Mild for Joe

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You know its true. Joe Biden isn’t Barack Obama and doesn’t illicit the same passion and groundswell of support that then Senator Obama did in the lead up to his 2008 election…and you know what? That’s perfectly ok.

There are few political candidates that drum up that sort of gut bending passion that you want to bend over backwards for them. Certainly it was Barack Obama, perhaps Bernie Sanders, once it was Ronald Reagan, or Justin Trudeau here in Canada. That luster wears off in time and its a contest of ideas (as it should be).

Joe Biden doesn’t do it at all. While he was an enthusiastic campaigner and very capable Vice President to Barack Obama, on his own terms, he’s not ‘that guy’.

He doesn’t have to be.

American politics are going through the other side of what began in 2008. Where there was hope and potential of great progress under Obama, the arrival of Donald Trump as President in 2016 is the exact opposite of hope and progress. He is literally the antidote of the excitement and promise the 2008 election.

Donald Trump is the worst excesses of the Tea Party movement filtered down through the most offensive and militant versions of racism and bigotry imaginable.

If there is anything that progressives, liberals and the left are guilty of, it was to pretend that this hateful force doesn’t hold any sway. They apparently vote…and in large enough numbers that they can win elections.

There are some D’s still fretting about 2016 like it was a stolen election. It wasn’t. Popular vote doesn’t determine elections, despite runaway tallies the Democrats had in their core, big states. What they cannot defend is how they lost swing states of Ohio, Michigan, Florida and dropped (in percentage) support in areas they did win. There was a pronounced swing against the Democratic party thanks to the angry racially populist messaging of Donald Trump. Given the tightness of the polls right now, Joe Biden has to offer more than “I’m not Trump” as a narrative.

To the left wingers and progressive populists that were aligned with Bernie Sanders, I know your disappointment. This is the second, and probably last time that Sanders will make a play for the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination. Progressives will have to think up something different if they wish to change America.

And this leads me to a point I think is necessary to discuss. There are those genuinely on the left so disappointed at Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the race that they’re actively trying to undermine Joe Biden. Either you’re a closet Trump supporter clawing your way into the open, or you’re probably stupid.

Yes I said that.

Here’s the problem.

America is not Canada.

In Canada, we have a robust multi-party democratic system. Its not just Liberal vs Conservative; those voters further to the left or right have different options.

The American system isn’t designed this way. Oh, yes it should be different, and that’s nice debate to have, but that’s not the reality on the ground.

Either Donald Trump gets another four years in power, or he’s stopped.

The frustration of the left is understandable. We’re proving that major government intervention is helpful; Canada is proving this. With the power of the state to levy taxes, print its own currency, and enforce laws, left wing ideas can get us out of the muck we’re in as a result of the global pandemic. So why hasn’t this caught on?

Because America isn’t a left wing country. Its a centre-right nation. Come to think of it, so is Canada.

Far left ideas haven’t caught on in America for the same reason that far right ideas haven’t caught on in Canada. Our people aren’t typically extreme.

This isn’t to suggest that far left ideas are equivalent to the far right. Folks on the far left aren’t screaming outrage at ‘Mexican rapists and drug dealers’ in left-wing rhetoric.  You’re more likely to hear ‘medicare for all’, and ‘basic income (for all)’ coming from the left.

It didn’t matter that Trump’s rhetoric was racist or that it was substantially wrong, he said it regardless…and thus began the effort to create a permission structure for blue collar voters who were generally underwhelmed at a slow economic recovery, blame immigrants and other people of colour (even if factually incorrect). That’s how Trump was able to peel off enough votes to flip swing states.

We’re at a place where the hard core activists are angry their chosen person didn’t make the cut and some are threatening either a boycott or obstruction as a result. That doesn’t make you much of a team player now doesn’t it?

Did Bernie Sanders throw a tantrum at Hillary Clinton in 2016 and run as a third party candidate? No: he was a powerful surrogate who headlined over a dozen events in her name – because he knew that Donald Trump had to be stopped. If the US Presidential Election was decided on popular vote, she would have won. In fact, one could argue that because of Sander’s efforts, Hillary was able to score the second highest popular vote tally in US history. But that’s not America’s system.

Did the losing GOP candidates throw a tantrum in 2016 and undercut Trump? No, they climbed aboard. Unfortunately.

Some of the most cantankerous progressives would seemingly be happier of Trump got a second term than if Biden won instead. I’m having a lot of trouble with this.

