Ian Bushfield: This podcast is recorded on the traditional and unseated territories of the Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people
[00:00:06] Intro Music: British Columbia, I’ve seen your mountains high, seen your pretty rainbows and your blue crystal skies, watched your windy rivers as they go around the bend. To me, you’re not a stranger, you will always be a friend,
[00:00:26]Ian Bushfield: Coming to you from the West coast, this is Politicoast. Today is April 15th, 2021. And this is episode 235.
[00:00:32] Scott de Lange Boom: I’m Scott de Lange Boom
[00:00:33] Ian Bushfield: and I’m Bushfield. On today’s show, the MLA’s are back in the legislature for a new throne speech and a new bill. There’s only one, but there’s news, provincially and federally, Erin O’Toole and the conservatives, have come around on the carbon tax, they have a climate plan. We’ll dig into it first. Thank you to the 101 people who contribute to keep the show going every month, you can join them and support the podcast at patrion.com/politicoast
[00:01:19]Segment one, there was a throne speech. Remember when we were planning,
[00:01:29] Scott de Lange Boom: I actually had a little trouble remembering that. So when we were messaging back and forth earlier today, planning out the episode, I completely left it off of the, this is the things we should talk about, because it had completely slipped my mind that it had happened this week.
[00:01:44] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. Monday morning, the legislature opened with the Macduff. Is that his name? The left-handed governors canine consort, running up the steps to John Horgan. It was an adorable moment and probably the most memorable moment of the day because the speech itself was short on details. And, big on patting themselves on the back as throne speeches seem to be doing more and more, both federally, provincially, and everywhere we find them.
[00:02:11] They’re very forgettable.
[00:02:12] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So, like you said, this throne speech really had, not a huge amount new in it. There, there was nothing that quite rifles the word to know abolish the penny announcement that I think came out from one of the federal throne speeches during the Harper years, nothing anywhere near that.
[00:02:33] For the most part, actually finding something new is a bit of a hunt trying to go through this.
[00:02:38] Ian Bushfield: So, the speech itself obviously spent a lot of time talking about COVID, and talking about the need to keep fighting that, it was a little jarring as the government’s press release on the throne speech said it’s time to turn the page and look beyond COVID.
[00:02:53] And it’s, we’re in the middle of the third wave, read the room, but the speech itself, did talk about at least getting people vaccinated and continuing to fight the cases we’re seeing.
[00:03:03] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. They also, titled a section, putting the pandemic behind us, which considering, we are in the worst spot we’ve been all pandemic in terms of new cases, and the trend lines on that, that is not a great look, I think, to be counting your post pandemic chickens before they’re hatched. Particularly since they’re.
[00:03:25] Ian Bushfield: Like, a lot of it was probably written a few weeks ago, but the thing can be edited up until the night before, and you could at least take that line out.
[00:03:34] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And, they definitely leaned a bit into the, we’re all in this together, everyone needs to pull their weight, rather than the, this is what we’re doing as the government and the coordinating people for the province and how we respond to this, which is just, generally being a consistent through line throughout the entire pandemic, is a lot of stern talking tos, but not much actual leadership.
[00:04:01] Ian Bushfield: There was some discussion on the healthcare file, more broadly, about the hiring of thousands of new workers for long-term care. That was done. That’s one of those reflections, rather than new promises, there was a re-announcement of the promise to build the new hospital in Surrey and expand the one in Richmond, generic promises to reduce wait times, kind of standard NDP fare.
[00:04:24] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I think pretty much everyone promises to reduce wait times. It’s the, you know how American politicians say, god bless America after every, I’m pretty sure it’s just a requirement now that you put reduce wait times in the throne speech, as a, just one of those stories,
[00:04:40] Ian Bushfield: Atleast we are not praying to do it. In the mental health file, they moved into additional investments in a Pathway to Hope program.
[00:04:48] They did talk about moving forward on drug decriminalization and doing it on their own if they need to. Along with that this week, was the five-year anniversary of the public health emergency declaration of the overdose epidemic. And with that, they marked it by asking the federal government really nicely to please, please exempt the province from the controlled drugs and substances act for possession. Taking Vancouver’s lead and saying, let’s do that for the whole province. This has been something that I initially criticized on Cambie report, but seems to be moving forward positively. And so, having the provinces voice there too is positive.
[00:05:29] Scott de Lange Boom: There is in fact ongoing discussions with Health Canada. So it’s not quite the shouting into the wind, and being frankly ignored, that so much of the other levels of government should do things, actions in the past have typically been. So this shows some promise that there’s actually going to be some meeting of the minds between BC and Ottawa, but, when, or in fact, if that’s to happen is it’s still a bit up in the air.
[00:05:55] Ian Bushfield: And it still leaves questions about what else BC could be doing in the meantime, for example, steps that Dr. Henry has laid out in the past, or, there was a little bit more funding announced with that as well, which was good to see. Like most of this throne speech, the meat is going to come on Tuesday next week, when the budget drops.
[00:06:14] So I guess that’s what we’re really waiting on. And related to that, we move into the, the final section, which was the broader bid on affordability.
[00:06:22] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It wasn’t quite fast. It’s the final one I’ve broke out, specifically in our notes here. There’s several other ones after that, but yeah.
[00:06:29]Affordability was another one of those items where they just really like to read off the laundry list of things they’ve done. The only real thing in there that I think qualifies as something new was going to be putting more money into missing middle housing in the province, which we found out today is basically, and that struck 2 billion for the existing BC housing hub loans program, where they basically give subsidized loans to both nonprofit. I think cities may be eligible, and for-profit developers to build below market housing.
[00:07:10] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. It’s a pretty good, announcement and a good program. It’s a little cheeky to see this announcement of new funding come before the budget.
