your right to complain when the people the others elected do dumb things.
Today’s NDP, with much better leadership, should, I suggested, be able to regularly win between 15 to 35 seats and even more, now and again;
The centrist Liberal and the equally centrist Conservatives should, regularly, again, win 100 to 180 seats each; and
That leaves room on the far right for a social-conservative to win 10+ seats in most elections.
Now I see an article by Chris Selley in the National Post that causes me to revisit that notion. The social-conservatives, My Selley says, are facing a problem: they are less and less welcome under even the biggest of either the Ontario or federal the Conservative Party‘s big tents. If they “can’t exist within the Ontario Tory ecosystem,” Chris Selley says, “and with federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole looking less and less interested in indulging his social-conservative supporters, it might finally be time for so-cons to consider when and how they’re finally going to jump before they’re pushed. It’s difficult to imagine how they could accomplish any less in a party of their own than they have under Canada’s increasingly unwelcome big blue tents.“
The issue de jour is Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff ← but just weeks ago it was federal CPC leadership candidate Derek Sloan and before that it was Richard Decarie and Brad Trost →. Again and again the mainstream Conservative Party rejects the social-conservatives‘ chosen standard bearer, going so far as to eject them from the party. In Mr Oosterhoff’s case the issue is an incredibly ill-conceived campaign to, somehow, conflate abortion with the Holocaust. It is something that no real Conservative can accept.
So, does that leave room for a Social Conservative Party on the right?
Now, my little chart doesn’t take account of the left-leaning Bloc Québécois which, currently, holds 30+ seats nor the emerging Maverick Party which may attract some voters away from the CPC. And what about all the other fringe parties? Forget about the People’s Party, so long as Maxime Bernier leads it, it is NOT a social conservative movement. M Bernier claims to be a libertarian and he helped change the Conservative Party‘s policy on e.g. same-sex marriage to the centre. But what about e.g. the Christian Heritage Party? Can it, or a similar group, provide a base upon which social conservatives ca build a viable, successful politival movement?
For those who take umbrage at the row of men above, I can replace them all with credible women: NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq from Nunavut, Liberal MP and Minister Mary Ng from Toronto, Ontario Conservative cabinet minister Caroline Mulroney and Christian Heritage Party Executive Director Vicki Gunn:
The problem for the existing political parties, even for the fringe Greens, is not potential leaders ~ be they female leaders, “racialized” leaders or gay leaders ~ the problem is that, until now, at least, the social-conservative movement has been unable to elect anyone except as a Conservative.* But as Mr Selley (and others) have pointed out the big blue tent is not big enough for those for whom the only really important button issues are abortion and equal rights, including marriage and adoption, for homosexuals. There are a lot of social-conservatives in Canada, in fact, evangelical Christianity, where many social-conservatives find their “home” is one of the few religious movement that shows strong growth, globally and in Canada, too. If the Conservative Party rejects the “far right”* then where does it go? There is no place for it on the left of the Conservatives, is there? Even if some NDP leaders are willing to flirt with notorious anti-Semites, that’s not as bad, politically, in Canada, as being anti-abortion.
I believe that the social-conservative movement’s place in the Conservative Party is untenable. They must accept either being denied any voice in that Party or they must strike out on their own. I think there is some room, and some seats in the House of Commons, on the “far right” of the Canadian political spectrum. The question is can the social-conservatives unite and then find a popular enough leader and recruit enough candidates and develop a platform, and, and. and ..?
