Hold public inquiry but no Public Inquiry into China interference

Note: I use lower and upper case to distinguish between an informal inquiry conducted by David Johnston and a formal, judicial one.

Like a referee in a hockey game, David Johnston’s call was either booed or cheered depending which side you’re on.

image: Wikipedia

Federal opposition parties wanted a Public Inquiry but that’s not what they got. As a result, the former governor general is being vilified and labeled as “a bad choice for the job.”

I’m cheering Johnston’s decision because a Public Inquiry into China’s election interference would be lengthy, expensive, and not reveal much since many reference documents are classified.

Also, a Public Inquiry would inflame tensions between Canada and China, something that neither Canadians nor the Chinese people want.

A public inquiry will be streamlined because there will be no subpoenaing of witnesses, no battles over release of classified records.

And in end, neither a Public Inquiry nor a public inquiry would result in criminal or civil liability.

Johnston is proceeding with a public inquiry regardless. In his second report, due in October, he will reveal the results of his less formal inquiry.

A Public Inquiry is unnecessary says Wesley Wark, Senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation:

“Mr. Johnston’s reasoning for not holding a Public Inquiry (essentially a judicial inquiry) is sound. There are secrets to protect. There is no smoking gun around claims of ministerial negligence or malfeasance in turning a blind eye to intelligence warnings for partisan political reasons. Finally, in his view, there is a better way (Globe and Mail, May 26, 203).”

In his first report, Johnson says there are problems with a Public Inquiry:

“A Public Inquiry examining the leaked materials could not be undertaken in public given the sensitivity of the intelligence. The sensitivity of the intelligence and the damage that would be done by revealing it means that the ‘Public Inquiry’ would necessarily be held in camera.”

Much of that interference is being revealed daily as the targets of interference speak out daily. Johnston says that there is much already in the public domain but media didn’t pay much attention to it at the time. It simply wasn’t deemed newsworthy back then.

Despite the differences between the Canadian and Chinese governments over the fallout involving Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the two Michaels held captive in China, relations between the Chinese and Canadian people remain cordial.

Chinese visitors and immigrants remain welcome in Canada. Historically, Chinese workers helped build Canada.

Even with the expulsion of Chinese diplomats from Canada and Canadian diplomats from China, there has been no escalation of since. That’s a relief to Canadian grain and pork farmers who export to China.

And the Canadian brand has been unaffected in China.

Jacob Cooke, Beijing-based of a marketing firm, says that despite the diplomatic dispute: “. . . what we’re seeing on the ground in China is that demand for Canadian products is soaring.

The Chinese people hold a warm regard for Canada and Canadians, something that hasn’t changed since I visited there.

A public inquiry will reveal much about the Chinese interference without escalating tensions between our two countries.


Forget hydromorphone, give them fentanyl

Canada’s safer supply program is a good idea but the drug they hand out isn’t what users want. On the positive side, it does provide users with a safer alternative to the toxic, illegal drugs that they buy on the street.

image; Canadian Association for Safe Aupply

“Safer supply services can help prevent overdoses, save lives, and connect people who use drugs to other health and social services,” says the Government of Canada website.

There are nine safer supply sites in B.C., all of them on the lower mainland and Vancouver Island.

Safer supply is controversial because drugs are given to addicts who are not in a recovery program. Why feed addiction?

Well, the option to giving addicts safe drugs is often death. Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis that has killed over 35,000 people since 2016. So why not give them safer drugs?

Despite being a good idea, the safer supply problem has created unintended consequences: the drug that’s given out, hydromorphone, doesn’t satisfy the users need to get high the way fentanyl does.

“Fentanyl is a stupendously powerful synthetic opioid that leaves users with a formidable drug tolerance,” says reporter Adam Zivo. “Those who use fentanyl generally don’t find that other, comparatively weaker, opioids give them a satisfying high (National Post, May 9, 1023).”

In Zivo’s investigative report, he found that a significant portion of the safer supply drugs end up being sold on the street.

Hydromorphone is being sold at rock-bottom prices. Proceeds of the sale are going to purchase often-deadly fentanyl.

The flood of hydromorphone on the street has reduced the price of a tablet to a fraction of what it once was.

According to a doctor in Vancouver, an 8-mg tablet of hydromorphone was $8 before safer supply. Then it dropped to $4 after Vancouver launched hydromorphone vending machines in 2020. The price dropped to between 25 and 33 cents per tablet after the safer supply program was expanded.

