Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Where Are Our Journalists? (Part 4)

Is it just me, or do others have the impression that Canadian media is either bought and paid for by the CPC, or intimidated by them? The SNC-Lavalin coverage/speculation has gone well into the realm of mind-numbingly boring and absurd.

A rumour, printed in a right-leaning newspaper, without source, which for all we know, was planted in the reporter's ear by someone in the CPC, has dominated Canadian news coverage for more than a week...

And won't Canadian media news programming all look silly if it turns out to be a non-issue? Meanwhile, we have a convoy of dubious provenance that rolled across the prairies and into Ottawa and our news outlets all cheerfully interview them as though they know what they are talking about... As though they have some great and profound message for all Canadians, and it doesn't seem to bother most of the news programs that the people in this caravan come across to many Canadians as people who get all their news and information from Rebel and UCP/CPC fund-raising emails...

Not to mention the close ties they seem to have with various hate groups, and a tendency to display images encouraging the lynching of the PM. Canadian news outlets don't seem to have a problem with Scheer and Bernier sharing a stage with Faith Goldy,...

Or with Senator David Tkachuk apparently urging the United We Roll people to run over Liberals... It's on video... And then there's the money (>130K) for this magical mystery tour. >$20K in anonymous donations, some as large as $5K... And now it seems the money is MIA. Surely there is a story there? At least as a brief respite from the hammering away at SNC-Lavalin ? And then there's the repetition of every bit of misinformation from the UCP/CPC presented as though it is truth....

C'mon, Canadian media, especially CBC - if you are being held hostage in some way, let us know! We want and need you functioning as actual reporters, not right-wing cheerleaders. We will try to help if you let us know...

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of Canadians do not want or need you to be stenographers for the Ford/Scheer/Kenney/Harper party. There is an ugly, pulsating, writhing, throbbing rise of right-wing nationalist populism...

And it won't end well for any of us if they get into power. CBC News, don't imagine that if you help them, they will spare you. They hate you on a cellular level. They hate all of us who are not them.

Scheer and Kenney are itching to do to Alberta and all of Canada what Ford is doing to Ontario. Cutting back all the good things like environmental protection, worker protection, consumer protection, health care (starting with children with autism)... Bringing back bad things, like police who are a law unto themselves. Unbridled greed and corporate acquisition. Out of date school curriculum. Xenophobia and hate.

And where are you through all of this, our Canadian journalists ? Where Are Our Journalists ? We need you to take the lead, dig into the lies and misinformation, expose the truth, educate the public. We do not need you to be complicit.

You have a job to do, CBC News, CTV News, Global news and every newspaper, radio station, freelance reporter... Do Your Job! Sometimes it feels like we are beginning to live in a novel by Kafka or Orwell. More and more it's like living in an alternate reality where war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength... When you, our media, do not correct misinformation and outright lies from political parties, you feed into that alternate reality.

You broaden the gap between facts and what the public knows. Don't. Please don't do this. Do Your Job We need you to be on the side of Canadians. We don't need mindless speculation about SNC-Lavalin , we need truth, public education, and critical investigative reporting.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

A Plea to the Federal NDP

As a lifetime proponent of democratic socialism, I have figured out what about the current federal NDP is alienating me. First, let's be realistic here. The Federal NDP is not going to form government this year....

That being said, why have the Federal NDP reduced themselves to being cheerleaders for the CPC? Look back. Tommy Douglas, J.S. Woodsworth, Ed Broadbent, Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough, David Lewis... These people had vision....

They knew what they wanted to achieve for Canadians and, although not in power, they worked with the government of the day to negotiate and discuss and bring some of their ideas to fruition. Universal health care is but one shining example.

So, why now, when we need a principled party holding the balance of power, are they siding with the CPC? Do they have some twisted notion that the CPC would be better for Canadians than the Liberals? Did we not already endure a decade of CPC rule? Have they forgotten?

To be relevant, to be a force for the public good, the NDP needs to differentiate themselves, instead of being indistinguishable from the CPC sharks circling in the water. And how can they do that?

For starters, stop copying the CPC talking points. Rise above. Present new ideas. Look at what the Liberals are doing well and explain how they could do it even better. Honestly, the Federal NDP communications team seems lacking in imagination.

Participating in handing the CPC an election win is turning their backs on everything the CCF/NDP was supposed to stand for. The CPC is the antithesis of social democratic values. Have they forgotten the basic goals?

To make Canada better, fairer, more inclusive for everyone, including (especially) the most vulnerable? How have they come to throw their lot in with the party that would lower minimum wages and protection for workers?

How can they appear to be working with the party that wants to gut education, science, and public health care? Tommy Douglas must be spinning in his grave. Why are you not presenting yourself as the alternative to the CPC as official opposition?

Oh, NDP! Deliver us not into the hands of Andrew Scheer, but get your act together and and do what is best for Canadians. All Canadians, not just the wealthy. That is your mandate, your mission.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Where Are Our Journalists (Part 3)

I believe in the CBC. At least, I believe in the concept of a public broadcaster that operates independent of political or corporate pressure. That is truly independent. That works for the good of Canadians.