First, Rogers’ “friendly deal to acquire Shaw for $20.4-billion was inevitable. Their long-standing agreement to not compete in each other’s respective home turf (Rogers taking the east and Shaw the west) on legacy services such as cable TV, and the families’ close ties meant the companies would always be the perfect match;” but
“The future of telecommunications, however, is all about wireless. It’s a costly business and companies require scale to remain profitable. That’s why our weak-willed regulators will eventually approve this tie-up. Princely sums are needed to build high-quality 5G wireless networks across our vast country.“
She also says, and I agree fully that, this deal will hurt Canadian consumers. “Sure,” she says, “Rogers is promising to invest billions to “create jobs and connect communities.” It’s no mystery, though, who will ultimately foot the bill for those investments. Common sense dictates that consumer prices will only go up after this deal is done.” That’s because successive governments, egged on by Marxist economic theoreticians keep trying to use regulations to create a competitive environment, using the same arguments that people use to justify one more attempt at communism: ‘It is sure to work, next time. We just didn’t implement it correctly in the last hundred or so attempts.‘ That is, it seems to me, a belief ~ one entirely devoid of any practical foundation ~ that prevails amongst most (65±% at a guess) Canadians, especially amongst those who, habitually, vote for the BQ, Greens, Liberals or the NDP.
It’s nonsense, of course, the best, probably the only way for governments to promote competition is to remove the impediments to it. Regulated ≠ free. Going all the way back to the 1930s, at the time of the creation of the CBC, Canadians have been increasingly protectionist about something that doesn’t even exist: Canadian culture. Our Laurentian Elites have used our ingrained fear of American domination to set up barriers to broadcasting, telecommunications and media ownership.
Go back to what Ms Trichur said, above: “The future of telecommunications, however, is all about wireless … [and] … It’s a costly business …” Canadian know how costly it is, but, as a reminder look at this (from July 2020):
Look more closely at two of the notes:
That says it all. India and Israel and most Asian countries, where competition is fierce, have low cost data for everyone; Canada and several third-world, Marxist dictatorships have high cost data for most people because they forbid real competition.
Ms Trichur says, and I agree, again, that: “After years of bungled attempts to create more competition in the telecom market, the federal government only has one significant lever left to pull. It must finally relax foreign ownership rules for large telecoms to allow American giants to acquire Canadian incumbents,” including Bell and Telus “– Rogers’s two main rivals – to drive down prices for consumers.” She notes that “Back in 2012, the federal government made legislative changes to enable 100-per-cent foreign ownership of small telecoms that have a revenue market share of 10 per cent or less … [and she says] … Now is the time for Canada to take the next logical step and drop the remaining foreign investment restrictions for large players.“
Although Ms Trichur focuses on the big American telcos like Verizon and AT&T, the market should also be open to e.g. Japan’s NTT Britain’s Vodafone and European giants like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica. There is still an obvious role for regulators: to keep unfriendly giants like China Mobile and MTS (Russia) out of our market. Free needn’t and shouldn’t equal totally open to all.
Doing what Ms Trichur says, very sensibly, is right and doing it the right way, too, will require an act of massive political courage and superb regulatory craftsmanship. It will need a national leader with a nation building vision, a 21st-century St Laurent, and a political manager with the skills and determination of CD Howe:
Campbell Clark, writing in the Globe and Mail, a couple of days ago, said, “Canada’s constitutional system makes it nearly impossible to get rid of the monarchy … [it is one of those things that takes the unanimous consent of all Canadian parliaments and legislatures] … But one day it is going to be unavoidable – perhaps even thrust upon us … [because, as he explains] … It has always taken some suspension of disbelief to accept the role of kings and queens to serve as the source of all national power – and the superior of elected prime ministers. Yet it worked. But that was only because of reverence for, or deference to, the monarch.” But that deference is fading and Meghan Merkle, an über-ambitious but otherwise quite unremarkable American actress, may have dealt it a really hard blow.
But, what if the monarchy self-destructs?
That won’t happen now, but, as Campbell Clark suggests there is a chance that absent some real reform ~ downsizing and making it look more like its Scandinavian counterparts? ~ there is a real possibility that it might cease to have a “home base” in Britain ~ and, of course, in 50 years there might not even be a Britain ~ by the end of the 21st century, perhaps even during the reign of Prince William’s son George.
The obvious choice to replace a monarchy is a republic but that, as we have seen in Australian referenda, raises questions about the form of democratic government and the recent experience in the USA makes the idea of a popularly elected president somewhere between worrisome and downright repugnant.
