Doing what’s needed to defend Canada (1)

Erin O’Toole raised a few good points about defence policy in his platform. Specifically he said that a Conservative government would focus on:

  1. Defending our Arctic sovereignty;
  2. Modernizing NORAD;
  3. Being a trusted NATO Partner: Reinforcing the cornerstone of Canada’s defence policy;
  4. Defending our partners in the Indo-Pacific; and
  5. Investing in our Armed Forces and our economy

The other day, Justin Trudeau released his platform. As I predicted, he said even less than the Conservatives did about defence policy. In ½ of page 69 (out of 83) he promised to:

  1. Work with the United States to modernize NORAD ~ a carbon copy of the Conservative promise;
  2. Further strengthen Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic ~ another copy of Erin O’Toole’s platform;
  3. Expand Canada’s long and short-range strategic airlift capability ~ this is a very good specific promise~ I wish I though he might keep it, I don’t;
  4. Expand cooperation and assistance to partners, allies and international organizations ~ a near copy of the CPC’s platform points 3 and 4;
  5. Remain a leading contributor to NATO operations ~ a lift from the Conservative’s 3rd point;
  6. Extend Canada’s support to Ukraine ~ an easy promise to keep doing what we are doing, for a while;
  7. Work with international partners to establish a NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security in Canada ~ a sop for the climate change folks; and
  8. Lead international efforts to establish a global coalition to respond to wildfires and other climate emergencies ~ another sop.

My guess is that a Liberal government would keep promise 6, for another year or so, anyway, and will actually send delegations to Brussels and other NATO capitals to discuss, over lavish dinners, points 7 and 8 but nothing but a few photo ops for ministers will come of it.

I want to focus on Mr O’Toole’s 5 points I think they make a bit more sense than do Justin Trudeau’s.

First I want Erin O’Toole to combine points 1 and 2. The best way to guarantee our sovereignty in the Arctic, even against American commercial interests, is by being a good NORAD partner AND by boosting our military presence in and over the Arctic, including in, over and under the Arctic Ocean.

Even if Xi Jinping and the Canadian gang of five (see Getting our aim right) are right and America is in irrevocable decline it will not be a sudden collapse. As Francis Fukuyama said, America “will remain a great power for many years” and it will be the guarantor of Canada’s sovereignty for those many years.

Second, I want Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives to rethink NATO as the cornerstone of Canada’s defence policy. NATO Matters but I think continental defence, including, above all, continental ballistic missile defence, should be the cornerstone of Canada’s security and defence policies. We should aim to defend Canada, first.

The defence of our continent requires, in my opinion, several of the capabilities that I identified almost five years ago:

  1. Surveillance and warning systems ~ terrestrial dial, underwater airborne and space based ~ to tells us what is going on on, under and above the land we clam as our own, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both;
  2. Military forces (aircraft, ships an d troops, to identify, inter kept and decals wth any forces that enter or approach our territory;
  3. Military (air, naval and land) to contribute to continental defence and, especially, to the defence of the American strategic deterrent;
  4. Naval, land a nd air forces to patrol our territory, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both; and
  5. Both the command and control superstructure and logistical base to manage and support it all.

I have five, somewhat controversial ideas for the Defence of North America task:

More, in a day or two, about Mr O’Toole’s other priorities.

Getting our aim right

I have good genes … my Mother and several aunts and uncles lived into and then beyond their 90s. Thanks to a few good habits and modern medical care, I can (reasonably) hope to see my 100th birthday … in just over 20 years.

I also expect (I guess I very reasonably fear) that there will be a major war involving the great powers before I celebrate my 100th birthday.

I don’t mean more of what the outstanding American author, historian and strategic policy analyst Max Boot called “The Savage Wars of Peace,” I mean a large scale war ~ one likely to see the use of at least some chemical and even nuclear weapons ~ involving many, likely most of the great powers.

I suspect that none of the world’s leaders wants such a war; I expect that it will start because of miscalculation. I believe that the Chinese are the people least likely to miscalculate and that the Americans are also unlikely to make the kinds of miscalculation that lead to all-out war. Four of the ‘leaders‘ that I suspect are more likely to miscalculate and plunge the world into a full scale world war are:

Happily, for us all, a great many very reputable scholars and analysts say that I am wrong. They suggest that while the conditions that I fear could lead to the sorts of miscalculations that I anticipate are very real, we, America, China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, amongst others, can and will find ways to coexist in something reasonable close to peace, as the American-led West and the Soviet-led East did for two generations between the late 1940s and the early 1990s.

Unfortunately, for all of us, about that same number of expert strategic analysts and scholars agree with me ~ they think that there is something called the Thucydides Trap which says that when a great power, say the USA, is confronted by a rising power, say China, then war is the most likely outcome. History appears to be on their side.

