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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

The Twigg Report – Political machinations are the order of the day in USA, Canada, BC and many other jurisdictions

By John Twigg

Have you ever seen such machinations by politicians as we've seen in recent weeks? It seems COVID-19 is skewing everything from the U.S. Presidential election campaign (arguably the most important uncertainty now facing the world) to school class sizes here in B.C. (with B.C. teachers and their union again making a renewed bid for fewer students).

In the U.S. we just saw Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden applauded merely for making it through a reading of a text obviously written for him without a verbal stumble or mental lapse like the ones that have plagued him in recent weeks. It's not just that Biden is 77 years old, it's that he's obviously verging on senility and yet the Democrat bosses are pushing him forward anyway, perhaps reflecting their belief that anyone would be better than radical populist Republic Donald Trump.

Why? Maybe they realize that if Biden was to win and then soon after step aside it would elevate the Democrats' ultra-radical vice-president nominee Kamala Harris, a 55-year-old lawyer who is a socialist and racialized (black) and pro-gay activist more extremist and intolerant of opponents' views than almost anyone in Canada's New Democratic Party, leader Jagmeet Singh included. She previously was a state Attorney-General in California's house.

An election and then departure of Biden also would make more room for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a radical socialist Democrat Member of the House of Representatives from New York who talks of a "mass peoples' movement" inside Ameri and has emerged as a new darling of the media.

Though Biden surprised analysts (at least those on Fox) by proving able to read a professionally-written script without a verbal blunder and sometimes even showing he understood what he was reading, he'll likely lose his cool when he has to debate Trump.

God help us if brain-addled Biden and tyrannical Harris somehow get elected on November 3rd.

Canadian politics

Turning to Canada, there's new madness in Ottawa of probably unprecedented dimensions, with the WE Charity scandal having triggered a sudden shutdown of Parliament - done mainly to limit Opposition probes into the governing Liberals' misdeeds with WE (mainly arranging a $43.5-million sweetheart deal for WE to issue massive grants of perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars to students after several relatives of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and recently-resigned finance minister Bill Morneau had been paid by WE, a creation of wealthy brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger. Morneau also had been paid by WE for some travel costs until he recently refunded it. The new Finance Minister as of August 18 is Chrystia Freeland, who continues to be Deputy Prime Minister but has given up Intergovernmental Affairs to Dominic LeBlanc of New Brunswick).

That's bad enough (denying Parliament an opportunity to probe a scandal) but even more important is that it suddenly sets up a new scenario likely to trigger a national election in October - one the Liberals could still win despite their apparent corruption and incompetence) because they're setting up a scenario in which the return of Parliament in September with a new Throne Speech will become a de facto referendum on a massive new package of payments totalling about $9 billion (yes with a B) to help millions of Canadians cope with job and income losses due to COVID.

Yes many Canadian people, families and businesses (as well as most provincial and municipal governments) DO need special helps to cope with COVID and other issues like First Nations needs but what's wrong here is that the federal Liberals are cynically leveraging that into another election win for themselves that based on past performance they probably do not deserve.

It also looks like we're going to see and hear a lot of greenwashing in the months ahead too, judging from this comment by Freeland soon after she was appointed: "To [the] question about decarbonization as part of our economic plan going forward: Of course, it has to be part of it. I think all Canadians understand that the restart of our economy needs to be green. It also needs to be equitable. It needs to be inclusive. And we need to focus very much on jobs and growth”. This further suggests that the federal Liberals are already focussed on assembling enough voting blocs together to win another election.

It's also no coincidence that on this coming Sunday the Conservative Party of Canada will announce the winner of its long-running leadership contest, likely choosing veteran Peter MacKay but hopefully it will be populist Leslyn Lewis (who like Kamala Harris is a black female lawyer) whose pragmatic reformist policies have caught the attention of many grass-roots members and even earned some extra media coverage. (The two other candidates are Erin O'Toole and Derek Sloan, both populist social conservatives outside the party mainstream.)

So, if YOU were suddenly the leader of a Canadian political party with a decent chance of winning a national election would you come out against a program promising $37 billion of income supports to voters in need of help because you believe the government can't afford it? After many months of the incumbents borrowing perhaps trillions of dollars (albeit mostly from the Bank of Canada) would YOU say no more?? "Vote for me and I'll kill your CERB!"??? Not likely.

Meanwhile the party standings in the 338-seat Parliament mean that the Liberals with 156 seats need support from either the New Democrats with 24 seats or the Bloc Quebecois with 32 seats in order to win a vote that would clearly be a confidence test and thereby stay in power, but one gets the sense that Trudeau and his strategists (notably Gerry Butts) are almost hoping an election IS triggered before the Tory winner has a chance to build profile and momentum. [There also are 3 Green MPs and 2 Independents, notably former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould of Vancouver who was ousted after clashing with Trudeau and Butts.]

Interestingly, Singh is already on the record recently calling for $12 billion of new aid for child care from the federal government to be delivered through the provinces, which sounds like a plank tailor-made for a Throne Speech promise from Trudeau, which is important to note because Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet has already promised to try to bring down the Trudeau government if there is a confidence vote.

And today in the news some federal New Democrat MPs are joining with some Vancouver civic politicians in calling for major new funding from the federal government to help pay for new housing for troubled homeless people (i.e. housing with better security for all concerned, including adjacent businesses), which probably is overdue too.

