Jul. 25, 2019

In thinking overnight about this and reading numerous reports and analyses I am led to the conclusion that, like many powerful, ego-driven people, Robert Mueller was bought down by his own hand.

His testimony yesterday is proof positive, I maintain, to reaching this conclusion. 

It is amazing how the "powerful" can crumple so easily. But then again, the conflicted nature of the whole Special Counsel Enterprise in this instance finally played on Mueller ‘s conscience to the point that when the actual Congressional testimony day arrived, he was a mess. His stammering and mumbling was the antithesis of what most observers thought would be the demeanour of this man.

The whole project was based on lies and innuendos, of FISA warrants falsely constructed and issued; and a legal team, nine of whom financially supporting Hillary Clinton, who with her party, tried through the false Steele Dossier to thwart the Trump advance to power. Then to discriminate as to whom to charge with perjury and whom not, made a mockery out of any sort of definition of justice. 

The ultimate self put down was when he had to correct his own statement about Trump and obstruction of Justice. In the morning hearing he said it was it was correct to say Trump would be charged for a crime if he was not the President and then in the afternoon to have to correct that to say that no determination had been reached as to whether a crime had been committed. Mueller’s own words:

“I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning," Mueller said. "I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the President because of the OLC opinion. That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime.”

 For a man who has been styled as almost ‘divine ‘ on legal matters, who has been intimately involved for years on this matter, it makes one wonder who was running the Inquiry that he allegedly led? ‘

 As the great bard said of Caesar:

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world, Like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about. To find ourselves dishonorable graves."

 Caesar was brought down by his own hand in the sense that his arrogance and power led his greedy friends to be conspirators against him and assassinate him, Mueller, on the other hand, millennia later, destroyed himself by his own hand, by words of diversion, and misrepresentation and self correction — reduced to very small man on a very large stage he had thought he could still manipulate. 

The ultimate tragedy! He blinked, and deservedly became a "fallen" man.

Jul. 23, 2019

The City of Nanaimo has a legal problem alright. It is in the form of their Legal Expenses. 

On April 1 I posted a column that showed that the city’s legal expenses for 2016 were $532,809. In 2017 these expenses increased to $850,883, a 59% increase. I indicated at that time that the city told me that the 2018 legal expenses would be available after April 30. I have now inquired and have received the legal expenses for that year. And once again the expenses have increased. The number for 2108 is $971,710, an additional $120,000 over 2017.

Just to summarize: In the last three years the City Of Nanaimo has incurred legal expenses of $2,355,402.

It may be just me, but that seems like a lot a money spent on legal matters for a City of this size.

 

Jul. 22, 2019

Gerald Butts is back in the Liberal heirarchy. We all know that radical environmentalist who was Trudeau's chief of staff and who resigned because of his involvement in attempts by the PM's office to obstruct the Attorney General in carrying out her Ministerial responsibilities.

Well, as I said a few blogs back, I thought he really had never left and was carrying on in the shadows. He is even out of the shadows now. CBC reports "Among the 60 people who gathered at a downtown Ottawa hotel for a day and a half this month to discuss the Liberal government's campaign for re-election was Gerry Butts, the senior adviser and close friend of Justin Trudeau who left the Prime Minister's Office five months ago in the midst of Trudeau's painful spring."

The whole Liberal gang is back again, preparing for the October election. And obviously they believe the SNC Lavalin affair has little traction now. And they have calculated (of course, they would have no inside information) that the Ethics Commissioner will go soft on conclusions of the present investigation into that affair.

Short memories abound in the political game. And the Liberals are masters at timing, and knowing how to massage difficult situations. And they believe they have contained and handled this one very well, thank you very much.

With the Conservatives unable to cultivate fertile political ground when it is right before their eyes, with a confused NDP and the Greens having to do little but mouth climate exaggeration and half truths to gain attention, the Liberals believe they can have their way with the electorate notwithstanding law breaking, obstruction of justice activity, breaking promises of budget balancing and a host of other missteps.

And right now,at least, sadly, it seems to be working.

Jul. 17, 2019

Ontario just wrote off more than $400 million of a loan Chrysler had secured from the Ontario Government some years back. And we learn that the Federal Government wrote off more than $2 billion of the same loan package last year.

This tidbit was on page B3 of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business.

Not front page —perish the thought.

I am sure Alberta and other provinces are not amused to see this perpetual gravy train continue. And taxpayers should be outraged. Don’t hold your breath.

This is just par for the course these days. Canadians expect it given that it has been happening for many years now. The auto industry and Ontario never seem to loose in government largesse.

Now if that was the Atlantic Provinces or Western Canada there would be far greater coverage of such things with central Canadian columnists and opinion writers clambering for Constitutional change to reduce the number of provinces or other like solutions.

