Victoria Mayor gets off her high horse – sort of

0831 - Remember a couple of weeks ago I commented on the decision by the Mayor of Victoria and her council to take down the Statue of Canada’s First Prime Minister?

Well, the mayor is sort of trying to ease herself down off that self-righteous pedestal on which she was perched. You see, there is an election coming up and she and the council have received a lot of negative feedback from that narrow, awful decision.

Now she says the whole thing is complex. Imagine that! Covers a multitude of sins. It was all so clear a few weeks ago and now suddenly its getting fuzzy.

The mayor is hinting about involving more people in the healing/reconciliation process. My, democracy might even break out!

Of course, she can’t come right out and say she made a mistake. People like her never make mistakes, do they? Their proximity to perfection is just so close.

Sure, she is even talking about putting the statue back up in another public place.

Is this what passes for municipal competence and Leadership these days?

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Pipeline decision creates a costly delay

Brian Peckford

0830 - The decision of the Federal Court Of Appeal is a major setback for the Expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The court is saying that two items have not been adequately addressed:

A. Marine issues that are affected as a result of the pipeline expansion 

 B. Insufficient consultation with First Nations

 This is very important in that Kinder Morgan, the company involved, and the Federal Government had thought bot issues were addressed  in the  process . 

The Minister of Finance of Canada is saying that the Court did not address the Government’s New Marine  policy but only the National Energy Board’s involvement. He says the Government will proceed to finalize the transaction to buy the project and will proceed with the project in line with the Court decision. Kinder Morgan says they are reviewing the decision with the Federal Government.

Obviously, the Federal Government did not have as a condition of the sale the approval of Federal Court of Appeal. Additionally, it seems the Federal Government does not intend to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Furthermore, it is clear that, notwithstanding the Federal Minister's statements of moving ahead, further work will have to be undertaken to ensure compliance with the court decision on marine safety and appropriate additional consultation and accommodation with First Nations to ensure court compliance as well. This will involve more delay of the project and likely cost increases which the taxpayer of Canada will have to bear. 

 Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Crunch time for Canada at the NAFTA table

By Brian Peckford

0828 - The new trade deal between the U.S. and Mexico puts pressure on Canada to make some hard decisions especially since it looks like both Countries have compromised. 

It looks like the U.S. got some concessions on autos causing less incentive for companies to move to Mexico. For example , higher wages will have to paid in Mexican auto plants. More content rules from 62% to 75% are also in the new deal. And collective agreements will have to be recognized. 

The contentious sunset clause of 5 years looks like it has been softened to be a’ review ’ after six years. The difference between sunset and review is not yet clear since the wording has not been released. Whether Canada is willing to accept this will be an important indicator if Canada is willing to compromise as the U.S. has done.

On agriculture it seems like most products will be tariff free between Mexico and the U.S. . The issue with Canada will be supply boards policy on dairy and chickens which obviously is not a tariff free situation. Both the Liberal Government and the two main opposition parties support the continuation of this anti free trade supply board policy. Will the Americans relent on their opposition to this Canadian Policy which up to now they have vehemently opposed. Is there a middle ground? 

Lastly , is the dispute settlement provisions. Mexico seems to have relented on their opposition in that the new agreement sees dispute settlement mechanisms remaining for some industries but eliminated on others. This is an American gain but not completely. Can Canada accept this. Obviously both the U.S. and Mexico have both given a little. Apparently , there is also a provision that the Mexicans accepted that it would be more difficult to challenge U.S. trade remedies. 

 Perhaps the biggest point will be that the U.S. wants Canada to agree by Friday. 

 The strategy by the U.S. to deal with Mexico alone seems to have worked in that Canada is now alone in its bargaining. 

 No doubt there were many that thought the U.S. would never get an agreement with Mexico. Well, that’s been proven wrong. 

 Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

 

Maxime Bernier is right on conservatism

By Brian Peckford

I suspect it was only a matter of time. Maxime Bernier could not remain in the present Conservative party of Canada given his "conservative" views . How ironic! But this is Canada, remember. 
 