[00:07:19] I think parliamentarian purists like to see promises like this debated before our democratic institution, before they are rolled out publicly, just in terms of who actually is making the decision, but in a majority government, it’s going to pass. So, at least this gets people to start thinking about applying, to get this, get these loans and to get projects off the ground.
[00:07:49] Scott de Lange Boom: It’ll help a bit. There’s another program from the federal government that does similar-ish things.
[00:07:55]It’s always a bit of a crap chute on this because, sometimes, the subsidized loans will pencil out, sometimes it won’t, and there’s just a lot of stuff that’s in the hands of the municipalities, in terms of actually making that stuff pencil or not. And, there isn’t really any action on this to try and get that part to work properly, which is continual, bear in mind that I’d like to see provincial action on that would actually probably make that $2 billion go a lot further, if they, people are supposedly benefiting from these, low interest loans aren’t having to spend the first several years, of those loans, just waiting for the cities to process their permits.
[00:08:46] Ian Bushfield: What is nice about this program, is the $2 billion is not so much even an expenditure because they are loans and they do get repaid, once construction is complete. Housing hub can keep reinvesting in that, and so over the 10 year span of this program, they can just keep doling it out. Like you say, hopefully these projects, don’t get caught up in the, regulatory nightmare, that is the city of Vancouver’s planning department.
[00:09:12] Some other cities across the province are less onerous, I understand. It’s a long debated issue.
[00:09:20] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Vancouver is one of the worst. That may actually ease up a bit. I think right now there’s a public hearing on, for a limited handful of areas in the city, actually cut out the rezoning process, which will be good because, that alone adds a couple of years to everything.
[00:09:38] Ian Bushfield: Going back to the throne speech, there’s also a promise to, continue to expand the $10 a day childcare services, by increasing the number of spaces. Again, we’ll have to wait until the budget, to see how that’s done. It is really just a problem of throwing a lot more money at it and continuing to expand out the number of childcare spaces that exist and bringing the ones that do exist down in price.
[00:10:00] As my toddler has now entered daycare and we’re paying like 1500 a month. So, I would like to spend less than that. Please. Thank you.
[00:10:08]Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So, moving on from there, there’s a section on basically investing in BC, promising that there’ll be record investments in infrastructure, which I’m going to be interested to see what that’s going to be and how much of that’s just going to be, things they’ve already committed to versus potentially new investments.
[00:10:28]They’re also promising a made in BC ship building strategy. So I guess that, where the next set of ferries are going to be purchased from, I’m a little skeptical on the BC ship building strategy thing, because I’m just not sure we actually build, or if the governments order enough ships to keep ship yards going full steam and, depending on what’s in the strategy, it may not be enough to actually make us competitive with the large ship builders in other parts of the world.
[00:11:05]Ian Bushfield: One of the first things they want with that is one of the new icebreaker contracts from the federal government. So maybe we’ll get it. Maybe we won’t, there’s only two, three places in Canada you can build ships because of the geographic requirements, most of the Northern Canada shorelines are not very effective for shipbuilding. And so you either have, Metro Vancouver’s ports, you have, I think Montreal and the St. Lawrence, and then out on the East coast.
[00:11:32] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So there’s a shipyard in Quebec. There’s Irving in Halifax. And then there’s Seaspan here Davie shipyards, I think is the one in Quebec.
[00:11:40]Federally, when we’re building new ships, we basically buy a batch of them, spend a whole bunch of money tooling up the shipyards and bringing them ready to build the ships and then let them go fallow for a couple of decades, which is a continual problem. And one that hopefully can get resolved, but I haven’t seen a huge amount of signs in the federal government, that they’re able to do that. It remains to be seen if the BC government’s are going to be able to manage that one.
[00:12:14] Ian Bushfield: There’s also some words in the speech about looking at public service innovations and trying to make some of those more permanent, hopefully that’s some of the online tools and, more accessible government, and approaches to work that we’ve all had to adapt to.
[00:12:34] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I would be happy if it meant I no longer had to physically go to a insurance broker just to renew my car insurance and just stuff like that, that being able to do more stuff over the internet or remotely would be a great benefit.
[00:12:50] So, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what they have to offer there, because there’s a bunch of like just basic front, or public facing service delivery things that honestly could use a fair bit of improvement. So that’s potentially a low cost, but a high benefit thing they could be doing
[00:13:15] Ian Bushfield: Well, and that’s all about removing barriers, which is another focus in the throne speeches.
[00:13:20] Introducing Disability act, a disability rights act of some sort to ensure that we are moving, removing barriers to accessibility and inclusion for British Columbians with disabilities, something I’ll be interested to see what means, in practice. I’ve worked with people with disabilities, have family members with disabilities, and it’s an important issue.
[00:13:41] It’s something that I think gets overlooked in the kind of society we lived in.
[00:13:45] Scott de Lange Boom: They’re also promising new legislation, to support the operations of the InBC Investment corporation. This is a thing that was announced back in September of this past year, as basically a $500 million fund for investments in BC. So I’m guessing this is going to be some of the enabling legislation for that. And a new Forestry Act.
[00:14:12]Ian Bushfield: And then continuing to reform the Forest Act, and the Forest and Range Practices Act, I would hope this is related to adopting many of the old growth forest recommendations that have come out in recent reports calling on the province to really take a harder look at our practices and ensure that we are protecting our old growth forests, because I’ve seen some data suggesting we’re not doing a great job in that field.
[00:14:47] And that kind of wraps us up on the throne speech, and flows very nicely into the next story I wanted to talk about on the BC front, which is the conflicts happening in Ferry creek, on the lands of the Pacheedaht Peoples First Nation.
[00:15:03]This is an area of old growth forest, where a number of activists and environmentalist conservationists have been protesting, setting up blockades, trying to protect the old growth forest against the planned logging. By the, I believe it’s the Joan’s group company, the Teal John’s group had actually just won an injunction from the courts to get protesters to stop blockading their work.
