Roundup: Reading the constitution and a map

The constitutional lunacy taking place in Alberta shows no signs of abating, especially now that Jason Kenney has taken his seat in the legislature. Already they have debated a motion to back the province’s fight for pipeline access in BC, but the demands they’re making that Justin Trudeau invoke Section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution are wrong and bogus. Why? That section applies to projects that are of the national interest but are only within a single province’s boundaries – which this pipeline is not. So here’s Andrew Leach to pour some necessary scorn onto the whole thing, while Carissima Mathen, a constitutional law professor, backs him up.

Meanwhile, Kenney is playing an utterly disingenuous game of semantics with his objection to the province’s carbon tax, insisting that it didn’t give them the “social licence” to get their pipelines approved. But to suggest that was the only value of such a tax is to be deliberately misleading. The real purpose of a carbon price is to provide a market signal for industry to reduce their emissions, by providing them a financial incentive for them to do so. It’s proven the most efficient way to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective manner possible, and while correlation may not be causation, it has bene pointed out that those jurisdictions in the country that have implemented carbon pricing have roaring economies, while those resisting one (such as Saskatchewan) don’t. Whether there is a correlation or not, provinces like BC have shown that the carbon tax allows them to lower other taxes which are generally less efficient taxes regardless. As for social licence, it’s part of the overall balancing act to show that there is a sufficient plan to achieve reductions as part of transitioning to a low-carbon future, but I’m not sure that anyone suggested that it would magically end all protests (and if they did, they were fools for doing so). But for Kenney to claim that this was the promise is utter nonsense.

Like the bogus calls to invoke Section 92(10)(c), it’s all about putting forward a plausible-sounding argument in the hopes that the public doesn’t bother to actually read it to see that it’s actually bullshit. But that is apparently how political debate works these days – disingenuous points that don’t actually resemble reality, or lies constructed to look plausible and hoping that nobody calls you on it, and if they do, well, they’re just apologists or carrying water for your opponents. This isn’t constructive or helpful, and it just feeds the politics of anger and resentment, which in turn poisons the discourse. They all know better, but keep doing it because it’s so addictive, but never mind that the house is burning down around them.

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau is talking about possible measures to prevent dumped steel from being transshipped through Canada to the US.
  • Trudeau did the rounds on American media on Monday night, and insisted that Trump has always been straight with him.
  • Belgium’s deputy prime minister says a meeting with Trudeau would have been nice, even though they knew he wasn’t going to be available and came anyway.
  • Belgium is also loaning the Canadian War Museum a Canadian artillery gun used in the liberation of Mons at the end of WWI.
  • The ouster of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could be a blow for Canada-US relations, as our allies in the administration are dwindling.
  • Carolyn Bennett says that there will be compensation for residential school survivors who were abused by other students.
  • The Bank of Canada governor says there’s still slack in the economy and untapped potential in the labour market; also, higher deficits prevented more household debt.
  • The government unveiled more of their Oceans Protection Plan, which will include more measures to address marine life such as orcas.
  • As of last year, the military was still finding gaps in their attempts to address sexual misconduct within their ranks, and to assist victims.
  • Andrew Scheer wrote an open letter to Quebec, hoping that they will look to his party if they’re disappointed with the Liberals and the Bloc.
  • The Conservatives have hired a Toronto lawyer to look into their handling of the Rick Dykstra nomination during the last election.
  • Brad Trost chalks up his nomination loss to complacency and exhaustion.
  • Saskatchewan’s environment minister is confident in their legal challenge of the federal carbon price backstop. That could prove foolhardy.
  • Here’s a look at why Jason Kenney may not be an ally of Doug Ford.
  • Paul Wells notes the loss of Chrystia Freeland’s greatest ally in Washington, Tillerson, while John Ivison notes his replacement is the Liberals’ antithesis.
  • Susan Delacourt lists the ways in which Doug Ford is more like Stephen Harper than Donald Trump.
  • My column notes the two-year anniversary of the Independent Senators Group, and the gradual loss of institutional memory that their ascendance signals.

Odds and ends:

Tristin Hopper cheekily suggests that Belgium find themselves a less confusing flag.

Here’s an interesting look at the origins of populist politics in the 1890s.

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