On February 5, 2019, The National aired an interview with Jason Kenney, leader of the Alberta United Conservative Party. The interviewer, co-host of The National Rosemary Barton, sat and smiled while Mr. Kenney made a number of inaccurate statements.

To start off, Jason Kenney declared that Alberta is going through the longest period of economic decline and stagnation since the Great depression. He said the GDP has decreased by 7%.

In 2014 the bottom fell out of the oil industry. This was not brought about by the NDP government, but by global forces far beyond the control of any provincial premier. Then began a period of regrowth. Alberta's GDP at basic prices increased by 4.6% in 2017 to $327.4 billion, the largest increase in Canada, ending two consecutive years of decreases. 

As the figures from Statistics Canada show, the economy is neither declining, nor stagnating. To get a visual of the GDP over the course of the past 10 years, here is another Stats Can graph.

Recall that the NDP was elected in 2015, so that decline had already begun. And 1 year after the NDP becoming government, the downturn turned into growth again.

The interviewer did not challenge Mr. Kenney on his numbers.

Kenney asserted at least twice that Alberta has been "very generous" in Confederation, "very generous" to the rest of Canada. Well, no. That is not how it works. Alberta does not write a cheque to Ottawa, or Quebec, or any other province. All Canadians pay income taxes, based on their annual income and according to a formula that is supposed to make the tax burden more fair between the different income levels.

A person in Nova Scotia, or Quebec, or Manitoba, or Alberta, or any other privince or territory, making the same income and having the same allowable deductions, pays federal tax at the same rate. What is happening is that there is a concentration of high wage earners in Alberta because of high-paying jobs in the oil and gas sector. This does not mean that Alberta, as a province, pays a disproportionate amount of federal tax. As far as federal tax is concerned, all Canadians are treated the same.

I know there are lots of charts and graphs out there showing that Alberta's collective contribution to the federal coffers is bigger than any other province's and that Alberta receives back less in transfer payments for education and health and social services.  This is simply because Alberta has proportionately more high-wage earners and other provinces have proportionately fewer. And, because Alberta has proportionately more high-wage earners, the province is starting out ahead of other provinces in its ability to provide social programming paid for by provincial taxes. Also, given the much higher average income in Alberta, fewer citizens need to avail themselves of certain kinds of social programs.

The interviewer did not challenge Mr. Kenney on this point.

Jason Kenney said Premier Rachel Notley made a mistake in not demanding the government appeal the court decision which said the project had not met the threshold on the requirement to consult with First Nations. We all know the CPC liked to appeal and fight everything to the Supreme Court. We know that they usually lost these appeals, and that these appeals are quite costly to Canadians. The duty to consult is in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has already clarified that duty and indicated that this is not negotiable. So, if the Premier had demanded an appeal, that does not mean the federal government would have yielded to such demands. Indeed, it seems unlikely that they would have given that appeals are 1) costly, and 2) unlikely to succeed. It doesn't seem very responsible fiscal management to throw money at lost causes.

The interviewer did not challenge Mr. Kenney on this point.

Jason Kenney said that Rachel Notley had somehow signaled the Federal government to "kill" Northern Gateway. That is just a strange claim to make. The approval process was set up by the Harper government. The pipeline expansion project passed approval. Then the courts came back and said the approval process was flawed.

The interviewer did challenge, asking how could a Premier have done anything to over-ride the Federal government? Kenney responded that she should have fought for it instead of surrendering.

Jason Kenney said Rachel Notley surrendered to President Obama's decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline down through the US. Again, not Alberta's jurisdiction. At the time, Premier Notley indicated she was not surprised. After former PM Harper's belligerent stance on the issue while a guest in Washington, who could be surprised? She was disappointed that Obama had chosen to use the term "dirty oil", and added that this is a sign that Alberta's oil industry needs to do better to improve its image. I am not sure what Jason Kenney thinks she should have done. Should she have taken a plane to Washington to go and kick Obama in the shins? Not a Canadian decision to make. And if the Canadian Prime Minister could not bully President Obama into signing off on it, what chance does a provincial premier have of making any impact? Premier Notley wisely decided to choose her battles, and set about to improve the reputation of Canadian oil.

The interviewer did not challenge Mr. Kenney on this point.

Jason Kenney went on to suggest the Federal government should have invoked section 92 of the Constitution, related to the supremacy of Parliament over Provincial jurisdiction. In other words, he feels the federal government should have over-ruled the BC government and forced the pipeline through. Although this might be the way things are done in totalitarian states, our federal government wisely decided to work with Alberta and BC and the First Nations to get a consensus. It is not even clear that this would be possible, had they wanted to take the hostile approach, as the court had clearly ruled that the approval process was inadequate and there was still work to be done there. Apparently, Jason Kenney has brought the CPC disdain for the courts with him to provincial politics.

The interviewer did not challenge Mr. Kenney on this point.

When asked what the rest of Canada should make of the situation in Alberta, the yellow vest protesters and so on, Jason Kenney began by saying we should not be distracted by a small number of yellow vest people who have extreme views. He asserted that the vast majority of the protesters are what Ralph Klein would call "severely normal Albertans". He then goes on to put on his "look, I'm being completely reasonable here" face, and speaks at length about how important Alberta is to Canada's economy and how "all we ask is that the governments and politicians who benefit from the resources developed from the hard work of Albertans, allow us to sell those products..."