There are, basically, only two forms of democratic governments: monarchies and republics. There are several forms of republics ~ the most democratic are, very often, based on the same Westminster model that we use, where the executive power is represented by a president but is exercised by a prime minister who isresponsible to parliament.
There is an interim system, sometimes, called a regency … but a regency, generally (always as far as my reading suggests) is used as a stop-gap measure either between monarchs or when a monarch is to young or otherwise unfit to rule ~ the 1811-1820 Regency in Britain which gave its name to a whole era was required because King George III was stark, raving bonkers. I have suggested before that Canada could become a Regency as a way of avoiding a succession that I believe may be unpopular and will be divisive while also avoiding the debate about what form of republicanism might suit most of us ~ a debate that I suggest, will only end in tears, or worse.
But, most likely, almost certainly, I think, IF we are ever going to make a major Constitutional change on our own, it will be to a republic.
But, what sort of republic?
Here are my suggestions:
First, and most importantly, a parliamentary republic with a Westminster type of responsible government which implies a very powerful elected executive and a figure-head president;
Second, a federal state, perhaps, to differentiate us from our neighbours, officially called a Federation (or even called the Canadian Confederacy ~ 😉 just to remind our neighbours of their chequered history). Perhaps, since this will require a full-scale, no-holds-barred Constructional Convention that will make ones leading to the (failed) Meech Lake Accords look downright friendly, it will be time to remake the Canadian political map and have only five provinces ~
British Columbia, incorporating the Yukon territory (population: 5.1 Million)
The Prairies ~ Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the current North-West Territories and Nunavut (pop: 7.1 M),
Ontario (pop: 14.6 M),
Québec (pop: 8.4 M), and
Atlantic Canada consisting of the current provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (population: 2.4 Million).
Third, a system of selecting a head-of-state that does NOT allow for direct election by popular vote ~ which would make the head-of-state more politically powerful than is necessary or desirable in a Westminster type of responsible government ~ perhaps incorporating some features from other democracies including election by a “college” representing the federal and provincial legislatures, perhaps, being open only to the (max 165) Companions of the Order of Canada (which might risk (further) politicizing the appointments to the Order) and, perhaps, rotating (for each of the five, six or seven year terms of office) between the five provinces.
Nothing about changing the form of the Canadian state is ever going to be easy. Nor should it be. Making the process inordinately difficult was one of the very few things Pierre Trudeau did right when he repatriated the Constitution in 1982. But it may have to be done and sooner is likely better than later. I think that a federal, parliamentary republic is likely to be the most (only?) acceptable form of a non-monarchial state. Sticking our collective heads back in the sand and saying “now is not the time” is not leadership.
An old friend, another old soldier but one, unlike me, with a sense of humour said, on a social media site, that the Liberal government’s new symbol will be a condom because it more accurately reflects the government’s electoral priorities. A condom, he explained, allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of dicks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re actually being screwed!
During most of 2020 the Canadian media was fascinated by one thing: how poorly Donald Trump’s USA was doing at managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the GOB ~ the Great Orange Buffoon ~ Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response looked positively … well, if not good ~ compared to, say, Australia or South Korea ~ at least minimally acceptable, which, for Justin Trudeau is very good, indeed.
Of course, now that the GOB is gone, the media* are taking a slightly different, somewhat more honest look at things and Justin Trudeau is seen to be what he really is …
* I thank Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus for the image, which he posted on social media, but he did not say where he found it and Google has not been helpful.
One of the problems facing Canadians, especially those who live in cities, is easy enough to understand: gangs, often gangs of armed young people, mostly young men and too often young aboriginal men or “people of colour,” are engaged in criminal activities and they are often at war with other gangs and they use guns, mostly illegal handguns, mostly smuggled in from the USA, to settle their differences. These gangsters are often lacking in skill-at-arms or they are simply careless and the result is that innocent bystanders are often shot. The gangsters and hooligans are regularly arrested, tried and convicted and promptly released because … well, because they are underprivileged or victims of systemic racism or, or, or …
The police, and most citizens, know who the “problems” are and where they live and operate. But, for a whole host of reasons the police are reluctant to go and sort them out … in part because they know that they will not be supported by elected civic, provincial and national leaders.
