We’re barely a couple of days into the “trade war” between BC and Alberta, and already the rhetoric has cranked the ridiculousness up to eleven. While Trudeau has tried to calm nerves and insist that he and his officials are speaking to the premiers involved and their officials, you have Andrew Scheer going before the microphones to demand that the PM cancel his trip to the United States to deal with this escalating crisis (err, thus far a press release has been issued by BC – that’s it), and Jagmeet Singh is lamenting that Trudeau isn’t showing enough leadership. One remains curious about what kind of “leadership” Trudeau should be showing on this, given that he has declared that the pipeline will get built because it’s in the national interest (and even went so far as to deploy anonymous senior government sources to assure the media that yes, they won’t allow any province to impinge on federal jurisdiction). And you know that if Trudeau did actually cancel his US trip that the Conservatives would pillory him for not taking NAFTA renegotiations seriously enough. It was also pointed out yesterday that when Christy Clark tried to impose conditions on pipelines, the previous government pretty much let her go ahead with it with very few complaints, so their insistence that Trudeau escalate this to what one presumes to be the use of federal disallowance powers is curious in the extreme.
Meanwhile, the pundits are weighing in. Chantal Hébert notes that Trudeau lacks any kind of constitutional mechanism to force a timeout between the premiers. Andrew Leach reminds us that the only reason Alberta got the approval for the pipelines was because they did the hard work of getting a credible environmental regime in place beforehand. Jen Gerson argues that Trudeau’s job is to avoid these kinds of interprovincial disputes, and that Notley’s real goal with the wine blockade is to pressure Trudeau. Colby Cosh says that the wine blockade was a predictable turn of events given Notley’s flirting with craft beer protectionism already.
— Andrew Leach 🇨🇦 ❄ (@andrew_leach) February 8, 2018
So Alberta should set environmental policy for BC by virtue of choosing dirty energy? Come on.
— Heather Blackett (@HeatherBlacket1) February 7, 2018
The party line is “This pipeline crosses our sacred soil.” Not “Yes, you bet we are just bullying you about your ecological terribleness.”
— Colby Cosh (@colbycosh) February 7, 2018
- During his talk in Chicago last night, Trudeau sent the message that killing NAFTA would hurt the American middle class.
- Before he left for Chicago, Trudeau said he was asking his officials to look into that sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Canadian Forces members.
- Trudeau also assured everyone that the “peoplekind” comment was in fact a bad joke that he regrets, while hard-right types continue to melt down over it.
- Speaking of NAFTA, American officials gave renewed assurances that they are committed to trilateral talks after more talk about bilateral deals.
- The government has also ordered a review of the pending sale of military helicopters to the Philippines (though no permits have been applied for).
- Ralph Goodale says that people shouldn’t have any expectations about the legalization date for cannabis because of the complexity of the file.
- Bardish Chagger says that she’s insisted that her staff tell her of future harassment allegations, after her chief of staff didn’t tell her about previous ones.
- The government announced new spending on “artificial intelligence” tools to help combat child pornography.
- The newest senator, Mary Jane McCallum, spoke about the harrowing state of First Nations and Inuit dental care.
- The Liberals are looking to recapture the riding of Outremont once Thomas Mulcair retires, and the previous Liberal candidate is hoping for a second run.
- The Conservatives have launched a campaign around getting Canadians to write and call into the PMO to demand repayment for those vacation expenses.
- Martin Patriquin writes about the way in which Doug Ford hopes to use populist anger to win the Ontario PC leadership.
- Kady O’Malley parses the tactics the Conservatives are employing in their constant demands that the PM repay the treasury for his Bahamas vacation.
- Susan Delacourt suspects that pharmacare will be a big issue in the 2019 election.
- Andrew Coyne says that the Conservatives will continue to lose until they can come up with some semblance of an ideology that isn’t simply populist pandering.
Odds and ends:
The planned Stephen Harper Bird Sanctuary in Israel is over budget and behind schedule – which sounds like a fitting example of Canadian workmanship.