The last bit does a few things. Gloria Filax, in her 2011 book, "Queer Youth in the Province of the 'Severely Normal'" explained the term, as used by Ralph Klein as follows:
Klein used the phrase ‘severely normal’ interchangeably with a fictitious pair he called ‘Martha and Henry’ in his pronouncements about socially contentious issues. Severely normal came to stand in for an Alberta subject who was: adult, right-wing, conservative, fundamentalist Christian, white, straight, worked hard, eschewed big-G government, male. All others in the province became ‘not normal’ in relation to ‘severely normal discourse’ and included:

Physically and mentally disabled, gays and lesbians, environmentalists, feminists, non-white people, Aboriginal peoples, non-Christians, most women, children, youth, elderly people, anyone working for the government (unless elected) like nurses, social workers and teachers, non-human life forms. Significantly, all these groups were and continue to be the majority of those inhabiting the province. There were many contradictions to discourses of ‘severely normal’ but it was continuously invoked when any group disrupted the cultural fabric that emerged as Ralph Klein’s Alberta. Queer people in the province were one such group that came to dominate the political and cultural landscape of Alberta in the 1990s.
Then, Kenney goes on to give oxygen to the notion that politicians and governments in other parts of Canada, who live off the blood, sweat and tears of Alberta labour, are somehow conspiring to keep Alberta down. Promoting this idea that Alberta is somehow being willfully persecuted is not helpful. It ignores the fact that there are processes that have to be gone through and things that are in the works but have not come to fruition yet, much like a child wanting desert first. It is disrespectful to those who have valid concerns about this pipeline project, and to those who are working hard to make it happen. As Harper learned with Keystone XL, stamping your foot and demanding doesn't really work in the adult world.

You can watch the full interview here.

I feel there could have been considerably more fact-checking on the part of the CBC. I feel the interview was more of a PR piece for Jason Kenney, and I struggle to understand why the CBC would provide any party leader this sort of podium.

We need #HardTalkCdnEdition

Tax Credits: A Basic Primer

The CPC are on a strange line of attack. Andrew Scheer tweeted this out on February 5:

There are a lot of problems with this message. 

First, "the man who inherited everything he has" is inaccurate, and completely hypocritical, coming from a man who has been on the public payroll since he was 24 and has been living in tax-funded rent-free housing, with staff, for the past eight years. He, like many in his caucus, has amassed great wealth during his tenure as an MP. Make no mistake, for all of his finger-pointing, Andrew Scheer is not middle class.

In fact, Justin Trudeau inherited $1.2 M from his grandfather, but was not allowed to touch it until he was 40. He and his brother received a stipend of $20,000 annually. Now that's not peanuts, but it is far from the most extravagant inheritance in Canada. While Andrew Scheer went pretty much straight from university into politics, Justin Trudeau worked  a number of very real, regular jobs. He was a teacher of Math and French (not drama, as conservatives like to say: he filled in as drama teacher for a brief time). He was a bouncer at a bar, arguably one of the grittier, meeting the public up close, kinds of jobs. He was a ski instructor. These are normal jobs that regular Canadians do. Yet, he does not pretend to be middle class, unlike some....

But that is not what I'm here to talk about. Let's break down the fuss about taxes. 

Justin Trudeau said that Conservative tax breaks don't help the poor. And he is correct. If you make less than the personal deduction, you get all the tax that was taken off your pay cheques back during tax season. 

If you make more than the personal deduction, there are a number of other, refundable, deductions you can claim and get that money back too. You can claim for dependents, disability, and a number of other things. 

But the key word is "refundable". 

The CPC favours tax "cuts" or "benefits" that are not refundable. Take, for example, the child sports and arts benefit. In order to gain anything from this, you must:

a) have children under 18
b) have enough money to have those children in organized sports or arts programs
c) make enough money that this is going to kick in and actually reduce the tax you pay.

Because, this is not a refundable credit. You have to be making more money, and be taxed at a higher rate, before this lowers the tax you pay. Do you see how that works?

For the sake of simplicity, let's say all the refundable allowances and credits a person can get is $10,000. It is actually much higher than that, but let's use some simple numbers. 

If a person, in this scenario, earns $10,000, they will get back every cent that was deducted from their paycheque for tax. 

Another person earns $20,000. Again, in many cases the real numbers are much higher, this is just to keep it really simple. With refundable allowances and credits, they get all the tax deducted up to the point where they earned $10,000 back and then they pay tax on the remaining $10,000. Say the tax rate is 10% (just for the sake of simplicity). They would pay $1,000 tax on that $10,000 above the allowances and refundable credits.

But then the CPC introduce a tax credit where if you have a kid playing hockey, you get a credit for half of what hockey costs you. Say hockey costs $100. You then have a credit for $50. And so you would only pay $950 instead of $1,000. 

But the person who is already getting all their tax deductions back gets no benefit from this, even if they also have a kid in hockey. Which, incidentally, is unlikely because hockey is actually way more expensive than that. 

