Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Post

The week that is...

Trump has promised to "tweak" trade with Canada, leaving Trudeau with even less of a clue how to respond:

Trump acknowledged Monday that his bigger concern is the Mexican end of the trade deal, saying that the goal would be to “tweak” those elements affecting Canada in order to better streamline cross-border trade.

What "tweak" means is unclear at the moment. More than $2 billion daily crosses the American-Canadian border. Should Trump scrap NAFTA, Canada and the US would revert to the FTA trade deals which could end up being more troublesome for Canada than the US. If Trump's threats on taxes are swagger meant to jolt other parties to be more amenable, then what will Canada do about that?

Given the climbing deficits, one might be led to believe magic beans will soon be purchased.


U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.

Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.

The bill would enshrine in law a reciprocal agreement for customs and immigration pre-clearance signed by the governments of Stephen Harper and Barack Obama in 2015. Both houses of Congress passed the U.S. version of the bill in December.

Michael Greene, an immigration lawyer in Calgary, says C-23 takes away an important right found in the existing law.

"A Canadian going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area [on Canadian soil] can say: 'I don't like the way [an interview is] going and I've chosen not to visit your country.' And they can just turn around and walk out.

"Under the new proposed bill, they wouldn't be able to walk out. They can be held and forced to answer questions, first to identify themselves, which is not so offensive, but secondly, to explain the reasons for leaving, and to explain their reasons for wanting to withdraw," said Greene, who is national chair of the Canadian Bar Association's citizenship and immigration section.

"And that's the part we think could be really offensive and goes too far."
The current government doesn't have to defend its citizens or residents but it also doesn't have to vet anyone, either.

But... but... Canada has values!

At least 236 people have been served notice of Canadian citizenship revocation since the Liberals came into federal office — a dramatic increase over previous years that is the result of Harper-era legislation, according to Canada’s immigration department.

Also: Ireland, you swine!

The Republic of Ireland last year refused entry to 226 individuals from the predominantly Muslim countries that are the subject of President Donald Trump's executive order banning entry to the US to individuals from those countries. 

Quick, everyone! Start marching!

The ethics commissioner, whose contract Trudeau renewed recently, reminded everyone that there is still an investigation that will eventually be finished:

Mary Dawson, parliament’s ethics watchdog, has opened a first-of-its-kind inquiry to determine if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau breached conflict of interest guidelines that apply to all MPs when Trudeau vacationed over the Christmas break on the private island owned by the Aga Khan.

The inquiry is the result of a complaint filed by Andrew Scheer, the Conservative MP and Conservative leadership candidate, who asked Dawson to determine if, by accepting a vacation on the Aga Khan’s island in the Bahamas, Trudeau violated the conflict-of-interest code.

“My complaint was about the acceptance of the vacation in the first place,” Scheer said Monday in a telephone interview from Montreal. “Accepting that hospitality would have had a very high commercial value. It raises the appearance of a conflict of interest, accepting that kind of a gift from someone whose foundation receives tax dollars.”

The Aga Khan is the founder and a board member of The Aga Khan Foundation Canada, which has received hundreds of millions of federal dollars over the last decade for foreign aid projects.

In Trudeau’s first budget, last year, the foundation received $55 million for a project in Afghanistan.

When questioned in Parliament or by reporters about the trip, Trudeau has defended his actions, saying the Aga Khan is a close family friend.

Trudeau has admitted to another similar vacation in 2014, before he was prime minister but when he was an MP.

Under the conflict of interest code, MPs are permitted to accept gifts “received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol, or within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the (MP)’s position.”

Scheer received a notice Monday from Dawson’s office telling him that Trudeau had provided her office with a response to his complaint.

Trudeau’s response was apparently not enough for Dawson. Having finished her preliminary investigation, Dawson wrote to Scheer Monday to say, “based on the information contained in the (complaint) and the response, I have determined an inquiry under the Code is warranted.”


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to China last year was the most expensive trip by a Canadian prime minister in a decade.

According to figures obtained by CBC News, Trudeau's 10-day trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong to attend the G20 summit and meet Chinese business and political leaders cost Canadian taxpayers $1.8 million.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's six-day trip in 2014 to Hong Kong and Beijing, which cost $1.7 million, was the second highest tab for prime ministerial trips in the past 10 years. Harper's trip to Japan for the 2008 G8 summit was $1.4 million.

But while Trudeau's trip was the most expensive by a prime minister in a decade, it is not the most expensive trip to China by a Canadian leader. For example, in 2001, Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Team Canada made an 11-day trip to China accompanied by provincial and business leaders, racking up a price tag of $6.7 million. Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's nine-day, five-country trip to Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Japan and China cost $2 million.

While the costs of all of Trudeau's trips to date is not yet known, most of the others were shorter trips or headed to less expensive destinations. For example, Trudeau's trip to the United Kingdom, Malta and then on to Paris for the climate conference in November 2015 came in at $1 million. His trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum in January 2016 cost $855,379.