That ought to be enough to worry the leaders of every nation, including Canada but, I think, it is not the most pressing strategic problem facing Canada. In addition to being ready to try to help to prevent a major war ~ and being prepared to be part of the winning side if prevention fails ~ I think that Canada faces (but tries to ignore) and existential problem: maintaining our sovereignty over the lands that we claim as our own and the waters contiguous to them and the airspace over both.

But no reasonable person thinks that China or Iran or North Korea is going to attack Canada. First, our American friends would not tolerate a foreign power taking over Canada … which many Americans regard as a client state. But many very reasonable people can see major threats to Canada’s claimed sovereignty over, at least, its territorial waters and the seabed under them by major powers like China and Russia and, perhaps above all, by the United States of America.

The other day, I saw this article in the Globe and Mail. The authors are anything but fools. They are all experienced and some are well recognized experts in foreign policy and grand strategy. (I have had the please of meeting two of the authors many years ago. I’m sure neither will remember; in each case I was near the tail end of the entourage of an important person ~ the only people father back in the line were those with jobs like open the door and call for the car.) Anyway, one fo the things I noticed was that the authors (I’ll call them the “gang of five” a bit later) …

… former Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworth, Former Premier of Québec Jean Charest, former Ambassador (multiple posts) Jeremy Kinsman, Ben Rowswell who is President of the Canadian International Council and Jennifer Welsh who is a noted scholar and former foreign policy advisor to Prime Minisiter Paul Martin … managed to avoid saying even a word about Canada’s defences. That’s not surprising. A. recent Angus Reid Institute poll says that Canadians don’t care much about foreign policy (12th out of 15 key issues) and almost no one cares about defence:

I am also not surprised that in its 166 page election platform the Conservative party of Canada devoted only 3½ pages to National Defence and managed to studiously avoid repeating Mr O’Toole’s promise to spend 2% of GDP on defence ~ instead they say they plan to “move closer to” that always elusive aspirational goal. As I have often said, Canadians’ support for their military may be a mile wide but it is less than an inch deep. I don’t expect the Tories to promise something in a election campaign that Canadians don’t want.

But Mr O’Toole does touch on some key points:

  • Defending Arctic Sovereignty;
  • Modernizing NORAD;
  • Being a Trusted NATO Partner: Reinforcing the Cornerstone of Canada’s Defence Policy, but please see this ~ my last line is probably applicable to the majority of Canadian voters;
  • Defend Our Partners in the Indo-Pacific; and
  • Investing in our Armed Forces and our Economy.

Those are all important issues, and I will address them later.

Something the “gang of five” (above) said ~ “For three generations, Canada has had the luxury of a powerful neighbour assuming responsibility for upholding the international order, even as we disagreed with U.S. goals and tactics from time to time. “Foreign Policy By Canadians” showed us that Canadians recognize that simply deferring to the U.S. is not a viable approach, and domestically puts our economy at risk.” ~ reminded me of something that Prof Francis Fukuyama wrote in The Economist almost two weeks ago: “The horrifying images of desperate Afghans trying to get out of Kabul this week after the United States-backed government collapsed have evoked a major juncture in world history, as America turned away from the world. The truth of the matter is that the end of the American era had come much earlier. The long-term sources of American weakness and decline are more domestic than international. The country will remain a great power for many years, but just how influential it will be depends on its ability to fix its internal problems, rather than its foreign policy.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau - Students | Britannica Kids | Homework Help
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It is a helluva lot more than just our economy that is at risk IF, and I suggest it is an open question, America is in real, strategic decline. Our very existence as a sovereign nation is at risk because, since about 1970 ~ when Pierre Trudeau published his nonsensical Foreign Policy For Canadians ~ we have decided that defence doesn’t matter and Uncle Sam’s military muscle will always protect us. As I have explained before, that’s rubbish.

Aim & Scope – JMESS

Canada must get its strategic aims right. If America is changing (and the Trumpian notion that foreign policy is a zero-sum game still seems to be alive and well in America) and if Dr Fukuyama is correct. in saying that America “ will remain a great power for many years,” then Canada must use those many years to develop and implement its own grand strategy. That grand strategy must aim to preserve Canada as a sovereign, free and independent, liberal-democratic and prosperous nation that is a reliable and trusted trading partner and ally for other democratic states. Canada should aim to grow bigger ~ I suggest that our goal should be a population of 100 million by the year 2100. Canada should also aim to have a credible military force, one that can help to keep the peace until, I fear, a major, global war comes unavoidableb … but more about that in a day or two.