Now, you might be thinking, no one makes so little, so what does it matter? Actually, the most recent statistics I could find show that 4.8 Million Canadians (including 1.2 million children) live below the poverty line. For a single adult in Ontario, that line is at earnings of $22,133 annually. For a family of three, the line is at $38,335. That 4.8 million includes many living with annual incomes well below that line. 

The CPC is very fond of breaking the Canadian population down into small segments. They figure out what the triggers and concerns are for each segment, and for the ones they are interested in (i.e. the ones they think might vote for them) they devise messaging and baubles tailored to that group. The child sport and art tax credit was to get the hockey and soccer and drama class moms and dads to love them and vote for them. But only the ones making enough to benefit. You see, it appears that they are not really interested at all in anyone making less. 

I had a friend in university who was the grandson of someone far wealthier than the Trudeaus. He inherited a huge amount of money, enough to make Justin Trudeau's $1.2 million look like chump change. And he wouldn't touch it. He had a job. A regular, ordinary job. He didn't believe in inheritance. He wanted to be "regular people". Really nice guy. I don't know if he changed his opinion later, or if he wound up donating all, or most of it to charities, or set up some sort of charitable foundation... But the fact is, not all rich people are pricks. And not all poor people are good, decent, "salt of the earth" folks. The measure of a person't character is not based on how much, or how little, they have.

Everyone is different. And while there may be an apparent tendency for those who start out wealthy and get wealthier to have a lot of self-interest and be out of touch with the less fortunate, it is by no means a rule. There are many anonymous philanthropists who give large donations without looking for recognition. There are even more who give their name along with the money and, while that is less altruistic, they are still contributing to important causes.

There is a well-established idea in conservatism, which they don't talk about usually, but is obvious from their policies. That is, that the rich are rich because they are good and deserving, while the poor are poor because of some moral failing.

This seems contrary to the most recent CPC attacks, wherein they seem to be saying to Canadians, "look! Justin Trudeau inherited money! This makes him bad, this makes him incapable of understanding or caring about average people.He is wealthy, which makes him heartless and out of touch with what you are going through."

But, the CPC loves stereotypes. Stereotypes allow them to paint a picture for people using simple terms, and playing on existing heuristic cues. Or they invent the cues and repeat them over and over until they become part of the common zeitgeist. 

Here they are working on a trope they have been building since Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party, or possibly longer. They want Canadians to see him as insubstantial, just a pretty face and nice hair. They want to play up fun socks and a winning smile as terrible attributes for a prime minister. They want to entrench the image of a stiff, awkward, boring man as being the appropriate type to lead Canada. It really bugs them that he is highly educated, personable, cares deeply, has energy and a sense of fun, is attractive, and genuinely likes people. 

And so, this latest round of attacks is highlighting that he inherited money, as if that automatically turns someone into Dr. Evil. At least we know where he got his money from. The same cannot be said of many of the CPC front-benchers who have amassed wealth which might be disproportionate to their MP salaries. 

But, for all they want to demonize Trudeau for who he is, the family he was born into, and the wealth that he inherited, their own policies do less to address the income inequalities in this countries. They do less to help those living below the poverty line, or to help the disadvantaged, vulnerable, and disenfranchised.

They prefer boutique tax cuts that benefit the affluent. They fiercely oppose programs that might actually make a difference, like a minimum income program. And many issues affecting those living in poverty are just not on their radar.

Monday, 4 February 2019

In Which Andrew Scheer and the CPC Completely Misunderstand the Canadian Psyche...

Andrew Scheer really doesn't get Canadians. The CPC released a video that closely resembled a Heritage Minute. In it, they made hay over Canadian Prime Minister being fined by the ethics commissioner, then proceeded to show clips of the PM appearing tongue-tied during press conferences. It's nasty and mocking, but more than that, it used a forum which many Canadians hold dear.

Historica Canada, who produces the real Heritage Minutes, was not amused and requested the ad be removed, The CPC pulled the ad down, only to put it back up in many more venues a few hours later. They attached a disclaimer indicating that it was not a real Heritage Minute, but a spoof. Then they took another jab at Trudeau in the disclaimer.

Many Canadians have taken their anger to social media.

Historica Canada has issued the following statement:

The ad may have been pushback over the repeated observation that Stephen Harper was the first Prime Minister in all of the Commonwealth countries to have been found in contempt of Parliament. However, they chose a medium that is dear to many Canadians. They took what are wonderful 60 second mini-documentaries on Canadian history, and turned it into something nasty. And they are so delighted with it they have doubled down on posting it all over. 

They feel they have been very clever. Honestly, it seems like the CPC (or their advisors) have not met very many Canadians.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Scheer Trumpism: Deconstructing the platform

This screams for a full analysis. So let's break it down, shall we?


Conservatives are obsessed with balanced budgets.  They have figured out that people worry about their own household budgets. They have deftly transferred this anxiety to the national conversation. They prey on people's personal worries about budgets by suggesting the country should be run like a household, or even a business. But a country is more than balance sheets. And good business people know they sometimes have to invest, usually with borrowed money, to grow the business. With the CPC it is all about cutting and firing and privatising to make sure they "balance the budget".

