Category Archives: Politics

Affordable Climate Change action, for some

mckennaThis week Environment and Climate Change Minister (and my MP) Catherine McKenna made an announcement, a funding announcement.  Joining her were area MP Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West Nepean) and Mona Fortier (Ottawa Vanier).  The funding provided would allow a grocery store to replace refrigeration and lighting in the store.  What a great idea, there are several local grocery and food operations that are struggling due to the high cost of food transportation and new carbon taxes.

What a coup for that local store to get that funding and an announcement with the Minister!

The store was a Loblaws store and the amount was $12M from the Low Carbon Economy Fund and that money would equal the emissions of 50,000 cars coming off the roads.  This is good funding money, but really, Loblaws? Loblaws not only had huge profits, but in 2017 also was found guilty of a 14-year long bread price fixing scheme. Loblaws Companies Limited had a net profit of $3.4B in 2018.    Minister McKenna could not find a local operation that has maybe 2 or 3 locations?  A small chain of specialty health food stores?  Kardish Foods, for one, comes to mind they are Ottawa local and a good local success story

I think however the number the Minister really wants everyone to focus on is 50,000 – as in the emissions reduction of taking 50K cars off the road.  BUT I argue that we should be looking at numbers like $3.4B in profit and $12M.

On the face of it, this announcement slaps small local stores that struggle with the high cost of hydro to keep lights, freezers and fridges running.  The Liberals could have done themselves a huge favour (and everyone knows they could use it) by making the announcement at a small butcher shop, a local restaurant, a health food store or any other example of a company that doesn’t make a profit of $3.4B.  Bog box chain stores like Loblaws don’t need funding announcements that represent a mere 0.35% of annual profits.

Gifting $12M to Loblaws tells me that Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna has allowed the arrogance of Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to overtake any sense of normalcy she might have had. This announcement shows just how out of touch Trudeau and his team have become. It comes at a cost to Loblaws who have taken a social media hit and it will, if social media posts are to be believed, as many plan to never set foot in a Loblaws store again.

Liberals are saying that the LCEF is an application baesd program, but shouldn’t there be a financial aspect to this?  Should government funding to help those who can afford the type of retrofitting that Loblaws is going to get?  Any funding awarded from this program should benefit those who really wouldbenefit from it. In Ottawa Centre, the riding of Minister McKenna, is home to many small businesses; butcher shops, fish markets, fruit and vegtable stores, business that rely on refridgerators to stay in business.  I am sure that Minister McKenna shops in these stores that are close to her home in Ottawa.

While there’s huge role for the large comglomerates, climate action only works if the small businesses see that they get a buy in and are part of a solution.  In Question Period both the Conservatives and the NDP peppered the Liberals with questions why they were only helping companies that could afford the retrofits without money from the LCEF.

In what has become the Liberals achilles heel, where once they were seen as looking out for every Canadian, now they seem to be looking out for Canadians, but others get helped first.  Its actions like what took place this week that make Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as looking out for the 1% and those looking to stay in the 1%.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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(don’t tell the Irish) The Scots Invented Canada

Scots 2
April 6th is Tartan Day in Canada, how appropriate that I sit and write a few words about a book I first spotted in the office of a Senator when I toured the new Senate building a few weeks back.

I learned that there is almost a cottage industry of books written about things that Scots have invented.  There are books written about how the Scots invented the modern world, golf, fine single malts and Canada.  How Scots invented Canada was written in 2010 by Ken McGoogan and looks at 5 dozen or so Scots/Canadians with Scottish blood lines.

There are the expected profiles and where they stand in Canadian history, like Sir John A MacDonald, George Brown, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Frederick Banting and Sanford Fleming.  We know their place in Canadian history as fathers of confederation, the building of the CRP Railway and in the world of medicine and science.   McGoogan then goes and expands all our knowlledge of all things scottish and give us names like Alexander Grahma Bell, Doris Anderson, Timothy Eaton, John McCrae and Nellie McClung.  He manages to bring Scots into to present day Canada where the world continues to expand and unfold.

Lets go back to the pre-confederation for a bit.  Famine, wars, the American Revolution all emerge as some reasons of how many of Scottish decent came to the Upper and Lower Canada provinces.  Scots loyal to the crown found refuge in early Canada.  The Scots led to the successful mapping of trade routes to the west coast, some doing faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The growth of the Hudson Bay Company was at the hands of Scots that had been educated due to the “Scottish Enlightenment” where reading was given to many.  The enlightenment was a leading road to building the character of well educated Scots that would be foremost in business management and growth.  The growth of the fur trade and the establishment of the trade routes were instrumental in bringing the west coast colonies into an eventual confederation in 1871.  That move to came about with a promise to build a transcontinental railway.

Moving through the decades, profiles of Bell, George Brown and Timothy Eaton talk of leaders in communications.  Bell with the telephone, Brown as a leader in newspaper publishing and Timothy Eaton with the catalougue .  These communication giants helped grow commerce in a young country.  These three live on in 2018 with Bell Canada, The Globe and Mail and the centre of commerce in Toronto, the Eaton Centre.