Official Logos - Secure the Future

For now, foreign and defence policy are not likely to be very much on anyone’s mind in this month’s election. I expect that Justin Trudeau’s platform, when it is, eventually released, will be a pale imitation of Erin O’Toole’s with a few bits of loony-left dogma stolen from Jagmeet Singh added in and it will say even less about foreign and defence policy. Canada’s domestic situation is markedly worse after six years of Justin Trudeau’s government. Priority 1 for most Canadian voters should be to elect a Conservative government that will put us back on the right track. We must hope that the Conservative party will also think seriously about foreign and defence policy, even if most Canadians do not.

Canada election: 2021 (2) The unprepared election

As I said yesterday, there are three weeks to go until the ballots are counted in the 2021 Canadian General Election. Some pundits say that the real campaign doesn’t start until tomorrow or, even, until next Tuesday and, therefore, the early lead that Erin Ot”Toole’s Conservatives have taken in the polls, turning the tables on the Liberals in the two weeks since the writs were dropped, is meaningless.

Image

One thing that seems pretty clear across the media is that many, actually most Canadians agree that the election is unnecessary and some are angry about it. Something approaching 60% of Canadians say that the election is unnecessary: Justin Trudeau has to wear that. He will also have to wear waning consumer confidence in Canada. Canadians are worried and he is the fellow who is, naturally, the focus of their unease.

Now, if I was a Liberal voter the thing that would worry me as we approach the mid-point of the election campaign is that it seems to me that Justin Trudeau and his campaign team called and unnecessary election, which may have been a mistake, but it also seems, to me, that they called an election for which they were unprepared.

Where is the Liberal platform? They have a brief, sketchy 12 point on-line “plan,” but where is their answer to the Conservatives’ 166 page platform document? Where are the numbers and timelines into which analysts and voters can dig? Some Liberal-friendly pundits are saying that “their hearts are not in it;” they seem to have expected a coronation parade and instead they are in a. fight for which they are under-equipped. I think being unprepared is politically inexcusable; I think being unprepared AND deciding to “go” anyway is nearly suicidal. I guess hubris is the word I’m looking for, isn’t it?

When will the Liberal Party’s platform be ready? No one seems to know for sure but CBC journalist Travis Dhanraj said, a few hours ago, that:

It looks to me like people are beavering away, frantically, to respond to what the Conservative and NDP have already announced. Is that how a well prepared ed campaign operates?

If Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lose this election, as I sincerely hope, for Canada’s sake, that they will, then I think that the blame, 100% of it, must be laid at Justin Trudeau’s feet. It appears, more and more, that Prime Minister Trudeau called this election because:

Prime Minister Trudeau appears, as he did in 2015 and 2019, to be running against Stephen Harper. I suspect that will work with one, small and diminishing slice of the electorate, but, it seems to me, that most Canadians know that Erin O’Toole, not Stephen Harper, is the Conservative leader and Mr O’Toole’s negatives are declining, slightly, while Prime Minister Trudeau’s are growing rapidly. One big threat to Prime Minister Trudeau is on the left where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is growing in popularity at Justin Trudeau’s expense. Not foreseeing this also strikes me as being part of a lack of planning and preparation.

I don’t know who is going to win on 20 September, nor by how many seats. I know what I hope will happen and my hope ~ see yesterday (link above, in the opening paragraph) ~ and it is (just barely, I hasten to admit) achievable. My hope is, however, being fuelled by Justin Trudeau’s hubris. He called an unnecessary election, something for which I expect many Canadians, including many, many Liberal supporters, will punish him by either staying home or switching their vote to the NDP or, in a few cases, to the CPC. But I also think that many Liberals are increasingly inclined to blame Prime Minister Trudeau for calling an unnecessary election for which both he and the party are:

Square Grunge Red Unprepared Stamp Royalty Free Cliparts, Vectors, And  Stock Illustration. Image 76695476.

That, alone, should make many more of my Liberal friends want to ditch their party leader and start afresh with a new “dream team” of real liberal Liberals.

Canada’s Election: 2021

We are just three weeks away from electing a new government in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is the most important election since the Second World War. That’s hyperbolic nonsense, of course, but it is an important vote because if Canadians decide to give the Liberal Party another few years in power then I am convinced that they will set Canada on the road to ruin.

Three weeks from Election Day, the most recent polling looks encouraging. The Conservative Party is ahead by more than just a few points and it seems that in vote-rich and all-important Ontario the Conservatives and Liberals are neck-and-neck. But it is too early to break out the champagne; as I have said on social media, we all know that the Trudeau-Liberals are desperate to stay in power and they will tell any lie and sling as much mud as they can as they try to win at any costs.

Erin O’Toole has campaigned well in the first two weeks, as has Jagmeet Singh and both are being rewarded in the polls; Justin Trudeau, on the other hand has appeared ill-prepared and tentative and his support is slipping.