Harper finished his term with a "balanced budget" in 2015. And how did he do that? He cut services, most notably to veterans, environmental protection, the arts, the poor, the disabled, First Nations... He sold off Canadian assets, like the Wheat Board, like our shares in GM (at a loss), official buildings/embassies in other countries, and even housewares and furnishings from those buildings. Not to mention selling off CBC properties... The Conservative plan to balance a budget is the equivalent of a homeowner selling off their furniture and household goods to pay the rent. And when everything is sold, what do you do the next month?And what quality of life do you have? A government is not a household. A country is not a business. A country is far more than that. Austerity is something that Conservatives are very fond of. But if you look at a country as a community of people, then the government's priority should be ensuring they govern in a way which improves the citizens' quality of life, not the opposite.


What this means is cutting back government involvement in transportation safety, food safety, consumer protection, environmental protection, etc. It is what Doug Ford calls reducing "red tape" - in other words, eliminating rules that serve to protect Canadians so that businesses can make more money. These regulations are there for a reason. Remember Lac Megantic? Listeriosis? Walkerton?


Conservative philosophy dictates that taxes are the worst kind of evil. On the other hand, many believe that taxes are the price we pay to live in a civil society. Taxes pay for infrastructure like roads and bridges, airports, hospitals, schools, emergency services, libraries, parks, and social programs. Conservatives tend to favour tax credits as a way to lower taxes. Like the child sport tax credit, which benefits only those already affluent enough to have children in sports programs. They like to cut business taxes, claiming that allowing businesses to make more profit benefits everyone because the wealth will trickle down. This is a myth. But a lot of people still believe it.


In the same vein as "taxes are evil", the conservatives in Canada are really worked up about the carbon tax. There seem to be a few contributing factors. First, a lot of them don't actually believe that human activity is causing disastrous changes in our planet's climate. And if they do, they don't think that Canada can make any kind of meaningful contribution to curbing it, so why bother? Plus, many feel it is simply an attack on the oil and gas industry. Many on the right, especially in Alberta, are passionate about the oil and gas industry. It seems rather odd, from the outside looking in. But the wages in fossil fuel extraction over the past few decades has fostered an army of incredibly loyal supporters. Never mind that most of the companies that hire these workers are foreign-owned. Never mind that in the business decisions made by these companies, what is good for workers is pretty low on the list.  These corporations feel no loyalty to their human resource assets, and will quickly fire people if they can find a lower-priced alternative. Or if the global demand/price for oil and gas will not allow operations to create a sufficient profit margin.

Carbon tax, or levy, programs are endorsed by two Nobel-prize winning economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Which may, in itself, be a factor in the resistance to carbon taxes. There is a fierce antipathy among many on the right towards experts and academics. A good many seem to feel they are being very clever when they decide to do the opposite of what is advised by experts in the field. Also, a lot of people don't understand how it works. They get very confused when the rebates are returned to the majority of people. Rolling out programs in a way that adequately educates the public on how things work is a big challenge for any government, more so now because the conservative parties are muddying the waters with erroneous information.


This is an especially slippery platform plank. Andrew Scheer holds that universities who do not book in, or cancel, far-right speakers are suppressing freedom of speech. He also feels that universities or other organisations who do not allow anti-abortion displays impinge on freedom of speech.

First, it must be noted that Canada has a different take on Free Speech than the US. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2 (Government of Canada, 2015a), protects “fundamental freedoms,” including freedom of expression. However, Section 1 of the charter permits laws which impose “reasonable” limits upon those freedoms . This has been used in cases of obscenity and hate speech. The Americans have the First Amendment to their constitution, which protects free speech. There are exceptions, such as incitement to violence, child pornography, libel, and copyright violation. 

In Canada, hate speech is covered by the Criminal Code and is illegal. Various anti-discriminatory laws also prevent the expression of hatred or incitement to violence. In the US, however, there are no such provisions, and courts have ruled that organizations like the KKK have a protected right to express themselves as hatefully as they see fit, including cross burnings and flyers suggesting minorities should be executed. The Westboro Baptist Church is protected. The Neo-Nazis are protected. 

In Canada, it is different. Our laws regarding speech are based on the principle of human rights. One person's right to freedom of speech ends when it encroaches on another's right  to safety and security of the person. I suspect Andrew Scheer's idea of Freedom of Speech more closely aligns with the American interpretation. Essentially, under Scheer, universities would have to prove they book right-wing speakers and do not cancel the events, even if many students disagree. Students who protest may face penalties, such as expulsion. So, it seems that protecting one group's rights to free speech cancels out another group's rights. 


This is a puzzling part of Scheer's platform. It seems to be a shout-out to people who oppose expropriation by government. But, in reality, it could pose an insurmountable obstacle to the development of pipelines, something the right holds very dear. Would it not allow First Nations bands a constitutional right to veto any pipeline development through their lands? 

And that is only if they could get it through the complex and demanding formula for reopening the constitution. Changes to the constitution require that the House and Senate and at least 7 provinces representing at least 50% of the Canadian population all agree to the exact same change. Just how likely does that seem?

So this may a populist "throw-away" promise, like "Buck-a-Beer", or Jason Kenney's proposal to exempt Alberta from the mortgage stress test. Something that will get votes but has almost zero possibility of ever happening. 

