One cannot understate the historic importance of what happened in British Parliament today
When Canadians woke up on June 24, 2016, many of us learned that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union in what was widely known as the Brexit Referendum. The referendum was called by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who did not think that British citizens would actually vote to leave, and had thought the referendum could finally hush those pesky “Brexiteers”.
Prime Minister Cameron resigned immediately following the referendum, and the party chose Theresa May as the new prime minister. Interestingly, less than a year later, the new Prime Minister Theresa May called an early election despite already having a majority in parliament. The following video best sums up how that went.
The early election saw the Conservatives lose their majority and to this day survive with the support of the DUP, an Irish unionist party that was considered too far-right for the liking of many Conservative supporters. The DUP only had two seats going into the election, but the ten that they won were enough to become a kingmaker for the tories.
It became the subject of significant public ridicule, especially since the entire premise of the election was for Theresa May to win her own, larger majority so that she could march into those Brexit negotiations with a strong mandate that signalled that the Brits would have her back.
The words “strong and stable” came to define the election campaign. Theresa May wasn’t campaigning to win. After all, she already had a majority before this all started. She was running to form a “strong and stable” government which she did not get, but at least this happened.
Dilemma after dilemma
The staircase image released by the EU in late 2017, which appears above, illustrated exactly why the EU already knew that Brexit negotiations would not make much progress, and they turned out to be spot on.
The top step has the EU flag, representing full EU membership. It is an unacceptable end result for the UK because, well, that’s what this whole thing is about in the first place. No good.
As we move down the steps, consider that the UK would have to essentially accept “taxation without representation”, as they would no longer have a say in European Parliament but would still have to follow at least some of its rules if there is to be a yes-deal Brexit.
The second step has Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. These countries are not EU members are part of the EEA, which allows them to be part of the EU with respect to free movement across borders. That requires the UK to submit to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, allow free cross-border movement, continue paying the EU, and follow its regulations. No good.
Switzerland, who shares a unique relationship with the EU, is on the third step. It is integrated with the EU not by membership, but by a number of agreements. Those treaties, due to the geographic and economic reality of Switzerland, mean that Switzerland still has open borders, contributes financially to the EU, and has to follow the EU’s regulations on good and services. No good.
The next steps have Ukraine and Turkey, that have looser relationships with the EU. Even those involve some sacrifice of sovereignty.
For true independence, the UK must go all the way down to the bottom of the staircase, which would involve redoing all of Britain’s trade relationships essentially from scratch.
It would leave Britain (at least briefly) as the only country other than Mauritania to have no free trade agreements.
When those trade agreements get negotiated, the British will be in a much weaker position now that they represent an economy of under 100 million, rather than the better part of a billion people that were represented by the EU. That was a big part of the whole point of having an EU in the first place.
The situation gets even worse
As if that problem wasn’t big enough, there is also the situation with Northern Ireland. In the shortest possible summary, the UK (which includes Northern Ireland) have a 1998 agreement with the Republic of Ireland not to have a closed border. That border, well, let’s just say has previously led to a lot of “trouble“.
Ireland is a member of the EU, and Brexit raises the spectre of renewed violence, especially if there will need to be a border across Ireland. Not having a border, however, will compromise Brexit, since there would still be free movement between Ireland and both the EU and the UK. Irish reunification might simplify things, but that would be a whole separate behemoth of an issue by itself.
March 2019 is here
And just like that, as these unsolvable problems floated around in the minds of politicians, almost three years have passed an a solution has not gotten any nearer.
On Tuesday, March 12, the House of Commons voted down the prime minister’s proposed Brexit deal. The government was criticized for negotiating right up until a few hours before MPs were to vote on it. MPs were not happy that they would have to vote on a pivotal motion in that country’s history and not get adequate time to scrutinize it.
However, without the last minute negotiations, the deal as it previously stood had no chance of being passed by parliament anyway. Since the prime minister deal was voted down, the big issue now concerns the March 29 deadline.
A vote was scheduled for today (3pm ET) to determine whether the UK would respect the March 29 deadline and leave the EU even without a deal if none is passed by then. A hostile amendment to the vote tried to permanently eliminate the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, regardless of the deadline.
By 312-308, the motion to take the no-deal Brexit off the table passed. Although the Conservatives hold 314 of 650 seats, Prime Minister May decided not to force her MPs to vote in any particular way.
Legally speaking, as of now, a no-deal Brexit would still happen on March 29 if no deal is reached by then, since motions cannot override a statute. The EU could also veto an extension of the deadline.
By 164-374, a puzzling motion for a “managed no-deal” was defeated. It would have allowed for a no-deal Brexit that ignores the prime minister’s deal and opts for a trade relationship whose terms are decided as it goes. It sounded like the intention was that the UK would have a “no-deal Brexit”, but the UK and EU would simply just continue acting as if nothing had changed.
“…the government should offer a further set of mutual standstill agreements with the EU and member states for an agreed period […] during which period the UK would pay an agreed sum equivalent to its net EU contributions…”Part of Amendment B
Motion as amended
The motion passed by 321-278. The announcement was immediately followed by a speech from the prime minister, whose voice had very noticeably been worn out in recent days.
MPs’ shouts made it clear that they were frustrated that the prime minister kept giving them multiple choice questions that they did not like. The atmosphere was one of stubborn refusal to compromise from partisan positions. It has been the decade of toxic tribalism, a societal mood that spread across borders and oceans.
The UK put itself in a situation where it faced a number of options, none of which were much of a political win for anyone. Perhaps 2015+4 is just not the year for serious compromise.
