Last two weeks I was overseas in Taiwan and South Korea so not able to update my blog, but a few things have happened since so below is a summary of my thoughts.
The courts ruled unanimously BC cannot block the Transmountain Pipeline. This is a huge victory for Jason Kenney and Justin Trudeau while a huge blow to John Horgan. He has wasted a bunch of money fighting to stop a pipeline which would benefit BC economically and most BC residents support while harming national unity. Hopefully construction can start soon, but I worry if this Fall’s federal election results in a minority government, the pipeline may be killed altogether as in such case Trudeau needs either NDP or Green support to prop him up and that will probably be one of the conditions. I also cannot help but think Rachel Notley is probably wishing she had held off calling the election as it could be held as late as May 31st. Probably not enough to prevent a UCP win, but I think the NDP might have won a few more seats than they did. Anyways hope the Supreme court refuses to hear this and hope C-69 and C-48 get killed while construction can start on pipeline soon. Also this will be a good precedent for the Tories if they win to push through Energy East Pipeline.
Defying polls, Dwight Ball was re-elected albeit may end up being a minority (Liberals won 20 out of 40 seats so will depend on whether the speaker is a Liberal meaning a minority or opposition giving them a narrow majority) even though most polls suggested a PC win so this is in contrast with other provinces where Tories have outperformed polls. Also a huge relief to Trudeau as it shows while there is a Blue Wave its not a tsunami and it didn’t wash up on the Rock on the East Coast although came close. I think part of the reason for the miss is the NDP only ran candidates in 14 out of 40 ridings so many who told pollsters they were going to vote NDP in the 26 ridings that had no NDP candidate ended up voting Liberal. Still not a bad result for PCs as they gained almost 13 points so very favourable swing and with Newfoundland being a Liberal stronghold federally, if the Tories do this well here, they will likely win a majority. However provincial PCs are more Red Tories so I suspect the federal Tories to do a lot better than the dismal 10% they got last time, but doubt they will get 43% in Newfoundland & Labrador. NDP also did surprisingly well and if their federal numbers stay low, probably should focus heavily on winneable ridings rather than a national campaign.
Election down under
For the last year, every pollster has said Labor would win in Australia and even exit polls said this, yet when the votes were counted, the governing Liberal/National coalition was once again re-elected. While the lead for Labor was not large, it was consistent thus why coalition win such a big surprise. In addition Australia unlike Canada has compulsory voting so this was a case of a real miss not one side doing a better job of getting their supporters out, which is usually in many countries the reason right frequently outperforms polls is their supporters more likely to show up. While Australia is much different than Canada, this points to the re-occurring theme of running on big ideas and solving things like climate change may help one gain in upper middle class urban areas, but is a huge turn off in many traditional blue collar areas and that is exactly what we saw there.
Doug Ford’s rock bottom approval ratings
We’ve had a few polls come out showing Doug Ford is extremely unpopular and in fact he might just be what saves Justin Trudeau and denies Scheer winning. Ontario is no doubt in a real fiscal mess so spending cuts absolutely are needed and in fact Ipsos poll shows 52% are in favour of them so I think the problem is not cuts per se, but more where and how done. Cuts if done wrong can be harmful so people like to know whomever is doing them knows what they are doing. A good comparison is if one needs surgery, getting surgery from a competent surgeon is better than not getting it, but not getting it at all is better than getting it from an incompetent surgeon and Ford comes across as an ignorant buffoon who has no clue what he is doing. I said all along it was going to be tough no matter who won and thus warned why it was important to choose someone the electorate liked as they were going to take a hit in the polls. So choosing someone who was already unpopular meant once the cuts came, they would sink to record lows whereas had Elliott been leader, her approval rating would have fallen but she would have had a honeymoon that Ford didn’t. My suggestion is at this point, Ford leave the decisions and also talking points as much as possible to cabinet who are far more competent than he is. Also probably best to try and get as close to a balanced budget by 2021 so go big and then once balanced find a way to resign and let someone else take over as I cannot see the PCs getting a second term with Ford as leader. Also since the feds are imposing a carbon tax anyways, if Ford just acknowledged that and imposed one, it would provide the revenue to cut the deficit in half thus making the cuts much easier. I live in BC where carbon tax is $35/tonne and we have a decent surplus but without the carbon tax we would have a deficit of almost $2 billion. Never mind BC has lower taxes than Ontario despite similar level of per capita spending.