And the information available on it has been slim. There is a segment of the property owner's rights supporters who would like to extend such a change in law to protecting people who use violence to protect their property. Certainly, the CPC has done nothing easily accessible to indicate that shooting trespassers is not part of these entrenched property rights. 


This is a long-standing Conservative position, and all three points really roll into one. Andrew Scheer wants to remove any laws from the Criminal Code about ownership of weapons and set up a "Firearms Ombudsman" to advocate for gun owners. He wants to put more guns, and more kinds of guns, into the hands of Canadians. 

Specifically, from the CPC Platform online, Andrew Scheer says:
When I am Prime Minister I will launch a review of the criminal code and repeal all federal regulations pertaining to firearms ownership, usage and transportation which do not do the following: ensure that Canada’s firearms laws respect the rights of honest firearms owners, recognize the fact that hunting and sports shooting are an important part of Canadian culture and history, and empower police to concentrate on real criminals who are a threat to the public. More specifically, I will: 
 1. Remove the power of the RCMP to arbitrarily make reclassifications. Too often, certain types of firearms are reclassified and made illegal simply because of how they look, and not because of any safety concerns. I will enact legislation that removes the subjective authority of the RCMP to reclassify based on aesthetics.
2. Define terms in legislation – The legislation that my government will enact will specify actual legal definitions for variants to ensure that those unfamiliar with firearms cannot decide on the legality of a gun based on how it looks. They will instead be required to make determinations based on the actual mechanics of firearms.
3. Repeal restrictions on magazines like the 10/22 - Like firearms classifications, magazines are also subject to arbitrary rule changes from RCMP bureaucrats. Many of the rules are not based on common sense. I will replace these rules with a system based on advice and input from firearms associations. 
4. Repeal the UN Firearms-Marking Regulations – The Liberals are threatening to submit to the UN markings protocol. This will have a devastating effect on the Canadian firearms market and impose new and undue burdens on law-abiding firearms owners. As well, according to law-enforcement experts, there is zero evidence that it will have any positive effect on fighting criminals. I will repeal these regulations and ensure that they do not come into force. 
5. Strengthen the Firearms Advisory Council – I will ensure that this group of firearms experts has meaningful input on government policy decisions. I will also ensure that the members of the council include representatives from the stakeholder groups who would be affected by those decisions. 
6. Decriminalize administrative infractions such as late renewal of a recently expired firearms licence. -- As the regulations currently stand, a person becomes a criminal for allowing their licence to expire. That is a complete waste of government and police resources. I will institute a grace period for lapsed five year permits, wherein you won’t be able to purchase anything new, but you will not be subject to criminal prosecution or face the possibility of a jail sentence. 
7. Create a Firearms Ombudsman – In order to ensure that any new Government proposals and initiatives are always seen through the lens of honest firearms owners, I will create an Ombudsman to advocate on behalf of the firearms community. This person will have the authority to review any proposed regulation and interact with the Public Safety Minister on behalf of individual firearms owners and the various firearms organizations.
The National Firearms Association (NFA) is the Canadian equivalent of the American National Rifle Association (NRA). Furthermore, the NRA has established its own lobby group in Canada, the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action. The NRA does not give the CILA money, but it does give them what they term "logistical help".  Indeed, the NRA itself has campaigned in Canada, and has been actively trying to set up "gun-proofing" programs for children that would teach children as young as 8 how to use firearms. Their argument is that this would be much safer than the current locked cabinet storage currently mandatory in Canada. The NFA in 2014 ran a controversial Christmas graphic:


What would a CPC platform be without a dog-whistle to the racists and xenophobes? Again, from the online platform:
An Andrew Scheer government would not be afraid to stand up for Christians and religious minorities, and to change our refugee policy to ensure that we are always taking in the most vulnerable. 
Sounds ok, right? "Taking in the most vulnerable"? But the telling part is they are ready to stand up for Christians, and religious minorities (who are probably Christians, because, doncha know, there's a war on Christianity, and Christmas and straight people and white people and men...) They obliquely say that they will differentiate based on religion. There's lots of Muslim refugees, so clearly Islam is not a religious minority. See how that works? 

The tagline "Canada's Immigration Policy Must Aim to Fulfill Our Economic Needs" comes directly from a piece written for the Huffington Post by Max Bernier. In it, Mad Max asserts:

On the basis of these principles, here are the general policies I intend to pursue if I become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and then prime minister. 
Given that the main objective of immigration is to fulfill the economic needs of Canada, I would bring back the number from 300,000 to 250,000 as it was on average under the Harper government. 
I would streamline the process for hiring specialized workers abroad. I would also put slightly more emphasis on economic immigration and slightly reduce the categories of family reunification and refugees. 
It is important for new Canadians to be able to reunite with their families. This is already a large part of our immigration policy and will continue to be so. As well, Canada has to play its part in welcoming refugees from troubled areas of the world. But these two categories of immigrants bring less economic benefits to Canada than the category of economic immigrants. Welcoming refugees is actually very expensive. 
To ensure our security, I would increase resources for CSIS, the RCMP and Canadian Immigration and Citizenship to do background checks on all classes of immigrants, including more face-to-face interviews if deemed necessary. 
And finally, I would stop our reliance on the United Nations for refugee selection. Civil society groups that work on the ground have a much better grasp of who could successfully integrate into Canada than a big international bureaucracy. We should rely instead on private sponsorship, including by faith-based organizations. The Liberals are strangling this to make room for poorly delivered state sponsorship.
In short, the CPC wants to limit immigration to people who have something to give the country. They are not comfortable going full Kellie Leitch on the whole immigration issue,  but they would prefer to only let in people with wealth and training, maybe some executive experience or specialized skills, and keep out the dirty rabble that have been walking for days or living in tents. You know, those fleeing for their lives.