Nobody is saying Biden is perfect. He’s no less flawed in 2020 than Hillary was in 2016; neither would have been my first choice in any primary/caucus contest had I been an American registered Democrat. But they’d get my vote for President in November regardless.

As Trump cheers on anti-lockdown protests (by folks looking to shop, get haircuts), nobody is talking anymore about the thousands of children of undocumented immigrants locked in cages separated from their parents at the direction of the Trump administration. Not just separated, seized. Not just seized, being adopted out to American families.

Progressives will point to some allegations made by Tara Reade of very inappropriate behavior of Joe Biden. Allegations that we’re to believe; as per #metoo activists. Now, I’m not going to be the one to challenge if a woman has or hasn’t been a victim of a sexual crime; they face enough hurdles on coming forward with allegations. But, questions have been raised, and doubt is being raised towards the allegations.

Rather than delving into either the allegations, or denials, I’ll just say this..

That ship has sailed.

Maybe Tara Reade is right and Joe Biden is a creep. But I’m just going to say that nobody cares anymore about that. Donald Trump bragged up shitty behavior, and he won an election. There are more powerful people in office who do shady things than we know. Some are known quantities, some aren’t. The time before Trump, it was Bill Clinton being a creep – and he won re-election.

People vote on bread and butter, economic issues now. They could care less about personal lives. Republicans learned this too; after showcasing their moralistic holier than thou attitude during the Bill Clinton impeachment efforts, it was revealed later that many GOP folks were creeps too.

Again, I don’t want to minimize Tara Reade’s allegations, but the outrage is muted. The sitting President is out in the open with his depravity and could win another term. The person that the far left really do want, Bernie Sanders isn’t without his own interesting issues. His political legacy is that once he called for an end to mandatory public education…along with other distractions.

Oh yes, that’s literally a dose of ‘whataboutism’, but seriously, to the American voter, the choice ahead may just be a life or death option. Donald Trump and his covid10-trutherism has been picked up by the anti-vaxxer crowd; and should he get a new term of office, the anti-medicine people will have sway in public policy.

This will get people killed.

I’m truly sorry, Bernie folks, that your guy isn’t the Democratic nominee. Sure, Biden is a flawed candidate, just as Hillary was; just as Obama turned out to be. But you will be hard pressed to convince me that at any time that America would have been better off under the influence of any of the Republican options. We’re now finding out how bad it is under Trump; now imagine four more years of it.

You’d argue that the system is broken and that its hardly democratic: and that’s not a bad point to make. Except that its wrong.

The Republican party got as stupid and right wing not because Trump convinced them to be; it was a concerted effort over decades at the grassroots level that the worst lot of conservative ideologues slowly took over low level party positions as volunteers and rank/file gate keepers. It was only a matter of time before its leadership followed suit.

The left assumed that Bernie could just be dropped into place and win the nomination race. What were they thinking?

This isn’t to say that there are some genuine left enclaves within the Democratic Party; there clearly are. But they don’t dominate the party, nor are they the front line foot soldiers in the same way that far right activists have taken over the GOP. If the left wants the Democratic Party to move left, then get involved and drag it to where it needs to be. Or start your own party.

Look. Vote Biden to halt Trump. Vote Democrat to sweep Republicans from house and senate seats; shift the legislative direction. Put facts and science back in their rightful place.

Odds are, that even if it Biden wins, he’s only there for one term. Bernie isn’t likely to run for this again either. Progressives and liberals within the Democrats can look for new alternatives to campaign for in the ’24 campaign.

But if the left is genuine about changing America, as many of their loudest cheerleaders suggest, you can act first by saving America by throwing Trump out. If you cannot do that then I question your motives.

Either you actively choose someone that doesn’t stir excitement in you, or you’ll get Trump.

I’m aware that this opinion might trigger a blow-back in some of my political circles, but I’m unmoved by that possibility.

What I’m calling for is an ounce of pragmatism here, and if folks can’t read the “unite to stop the fascist from destroying a country” message here, then you’re just as much a hard-liner as you pretend not to be. There are times when a nations’ citizenry unite to overcome a common threat; this is that time, Trump is that threat.

Time to choose.

My2bits

 

The hypocrisy of Canada’s far right on covid19

Why won’t Trudeau help Canadians becoming ‘how are we going to pay for that’

Don’t lift a finger to stop these far right imbeciles from looking any more stupid than they already do.