Of Canada’s Prime Ministers, 60% have Scottish heritage.  14 of 24 can claim a direct Scottish lineage right up to our current PM, Justin Trudeau.  Younger Trudeau’s mother comes from the Sinclair Scots and his grandmother from his father’s side was also Scottish as Pierre Elliott Trudeau was borne from a Scottsh mum and French father.  Besides Sir John A, McGoogan brings us our other leaders; Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Nellie McClung and paths through their family lines that started back in the homeland.

While the book is an informative read about the mapping, discovery and building of our nation, there are a few chapters where I find he looks pretty far back to find the thinest of Scottish thread.  But have no fear he talks about Robbie Burns and the ties that the great poet has to Canada. He even reveals a personal connection in his family to Robbie Burns.

Over 60 profiles build a a strong case that the Scottish really did build Canada.  If you are Scottish you’ll enjoy this, if you want to be Scottish “How the Scots invented Canada” will reinforce that feeling. With all of the work McGoogan does to lay out his claims that the Scots really did ‘invent’ Canada, you have to wonder what everyone else doing?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Remediation Obstruction Instruction?

There is something significant happening in Ottawa now and it is not insignificant and it could cost the Liberals the election. It is not insignificant because its happened before.  What occurred to Stephen Harper in 2015 seems likely to happen to Justin Trudeau in 2019.  Actions taken by the government of the day are going to play out in court and in social media and an election.

In 2015 it seemed the Harper government was on trial, though it was really Mike Duffy.  The trial was about what was said and approved for Senators appointed by the Harper government.  It played out during an election campaign and everyone attention to it.  Flash ahead to 2019, Justin Trudeau and his government are going to be dividing there time, as Harper did, between campaign communications and daily rebuttals about a potentially damaging court case.

Mike Duffy walked into court everyday, hounded by reporters but never answering a question, he was the face of everyone who was looking for a reason to vote against Stephen Harper (there were other reasons of course). Now,  just weeks before the federal election starts Vice Admiral Mark Norman will walk in to a courtroom everyday.  Wearing his uniform he will be the face many believe is the victim of a government’s interference.

Cabinet Ministers will be testifying, the former President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison will likely be called when the case goes to trial.  Right now the case for the defense of Mark Norman is playing out with a battle for documents.  Brian Platt, a reporter for the National Post, has been laying out just how far the defence believes the government has gone to prevent key documents from being made available.  Platt’s twitter feed is full of the defence vs the prosecution in a case of breach of trust that involves military shipbuilding against the Vice-Admiral.

So far the case has been intriguing to the opposition and people who thrive in a political bubble.  The bubble will burst in late July and August when the case is expected to be heard.  You just know the opposition parties, especially the Conservatives will be playing up the angle of  “interference of the government”.

While a singlular but not insignificant situation can be enough for a government to handle in an election, a second leaves the election war room wishing days had an extra 6 hours.  While the Liberals have to worry about what is perceived by the voters in the Norman case, there is another worry for them.

It’s only been five days, but seems like an eternity since Globe and Mail reporter Robert Fife broke the news on February 7th of alleged influence being applied to former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to allow a plea deal and fine to SNC Lavalin rather that go to court.  For most Canadians this will all be new – the US and the UK have laws that permit applications for remediation.  Canada only adopted such a law this year in Bill C-74, a Budget Bill.  Liberals buried an “out” in the criminal code to address corporate crime in a bill that was meant to implement government spending.  It’s allegations are not before the courts…but will be examined by the Ethics Commissioner and the Justice Committee, which is controlled by a majority of Liberal MPs, which will be discussing the need for the public inquiry to investigate the allegation.

Significant events shape how voters respond in the fall election.  These are not insignificant events.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

 

Meehan vs. The Mayor

  jim watson

A couple of weeks back Carol Anne Meehan, the rookie Gloucester – South Nepean Councillor made waves because she questioned the Mayor’s decision NOT to allow her to bring a staff person into a one-on-one budget discussion that Mayor Watson was having with her as part of his pre-budget discussions. These are, I imagine, largely informal discussions where the Mayor expects to hear the 3 or so budget concerns from each ward.

Ms. Meehan is a new councillor and very likely she’s still getting up to speed on the many ways Ottawa City Council operates, the committees, procedures and governance as the ward representative.

I don’t know how long these meetings are meant to last, what expectations the councillor should have of the Mayor in the meetings.  There might even be a bit of confidentiality to the meetings.  One person that might know is Mike Patton,  he worked in the Mayors’s office when Larry O’Brien was Mayor of Ottawa and now Mike is working for Councillor Meahan.  Patton is going to be of great assistance to Meahan as he’ll be able guide her through the machinery of City Hall.  But does that make her more comfortable in her role? 

Councillor Meehan had a request, have a staff person join her in the meeting to take notes.  Meehan will not be the elected official to have a staff person take notes in meeting but this is not one meeting she will be able to. Ottawa, a city that has 338 elected officials around the corner on Parliament Hill is all about notes being taken in a meeting by staff.  An elected official bringing a staff person to take notes in a meeting is not a strange occurance, it happens all the time, everyday.

