Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Canada: A Nation of Trade Morons?

English classical economist David Ricardo (1772-1823), put forward the theory of international trade, called the theory of comparative advantage.  It forms the basic claim of economists that free trade operates to the advantage of every nation, the advanced as well as underdeveloped or oppressed nations. But today, more often than not, politics is interfering with the basic objectives of the theory; this is clearly more evident in Canada.

Since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect, we have seen strong economic growth and rising prosperity for Canada, the United States, and Mexico. NAFTA, like other Trade Agreements has shown that free trade increases wealth and competitiveness, and delivers real benefits to families, farmers, workers, manufacturers, and consumers. However not all participants in free trade have honoured their agreements. In many instances we still see trade deficits among participants. It is one of the reasons for Trump’s demand for a re-negotiation of the current agreement.

While Trudeau’s government is trying to play hard ball with the U.S, it is the type of proposals he has put forward that is worrisome. For some observers there is too much emphasis on including ‘progressive ideology’ in free trade agreements. Instead of really negotiating the factors of comparative advantage, Trudeau has included the rights of labor, gender, environmental and other social issues in the debate. In my view these demands will be obstacles rather than negotiating factors. To Canadians who too often are paying higher costs for too many goods, it is time that we take down some barriers and negotiate in good faith, 

In my view abolishing the soft lumber subsidies and the constant irritants that is supply management will benefit rather than harm Canadian consumers. By the same token we should be negotiating to get better access to more markets in the U.S for the goods that we are better at producing, for example our oil and other natural resources.

It is not only Trudeau who does not understand the benefits of free and fair trade. When it comes to free trade, Canadians have no idea what it means. We are a nation of protectionists. We have barriers for everything; from the movement of labor to the free movement of goods and services. We have more restrictions within the country than we have with other nations. Canada as yet to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement among all the provinces, and instead of seeing trade barriers fall, we see more barriers being erected.

Preaching from the environment altar , provinces have started an internal battle against oil from Alberta. Quebec opposes a pipeline east, and BC stands in the way of a pipeline west. We want trade with China but we cannot find a way to get oil to them, while we buy oil for the eastern provinces from a communist regime in Venezuela.

In a political move to protect Bombardier from a trade dispute with Boeing, the Prime Minister chooses to buy used F-18 planes from Australia instead of purchasing new F-35 from Boeing.

 Internally Canada does not fare very well either.  The NDP government of Alberta imposed a tax on craft beer brewed outside of the New West Partnership (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan). In another case of sheer protectionism, The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a Crown appeal of a New Brunswick ruling overturning a ban on bringing alcohol across provincial boundaries.

In a new twist, Alberta’s NDP Bilous is furious at Saskatchewan over a few trucks and Brad Wall in his last days as Premier gets into the fray and we now have a potential war between the neighboring provinces. It looks as if the days of free traffic flow between Alberta and Saskatchewan are over. Drivers of heavy equipment, trucks, or cars to the work site with Alberta plates instead of the green and white plates of Saskatchewan “will have a week to comply or be sent home.

At home and abroad, the idea of free trade has reached a watershed moment. When PM Brian Mulroney negotiated the trade agreement, he was a leader who understood the concepts of comparative and competitive advantage. But today across the world the forces of populism led by Trump is causing havoc with Ricardian principles. It is not that free trade is bad, but it is the claim that fair trade no longer exists. The progressives have taken over the ideas of free trade to politicize their ‘open border agenda’. Instead of promoting the free movement of labour they insist that it should be the free movement of people, no matter whether they are skilled or unskilled, whether they are legal or illegal. Furthermore trade imbalances and deficits are the main reason for the need to re-negotiate existing agreements.

Unfortunately for Canadians, who in the main are totally uninformed about the ramifications of free trade, are led by a leader who has no concept of Ricardian principles. Instead he seems to be under the influence of some progressive agenda to promote social causes around the world, to the detriment of economic advantages for Canada. He has already botched the TPP and mangled any possible trade with China.

Furthermore, mired in his environmental convictions Trudeau has been unable to get a free trade agreement between provinces. However, Canadians, in general, are to blame for this situation, which may well cost us in the long run. As a nation we are too insular, and protectionist. Understandably we are a small country demographically, but we must open our trade borders internally as well as internationally. We have much to offer, and we must take advantage of our resources and abilities. The 21st century can belong to us, if we embrace free trade
We need real leaders on trade in Canada, not protectionist provincial politicians who would look no further that their next election when making decisions on trade. We need Canadian consumers to understand that there are better ways to reduce prices and costs, and that includes a freer market and the free movement of goods and services.