[00:15:31] And this past week, the provincial government released a letter from the hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones and the elected chief councilor of the nation, Jeff Jones, who had said among other things that all parties need to respect that it is up to the Pacheedaht people to determine how our forestry resources will be used. They said they do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference, including from third-party activism. Basically they claimed this is pretty much an undisputed situation, where they are the rights and title holders of the unseated territory there.
[00:16:08] And they’re going to work with this forestry company and the government to decide what happens there. Buzz off everyone else.
[00:16:17] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. It’s definitely been a thing in the past where environmentalist groups really seem to take an opportunistic approach to supporting local First Nations. Whenever there is a thing they wish to oppose.
[00:16:33] And I think that’s why you sometimes see with the pipeline discussions and all that, but then when it flips around and the First Nations are actually in support of stuff, that principle seems to go away pretty quick.
[00:16:52] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. And this gets a little bit murky or it tries to get a little bit murkier as the Rainforest Flying Squad, the group that is operating these blockades released a statement from elder Bill Jones of the nation, who disputes some of the claims of the hereditary chief and the chief counselor, mostly taking aim at, I think the elected council, arguing they didn’t properly consult within the nation. And he, and Bill jones does claim some hereditary title, but it’s not clear that he actually claims hereditary chief in the same way that Frank Queesto Jones has claimed.
[00:17:37] And I’ve found statements from several years ago where Frank Queesto Jones has called himself the hereditary chief in response to some, just historical articles about the nation. And so, I get how, in some ways, this is trying to paint it, I imagine in a similar way as the Wet’suwet’en protests, where there are competing claims over whether their hereditary chiefs or the elected chiefs hold the title here.
[00:18:06] Scott de Lange Boom: It is a lot clearer
[00:18:08] Ian Bushfield: I don’t know all the ins. Yeah. It seems a lot clearer. The hereditary chief and the elected chief are on one very clear side and there’s someone who’s very convenient to the protesters being held up as their guy. If we’re going to respect Indigenous rights and title, we can’t just pick the one that’s convenient to the side we like.
[00:18:28] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And on the flip side, like I could see how if you’re a really committed environmentalist, you can look at the situation and say, okay, none of this matters if the earth’s not able to support life, we poison the atmosphere, we cook the planet, all that, something has to take, that has to take priority.
[00:18:51] But if you’re going to do that, just don’t then turn around and glom onto those arguments when it’s convenient for you, when it’s being used to oppose something, just be consistent.
[00:19:05] Ian Bushfield: So we’ll keep our eye on what’s happening there. Undoubtedly, the dispute will continue to go on, as I know, there’s a number of protesters who are not leaving.
[00:19:12] And so, I don’t think it’s going to get as heated as the Wet’suwet’en situation, but.
[00:19:19] Scott de Lange Boom: Likely we’ll be seeing some RCMP enforcement of injunctions from the sound set then
[00:19:24]Ian Bushfield: Potentially. Well. And speaking of things that came up last year, also drop this week, conveniently from elections BC, where the 2020 annual financial reports for the political parties, essentially, this is the peak at how well every party did what the state of their finances was.
[00:19:44] And what did we learn?
[00:19:48] Scott de Lange Boom: Turns out being in government is good for your fundraising. Which maybe isn’t,
[00:19:54] Ian Bushfield: especially when you run an election that you’re doing really well in.
[00:19:58] Scott de Lange Boom: So, the BC NDP pulled in a pretty nice $6.3 million. The Liberals, around half that, at 3.5, and the BC green party at 1.4 million.
[00:20:12]Ian Bushfield: Yeah. And that’s not even counting, the per vote subsidies that each party gets, a few hundred thousand dollars for the major parties, for sure. And that, really is it going to change for the BC Liberals going forward, where they’ll get significantly less, because of getting significantly less votes than the BC NDP in this last election.
[00:20:32] What gets even more interesting in these annual reports, is as you dig through their balance sheets, you can take the assets they have, subtract off the liabilities, and see, what’s the state of the party?
[00:20:44] Are they sitting with money in the bank, or are they sitting deep in debt? And it turns out, every party in BC, from the communist party, who have $1,100 in the bank or something like that, up to the NDP who has $3.2 million in the bank is doing pretty well, except for the BC liberals.
[00:21:03] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So there are about $2 million in debt and they weren’t exactly doing that well under Andrew Wilkinson on the fundraising side. So this is not surprising, to see that an election put them pretty far in the hole. So whoever the new leader is, is going to have their work cut out for them on re-establishing the fundraising operation.
[00:21:31] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. The Shannon Waters in BC Today pulled out some other information.
[00:21:36] She found that there was a lot of challenges in this last year, right? It was a pandemic. And so for a big chunk of the year a lot of parties weren’t able to raise much, but as far as she could tell, the NDP did not claim the emergency wage subsidy. The Liberals took in over $300,000 from that. The Greens also claimed about $40,000 from that.
[00:21:57] And the Liberals also took another $8,500 from rent relief, and accessed some of the emergency loans. And, I think we’ve both spoken fairly favorably about how political parties do pay people to do real work and should be able to access these programs impartially. And there’s no, and there shouldn’t be bonus points, or any glorification of the holier than thou type of political party that doesn’t.
[00:22:23] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, exactly.
[00:22:24] Ian Bushfield: But I honestly think the NDP didn’t need the money this year, as it shows.
[00:22:28] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. They were probably just in a healthy tough spot, that why go for it? That there might be potentially bad headlines, even though we post that, there shouldn’t be, but yeah, if they didn’t need it, they didn’t go for it.
[00:22:41]And yeah, it should not be an issue for parties to take the emergency wage subsidy. The whole point of those programs was to keep people employed, and, a political staffer who’s out of work, is just as much of a problem as a factory worker or a service worker, who lost their job to the pandemic. We want to keep people employed to the best of our ability, and it makes no sense to carve out political staff. That’s the one exception to that.