Scheer and Abortion
After some changes south of the border as well as some Tories attending pro-life rallies, one of the Liberal fearmongering tactics is to claim the Tories have a hidden agenda to recriminalize abortion. I am a 100% pro-choice and do not in any way fear this will happen. It will not for two reasons:
- All politicians want to be re-elected as a rule of thumb, politicians generally don’t do things they know will cost them the election even if they personally favour it. If 40% of the Canadian public was pro-life I might be worried, but it is only 20% and Scheer is smart enough to know he touches this, his party will lose badly in the subsequent election
- Tories have a long tradition of making this a free vote and last time a private members bill on this was proposed was in 2013 by backbench MP Stephen Woodworth and it failed miserably getting only around 80 votes out of 308 and this was when the Tories had a majority. With a free vote in the Tory caucus and it being 50/50 split while a whipped vote for everyone else, Tories would need to win over 90% of the seats in House of Commons to have even a remote chance of passing and that won’t happen.
On the issue of difference of opinion, I am staunchly pro-choice and feel very strongly about it, but I think in a free country it is important to be tolerant of other opinions even those with disagree with. As Voltaire once said, I don’t agree with a world you say, but I will fight for my life for your right to say it so I think the left’s intolerance of different opinions and saying only one is acceptable and others are not is very unhelpful and if anything is just helping the right.
Media Bailout and Unifor
Liberals are promising a $600 million bailout to save print media. As a general rule I oppose corporate welfare as the government’s record of picking and choosing winners is not very good. Only time it should be done is if not doing it would lead to severe job losses and economic harm, otherwise only as a last resort. Worse here is this gives the appearance the Liberals are trying to buy the media to get more favourable coverage. I would like to think they are doing this for noble reasons, but after what Katie Telford promised JWR in terms of favourable coverage if she agreed to the DPA for SNC Lavalin, I am quite worried. Worse Unifor who is one of the 8 on the committee to decide who qualifies has stated quite clearly their goal is to ensure Scheer is defeated so I don’t see how having an organization who is openly hostile to one party can be seen as fair and unbiased. Some journalists are even calling this out worried that Unifor’s tactics and government policy is hurting their credibility and I fully agree.
Gun bans through OIC
There are rumours that in early June, the Liberals will ban several guns through order in council rather than legislation. If banning a specific brand, this is perfectly appropriate as firearms act allows this and in fact over 90 such firearms such as AK47 have been banned this way. Essentially, this exists as on semi-automatics, many like myself favour an outright ban, but many common hunting rifles are semi-automatics so as a compromise, the goal was those useful for hunting would remain legal, but military style ones would not. This was supposed to be updated regularly but hasn’t been since 1998. Now if this involves a complete semi-automatic ban or handgun ban, I believe doing it this way is wrong. I am all for banning both, especially semi-automatics and would be okay with a handgun ban, but it just strikes me as anti-democratic to pass this way. More importantly it allows the Tories to oppose this on being anti-democratic rather than on whether it is a good policy or not. Liberals had 4 years so if they really wanted to ban either they had plenty of time to do so the proper way. Likewise nothing says they cannot make a semi-automatic and handgun ban part of the election platform and I actually believe such ban would help them in the polls. Overwhelming majority of progressives favour both being banned while amongst those on the right, you have a split. The Tory base opposes bans on both but many key swing voters in suburbs the Tories need to win a majority favour both. Off course a semi-automatic ban is less controversial than handgun ban. Never mind evidence stronger for former than latter as Australia only banned the former and in many ways is the gold standard of gun control working, while UK banned both and hasn’t been quite as successful. I think with Liberals sinking in polls, this is a trap to try and trip Scheer up. If Scheer in the unlikely event supports the bans, gives new life to Bernier’s PPC and thus splitting the right wing vote. If he as expected opposes them, allows the Liberals to portray the Tories as the party of gun nuts. My advice to Scheer is oppose it as anti-democratic but being mindful most Canadians want tougher gun laws, but gun owners who are an important part of the base don’t, he will tighten both but stop short of a complete ban. I favour a complete ban for semi-autos but realize that is not going to happen under a Tory government. But I would suggest the following: For handguns make Anatasia’s law in Quebec national. This would require gun club membership and regular attendance to own a restricted so this would at least reduce the number who hold restricted weapons while still allow target shooting hobbyist to keep their hobby, but stop US style arming for self defence. For collectors, require they be deactivated or limit them to older handguns, see pre World war II. Also for restricted weapons, plus a hard limit on the number one can own. I would say three and anymore than three one must show proof of competition in multiple events and they would be allowed two per event. This will prevent individuals from getting a huge arsenal and theft less likely. For semi-automatics, ban high capacity magazines. Yes we have a 5 round limit, but you can still have a 30 round magazine pinned to five, so I would suggest changing the rules to make any magazine capable of accepting more than 10 rounds illegal and for centrefire semi-automatics they would have to be pinned to five. A number of US states, plus now the entire EU have 10 round limits so unlike when magazine limits were first brought in, this could work as back then very few jurisdictions had them whereas now most do.