Instead of following the lead of the mass media and blaming Trump for our trade woes, maybe Canadian trade morons should look in the mirror and embrace the notion that Trump may well save us from ourselves.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Make Alberta Great Again

October 28, 2017 was the day that common sense conservative Albertans took the RIGHT steps towards taking back the province from a socialist government. The first ballot election of Jason Kenney opens the door to a new era of free market economy and fiscal responsibility. The hard work starts now.

Jason gave up a career in federal politics to come back home to rescue Albertans from the abyss of socialism. First he must get the right people around him. The time has come for conservatives to compromise on process but never compromise on principles. Too often, Progressives in the old party did compromise their principles, and we must not revert back to the old ways. The tent is wide open but we must also be aware of any false prophets among us; since “progressive” does not necessarily means to move forward but rather, to establish liberal schemes.  Progressivism is a well disguised form of socialist authoritarian agenda.

The biggest challenge for the United Conservative Party (UCP) will be to fight back the   attacks and innuendos that will come from the NDP, the Liberal media and many old progressives. In the first week after his election, Jason Kenney’s name has been mentioned over 50 times in Legislature. It took barely forty-eight hours for Premier Rachel Notley to start the harangue and fire the first salvo when she said: “We’ll stand against UCP’s job-killing, gay outing, school-cutting, health privatizing, backward-looking, hope destroying, divisive agenda” Alberta conservatives must be cognizant that this type of rhetoric is going to be the mantra of the left for the next two years until the next elections. They will throw every epithet and divisive comments to get the new leader off track. They do not have real pro-growth economic policies and will divert the debate towards social issues.

Yes, and I have said it before, we must discuss social issues. However conservatives must define social issues as education, economic freedom, freedom of choice, health care, safety and security. This is where the rubber meets the road. The current government will continue to implement social engineering policies that will divide the good people of Alberta. Watch out for debates in Legislature using words like, homophobia, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, etc. to demonize every conservative position different from the government’s agenda.

Recently, as the President of the Institute for Public Sector Accountability (IPSA) I took part in a ‘Restoring the Alberta Advantage’ conference. Among participants were representatives from the U of C School of Public Policy, and the, Frontier Centre for Public Policy. The focus was on finding ways to get Alberta back on a sound economic path. There were many suggestions and our findings will be made public soon. I suggest that the new UCP leadership take a good look at the findings and include the solutions in their platform. The economy should be at the forefront of taking back the province from a socialist government.

Personal attacks on UCP members and their leader will be the norm. But I hope that a seasoned politician like Jason Kenney will be able go on the offensive because it is the best form of defense. Social policies like the GSA and other social engineering issues are a form of government control that should be addressed. Similar to the days of the authoritarian Soviet Union, these policies are very dangerous as they gradually take away individual and parental rights and choices. While not paying lip service to wedge issues, the UCP must formulate policies that will bring back the Alberta Advantage that the province lost under the past two conservative and current NDP governments. After all we already have examples of failed socialist policies in Ontario, Cuba, Venezuela, and now Alberta, Why continue down the rabbit hole towards the abyss?

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Municipal Elections 2017: Calgary goes down in Flames

