DZSURDZSA: The Liberal plot to control the federal election debates
By now, we should all be skeptical when the Liberals announce a new committee intended to be at “arms-length” from the government.
On October 30th, 2018 the Liberal Minister for Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, revealed a federal plan to create a “Leaders’ Debate Commission” charged with organizing every aspect of the federal election debates.
Today, it’s becoming clear that the term “arms-length” just means within reach of Liberal meddling.
The intended goal of said commission? Well according to the federal government it’s to “make the debates a more predictable, reliable, and stable element of federal election campaigns.”
The underlying assumption here is that Canadians are somehow better serviced by “more predictable, reliable and stable” debates.
Perhaps the Liberal government is also intending for a more predictable result in October’s election, one in which they are guaranteed to win?
Up until now, no such commission has existed in Canada before. Past debates have gone along just fine and without any hiccups. In fact, most of the federal debates up until now have been rather boring, so why introduce a new commission?
To date, the Liberals intend on financing the said commission with $5.5 million dollars. Quite a hefty sum for organizing debates. And who will be on the receiving end of such a generous paycheque?
So far the Liberals have publicly identified two members of the commission: the commissioner himself, former Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, and a former CBC executive director, Michel Cormier. Quite the pair.
While the Liberals ensure us that the commission will be “independent”, members of the opposition disagree.
Conservative Critic of Democratic Institutions Stephanie Kusie called it another one of the governments “desperate attempts [to] rig the next election to the Liberals’ advantage.”
According to the commission’s mandate, the commissioner will be in charge of framing the rules for who gets involved in the leaders’ debates.
Currently there are three requirements: parties must have a good shot at winning, must be represented in the house of commons, and must have candidates in at least 90% of ridings.
For a new party like Maxime Bernier’s PPC, these regulations might spell trouble and see him sidelined from some of the nation’s most-watched debates.
According to their rules, the Reform Party would also not have met the Liberal criteria to be allowed to participate in the federal debates if the commission existed back then.
” I note that, under the criteria laid out here, the party that I joined in 1990, the Reform Party, would not have been eligible to have a participant in the leaders debates, since it didn’t meet all the criteria,” said the former Conservative Critic of Democratic Institutions, Scott Reid.
“It would not have met two of the three,” agreed Larry Bagnell, the Liberal chair of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee.
The commissioner is also charged with providing a report to parliament after the election on suggestions for how the commission might be a more permanent fixture in Canadian politics, ensuring that the stifling of political debate continues on well into the future.
Although one of the intended goals for the is to make the leaders’ debates more “open” for Canadians. In reality, it does just the opposite.
The Leaders’ Debates Commission is just another attempt for the Liberals to stack the election in their favour and control public opinion, by whatever means necessary.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s willing to help bridge the current divide between Western Canada and the federal government. However, he says that no job has been offered and that speculation over the possibility of his being appointed as a representative of Alberta in a federal cabinet is “silly.”
“No job has been offered, nor no job has been contemplated,” Nenshi told CTV’s Question Period in an interview aired Sunday. “Probably it’s wrong, but I am enjoying all this speculation because it’s so silly.”
Following the election, concern over Western representation in government has been steadily growing, as Conservative candidates, with the exception of one NDP candidate, swept both Alberta and Saskatchewan. This means that the Liberals lack a seat in parliament to represent either of the provinces and their interests.
Recently, Nenshi said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling #Wexit and separatist sentiment in Alberta “very real.”
“Of course the (Trans Mountain) pipeline has to get built, of course we need to re-examine Bill C-69 which my premier calls the No More Pipelines Bill, but is actually much more dangerous than that,” Nenshi said.
Neshi says that Bill C-69 will not only stifle the oil industry’s growth but will also make other infrastructure projects significantly more difficult in the province.
According to The Canadian Press, speculation over whether Nenshi will represent Western Canada was triggered by comments made by Trudeau following the election.
These comments came Thursday when Trudeau said he has no intention of forming a coalition government but does need to be more collaborative to bridge the regional gaps between Canadians.
Along with Nenshi, former Alberta premier Alison Redford has also been pegged as a possible Trudeau confidant and representative. In a CTV Question Period, she says that she would be happy to assist the Liberals in addressing Western representation at the federal level. However, like Nenshi, she has yet to be asked.
“I haven’t been asked. I am happy to help in any way,” she told CTV’s Question Period.
“This is something Canadians have been thinking about for a long time and I think the key is that there has to be a lot of voices at the table.”