It is worthwhile to read his statement of departure rather than depend on what others are saying about the statement. It is at the end of this post. 
 
There are already those who are trying to frame him, for example, as anti-immigration like the liberals and progressives in the US are doing as it relates to the Trump immigration policy. 
 
Bernier in his statement hits on some core conservative principles:
 
 
 
Free Trade
As we all know, none of the present political parties advocate free trade. Within the country we don’t even have it. The present supply management issue makes that clear. Apparently Conservative Leader Andrew Sheer owes his leadership victory, in no small measure, to support from Quebec farmers who are an integral part of the supply management system. In other words the party of so-called free trade is aiding and abetting policies that encourage protectionism and help prevent a revamped NAFTA from happening. 
 
Immigration
Given what we see in Europe and the U.S. one would think it advisable to take a hard look at this policy. Even liberal politicians in Europe, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, are now admitting that multiculturism is a factor in the bungled immigration situation in Germany and Europe generally. Stricter rules are being put in place everywhere in the EU. Not no immigration, but a immigration which ensures integration over time and not the growth of separate ghettos that is happening in Sweden, the Netherlands, France and parts of Germany. 
 
Regional Economic Development 
The approach by the Conservative Party of more Ministers for different regions sound nice but on the ground it is rooted in more division and a multiplicity of different programs potentially fostering more disparity. 
 
Equalization
This program of help to "disadvantaged" provinces is in need of a rethink. But entrenched interests in the Conservative Party and elsewhere sees all the old, tired arguments of the past used rather than a debate on new ideas to make the whole country work better economically. 
 
Corporate Welfare 
We all know what’s going on. The amount of corporate welfare that goes on in this country is shameful. From the big auto companies, to shipyards, to the decades-old Bombardier bailouts, to how the export bank works, this needs a robust and immediate review. Few Canadians are even aware of the cosy relationship between the Government of Canada and the Irving Company. 
 
So Bernier has a point. But given the evolution of this country our appetite for truly conservative principles is not great. But that is not say, it does not exist. It does.
 
And with Bernier freed from the shackles of a Conservative Party looking firmly on the next election and hence a pliable policy platform, he will be able, if the liberal press can bring themselves to carrying it, real conservative ideas to the fore. 
 
We have lost the idea that rather than be a servant to the polls, there just maybe merit in establishing real principles of public policy and then going out and selling it to the public. My, what a novel idea. 
 
Why I Am Leaving the Conservative Party of Canada
Published on August 23, 2018
 
By Maxime Bernier
 
Over the past few months, I have been raising policy issues which I believe are crucially important for the future of our country. This is my job as a Member of Parliament. 
 
Moreover, it is my duty, as a Conservative Member of Parliament, to contribute to debates and to offer policy solutions from a conservative perspective. Otherwise, what is the point of being involved in politics? 
 
I am in politics to defend ideas, real conservative ideas. Because I passionately care about Canada’s future. Because I know that the free-market conservative philosophy has the best solutions to ensure our society is more prosperous, secure, and peaceful. 
 
However, my party’s stand on several issues have convinced me that under the current leadership, it has all but abandoned its core conservative principles. 
 
I still cannot understand how a party that is supposed to defend free markets supports a small cartel that artificially increases the price of milk, chicken and eggs for millions of Canadian consumers. 
 
More importantly, supply management has become one of the main stumbling blocks to an agreement with the United States on NAFTA. Former Conservative leaders Brian Mulroney and Rona Ambrose agree that it should be put on the table. 
 
But the Conservative Party has been siding with the Liberal government. It also supports the retaliatory tariffs of the Liberal government, even though this is going to hurt our businesses and consumers. Even though Canada has no realistic chance of winning a trade war with a neighbour ten times larger. Even though we could successfully relaunch the negotiations if we put supply management on the table, and if we accept President Trump’s offer to negotiate a dismantling of all barriers, as the European Union has done. 
 