But why would drug users sell their hydromorphone to buy riskier street fentanyl?

“According to the addiction physicians I interviewed, although the typical 8-milligram tablet of hydromorphone given to addicts is four times the dose generally used in hospital settings, its effect relative to fentanyl is like holding a candle to the sun,” says Zivo.

The abundance of cheap hydromorphone has seen a rise of young people requesting help with dependence on hydromorphone. Because the tablets  are so cheap, users often pop a handful which can be deadly.

Youth generally understand the risks of using fentanyl and are therefore stay away from it. However, because hydromorphone is prescribed by a doctor and marketed as “safe,” young people underestimate its dangers and are more likely to try it.

Then, in an attempt to get a more intense high, some users are crushing hydromorphone tablets for intravenous injection, potentially leading to excruciating and disfiguring infections that have paralyzed some patients.

Dr. Sharon Koivu, an addiction physician with the London Health Sciences Centre, has noticed an increase in serious infections relating to intravenous drug use. Speaking with her patients, she learned that many of them were buying cheap hydromorphone, then crushing and injecting it.

The solution to the safer supply problem of hydromorphone is obvious: give addicts safe doses of fentanyl so they don’t die from the toxic stuff sold on the street.

Provinces don’t want/want to meet with feds over health care

Provinces are sending mixed messages. First they meet but reject previously negotiated terms. A month later, they want to meet but are unwilling to negotiate.

Make up your mind. Meetings require negotiations, not a hand-out.

It seemed like a done deal when provincial and federal health ministers met in Vancouver in November.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos had negotiated in advance of the meeting with his provincial counterparts and all seemed to be going well. In a proposed deal, the feds would give the provinces more money in exchange for two things: a human-resources action plan which would see the credentials of health care workers recognized from province to province; and the sharing of health care statistics across Canada.

Provincial health ministers had voiced no objections just days before the meeting.

Image: CTV Montreal

Then the premiers got involved.

It’s hard to know just which premiers pulled the rug from under the proposed agreement.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix, co-chair of the get-together, seemed disappointed. He told a news conference that the federal offer had moved the parties “a sound bite further ahead.”

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was ready to deal. He said there should be talks and “let’s see where the discussion goes.”

Other premiers categorically dismissed the federal plan. Quebec Premier François Legault rejected any transfer from the feds that came with conditions.

It seems reasonable to me that data on diseases and successful treatments be shared nationally. It’s reasonable to make the movement of health care workers across the country as seamless as possible.

Now, only a month after rejecting the fed’s modest proposal, premiers want to meet again to ask, again, for money without conditions. It would be a short meeting because the feds won’t, and shouldn’t, hand over money unconditionally.

Even before any new money is negotiated, the provinces and territories are already on track to get a 9.1 per cent boost next year – a $4.1-billion increase.

Federal Health Minister Duclos is ready to talk but belligerent premiers only have their hands out. What the feds want to talk about is data and indicators that measure results. “The problem is, until now, the premiers refuse to speak about those results,” Duclos said.

The problem is that money transferred to the provinces is not necessarily spent on health. The feds can specify targeted transfers for things such as mental health but provinces will do what they want with it. Ontario Premier Doug Ford was candid. He said provinces need flexibility to move money between different “buckets.”

In other words, provinces will do want they want with federal transfers.

“All that premiers keep saying is that they want an unconditional increase in the Canada Health Transfer sent to their health ministers,” said Duclos. “That is not a plan; that is the old way of doing things.”

Money alone will not fix our health care. More national data would make the system more efficient by putting resources where they are needed. Health care workers should be able to move easily from province to province where the need is greatest.

Bluffing on the part of premiers is so tedious, as Alberta Premier Smith has demonstrated so well. Let’s get past the BS and get down to honest negotiations.

You have the right to remain silent but police don’t have to tell you

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that police don’t have to tell you about your right to remain silent.

image: Stephen Gustitis

This is only true if you have not been arrested -which is a critical point in your conversation with police.

If you’ve watched enough cop shows, you’ve probably heard the phrase:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.”

If it’s an American show you’re watching, the above warning is called the Miranda rights after a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said failure to read accused person their rights violates the United States Constitution.

