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Justin Trudeau joined by Canadian premiers at Paris climate talks in 2015 (Province of BC/Flickr)

Justin Trudeau is not as young as he looks – obviously. If he was, he would have noticed a sea change in public attitudes that this old man, more of his father’s generation, has not just noticed but takes as obvious and natural.

Prime Minister, lets take just a very short look down the road and start with parliament. You are in the lull before the storm, sir, and you would be wise to  think about it, not only in your interest but that of the country.

Canada is a complacent place. It doesn’t like change. We always avoid it by making perfection the enemy of improvement. That’s what happened in 2005 when BC narrowly defeated a new electoral system more because opponents cast doubt than demonstrated flaws in a governance method that worked fine elsewhere. Continue Reading »

If you contribute your cash to a man in a bar selling expensive watches for $10, or get into card games with people you don’t know, or believe the man on the phone you’ve never met before who tells you that Consolidated Moose Turds is going to go to $25 tomorrow morning so buy now, well, as they say, a fool and his money are soon separated.

Similarly, if you’re asked to “invest” in any of a number of public saviours telling you that a contribution to their operation will all but ensure a new and fairer voting system for Canada and that they have been busy emailing MP’s and the Prime Minister and Proportional Representation is all but a done deal – especially if you would make a generous donation – my advice would be to call back the Consolidated Moose Turds guy and buy a bunch.

The ignorance of Canadians about their system of governance takes the breath away. They will pour money at Fair Vote Canada, Dogwood Initiative, Leadnow, and others like them and do it over again, as those professional do-gooders work their buns off lobbying MP’s of every party for Proportional Representation. They faithfully follow up with the encouraging news that there are now umpty dump Canadians, political swords unsheathed, spreading brochures in the offices of MP’s and the feedback is most encouraging – one more effort (your cheque would be appreciated) should get the job done. Continue Reading »

Hon. Tom Berger, QC

It’s not hard to figure out the reason the Horgan government has hired Tom Berger as counsel in the Kinder Morgan matter – it’s called politics.

The government looked like first graders who forgot their hankies in their first foray into the fray with the Prime Minister, who gave them a dressing down to which the premier and Attorney-General responded with tugs on their respective forelocks and obsequious mumbles of “yes sir.”

It looked like hell to a province that is a great deal angrier than these political neophytes realize. The statement by the Attorney-General that there would be no slowdown of permits to Kinder Morgan astonished many who assumed that “work to rule”, an old effective labour union tactic, would be deployed as a matter of course by an NDP government, and just for openers.

When threatened with the strap by schoolmaster Trudeau, the lad from Kitchener, Ontario could not profess his commitment to strict law and order fast enough. Continue Reading »

Christy Clark and Rich Coleman (center) meeting with Malaysian LNG officials in 2014 (BC Govt photo)

I have a bit of a knack for remembering doggerel as part of my brain’s principal function as a storehouse of useless information. Ergo this:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God, the British Journalist.
Considering what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

It seems that this applies equally to our political writers with the odd, very odd exception, right here in Lotusland.

In 1986, Bill Bennett retired after 10 years as premier through some tough economic times with the province in good shape financially. He had managed public money carefully, been a builder with the odd overrun which were laughably tiny compared to those since, especially the whoppers of the Campbell/Clark bunch, and he gave us Expo 86, for which the boo-birds predicted a catastrophe but which turned out to be a huge win that’s still paying off. In a very careful move, he demurred on Site C after a referral to the BC Utilities Commission and even though in those days there was not the prospect of backup from alternative sources, there are, in fast growing terms, today. Yet many people bid Bennett goodbye with a shout of “good riddance”. Continue Reading »

I’ve done many things involving government, including being a City Councillor, Cabinet minister and several years in charge of BC Constitutional Affairs. In a 25 year radio career concentrating on current affairs, I was the only major journalist in Canada who opposed the Meech Lake Accord/Charlottetown Accords and I played a major role in spawning the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. I have had 13 books published including bestseller Canada, is Anyone Listening. Frankly, our parliaments are not working, only needing the public to understand how the system really works. It’s serious, and I have some thoughts on making substantial yet uncomplicated improvements and they’re in my new book, Politically Incorrect, How Canada Lost Its Way and The Simple Path Home, published by Watershed Sentinel Books due out October, 2017. Continue Reading »

John Horgan being sworn in as Premier, with Environment Minister George Heyman looking on (Photo: Flickr/Province of British Columbia)

Dear Premier Horgan,

My congratulations to you and your new government. I can tell you that a great many British Columbians who do not usually support your party voted for you on May 9 last with the same feelings as Dr. Johnson ascribed to second marriages – a triumph of hope over experience.

