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Tom Kott

Tom Kott is an editor of the Prince Arthur Herald.

Donald Trump is Canada’s useful idiot on supply management

There are few controversial policy issues that unite Canada’s editorial boards, but when it comes to supply management, everyone is on the same page. The National Post, Globe and Mail, Sun newspapers, and the Toronto Star have all come out in favour of abolishing the dairy and poultry cartels. The central impetus for all is the unfair burden it poses on consumers. The system implemented under Pierre Trudeau forces Canadians to pay twice as much for four litres of milk as Americans do. For Canadian families, the rigged price policy translates to $585 more doled out annually for groceries than under a fair market environment. On this they agree, but opinions differ on the role the United States should have on getting this domestic policy abolished. The National Post’s Andrew Coyne, as one recent example, adopted the Montreal Economic Institute’s view that Donald Trump’s recent attacks on Canada are something we can milk for our own benefit. Ending supply management could be chipped in as an exchange for, say, ending the nonsensical tariff on softwood lumber. It’s a win-win, right? Supply management should be abolished regardless of what the Americans think, but there’s an opportunity to gain even more benefits now that Trump has decided to plop himself into the debate. That opinion is not shared by the Toronto Star. The mere fact that Donald Trump – a man “not known for his enthusiasm for careful study” – is opposing Canada’s rules surrounding diafiltered milk is enough to call for resistance of America’s influence. Sure, supply management should end, they say, but “that move should not come as a capitulation to Trump’s extemporaneous extortions.” The ends do not justify the means. Even a blind mouse finds some, err, cheese every once in a while. The bombastic reality TV star in… Read More

All homemade booze should be legal

During VICE’s town hall on weed with Justin Trudeau last month, the prime minster was asked what his plan B was if Canadians continued buying cannabis from the black market. Trudeau naturally migrated towards the familiar example of booze: “currently, there is no black market for alcohol.” While it’s true that most people won’t get solicited in the street by bootleggers in stained trench coats, an underground market does exist. There are plenty of ways to buy liquor outside the purview of our provincial monopolies if you know where to look. As just one example, there’s an active Facebook page for ordering illegal alcohol outside of the SAQ’s hours of operation at a hefty markup; it has over 61,000 members. The Quebec government estimates that it loses $90 million per year in revenue from people buying their liquor outside of its control, either illegally or otherwise. But the next thought that came out of Trudeau’s mouth is more interesting: “you can make [alcohol] at home if you want”, Trudeau said, but added that most choose to buy it from established sources. Hipsters can and do indeed brew beer and make wine from the comfort of their own homes, but provincial legislation across Canada prohibits the unlicensed distillation of alcohol, as does the federal Excise Act. You can ferment whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t try to heat the inebriating substance and turn the vapours into something more potent. Moonshining typically draws up images of blind hillbillies concocting bathtub hooch in the woods, yet the anachronism isn’t appropriate for the twenty-first century. Contemporary technology removes much of the worry over homemade liquor – you can easily test for the presence of methanol and other non-potable compounds and operate an alembic safely. And far from a rickety concoction… Read More

Constraining personal identity is not the government’s job

      Tom Kott is CEO of the Prince Arthur Herald, having previously served as Editor-in-Chief from 2012-2014. He studied political science and history at McGill, and now works in public relations with HATLEY Strategy in Montreal. Follow him on Twitter @TomKott.   Last week, Québec Solidaire Member of the National Assembly Manon Massé presented a private member’s bill that would allow minors as young as 14 to alter the sex marked on their birth certificates. This reform would bring Quebec laws in line with those in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, where such changes are already allowed. Transgender youth in Quebec already have the right to legally change their names to reflect the sex with which they identify. The new bill seeks to remove the burden that transgender teens feel when forced to choose between their legal identity and how they truly feel. In an op-ed that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Kimberly Manning gave the example of a young student losing 20 minutes on a high school entrance exam to decide whether to check the M box or F box. This type of hardship is one that most people will never be able to comprehend, myself included. The world is changing, and the notion of identity is much more fluid that it used to be – which is arguably a good thing. The days where people are discriminated against based on their identity is waning away. But this evolution puts into question the government’s role in our lives. If we agree as a society that people have a right to freely determine their own identity, which is so far the trend, then what authority does the government have to stop it? And in that case, why should the law affect some people differently than others? It seems archaic then that couples in Quebec… Read More

Quebec’s paternalistic married-name prohibition

Some Canadians might view the PMO directive that Justin Trudeau’s wife be always referred to by her hyphenated surname as a gesture to gender equality. Despite her union to Canada’s most powerful man, Mrs. Grégoire-Trudeau has challenged a paternalistic social construct by opting to keep her maiden name. Because it was 2015, right? However, what Canada’s “first couple” is actually doing is giving Quebec’s Civil Code the middle finger — and good on them for it. Since 1981, it has been illegal for women in Quebec to change their surname when they marry. Since Trudeau and Grégoire married in 2005 in Montreal, she has had no right to share names with her husband — or their children, for that matter. And so it goes for all mothers in Quebec. Legally changing one’s name in the province is notoriously hard. For many children with absent fathers, a name different from their mother’s can create an uncomfortable distance from their primary caretaker. (This is not trivial matter — single moms head 13 per cent of Canadian families.) Some families choose to hyphenate their child’s name, which may cause confusion when those children grow up and have children with other hyphenated individuals. What will Jean Tremblay-Laurier-Audet-Roy do when he has to name a child with Marie Simard-Bergeron-Belanger-Lavoie? Quebec’s odd decision to devalue tradition, marriage, and the family followed the passage of the Quebec Charter of Rights in 1976, which claimed to emphasize equality between men and women. It also protected the fundamental freedoms of conscience, religion, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and importantly, freedom of association. Despite these promises of freedom, the province decided that couples were not allowed to cement their lifelong commitment to each other by associating themselves with a common name. Quebec isn’t unique in the world — France and Greece… Read More

There is almost no scenario in which Justin Trudeau does not become the Prime Minister of Canada

  Pollsters don’t have the best track record these days. No one predicted David Cameron would win a majority government in the UK this spring, and a Wildrose win in 2012 was pretty much guaranteed until the Progressive Conservatives stole a resounding majority.   So let’s assume Justin Trudeau won’t win a majority government, as the last Forum poll for VICE News predicts. Lets’ assume the Liberals won’t even win a minority, which almost everyone else is predicting. Conservatives have long put their eggs in the basket of the “shy Tory” vote to get themselves in power, compounded by the fact that Conservative supporters actually show up to the polls more. Let’s say this works in their favour, and they eek out a minority (an 18% chance, according to poll aggregator Bryan Breguet).   If the Tories win a minority government, Justin Trudeau will still become Prime Minister.   Every opposition party has promised to never support another Conservative government. The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair—who started off the election in majority government territory, and now has exactly 0% chance of winning the most seats—said there was a “snowball’s chance in hell” that the Tories would be propped up by his party, and Trudeau said there are “no circumstances” in which he would help the man he’s been fighting for the past several years. Ditto for the Bloc and the Greens.   A Tory minority would crumble in no time. No matter how long Harper waits before calling back Parliament, no matter how many concessions he makes in the Throne Speech, the opposition is out for blood: he will not regain confidence of the House. This election was a referendum on Stephen Harper: if the opposition parties can form the majority of seats in the House—whether as a formal or informal coalition—they… Read More
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