It took Canada a little while to catch up but after the Brydges case in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled something similar. Failure to read Canadian suspect their rights constituted a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But your rights don’t have to be read if you are not under arrest. If you are just having a conversation with police, no warning need be given.

A booklet published by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association outlines how a friendly conversation with police can lead to an arrest.

If you’re like me, you cooperate with police. As a former teacher, I often found myself policing my students as much as teaching them so I automatically identify with police.

A friendly conversation with the police could involve an incident that they are investigating. If they don’t alert you to the right to remain silent, something you say could implicate you with the incident.

Suddenly you have slipped from being cooperative to being a suspect under arrest.

Because they don’t have to, police will not stop you from singing like a canary. For them to say: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court,” would get your radar up. To keep the conversation flowing, it’s to the police’s advantage not to warn you of your right to remain silent.

“If you don’t like the questions the police are asking, ask: ‘Am I free to go?’ If the answer is yes, you can leave. If the answer is no, you are being detained,” says the BCCLA handbook.

In the recent Supreme Court decision, an Alberta man was not told of his rights during a 105-minute voluntary interview. He came in voluntarily and cooperated with the investigation of the shooting of a friend. He was not a suspect.

The interview gradually turned adversarial. Police asked him to prove he did not commit the murder.

What? They might as well asked him where he hid the body.

His statements proved important in the circumstantial case against him and he was convicted.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Alberta man’s conviction would stand despite the slippery slope he fell down in the absence of warning.

Bottom line: when talking to the police, be polite but say as little as possible.

Export of Canada’s hydrogen to Germany by 2025 is a pipedream

I admire Germany for doing so much to reduce greenhouse gases. Too bad that the initiative has left them dependent on the import of natural gas –half of it from Russia.

image: Utility Analytics Institute

Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, came to Canada and signed a “Declaration of Intent” that would see hydrogen exported to Germany by 2025. Dream on.

Talk of hydrogen during Scholz’s visit has set Newfoundland abuzz with plans to build wind turbines to generate electricity and produce green hydrogen for export. But no turbines have been built, nor plants to produce hydrogen from electricity, and no facilities to convert the hydrogen into ammonia for transport.

Scholz also wants our liquefied natural gas. The chances of exporting of LNG from the east coast are close to zero.

First of all, there are no LNG export terminals on the East Coast. And even if there were, there is no pipeline to supply them. In fact, there are no operational LNG export terminals in all of Canada –the only one under construction will ship LNG from Kitimat, B.C., to Asia.

Another idea being floated is the dual use of LNG plants for compressing hydrogen. That’s also unlikely say Johanne Whitmore, chair in energy sector management at HEC Montréal and Paul Martin, a chemical engineer:

“However, hydrogen-ready LNG terminals do not actually exist today because both gases have different properties which require different infrastructure. Repurposing existing infrastructure would require extensive retrofitting at great expense. New infrastructure will take years to build, which won’t help Europe meet near-term energy needs, or abate its emissions (Globe and Mail, August 8, 2022).”

Hydrogen can be made from natural gas or electricity. When made from natural gas, it is classified as “grey” if none of the carbon produced in the process is sequestered and classified as “blue” if at least 90 per cent of the carbon is captured. When hydrogen produced from renewable electricity sources is classified as “green.”

It takes a lot of energy to make hydrogen. The use of natural gas to make hydrogen is more polluting than LNG without carbon sequestration. And most of the hydrogen produced in Canada is grey. Canada’s ambitious Shell Quest sequestration project has carbon capture rates of less than 50 per cent, well below the threshold that would classify it as blue.

Exporting liquid hydrogen is not only technically challenging, there are huge energy losses using natural gas production (30 per cent, compared to LNG’s 8 per cent).

 “As academics and engineers with decades of experience in energy,” say Whitmore and Martin, “we are concerned that Canada’s dash to build new LNG infrastructure in the hope of exporting hydrogen is not only scientifically baseless, but risks locking both Canada and Germany into a fossil-based economy.”

Newfoundland’s concept would overcome the shipping problem, somewhat, by transporting hydrogen as ammonia. But more energy would be lost in converting ammonia back into hydrogen at the end.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was dreaming when he told a G7 in June that Eastern Canada LNG infrastructures could be expanded on the basis “they could then be used for hydrogen exporting,” thereby “keeping it consistent with Canada’s longer term climate goals.”

Dreams and hydrogen have one thing in common: they are both lighter than air and float away.

