The awesome power of Crony Capitalism

Kathleen pink
Kathleen Wynne shows her delight at being captured in a photo op gone terribly wrong. This has nothing to do with the post and is a cheap gimmick to attract your attention

Dear Diary:

For many years, we struggled to understand Quebec politics, eventually deciding that the process of moral turpitude required to do so would so imperil our immortal soul that, in the end, it just wasn’t worth the risk.

So, we will not try to understand how what is done there makes sense to people there because it for sure makes no sense to people elsewhere. What we do know, is that having presciently stated less than 48 hours ago that Real Change in Canada was likely to result in more regional divisions in less than five months than had been apparent in the previous 10 years under a government notorious for its dislike of terrorists, nos chers amis have Westerners looking for – and finding – the keys to their rhetorical gun cabinets.

That’s because Quebec decided to file a court injunction against the Energy East pipeline because, it said, TransCanada Corp, which recently added 40 jobs to its Montreal office, was refusing to comply with its environmental review process regarding the extension of its Energy East pipeline. This came as a surprise to TransCanada, which said it was preparing to show up at the hearings, which begin Monday.
This resulted in outrage from a sadly isolated Brad Wall who threatened trade reprisals but also, notably, from Alberta’s increasingly crenelated Premier Rachel Notley who decided to hold fire for now but, as she put it, keep her holster handy.

But you can read about that elsewhere. What we found most compelling was that at the same time Quebec’s Environment Minister David Heurtel was saying this was a simple matter of “fairness toward all companies that wish to do business in Quebec,” his government was tabling legislation to ensure there would be no environmental review whatsoever for the McInnis Cement Project in Port-Daniel-Gascons in the Gaspe region.

McInnis cement is owned by the Beaudoin and Bombardier families. You may remember them as the same folks who are in the process of – having already dipped into Quebec taxpayers pockets for $1 billion likely thanks to the $9 billion in annual transfer payments from oil-producing provinces – getting another $1 billion from the federal government to help them recover from some bad business decisions they made operating their aircraft company, Bombardier.

We will not try to comprehend. We just stand, slack-jawed, in awe at the power of crony capitalism.


Ever curious and having recently diarized regarding carbon taxes, we asked ourselves the question “do they even work?”

Proponents often say that the best way to reduce the use of something society needs less of is to tax it. They point to tobacco, booze and other sinful behaviours as examples. They do not point to earning an income or buying things or operating a business as activities that are taxed in order to reduce their occurrence. But they do like to tax them. We digress

Many point to British Columbia as an area where emissions fell following the implementation of its carbon tax without having a negative impact on economic growth which appears to be the case.

Most of this is due to the fact that gasoline became so expensive in the Lower Mainland area (where it is also subject to a public transportation tax) that a great many people left the car in the garage and hopped on the bus, or train or their bicycle instead.

This seems sensible and productive provided you live in a dense urban area that has buses and trains and within a climate with minimal snowfall like on the west coast where you can ride a bicycle or skateboard – dude – and wear flips flops 12 months of the year.

We do think, however that some thought should be given not only to the fact that many Canadians do not have bicycle and public transportation alternatives but also to the reality that when B.C. taxed carbon it did so in a revenue neutral fashion, matching it with an income tax cut. The latter put more cash into consumers’ hands and avoided the sort of economic drag Ontario and Alberta are imposing with their save-the-planet taxes. And, hey, it proved that what turned out to be a net tax cut improves economic growth. Who knew?


Snooping around on the topic, we also found this study by Annagrete Bruvoll and Bodil Merethe Larsen of Statistics Norway (and nothing goes untaxed in Norway) which indicated that the impact of carbon taxes is, well, meh – at least when it comes to reducing consumption.

So, if the Prime Minister and his eco-henchmen insist on having carbon priced from coast to coast to coast they might at least tell us what they think it will achieve. Or – and, here’s an idea – media might ask them: “How will putting a price on carbon make Canada better?” Because as we know better is always possible. Right?

When it comes right down to it, you could wipe Canada off the map, return to the apparently idyllic economies enjoyed by its Indian/Inuit/First Nations/aboriginal/indigenous people for thousands of years despite the lack of things like, uh, the wheel and its carbon emissions would continue to rise and the planet (and if you hadn’t heard this is history’s only fact established by consensus) will die.

This country is responsible for precisely 1.6% of global emissions , rounded up here  to 2%. That’s it. Of that, the biggest criminal is transportation which we assume has something to do with the fact it’s a really big friggin’ country. Yes, you will if you wish find charts indicating that on a per capita basis Canada ranks very high but let’s be clear – that is nonsense. With the exemption of a very few areas, Canada is also a really friggin’ cold country where if you don’t have heated shelter you will die.

 

CAPP carbon graphic GHGcropLarge2 (1)


Finally, on a lighter note Dear Diary, we have discovered that there are subversives within the education system.

There is, in Edmonton, someone holding a teacher’s license who actually thinks it is wrong to let students fail to produce assignments without consequence and who says things like :

“We are the last chance our kids have of not becoming entitled, materialistic, spoiled monsters.”

As if there’s something wrong with that.

This, folks, is how someone who used to be thought of as a sensible, responsible person gets labelled an “iconoclastic rebel” in the media.
Read it here.

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Dewar

Sadly, it no longer seems to matter if the benefits of a carbon tax or the elimination of related emissions are real or imagined. This issue has moved beyond matters of logic to those of faith. Well, no, that’s an exaggeration. I think what has really happened is: a) we are now four or five generations removed from the days when people lived without oil or electricity, and b) the vast majority of us now live in urban centres (in 1900 only 13% of world population was urban; in 1911 only 45% of Canadians lived in urban centres compared to 81% now). The upshoot of this is that all the people who vote live in cities, and most of them have no idea where eggs come from and would die of exposure within a couple days if dropped off in the woods somewhere. So most Canadians live in a comfortable cozy world where the lights always go on, the rooms are always at a stable temperature, the fridge is always full, bike paths are nicely paved (with bitumen, by the way), toilets flush waste away to who-knows-where, and so on. When the majority of a society is so far removed – in space and time – from the raw resources which allow it to grown, prosper, and function, its really no wonder that they begin to think those resources are dirty, old-fashioned, and unnecessary. It’s all kinda amusing … until the day when the lights go out.

Martin

And when the lights do go out for a time, or a blizzard appears, they rage at the government to “do something” after a few short hours. The army can clear snow, or provincial government can deliver grocery vouchers.
12 NDP riding associations have called for the National party to adopt the Naomi Klein Leap Manifesto, a return to the bucolic days of the 18th century. Signers of this creed are well educated, elite citizens, What level of communication is required to get across that every food item, every consumer good, all heating fuel depends totally on petroleum sources and will for the lifetime of all concerned?

Dewar

PS: I read in the New York Times today that Los Angeles is not only home to superstar environmental / anti-pipeline / anti-oil sands activists like Jane Fonda, Neil Young, Leonardo DiCaprio, but is also home to “the largest [gas] leak in terms of climate impact in American history”. This is actually great news – think of all the carbon that will be saved now that stars can protest in their own back yard and not have to fly all the way up to Northern Alberta! On second thought, they may need some help. Since Canadian oil workers have time on their hands these days, maybe some of them can fly down to LA and do some kind of media stunt to draw attention to this climate disaster! I’m sure they’d be welcome. NYT story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/us/california-gas-leak-threatens-jerry-browns-image-as-a-climate-change-hero.html?_r=0

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