The grand design unfurls itself
Stephen Harper gazes into his crystal ball, sees Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest talking partnership, and cackles maniacally…
The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe contrasts Jean Charest’s new partnership with Dalton McGuinty to the BC-Alberta “TILMA” agreement (they’re not all that much alike at all), and suggests that the other six provinces are unlikely to join forces due to “disparate economic interests and identities.” While TILMA “was created principally as a tool to grease the wheels of [the provincial] economies rather than influence the feds,” she notes that “the Ontario-Quebec bloc … appears poised to use its partnership as a big stick with which to whack the Harper crowd.”
Charest and McGuinty may think they’re tweaking Stephen Harper’s nose by pledging to get on with fighting climate change while the feds dither, says the Toronto Star‘s James Travers. But really they’re just playing into his scope-limiting, institution-dismantling, firewall-building hands. “Where his predecessors were desperate to be seen making a difference, Harper is content letting the provinces and cities sort out their own problems,” he argues, admitting there’s something “refreshing” about a government refocusing on its core priorities. But “it’s hard to imagine [Canada] maintaining its standard of living … without overarching national strategies,” and Harper is not to be encouraged on that front. Tsk, tsk!
Jim Prentice “has a tendency to wave his arms all over the place, even while making routine observations,” Lawrence Martin writes in The Globe and Mail. But other than that, he says the “popular,” “conciliatory” and accomplished Calgary MP is just what this government needs at finance—and at foreign affairs, for that matter. Heck, do you think they might be looking for a new leader? But in fact, Martin concludes, that’s what makes Prentice so attractive. He’s to “tough-guy Stephen Harper” as Paul Martin once was to “tough-guy Jean Chrétien,” but without “the vaulting ambition.”
“Every operational deadline has lapsed” for Canada’s second-hand Victoria class submarines, Don Martin notes in the Calgary Herald, “usually by years, and every declaration that major repairs are finished [has been] proven foolishly optimistic.” Only one of them, HMCS Cornerbrook, is currently seaworthy; late 2009 looks optimistic for HMCSs Victoria and Windsor; and HMCS Chicoutimi, scene of the fire that killed Lieutenant Chris Saunders, may never dive again. Add to the mix the threat of legal action by Irving Shipbuilding and what appear to be significant tendering issues related the final slate of upgrades, and the Tories’ now-abandoned notion to just walk away looks more and more, Martin suggests, like a “moment of lucidity.”
Support is indeed building in the Conservative caucus for examining how the Canadian Human Rights Commission interprets Section 13(1) of the Human Rights Act, the National Post‘s John Ivison reports, but “sources within the government suggest [justice minister Rob] Nicholson may not have undergone quite the Damascene conversion on the issue that [Liberal MP Keith] Martin supposes.” It’s all very well to refer the issue to the Justice Committee, after all, but since its chair, Art Hanger, “march[es] out of the room whenever the Liberals and Bloc push for a vote,” the move is effectively a stalling tactic.
Your planet or your life
The market put a price on carbon, says the Globe‘s Margaret Wente—i.e., it drove the price of gasoline to $1.30 a litre—and it’s sending the Ontario economy into the crapper. But at least it means fewer Silverados on the road belching carbon into the atmosphere, right? And yet from enviro-conscious Canadians like Jack Layton and McGuinty, she notes, there’s nothing but kvetching. The fact is, she concludes, “people are all for carbon taxes, until they have to pay them,” and politicians know it. Hence Stéphane Dion’s carbon tax that won’t apply to gasoline (to keep it less visible); hence Layton’s opposition to it (because it will cost votes in Oshawa and Oakville); and hence McGuinty’s cap-and-trade proposal (looks good, but nobody knows what it is).
Not only that, says Sun Media’s Greg Weston, the European cap-and-trade system has thus far resulted in more profits for energy companies, higher prices for consumers, and increased carbon emissions. Why? Long answer: absurdly high emission limits, too many “freebie” credits, and a total number of credits exceeding total emissions. Short answer: because politicians forced to choose between “saving votes or the planet” will always choose the former—yes, Virginia, even in Europe.
Lorne Gunter, writing in the Post, notes the speed with which European politicians are now backing away from big emissions-reduction talk, and the huge price some of them—notably British Prime Minister Gordon Brown—have paid for hitching their wagon to the issue. Some Canadians, he concedes, aren’t “worried about losing their jobs in an environmentalist-driven recession. They know that if they get laid off from the alternative music store, they can always go clerk at the Gaia Vegan Market or Wiccans ‘R’ Us.” (Oh, chortle chortle! Take that, hippies!) But the rest of us apparently consider the environment “a luxury good … when [our] livelihoods and homes are threatened.”
To Hillary, or not to Hillary?
The Post‘s Terence Corcoran confuses us. In one breath, he argues that Barack Obama’s soaring, quasi-religious rhetoric—which he calls “salvation liberalism”—foolishly promises “deliverance from standard politics in Washington through the adoption of some of the most standard liberal policies.” Fair criticism. But in another breath, he suggests the Obama campaign will be hampered by its “radicalism” and “extreme liberalism.” Can it really be both?
Hillary Clinton can make a fairly persuasive case to be Barack Obama’s running-mate, the Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington admits. However many of her supporters “don’t like Obama and have always felt kindly towards [John] McCain” represent the Republicans’ “secret weapon” at this point, though it’s unclear how many of them would be willing to defect. But Worthington suspects Obama is “too shrewd to want four years of the Clintons helping his presidency, especially an unemployed Bill lurking in the background, ever prone to make mischief.”
The Star‘s Rosie DiManno reports from the ramp ceremony that sent Capt. Richard Leary home to Canada from Kandahar Airfield.
The Montreal Gazette‘s Don MacPherson lauds the provincial government for its peaceful arrangement with the Kahnawake band council that will allow construction on a “long-delayed” stretch of highway on Montreal’s South Shore. And he accuses the Action démocratique of “spoiling for a 21st-century Indian war” by insinuating that all manner of shady concessions and side deals were behind the arrangement.
The Globe‘s Christie Blatchford reports from the perjury trial of Valarie Steele, mother of Richard Steele—witness to and one-time suspect in the Boxing Day 2005 shooting of 15-year-old Torontonian Jane Creba—who’s accused of lying in court about her son’s adherence to bail conditions. “Wiretap transcripts released … yesterday … paint a poignant picture of a mother on the horns of an agonizing dilemma,” she writes, and touch on everything from Richard’s curfew violations to the troubles some black youth have in Toronto schools to allegations of excessive force used by police.