[00:23:13] Ian Bushfield: So I guess the real takeaway from this is, the hole the Liberals found themselves in the election last year, was almost only the start of their troubles, like digging your way out of a $2 million debt, especially when you’re in a fundraising situation where you have maximum donations.
[00:23:32] Whereas, in the past, they could rely on a lot larger donations to start to work their way out of a similar situation, which I don’t think we’ve ever seen. You’re not going to get as much from the per vote subsidy as your opponents, and so you’re going to be still digging, losing ground on that front.
[00:23:50] Like their one positive, is leaderships races do tend to bring in more money and interest than not the other kind of times, but that’s still a long way to go.
[00:24:02] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. And I heard through the couple of people I know in close into BC Liberal circles, that Andrew Wilkinson didn’t put a huge amount of emphasis on the fundraising or adapting to the new rules particularly well.
[00:24:17] So it does seem like there is quite a bit of potential room for a new leader to come in there and right the ship and post better fundraising going forward.
[00:24:30]Ian Bushfield: The federal Conservatives are able to operate with 12 or $1,500 per vote, or 12 or $1,500 contribution limits.
[00:24:39] So there’s no reason the BC liberals shouldn’t be able to access that same donor pool. It’s just finding their raison d’être. Once again, that isn’t just being, not the NDP.
[00:24:55] Scott de Lange Boom: Well, let’s move on to our second segment, the Conservative parties’ climate plan. So, this week, I guess today actually, the Conservative party and Erin O’Toole finally unveiled the long promised climate plan. So they’re calling the plan the Secure the Environment Plan, leaning into the themes that O’Toole established at the recent convention, where this was a hot topic of conversation.
[00:25:28] Ian Bushfield: Secure the environment. I didn’t really pay attention to the title of it before, but it’s such a like militaristic almost approach, like we need to seize this ground, and hold it from the opponents.
[00:25:39]Scott de Lange Boom: You may not be aware of this, because I don’t think he’s mentioned it in the last hour or so, but Erin O’Toole at one point was in the military.
[00:25:46] Ian Bushfield: Who knew, who could have known? He’s going to combat climate change.
[00:25:51] Scott de Lange Boom: But more seriously,
[00:25:52] Ian Bushfield: It’s a war on carbon.
[00:25:55] Scott de Lange Boom: More seriously, that is framing that I think actually will connect with a lot of Conservatives, and not just conservatives, but, or, potential Conservative voters. So, as much as fun as it is to poke at that, I think it’s actually good branding, and connecting in with a larger message.
[00:26:14]Yeah, no real objection to that.
[00:26:18] Ian Bushfield: Sure, and they need some way to sell this. I think, mostly to conservatives, because the headline takeaway of this is, conservatives now support carbon taxes finally.
[00:26:32] Scott de Lange Boom: So it’s a fairly detailed plan with a bunch of items in there. But, the first section I think that’s garnered most of the attention is, they are going to be putting a price on carbon, both one for individual consumers and industrial emitters, but goes about it slightly different ways.
[00:26:56]First up, what they call, establishing personal low carving savings accounts. And this is the most confusing part of the whole thing. So, basically the plan is that everybody gets one of these special savings accounts. And then, whenever you buy fuel, you’re going to be paying into it, how that works, where, you know, if you’re down at the Petro Canada station, how that money comes off that into your specific account, is yet to be figured out.
[00:27:28]But this would be at a rate of $20 a ton, increasing to 50. And, at some point in the future, you can use that money on green spending, whether it’s transit passes or upgrades for energy efficiency in your home.
[00:27:45] Ian Bushfield: It’s such a weird scheme. Like, the current way the backstop works, is the carbon tax money that goes, that is paid in the provinces who don’t have a carbon tax goes into, in theory, a federal pot.
[00:28:03] And then, they cut checks to families. I think it’s once a year, but they want to make that more regular. Anyway, they just cut checks to families. And you can spend that on anything, which is, this is almost like food stamps, but for bikes.
[00:28:19] Matthew: Which, if anything,
[00:28:19] Scott de Lange Boom: you think would not be the conservative way to go about it, the whole conservative ethos around this sort of thing it’s supposed to be, that people are the best judge of what their, they should spend their money on.
[00:28:34] And it’s, inappropriate paternalism for the government to be setting those terms. So this is a weird thing that really, to me, smacks of, of politics and trying to get to the outcome without actually having to do the thing Trudeau did. I’m not sure it really works. It’s weird. It’s complicated.
[00:28:56] The personal savings account thing just sounds like an administrative nightmare. Yeah, especially for something that’s low.
[00:29:02] Ian Bushfield: They talk about maybe getting Interact to deal with it.
[00:29:05] Scott de Lange Boom: Or a system like Interact, it’s not even Interact. Like $20 a ton. That’s, I think, what like, four or 5 cents a litre. The administrative headache of just doing that for each transaction is probably going to be pretty high and not very efficient.
[00:29:25] It’s weird. I think this is probably the weakest part of the whole setup. It’s going to anger the base that just hates carbon taxes, that’s listened to the last decade and a half of conservative politicians telling them that, taxes on everything, that a carbon tax is unacceptable, that it’s not appropriate to make everyday Canadians pay for this sort of thing.
[00:29:54] It all altogether just doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. And if anything, I think they probably would have been better off just cutting this thing out entirely, letting people pay a little less for their personal fuel, and then offsetting it somewhere else with a steeper program elsewhere, that kind of takes the focus off the individual consumer.
[00:30:21] Ian Bushfield: Even do what the BC liberals did. And when you bring in the, when the carbon tax go up, income taxes go down, and just revenue neutral it that way.
[00:30:29] Scott de Lange Boom: That would work. But that’s probably too close to what Trudeau’s doing, that they didn’t want to go in there.