After the results of the 2017 Municipal elections became official, I placed a comment on Facebook stating that I was in shock. I also promised that I would explain my state of mind; and the following will surprise my followers. .
In what has been termed ‘the nastiest’ Municipal election in Calgary, the partisan leftist media and many liberal academics have tried to portray the re-lection of Naheed Nenshi as a victory for the City. They may be right for at least some 50% of the electorate, but they must also be aware that the World’s Best mayor saw a real dip in his popularity, and although he won by a 7% margin over his opponent, the result could be said that he won by the skin of his teeth. Yes some polls were correct and some were not. But in today’s world I put little credence in polls. I had my own list of preferred candidates and I called for the election of all 4 new candidates and the re-election of right leaning Councillors, with the exception of Colley –Urqhart. I was wrong on all the re-election of leftist Councillors.
The media’s post mortem is devoid of reality checks and persists to report on the outcome based on a progressive agenda. They have clearly ignored the angst of the electorate, the inability for many voters to actually vote because of bungling by the City’s electoral office. Given that four new right of centre Councillors were elected and that five incumbents got less than 50%, if this election was about change, the results demonstrate that it was partly so.
This election could have been an even more of a watershed if the media had covered the campaign accurately. All the talk about nastiness was misconstrued. There is no doubt that many social media comments came from all sides. But to believe that it all came from the right is totally biased. Has anybody considered that some of the comments made about leftist candidates could have originated from their own side to sidetrack the issues? I remember clearly the ‘brick’; in Nenshi’s campaign office in 2010.
It was so disingenuous when former Councillor Pincott claimed that the campaign was marred by Republican style tactics, forgetting that in reality it was mostly the Democrat style of campaigning that was prevalent when Nenshi used the race card, and furthermore most of the complaints came from leftist candidates. It was racism, a bogus lawsuit, or misogyny by female candidates supported by the left. While there were very few complaints from the right, I am mostly impressed by newly elected Joyti Gondek’s  interview by the Calgary Herald when the subject of gender politics  was brought up, Gondek bristled; “It’s funny, because I don’t think anyone that’s interviewing one of the new male (councillors) today is saying, ‘tell me about how you feel about being a man on council?’ ” says Gondek. “My gender didn’t weigh into my decision to run.” Similarly there was no outcry of racism from George Chahal.
It was also claimed that there were no issues debated, which was absolutely not true. Taxes were at the centre of the debates, financial misinformation about the Green Line, Midfield Park, and of course the Flames arena issue. Many people complain that Nenshi is arrogant and always seems to be the smartest man in the room. Well he may be arrogant, but on the campaign trail he was the smartest candidate. He turned all the negatives into a debate about inconsequential issues: like racism, diversity and inclusions. What Calgarians forgot was that when Nenshi was elected twice before there was no racism issue. The left’s contention of inclusiveness and diversity is always to divert and obfuscate the real issues. What is forgotten is that there was clear involvement by third parties in this election. Many incumbents, including the Mayor were openly supported by the Unions, and there was a clear interference by the NDP Transport Minister. The union supported incumbents won, but other candidates did not, so in that sense it was a victory for democracy
This brings me to why I was shocked.  To my readers’ surprise it is not the results that shocked me. It is the lack of understanding of why we had such a result. Let me explain. For years I have advocated for party politics in Municipal elections, as is common in many other jurisdictions. Believe it or not there was a leftist cabal in the last Council, and obviously they had the support of the unions. My shock is that conservatives still do not understand why we still have many Liberals on Council.  Even Rick Donkers the communication Director for Bill Smith’s campaign said that he did not believe in party politics at City Hall ; what a foolish thing to say. The real problem is that the left is always better organized and do not make any excuse for supporting certain candidates. By contrast, for some reason, conservatives hide their support being closed doors as if they were afraid of showing their ideology. In my book: Conservatives: Dead or Alive? I opined about the division among conservatives. I was shocked that there was no open display of support from Federal and Provincial elected members of conservative parties. Michelle Rempel was the only one I saw that openly supported Sean Chu. I am shocked that we could not elect a conservative Mayor when we had so many financial issues. I was shocked because the Flames got in the way with their extravagant request for taxpayers money. I was shocked that Bill Smith gave the appearance that he was supporting the Flames. I was shocked that Bill Smith, a very nice man, did not take the incumbent Mayor to task on the racism issue. I was shocked that a former athlete did not know that offense is the best form of defense. I am shocked that Calgarians still listen to the media which spent more time talking about Trump’s issues in the States than actually analysing the issues that are important to Calgarians. I was shocked that the academics did not challenge me when I exposed Druh Farrell’s lawsuit or my analysis of the Councillors’ pension fund and how taxes and fees are costing Calgarians their hard earned money. Instead they claimed that the campaign was marred by misinformation.
So many times people have asked me to run either for Mayor for Councillor, I have always said NO. The reason is simple, you will be shocked to hear that I do not trust the political intelligence of voters, because they either do not know or do not want know about the issues before they go to the polls. So why should Calgarians, who found their candidates on the losing side be shocked? Because it is pure and simple: much of the electorate did not really understand what they were voting for. Once again, they just based their votes on what they heard not what they knew. That’s why I was shocked by the results, but not shocked that Calgarians will get the Council they deserve.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Kneeling, or ‘Taking a knee’

When President Trump attacked the millionaire football players of the National Football League (NFL), uproar arose after his call for players who do not respect the National Anthem to be fired. The media immediately jumped on the racism bandwagon and ignored the real story.

Kneeling was once commonly related to the action of getting on one’s bent knees to pray. But today the players of the NFL have decided to have a different definition by ‘taking a knee’ to protest during the rendition of the National Anthem before the games. The demonstration was started by Colin Kaepernick a Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who began protesting by not standing while the National Anthem was played before the games. He was protesting against the oppression of people of color in the United States. As his action gained national attention, players from other teams started to emulate him. Colin Kaepernick does not like the police, without proof he accuses them of being murderers and slave catchers. He also depicted cops as pigs on his socks.