This is a multi-faceted issue. We have Scheer's objections to the UN's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.  In the House of Commons, Scheer warned that signing the non-binding compact would, “give influence over Canada’s immigration system to foreign entities” and  “open the door to foreign bureaucrats telling Canada how to manage our borders.” This stance puts Scheer in the company of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Inforwars. 

Andrew Scheer has been hammering away on the topic of irregular border crossings from the US precipitated by the election of Donald Trump and many of his policies, such as a Muslim ban, and sending ICE agents out to capture and deport undocumented aliens. He was very strident in calling such irregular crossers illegals, as the American right does. The CPC even put out a clearly racist meme which was later taken down after public outcry. 

These days, Scheer is more circumspect, using the euphemism "queue-jumpers" more than illegal immigrants. The government has always been careful to use the term "irregular border crossers" instead of "illegal border crossers" because, as a signatory to the international convention on refugees, signed by Canada some 50 years ago, seeking asylum is not illegal. Nevertheless, the CPC is still fundraising on this issue and still calling these asylum seekers illegal. 

The Globe and Mail did an in-depth analysis of the border-crossing issue. Author Tavia Grant makes these important points:

The blanket term “illegal border crossers” is “inaccurate and misleading,” said Prof. Macklin, as it stigmatizes people as lawbreakers when their conduct is either not unlawful or its legality cannot be determined at the moment of entry, she said. People who cross between border points and are taken directly to a port of entry are not in breach of immigration law.
“It’s important to acknowledge that using the term ‘illegal’ is not just a good-faith disagreement about terminology,” she added. “The use of ‘illegal’ is deliberately pejorative. It is intended to encourage the public to criminalize people who seek asylum and to portray them as a menace, so that we forget that refugees are people fleeing persecution who are asking Canada to fulfill its legal undertaking to protect them.”
The change of tack, moving to "queue-jumpers", is an elegant piece of persuasive emotional manipulation. We can all relate to someone cutting in front of us. It makes us angry. The marketing minds at CPC HQ, aided by their counterparts in the Republican movement in the US, recognize that when something can be given a relateable analogy, the emotions associated with that thing on the personal level can be transferred to this other, less personally applicable issue. So now we have queue jumpers. The fact that there is no queue, and irregular border crossers are handled completely separately from regular refugees and immigrants is irrelevant to Mr. Scheer. It riles people up. And that is his goal.


Andrew Scheer's Plan to rid Canada of Foreign Oil
1. Approve the Energy East pipeline
- Bringing Western Canadian oil to Eastern provinces would eliminate our need to import foreign oil. - This would create over 14 thousand jobs across the Canadian economy.
- TransCanada predicts this pipeline would transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day.
- The federal government needs to cut the red tape and allow Canadian businesses to create jobs.
2. Expedite infrastructure projects related to the energy sector There is no reason we should have to be dependent on any foreign import based on a lack of infrastructure. Therefore I will prioritize Federal infrastructure projects that enhance access to natural resource reserves
3. Show Canadians where their oil comes from
- In order to increase awareness among Canadians about where their oil comes from, we would mandate companies to display at the pump if any of their oil was 3 sourced from foreign countries. This would allow Canadian consumers to make the choice to purchase Canadian-sourced, ethically produced oil.
- Monitoring and auditing of the displays would be done by the Department of Natural Resources.
4. Increase tax credits on Innovation in Environmental sustainability in resource development
- In recognition of the amazing work Canadian companies are doing in creating and fostering innovation in environmentally responsible resource development, I propose an extra 10% on existing SR&ED tax credits on environmental innovation in resource development. 
There is a familiar cry on social media: Why is Canada importing oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuala? Well, Canada does not import oil. Oil companies import oil, and right now only Irving is importing from Saudi Arabia. Does Andrew Scheer have a beef with Irving? It is, of course, possible that his "country of origin" signage at gas pumps may influence drivers. The rest of this is twaddle. Here's why...

1. Approve the Energy East Pipeline: The fact of the matter is that regulatory approval, or the lack thereof, did not cancel the Energy East pipeline. TransCanada decided to drop it because it did not make business sense. As mentioned previously, decisions made by huge corporations do not take into account the impact on workers or regions, only the bottom line.

2. Expedite infrastructure projects related to the energy sector: So, more public money to help oil and gas companies make money? Apparently Scheer wants to get into the road building business in northern Alberta in a big way. Does it make any kind of sense? No. It does not.