A chapter closes in Canada’s worst mass murder

They parked their SUV at 7:00 in the morning of July 14 in front of his family business and waited for him. When Ripudaman Singh Malik arrived a few hours later, he was shot dead in a volley of gunfire.

While little is known of the motives of the two arrested and charged in connection with the killing, Malik is known for his acquittal in Canada’s worst mass murder.

image: dailyO

Canadians might be hard pressed to remember what Canada’s worst mass murder was.

Here are some hints.  It was the biggest terrorist attack in Canada’s history. It was the most expensive to investigate.  Relative to our population, as many Canadians died on June 23, 1985, as did Americans on September 11, 2001.

It was the Air India bombing in which 329 people died, including 280 Canadian citizens and permanent residents, 86 of them children. The flight originated in Vancouver and exploded off the coast of Ireland.

Canadians can be forgiven for not knowing much about the terrorist attack. Even Prime Minister Mulroney at the time seemed a bit confused. He gave condolences to the Indian prime minister, as if it was mostly Indians who died in the attack.

Air India flight 182 took off from Canada to England, destined for Mumbai (Bombay) India. All seemed normal for the passengers who awoke after a long overnight flight.  What they didn’t know was that a time bomb was ticking in a suitcase stored in the forward cargo hold.  The suitcase had been loaded by a “Mr. Singh” in Vancouver who was suspiciously not aboard. The flight ended violently in the early morning of June 23 off the coast of Ireland.

Now, of course, that wouldn’t happen. Passengers can’t load unaccompanied luggage –a lesson learned from the explosion of Air India flight 182.

Three were charged with the bombing but only one was convicted. Inderjit Singh Reyat served 30 years for lying during two trials and for helping to make the bombs in his Vancouver Island home. He was released in 2016.

In 2005, Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, a saw mill worker from Kamloops, were acquitted of mass murder and conspiracy charges in connection to the Air India bombing. A judge determined that two key witnesses used by the crown were unreliable.

A public inquiry issued a report in 2010 that blamed the failure to prosecute on a “cascading series of errors” by police, intelligence officers and air safety regulators and prompted then-prime minister Stephen Harper to apologize to the victims’ families.

Gunfire justice is not uncommon in the disputes between Sikh militants and India.  

Two newspaper publishers were gunned down after they met with Bagri in London few months after the bombing. Tara Singh Hayer, a publisher of a Vancouver newspaper, and Tarsen Singh Purewal a British newspaper publisher were killed after they renounced extremism and printed newspaper articles critical of Sikh militants.

Talwinder Singh Parmar, said to be the mastermind behind the Air India bombing, was killed in a gun fight with Punjab Police in 1992.

Malik’s son said that his father devoted his life to Sikh teachings of love, honesty and the betterment of humanity.

Rest in peace, Ripudaman Singh Malik.

Dr. Day’s marathon to commercialize health care

He may be down but he’s not out. Dr. Brian Day has lost court case after court case but he’s not giving up. I’ve got to hand it to Dr. Day for his perseverance.

image: Eoin Kelleher

He started 13 years ago and isn’t finished yet.

He started his mission in 2009. In echoes of today’s economic turmoil, the Great Recession cast a cloud over the land and Stephen Harper was prime minster. The number one song in Canada was I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas.

Dr. Brian Day launched his lawsuit after he learned his clinics were going to be audited by the B.C. Government. The audit was triggered by dozens of patients who complained that they’d been illegally overbilled at Day’s Cambie clinic.

Dr. Day figures that the best defence is an offence. As soon as he learned that the province was going to check into his illegal billing, he launched a court case arguing that B.C.’s Medicare Protection Act violated patient’s freedom under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It’s so typical. Whenever someone is up to no good they throw up a smoke screen. The guy who’s caught speeding? He’s not breaking the law; he’s taking his terminally ill child to the hospital.

After years of legal delays, the audit by the B.C. Government in 2012 uncovered 170 instances of extra-billing to patients which were contrary to the Act. The audit only sampled 468 services over 10 years, so there were probable many more.

The investigation also uncovered 93 instances of “double-dipping”, in which 19 doctors including Dr. Day charged a total of $66,734 to the province while charged patients $424,232 for the same treatment.

Oh no, said Dr. Day in his defence, we don’t charge patients for treatments, we charge them for “consulting fees,” and “facility fees” for equipment and staff. And no, we don’t pay doctors extra beyond what any doctor would bill the provincial Medical Services Plan.

