Barack Obama endorses Justin’s re-election

I have no doubt this will lift the spirits of centrist liberals who prop up Justin Trudeau.

But consider this.

Barack Obama campaigned on hope and change in 2008, a generally Liberal agenda, he delivered a mostly incremental upgrade in domestic policy.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were American, I would have voted for Obama too.. especially given his GOP Presidential competition. Slam dunk.

But the centrist liberal incrementalism of Barack Obama gave rise to the popularity of people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among others in veering hard left in a country unfamiliar to actual socialist policies.

I guess what I’m saying is that while Obama’s endorsement may help shore up his base, Trudeau has failed on delivering the progressive agenda he pledged.

Now he will come across as desperate.

Look, I don’t hate the guy, I just think that Justin Trudeau is arrogant and entitled; just as much as his party.

Jagmeet Singh is that leader. He inspires hope, courage and change.

I’m voting NDP.

My2bits

The brilliance of the gas price inquiry

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Looks like Andrew Wilkinson laid another rotten egg; this time in relation to fuel prices.

Oh?

When gas prices spiked to $1.70 (or higher) per litre a few months ago, it triggered the NDP to convene an inquiry to ascertain the reasons why BC’s gas prices were so out of tune with the rest of the country; with an eye towards collusion if it could be discovered.

Well the report came back, and while collusion (between big oil companies) couldn’t be proven, the report did cite the virtual monopoly of only 5 companies that controlled the marketing and delivery of fuel to BC. And something about an inexplicable 13 cent extra that we’re paying in BC compared to anywhere else.

13 cents per litre extra.

That’s not ‘taxes’ either.

Taxes, while significantly higher than the rest of Canada on BC’s regional fuel prices, are probably the most transparent part of what costs go into your fuel tank. At any rate, if one is looking for blame on that file, the NDP increased the carbon tax on fuel by one penny; hardly justification for this price differential.

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Where Andrew Wilkinson has screwed up badly here is where he hitched his wagon to the narrative that the NDP’s fuel taxes are too high while simultaneously ‘blocking’ pipelines. Well the taxes, though higher, aren’t the NDP’s fault, and it was legitimate court action by first nations who have brought delays to Kinder Morgan. I’m not sure the BC Liberals want to instigate that kind of fight.

But in banging that drum, the BC Liberals have exposed big oil, though not necessarily acting in collusion, but acting like a virtual monopoly. That 13 cents per litre is a significant boost to a profit margin, now it has a political defender (at the expense of regular commuting drivers) in Andrew Wilkinson. This is not the position he wants to find himself in; defending big oil at the expense of average folks.

But there is a silver lining here.

In boosting fuel prices thanks to what can be best described as profiteering, its pushing electric vehicle sales, and its making driving less affordable (incentive not to drive); achieving a climate change goal in one fell swoop. Best thing about this? Its completely a market driven result.

Good work Andrew.

My2bits

BC Liberals find new ways to look pathetic over ride hailing

The BCUC approved the ICBC proposal on a basic insurance product for ride hailing corporations ahead of the anticipated September 16 legalization date.

John Yap

The BC Liberals found a way to complain about it. The angle? The product is too cheap and other drivers will have to subsidize ride hailing corporations as a result.

This is of course after months of belly aching over the government requiring a class 4 license for ride hailing drivers because it was an expensive barrier to earn a few extra dollars.

But this should come as no surprise from a party that likes to stand on both sides of an issue and would have attacked the NDP no matter how they handled it.

What’s really going on here? The desperate and pathetic flailing by the BC Liberals in frustration as they witness a government getting things done compared to the dithering and triangulation that Campbell and Clark were famous for.

The BC Liberals had every opportunity to enable ride hailing in the last two terms (of the 4 they served) where ride hailing corporations existed. But, no. They went as far as chasing out Uber with legal threats when they began operations without proper authorization from the gov’t.

It was only an 11:58pm conversion in the last few weeks before the 2017 election that the BC Liberals found religion on ride hailing, but even then, they misread sentiment. They still do.

In 2018, a poll discovered that while the public overwhelmingly approved of ride hailing, it wasn’t without limits. They wanted drivers to carry class 4 licenses, wanted limits to how many ride hailers could exist as nobody was looking to put *more* cars onto the already over capacity lower mainland road system.

One of the advantages of waiting as long as we have to get ride hailing off the ground is we get to see what long term trends look like in large cities like Vancouver with the advent of this click-and-ride service.