Another curious angle involves Governor-General Julie Payette, who is under investigation for alleged abuse of her staff and who has earned some bad press apparently for demanding costly renovations to Government House to increase her privacy, possibly so staff can't see who is coming to visit her privately (she's single). But nonetheless (or because of which?) she quietly assented to the proroguing of Parliament even though it was obviously a mere ploy.

Here's what pollster Angus Reid Tweeted: Wonder what’s coming down in the mid Sept Trudeau “reset”? With Morneau out and the Lib /NDP coalition I expect to see a major tax grab = “wealthy” Canadians. This may piss off seniors but could appeal to the middle class and youth that feel sidelined. Get ready for class wars.

How will it all work out? We don't know. But that's par for the course of politics nowadays because there also are great uncertainties in British politics, European politics, the Middle East and even Russian politics, among others even including China with its recent brutal crushing of political freedoms in Hong Kong and its war of words with Trump over Huawei and other issues.

Coincidentally there was an interesting column on all that by Craig Kielburger which ran in the Vancouver Sun on May 26 (before all this furore arose) which was headlined "The world faces a fork in the road" which urged a new global approach to problem-solving. You can't make up this stuff! You can read the story headlined "COVID-19 makes the case for global co-operation".

The Middle East is especially interesting of late following the massive explosion of a fertilizer pile in Beirut, Lebanon that leveled much of its downtown, and then a remarkable peace deal between Jewish Israel and the United Arab Emirates (Muslim) that apparently was brokered in part by U.S. President Trump, which runs counter to centuries-old antipathies in the region.

But the world is still a dangerous place, such as Mali falling to a coup by military-backed Islamists who are removing the rule of law, with 15 Canadian military staff marooned there, and continuing problems in Ukraine, mainly from Russian sources imposing a sort of hegemony and interfering in other ways such as the recent apparent poisoning of a politician critical of the Kremlin. There's also a popular revolt brewing in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has just rigged an election to extend his 26-year rule.

Oh, and I'd recommend against booking a holiday in Venezuela nowadays, or maybe even Mexico - there's just too much poverty and lawlessness all over Latin America.


B.C. Politics

Meanwhile in British Columbia there have been lots of political machinations too, evident in the debates and proceedings in the Legislature and the jockeying outside it, but nothing like what's going on in Canada federally or in America, mainly because the NDP government of Premier John Horgan is being careful to not alienate its supporters (e.g. teachers wanting smaller class sizes).

The Legislature was in recess this week but last week the Budget got passed, which is often a major hurdle, and in this coming week the MLAs probably will motor through the number of NDP Bills remaining on the Order Paper, none of which to my knowledge now are likely to be highly contentious (though we always watch anyway).

Instead the focus is on coping with Covid, whether the unionized teachers will get the smaller class sizes they're asking for, and whether young partiers learn to tone things down pursuant to Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth's warning today via a news conference that new enforcement efforts against COVID are coming and gatherings are still limited to 50 people and even house parties are subject to safety rules such as distancing and recording names of attendees in case future tracking is needed, let alone gatherings of hundreds of kids on beaches.

However there are some partisan issues of note, especially regarding the NDP maintaining its balance of power based on a Confidence and Supply Agreement that Horgan made with the then-three Green MLAs, Andrew Weaver (who has since resigned as leader and left the party over a combination of personal issues but still votes to support the government when needed), interim leader Adam Olsen and leadership candidate Sonia Furstenau.

The BC Greens' leadership vote will take place on Sept. 5 to Sept. 13; the deadline to join and be a voter is Aug. 21, the leadership debate is Sept. 1 and the deadline to register as an online voter is Sept. 2.

The idea that new economic development activity in B.C. should be allowed only if it's "green" is nonsense but nonetheless the idea is popular in some circles but the notion that green industries could suddenly and easily supplant traditional hydrocarbon industries is nonsense, as is evident now in California where over-reliance on green power has led to massive blackouts; hopefully there will be enough wisdom in B.C. politics for everyone to cherry-pick from the best of both.

The BC Liberals meanwhile are strangely quiet after more or less failing to derail the Horgan New Democrats in the current sitting but opinion polls suggest they're still going to be very competitive in the next election. If you want further insights you could go to Hansard and read the transcript of leader Andrew Wilkinson quizzing Horgan on late afternoon of August 14 and notice which issues he chose to highlight.

But the fact that the Horgan team managed to limit Wilkinson to only about one hour of questions on a Friday afternoon before a one-week break is another great example of political machinations. (The questions included housing, social housing, street crimes, drug addictions, energy, schools, UNDRIP, condo insurance, economic recovery strategies and COVID)

And with that the B.C. budget was passed, the Greens and Weaver supporting.

There are of course many many other important issues in view in B.C., including forest fires, forestry, Hydro (especially new structural problems on the Site C dam construction [that the Liberals pushed prematurely]), fisheries, First Nations, seniors care and more - but compared to the rest of the world B.C. is well blessed.

Now if we could just revive a B.C. Provincial Police force, launch a new provincial-government currency-issuing bank, undertake stronger job creation, be better at suppressing street crimes and especially boost food self-sufficiency we'd be doing really well.

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