With Trans Mountain, Trudeau 'has made self-righteous liars out of all of us'

Letters to the editor, June 8, 2018: Maclean's readers weigh in on Trans Mountain, Conservative feminists, Donald Trump and Roseanne

Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (centre) and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart (centre, left) stand with protesters before they were arrested outside Kinder Morgan’s facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday March 23, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Can protesters still stop the Trans Mountain pipeline?

In May, Meagan Campbell reported on how Ottawa’s takeover of Trans Mountain has ‘lit a fire’ under protesters.

To all of you who feel that Elizabeth May should not have broken the law by picketing the Kinder Morgan construction site in Burnaby, let me ask you to imagine that you are 50 years back in time. It is 1968, and an Indian residential school has been picketed by people who say the school mistreats its residents, and the school has obtained a court injunction prohibiting picketing. A local MP joins the pickets and is arrested and charged. Which of you, knowing what you now know, would say that he or she did the wrong thing? Not one, including our prime minister, who has apologized for the actions of the employees of those schools and  backed it up with hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims. Times change, customs change, people change and laws change. Elizabeth May is simply ahead of the curve. — Dr. Ian Cameron, Brentwood Bay, B.C.

Read more letters to the editor here >>

After the crippling rage and ensuing cynicism I’ve now harboured since Justin Trudeau’s callous electoral reform betrayal last year, I didn’t feel anything at all when I found out that he was buying a $4.5-billion pipeline. How silly of me to think that in 2019, I would finally be able to vote for someone who would take our carbon budget seriously, and have it actually count toward something other than a tally of the other conscious voters who also wasted their ballot. When the PM went to Paris, he made a major commitment to the rest of the world on our behalf. It was a  commitment his Liberals evidently had no intention of keeping (much like electoral reform) as he preached sanctimoniously to other countries of its critical imperative. Justin Trudeau has made self-righteous liars out of all of us, and many don’t seem to care. How silly of me to think that Canadians would eventually be embarrassed by the global community’s disapproval of our myopic selfishness, as we refuse to even stop growing our oil industry, let alone phase it out. I am 34 and live in Toronto.  A large portion of my meagre paycheque is depleted by riding expensive public transit, buying expensive vegan groceries and renting a tiny yet overpriced apartment.  But I don’t mind forking over the money because I feel like I am doing my part to help tackle climate change. After all, our governments are busy subsidizing more important things with their share of my cheque, I’m told. How silly of me. Once a year I try to take a camping trip to get away from the grind and pretend that I am living in harmony with nature for a few days. This June I’ll bring my tent to Burnaby Mountain, along with some hard-earned cash that I have set aside to help pay the salaries of those who will arrest and fine me when I get there. At least I can say that I created jobs, right? — Alykhan Pabani, Toronto

Follow Maclean’s on Facebook >>

A reminder to Trudeau: Canada barely survived Brian Mulroney’s constitutional blunders

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier John Horgan, left, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, sit in Trudeau’s office on Parliament Hill for a meeting on the deadlock over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in Ottawa on Sunday, April 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In May, Paul Wells warned that Canada could end up an environmental basket case and a lousy oil merchant, with both sides in the pipeline wars getting angrier yet.

Where national interest is concerned, there is no important symmetry in the duelling forces.  Each of the six pipelines proposed recently by private industry involved $7 to 16 billion in construction, mostly spent on jobs, and a similar yearly export income to Canada. No matter how many of these were built, we would all feel some positive difference in our lives. On the other side, as Canada is a really small emitter of greenhouse gases. Even reducing the emissions by a half will not make us, nor the polar bears, feel any different. Canada is required to do its symbolic duty, having signed the Paris accord, without any effect on the global problem nor our welfare. So, the national interest deriving from actual economic benefit far outweighs that of a signature on an accord. Really asymmetrical. There are many other ways to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, without shooting ourselves in the economic foot. This just in: Canada’s taxpayers have just purchased Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion. So, of the six proposed pipelines, all of which we assume had a market and no need for taxpayer funding, our government has managed to spend money on a line we did not need. And now we have to see if we can actually succeed in putting our money where Justin’s mouth is, given that the impediments are still there. — Henno Lattik, Montreal

Get the best political analysis daily from Maclean’s >>

Does Justin Trudeau’s feminism shut conservative women out of the conversation?