I realize that over the past few years I have not been flavour of the month for either you or Dr. Andrew Weaver but I know that you would think even less of me if I allowed that to bother me. It doesn’t.

Until the Liberals came to power, it was not customary for the mainstream media to shower governments with praise. I intend to practice my profession the traditional way – the way I was treated when when I was in government. Continue Reading »

NDP Premier John Horgan and his cabinet being sworn in by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon (Photo: Province of BC / Flickr)

In politics, speculation is half the fun – the other half is figuring out how, with all your experience in the field, you could have been so bloody wrong.

Actually, for the new minister, the reasons he or she is usually wrong are predictable as hell to a guy like me – not because I’m smart, but because I was there once myself. I went into my new Ministry office back on December 22, 1975, full of piss and vinegar, not to mention urgent plans. After all, I had 3 1/2 years of mismanagement to clean up and there’s no time to start like right now.

Well, yes, there is, you quickly find out from your Deputy Minister, because there are several decisions to make first. Not that they’re earth-shattering, just that not making them means you’re going to be pestered until you do. You need a good parking spot, preferably better than Vander Zalm’s, a key to your private loo lost by your predecessor, and clear instructions on how to replenish your liquor cabinet.

This turns out to be a good thing because you quickly learn that you need to take a bit longer getting acquainted, but it will have to wait a few days because, at the Premier’s request – well, not really a request – you’re flying out to Ottawa that afternoon with two colleagues to meet federal counterparts to straighten out an issue that the Premier pledged to clean up personally the moment he was sworn in. Continue Reading »

BC Liberal MLAs in the Legislature (Province of BC / Flickr)

I wish John Horgan and his new government well. He has his work cut out for him.

There has been a load of pollyannish bullshit spouted by the media about what will and what will not happen to his shaky government when it finally gets going. And that’s my first note. As soon as the LG called upon him to form a government, Mr. Horgan should have done so. After his time watching his colleagues in opposition, surely be could have have presented a Council to Her Honour in 24 hours.

Is the answer to the delay perhaps that this matter had not yet been settled with Dr. Weaver? That’s an unnerving thought and raises the first worry wart. Just what is the arrangement? Continue Reading »

Know Thy Activist

Photo: Tasja via Wikipedia

On Carrots and Sticks in Parliament

I’ve been an activist for too many years to count. In earlier times, I’d catch hell when my Establishment mother heard me rant on the radio, but knowing her love of nature, I think she was secretly a little proud! Do I support protesting Kinder Morgan and the proposed LNG refinery on Squamish? You betcha, on both counts. I’ve watched activism become more acceptable to more people. Sadly, some activist groups have much to learn about the subject for which they claim expertise – and about basic honesty. That’s what this article is about.

First, let’s remind ourselves why there is activism.

Merriam Webster defines activism as “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.”

Jesus was an activist and an extremely effective one, such that it cost him his life. His throwing money-lenders out of the temple and the giant rallies he held were substantial threats to the elite, and, as the scriptures tell us, they lay in the weeds until they could nail this dangerous activist and put him away once and for all. Continue Reading »

Andrew Weaver (left) and John Horgan (Photo: BCNDP/Flickr CC Licence)

Looking ahead at our political situation in BC and assuming that the NDP will govern with a one vote majority, perhaps it might be well to consider what that actually means.

An accepted authority is  HOUSE OF COMMONS PROCEDURE AND PRACTICE, edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit

This on “Confidence”:

What constitutes a question of confidence in the government varies with the circumstances. Confidence is not a matter of parliamentary procedure, nor is it something on which the Speaker can be asked to rule. It is generally acknowledged, however, that confidence motions may be:

explicitly worded motions which state, in express terms, that the House has, or has not, confidence in the government;

motions expressly declared by the government to be questions of confidence;

implicit motions of confidence, that is, motions traditionally deemed to be questions of confidence, such as motions for the granting of Supply (although not necessarily an individual item of Supply, motions concerning the budgetary policy of the government  and motions respecting the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. (my emphasis)

What this does not mean is that every time the government loses a vote it must resign. That is plain fiction encouraged by the fact that when such a vote is lost, cries of “resign!” are shouted from the Opposition benches with enthusiasm but no justification. Continue Reading »

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