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.

92a

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.

Class warfare politics again

If you’re just tuning in now, you may have been tempted to think the rising star of the conservatives will run to the rescue of beleaguered modest and middle income earners and save Canada from the elitist egg heads of the Liberal Party.

There’s a problem with that.

Both Liberal and Conservative politicians serve the same super-establishment and 1% to the cost of everyone else.

Both defend a neoliberal economic model. In fact, they all champion an economic model that since the 1980’s has wrecked the middle class and driven the wedge between rich and poor to its worst extreme in recent history.

Through no fault of their own, the rising generation of millenials may need to save for 29 years in order to afford a home in Canada’s cities.

Now, I’m a ½ generation ahead of a millenial; the so-called “GenX” now at age 45. Getting into the home ownership game wasn’t that severe for us. And we were the first unfortunate beneficiary of this neoliberal economic model. Now it’s worse.

The current duopoly of red/blue governments do nothing to change this. Their promises are mere window dressing next to the mess it’s made.

Tiny tax cuts here, boutique tax credits there hide the ugly truth behind the big lie. Both Liberals and Conservatives offer no change. More of the same.

So who does?

This guy.

For the business rags to condemn the NDPs tax agenda (which even I think is relatively timid) means that the NDP is headed in the correct direction.

Finally.

And let’s undo a narrative right now. The conservatives seem ready to cast the Liberals as a bunch of Eastern, out of touch, university egg heads completely detached from the reality on Main Street.

While there may be an element of truth to that, there is nothing wrong with being educated. In fact, that’s what we parents look forward to in our kids. Finish school, get some education/vocation and make something of yourself. Those who would demonize the educated are attacking our own youth. Stop it.

And what’s worse is that the conservatives have their own brand of super elite “egg heads” that are just as out of touch with every day folks. But they come in the flavour of energy lobbyists, social conservatives, xenophobic policy writers and advocates of the super rich.

So we’re back into a class warfare politics again. But don’t think for a moment that team blue is any better than team red. They’re both terrible.

My2bits

Repeat after me: “tax cuts do not pay for themselves”

Trickle down economics has never worked. Ever. Yet it was tried again here in BC when the BC Liberals took office in 2001 with results that literally anyone could have predicted.

Now a former Gordon Campbell cabinet minister reflects back on the times that were and thinks it wasn’t good times. We could have told you that Mr Abbott, but you went along with it anyways.

It’s worth noting that former BC Premier Gordon Campbell is advising the Ford gov’t in Ontario, ostensibly with a mandate to uncover areas worth cutting funds to.

New Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also diverted some of that stinky BC Liberal bathwater to help his new govt settle into power.

This isn’t going to work out well for Alberta or Ontario.

“Tax cuts pay for themselves” is a rebranded “trickle down economics” and it’s never worked, not a single time. Yet we’re drifting towards parties that believe in this mythology.

Don’t fall for it again.

My2bits

I’m not in a panic over teacher negotiations and neither should you

I’m not unfamiliar to contract talks between unions and their bosses, and I’m old enough to remember that most of the noise is the rhetorical hot air that both sides breathe in order to rally public opinion to each respective side. So with that being said, I’m pretty much ignoring the noise being made publicly about what’s going on in the negotiating room between the BCTF and the employer, the BCPSEA.

It however wasn’t long ago that the BC Liberals, directly interfering with negotiations last time, trotted out heavy hitting cabinet ministers and Premier Clark with their “affordability zone” mantra.

Since then, the teachers union won their appeal at the Supreme Court that restored class size and composition language that was illegally stripped away by legislation introduced by none other than (then) Deputy Premier and Education Minister Christy Clark when Gordon Campbell was Premier.

I do have to inject a reality check here. Both sides are free to ask for whatever they think they’ll get in contract talks. Aim high and see where negotiations take you. The employer is free to ask all they want for movement on CSC language, but it doesn’t mean teachers have to agree to any changes there – that was a win in court. The union is also free to ask for whatever they feel they’ll get; see how this works?

What is harmful though, is that the rhetoric can get toxic outside the negotiating rooms. Teachers are a powerful ally to the NDP and some loud mouths online are using this delicate negotiating period as a means to drive a wedge here. As if by electing the BC Liberals back to power will mean any better gains for teachers (hint: it won’t).

Do yourselves a favour and let the negotiating teams do their work; ignore the rhetorical hot air like its a bad smell..because it will blow away.

My2bits

Shady ‘labour’ group upset at fair representation for workers

At stake are the regulations regarding large infrastructure projects in BC that the new NDP government has set in place. In a nutshell, the government is pursuing PLA’s (or project labour agreements) which pre-establish union rates and guarantee no work stoppage on a project. They can be more expensive in one sense as pay rates may be relatively higher, but also deliver certainty and are famous for their on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs.

Enter the Progressive Contractors Association, allies of CLAC.

CLAC, or Christian Labour Association of Canada and their allies, are mighty upset by this. While CLAC meets a legal definition of union in the sense of protected status as a member of an association, to most unions, they’d describe CLAC as a ‘rat union’.

CLAC hasn’t done itself any favours to quell this reputation, it lost a recent arbitration with a friendly employer it had a so-called ‘voluntary recognition agreement’ they fought against SEIU. I’ll let you read it for yourself; a link to the LRB decision is linked in the article.

CLAC and the PCA are friendly to the BC Liberals because dealing with these folks gives the BC Liberals some badly needed credentials that they need to not sound so anti-union.

We’re at this place because for 16 years, the BC Liberals gutted the apprenticeship and training programs in BC while the demand for construction and blue collar trades hasn’t gone anywhere but up. How bad is it? Then-Premier got up in front of a business crowd to call for more temporary foreign workers to build LNG.

So this may come as a surprise to folks when the BC Liberals have a phishing page on their site paying lip service to the call for BC workers being prioritized for LNG.

No, seriously.

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In my view, the court challenge being launched against the NDP government’s CBA (Community Benefit Agreement), which is a PLA by definition, is futile. PLA’s have been ruled legal and constitutional before and that’s how WAC Bennett got his dam built in the Peace Country (and many projects since).

Allies of CLAC and the BC Liberals should take this as a lesson that instead of being adversarial and attack working people, start treating them fairly and with respect and you’ll never be on the wrong side of labour again.

But that is a choice.

My2bits