There could be more than meets the eye on this; the Mayor may be posturing a bit.  I doubt that the Mayor and Mike Patton get along that well.  Patton, who worked for the previous Mayor of Ottawa is now working for a new Councillor. Patton up until the Ottawa elections posted a daily video challenging the mayor on issues facing City Hall.  If it would be Patton coming into the meetings, Jim Watson would not be so happy.

A few people have commented online that if Meehan doesn’t know the top three issues from her ward she doesn’t deserve to be there.  Meehan has not had the smoothest start of the rookie Councillors, but her calling out the Mayor for not allowing her to have someone take notes for her seems fair. Next year she may not need that staff person there but this is her first budget in her first year of her four year term. I find nothing wrong with her making sure she has the information she needs to do her job however she needs to get it.

If this is any indication, this could be first of a few flaming arrows that Meehan will be firing in the direction of the Mayor.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Gatekeepers

Since the creation of the position of “White House Chief of Staff” in 1946, thirty-three men have had the ear of the President.  In the years since there has only been one extended period where a President did not have a ‘Chief’,  for 909 days President Carter chose to not name a Chief of Staff (Cos), or rather HE acted as his own chief.  For over 60% of his presidency, because of his decision, Jimmy Carter could not focus 100% on his job as he was doing a job that should have gone to someone else. Pundits feel he didn’t get it right until the last 7 months of his term, too late to avoid defeat  to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The Gatekeepers:  How the White House Chiefs of Staff define every Presidency written by Chris Whipple, is not only about the Chiefs of Staff but the Presidents themselves and the decsions made by them.  With all the information the Presidents had about previous CoS’s, there was a pattern of errors, or mis-decisions in filling that role. 

Gatekeepers covers the American Presidencies from Nixon to Obama and closes with a few words about the 45th President and how Trump might handle the slection process for the position.  Of all the Chiefs’, the consencus is that James Baker III is the cream of the crop and was able to ensure that Ronald Reagan won his re-election bid.  

The best advise that all Presidents are given is not to hire a friend, unless you want to lose that friendship.  A friend will not be able to say what needs to be said to the President, that is “No”. Honesty is the best advice that a chief of staff can give – if it can’t be offered, why have a chief.  The proof of Baker’s success is in his longevity working in the West Wing of the Whitehouse.  Baker, a registered Democrat in the 50’s when he met George H. W. Bush, served as Chief for two Presidents, Reagan and the recently deceased Bush. Baker’s connection to Bush 41 and his work as the Bush’s campaign for President against Reagan in the Republican primaries in 1980 brought him to the unlikely selection by Reagan to be his Chief of Staff.  His close relationship with Bush 41 must have played a huge role for Reagan.  As the architect of Reagan’s main opponent in the 1980 campaign Baker could be challenged as the best choice. Baker staying in as CoS through Reagan’s entire first term as President shows the loyalty that both Baker and Reagan had for each other and the roles they held.

As far as Chiefs for Democratic Presidents go, Bill Clinton can claim he had possibly the worst and best.  Clinton broke rule #1 and brought in a close friend, Mack McLarty as his first Chief.  McLarty , a member of the Arkansas Mafia, brought choas and unorganization to the the White House.  McLarty’s run as Chief can be best described as letting others run the administration with no control and what seemed like unlimited access to the President.  As chaotic as McLarty was, blame also goes to the Clinton.  His decision to appointment McLarty came the day after the election in.

As bad as Clinton’s decision was to hire McLarty, bringing in Leon Panetta in ’93 was a genius move and provided a smooth last few years in the White House while Hillary ran for a Senate seat and Al Gore was running for President.  Panetta was the steady hand needed to finish a presidency that was chaotic and challenged by a President that not always took the advice he needed.

The brilliance of Gatekeepers is not only the story of the CoS’s, but the issues, scandals and challenges brought on by a President but stickhandled by the Chief. Gatekeepersbegins with the Nixon Presidency, and if there is any administration that demostrates the loyalty of a chief, it’s Bob Haldeman’s running the the ship through the Watergate scandal of the 37thPresident, and he ran it right into the ground.  The most intriguing aspect of Gatekeepersis the insider perspective of major events that President’s had to deal with.  

The attack on the World Trade Centre September 9th2001 and the Bush 43 administration revealed the actions of an administration that could be scene as having two Chiefs.  Former Chief for Gerald Ford, Dick Cheney was now the Vice President and in agreeing to be the VP he negotiated responsibilities that normally go to the the CoS.  Andrew Card, who served as Deputy Chief under Bush 41, was now Chief for Bush 43.  The dynamic was “unique”  as Cheney says in the book as he, as VP, took on issues under National Security which under previous administrations would have gone to Andrew Card.

Gatekeeperspulls back the curtains on the West Wing.  As the reader you decide if you agree with how decisions were made and rate the effectiveness of the relationship between the Chief and the President.  What is clear is that the golden rule of not hiring a friend to be the CoS isthe cardinal rule and as the reader we all can sit back and see how a presidency falls apart because the Chief can’t say no and the President doesn’t want to hear it.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net