In fact, at the national level, Canada’s dimwitted (drug addled?) prime minister and his bumbling sidekick the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness are determined to look the other way and try to solve a problem that doesn’t even exist. Hunters, sport shooters and biathletes are not using their “military style” rifles to terrorize neighbourhoods and trade in drugs, prostitution and other similar lines of “business.” But Justin Trudeau, eager to appease a small but vocal corps of really stupid people ~ people who are really afraid of guns ~ has decided that hunters and farmers are easier targets than are gangbangers.
Millions of Canadians, some of them my family and friends, have been and still are victims of systemic racism, but they don’t go around shooting up neighbourhoods because they aren’t criminals. The people who are criminals need to be apprehended and, if possible rehabilitated. Those who don’t want to rejoin society need to be separated from it until they are harmless. The millions and millions of law abiding Canadians, “racialized” or not, need some protection from violent criminal gangs; for a start, they need a new, competent government in Ottawa: one without Justin Trudeau.
There was a big, mostly virtual, conference on security and defence issues in Ottawa last week. As is so often the case the keynote speaker was “Captain Obvious.” In fact, though, I was a bit surprised that the Trudeau regime allowed Deputy Minister of National Defence Jody Thomas, the person in DND who is responsible for strategic advice and policy matters, to state the obvious. As Steven Chase and Robert Fife report, in the Globe and Mail, that’s exactly what she did, saying that “China is a growing threat to Canadian interests in the Arctic because of its need for natural resources.”
They go on to say that “In frank comments to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, deputy minister Jody Thomas said on Wednesday that Beijing is turning its attention to the Northwest Passage as melting ice opens up Arctic sea lanes to shipping and resource exploitation, including fish, petroleum and critical minerals …[and she explained that] … China’s designs on minerals in Canada’s North in part prompted the development of a joint U.S.-Canada strategy to reshape global critical mineral supply chains and reduce reliance on China. Beijing has moved aggressively in recent years to tighten its control of rare-earth minerals, which are crucial for manufacturing high-tech and military products … [and Ms Thomas said that] …“We should not underestimate at all that threat of resource exploitation in the Arctic by China in particular … [because] … China has a voracious appetite and will stop at nothing to feed itself, and the Arctic is one of the last domains and regions left and we have to understand it and exploit it and more quickly than they can exploit it.”“
‘Oh, no,‘ I can already hear most people saying, ‘he’s going on about Canada not doing enough to defend itself, isn’t he? Doesn’t he know that we Canadians don’t want to spend any more on defence? We, most of us, anyway, likely 2⁄3 to 3⁄4 of us, don’t care and just want the Americans to defend us.‘ That’s also Captain Obvious speaking.
China’s dominant position in some (many?) strategically critical resource areas is well known. China is, also, a quite large but resource poor country. It needs, quite desperately, some of the most critical resources, like water, oil and uranium. It ought to be clear that Canada has a vested interest in being able to profit from its own resources … including by selling them, on the open market, to anyone with cash to pay, even including China. But China would, understandably, rather control our resources itself.
… (as was done with ALL of the world’s best ‘public’ transit systems, by the way ~ not one really good public transit system is publicly owned and operated but all were built with public funds). But that former Canadian urge to ‘nation build‘ for ourselves seems to have faded into oblivion.
The government did the right thing, albeit reluctantly, it appears, in blocking a Chinese plan to acquire one Canadian strategic mineral mine ~ and gold still is one, by the way ~ but it still seems more bent on appeasing than on containing. Canada seems, to me, to be badly offside with our most important allies and trading partners. It is refreshing to hear a senior Canadian official state the obvious: “China is a growing threat to Canadian interests.” Now, we just need a responsible government that will act on that good analysis.