In June, Sarah Boesveld wrote in Chatelaine that while  Trudeau is praised around the world for being a champion for women’s empowerment, Conservative women are asking: Who made Trudeau an expert?

So the Conservatives finally care about feminists—because they vote for the Liberals. I have some questions for these women who were elected as Conservative MPs and consider themselves feminist lights overwhelmed by Trudeau’s sun. Where were they when the Harper government’s austerity agenda left women facing not only declines in their labour force participation but a persistent pay gap twice the global average and the neglect of the public services on which they typically rely? Where were they when, despite all that has been done to promote the participation of women in non-traditional occupations, Canada’s workforce became even more divided by gender? Where were they when the National Child Care Program was eliminated and UNICEF ranked Canada last among 25 developed nations on early childhood education and child care? Where were they when their government cut the Status of Women Canada budget resulting in the closure of most of their offices while advocacy groups and women’s service providers became ineligible for funding? Where were they when Harper ignored the many Indigenous women and girls who had disappeared off the face of the Earth? Now that these feminist MPs are finally being heard by their own party, they’re faced with how to deflect its indifference to women’s issues. It’s so much easier to accuse Trudeau of monopolizing the issue than it is to recognize that the Conservative Party routinely ignores and sidelines women and the issues that concern them. — Sherry Walsh, Pembroke, N.B.

Aluminum and steel tariffs: How Canada should react to Donald Trump

REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

In May, Paul Wells argued that it’s time Ottaw stop wasting so much time on Trump, an incorrigible loose cannon.  Meanwhile, in June, Susan Ariel Aaronson contended that Trump’s decision to launch a trade war with Canada and other countries ignores the underlying problems with America’s economy, and Scott Gilmore suggested that instead of taxing American goods, Canada and the Western allies should pressure the only pain point that matters to this president: his family and their assets.

I agree with everything Paul Wells writes about the egomaniac Donald Trump. Christia Freeland has put her heart and soul into negotiations with the U.S. to resolve the NAFTA issues, and now we have a tariff trade war instigated by Trump. He has caused us no end of time and money with our travelling expenses and unnecessary meetings while he relishes playing games with us proud Canadians. He tries to make us look like imbeciles and has almost succeeded by having us continually kowtow to each of his ridicules charades. I think it’s time to punch his lights out by shutting down the James Bay overflow electricity to the U.S. Why are we subsidizing their hydro while having to pay such a high premium for ours.  Time to stop the U.S. taking the cream of the crop and kicking us in the butt. Friends no more. We can play dirty pool too. — Joan Stork, Brampton, Ont.

It is very disappointing that Mr. Trump believes that we Canadians are somehow “security risks” and has decided to impose unfair tariffs on various Canadian products. Perhaps we should consider “security risks” during the upcoming renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty,  or even tweaking the course of the Canadian portion of the river, actions which would likely guarantee an immediate irate response. Since of course the Columbia River originates in Canada and its waters are a Canadian product, should those waters not also be subject to the same kinds of export restrictions, tariffs and fees as we deem necessary for “security” reasons? Trade negotiations are complex and reciprocal—there is no easy win. — Eric Bryer, Red Deer, Alta.

Your article on sanctioning Trump himself was brilliant. There is a simple way to start the process from a grassroots level: publish a list of Trump family businesses that Canadian citizens could boycott. Many black people already refuse to buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing brands. Let’s all vote with our wallets. — Andrew Knight, Toronto

I read Gilmore’s article this afternoon and, for the most part, I think its very good.  I believe his proposition to tax Trump’s and his family members’ (Ivanka, Jared, etc.) operations and properties and possibly freeze their assets, as well as place sanctions on senior staff, etc., may just prove to be much more effective than bringing forth retaliatory tariffs on American goods in response to his poorly thought out proposed tariffs on our (and other countries’) steel and aluminum.  After all, it does seem his presidency has centred much more on promoting the Trump brand and enriching his own family than working for the betterment of, and defending, his own country.  As promoting the Trump brand and enriching himself and his family are the most important things in the world to Donald Trump, Canada, countries in the EU, etc., should focus on hurting him where we can inflict the most pain. — Laureen Narfason, Winnipeg

Are ‘man camps’ that house pipeline construction workers a menace to Indigenous women?