But, aren’t they stupid? Of course they are, but now they’re drifting into the realm of irrational.

The above screenshot is from Canada Proud, a relative newcomer to the social media self-fellatio of the right wing nuttosphere.

They’ve latched onto what is bubbling up in the Trump world of alternative facts and it may have a profound impact on American politics. It must not do the same here.

Justin Trudeau did not create the $140 billion debt prior to the covid19 pandemic. That was already there. Some of it was by decisions of his government, much of it was left over from all previous administrations.

To then argue or light your hair on fire over the costs rising from the mitigation efforts infers that either they would not have spent a penny to help Canadians through this pandemic.

You’ll note that they ignore this problem when it comes to conservative regimes in Alberta, Ontario or under Trump.

Somehow, money only matters (that needs to be paid back) when non-conservatives are in charge.

They do have a point. Money borrowed like this does need to be paid.

But the right wing has no real answers. They’d cut taxes for the rich again and gut social spending, as they always do. By doing so they serve to widen the already obscene rich/poor gap they pretend to care about. They don’t. They only have one master: money.

They will not entertain a wealth tax, they will not examine a basic income, they won’t lift a finger for social housing. They’ll pretend to care about front line essential workers but undermine the workplace safety provisions they need.

Because they’ve always done this.

I’m not a Liberal Party supporter, but I don’t see any way that massive debt charges were avoidable when large swaths of employees were told to stay home from work while social distancing guidelines take effect.

Nobody had fun doing this and it’s going to cause other issues soon enough. But, money? Well if your only God is money, then your worship over it at least makes sense.

But you’re wrong.

My2bits

Coronavirus and its silver lining

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Look, there has to be a silver lining to the outbreak of a major pandemic in this modern age.

I don’t mean to make light or joke around at anyone’s expense; there are real people who have died in this pandemic – made worse by the actions (or lack thereof) of powerful leaders.

In watching the worlds’ nations reaction to #coronavirus, some nations are reacting swiftly, bringing all resources to bear, others – have different considerations.

We have seen some countries at first deny a problem exists, then ignore science, then ignore emergency protocols because their primary concern goes to the economic impact of the disease.

We have also seen places act proactively when given proper information, grant full disclosure and transparency, act with a life-preservation motivation at every step.

The first model is a politically driven response which attempts to mitigate financial and/or political fallout from any panic coming from the pandemic, while the other model puts aside the politics/money and mobilizes government resources and tools to whatever extent necessary.

The first model is being used by America and some European nations, the second is being deployed by Canada, most Asian jurisdictions and elsewhere. The first being a generically right-wing model, the second is a generally left-ish response.

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Guess where you’re finding the problems? Not on the left.

In fact, in a crazy sense of irony, the left wing approach may save the right. By using the full weight of government action, public healthcare and generally being proactive, the significantly larger cost up front may be the most efficient way to navigate this disaster.

Inversely, the right-wing model, loaded with its layers of political and fiscal policy tests, is proving no match for a virus that doesn’t give a shit about policy. So we lurch from willful ignorance to overreaction causing various financial markets to crash – in a world where markets are particularly sensitive to instability.

So what do the capitalists do? Unload $1.5 trillion into the markets to give it a jolt and make it better. It lasted 15 minutes and evaporated faster than rubbing alcohol.

Here’s the bottom line.

We’ll get through this, some places will fare better than others. I for one, am grateful for our public healthcare system that places patient-care above profits. For all of its flaws, this is a far superior model to one that is profit motivated and subject to the politics of the day.

Let doctors and healthcare pro’s do their jobs. Listen to first responders and civil authorities. Don’t over-react but don’t take chances either. These are uncharted waters for many. Whatever economic slowdown may happen as a result will be followed up with a recovery, and hopefully, positive change.

Hang in there everyone, we’ll be ok.

my2bits

CGL Pipeline debacle is a progressive values test.

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The trouble with the CGL pipeline is that you can make a compelling progressive argument either side of the proposal. Something that nobody anticipated.

To be sure, there are many complex layers in this debate, but the fact that its happening in live-time has brought out unprecedented protests across the country; blockading railways, harbours, marine transport, and several government offices.

To be clear, I’m not a lawyer nor am I of First Nation’s lineage, so my view on this is just that: an unprofessional opinion.

Make no mistake, the right wing is united on this. They’re rallying behind the law-and-order flag calling the protests illegal and demanding that politicians interfere with police and the enforcement side of things.