On October 24, Alvin Tedjo, a hopeful candidate vying for leadership of the Ontario Liberals, announced his campaign promise to merge the Catholic and public school boards in Ontario according to the Toronto Star. To achieve this, Tedio says that it is necessary to eliminate all public funding to a separate Catholic school board.
“For students, this change means the convenience of attending their closest school, less time on the bus and access to an optional religious curriculum,” Tedjo said Thursday.
“For teachers and early childhood educators, it means smaller class sizes, availability of more resources and the freedom to teach in any publicly funded school.”
Despite being Catholic himself, Tedjo says his move makes fiscal sense and that it’s necessary to have all four school boards merged into secular French and English schools.
“As a Catholic, I have a choice, but others don’t have that choice.”
Tedjo says that by merging Catholic school boards with the public, Ontario could save between $1.2 and $1.6 billion, citing a 2012 Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods study.
Tedjo has entitled his plan “Learning Together,” and has drawn inspiration from Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland which have done the same.
“For students, this change means the convenience of attending their closest school, less time on the bus and access to an optional religious curriculum. For teachers and early childhood educators, it means smaller class sizes, availability of more resources and the freedom to teach in any publicly funded school,” said Tedjo in a news release.
“Learning Together would also see more class offerings in STEM and the arts, as well as improved mental health resources and supports for students with special needs.”
Despite the controversy, and the fact Tedjo has three children enrolled in Catholic education right now, he says that Learning Together will allow the merged school board to incorporate the strengths of both and provide a better education and school experience for all kids in the province.
In response to increasing criticism and outrage from Western Canada, the new Liberal minority government has decided that it’s in their (and the rest of Canada’s) best interests to push through with the Trans Mountain pipeline.
After losing every single seat in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dialled back his climate policy rhetoric and opted for a more nuanced approach to balance the green push with realistic economic policies.
On October 23, he told a press conference that he will begin his second term as prime minister by working to ensure that oil producers can sell their product abroad at fair prices by moving forward with the pipeline. When asked why his parliament failed to win seats and represent Western Canada, he said that why isn’t the central question but how can the federal government mend the disconnect between West and East.
“We made a decision to move forward on the pipeline because it was in the interest of Canada to do so because the environment and the economy need to go together. We will be continuing with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” Trudeau said.
“Albertans and people in Saskatchewan have faced very difficult years over these past few years because of the global commodity prices, because of the challenges they are facing. For a long time, they weren’t able to get their resources to markets other than the U.S. We are moving forward to solve those challenges.”
According to CBC, the 1,150-kilometre pipeline expansion would roughly “triple the existing pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day,” and would allow Alberta to ship oil through B.C. to international markets such as Asia.
The Liberal government has also stated its plans to use the additional oil revenues to transition to cleaner sources of energy, predicting up to $500 million for green energy projects.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the plan to extend the pipeline isn’t merely a ploy to mollify Alberta and assist negotiations between the minority government and the provinces. Rather, Morneau says that balancing the economy with green energy initiatives is a crucial part of the Liberal’s transitionary measures.
“We purchased [the pipeline] for a reason,” said Morneau. “We now see how it can help us accelerate our clean energy transition by putting any revenues that we get from it into a transition to clean energy. We think that is the best way we can move forward in our current context.”
According to CTV News, construction for the expansion is expected to be complete by the middle of 2022. The Liberal government has forecasted taking up to $125 million in revenue from Trans Mountain Canada each year up to the expansion’s completion and the $500 million each year after.
“My expectation is that we have much common ground between the other parties that have been elected to the next Parliament,” said Morneau.
“We will be seeking consensus on how we can move forward on that common ground. This project we’ve already moved forward on. It’s one that we’ve said that we’re moving forward on, we’ve actually already gone through that process.”
Stocks for the scandal-ridden Quebec-based engineering and construction company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. surged by nearly 15 percent on the morning after Justin Trudeau’s re-election to a Liberal minority government.
Currently, SNC-Lavalin is facing corruption charges for bribing officials while conducting business in Libya, including bribes to the son of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The company was at the heart of an election interference scandal that plagued the Trudeau government and resulted in the ejection of former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and MP Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus.
Wilson-Raybould has since been re-elected as an independent candidate for Vancouver Granville.
Trudeau was eventually found to have broken the law and had attempted to politically interfere in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin by the ethics commissioner.
Prior to Trudeau’s re-election, SNC-Lavalin stocks had faced a downturn, falling more than 60 percent over the last year.