[00:30:37] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. In the text of it, there’s some interesting stuff, just even in the prelude, where they talk about, we recognize that the most efficient way to reduce our emissions is to use pricing mechanisms with carbon taxes.
[00:30:48] But they go on to say, carbon pricing should not result in Canadians sending billions of dollars in new tax revenue to the government revenue, which it will be increasingly tempted to spend. So I think their idea here is, by forcing it to go into these weird accounts, the government can’t touch it.
[00:31:04] And that means it’s not general revenue for the government. It’s not even like on the balance sheet of the government. It just goes from Canadians back into Canadians pockets without even touching anywhere the government could just redirect it, because their critic critique of the BC NDPs approach to the carbon taxes is that, it’s not revenue neutral anymore.
[00:31:24] And. On a balance sheet, money is fungible. So, keeping it out of government hands is how they do it. And then, by tying it to green spending, I guess they’re forcing you to spend it in the right way, in the same way, a tax-free savings account forces you to save.
[00:31:44] Scott de Lange Boom: It doesn’t force you to save cause it’s entirely voluntary.
[00:31:47]But yeah, you have to put that limit on there. Otherwise you lose the entire incentive effect because if, okay, I buy a liter of gas, and then I get a deposit into my TFSA. Then the more gas I buy, the more I save. So if you don’t have that stipulation on what it can be used, for which again, sounds like an administrative problem, trying to have someone in Ottawa sign off on it.
[00:32:12] I don’t know, your bus pass that you’re trying to pull money out of that to buy. It becomes an issue.
[00:32:22] Ian Bushfield: And it got pretty rightly mocked pretty quickly on Twitter as being equivalent to a gift card.
[00:32:28] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah it has its problems. I think this is the weakest area. Like there, there are definitely spots where those, like personal savings account type programs could I think, be quite good, the TFSA is great. There’s a program that Oregon has, I call it Oregon Saves, where basically, it’s an opt-out program where I think it’s 5%, maybe five to 10% of salary just goes into what’s basically their version of a TFSA, that like anyone can decide, no, I don’t want to do that, or pull the money out based on the general rules there. Hey, you know what, something that honestly, BC, or Canada should look at following, because saving rates are pretty low. Opt out basically lets anyone who that money actually really wouldn’t be good for them to be saving, to get out of that.
[00:33:15] But that’s not what this is.
[00:33:18] Ian Bushfield: And the other big feature here is, they’re capping the consumer facing carbon taxes at $50 a ton versus I think the federal ones are set to go up to 170. I don’t have the number in front of me,
[00:33:31]Scott de Lange Boom: Something around there.
[00:33:32]Ian Bushfield: but they’re going to continue rising. And so, the focus then has to be, how do we make up the gap?
[00:33:39] Because the conservatives have pledged in here to meet our Paris climate targets, reducing our emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, the specific numbers aren’t in their plan, but you can look them up. So we need to get more carbon out, and the way it turns out we do that is with a host of regulations.
[00:34:00] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So they’re looking at following BC’s model of having a zero emission vehicle mandate, specifically 30% of light duty vehicles by 2030, put in a bunch of EV infrastructure to support that, there was a section in there about requiring all federal buildings to have electric charging stations. Basically a bunch of support for EVs and a zero emissions mandate.
[00:34:29] Oh yeah. And investments in hydrogen technology on there. All well, and good. Probably not as purely economically efficient as a carbon tax, but not terrible either.
[00:34:43] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. A bunch of direct investments as well. Carbon capture tax credit, $5 billion, increasing fuel standards here, matching BC as well. Investing a bunch of money in natural climate solutions and sequesteration, building out a cleaner grid, hoping for a bit more nuclear, hydrogen, renewables. They talk about LNG exports as a transition fuel. It’s a conservative document, they’re going to do that. Even the liberals are on about cleaner LNG at times.
[00:35:11] So, all of that kind of goes together. And then the other bit we teased at the start was keeping that industrial carbon tax rising to $170 a ton by 2030, but the contingency is on our trading partners in the EU and US doing the same.
[00:35:30]Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So this is part of a section on industrial emissions standards and particularly, taking a unified approach with North America and our other major trading partners, which hey, on its face, isn’t unreasonable . And particularly, now that the Biden administration is in there, I think it is an easier sell to Canadians, because telling Canadians we’re going to match what Biden’s doing, I think goes over a lot better than matching what Trump’s doing.
[00:36:01] So that seems fine. Yeah. And they’re keeping the pretty high, per ton mission standard, which, like you said, it’s contingent on our trading partners making similar moves, but nevertheless, that’s a fairly significant carbon price that’s going to be put on a lot of companies and industries and it’s good to see them do that.
[00:36:28]Ian Bushfield: And I give credit to the Conservatives for this, cause it’s a smart strategy to say, we’re going to have a carbon tax, the carbon tax you, the voter, will see, will only be $50 a ton, but then behind the scenes, you’re charging business and industry, who actually do produce a lot of the emissions we’re looking at, the full amount.
[00:36:47] So you can still have the carbon tax that you need to have, but the people who are going to be loudest and maddest about it, don’t have to see the full hit. Like, at that point they could almost just try to eliminate the curve. I don’t think they can quite make the numbers work to eliminate the public facing carbon tax, but still have the industrial sector
[00:37:05] Scott de Lange Boom: Well that’s what I was saying, it was like, rather than have a $20 a ton personal carbon tax thing, just make the industrial one, I don’t know, like two I’m pulling numbers, just randomly here. I have no idea if it actually works, make it $200 a ton or something, and try and offset it with that. And maybe a higher 2030 EV requirement, maybe 35%. And it’s basically, try and bump the numbers up slightly elsewhere to offset that.
[00:37:32]Yeah, no, it’s a, yeah, 170. It’s just much bolder than I thought they would be on this, so good on them.
