Roundup: Disingenuous leadership promises

In the wake of the unity vote in Alberta on the weekend, there were a number of developments around the United Conservative Party yesterday morning, starting with the fact that one of the other PC leadership candidates who lost to Jason Kenney left the party, citing that it wasn’t going to be centrist enough. Meanwhile, the Wildrose house leader, Nathan Cooper, was named interim leader of the united party, while they get their Elections Alberta paperwork sorted. (Incidentally, the leadership is supposed to be decided by October 28th and the legislature not recalled until October 30th).

Brian Jean also tendered his resignation as Wildrose party leader, and made a bid for UCP leader by mid-afternoon. And that’s where some of the fun/frustration sets in.

These were two statements that Jean made, but they’re among the most problematic.  For starters, his promise on the carbon tax should be taken with a giant shaker of salt because by the time there’s an election in Alberta, there will be a federally mandated carbon price, and it would make absolutely no sense for a hypothetical Jean-led UCP government to withdraw the provincial tax only to be hit with a federal one that is designed roughly the same way – especially when the oil industry in Alberta has largely been behind the tax process because it offers them predictability and price measures that they can work with. And if Jean thinks that there will be a Scheer-led Conservative government federally who will cut the federal carbon tax, well, that sound a lot like counting chickens before they’re hatched.

The promise around equalization is even more nonsensical because there’s nothing that a referendum would actually accomplish. Equalization is a federal programme that comes out of the consolidated revenue fund. Alberta doesn’t write a cheque to Ottawa, who then turns it over to Quebec. Equalization comes out of the income taxes that everyone pays to the federal government, and is used to ensure that all provinces – especially those who don’t have a lot of revenue-generating potential – can offer roughly equal levels of services for things like healthcare. Alberta is a rich province. Its incomes are well above those in the rest of the country, and hence, they pay more income tax. That’s it. That’s how equalization works. If he thinks that he can somehow hold is breath and withhold paying, well, he’s utterly mistaken, and to promise otherwise is disingenuous, populist bilge. He can’t change the constitution either, so good luck with that. Sadly, because nobody actually explains to people how equalization works, people end up believing Jean’s nonsense.

Incidentally, Jason Kenney is expected to announce his UCP leadership bid this Saturday. Colby Cosh takes on the coming leadership contest here (and it’s a pretty cracking read).

Good reads:

  • The Crime Severity Index report was out yesterday showing fewer marijuana-related crimes, but more sexual crimes against minors.
  • Senator Murray Sinclair has been asked to lead an investigation into the Thunder Bay Police Board, given the problems in that city, especially with Indigenous issues.
  • The federal and Ontario governments signed an agreement with northern Ontario First Nations to create a new Indigenous-lead health framework in the region.
  • Canadian officials are working to ensure that a recently rescued Yazidi boy, who was held in ISIS custody, will be reunited with his mother in Winnipeg.
  • Washington State is looking at whether the soon-to-be-unveiled Infrastructure Bank would be a good way to fund high-speed rail from Vancouver to Portland.
  • A Muslim-baiting Mississauga blogger, who interviewed Conservative leadership candidates for his site, has been charged with promoting hate speech.
  • Canada is selling armoured personnel carriers to another country with a spotty human rights record – Azerbaijan.
  • The National Observer has an interview with Marilyn Gladu, one of the more interesting characters of the current parliament.
  • David Reevely looks at how Ontario encouraged doctors to use the incorporation tax loopholes to avoid paying them more.

Odds and ends:

The temporary Senate building will have beehives on the roof.