The Eveready Worker Camp is one of the many worker camps that dot the landscape around the Oil Sands Developments. (Jon Lowenstein/NOOR/REDUX)

In May, Jason Markusof  reported that while activists say a ‘hyper-masculine’ culture in remote work camps poses a threat to women in surrounding areas, others say the inflammatory ‘man camp’ accusation doesn’t reflect reality.

Are women who work in the oil field in danger? Absolutely not. I am a woman who has worked for many years in the oil and gas sector and have stayed in my fair share of “man camps” housing anywhere from 200 people to 3,000 people. To start off, they are not “man” camps, they are just camps, and this is a sexist term that is setting women back 50 years. I can see how people who have never worked in the oil field would be confused by this. Oil, gas and electric are and always will be a growing sector in Canada ,which means hundreds of jobs come and go every day, and there are thousands of female workers as well as men, as these are no longer jobs catered to men. I have never felt safer than in the camps. In a 3,000-“man” camp with maybe five to 10 women, we feel superior. Everyone has a sign a contract saying they’ll abide by the camp rules, and there are strict rules prohibiting sexual harassment. If you get kicked out of camp, you don’t get paid, and so men do not bother and sometimes don’t even talk to the women. Most of these men and women are there to support their loving families; they just want to do their work and then go home. — Danya Chrisiansen, Medicine Hat, Alta.

Social media outrage got Roseanne fired. That’s a good thing.

(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

In May, Jeremiah Rodriguez wrote about wrote about the swift consequences for Roseanne Barr after she made a racist comment.

Truth in advertising has always seemed an amusing concept to most, although today we see one of the most puzzling but true cases—sleeping tablets do not cause racism! This and the statement ‘Tic Tac respects all women” seem like surreal statements,  both obviously correct but why do they need to be made. The new world of fake news, misspoken news and covfefe is not one that most of us want to see. A simpler, honest world would be better for one and all. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. — Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia

The rules of B.C.’s electoral-reform vote show just how healthy our democracy is

Attorney General David Eby answers questions from media about the changes coming to ICBC during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

In June, David Moscrop wrote that the questions and rules governing British Columbia’s referendum on its voting system don’t represent the democratic doomsday that some claim.

Moscrop is right! What we need is an honest electoral system, that’s a PR system that gives all voters a say in their government’s process, one that can’t exclude anyone. For those who are aggressively forcing a system on constituents that deliberately excludes thousands of provincial and millions of federal ballots, they are in the wrong country. And for those highly suspect politicians who are forcibly maintaining such a system ,they need to butt out as the voting system is not in their purview but belongs entirely to voters. — Janet Hudgins, Vancouver

Canada is not a country.

Protestors demonstrate against the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project in Burnaby, B.C. on March 10, 2018. (JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

In April, Scott Gilmore argued that if our ragtag federation can’t build pipelines, move beer or find some common bonds, we may have a fatal problem.

I totally disagree with Mr Gilmore and wonder why he found it necessary to pen such a negative, biased and incomplete article. During my working life, I have lived in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. I have also visited the Yukon. Yes, there was some friendly east/west rivalry and tongue-in-cheek reference to Toronto as the centre of the universe, but I always felt we all shared a strong Canadian connection. We are not perfect, as Mr Gilmore was quick to point out, but the positives of Canada far outweigh the negatives. I consider myself most fortunate to live in such a wonderful country and hope no one will take Mr Gilmore too seriously. — Edgar White, Cobble Hill, B.C.

While I took no issue with Mr. Gilmore’s editorial on Canada’s interprovincial relations, I took exception to the following: “Some definitions of statehood refer to having a monopoly on violence. We meet that criteria: there is only one Canadian military.” The Canadian Forces are here to stop violence, not encourage it. — Richard Jones