It is my hope that the current trend will continue and we will end up with either a strong Conservative minority government or, better yet, a Conservative majority government. My best hope is something like this:

Government: Conservatives ~ 170-175 seats

Opposition: New Democrats ~ 55 to 60 seats

Liberals ~ 48 to 53 seats

  Bloc Québécois ~ 45 to 50 seats

All Others ~ 3 to 8 seats

That will be difficult for both the CPC and the NDP, but it is achievable if the Conservatives and New Democrats both improve, a lot, at the Liberals’ expense in BC and Ontario, especially.

One key point: I do not believe that Erin O’Toole will keep all the promises he has made on the campaign trail. But, I believe that the big difference between Mr O’Toole and Prime Minister Trudeau is that Mr O’Toole actually wants to keep his promises and he will try to keep his promises until “events” make that impossible.

I do NOT want to see the Liberal Party humiliated the way it was in 2011 and 1980 but I do want Canadians to repudiate its recent polices and attitudes in a clear, firm and exemplary manner. I want the Liberal Party to do a lot of humble soul-searching and some sincere navel-gazing, too, and decide to put aside much of 50+ years of its history (1968-1984, 1993 to 2004 and 2015 until today). I want Suzanne Cowan, the President of the Liberal Party of Canada to make some hard but needed decisions: after working the phones I want her to talk to the Party and the country and say something like: “Canadians have spoken and we, Liberals, are listening. It is clear that the policies and proposals we have offered are unacceptable to most Canadians and our performance in government has not inspired the confidence we hoped it would have. Justin Trudeau has agreed to stay on as our Party Leader in Parliament until we can have a combined policy and leadership convention in a few months. We Liberals still believe that we have better ideas and a better suite of polices and programmes for Canada, but it is clear that we need to reevaluate what we have done and how we have done things for the past few years. To that end I have decided to resign and I have asked a distinguished Liberal to take over as President of our Party and to form a “tiger team” to reevaluate our policies. Here is the new President and the policy team:*

These are all good Liberals representing the entire country. Some have been sidelined in recent years but we and all Canadians can have confidence in their judgement and patriotism. This is the team that will develop a new Liberal ethos which will lead us back on to the right path for Canada and Canadians. I look forward to seeing the new programme which our new policy team will propose at our forthcoming convention. Until then I know that our Liberal team in Parliament will be active and constructive in opposition. Finally, we wish our Conservative friends the best … until we are ready, again, to replace them as Canada’s government.

I believe that Canada needs two strong, moderate, liberal political parties ~ one always ready to replace th other in government. Right now it has only one: the Conservative Party of Canada. The Liberal Party has to rediscover what being liberal really means. It seems pretty clear to me that neither Pierre Trudeau nor Justin Trudeau were ever liberals. It also has to rediscover its ethical and moral foundations. Again, it seems to me that they were weakened by Jean Chrétien and then shattered by Justin Trudeau.

This election matters. Canada has been zig-zagging, often on the wrong tack, since the late 1960s. We are still one of the world’s “top-ten” countries by almost every measure that matters but we have been slipping, steading, in all of them.mIt is time to stop slipping and put ourselves back on the right track. If Canadians re-elect Justin Trudeau’s Liberals then I fear that recovering will be impossible and we will continue to degrade, slowly and gracefully, perhaps but steadily until we are no longer compared to, say, Australia and Britain but, instead, to Albania and Bulgaria. To get back on track we need two liberal parties to share in governing, one replacing the other when needed. The Liberal Party of Canada needs to be one of them … after it has reformed itself.

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* Not everyone will recognize everyone in that picture. There are former party leaders, former ministers and former MPs and one former premier of Ontario. What they all have in common is that none is an avid supporter of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That makes them good Liberals , in my opinion.


Thanks for reading …

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 …

CHANNEL UPDATE | THANKYOU AND GOODBYE.. for now.. - YouTube

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.

Thank you, all.

Whither the SoCons?

Almost four years ago I suggested that there was room, on the Canadian political spectrum, for four national parties:

  • 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?

Maverick Party (@maverick_party) | Twitter

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 ..?

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Liberal Party of Canada - Official Web Site

* There were some notable social-conservative Liberals, like Tom Wappel, but Justin Trudeau hardened a previous Liberal Party policy when he said ALL Liberal MPs must vote pro-choice. Now, Erin O’Toole is making it harder for the “far right” to find a home in the CPC, too.

Let them in

When the proposed $20 Billion merger of Shaw into Rogers was first announced, a few days ago, my initial reaction was:

Rita Trichur, writing in the Globe and Mail, explains that:

  • 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):

What Does 1GB of Mobile Data Cost in Every Country?

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:

A constitutional alternative

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 is responsible 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.

A more fitting symbol

Logos & Graphics | Liberal Party of Canada

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!

It doesn’t get more accurate than that, does it?