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Our sick and twisted ivory tower

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So goes the timeworn expression. But the cynical wisdom of that phrase endures. The best example of the law of unexpected consequences— tender sensibilities division— resides with Canada’s Charter of Rights. When proposed in the late 1970s by Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau— and celebrated by many politicians and media— the Charter was heralded as a protection for Canadians against the vagaries of foreign powers, unlawful search-and-seizure, prejudice of every kind. Put simply, it was sold as a code that Canadians could count on to protect them and their rights. In the gauzy days of 1982— when civil libertarians rejoiced that the Charter was enshrined in Canadian law— who could have foreseen a Canadian terrorist, captured by American soldiers after killing one of their own, being awarded $10.5 million by a Canadian prime minister? And the PM of the day saying the Charter left him no choice? No one, of course, could have anticipated the Charter as being anything but a force for good. Guided by the wise hand of the Supreme Court, what could go wrong? Yet, the Omar Khadr debacle has instead demonstrated the vagaries of a Charter that protects rights but defines no obligations on citizens. Americans, who are nothing if not believers in individual rights, are plainly baffled by the spectacle of Canada’s prime minister saying, “No mas” in the face of a terrorist who killed one of their own soldiers and blinded another. Yes, Canada’s activist Supreme Court’s definition of torture is far more liberal than the American definition. Yes, there is some debate whether Khadr threw the grenade that killed medic Christopher Speer (he’s never denied taking part in the fight). Yes, he was 15 years old, brainwashed by his jihadi father. But how does all… Read More

Supply management should offend left and right alike

Under the rules adopted by the World Trade Organization’s 1995 Agreement on Agriculture, a cartel system like that of Canada’s supply management - were it created today - would be illegal. The global community has decided that policies which artificially inflate domestic prices, and protect them with outrageous import tariffs, are a thing of the past. Ironically, public opinion in Canada still favours supply management, even though it perfectly embodies the protectionist policies that Canadians love to hate when they come from the White House. Canadians roll their eyes at Donald Trump’s “America First” economic policies. Yet most Canadian politicians continue to support their own archaic system of supply management. Consumers are forced to pay nearly $600 more per year on groceries than their American counterparts. Import tariffs have made it nearly impossible for Canadians to buy foreign dairy products, forcing low-income families to pay a huge price to provide their children with a healthy diet. Prior to supply management’s introduction in 1971, Canada had over 140,000 dairy farmers who were struggling to break even, due to price volatility in the dairy market. Fast forward 46 years, and we can see that the Canadian dairy industry has undergone a great change. For starters, the number of dairy farmers in Canada has dropped by over 90 percent to less than 11,000 nationwide. More importantly though, over this 46-year period, the average wage and net worth of Canadian dairy farmers have increased dramatically. According to the 2008 OECD Economic Survey of Canada, the average Canadian dairy farmer had a gross income of over $250,000 and held over $2 million dollars in assets, in the form of dairy quota. Today, the average Canadian dairy farmer is a millionaire, yet policy makers still believe we should be taking money from low income families to… Read More

Were election rules broken at the CPC convention?

The Conservative Party of Canada is currently under fire for potential voter fraud stemming from discrepancies in its claimed voter turnout, compared to the strikeout lists sent to each campaign. There was a 7,466 vote discrepancy between them. This has cast doubt on the legitimacy of Andrew Scheer’s May 27th victory, especially by Maxime Bernier’s supporters. However, after having attended the leadership convention last month, another potential voting scandal that no one has yet addressed looms in my mind: passive electioneering. Passive electioneering involves wearing or distributing campaign materials within polling stations. Section 166(1c) of the Canada Elections Act explicitly states that “no person shall, in a polling station or in any place where voting at an election is taking place, influence electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.” Yet at the 2017 Conservative Leadership Convention in Toronto, I was handed a “Voters’ Guide” a mere 20 feet from the voting booths, inside the polling location. This Voters’ Guide was not obvious campaign material, and only bore its organization’s name—Campaign Life Coalition—in small font on the bottom of the pamphlet’s back. This pamphlet “disqualified” all but two socially conservative candidates—namely Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux. Campaign Life Coalition, a social conservative organization that promotes pro-life and traditional values, created the pamphlet for its own supporters and distributed it to them by mail and online. Jeff Gunnarson, a representative from Campaign Life Coalition, said, “when designing the guide, there was no discussion at the time how we would be distributing it at the convention—except that we would bring copies with us.” “We designed the guide’s front page in such a way that it would not be immediately identifiable coming from Campaign Life Coalition.  We wanted people to pick it up and… Read More

