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Was the Duffy scandal to blame for Harper’s demise?

    Alex Whalen is the CFO of the Prince Arthur Herald. He is a native of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and studied Business at UPEI before finishing his law degree at Dalhousie University in 2016.  There are many factors that go into the result of a federal election. With six months having passed since the most recent one, we can say on reflection that many of the factors going into its result have become clear. None is more important to understanding the unravelling of Stephen Harper’s government than the appointment of the now-reinstated Senator Mike Duffy. A final chapter in that drama unfolded in an Ottawa courtroom recently, as Duffy went 31-for-31 in defeating charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. The names Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy, and Nigel Wright are forever connected as a result of the $90,000 cheque made to the embattled senator for the repayment of improper expenses. Wright, the former chief of staff in the Harper PMO, was chastised in Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s decision. There are many positives to take from Harper’s time in office. This is not meant to be an endorsement nor an indictment of the decade in power. However, if you look closely at the decision to appoint Duffy in the first place, it is clear that this was the seed of Stephen Harper’s demise. The Duffy scandal didn’t singularly bring down the government, but the style of decision-making that led to the appointment was what plagued the Conservatives through the end of their mandate. From day one, the Duffy appointment had the hallmarks of other Harper blunders: short sighted, hyper-political, and sometimes lacking a big picture. Harper found himself in a tough spot in December 2008. Having long advocated an elected senate prior to becoming Prime Minister, he was hesitant… Read More

The return of Ross Perot

Even though Donald Trump has effectively claimed the Republican Party nomination for president, for much of the party’s elders and donors, his victory is still being treated as a hostile takeover. Neither George H.W. Bush nor his son George W. , the last two Republican presidents, will be endorsing Trump, and the last two Republican presidential candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, will not be coming to the Cleveland convention in July. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said that he could not support Trump until the New York businessman changes his tone and demonstrates that he shares the party’s values. Trump will be getting so little help from establishment Republicans that he will in effect be running as the equivalent of a third party candidate. Maybe that’s as it should be, because his political forebears are not the previous Republican presidents, the two Bushes and Ronald Reagan, but Ross Perot, who ran as a third party candidate in 1992 – and whose politics in many ways mirrored those of Trump. Perot was the billionaire entrepreneur who formed the Reform Party and took on both George H.W. Bush, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat Bill Clinton. Perot ran the most successful third party presidential campaign in the United States since 1912 and for the better part of three months, he was ahead of both Bush and Clinton. He won an astounding 18.9 per cent of the popular vote, though he carried no states and therefore won no electoral college votes. Still, in 31 states he garnered more than 20 per cent and in nine, over a quarter of the total. His voters shared the fiscal conservatism of the Republicans and the social moderation of the Democrats but were angry with both parties when it came to their domination by special interests… Read More

Larry Wilmore, the N Word & the Usual Suspects

Here’s where we stand in Einstein’s Relativity Theory. (That would be comedian Bob Einstein, also known as Super Dave.) The theory states that stuff getting shot out of a cannon can go anywhere. To wit, GOP nominee Donald Trump referenced a National Enquirer story linking Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Naturally, legacy media lost their minds. CNN’s Jake Tapper almost blew a fuse box refuting the story. Forget that the Enquirer has, in fact, broken a number of the legit political stories the past decade (John Edwards’ infidelities, Jesse Jackson's love child, Hillary Clinton's brother selling presidential pardons) that legacy media have missed. Anything that attaches to Trump in the media is now a clown car for the punditry to drive. Is it a rude move? Absolutely? Is it a low blow? Perhaps. Should we join the braying mob before the facts emerge because it’s the Enquirer? Hey, it’s Trump. Still, there is outrage. Or OUTRAGE. Or there was till Cruz pulled the pin on his campaign Tuesday after being pulverized in Indiana. Now no one cares about Oswald or Rafael of the Enquirer anymore. So let’s pivot to the bunfest known as this past weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This is the annual trade gathering where the people who cover the president assemble to be skewered by the same president. This was Barack Obama’s last WHC dinner, and so there was an expectation that the transformative guy would be loaded for bear. (Er, that’s if he didn’t hate hunting and guns— which he does.) You can watch his speech here. Understand that, like Shelly Berman in the Catskills, Obama was born to play this room. His entire presidency has been one extended Colbert Report bit. So after the usual repartee about how he’s been treated by the… Read More