And by the way, Ontario has also received $16 billion in special aid from Ottawa called equalization over this loan period to Chrysler via have provinces like B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador have – mainly because of oil and gas – those dirty fossil fuels.

Sure, Quebec won’t agree to an oil and gas pipeline going through their province while they took over $80 billion in equalization, special aid, a lot coming from oil and gas revenue of the have provinces.

Many people, therefore many seats — presto lots of money to hold those seats.

That’s your Canadian lesson for today.

Class dismissed.

Jul. 13, 2019

Dear Premiers:

I have been following your recent Council of The Premiers’ meeting in Saskatoon.

I have some appreciation for these gatherings in that I participated in 10 such annual meetings, beginning in 1979 ending in 1988.

Respectfully, I believe you missed a golden opportunity to help to right the Federal Ship. I understand your concern about health care, immigration, skills training, indigenous people etc. But integrity, national economic and financial wellbeing must take precedence and in these areas the meeting’s conclusions said little about them or ignored them.

I submit you made a tactical mistake in sending letters to all federal party leaders asking for their positions on various issues. There is one federal government and 13 provincial/territorial governments. Your first responsibility is to interact with the federal government. If another party is elected then you deal with that government at that time and obviously they will know your council’s positions on the issues. In any case, as you well know, any positions emanating from the other party leaders 10 weeks before an election are practically meaningless, pregnant with generalities with no specific commitments.

Let me go back to what I believe the council should have said:

Integrity – Nothing comes before this. Taxpayers expect and deserve honesty in government. How can there be trust if integrity is lacking? The Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Finance broke the Conflict of Interest law as determined by the Independent Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Just how weak our laws of accountability are can be gleaned from the fines imposed, less than a regular speeding ticket.

Furthermore, the prime minister and his staff, including the clerk of the privy council, attempted to obstruct the regular course of justice by interfering in the internal workings of the department of justice as it relates to deciding on how cases that come before the department are handled.

The information commissioner has indicated that the prime minister’s office has refused to provide data on the PM’s staff expenses, data that is determined by the commissioner to be within the public interest.

Your Council completely ignores these breeches of the public trust.

Economic Wellbeing – The federal government has passed two bills (Bill 48 and Bill 69) which are injurious to the economic health of Canada and seriously undermine the country’s competitiveness. Investment in oil and gas projects has deteriorated and these bills will continue this trend. Furthermore, Bill 69 has provisions that contravene The Atlantic Accord, a Federal Provincial Agreement, duly signed and with federal provincial legislative implementation. The silence of the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier on this is puzzling. Seven Provinces signified their opposition to these federal actions. Yet nothing specifically dealing with this in the communiques from your meetings. Bill 48 discriminates in that the ban is on tanker traffic on the west coast with no such ban on the east coast where hundreds of tankers operate into Placentia Bay, Newfoundland each year. These circumstances cannot be addressed with some general comments on national economic wellbeing. 

Investment “out flows” have increased by $60 billion between 2011 and 2017 and investment “inflows” have decreased from $40 billion to $25 billion over the same period, according to Statistic Canada. Ten of Canada’s main industries spent less on capital expenditures in 2017 than 2014, according to the Fraser Institute. Our country in 2018 stands twelfth in world competitiveness ranking (World Economic Forum) while our largest trading partner, the United States, is first. Canada comes 22nd in the world at ease at doing business, according to the World Bank. The US is 8th, the UK is 9th. Estonia is 16.

Financial Responsibility – The present government promised a balanced budget this past year. Yet, each year the government has produced deficits and there is no realistic end in sight as to when the federal government will attain a balanced budget. This year the federal budget is projected to have a deficit of $19.8 Billion. This government has not balanced the budget in any of the years it has been in power. Imagine if the majority of Canadians acted this way? In ten years the federal net debt has increased by $218 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer predicts deficits every year up to 2023-2024. After that, of course, credibility in predictions is very low indeed.

On taxation the country is in bad shape. Note a recent report from the Fraser Institute:

“At an income of CA $300,000, the highest threshold (with the slight exception of Alberta) in which a Canadian combined top rate is applied, Canadians in every province face a higher marginal income tax rate than Americans in any U.S. state. Results are similar at an income of CA $150,000 and Canada’s marginal tax rates are also uncompetitive at incomes of CA $75,000 and CA$50,000.”

These are the big issues which, without successful outcomes, makes the issues you highlight like heath care funding, skills training funding meaningless. They all depend on honesty in government, a competitive economy, and a responsible fiscal position.

In preparing for next year’s Conference in Quebec I urge you to address the fundamentals of this nation’s wellbeing. Leadership is desperately needed if we are to break out of the present mediocrity and be active participants in the global economy. Ignoring these big issues condemns our nation, and our children, to an uncompetitive and hence uncertain future.

Honourable A. Brian Peckford P.C.

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