One never thought that pulses – and chickpeas in particular – would be the cause of a supposed major political crisis in this country, and yet here we are. The problem is that the supposed problem is almost entirely fictional. News that India raised their tariffs on chickpea imports to some sixty percent was treated by the Conservatives as a direct response to the Jaspel Atwal incident and the supposition by certain senior officials in Canada that some rogue Indian factions arranged for him to be there in order to embarrass Trudeau as a way of demonstrating that the Canadian government is soft on Khalistani extremists. Except that’s not it at all – India raised their tariffs on all of their imports, and Canada barely exports any of those particular chickpeas to India. Australia is taking a bigger hit that Canada is on these tariffs, so if that’s somehow Trudeau’s fault, I’m open to hearing it.
A chickpea update: the PM definitely wanted to work on the pulse tariff issue while in Indian (learned term today – refers to lentils, chickpeas etc). These tariffs today don't have much impact for Canadian farmers as Canada doesn't produce much of this type of chickpea #cdnpoli
— Mercedes Stephenson (@CTVMercedes) March 2, 2018
Exactly. Was Trudeau also responsible for Australia having its own tariffs raised? Thanks Obama! :p
— Mubin Shaikh (@MrMubinShaikh) March 2, 2018
Of course, there is a broader discussion that is being completely ignored with by most of the Canadian media, who are joining the Conservatives in trying to wedge this news into the pre-determined narrative. Indeed, Canadian Press wire copy went out that uncritically repeated that the Conservatives linked the tariff hike to the India visit without any actual fact-checking, or checking the situation on the ground in India. That situation being that there is a worldwide glut of pulse crops that has depressed prices, and the Indian government, in advance of an election, is trying to shore up their support by bringing in these tariffs to protect farmers. At the same time, there is a rash of suicides by Indian farmers in the country, which is no doubt causing India’s government some distress. “But Trudeau said he’d raise the tariff problem and he failed,” cry the critics. Sure, he raised it with Modi, but their discussions were apparently more about an ongoing fumigation issue than tariffs. And while the tariff issue may have come up, I’m not sure that Trudeau has the magical ability to solve the expansion of supply over demand or to fix India’s domestic agricultural issues, but tell me again how this is all about the Canadian pundits’ perceptions of that India trip.
ALSO: India wants to be self-sufficient when it comes to pulse production (which includes chickpeas). There is some dispute as to whether India will actually be able to do this. Indian agriculture is heavily subsidized & with an election looming, Modi is courting the farm vote.
— Kelsey Johnson (@johnsonthree) March 2, 2018
Speaking of Atwal, MP Randeep Sarai spoke to his local newspaper to say that he didn’t know who Atwal was when his name was forwarded to him along with several others who were in the country and asked for an invitation – but he still takes responsibility for it, and volunteered to resign as the party’s Pacific caucus chair. He also says that he doesn’t know who Atwal is because he was a child at the time that Atwal committed his crimes, and his staffers are all younger than he is, which is a reflection of the generational change happening in Canadian politics.
On a related note, Supriya Dwivedi calls out the Canadian media’s amnesia when it comes to the history of Indian relations with Canada, especially as it relates to Sikh separatists, and for their complete lack of awareness of some of the Hindu nationalist politics being practiced in India by Modi’s government.
- Justin Trudeau called out the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium by the Americans, and noted we are seeking exemptions on national security grounds.
- Numerous voices in America are also pleading Canada’s case, for all of the good it seems to be doing.
- The decision to allocate some of the arctic surf clam fishery to Indigenous groups is getting heated in Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Here’s a look at Jody Wilson-Raybould and her long-standing work on reframing the relationship between government and First Nations, which is now playing out.
- In arguing against plain packaging for cigarettes, Diane Finley claimed that counterfeit cigarettes financed the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre.
- A number of retirements in the upper ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces has prompted a major reshuffle of top brass.
- CN Rail is disputing the numbers being put forward by grain farmer groups about the backlog in grain shipments by rail, particularly claims in Manitoba.
- The Senate Ethics Officer has dropped an investigation into former Senator Colin Kenny’s use of resources given that he resigned in January.
- More details have emerged about the harassment investigation into Darshan Kang, which found many claims were substantiated.
- More than 20 former Bloc MPs have called on Martine Ouellet to resign, which she should have done if she had any modicum of shame.
- Robert Hiltz bids good riddance to Patrick Brown and his enormous ego, while Rachel Giese marvels at Brown’s delusional sense of self-confidence.
- Colby Cosh notes that the budget included more of those boutique tax credits that the Liberals used to decry, even if they don’t refer to them as such.
- Andrew Coyne is not impressed with the funding for newspapers in the budget.
- Jonathan Kay calls out Andrew Scheer’s pledge around declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.
- Susan Delacourt notes that the government doesn’t appear to be listening to its own committees when it comes to the pharmacare plans.
- Chantal Hébert looks at the debacle of Martine Ouellet’s “leadership” and the broken wasteland of separatist support in Quebec.
Odds and ends:
The government is finally talking about replacing its 31-year-old Airbus fleet…but replacements wouldn’t be in place until 2026 to 2036.