Financial records later filed in court showed that wasn’t true.

They showed that clinics, including Dr. Day’s,  paid 140 people, mostly doctors, $1.5-million or more per year in “consulting fees,” over five years. That included a total of $1.36-million paid to Dr. Day during that period.

Dr. Day is soldiering on, determined to create a two-tiered health care system in which doctors are pulled out of public health care into lucrative private practices.

British Columbia’s highest court recently upheld a lower court’s ruling that countered Dr. Day’s claim that Canadians should have the constitutional right to pay for private health care. B.C. Supreme Court ruled that Dr. Day’s model would undermine the very basis of universal health care.

In the ruling, the B.C. Supreme Court supported the value of public good.  It’s a concept that greedy heath care salesmen don’t understand. It’s like those “freedom fighters” who don’t get the concept of public good. Public health during a pandemic is paramount; individual rights to refuse a vaccine are outweighed by the need to protect all.

But Dr. Day will continue to try to undermine our health care system which, while struggling, is superior to any private system.

Doctors’ cozy club limits our health care system

Canada doesn’t have a shortage of doctors; we have a closed shop that prevents foreign-trained doctors from practicing. The medical establishment prevents them from relieving our doctor shortage.

Image Stat News

About 5 million Canadians don’t have a regular family doctor. As a result, hospital wait times continue to grow. One study revealed that Canada has fewer physicians per capita than comparable nations: 2.7 per 1,000 people.

That puts us at 26th in countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It’s not a lack of trying from foreign-trained doctors. They spend thousands of dollars to become certified as doctors.

To become licensed in Canada involves verifying one’s medical degree and previous practical experience, passing a language-proficiency test, and completing a Canadian medical residency or practicum. This can take up to a decade to complete and can cost as much as $28,000, including lost income from when they could be working.

Despite the effort, about one-half of the 1,000 doctors who immigrate to Canada every year abandon their medical careers (Walrus, May, 2021).

Doctors are retiring at an alarming rate. By 2026, 20 percent of Canada’s doctors will be 65 or older, according to the Canadian Medical Association.

The medical establishment ensures that Canada is short of doctors. The number of residencies for foreign-trained doctors is limited. And even when a foreign-trained doctor gets one of the rare positions, the chances of getting a license is low. Last year, Ontario had licensed only about two dozen spots — a negligible sum in a province with 31,500 practising physicians. British Columbia licensed zero.

The method of determining the number of residency positions is arcane. According to the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, “Provincial and territorial Ministries of Health determine the total number of residency positions available, the specialties in which they are available, and the proportion open to CMGs [Canadian medical graduates] versus [foreign-trained doctors].”

Investigative reporter for the Walrus, Jagdeesh Mann, attempted to find out how the quotas are calculated in B.C.:

“But attempting to understand how exactly quotas are calculated each year in B.C., for example, proved to be Kafkaesque. Starting from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., I was redirected to CaRMS and the University of British Columbia, then to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, and finally to B.C.’s Ministry of Health.”

Meanwhile, the already limited number of residency spots granted to foreign-trained doctors has declined since 2013.

The problem is about to get worse. By 2026, 20 percent of Canada’s doctors will be 65 or older, according to the Canadian Medical Association. Many doctors will be retiring soon.

When my doctor retired two years ago, I went without a doctor for over a year. I only got one after a referral from a friend.

The medical establishment is racist. Of the residencies that did go to foreign-trained doctors, most went to doctors from Europe. Only 15 percent went to those from Asia and another 15 percent to Africa. This, despite the fact that many immigrants would like to have doctors who are familiar with their customs and language.

Doctors hold a lot of power in determining the number of residencies. A doctor shortage ensures that they are in demand but they could loosen their grip on the number of foreign-trained doctors without damaging their fragile egos.

Trump’s great idea: rake the forests floors clean

Former President Trump has come up with another great idea. Everyone agrees that the source of wildfires is the buildup of flammable materials on the forest floor, so the obvious solution is to clean it up.

“I see again the forest fires are starting,” Trump told a rally in Pennsylvania. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”

Well, duh. With B.C.’s forests littered with flammable materials, just clean them up.

Trump is very wise. He listens to world leaders. Trump said: “I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have, much different, we are a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem.”