Studies show that unrestricted ride hailing services adversely affect traffic congestion. So putting a regulatory cap in place on how many may drive for ride hailing corporations would have been wise policy for those cities. Good thing it’s coming for BC.

I’m not saying that I’m in favour or opposed to ride hailing. But if we’re to have it, the drivers should at least play by the same rules we expect of cab drivers they pretend to be.

It’s a newer business model and an alternative to traditional cabbies. But it’s not the answer for traffic congestion or climate change.

Even the Green Party is on the wrong side of history here.

My2bits

Elizabeth May’s SNC Lavalin idea is a clusterfuck

headupass

Where do we begin.

In a wide ranging interview, Elizabeth May ended up talking about SNC Lavalin and the appalling state of water quality in several First Nation’s communities.

She linked them.

The major issue for SNC Lavalin is the pending legal trouble and the various corporate crimes they have been accused of. They had been seeking a differed prosecution agreement – the very issue at the core of the #LavScam scandal.

Separately, the Federal Government who has constitutional jurisdiction on First Nation’s peoples is responsible to their many communities; communities whose access to clean drinking water in many areas is curtailed due to contamination. These are third world conditions. In Canada.

Elizabeth May chimed in with the notion that a corporation should be compelled into fixing these inadequate water systems as part of their sentencing as a means of “corporate restorative justice”; on their own coin to be sure.

So, we’re to tell an affected first nation community that the badly behaving company is going to build them a new water system and the company is going to pay for it.

Shades of “we’re going to build a wall along the Mexico border and Mexico will pay for it”.

Let me list off the issues that come up with this proposal.

Now is not the time to go soft on white collar criminals.

Anything that gives the slightest ‘out’ for badly behaving corporate bosses is a non-starter with me.

This isn’t the same as handing a juvenile convict a sentence of 100 hours of garbage pick up and graffiti removal for the crime of vandalism.

Corporate criminals get convicted because they conspired to defraud clients, the taxpayer, or both. They do not fit on the same table of ideas.

If more corporate criminals saw the inside of a jail cell and lost 90% of their illegal wealth, then perhaps we’d see less of it. Giving them an out is the last thing we need. Especially in times of the expanding gulf between rich/poor and the disconnect between powerful elite corporatists and average folks.

This is the slippery slope to corporate personhood

It was a famous quote by then Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who uttered the phrase that “corporations are people too..” that lit the left on fire. He was wrong then, and centrist neoliberals are wrong to embrace it now.

By assigning ‘community service’ as a means to make the Corporation feel guilt and remorse. The victims of corporate crime are often taxpayers, shareholders or innocent clients; the only thing that the victims want after the fact (if not their money back) is to see that the people responsible are sent to prison like any other common thief.

Corporations don’t feel. They’re a box or a machine. They don’t get that sort of protection, people do; and the people-victims of badly behaving corporate bosses need to see justice being served.

Collides hard with Reconciliation

This is one of the trickiest areas of law and First Nations relations to be in the public sphere in a long time. Its overdue. We’re a long way off, in my opinion, but need to find a path forward.

I’m not a First Nations member, as my family tree I recently discovered is almost 75% viking and the remainder is ‘other’ European. But as a Canadian, I agree that our performance and treatment of those here first, those who’s land was taken, who’s cultures, languages and belief systems were systematically razed by a government bent on a genocidal assimilation of otherwise peaceful people.

I believe this proposal by Elizabeth May runs afoul of any solid effort on reconciliation.

Her idea is to say that here’s a badly behaving corporation, fresh from a criminal conviction, and we’re requiring them to rebuild your water systems…not only the ones in disarray, but all of them: see below.

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No input. No consultations. No effort to reach out and see if there are other, just as capable engineering and construction firms able to the tasks.

SNC Lavalin stands accused of some shady things, but as far as I’m aware, none are related to the sad state of potable water in various first nation communities.

Politicians let off the hook

The sorry state of drinking water in several first nations communities didn’t happen overnight. This took several decades of neglect; by governments more eager to subsidize corporations or hand tax cuts out to the one-percent folks.

Elizabeth May is clever here even if she’s not aware of what she has done. She’s made funding and construction of water services available only if there’s a conviction. What if there isn’t?

It is the government’s duty here, and Elizabeth May is giving politicians an easy way out here. “we’ll let the bad guy pay for the thing we’ve neglected for 40 years”.

What fuckery is this anyways?