The Liberals are playing politics with this crucially important trade file. They are endangering the 20 per cent of our economy that depends on trade with the U.S., and Canada’s future prosperity. 
 
But instead of leading as a principled Conservative and defending the interests of Canada and Canadians, Andrew Scheer is following the Trudeau Liberals. I was told that internal polls are showing that the Liberals’ response to Trump is popular. And that in six months, if the polls change, the party’s stand may change too. 
 
The same thing happened in reaction to my tweets on diversity and multiculturalism. This is another crucial debate for the future of our country. Do we want to emphasize our ethnic and religious differences, and exploit them to buy votes, as the Liberals are doing? Or emphasize what unites us and the values that can guarantee social cohesion? 
 
Just like in other Western societies grappling with this issue, a large number of Canadians, and certainly the vast majority of Conservatives, are worried that we are heading in the wrong direction. But it’s not politically correct to raise such questions. 
 
Instead of leading the debate and pushing back against all the unfair accusations, Andrew Scheer chose to avoid the controversy. He and several of my colleagues disavowed me. They are so afraid of criticism by the Left and the media that they prefer to let down millions of supporters across the country who would like us to tackle this issue. 
 
When the Liberal government recently renewed the unfair and inefficient equalization formula for another five years, I was the only one to criticize it. Not a word from my Conservative colleagues. 
 
A Conservative party that supports free markets should also advocate the end of corporate welfare. It is not only the principled thing to do, it could also be popular if we defend it in a consistent way. Canadians are tired of paying taxes to bail out Bombardier, Ford and other businesses. 
 
Instead of taking up this idea, Andrew Scheer announced that he would name a regional minister for all the regional development agencies in the country, as opposed to having only one minister overseeing them as is the case now. He wants a minister from Quebec to distribute subsidies to Quebec, a minister from Atlantic Canada to distribute subsidies to Atlantic Canada, and so on. 
 
The Conservative solution should be to abolish these wasteful agencies. What my party proposes is to make them more efficient at buying votes with taxpayers’ money. 
 
How can we expect this party to adopt any conservative reform when it comes to power, if it cannot even articulate a clear stand and defend them before it is elected? I am now convinced that what we will get if Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister is just a more moderate version of the disastrous Trudeau government. 
 
I have come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed. 
 
I know for a fact that many in the caucus privately oppose supply management. But buying votes in a few key ridings is more important than defending the interests of all Canadians. 
 
The whole strategy of the party is to play identity politics, pander to various interest groups and buy votes with promises, just like the Liberals. 
 
The Conservative Party tries to avoid important but controversial issues of concern to Conservatives and Canadians in general. It is afraid to articulate any coherent philosophy to support its positions. 
 
Every public declaration is tested with polls and focus groups. The result is a bunch of platitudes that don’t offend anybody, but also don’t mean anything and don’t motivate anyone. 
 
Andrew Scheer keeps talking about his “positive Conservative vision.” But nobody knows what that vision is. 
 
The Conservative Party has abandoned conservatives. It does not represent them anymore. And it has nothing of substance to offer Canadians looking for a political alternative. 
 
If we want conservative principles to win the battle of ideas, we have to defend them openly, with passion and conviction. 
 
That is what I want to do. And this is why as of today, I am no longer a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. I want to do politics differently. I will find another way to give a voice to millions of Canadians. And I will continue to fight for Freedom, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect.

It's hard to get excited about Trudeau, Horgan visits

By Brian Peckford

0822 - I live in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Today, both the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of British Columbia are in town. But you know what? I just can’t get excited by that.

These masters of the spin and hypocrisy just demoralize rather than inspire.

Oh, of course, with all the wild fires, they both will provide the necessary lip service and photo ops. Ironically, it is appropriate they are here since they must feel comfortable in such hazy conditions – the ‘atmosphere’ literally so consistent with their policy decisions.

But on the big stuff on which they can make a difference, well, that’s another story.