It's like there's a pattern here.

Already receiving some blow-back from the proposed censorship Islamophobia motion, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid is considering "softening the language" in order to make stamping out opinions anti-Islamophobia seem more palatable:

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid is considering softening the language in her so-called anti-Islamophobia motion, the Sun has learned.

After Conservative leadership candidate and Ontario MP Erin O’Toole reached out to Khalid with his concerns, the controversial motion may be amended.

“I suggested amendments that I believe would address valid concerns about limiting free speech while ensuring she can bring the debate she wants to bring to the House of Commons,” O’Toole told me in an email. “These would remove any ambiguity with respect to free speech being limited including criticism of radical Islam or even criticizing the faith or its practices like any other faith. We had a good discussion and she said she would consider my proposed amendments.”

A number of leadership candidates have drawn attention to the fact the anti-discrimination motion M103 singles out Islamophobia while also failing to define the nebulous term. While the motion originates from Khalid, sources have revealed the prime minister’s office has an interest in the wording of the motion.

(Khalid’s office has turned down requests to appear on my radio show and did not respond to requests to discuss the motion for this column.)

For similar reasons O’Toole outlines, Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer and Kellie Leitch have all indicated they won’t be voting for it. Bernier, in a Facebook note, says he’ll vote against it unless the word Islamophobia is removed, to make it clear the motion doesn’t grant preferential status to one religion.

They and the tens of thousands of Canadian who’ve signed petitions against this motion are right to be concerned. While House of Commons motions are usually toothless measures voted on for symbolic reasons, this one calls on a committee to study the matter.

These studies are the first step to legislation as they typically recommend new laws. And it’s a legitimate worry that legislation designed to tackle so-called Islamophobia could include some form of anti-blasphemy legislation. After all, according to the Pew Research Center, a quarter of the world’s countries have some form of anti-blasphemy laws, many of which criminalize criticism of Islam.

Since Canada welcomes tens of thousands of people from these countries every year, clearly many new arrivals are at least accustomed to these sorts of restrictions if not in support of them. According to census data, the Muslim population in Canada grew steeply from 575,000 in 2001 to 1,050,000 in 2011.

As it stands, depicting Muhammad in cartoon form is already heavily frowned upon in North America. It’s not that much of a stretch to see the liberal chattering classes, who heavily influence political circles, fail to speak out if a formal cartoon ban is floated.

Meanwhile, the Quebec City mosque tragedy is already being used as a pretext by activists to further their agendas.

She can call the motion ice cream if she likes. No real human being will stand for it.


A growing number of Conservative leadership rivals are declaring their opposition to a Liberal MP’s motion to have the House of Commons denounce Islamophobia and other forms of systemic racism. 
And the interim leader of the party, Rona Ambrose, is also likely to vote against the motion, which will be debated Wednesday, as she accuses the Liberals of purposefully trying to sow division in her party with the initiative.

The opposition to the anti-Islamophobia motion by Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer and others is likely to play well with a Conservative base that, according to several polls, is more suspicious and wary of Muslim immigrants than other groups of voters.

But as more Tories oppose the motion, their political opponents will have more of a chance to charge that Conservatives are intolerant at best and bigoted at worse, a resurrection of criticisms that hurt them at the ballot box in 2015 after the party unveiled a promise to institute a “Barbaric Practices Snitch Line” and vowed to repeal citizenship for new Canadians in some circumstances.

“Voting against this motion is simply nonsensical,” said Karl Belanger, who spent 19 years as a top adviser to three leaders of the federal NDP. “‎No matter what the convoluted explanation is, you are voting against condemning Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. That will stick.”

(Sidebar: no, idiot, they are voting against the government's jackboot on any Canadian citizen who dares to criticise Islamism.)

They go where the winds do.

Speak for one's self. Having Sarah Palin as ambassador to Canada would make my Christmas, Easter and Day of Honour:

Twelve per cent of respondents preferred someone else and five per cent were undecided. But if Palin is looking for a Canadian audience, she’d have better luck in the Prairies, where 15 per cent supported her, or B.C., where her support ticked up to 13 per cent. 

Naturally, because Alaska is just unincorporated northern BC.

We all know this to be true.

Parted but never apart...

The government of Ontario will continue with an offshore wind turbine moratorium:

Six years after Ontario abruptly imposed a moratorium on offshore wind projects, citing the need for more research, the government is signalling it will likely continue for several more years, even with all of its studies in hand.

The moratorium has so far put the Liberal government on the hook for at least $28 million, and it still faces a trial next year on another $500-million lawsuit over the February 2011 decision.

Because pipelines are bad, mmmkay:

A looming pipeline shortage could force more barrels of Canadian oil onto rail cars over the next few years, as oilsands companies look for alternative shipping options amid a gradual rise in production.

And now, in the spirit of love and keeping one's evil in check, here are some of the top fights in cinematic history so far. Enjoy.

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