Stuck in the past
Some of us, apparently, haven’t quite gotten past David Emerson’s floor-crossing and the fact that Michael Fortier isn’t an MP.
If Fortier and Emerson awoke today with a burning sensation all over their bodies—less painful than white phosphorous, say, but not by much—it may have something to do with Susan Riley‘s piece in the Ottawa Citizen. She portrays Fortier as an idly rich, over-entitled, unelectable layabout who exacerbates Stephen Harper’s contempt for the democratic process in appointing him with his unconvincing promises to run in an election if and when a riding with a “winning profile” is located. Emerson’s personality fares slightly better, but his CV doesn’t: he stands accused of “negotiat[ing] a flimsy truce on softwood lumber” and, in his previous Liberal life, “putting the brakes on Stéphane Dion’s environmental ambitions” (Aha! So he’s why it’s so difficult to make priorities!) This is all several feet over the top, particularly Riley’s bizarre talk of “class loyalty” affecting the appointments, but we sure loved reading it!
The factors forcing Harper to stock his cabinet with unelected, unelectable and just plain untalented individuals are unlikely to improve in time for the next election, Chantal Hébert warns in the Toronto Star. If Emerson decided to stay on, and to run in Vancouver, he’d have his hands full even in Quadra—which is the only riding he’d have a chance at taking. Meanwhile, Fortier’s odds in Vaudreuil-Soulanges (his stated preference at the moment) are “as long today as in 2006.” And for a party desperate (our word, not Hébert’s) for talented candidates, the Tories’ weakness in urban Canada continues to be an anchor on their ambitions.
Fortier’s installation at international trade is “particularly adroit” of Harper, says L. Ian MacDonald in the National Post. His excellent relationship with Jean Charest will be useful in negotiations over a possible Canada-EU free trade agreement, he suggests, his promotion to a “powerhouse” ministry may boost the party’s fortunes in Montreal. And hanging around at public works, a widowmaker of a portfolio, wasn’t boosting his chances of getting elected. Elsewhere, MacDonald describes James Moore, a fluently bilingual British Columbian, as “one of Trudeau’s children.” We’re sure he’d love that.
The last great megaproject
“In many respects Canada is no longer a nation-state in the common meaning of the term but is instead an ever more decentralized alliance of 10 provincial states,” Richard Gwyn writes in the Star, with the federal government serving only the roles of “note-taking secretariat and automatic teller machine.” As such, he suggests part of the Green Shift’s appeal is that it’s a rare example of a “pan-Canadian program” in an era almost completely devoid of them. Interesting theory, but we suspect Albertans and Saskatchewanians might have a slightly less pan-Canadian take on it.
And here’s the voice of Central Canada himself, The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson, suggesting that while no one wants a repeat of the National Energy Program, something needs to be done about Canada’s growing oil-based “horizontal imbalance.” There’s no political will at the federal level to address the problem, he laments, but sooner or later—as the equalization formula becomes hopelessly “out of whack” and “the gap in the ability of citizens to receive public services among provinces widens”—something is going to have to give.
The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe looks at a study of urban carbon emissions that suggests many city-dwellers, including Vancouverites, have already changed their habits in the face of skyrocketing oil prices, and that a 40 per cent emissions reduction is possible just using existing technology.
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson says Barack Obama’s reaction to yesterday’s US Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment—he supports it, but with an accompanying “dance” about keeping guns out of “the hands of terrorists and criminals”—shows that “one of the greatest powers wielded by a president is the right to nominate judges.” Some Obama supporters may well be “disquieted by his relatively conservative position on gun control,” in other words, but with two “more liberal judges” up for replacement soon, yesterday’s 5-4 ruling reminds them “what the alternative is.”
The Montreal Gazette‘s Janet Bagnall thinks it’s a great idea for the government to force companies to increase female representation on their boards of directors or be shut down, as Norway did. Feh. Typical Scandinavian mushiness, we say. The chairmen of non-compliant boards should be castrated!
Only because we were stuck on the subway with a copy of the Globe, we call readers’ attention to an unusually sane and lucid column from Rick Salutin, who argues we’d all be better off if terrorism investigations were conducted by regular police under regular laws, and prosecuted in regular courtrooms under regular rules of evidence. We agree. The rather crucial question of how we would have “charged, hunted, arrested and tried” the 9/11 masterminds without invading Afghanistan, as he suggests would have been preferable, goes unanswered. But if that’s the most serious flaw in a Salutin argument, you know he’s having a pretty good day.
Justice John Gomery’s behaviour during his celebrated inquiry was certainly odd, the Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin argues—calling Chuck Guité a “charming scamp,” publicly criticizing the sponsorship program early on in the inquiry and generally “unleash[ing] quips and quotes” unbecoming of a man in his position. But at the end of the day, he says yesterday’s court ruling is only a “technical legal victory” for the Jean Chrétien camp. The fact is, “the buck stopped with the prime minister who approved the expenditure, as Gomery declared, even though the rule bending and breaking were arguably freelanced further down the chain of command.”
Near as we can tell, the Citizen‘s John Robson thinks the reason automotive and computer technologies get better but stay the same price, while health care technologies get better and cost exponentially more, is because Canadian health care is run by a bunch of communists.