They have it wrong too.

Protesting, demonstrating, whatever you want to call it, is a protected right under our constitution. The line crossed between a lawful, peaceful assembly of folks highlighting causes and an illegal act is a determination made by a judge when asked to order an injunction: this is not a right granted to armchair pundits. So stop it.

As it turns out, nothing is clear and obvious about the pipeline proposal and the Wet’suwet’en (re)action.

The quick glance tells us that 20 elected first nations along the proposed route have given their blessing to the project while a handful of hereditary chiefs reject the idea. The 20 elected band councils cover 100% of the region, if we’re keeping score.

It was this simple look that CGL got its permission slip and required permits to begin this pipeline.

Not so fast says the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en.

Sure enough, digging deeper into this, there are layers of complex court rulings that have given rise to the protests we see today.

The compelling narrative seems to be the lack of consent regarding the proposed route as it drives through sensitive Wet’suwet’en lands and heritage sites. It opens up wounds around the colonial treatment that our First Nations have been treated with.

Competing with this narrative is an environmental one that takes a stand against the 30k job industry in BC. While natural gas as an industry isn’t without challenges or concerns, there’s a problem with the narrative that the Wet’suwet’en are against the CGL pipeline because they’re opposed to the NG industry: its misleading.

You see, consent was implied for a different routing of the pipeline that was eventually ruled out by CGL. It immediately begs a question: if the Wet’suwet’en were so anti-natural gas, why would they suggest an alternative routing of a pipeline that they would have approved of?

Why would the Wet’suwet’en suggest an alternative route for CGL? Because they’re fully aware of the Supreme Court decisions that give them a major role to play here; and to grant them this alternative routing would have been the very kind of reconciliation event that everyone wants to showcase long before it was coined as a popular phrase by politicians.

It also proves that the Wet’suwet’en leadership (elected and hereditary) aren’t unreasonable people, they were more than ready to do a deal; that they were plugged into the needs of their peoples.

The CGL Pipeline wasn’t proposed yesterday or last week, this is a multi-year project in its application phase. The decision to approve the CGL Pipeline as is was done in 2014 while Christy Clark was Premier in BC and Stephen Harper was your Prime Minister.

We get to this to this current crisis because of activists of the Wet’suwet’en in setting up road blocks and checkpoints along the access points within their territory that made it impossible for CGL to perform any work on the pipeline sites. As a result, CGL sought out and won court injunctions that required these activists to step aside and allow access by CGL to its work sites. Essentially to let the pipeline project proceed without the consent of the Wet’suwet’en. So this was done, by police, acting with an enforcement order.

That’s when the progressive world exploded.

It is a valid left wing argument to support unionized, family supporting high wage careers in resource development. Jobs that pay very substantial levels of taxes that support public healthcare, education, highways and the social safety net. Jobs that will also directly benefit the various first nations who have been on the suffering end of the economy for generations.

It is also a valid left wing argument to support a continued evolving reconciliation process that empowers first nations to come to full treaty status, gain full equality and shared decision making capacity with the various levels of government that surround us.

It is also valid left wing argument to support the fight against climate change; by requiring the industrial players to do more to mitigate legitimate concerns raised by the climate science community.

The false choice as presented by the big media and the right wing is that the left has to pick one of these avenues; so that they may define “leftists” as one of the above. The truth is that we’re all of the above and this is our test.

We’ll overcome this. If we work together.

My2bits

BC Liberals mishandling of ICBC is reminiscent of their failure on the real estate file

They were expecting to be re-elected and have time to extinguish the fire they started

To listen to the BC Liberals talk, everything was going swimmingly when they handed over the keys to power in 2017.

But as it turns out like everything, the truth was a lot different than the rhetoric.

The BC Liberals would claim success on the real estate front except the fact that their industry reforms in the early 2000’s led to the outrageous shadow flipping and affordability issues the lower mainland now faces. It’s taken a speculation tax and re-regulation to partially slow down an overheated market.

The motivation was obvious. When homes and property is sold, they pay a property transfer tax that amounts to billions in provincial revenue that doesn’t have to come from income tax or sales tax. The problem with this scenario is that it pushed real estate prices into the stratosphere with hyperinflation increases that all but ruled out home ownership for average people.

By the time the BC Liberals reacted and reigned in the shadow flipping cash cow they created, the damage was done.