[00:37:41] Ian Bushfield: And even more interesting, and one of the reasons I like this plan more than what Sheer talked about during the election, or even just on its face, is they also ran it by an independent group called Navius Research. And I hadn’t heard of them before, but they’re a company based here in Metro Vancouver that does climate modeling, electrical modeling, and macro economic analysis. And they did an independent analysis for the Conservative Party about, will this plan work and what numbers, what will happen if this plan is put in versus the current federal government’s liberal plan, and overall, the numbers wash out, and this in theory would be as acceptable, at least potentially even better than the current federal plan.
[00:38:33] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah, so they find that in 2025, there’s going to be 13 megatons higher emissions compared to the Liberal party’s plan. But by 2030, that’s actually going to flip and be 6 megatons lower than the current federal plans. I mean, Erin O’Toole can go out and argue to say, hey, this’ll take effect a little slower, but we’ll actually get a better result in the end, and lower emissions.
[00:39:00] And they also find that Canadian GDP is going to be 0.7% higher compared to the announced federal policy.
[00:39:12]Ian Bushfield: Reference our target for 2030 is 511 mega tons. So a difference of six, plus or minus, isn’t huge. It gets, it’s nice to see, because there’s always going to be a bit of uncertainty in these models, but
[00:39:27]Scott de Lange Boom: It amounts to 2.7% of the amount we have to cut by.
[00:39:34] It’s small, but not nothing. I think it’s, a good sign that they brought someone in that wasn’t just someone in-house to, to look this over and actually give it a, an up and down. It tells me that they wanted to do this seriously. And I think we’ll have a bunch of PhD people on Twitter, arguing out over the finer details in the coming days.
[00:39:58] And maybe it’ll turn out to be three megatonnes , or eight megatonnes. Maybe the GDP figure is off by a little bit, but like overall, from the people who know a thing or two about this stuff, it seemed like the reception was pretty decent all around on this. And, outside of partisan sniping, it’s more or less generally being well received as a pretty decent proposal for climate.
[00:40:30] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. I think most people were quick to mock the savings account aspect. And I think we can mock that as well. But even this analysis here, it’s not glowing. It does say, the flexible regulation approach to the Conservative plan is less cost-effective than carbon pricing.
[00:40:46] However, this cost is more than offset because the plans use of carbon of consumer carbon price revenue is more economically efficient. Basically it highlights there’s a number of balances. Like it does put in some carbon pricing, so it gets some of that economic efficiency that these models like, but it has a lot of regulations that you wouldn’t expect from a conservative plan, but because the Liberals have owned the space on carbon taxes, they have to take a different approach. It also argues, in the end that because of the way, this turns money around to both households and small businesses via these low carbon savings account, it may generate more economic activity than the current federal policy, which only gives money to households.
[00:41:32] And that just seems like a guess to me, I’m sure they have some modeling.
[00:41:41] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I think a fair bit of assumptions have to go into this. They had to assume that the 170 would actually be realized. And who knows what the US political situation is going to be like in 2028, so maybe that won’t actually be the case and that they won’t go ahead with it.
[00:41:59] But, I think regardless, it’s a sign that things are at least aimed in the right direction on that. There was a few other items we didn’t really discuss in there that are interesting, put in a renewable fuels pilot in for the Canadian forces, which considering the amount of fuel they buy, is potentially, if they expand that beyond a pilot program, could leverage some pretty significant buying power on that one.
[00:42:28] Ian Bushfield: Pilot program. Sorry. I thought it was funny.
[00:42:36]Scott de Lange Boom: Oh, and the other particularly interesting item here, I don’t think we need to go into all the other ones are, I guess there’s two other ones I’ll mention. One is carbon border tariffs, which addresses one of the long standing conservative complaints about carbon taxes is it just pushes the economic activity to places without carbon pricing.
[00:42:59] So, under this plan, imports would be, from places that don’t have a carbon price, would be evaluated for an approximate. Carbon impact, and be taxed at the border equivalently.
[00:43:14]And, there’s also a section on adaption, where they talk about establishing a residential high risk flood insurance program, which is the other thing I’m a little skeptical of in here. Just, because the U.S’s national flood insurance program has been such a disaster. It ends up just subsidizing people to live in high-risk places.
[00:43:37] So, the devil will really be in the details on that one. And I’m going to want to see if they’re going to manage to avoid making those same mistakes.
[00:43:49] Ian Bushfield: The other thing to watch will be how Conservative MPs actually react to this. There were a couple of journalists tweeting out about the caucus meeting that happened this afternoon, and it was unclear whether it was an emergency one, one that was planned, or one that was planned but scheduled very shortly before it happened.
[00:44:12]Erin’O Toole appeared at that, and there were at least a few disgruntled MPs who were not pleased with this plan or this approach, this carbon tax. Whether that spills over into a more public dispute remains to be seen. But honestly, the plan itself is not terrible. And it’s good to see the conservatives come around to something.
[00:44:34] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. I think this is definitely a positive development. I think the politics of it, it’s easy for us to sit here and say, yeah, it’s right they moved in this direction, it’s much more difficult for O’Toole to manage that. Because as we saw at the convention a couple of weeks back, the party is not entirely united on this one, and I don’t doubt that caucus meeting got contentious and particularly the personal quasi carbon tax savings account thing, I think will probably end up rankling a few, more than a few people in a lot of ways.
[00:45:15] So that one, I don’t think they hit the right political balance on that one in particular, but it’s what’s needed I think if the Conservative party wants to realistically contest the next election in a competitive manner. And yeah, overall I think good marks on this, but the internal party politics, I don’t think are done here.
[00:45:47] Ian Bushfield: Well, moving on to quick takes while we’re talking about internal politics this past weekend, we also saw the other two major federal parties, I guess we didn’t see the Greens or the Bloc, but the NDP and the Liberals had their conventions and ooh, the NDP convention does not sound like it went well.