Nigel Wright, who was Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and who resigned when it was discovered that he used his own money to repay some of Senator Mike Duffy’s misappropriated expenses) and is now the (London based) Senior Managing Director of the multi-billion dollar Onex Corporation, says, in a piece published by the (British) ‘conservative home‘ group, that “With the United Kingdom’s recent withdrawal from the European Union, the country finds itself needing to negotiate new free trade deals to expand market access for its products and services. This position provides a unique opportunity for the UK to work more closely with other like-minded, Commonwealth countries, to not only allow for free trade between nations, but to come together and advance their shared democratic values on the world stage. A Canada-Australia-New Zealand-United Kingdom (CANZUK) alignment could benefit not only these countries but also the wider global community.“
“Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada,” he reminds us, “championed CANZUK during his leadership bid for the Conservative Party of Canada. Citing Canada’s long history of championing the rule of law, human rights, and standing with its allies to defend democratic values globally, O’Toole sees CANZUK as an opportunity to adopt a policy of “aspirational multilateralism,” where these like-minded Commonwealth countries work not only to advance the wellbeing of their citizens but also work to promote a commitment to democratic values on the world stage … [and he adds] … O’Toole’s commitment to CANZUK should not come as a surprise to those familiar with Canadian politics or the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada. In addition to specifically calling for a CANZUK Treaty, the Conservative Party’s official policy states that Canada’s government should work with foreign nations to reduce protectionist policies, in turn allowing for the establishment of free trade agreements.“
CANZUK to the rescue?
He says that “With the current hung parliament … [that’s Britspeak for a minority government] … and the Liberal government widely acknowledged to have bungled the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines for Canada, an election could take place this year. O’Toole’s embrace of CANZUK might provide the Conservative Party of Canada with a foreign policy plank that resonates with Canadians looking for sources of economic growth and for avenues to advance democratic values in a world in which that has become more urgent to do.” I think that’s possible IF Mr O’Toole can:
Survive the challenge that the religious right poses to the very existence of the Conservative Party in Canada; and
Join with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and advocate for CANZUK++. My version of a CANZUK++ would include …
… Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.
It would be an effective complement to British Prime Minister Johnson’s vision of D-10 ~ ten democracies: the G7 plus Australia, India and South Korea ~ which is aligned to contain China’s political aggression:
Foreign policy doesn’t win elections in Canada, it rarely even influences more than a handful of seats, but a well shaped foreign policy that is tied to trade and jobs and, therefore, to economic self interest might help a bit more. America remains, pound for pound, the world’s biggest and best trading partner. Japan is one of the world’s major economies, ditto Britain, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. India is a rising great power and, potentially, a HUGE market that may even, in a few years, dwarf China. Ten of the twelve countries discussed above are in the top 15 of the world’s greatest economies; all are democracies, some more liberal than others.
It has been five and a half years since Justin Trudeau was elected to lead Canada. In that period Donald Trump has come, wreaked havoc in global affairs, and gone, but the Cold War (Version 2.0) that he started with China still rages because, for now, at least, Xi Jinping seems to think that he can win it. No matter what the eventual outcome, China is the issue for this generation.
In the G-7 Angela Merkel is leaving but, during her time in office, she has dealt with four American presidents, including Joe Biden, five British and three Canadian prime ministers, four French presidents and seven Italian prime ministers, too. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ran her a close second for longevity. During Bundeskanzlerin Merkel’s term in office, the most important global issue has shifted from the fight against radical Islamic terrorism (do you remember when Canada was fighting in Afghanistan?) to containing China. And during that same period Canada has gone from being a respected leader in global affairs to being an outsider, looking in at the grownups:
While I remain convinced that “jobs! Jobs!! JOBS!!!” must be the key issue for Canadian Conservatives in this decade, a sound foreign policy which promotes free(er) trade with friendly countries can be a good way to secure good jobs at here at home. A sound foreign policy must include ensuring that “Canada’s place in the world is one of pride and influence,” as former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin put it. Being a proponent of an enhanced CANZUK++ arrangement ~ NOT a formal alliance, neither India nor Singapore will agree to that ~ might help to refurbish Canada’s tattered reputation which, thanks to Justin Trudeau, is that of a weak-kneed appeaser.
A sound foreign policy must be accompanied by an equally sound defence policy and both will require money that Canadians will be reluctant to spend on either portfolio.