Consider:

The Premier opposes the Kinder Morgan Pipeline that will assist in moving Alberta’s oil to tide water in BC and provide much needed jobs and investment in Alberta and BC and across the country.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister was forced to buy that multi-billion-dollar project after his Government through regulation and ineptitude forced the company to abandon the project.

Nice set of circumstances don’t you think? They go around espousing green policies but cause more oil to travel on the environmentally riskier rail lines than having more of it travel by pipelines. 

Why doesn’t the Prime Minister make the Energy East Pipeline a national project rather than see Eastern Canada Refineries forced to buy Saudi, Nigerian, and American oil?

Our Prime Minister (and his Minister of Finance) have broken our conflict of interest laws and there is no accountability. Everyone is all over Trump, including Canadians, for potentially (nothing proven ) having broken campaign laws in the US. 

Why does the Prime Minister (and the Conservative leader Andrew Sheer) and the Premier continue to support an antiquated protectionist trade policy of supply boards all he while pretending to be free traders – which protects the few and harms the many? 

How can they criticize the Americans on tariffs when we don’t have free trade in our own Country?

Why does the Prime Minter criticize the Saudis on human rights and support selling military vehicles to them?

What have they done to decrease wait times from over a year to see a medical specialist about a serious medical problem?

Why do they do both increase taxes, increase debt, increase regulation  . . . ?

Why are we not as productive or innovative as the Americans?

Boy, in this context its hard to celebrate their presence.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

I’ll take the fire chief’s words, not the judge’s 

By Brian Peckford

0821 - The Nanaimo  Bulletin turned up at my door this morning. It’s main  headline was : ‘City Stands Pat after court rules on fire order. ‘

 The Good Judge ruled/decided, according to the Bulletin that ‘A police enforcement order allowing individuals to be arrested for having tarps or tents too close together was ‘excessive.’ 

 Now, this is just the latest judge decision in a long line dating back a couple of decades where  courts in this country start making rules and laws inconsistent with their mandate. Does the Judge  have special fire risk training? General safety training? Does this judge not believe the City’s fire chief and law enforcement officers who are specially trained in keeping the public safe, the RCMP, and knowing fire safety?.

Thankfully, we have a courageous fire chief and director of public safety who is not afraid to speak up. Of course, the lawyers, twisting in the wind of technicalities, confuse safety with the overall decision about legal occupancy. Sure, try to sell me another one! Do I sense some political correctness here or not wanting to ruffle the Judge’s feathers? 

The paper says the fire chief says the judge’s comments about the city not doing enough to work with the occupants at tent city are misguided. She said the city has provided toilets, garbage, fencing and other materials. 

She went on to say: "I think the judge maybe didn’t have all the information or realize what we’ve been doing as far as providing safety. We are working and continuing to work with representatives from B.C. Housing and we have been doing that for several weeks.’

 Whom do I trust to protect my safety as a citizen of Nanaimo? Someone trained in safety, the RCMP,  our courageous Fire Chief and Director of Public Safety. 

 Meanwhile another knife attack happened at tent city last Friday.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

France bans cell phones in schools

Brian Peckford

From the Wall Street Jounal

0813 -PARIS—Solal Paroux’s friends all have smartphones, and the 12-year-old Parisian has been needling his parents to get him one too. But his parents are resisting.

And now they have the law on their side.

When school starts up in September, a new French law will ban students ranging from ages 3 to 15 from using smartphones anywhere on school grounds, with only narrow exceptions.

The law is one of the most sweeping attempts yet to address growing concerns among parents and educators that a generation of children is growing up addicted to the mobile devices in their pockets.

“Children don’t have the maturity” for smartphones, said Valérie Paroux, Solal’s mother. “Some adults don’t either.”

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, says the ban, which applies to the French equivalent of preschool through ninth grade, is intended to remove distractions during class and to encourage children to read a book or play outside during recreation. He says he hopes the law will serve as a symbolic message to both children and adults beyond school.

