Save the Planet, Destroy the Country


Wow. Wow. Wow.

Harper played the separatism card today, warning that the Green Shift plan will threaten national unity. Not because it will annoy Albertans and stir up memories of the NEP. No — it will create tensions with Quebec. Here’s the Prime Minister’s remarkable chain of reasoning.

NB: Harper is the Prime Minister. Of Canada.

“The Liberals will use the money from the carbon tax to create programs, like the Millennium Scholarship. They will once again interfere in the jurisdiction of the provinces and then the old federal-provincial bickering will return.”
Elaborating later on his remarks, Harper told reporters: “In Quebec, the specific concern — and obviously a concern we share as a Conservative government — is that the ultimate purpose of a carbon tax is to get more money and power into Ottawa. We’ve gone out of our way in the last few years to get the federal government respecting . . . provincial jurisdictions. So I think this would be a step in the wrong direction.”

I’ll be spending the next while picking up the pieces of my jaw that are rolling around the office.

Filed under:

Save the Planet, Destroy the Country

  1. I guess the thinking is that if people will buy “this bill was meant to apply only to majority parliaments”, they’ll buy absolutely anything.

  2. And if people will buy “gutting meat inspection services has nothing to do with the fact that there have been 3 listeria outbreaks since the said gutting of meat inspection services” – well people will buy anything if it means that they don’t actually have to turn on their brains and start thinking.

  3. That’s the 2nd time he’s made a passing remark that the Liberals are the ones who cause the national unity issues.

  4. How is the Millennium Scholarship program an affront to national unity?

    If the Tories, say, give billions in one-time funds to provinces for health care improvement, infrastructure improvement, etc, it is seen as a good thing.

    Give money directly to Canadians to help them get an education, and suddenly it is bad?

    Is it the idea of giving money directly to the citizens that should be feared, rather than giving it to the province?

    Considering many students below the poverty line aren’t eligible for financial reasons (make too much money), that comment from the PM seems even more ignorant than what he says it portraits.

    Education = bad to Canada’s New Government?

  5. Education is a provincial repsonsibility – give the tax room to the province so that the province can decide how best to improve education in that province – each one having different needs. Too complicated for Liberals? And by the way, I did not see anything in the part quoted regarding national unity, did you leave something out, or is it just your own stretched interpretation. Does bickering over funding equal break up of confederation?

  6. Dion is quite clear in the Green Plan pamphlet that he will use revenue from the carbon tax to increase federal spending in specific domains. Some of these are provincial – like social housing, where there is in fact the potnetial for tension with Quebec. Dion has not explained why increased federal intervention in these areas would not aggravate the sovereigntists. Nobody has explained why a federal tax should be the source of funds for this program – rather than lower federal taxes letting porvinces raise their own taxes to pay for it (in the context of ongoing equalization payments to avoid inter-provincial inequity).

  7. “the old federal-provincial bickering will return” and “We’ve gone out of our way in the last few years to get the federal government respecting . . . provincial jurisdictions. So I think this would be a step in the wrong direction.”

    Since national unity is partially made up of the relationship between the feds and provincial jurisdictions, then his quotes are directly regarding national unity.

  8. Very good point Style! and this would only be the beginning as if you start doing crazy thinks like taxing energy at all points in the supply chain the law of unintended consequences would run rampant through the economy. Harper is exactly on point here and this would be only be one of the millions of instances of the green shaft gone awry. Thank god that the likelihood of the Liberals winning is diminishing day by day what will be interesting is to see how many new NDP and Green voters there are going to be.

  9. The Green Shift isn’t about saving the environment, it’s an inflationary tax grab that will have the additional effect of restraining the Canadian economy.

    Look when support for separatism has been strongest..during times of recession.

  10. I would love Paul Wells to chime in here, because I am likely going to misstate the argument he has made, viz. that the whole goal of the Harper administration is to tie the hands of the federal government so that it cannot exercise power effectively in the domestic sphere (and indeed if we revered our constitution as much as the Americans love theirs, this is a perfectly feasible argument from the BNA Act).

    In any event, according to the above reasoning, what Harper says is all of a piece – it matches his actions perfectly.

  11. Yeah, we oughta lower them federal taxes again, and let the provinces work it out. Of course, the provinces in the have not situations won’t be able to afford to increase their taxes without further hurting their economies, so we’ll have to increase federal equalization payments with.. uh.. wait.. didn’t we just reduce the money the feds were taking in?

    Ah well, I guess we’ll have to go to more directed equalization, pull more out of the haves and distribute it directly to the have-nots, yeah, that’ll keep tensions low.

    Good grief people, try thinking for a moment.

