Roundup: A sudden demand for subsidies

Something that went largely unremarked yesterday was a somewhat bizarre press release that Andrew Scheer put out, bemoaning the lack of cellphone coverage in one region of Quebec, and then wondered why the government had all kind of money to spend on other things but not this, and then lumped it in with softwood lumber and Supply Management as a Quebec priority.

While the fact that the Conservative leader was in essence demanding subsidized cellphone coverage in one particular region is strange in and of itself, it should be a reminder that this is no longer a party of actual fiscal conservatism – it’s a party of economic populism that just happens to chant about balanced budgets for the sake of it. To be certain, this is the first time I’ve seen cellphone coverage being listed as a top priority from Scheer or the Conservatives, and as many of my Twitter followers pointed out, there are plenty of places in this country with poor or non-existent coverage, especially along the TransCanada highway – somewhere one might expect that it might be some kind of national priority. But I’m also curious as to what exactly Scheer proposes to do about it that government deficits aren’t taking care of – language that seems to imply that they’re not simply going to demand that companies provide this coverage through regulatory means. Add to that, they were in power for almost a decade and did nothing about these kinds of coverage gaps, so it makes one wonder why it suddenly became a priority unless it just happens to be somewhere that Scheer is hoping to pick up some votes. Crass politicking? Perish the thought!

Good reads:

  • New BC premier John Horgan was in Ottawa to meet Justin Trudeau, but they avoided talking about Kinder Morgan to the media.
  • While an Indigenous oversight committee was put in place for the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline, Pacific NorthWest LNG died because of market conditions.
  • Trudeau also insisted that NAFTA renegotiations must include a dispute resolution system, which Trump is trying to eliminate.
  • Another issue up for NAFTA talks is cross-border data storage, which would trip up privacy laws in BC and Nova Scotia (and expose Canadian data to the Patriot Act).
  • At the AFN’s annual meeting, Carolyn Bennett announced that major changes are on the way to how First Nations are funded, giving them more control.
  • Despite the deadline for new warship designs having passed, there seems to be no movement on them.
  • The Federal Court says that immigration detention is legal, but sometimes is a problem of bad management.
  • Susan Delacourt wonders if Trudeau isn’t running out of allies in Western Canada.
  • Kady O’Malley lays out the possible constitutional fight coming with those guilty verdicts in the polygamy cases in BC.
  • My column looks at the coming fights as to who will lead Senate committees once they reorganize in October.

Odds and ends:

This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on two cases involving the duty to consult Indigenous communities on resource projects.