[00:46:07] Mind you, most of the people I’m hearing from, tend to be leftists who get very angry at the party for not being what they want it to be, because it will never will be. But a lot of really dumb things seem to have plagued what was online convention that otherwise seemed to have gone well for the Conservatives and Liberals, but just got mired in technical issues, delays, weird scheduling things where they got to debate motions for 40 minutes, but then had 20 minutes to do an online vote. The click yes or no, that takes all of five seconds, maybe a minute or two, if you have tech issues, 20 minutes to debate that.
[00:46:48] And then, lots of procedural motions and points of order and all of that fun stuff of conventions, so much so that over the entire weekend, they got 13 resolutions passed out of the 140 that were shortlisted, out of the more than 500 that were proposed by constituency associations across the country.
[00:47:11] Just a great sign.
[00:47:12] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. Conventions ar e mostly overrated, but it’s not a great sign when you can only get 13 things done in a weekend.
[00:47:24] Ian Bushfield: Like, I don’t know how many the Liberals passed. It may not have been many more, but I heard a report and I think this was on the Sandy and Nora podcast, where they talked about one section where, there was only two motions that got debated.
[00:47:37] I think it was the motion on solidarity with Indian farmers and the more controversial motion about whether to take a stand, more on side with Palestinians against illegal settlements from Israel. The Indian farmer motion, I guess got 35 minutes of debate, and the Palestinian one got four, with one person on each side.
[00:48:00]Scott de Lange Boom: This is a hot topic in the NDP, in the end I think two-thirds of members supported the Palestinian resolution, but still it’s just, guys, you got to do better on, you would have had time to test this system. And I know, you can’t really test it with a thousand people there, but, little embarrassing.
[00:48:22] Yeah. The NDP do not get good headlines coming out of this one. Everyone’s probably done forget about it in a week or two, if they’re even remembering it now. That they avoided, I think some of the more nuttier resolutions getting to the floor and debated, so that they probably dodged a bullet on a few of those ones, but yeah.
[00:48:47] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. The things that did pass were like increasing taxes, putting the federal minimum wage at $20 paid sick leave for federal workers, things that are pretty uncontroversial for the NDP.
[00:48:56]Scott de Lange Boom: Pretty standard NDP fair. None of the, like weird, bad ideas, like abolishing the military,
[00:49:04] Ian Bushfield: which when we get to the next story might seem well, maybe not justified, but understandable.
[00:49:11]Jagmeet Singh’s speech sounded like it went over well, though. His speech mostly took aim at the federal Liberals who also had their convention. But their headlines seem to be dominated by someone who’s not a member, maybe as a member of the party, but he’s not a member of parliament for the party, but maybe he will be, Mark carney.
[00:49:32] The former Bank of Canada Governor made a big appearance and got a lot of attention again.
[00:49:37] Scott de Lange Boom: Mark Carney had been rumored to be interested in getting more politically involved, becoming a person of note in the Liberal parties. That wasn’t a huge surprise when he got announced as one of the speakers at the convention, I didn’t watch the speech at all.
[00:50:04] By all accounts, it went fine. There’s still a bit of me that’s slightly uncomfortable with people who headed the central bank, getting into politics. There is a reason that job is firmly separated from the political goings on of the day and central bank independence is pretty important and yeah, a fair bit of time has passed, but still, there are some jobs, it never feels entirely comfortable to mix with kind of the knockdown drag out partisan politics.
[00:50:43] Ian Bushfield: Yeah. We’ll have to keep watching to see where he lands.
[00:50:46]Scott de Lange Boom: It’d be like if Beverley Mclachlin announced she was going to be running, like, yeah, prominent person who ran an important Canadian institution. Nevertheless, it feels slightly off to get involved in partisan politics
[00:51:03] Ian Bushfield: At the rest of the Liberal convention, they passed a number of resolutions, which ironically would have all done well, probably at the NDP convention.
[00:51:11] The Liberals endorsed a UBI, us making a CERB type program permanent, 77% supported that. They endorsed expanded PharmaCare, a green new deal style program. 97% supported reforming long-term care with enforceable standards, which I’m pretty sure was in the throne speech. So it felt like a bit of a waste of a resolution to even debate that for them.
[00:51:34] But I think one that was really interesting that came from some Ontario young Liberals, who were crying to be taxed more because they were wealthy enough, was to eliminate the capital gains exemption and to enact an inheritance tax. That ultimately failed 62% to 38%, by delegates who, decided not to increase these taxes, but I know a number of our patrons in our Slack really like to take aim at the capital gains exemption as one of, not a driver of the hosting crisis, but one of those things that helps exacerbate inequality, as house prices skyrocket and make the rich, or even just like lucky, people who are lucky enough to buy a home a few decades ago, have a lot of money in the bank, at least on paper. And when they sell their home, it then goes on the bank. It goes into the bank.
[00:52:31] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. That’s interesting that got brought up at all, because it is one of those things that would be very politically toxic even if, I think all the economists out there would want to see it happen. But yeah, overall the big headlines policy stuff come out of this one, definitely tack left and that’s not uncommon at Liberal conventions for the party members to, I think be a little more in that direction than the kind of elected members tend to be who, it’s a little bit part they’re entirely pragmatically driven by electoral considerations for the most part.
[00:53:12]Ian Bushfield: Yeah, I think I saw someone on Twitter point out that the Liberal policy convention has adopted a UBI as a platform, as a policy, repeatedly since the 1970s. And I remember at the last convention, a year or two ago, they endorsed drug decriminalization and, the Liberal policy conventions tend to go pretty far, and the Liberal party tends to go, “maybe”.
[00:53:39] Scott de Lange Boom: Yeah. So I wouldn’t read too much into this at all, but the little bit you can read into it definitely seems like it’s a party that’s not concerned about its right flight.
