Three major things have happened recently which are Trudeau appoints new cabinet, Conservatives still cannot shoot straight on vaccines, and BC Liberals block Aaron Gunn for leadership race. Below are my thoughts on each one.
Today Trudeau appointed his new cabinet and I must say I was not least bit impressed, in fact quite worried. Seems to me cabinet was more about ideology than competence and government plans to shift leftward. Marc Garneau being dropped suggests he is no longer interested in pragmatic moderate centrist ones. Likewise appointment of Steven Guilbeault as environment minister and Jonathan Wilkinson as Natural resources minister is extremely worrisome. I get climate change is a serious issue, but I worry Trudeau government will take too one sided an approach. Canada only emits 1.6% of world’s GHGs so at most we will only make a minor difference. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything; we absolutely should. Just means we need to look at costs vs. benefits and taking strong action to only make a minor difference while tanking our economy is not what I call a balanced decision. Alberta elected two Liberal MPs and with Kenney’s unpopularity, I believe this was a chance to help improve relations. Instead Trudeau just gave a big middle finger to province and he may have given UCP a lifeline who thanks to bungling of COVID-19, were heading for an almost certain defeat. Things are looking good for Notley and if he could just wait 18 more months, he could have a real partner in Alberta who shares similar philosophy and will allow both to make progress on areas of shared concern. But no, he appoints a former Greenpeace radical climate activists as environment minister. We need to move towards cleaner energy, but that will take time; it won’t happen overnight. And more importantly if we shut down energy industry too fast, that will make life more expensive for middle class, worsen national unity, and also make already bad deficit even worse. Many talk about a climate emergency, but reality is we are not realistically going to avoid hitting the 1.5C warming most want to avoid. But if we keep it to 2C or 3C, that is a heck of a lot better than 4C to 6C. More importantly humans are very adaptable and dealing with climate change should be a mix of both adaptation and mitigation, not 100% of either one. In addition the more prosperous we are economically, the easier it will be to adapt to a warmer climate. There were also other lousy appointments like Melanie Joly as foreign affairs minister. Reality is most cabinet picks are a mix, but this was a massive disappointment.
But if Liberals are a huge worry, Tories don’t give me much confidence they can be an effective opposition. Party is still defending MPs’ right to not get vaccinated and too many in party trying to pander to anti-vax minority. I say enough. O’Toole needs to tell all MPs to get vaccinated and anyone who doesn’t have a valid medical reason not to will be kicked out of caucus. For those saying this is about freedom, I think they have a very warped view of freedom. Try telling that to small businesses that went under; to those who are in pain due to delayed surgeries; weddings and funerals cancelled; people who couldn’t say goodbye to dying loved ones; people who couldn’t see many friends; rise in mental health issues; and many of us having to sacrifice 18 months not being able to do things we normally want to. And to have the gall to claim its about your freedom? No, its about people who want to be selfish assholes, that is what it is. Your freedom ends the moment you harm others. After 18 months of above hardships and sacrifices, most of us want our lives back and if everyone gets vaccinated we can get that. So we are sick and tired of those who for selfish reasons are trying to prolong the pandemic. There is no middle ground here; anti-vaxxers are being selfish and causing trouble and its time for leaders of all political parties to say enough is enough. If party wants to be taken seriously, it needs to stand on the side of science and with the vast majority of us who have done right thing and are sick and tired of pandering to anti-vaxxers.
The BC Liberals have rejected Aaron Gunn’s candidacy and I believe that was the right choice. Party has six very strong candidates and I would be happy to support anyone of them for next premier. I know rejecting one is risky and undoubtedly it will create anger some, but I believe it was right choice. A mainstream party needs to be inclusive and too many statements of Aaron Gunn suggests that visible minorities, First Nations, and LGBT would not be welcome in party. I know some will say prove it, but reality is everyone is different in how comfortable they feel with controversial statements. Some from the above mentioned groups may not find his comments offensive while others may, but point is party needs to be where people of every group feel welcome and we cannot have a leader where some don’t even if not a bigot per se, which I don’t believe he is. Finally parties have values and while they should evolve and change with times, they are not personal vehicles for someone to promote their own agenda. If someone wants to radically change direction of party, they should get support of existing membership first, not sign up a bunch of new members to hijack party. I have seen this with Momentum in the UK and how they hijacked Labour Party and brought about Jeremy Corbyn. Same with Trump in US. While I think idea of letting everyone vote and having a grassroots party is admirable and sounds good on surface; recent events suggest far too often it results in parties being hijacked by fringe. Sad reality is mainstream voters don’t tend to participate in leadership races and if no guard rails, we will end up having all parties hijacked by more fringe elements which is bad for democracy. BC Liberals are not there to serve membership; they are there to offer a certain philosophy come election time and give voters a choice. If Aaron Gunn or others feel certain viewpoints are not represented in existing parties, nothing is stopping them from starting their own party. He also claims he is for conservatives and that is a major red flag. BC Liberals, are not a Conservative party, we are a pro free enterprise coalition of both federal Liberals and federal Tories and to win we need a leader that can appeal to both. Any leader that tells one side they aren’t welcome should automatically be disqualified. Some say this will split party guaranteeing an NDP win, but I disagree. Party may or may not win in 2024, but that will depend largely on how Horgan performs. But next election is still 3 years away and asides from a few political junkies, this will be largely forgotten. Federal Tories disqualified two candidates, Jim Karahalios and Richard Decarie for being too extreme, yet it didn’t hurt them. So I believe this will be forgotten by then. By contrast if Gunn won or even played kingmaker, it would give NDP tons of material to work with on attack ads making a win very unlikely. For those claiming this will split conservatives; I would like to remind them Kevin Falcon and Ellis Ross are federal Conservatives while Michael Lee was a former Progressive Conservative pre-merger and may still support the Conservatives. So this is not excluding all conservatives, just the more fringe types. For those saying party needs to move right to win, numbers say they are wrong. BC Conservatives only got 2.4% of popular vote while BC NDP 47.7%. Simple math says BC Liberals are going to need to win over some NDP voters to win in 2024. Not most, but some of the softer ones who voted BC Liberal in elections prior to 2020. Likewise federally the Conservatives only got 33% in BC and even if you include PPC, combined right was 38% so simply uniting Conservatives won’t be enough to win. Never mind it was Lower Mainland where federal Liberals strongest not Interior that favours Conservatives which cost BC Liberals election. So when I argue party needs to stay moderate; its not just because I want this; its also because numbers make clear that is what party has to do. And claiming party is NDP lite is nonsense. One doesn’t have to be polar opposite of opponent to be different. World is not black and white, it is shades of gray and you win on nuances, not seeing world in simplistic black and white terms.