The Finns are so negative, people like Malla Hadley who tweeted: “I grew up in Finland. a) it rains all year round. b) we have a lengthy and cold winter. c) Finland is a sparsely populated country with just over 5mil ppl, with land size ~3/4 of CA and most of it forests and lakes. d) no friggin body is raking the forests.”

But why not accept great ideas? Make Canada Rake Again!

Get the school kids out of their stuffy classrooms and into the forests this winter with their rakes. Let them commune with nature in a productive way.

Hard work builds character, contributes to success, and promotes happiness. Once the kids lift their faces from their screens, they will be liberated by a work ethic.

Giving kids trophies and high grades without effort has negative effects. When kids are rewarded without making the effort, it reduces confidence, promotes dependency, and robs them of their personal dignity.

It takes the right person to set up these work camps for kids, someone with the moral authority and integrity of Donald Trump. Since the former president is busy restoring the once great Republican Party, we’ll have to find someone in Canada.

That person is Maxime Bernier, leader of People’s Party Of Canada.

Bernier can set kids straight on role models. We certainly don’t want kids following wimpy young people like Greta Thunberg. Of her, Bernier tweeted: ”@GretaThunberg is clearly mentally unstable. Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”

Environmentalists plan to radically transform our society through hysterical fear that the end of the world is coming. We must defend our freedom to burn fossil fuel and preserve our way of life.

Bernier’s work camps for kids would instill pride in the way that Canada was before the immigration of non-whites. But, in a demonstration of magnanimity, there would be camps for white kids and camps for non-white kids.

Songs would be composed for the kids to sing while raking the forests, songs of the glory of the Aryan race.

Kids would carry little red books with the sayings of their great leader, Maxime Bernier. In quiet times of contemplation, they would be inspired by the truths within.

A stronger federal government makes a post-pandemic Canada stronger

Two developments have strengthened Canada by making the federal government stronger.

The first was a Supreme Court ruling that determined the fed’s carbon pricing to be constitutional.

image: OECD Development Matters

Opponents of carbon pricing like to call it a “carbon tax” but, of course, it isn’t. A tax is a levy for public services rendered. As in B.C.’s case, carbon pricing simply means that burning fossil fuels costs more and that it’s is revenue neutral: total revenues collected remain the same. To emphasize this point, P.M. Trudeau said that if provinces couldn’t come up with a carbon pricing scheme, he would collect it anyway and return it directly back into the pockets of citizens of the affected province.

Because of the Supreme Court ruling, Canada is stronger much to the chagrin of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario who claimed that the feds were encroaching on their provincial rights.

A friend of mine in Alberta is very upset. He told me that Alberta should separate because the feds could now “do whatever they liked” to the provinces.

Well, not quite. The Supreme Court ruling was exceptional. The ruling was based on Canada’s obligations under 2015 Paris Agreement and the real threat of climate change.

 “Climate change is real,” Chief Justice Wagner wrote in his reason for the majority decision. “It is caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future. The only way to address the threat of climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The feds can’t do whatever they like. Under our federation, provinces have considerable powers that cannot be arbitrarily overturned.

Canada is also stronger because of the leadership role of the federal government in saving the economy from certain collapse because of the pandemic.

In 2008, the feds bailed out the financial sector. In 2020, they bailed out the entire economy. Had leaders followed supply-side economists, the pandemic would have unravelled the economy worse than the 1930s Great Depression.

Canada’s federal government provided extraordinary leadership during the pandemic.

David Macdonald, Senior Economist for the Canadian Centre for Alternatives says:

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has required government leadership on a scale that’s unprecedented in modern Canadian times. Including liquidity and unallocated funds, federal and provincial governments have announced almost $600 billion in spending commitments across 849 measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Of that $600 billion, only eight per cent is coming from the provinces on average. However, some provinces demonstrated greater leadership than others.

In his report for the CCPA, Macdonald found that B.C.’s contribution was the highest of the provinces -at 16 per cent of the total provincial allocation. The B.C. government stands out as providing the highest per capita individual supports, eight times higher than the next highest province, Quebec.

Albertans, on the other hand, are receiving the highest level of per capita COVID19 spending, worth $11,200 a person—93% of which is on the federal tab. Alberta receives $1,200 more support, per person, from the federal government than any other province.

It seems to me that Alberta is doing very well as a member of the Canadian federation and Alberta Premier Kenney would do well to shut up and cooperate on mitigating climate change.