[00:53:49]Moving onto our next story, the Liberal party with the support of the Bloc Quebecois has decided to cut short, the parliamentary committees investigation of sexual misconduct in the Canadian forces, and related issues around the former Chief of Defense Staff. And currently, stepped aside pending investigations, current Chief of Defense Staff.
[00:54:15]So this motion was put forward by Liberal MP, Anita Vandenbeld, and supported by the Bloc. Basically asks the committee members to have their recommendation sent in to the clerk by tomorrow or the day you’re listening to this, April 16th, with a draft report being finalized on the 28th, and sent to the House of Commons, no later than the 10th of June.
[00:54:44] Ian Bushfield: This is essentially basically saying, we need to close this down. The Liberal argument was framed around needing to get a timely resolution for the victims so that we can move on I guess. I think I heard a similar argument made in the wake of the Portapique massacre and shooting spree was, we want to wrap this up quick to do justice to the victims.
[00:55:11] And in that situation, the families of the victims were saying, no, we would rather get to all of the answers and do this right, rather then rush it. And it’s unseemly in, it’s almost as unseemly in this situation to be rushing through this process, right now.
[00:55:30] Scott de Lange Boom: Particularly because they haven’t had a chance to hear from key witnesses at the moment.
[00:55:35] This is very much a case of, it’s embarrassing for the government, because there’s been questions around, when was the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister briefed on the allegations against General Vance. And, did they ignore that when making an appointments or continuing his term as Chief of Defense Staff.
[00:56:02] Ian Bushfield: It’s gross. This whole situation is gross.
[00:56:05] Scott de Lange Boom: It’s a bad move on a bunch of fronts. It’s important for any organization to have accountability for its senior leadership and particularly one such as the military that occupies a special place within the Canadian Government apparatus. There absolutely needs to be accountability, not just for the most junior members, but more so for the senior members.
[00:56:35]The thing that gets hammered into every officer going through training is lead by example, that gets repeated time and time again, and it’s an ethos that is important for leadership. And if you don’t exemplify that and don’t actually live up to it, you don’t get the respect of the organization, the people that lead. And that is incredibly corrosive to an organization, such as the Canadian Forces and, by not holding, both the government and senior military personnel accountable in this circumstance, you ultimately weaken the forces.
[00:57:21] And in addition to that, create a hostile environment for many service members, which not only is it, very bad just as a general moral statement. It’s also the case that, for the military to be effective, it needs to have its members be safe and in good morale and able to focus on the mission, which isn’t going to happen if there is widespread sexual harassment and misconduct.
[00:57:59] Ian Bushfield: The forces have been trying, especially under the Federal Liberal Government to diversify, to increase the number of women up and down the ranks, and you just straight up cannot do that. And you cannot convince people, and especially women and marginalized people to join your institution when you don’t take this seriously. Like, the military is such a strictly hierarchical organization for many important reasons, that these have to be taken more seriously, not just more seriously, but not taking this seriously, it’s bad. It’s bad. It’s ugly. People lose faith.
[00:58:45] Scott de Lange Boom: It’s bad for the victims and it’s bad for the military and the country overall. You should not have this happen in any organization. And particularly, the one that is charged with carrying out violence in the nation’s interest.
[00:59:02]Ian Bushfield: To close off on something else that was bad, is the treatment of Italian Canadians during World War Two. It was announced this week that Trudeau next month will be issuing a formal apology to the Italian Canadian community for how this country treated them during the war. Specifically, the government through various acts, declared the 31,000 Italian people in Canada as enemy aliens and interned at least 600 individuals. Not as many as Japanese interment, but it’s still morally wrong. There was a lot of anti Italian bias at the time.
[00:59:46] And so a formal apology is overdue. I think there was, I was looking into the history a little bit and there have been some apologies or partial works towards it. I think there was one bill, private members bill that started to work its way through parliament to make this happen several years ago, but it died on the order paper.
[01:00:04] So, a long overdue bill and it seems like it was motivated in part by, I don’t want to say a sizeable caucus of Italian Canadians in the Liberal party or in the Liberal government, or in our current parliament, but a number of them. And it was raised as a question and he was able to promise to do this next month.
[01:00:25] The one thing I did find a little, it twigged my ear I’ll say, is that Trudeau also added that Canadians of Italian heritage are “dealing with ongoing discrimination related to those mistakes of the past that continues to affect them to this day”. And this came up in the City of Vancouver recently, in Vancouver politics, where one counselor got into spats that I won’t fully go into, around whether Italians are discriminated against today.
[01:00:57] And I don’t know, I don’t think it’s the same. And I think the apology for the World War Two treatment is right, but I would tread more carefully if I were Trudeau or others, in discussing potential discrimination faced by people of Italian heritage today. But maybe I’m ignorant on this issue.
[01:01:22]Scott de Lange Boom: It’s something that I am not, I don’t have any good data on that one at all.
[01:01:29]My sense is that it is, was a significant problem in the past and that it’s not that way anymore, but maybe there’s some detail I’m missing too.
[01:01:40]Ian Bushfield: There’s a process whereby different communities have become white over the years. This is prominent among like the Irish community. I would argue somewhat as well among the Italian community where, historically they weren’t white and today they largely are. But, find me on Twitter and yell at me if I’m being Italian racist, but otherwise, good to see another apology for our historic wrongs.
[01:02:11] Maybe we should stop doing wrong things in the future.
[01:02:16] Scott de Lange Boom: And that has been PolitiCoast, find links to everything we talked about at PolitiCoast.ca. Support the show and get access to our Slack channel at Patrion.com/PolitiCoast. Our intro music credit is Beautiful British Columbia, by Serge Plotnikoff. PolitiCoast is a production of Leg and Boot Media, and editing services are provided by CHLY 101.7 FM in Nanaimo.
[01:02:40] Wash your hands and stay home.
[01:02:42] Thanks for listening.