  12. Harper Government’s Five point national unity plan to date:

    1. A big buyout for Quebec that even Quebecers regarded with cynicism
    2. About face on equalization payment promises to Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan including open war of words with current Newfoundland premier and former Sakatchewan premier
    3. Refusal to join in/support provincial cap and trade initiatives (B.C. Manitoba and others)
    4. Fighting with the province of Manitoba and Manitoba farmers over the deliberately flawed referendum on single desk selling of barley by the Wheat Board
    5. Public undermining of investor confidence in Ontario by the Finance Minister

    Unless the national unity plan is to unite us in dismay for Stephen Harper the cause of Canadian unity is taking a big step backwards every day this divide and conquer crap continues.

  13. That’s whiat I like to hear! A PM whose stated purpose is to keep the Federal Government as weak as possible. If the PM has as inated distrust of Federal power how can we expect him to work effectively in the national interest? If he really believes that the Feds need to stay out of provincial business he ought to stop sending out transfers to federally fund health care. Lord knows Stevie would never do that! We can trust him right? Either he has a contradictory position (stay out of provinces, except for in some situations where that would be unpopular) or he has a consistant vision with consequences (the end of universal healthcare) that he is trying to obscure.

  14. Dije, I agree. I think the Millennium Scholarship program was very effective, and also quite popular. It seems a rather odd choice to highlight the evils of the federal government.

  15. The Millennium Scholarship program reference is almost incomprehensible here. The program negotiated separate agreements with every province on how the scholarships would be awarded in their province, so the rules vary from place to place. The CMSF headquarters are in Montreal. The Conservatives commissioned several flawed reports to justify not continuing the program, none of which suggest its implementation threatened provincial rights.

  16. Some form of equalization payments to to provinces are preferred by those who like having hospitals east of Quebec.

  17. So if me and my wife argue over whether we need a new lawnmower, or a new kitchen floor, divorce is inevitable?

  18. From the Globe;

    “The Liberal Green Shift plan would levy taxes on fossil fuels and return the revenue collected to Canadians in the form of income-tax cuts.

    It turns out, however, that the Conservative research underpinning Mr. Harper’s forecast of a carbon tax-induced recession isn’t all that recent.

    And while the Liberals’ proposed income tax cuts might spur economic growth, the Conservative leader said he is not taking these into account because he doesn’t believe Mr. Dion will enact them.

    The Tory leader wasn’t able to cite a study that specifically modelled the impact of the Liberal Green Shift plan, which Mr. Dion only unveiled this summer.

    Instead, he said, the Conservatives are taking their cue from a April 2007 study prepared for their government – and released by Environment Minister John Baird at the time – that calculated the impact of cutting greenhouse gases under Bill C-288. This legislation was a private member’s bill the Liberals had championed as a way to meet the country’s commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto accord.”

    So Harper is saying, if enacted, it will cause a recession, with no research, and without considering increases in consumer spending.

    Smoke, mirror. Mirror, smoke.

  19. TobyornotToby – My dad actually has to live under the Canadian Wheat Board. It is the single most important reason why we vote Tory.

    When a farmer takes 100% of the risk, and makes 100% of the investment, he should have the right to sell what he to whomever he sees fit.

    The simple fact of the matter is that farmers produce crops other than wheat or malt barley, and a couple of crops have exceeded the acreage of wheat in the past. So we already know what it would be like to market grain without the bureacracy of the wheat board taking a cut that they don’t truly earn.

    What is more, we have the truly bizarre situation that the CWB is not answerable to government, yet is able to use the force of the state to fine or even imprison those who don’t want to fall under their authority. Can someone explain to me how that is legal? Are there other Canadian non-governmental organizations that have the coercive power of the state without requiring Canadian citizens to sign a contract or lose a civil suit?

  20. The whate board can’t imprison anyone.

  21. Terry. Let me introduce you to Mr. Cargill. Oh,and Mr. ADM. Have they got a deal for you!

  22. MikeT.> Not if you pay the fines, no. The question is, why do they have the right to fine us in the first place when we never agreed to put ourselves under their authority, and appearantly they aren’t controlled by the government.

    Sisyphus> How in the heck does the Wheat Board protect us from Cargill? My dad sells it to Cargill (or some other company) and the Wheat Board takes a cut. They do not buy the grain from us, nor do they act as a proper broker who markets grain.

    You do realize that there are several types of crops, and some of those crops in past years exceeded the acreage for wheat right? You do realize that the CWB doesn’t have the market share to influence world grain prices? You do realize that the wheat board stunts domestic competition and business for both conventional and organic wheat and barley right?

    We already know what a post-wheat board commodity market would look like, because there are 6 or 7 major crops that do not fall under the wheat board’s purview that make up just as large a part of my father’s business as wheat and barley do.

    What this is really about is the contention that people from rural areas are stupid and need government intervention to run their businesses. Then with attitude, you all wonder why rural Alberta and Saskatchewan are a sea of blue.

    But really, if someone could answer the legal questions that would be great. I already know about the culture wars.