EDITORIAL: Internal trade barriers have no place in Canada

A small battle has been won in the movement to secure liberal trade between the Canadian provinces. In R. v. Comeau, a New Brunswick judge has ruled that provisions in the Liquor Control Act that restrict the transport of alcohol across New Brunswick’s borders are unconstitutional. We say a small battle because it is just that; likely, the province will appeal and the long process of litigation will leave such laws – on the books throughout the country – in limbo for some time. You might think that a political union, founded with the express purpose of federating the British North American possessions into a single dominion, might have managed to get the common sense of free internal movement for goods, services, and people down to a science. The men who authored our constitution understood this well; they could not have written the relevant clause in clearer language. Goods shall be “admitted free into each of the other provinces.” In fact, the protectionist national policy that characterized early Canadian trade – jeopardizing pre-Confederation reciprocal trade arrangements with U.S. states – could only have been premised on prioritizing internal economic activity over international trade. Without the premise of a free trade “zone” between the Canadian provinces, the national policy would never have been thinkable in the first place. The judge in the Comeau case recognized how adamant the Fathers of Confederation were that no future generations should veer away from unhampered internal trade. Expert historical testimony was heard regarding the Fathers' intentions, bringing new evidence to an old debate. The first draft of Section 121 only stated that “All Articles the Growth or Produce or Manufacture of Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick, shall be admitted free into all Ports in Canada.” By removing the name of the provinces and the mention of… Read More

An election for the ages

Donald Trump has faced more media criticism than any other candidate in recent memory. Yet he beat Ted Cruz and John Kasich in the Republican primary in Indiana on May 3 and is all but assured of his party’s nomination. He has also bested all of the 15 other entries that started the marathon back in the fall. That field included Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who had piles of cash from the “donor” class. But the talking heads in their silos on CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere immediately announced that Trump will lose to Hillary Clinton in November. They’re sure of this! The mainstream media, especially the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post, concur, and remain positively vitriolic in their denunciations of Trump. The fact that they’ve been wrong all along about this race doesn’t matter, because they have the Ivy League diplomas and go to the right Washington cocktail parties. They’re forgetting, but Trump will remind America, that Clinton has now been around for almost four decades, starting with Bill Clinton’s victories in Arkansas, serving as an enabler for her sexual harasser husband. And that she is the candidate of the financial establishment on Wall Street. Certainly Clinton is more vulnerable than the “punditocracy” thinks. An April Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that just 20 per cent of independents viewed Clinton positively, compared with 62 per cent who viewed her negatively. And in a Washington Post-ABC News survey taken in March, only 37 per cent of respondents said they found Clinton honest and trustworthy, while 59 per cent said they did not. She has a scandal-ridden past. It’s possible that more Americans hate Clinton than hate Trump – and that includes a lot of women, holding down horrible jobs while their unemployed husbands sit at home. These are… Read More

Tribulations and triumphs in commercial aviation

Fierce free market business analysts like Kevin O'Leary have been raining curses on Bombardier for at least two decades now. The losses! The share price! The government handouts! The family-dominated ownership structure! However, while I understand the accounting ratios, and have no personal interest in Bombardier, I think bean counting doesn't tell the full story in dealing with innovations in science and engineering, sometimes mistaking diamonds for beans. Makers of military and civilian aircraft, and their equally important power plants, are almost bound to be condemned: not only Bombardier and Pratt&Whitney, but the tight little field of their surviving giant competitors. All these firms often have terrible quarterly financial numbers, but they are not composed of spendthrifts or incompetents. They are doing difficult things that are not easily timetabled. People forget this, when overcome with taxpayer or shareholder rage. I am less censorious. I started getting a different outlook when living in England over forty years ago. First of all, I was studying the contributions of British scientists and engineers to winning World War II; secondly, I was watching the near-death agonies of Rolls-Royce from the end of the 1960s through the early 1970s. The war research was showing me that all kinds of potential innovations were understood in principle much earlier than many popular histories assume to this day. Talent and dedication were available, and some government willingness to assign high priority and adequate resources, but specific 'bottlenecks' still brought unavoidable delays. When Churchill, for example, asked his scientific adviser Frederick Lindemann to explain, early in the war, what jet engines were all about, Lindemann wrote him a concise memo with an accurate description, but pointed out that the immediate problem was in obtaining new alloys that could withstand the very high temperatures the turbines produced. The earliest reverse… Read More
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