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, says the ban is intended to remove distractions during class.

“We’re not seeking to reject technological progress—that would be absurd—but rather to master it, to make sure man is the master of the machine,” said Mr. Blanquer, who himself has two smartphones. “It all begins with education.”

In recent months, complaints that big tech firms’ products are too addictive, particularly for children, have started to resonate in Silicon Valley. Facebook Inc. earlier this month said it would start offering tools to show users how long they use its service and alert them to take a break.

Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google each also plan to introduce similar tools into new operating systems for iPhones and Android phones. Apple’s “Screen Time” system will enable parents remotely to monitor the apps their children use and limit their time on devices.

Usage among children and teenagers is growing quickly. In 2017, nearly 79% of people in the U.S. from ages 12 to 17 had a smartphone, up from 62% three years earlier, according to market research firm eMarketer. In France, the figures are higher: 86% of people in that age range had a smartphone in 2017, up from 59% three years earlier, according to the country’s telecom regulator.

PARENTING IN THE AGE OF TECH

Many places in the U.S. and abroad have partially or fully banned mobile phones in schools, but rarely on the scale France is planning. New York City banned student cellphones in public schools for a decade, but ended the unevenly enforced rule in 2015 because of complaints from parents who wanted to be able to reach their children.

There is evidence that a ban on the devices can improve academic performance. A study by researchers at the London School of Economics found standardized test scores for 16-year-olds at 91 U.K. schools measured between 2001 and 2011 rose when they instituted bans on mobile phones. The increase, equivalent to that from an extra hour of school per week, was higher when the bans were strictly enforced, the study found.

Louis-Philippe Beland, who led the study and is now an assistant professor of economics at Louisiana State University, said France’s ban could help its students. “From our research, it seems very difficult for teachers to police mobile phones,” Mr. Beland said. “So that’s a rationale for being more strict.”

Until now, rules in France covering mobile phones have varied widely. An older law already banned phones in class, but only about half of schools barred them elsewhere in school, according to a parliamentary report.

Under the new law, which the French parliament passed in late July, usage will automatically be barred everywhere in schools, except if teachers wish to use students’ own devices during lessons or if schools establish other exceptions. The education ministry says guidelines it will publish later this month will recommend, but not require, that schools install lockers where students can deposit their phones.

“We want children to rediscover the real, that connection to the concrete, to nature, to do doing things with their hands, to contact with other human beings,” Mr. Blanquer said.

Some parents, teachers and members of France’s political opposition say they are concerned the approach may not be workable—or particularly helpful.

Claire Krepper, national secretary of SE-UNSA, a teachers union, said she thinks the government should have focused its efforts on educating children to use mobile devices “reasonably and respectfully,” rather than banning them.

“People said television would rot our brains and make us couch potatoes,” Ms. Krepper said. “Banning phones won’t solve anything.”

Mr. Blanquer, the education minister, responds that French schools already offer digital education with plans to expand offerings. “There’s an offensive approach and a defensive approach,” Mr. Blanquer said. “We can do both.”

On a recent evening, the Paroux parents said they support the law. For some, “it’s like they’re living on social networks,” Ms. Paroux said. “It’s sad,” interjected Stéphane Paroux, her husband.

Solal, for his part, agreed the ban might make it easier for him to be the kid without a phone. But he said he doubts it will be enforceable during recreation in the school courtyard.

“The teachers don’t watch that closely,” he said.

Victoria —don’t destroy the Macdonald statue, add to it

By Brian Peckford

0809 - The City of Victoria has made a monumental error. They have decided to remove the statue of our first Prime Minister from the grounds of City Hall. 

They think that this will somehow erase from history Mr. Maconald’s mistakes, as well as, of course, his achievements. 

This sudden virus of political correctness that has infected so many people is dangerous and will attempt to make it more difficult to learn from our past.  

No one is perfect not even the mayor of Victoria or the Council . I am sure they will highlight their achievements and downplay their mistakes at election time. Such is life.