Judicial interference

The court has the right to impose an adequate sanction for a criminal conviction. But to hear it from Elizabeth May, “we’re not letting the judge decide” and that is a dangerous game to play.

The government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the losing end of a Supreme Court decision when his government passed legislation adding layers of interpretation to sentencing criminals.

Granted, it was for different reasons, but the politicians threatened the independence of the judiciary. They lost.

Further observations

The Party of Elizabeth May wants to be King maker and power broker. This is a real possibility in the next parliament, so moments like this are critical for voters in judging who has the wisdom to lead.

It’s been noted that this issue, while not explicitly designed as such, has turned into a perfect “Liberal” trap that some NDP folks walked straight into.

False.

It’s a centrist neoliberal Band-Aid solution to an institutionally broken system. But doesn’t offer any real solutions.

Maybe it’s consistent with the stunning shift of the Green Party shifting to more Liberal/centrist philosophy in the hunt for votes; so let’s call it what it is.

Pathetic.

My2bits

Update:

This matter has been debated online by several folks and since the first outbreak of this scandalous idea, Elizabeth May has walked back a couple of items;

She’s recognized that the court (judge) has the jurisdiction to decide a sentence upon conviction.

She’s argued that her initial scheme wasn’t privatization, but in my opinion it looks more like punishment-by-P3.

What hasn’t changed is the tone deaf messaging and chaotic defense put up by Green party partisans.

Look, I’m not First Nations, but if I was, this clusterfuck would have been the moment I ruled her and her party out as an option.

Elizabeth May put reconciliation (consultation) and local water systems up as bargaining chips to be considered when figuring out punishment for white collar criminals.

WTF did first nations do to Elizabeth May to be degraded to the level of any other community service (restorative justice)?

It’s gross. And under further examination, it’s still pathetic.

Done.

Strike two, Ms May

Not everyone wants to vote Liberal or Conservative. This has been traditional fertile ground for the NDP for those left of centre folks or provides an opening for right wing competition to the conservatives.

And let’s be honest. 3rd and 4th parties want a minority parliament because that gives them the opportunity to leverage their legislative votes for concessions from the major parties. That’s how this thing works.

But. If your mapping out the campaign for one of these smaller parties, you must do so with a plan to win outright. “If [party] wins this election, we’re going to do these things that are on our agenda.”

It is unwise however to preemptively underline the handful if items you want if you’re a minority partner *prior* to the election. You could see those ideas gobbled up by a major party only to have your team made to look irrelevant, or you could trap yourself. By trap, I mean that in preemptively marking your legislative items, it might implicitly point to *one* party that you’re interested in working with, which may box your team in: you could be subject to the same opponent attacks, and you could subsequently limit how you criticize your potential partner.

Elizabeth May came out and said that if the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer were to embrace climate change and the carbon tax, she may support a Conservative minority government.

To the 65% of Canadians who would identify themselves as liberal-to-progressive and reside in the three major non-Conservative parties, you just ruled yourself off the ballot in their world.

This is a major mistake and a revealing window into the strategic chaos that Leader Elizabeth May is taking her party through.

That’s strike two.

Strike one was the hiring of political street thug Warren Kinsella as an advisor. By doing so, Elizabeth May and the Greens lost all right to claim that “we do politics differently”. No they don’t. Now they can’t.

Incidentally, as Greens are finding themselves on the defensive over this missive, they’ve gone and dug up a 10 year old story where the NDP voted to uphold a Harper budget in the fall of 2009. The narrative being, if the NDP can strategically support the conservatives, why can’t we?

The budget question at hand included improvements to EI at a time that the 08/09 meltdown had caused a major economic slowdown and job losses. The NDP used their legislative clout and votes to demand improvements for the unemployed. It delayed a premature election call; one that when it happened, reduced the Liberal Party to 20+ seats.

What the Greens have done here is different. They’ve set a price for their support *before* they have the bargaining chips in their hands. That’s a fatal mistake.

Campaign on your values, let the voters decide. When or how your party utilizes it’s influence and who they may or may not support in a minority parliament is a move left to play after voters have dealt you the cards.

Elizabeth May seems to have counted her chickens before they hatched.

My2bits

Update

Further observations: now that Elizabeth May has set the price for her support (solely environmental matters), Andrew Scheer could meet that price in theory, and also pledge to do a whole raft of socially conservative things that satisfy his base. But, technically that’d be ok since Elizabeth May already placed her chips. For her to withdraw the offer, this leaves her open to charges by Scheer that she can’t be trusted to ‘deal’, and he’d be right.