3. We dealt with this one.

4. Increase tax credits on innovation and environmental sustainability in resource development: Again, more public money for the oil and gas industry? Many of whom are based in the US. How, exactly, does this help anything? It's just a limp olive branch to those who have some concern over the environment.


Andrew Scheer wants to send Canadian troops back to Syria and Iraq.
I believe making military decisions based on political factors is wrong. As Prime Minister, I will ensure that we are doing all we can to join our allies to fight the scourge of ISIS and to ensure they are defeated. Our allies have said that this involves our fighter aircraft. What is required is a united and coordinated international effort 5 and I will ensure we are contributing in a manner befitting our proud history of fighting against those who wage war on innocent people. I will never put Canadian lives or the lives of our allies at risk based on political decisions. The sooner we get rid of ISIS, the better for everyone. 
Or, as MP Michelle Rempel would say, look out, there's a terrorist under your bed!

Right now, Trump is poised to pull US troops out of Syria. Expect this item to fall off the CPC list...

OK, so that's a round-up of this one meme. The online platform document has several other planks Canadians may find interesting...


Doubling down on the anti-carbon tax rhetoric, Scheer will remove the GST/HST from home heating costs.  So fire up that furnace! Let hang out in our shorts in our toasty warm houses in the winter! Burn that fossil fuel!


This is code for, "we are going to let our MPs vote for private members' bills that will ultimately re-open the abortion debate, but it will be driven by MPs voting their conscience, not CPC policy".  


This is where the CPC plan to go after evil people like environmentalists...


As Prime Minister, I would allow parents of students attending independent schools a tax deduction of up to $4000 tuition annually per child. As well, a Homeschoolers’ Amount of $1,000 would be available as a tax credit to parents who choose to homeschool their child. This policy would not impact the current tax deductibility for the religious portion of independent school tuition. It could be applied to up to $4,000 of secular education tuition fees.An increased emphasis on particular subject matter, special education needs, or a desire for a religious focus; the reasons are as individual as each child. I believe that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children, and the government should make it a little easier for parents to make their own choices. 
This is a blatant attempt to shift education funding out of the public school systems and into private schools and home-schooling. A bit more than a decade ago, this might have been seen as a way for very wealthy parents who send their kids to private prep schools so they can get into Harvard or Yale getting a big leg up from the government. But now, in the current climate, this is an attempt to boost the number of children that are pulled out of public education in favour of faith-based (i.e. Christian) schools. Schools that may teach that evolution is only a theory. Schools that may teach that science is less valid than scripture. Schools that may instill a notion that Christians are somehow better than everyone else, especially Muslims. Schools that almost certainly will not teach a modern sex-ed curriculum that advocates open-mindedness and inclusivity. 

This, in itself, is a huge problem. The conservatives decry public education as "brainwashing kids" with notions like sharing and fairness and tolerance and sharing. Scheer's pals at The Rebel feel this should extend to simply defunding universities. But what is being suggested in this platform from Scheer is that Canada's children be brought up to learn conservative Christian values only. 


Andrew Scheer would acknowledge the hotly contested city of Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel and probably move the Canadian embassy there. This is in lock-step with the Trump administration, and ignores the plight of the Palestinian people under the cruel Israeli regime.


Following the familiar conservative trope, Scheer plans to reinstate regulations that force Band Councils to endure scrutiny that no other municipal council faces. This is straight out of the racist books that imply first nations band councils are corrupt, that they steal public money for their own greed... Financial statements of bands, like any other incorporated entity, are already publicly available. This measure, first brought in by Harper, is designed to humiliate more than anything else. If I was a First Nations person, this would piss me off. As not a First Nations person, this pisses me off.


Yes, this sounds appealing. Aren't we all a bit irritated when a big company holds the government for ransom? Give us money or we will fire all these workers! It's complicated. It would be nice for government to say, NO. But then you have 500, 1,000, 5,000 extremely angry voters out of work, and the company has moved operations to China or Mexico or wherever and they are still making oodles of money, more even, because now they can pay people less. 

Scheer's solution is to keep companies from getting into trouble, or getting antsy to look for greener pastures, by giving them more up front: 
 I will lower taxes on business, reduce red tape, keep payroll taxes low and simply get out of the way when a free market solution presents itself. 
Hey! Let's keep employers here by giving them as close as possible to operating conditions in a developing country!


Scheer will remove foreign ownership restrictions on airlines and reduce airport fees. OK. Do we want to have any Canadian carriers? Or is that just silly? Shouldn't we all be flying Delta, or American Airlines, or United


So, this is more dog-whistling to the Christian right. For all Scheer may talk about human rights, it's really Christian rights he is concerned with. He wants to re-open the Office of Religious Freedoms. But he probably also wants to go back to telling Muslim women what they can and cannot wear. He definitely wants to roll back the law on medically assisted death. He would like to revoke Bill C-38, but he probably can't do that, not immediately, anyway. 

So, that's a break-down of Andrew Scheer's campaign platform thus far going into the 2019 election. As much of it as we can find right now. But hey, here's a closing thought for you on Andrew Scheer:

Faith Goldy, fired from Rebel Media for being too Neo Nazi, says Scheer is "one of our people". Now, isn't that special?