Lilliput and Brobdingnang

Tip O'Neill, the Boston Irish Democrat five times elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, regularly clashed with Ronald Reagan on U. S. national and international policies, but his most famous remark was “All politics is local politics.” This is one of those generalizations which sounds persuasive, but with its negation doing so as well. Political leaders and movements of the smallest and largest scale get regularly entangled. Furthermore, their relative and absolute scale also influences their real impact and their media depiction. But it is still constantly forgotten that, as Alfred North Whitehead once observed, we can be provincial in time as well as space. It is too little recognized that the preoccupations of the moment often resemble those of the huge and tiny folk portrayed in Gulliver's Travels. Consider the world's amazement at the phenomenon of Donald Trump. We are compelled to take half-seriously this most grotesque product of democracy: a giant of wealth, of entertainment, of fatuous utterance and bad taste, and now of political and military power. This June, adding another spectacle for Swiftian analogy, the Premier of Quebec has decided to renew a cry from Lilliput. While myself having once participated in our earlier Lilliputian endeavours, I had hoped they were ending. I once hoped this might also be true of Philippe Couillard, but alas, he has just announced his intention of trying to relaunch a Canada-wide discussion on "the five minimal constitutional demands" of Robert Bourassa, over three decades ago. Brian Mulroney's 1987 Meech Lake Accord, intended to meet those demands, failed to achieve the all-province ratification it required in three years, and that was followed by five more years of dreary federal and provincial alarms and excursions, to no useful consequence. Premier Couillard and his advisers can scarcely have expected this rehash… Read More

Scheer’s Path to 2019

On May 27th, the Conservative Party of Canada chose its new leader—and it chose Andrew Scheer. With over 140,000 votes cast, according to the Conservative Party, and the underdog candidate receiving only 50.95 per cent of the vote on the 13th ballot, it is clear that the more than year-long race has been divisive. Andrew Scheer is a safe choice for the Conservatives. He has been described as “Harper with a smile” by supporters and adversaries alike. And there is a lot of good in that; Stephen Harper was a unifier for two right-wing parties, allowing the creation of a “big blue tent” that could form a cohesive conservative government. However, if the Conservatives want to win in 2019, they will need more than just Harper 2.0, as so many non-Conservative Canadians seemed to show disdain for Harper in 2015. There’s a lot of good in Scheer that sets him apart from Harper. Scheer is a prominent supporter of free speech. Scheer voted against M103, which, according to a Forum Research poll, 86 per cent of Canadians stood against. Scheer has also pledged to cut federal funding from schools that disallow uninhibited freedom of speech. Considering a 2016 Angus Reid poll showed 76 per cent of Canadians believe “political correctness” has gone too far, this could be helpful come 2019. Scheer has also pledged to crack down on illegal border crossings from the U.S. and reform immigration policy to prioritize the economic and demographic needs of Canadians. Scheer even spoke about combatting “radical Islamic terror” in his acceptance speech—a contrast to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy of simply “being open and respectful” even in the face of national security threats. Scheer’s fiscal policy has a solid base. He has pledged to cut taxes on utilities, saying in his acceptance speech… Read More

Ontario Liberals screw over the middle class once again

As the daughter of a man who runs his own business, I am familiar with the various expenses that a business owner is hit with. Some of it is expected, and others – not so much – such as this $15 an hour minimum wage increase being brought in by Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne. The Liberals are proving once again that they have less knowledge of how the economy works than a university student with no business background (I’m willing to admit it) aside from her family experience. How could they come out with this ridiculous plan? Maybe the rest of us are idiots for giving the Liberals the benefit of the doubt – yet again. ‘They couldn’t possibly increase it to $15/hr,’ I told myself. ‘People are overreacting. It’ll likely be a one-or-two-dollar increase at most,’ I reassured myself. Alas, alack, the Liberal Boogeyman strikes again. With an approval rating clocking in at just 12% back in March, it seems Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is desperate to claw her way back up the ranks. Though she first appeared on the scene as a progressive government official and a role model to young girls, we can now see her for the common crook she is. My father is one of many hardworking entrepreneurs who believe in competitive wages. All his employees without a lick of experience were started at $15/hr, with all equipment, certification, training, and union fees fully paid for. This is a great act of generosity in the construction business where often, purchasing one’s own equipment and getting certified can cost people hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of dollars. —————— More from the PAH:   Trudeau’s reckless spending is hurting Canada by Katerina Gang Donald Trump is Canada’s useful idiot on supply management by Tom Kott Legalize weed, but not… Read More
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