For understandable reasons, the EU seems to believe that the UK has put itself in an impossible position that could not be resolved with more time, and so would probably be reluctant to drag on negotiations.
The opposition seems to be set on making sure that Brexit never occurs, and an easy way to do that would be to call a second referendum. The British are undoubtedly sick and tired of this seemingly impossible game, and might be eager to give parliament a “never mind” vote on Brexit.
There were no answers at the end of the day that was supposed to decide the answers to some serious questions. With 16 days do go, and nearly 3 years since the referendum, there is still no solution in sight.
The lack of an answer at this point, however, could be the best answer we’ve gotten yet. It looks like it will be a no-deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.
Quebec’s Liberal Party has suffered another loss in a byelection in the riding of Jean-Talon, just outside of Quebec City. As a result of this, the Liberals now represent only two ridings outside of Montreal.
The Liberals were dealt this staggering blow by the surging CAQ, suffering a negative swing of 7.6 percent. The CAQ, on the other hand, was rewarded with a positive swing of 14.8 percent—a testament to the continued popularity of the CAQ’s policies in La Belle Province.
The two separatist parties, the radical Quebec Solidare, and the Parti Quebecois also lost votes, coming as a relief to Quebec’s federalists who have watched the rise of separatism in the province with growing concern.
The incoming MNA for the riding is the CAQ’s Joëlle Boutin, replacing the Liberal Sébastien Proulx. The riding of Jean-Talon has been represented by the Liberals since 1952, making the CAQ’s victory significant.
Quebec’s Liberal party is now down to 28 seats, a significant decrease in their margins since 2014 when they won 70 seats. The other two Liberal seats are located in Outaouais, a traditional Liberal stronghold.
The CAQ stormed to office in 2018, focusing on fiscal responsibility, Quebec nationalism, and the contentious secularism bill. Despite the tut-tutting from English Canada, the CAQ continues to enjoy vast popularity in New France.
Construction is set to begin on the first section of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
According to the Globe and Mail, Trans Mountain Corp. will begin to lay pipe near Edmonton as the delayed project finally moves towards construction.
The progress could help ease some friction between Alberta and the federal government, although this could once again be constrained should environmentalists begin another campaign to stop pipeline growth.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple the current capacity and allow for more oil to make it to both export markets in Vancouver and refineries in the United States.
Currently, the multiple organizations believe Canada loses from 50-70 million per day as a result of lacking pipeline infrastructure.
Saskatchewan’s Finance Minister Donna Harpauer has said in a 2018 interview with the CBC, that if current discounts continued, her province’s industries would stand to lose about $7.4 billion in revenue.
Since China decided our beef and pork were desirable again at the beginning of November, lifting its embargoes in the midst of an ongoing diplomatic spat with Canada, the communist regime never stopped approving of Canada’s nuclear technology.
On Monday, SNC-Lavalin announced that China National Nuclear Power Corporation had chosen the Québec-based engineering firm to do “pre-project work” to build a pair of 700-megawatt “advanced heavy water” CANDU reactors for Shanghai Electric Group.
These are similar modules to the advanced generation CANDU reactors the Ontario provincial government shelved ten years ago for Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, due to a purported $26 billion price tag.
SNC-Lavalin spokesperson Ken Chiu would not reveal the value of the pre-project contract with CNNP, but compared a dual reactor-build to the $12.7 billion refurbishment of four CANDU reactors at Darlington; the largest being 900 mW.
“I can’t say the dollar value of the (advanced heavy water reactor) pre-project work, but the duration is about six months so that may provide some sense of size of the immediate job,” writes Chiu in an email to The Post Millennial.
Chiu’s email cites a 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association report on domestic economic spinoff of industry activities, at home and abroad.
According to the nuclear association’s report, “building a pair of Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) reactors outside of Canada supports over 2,200 person-years of direct, high-wage work and over $2.5 billion in economic activity here in Canada.”
But Chiu writes, “It’s too early to be able to conceive the projected total value in building the two reactors at this point.”
In June 2011, Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper sold Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s CANDU reactor technology and intellectual property to SNC-Lavalin for $15 million in a much-criticized deal.
Before Harper sold what’s now Candu Energy Inc. to the Québec-based global engineering firm, its forebear Atomic Energy had already built pair of CANDU reactors in China’s Zhejiang province, finishing the second for Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant in 2003.
China’s national nuclear power developer operates several reactors and is Qinshan’s majority owner, while SNC-Lavalin is the exclusive licensee of the CANDU technology to CNNP.
In 2016, CNNP formed the joint venture with Candu Energy “to develop, market and construct the Advanced Fuel Candu Reactor”, or advanced heavy water modules capable of reusing fuel from earlier-generation, light water reactors.
Three Canadian meat producers have had their licenses cancelled after E. Coli led to massive recalls.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, three companies based in Toronto connected to a meat recall affect 900 beef and veal products have had their licenses revoked.
The affected companies include Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd, as well as St. Ann’s Foods Inc/ Canadian Select Meats Inc. and The Beef Boutique Ltd.
Without a license, none of the three businesses will be allowed to prepare meat or slaughter animals.
“The decision was made after the agency identified during a food safety investigation that they had received false or misleading information from the licence holders concerning E. coli lab results,” said the CFIA.
“After meeting with the licence holder regarding the cancellation, based on a review of the facts and submissions made, the CFIA determined that the licence holder failed to comply with Section 15 and cancelled their licence,” the CFIA said.
Section 15 of the Safe Food for Canadians Act state companies cannot make false or misleading statements to a person exercising duties under the law.