 If we are to learn from history we must be faced with all of it, not some of it. 

 Note this from the Mayor’s website

"The statue will be removed on Saturday (Aug 11) and the plaque installed immediately. After an appropriate amount of time has passed (as determined by elders from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations) a cleansing, blessing and healing ceremony will be held in the space where the statue formerly stood. In the longer term, as determined by motion of Council in late 2016, a piece of art representative of Lekwungen culture will likely go in this space.’

On the plaque there is wording about the indigenous people who occupied the land on which Victoria now sits and at the end notes: "————-the Nations and the wider community grapple with Macdonald’s complex history as both the first Prime Minister of Canada and a leader of violence against Indigenous Peoples."

So eradicate one piece of history for another. 

Would it not be better to leave Macdonald’s Statue and explain the history of the man, good and bad, and add to that area either in statues or plague the history of Victoria, its aboriginal past and the good and bad of the leaders of that time. 

This way people will get a full understanding of the city’s past. 

I mean we are all, as we speak, benefiting from the many good decisions that Confederation has bestowed as well as recognizing the many mistakes .

The other thing that is rather odd is that it seems that a small group of people are the ones who have decided  this course of action. One would think that a City Council and Mayor that seems so sensitive to form and our past and recognizing people that they would be equally sensitive to recognizing "all the people"  of Victoria and hold a plebiscite/referendum on the issue outlining various options, including the one that I have proposed. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Saudi student withdrawal is credit negative for Canada

Brian Peckford

0808 - From Moody's Outlook Update. The Government of Saudi Arabia (A1 stable) has announced its intention to immediately suspend scholarships for its students and require all Saudi students to withdraw from Canadian universities. We estimate that this decision will affect up to 15,000 Saudi students and their family members in post-secondary education across Canada within the undergraduate and graduate programs, including a large number of medical students.

The withdrawal is credit negative for the Canadian university sector because it will decrease university operating revenues and highlights geopolitical risk universities face as they focus on international students to support revenue growth. Saudi Arabia announced its decision in conjunction with other measures, including that the country will freeze all new trade and investment deals with Canada. 

However, we believe that the university sector will experience the most immediate and measurable effect.

Although the majority of international enrollment has been generated by China, India, South Korea and the US, other countries including Saudi Arabia have contributed strong growth over the past decade as universities seek to diversify their international student composition.

Among Moody’s-rated universities, McGill University (Aa2 stable) has one of the highest enrollments of Saudi students with 327 registered in the 2017-18 school year, or 2.7% of international student enrollment and 0.8% of total enrollment. Saudi Arabia also constitutes an increasingly important segment for other universities, including the University of Toronto (Aa2 positive) with 240 students, comprising 1.3% of international enrollment and 0.3% of total enrollment for the same period. Additionally, Saudi students have accounted for the fastest-growing graduate international enrollment over the past 15 years.

Although we do not expect that the withdrawal of Saudi students will place an excessive burden on the universities’ financial health, this development will expose Canadian universities to geopolitical risk and a loss of revenue. That is because we believe the universities will be unable to immediately replace these students with other international students given the close timing to the start of the new academic year.

Canadian universities have increasingly targeted international students over the past decade because international tuition fees, which are higher than domestic fees, typically are not subject to provincial controls. Tuition fee increases for domestic students are capped at 3% annually in Ontario (Aa2 negative), at 2% in British Columbia (Aaa stable) and at the rate of annual inflation in Quebec (Aa2 stable). As a result, operating revenue growth for a large number of Canadian universities has been supported by increasing international student enrollment (see exhibit).

What if the shoe was on the other foot?

By Brian Peckford

"Dumbass f—ing white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on a fire hydrant."

"Oh, man, its kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to white people."

"Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins." 

The person, Sarah Jeong, who wrote these words, has been hired by The New York Times to write for their editorial page. 

Imagine if the word white was replaced with brown, black etc.

Would she still be hired?