This is a disaster for the Greens.

The Greens are trying their hand at populism and its just as disingenuous as anything on the far right

unpopular opinion

I get the antipathy towards fracking; its a drilling technique fraught with risks to carbon pollution; potential groundwater contamination and seismic activity.

Its also the exclusive technique used to extract natural gas and shale oil. Now for the sake of this article, I’m not considering the environmental aspect of the Green’s argument – because at this point, it doesn’t have legal or constitutional standing.

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This however is the snippet of the Constitution Act (1982) that the Green Party hasn’t considered.

If the Green Party was to win an election outright and invoke this part of their platform, they would immediately be met with a challenge from energy producing provinces. As they should: infringing upon a clear right of a provincial government will trigger a very serious national unity crisis.

Worse, imagine the Greens playing a role in a minority government where this pillar is key to their cooperation.

While this awkward promise sits out there unchallenged by anyone in the media, Elizabeth May went on the offensive against the announced bus expansion of the Victoria regional transit service. Accusing Justin Trudeau of playing ‘lip service’ to climate change, she rips the agreement. See here.

For reference.

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Granted, some of these new buses would be powered by natural gas, the larger objective is to get more people out of their cars and into transit. The advantage is two fold: folks save fuel and pollution by taking a bus instead, and it clears up some congestion from roads and highways.

Seriously, Liz. WTF.

Look, fracking is controversial. But its also a changing science; and fracking looks different today than what it did 40 years ago when it was pumping up natural gas in BC. There’s no reason why it cannot continue to evolve.

Whether or not the Greens sentiment is right or wrong is up to you. But for them to advocate something they cannot constitutionally do will have unintended consequences.

Upon losing a Supreme Court case against the provinces who move quickly to uphold their rights under 92(a), the Greens would further strengthen the hand of pro-fossil fuel parties and may serve to elect even more conservative regimes across the country.

How does that look? See Alberta where they elected the UCP government out of a frustration to get their tar sands oil industry back on track, but are getting a hard right socially conservative administration that’s rolling back rights of LGBTQ folks ‘while they’re at it’.

There are seriously dangerous consequences to opting for a rhetorically populist party.

Update: September 15
some of the more rabid Greens cite Section 91 of the Constitution Act as license to override the provinces in their plan ban fracking.

Here’s the problem. Section 91 holds that the Federal government has the right to pass laws or regulations in areas of jurisdiction not explicitly laid out in Section 92. Well, natural resources are explicitly defined as provincial jurisdiction. We can thank in part Federal/Provincial scrap that Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program of the 1980’s where Alberta won in the Supreme Court on a related matter.

Feel free to read up on Section 91 if you wish.

So, in my opinion, the Greens are promising something they cannot deliver for the sole purpose of gaining votes.

I must add that in watching supporters of the Federal Greens demonizing the Federal NDP over the the BC NDP govt policies on natural gas. Fine I suppose if we’re going by “all is fair in love and war”, but it opens up another problem where the Greens risk another national unity collision with the provinces.

That’s very unwise.

My2bits

Update: new Green MP joins the attack on new buses for Victoria.

License requirements matter

When it comes to the license requirements for ride hailing drivers when the new regulations kick in, these new drivers will be required to have a class 4 license.

That’s it.

The angry BC Liberal side is saying this is an unfair and onerous weight to carry, I say otherwise.

The stats suggest that on average, there’s a .6pt safer advantage of a class 4 over the basic class 5.

In terms of averages, thats not a big deal. But when played out into the raw numbers of how many accidents in total vs what this .6 means, we get 2100 fewer accidents as a result of class 4 licenses.

But that’s another issue. If we’re to say that ride hailing should only use class 5, then we’re basically saying that the extra accident rate is worth the $100 that ride hailing drivers don’t have to pay in getting the superior license.

I think that’s a morally reprehensible position to take.

And if you’re one of those taking the position that the class 4 license is onerous with its medical exam, criminal background check, proof of safe driving, and working knowledge of your vehicle are too much, kindly go fuck yourself.

What if your son or daughter was killed off as part of that 2100 extra accidents that don’t matter.

Any layer of safety is worth it.

Anything to not let this happen here.

Grieving Toronto mom hopes stronger ride hailing licensing rules go ahead in B.C.

My2bits