What the BC Liberals never considered is that for the economy to function, you need your blue collar, front line workers an ability to live and work in the economy they’re supposed to provide services into.

Nobody can afford to live in Vancouver unless you’re well above $150k a year income level. Imagine trying to operate a restaurant where you cannot hire cooks or servers because they can’t afford rent in the area they’d need to work in, and the prevailing wage structure doesn’t come close to helping them.

The BC Liberals created a 1% economy that catered to the top tier and ignored everyone else.

The downside that nobody is talking about here is that eventually the real estate market will crash out unless there’s some intervention to let the steam out slowly. A crash here triggers a recession.

How is this related to the BC Liberals mishandling of ICBC? It’s the same pandering to their well financed benefactors. But instead of big real estate and big developers, it’s trial lawyers.

It’s the same re-jig of regulations that opened the door for friends to make a lot of money while ignoring the potential damages it causes.

In the case of ICBC, the BC Liberal changes allowed for more litigation and court fighting which amplified legal fees and payouts; all of which is covered by ratepayers premiums.

What the BC Liberals did, instead of taking the extra revenue from a property transfer tax, is they scooped reserve cash from ICBC for the same reason. It wasn’t a sales or income tax.

In hauling money out of crown corporations and cashing in the windfall from a white-hot real estate market, the government was taking in $3-4 billion per year that was unrelated to the performance of the economy, and literally it was unsustainable.

They were warned on ICBC. They chose to ignore it.

Fast forward to the current moment. The BC Liberals are spending heavily as opposition party in their chosen social media venues to attack the NDP over ICBC.

What kind of idiots do they take us for?

The NDP is trying to navigate a path to repair things the BC Liberals willingly broke. And they’re doing so while simultaneously fighting legal challenges by the benefactors who’re seeing their gravy train dry up.

Well I’ve got news for you. My ICBC premiums are for my protection, so that I’m insured while driving my vehicle; no matter what happens. It’s not the BC Liberal money tree they can freely pluck from because of their own financial incompetence.

The NDP might not be perfect nor get everything right. But I appreciate that they’re trying to fix what was broken and are moving the ball forward.

So while this process might be awkward and imperfect, I’ll gladly vote for the NDP in the next election for attempting the right thing.

The last thing BC needs is a return to office, the BC Liberals who deliberately and willingly tried to break and vandalize the things we hold dear. May they never see the inside of the halls of power again.

Gig workers are workers too and need labour code protections

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The NDP government needs to act without delay, to amend BC’s labour code to recognize gig economy workers who exist as “independent contractors” with employee-like labour rights as any waged worker has.

As a guideline, California passed “AB-5” that does very much the same. To be sure, California law making and BC legislation exist within different constitutional frameworks and in different countries. But the point is not lost here: gig economy workers are at risk.

As an independent contractor in the gig economy world, you don’t get fired, you get your contract cancelled. For those who’s paycheque is tied to a mobile app, annoy the company and you’ll get disconnected. Gig economy workers exist almost within an “at-will” employment scenario and its scary. Especially in an economy where most middle and modest income earners are struggling.

Being fair, I can’t say that I’m a big cheerleader of ride-hailing. Or gig-economy jobs; but maybe some folks are.

All I know is that this was a promise made by the NDP and kept.

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While it is true that certain NDP candidates said bad things towards the real ride-hailing cheerleaders, the BC Liberals; it was largely because the BC Liberals were planning a free-for-all system that would have been the worst outcome from every perspective.

Ride hailing isn’t a climate change savior; it won’t do anything to unclog an already over-capacity Vancouver regional highway system. It was only a transportation option that every political party made. All of them. Especially the Green Party.

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To recap. Ride hailing was an industry that burst into existence in 2009. Ride hailing was actually chased out of BC by the BC Liberals in 2012 when they tried to set up without regulatory approval. It wasn’t until the 2017 provincial election that the BC Liberals made the notion of ride hailing a campaign worthy promise after having not lifted a finger for it in the 8 years previous.

For whatever criticism one can throw at the NDP for the slow roll out of ride hailing, its at a breakneck speed compared to the bag of nothing delivered by the BC Liberals, and the NDP has added the class 4 license restriction to these drivers as a layer of qualification and safety. Now its time to protect the drivers of such business models; and all others who draw a paycheque from this sort of business to feed their families.

My2bits

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.

space-required-to-transport-60-people-car-bus-bicycle

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.