  23. Terry – it’s pointless to argue with Marxists, they can ignore 100 years of failure in every aspect of life without pause, and without irony.

  24. Actually Terry, what it’s about is the contention that people from rural areas, especially small farmers, can find themselves at the mercy of big producers without solid organization.

    And while the CWB may not be able to affect world grain prices, they can certainly affect local grain prices.

    The thing that comes to my mind is, if you’re having such a bad time seling wheat under the wheat board, why do it? Why not stick to those other major crops you mention? If they bring in so much more than wheat and barley, it seems rather silly to keep producing in that manner.

    The fact is that farmers don’t take 100% of the risk. There are a lot of plans out there from the feds and the provinces, that give money to farmers in bad years. I’m not sure most farmers are really willing to take 100% of the risk on themselves. If they were, I’d say good luck to them, but don’t come back to me during a bad year. I know I certainly take 100% of the risk in my business, but when I fail, I can’t go to the government asking for interest free bail-out loans or the like to keep my mortgage afloat.

  25. National unity problems? Yes.

    With Quebec? Probably not. At least not primarily.

    The obvious implications for Alberta and Saskatchewan alone make the Green Shift a non-starter, even if the Green Shift works just as Dion intends.

    If it works like *I* think it will the whole country would be screaming bloody murder anyhow. Not that I think the Green Shift has a snowballs-chance of being enacted…

  26. There are several organizations which are government created but not (directly) controlled, exercise control over some aspect our lives, and can impose fines. Securities commissions, employment safety boards, human rights commissions, medical boards and law societies, to name just a few. Farmers are hardly alone in being subject to some sort of regulation.

  27. Classic history lesson: Who said “Universal health care will tear up this country!”
    A paraphrase for sure, but words to the effect were tossed around pretty freely, well, even provincially at first. From what i see, Saskatchewan is still a province and Canada is still a great country, even with a partisan zealot for a leader.

  28. T.Thwin> The prices of wheat are determined by global prices. There is very little domestic market for wheat because there is very little domestic processing. This is in contrast to other crops which do, because they don’t have to sell to a wheat board middleman and buy your own grain back.

    As for not growing wheat, wheat is simply part of the crop rotation. We are certainly growing more of it this year since King Corn, biodeisel, American subsidies to ensure support for funding the Iraq War, and other factors are pushing cereal prices up. Of course, it isn’t all good news given that input costs are rising almost as fast as the cereal prices are.

    Despite the fact that sometimes it is worth it economically to grow wheat and barley despite the their existence does not take away the essential unfairness of it.

    As for subsidies, the wheat board is not a vehicle for subsidies because the Federal Government no longer underwrites any shortfalls of the organization. That means that they set the initial payment are so low that the market price cannot possibly fall below them. Essentially all they do is withhold money.

    Now if you are talking about subsidies in general, yeah they exist, though more for Quebec dairy farmers than for grain farmers. We are almost among the least subsidized farmer in the developed world. Are you arguing that we should be beholden to the wheat board in exchange for those subsidies? Very well then, I might be able to buy that if you can tell me what service the Wheat Board provides for the consumer public. I’m sure the Wheat Board could transformed into any number of useful things, but right now it is pretty much a useless remnant that exists to pay the mortgage payments of its employees.

    You’ve pretty much outed yourself as not knowing what you are talking about, and have no experience in agricultural policy or business. Of course, the fact that you think you no better than the farmers who have marketed their own grain for decades and have stayed in business during some very tough times has nothing to do with how you view the intelligence of rural people right?

    Mike T> Yeah, but all those groups exist to protect the public, not to protect people from themselves right?

    I just don’t understand why people on the outside of the industry are so passionate about defending these policies. They wouldn’t consent to it if it was their businesses and professions were regulated in the way the Wheat Board works. Even if the CWB does provide a benefit to farmers, who despite being experienced marketers cannot see, wouldn’t it be best to make it work by voluntary contracts so that no one is coerced? If the CWB isn’t as useless as we all think it is, wouldn’t we realize that very quickly?

    The place I grew up in was once called “Red Square” because it was thoroughly NDP both provincially and federally. It elected the youngest NDP MP in Canadian history, Lorne Nystrom and kept him there for 25 years. Does anyone want to take a gander at the margin in which the Tory candidate won the Yorkton-Melville riding since 1993? Maybe you should drop the support for the Wheat Board if you want to see anything but a Tory candidate there for the forseeable future.

  29. My point about the Wheat Board, Terry and others, wasn’t to argue about single desk selling. The argument with the province of Manitoba, and many farm organizations, was about how the Conservatives manipulated the referendum (with three questions instead of yes or no) to undermine farmer control of the issue. Chuck Strahl generally engaged in wedge politics to advance a right wing agenda regardless of what farmers had to say. My point is that the Conservatives are actively seeking to polarize Canada and have no credibility with regard to national unity.

Sign in to comment.