There is no doubt that in the United States the ugly truth about racism still underlines many issues. Over the years there have been several police actions against the black population that have been proven to be of a racist nature. But we also ignore many statistical facts concerning the death of African American man at the hand of the police  and by other African Americans.
According to Attorney Peter Kirsanow of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights, the Department of Justice statistics show that blacks are 2.5 times more frequently killed by the police than whites. But what is ignored for example is that in New York blacks are 2.5 times more likely to commit crimes, 3.5 times more likely to commit robbery,38 times more likely to commit murders, and 51 times more likely to be involved in shooting resulting in homicide. As a result of a false narrative being used by politicians, the media and even President Obama, after the incident in Ferguson, the police, in many jurisdictions, like Baltimore, are less engaged in active policing.  As a consequence in 2015 there were 900 and 2016 another 900 more blacks killed by blacks. In fact black policemen are 3.3 times more likely to shoot blacks. New York used to have 314 shootings and 93 of them fatal. In 2015 it was 23 shootings and 3 fatal.

So here we are today, with professional athletes ‘taking a knee’ instead of standing during the national anthem. In my view, the President should not have used the words ‘sons of birches’ to describe these protesters, but he was right to demand that the team owners fire the protesters for demonstrating their disrespect for the flag and the anthem. The irony is that these players are employees and in any other venue employees displaying that kind of behaviour would be summarily fired. In contrast, Washington state high school football coach Joe Kennedy, was fired for kneeling in prayer; A few years ago NFL quarterback Tim Tebow ‘took a knee” in prayer on a football field and was criticized by a lurid part of society. Players who wanted to wear a patch on their uniform to remember the victims of 9/11 were forbidden to do so.

The real issue is that the owners do not have the guts to stop the demonstration against the National Anthem and the flag. They are thinking about fan support, tickets sales and revenues, which by the way are dwindling.

This protest may be warranted but it is also based on a false narrative perpetuated by the leftist media. Everybody has a right to protest, however it is the place and time that really matters in this case. To disrespect the soldiers and first responders is abhorrent. To do it in a foreign country is even worse. These protesters could have chosen to ‘take a knee’ before the game and not during the National Anthem, or better still like Ray Lewis the former Ravens NFL player take both knees and pray.

Trumps’ opponents’ should look at the real issue and context of his comments. I ponder in light of the tragedy in Las Vegas, if the victims and public would have preferred to have NFL players instead of first responders, including policemen, and military personnel to protect and help them?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Art of ‘punting’ a Political Football

When George. W Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea the axis of evil; he was crucified by the media for saying so. Today, Trump has inherited a new axis of evil with Iran, North Korea and Islamist Terrorists. Furthermore the immigration issue has been a thorn in past administrations for decades and still has not been resolved. Why do these problems take decades to be solved?

Let us look at the most pressing issue of the day: The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK). For years the world has turned a blind eye to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Today we have reached a critical mass. North Korea has a nuclear and perhaps a Hydrogen bomb. More critically they are making huge progress in their ability to possess Intercontinental Missiles that could deliver a nuclear device to the United States. The United Nations and U.S administrations have never dealt with North Korea for fear of retaliations against South Korea. Sanctions have not really worked because China is the DPRK’s staunchest supporter. Most of the North Korea’s trade is with China, and for years the Chinese have used the DPRK as a foil against the U.S. As the threats from this rogue nation increases and puts the world on the brink of a possible nuclear war, the world is still talking about diplomacy. While I am not for an all-out war I believe that the options of a military solution should be on the table. Trump will be blamed for whatever decision he makes, the question is will he make the right decision? His predecessors have, by their inactions, enabled three generations of the Kim dynasty to threaten the world. China has not been able to curtail North Korea’s belligerence; Talks and United Nations sanctions have not worked and in my view will not work. We seem to be repeating another Chamberlain ’Peace in our time’ moment.
While all wars are catastrophic, I suggest that a military action is necessary before something cataclysmic happens.
I will defer the ultimate decisions to generals McMaster and Mattis for obvious reasons. But I would use a first strike using an Electromagnetic bomb to be detonated in the atmosphere over North Korea, and once the grids have been disabled a massive attack with conventional weapons should be undertaken to take out the regime for good. South Korea could then rebuild the whole unified country.

Then there is the ever growing immigration issue which has plagued so many administrations. At issue is Trump’s statement that he will make a deal with the Democrats to abolish the now deemed unconstitutional Obama’s ‘memorandum’ Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The result of this immigration memo was to protect children brought into the U.S illegally by their parents. Any action would perhaps affect some 800,000 now grown up persons. It is also believed that many of these so-called ‘dreamers’ may also apply to workers who came to the U.S on a legal work permit but who have overstayed their legal residence permit. The problem is that many of the dreamers are already in the workforce and in the military where they have served honorably. Despite the fact that many Republicans believe that Trump’s deal may be tantamount to amnesty, it is unconceivable that children who are not responsible for the illegal acts of their parents, and have no ties to any other country should be deported. Therefore in my view Trump can use the ‘art of the deal’ to finally put a stop to this huge flaw in the immigration laws that irk many U.S citizens. Tying up any DACA concession to a complete reform of the immigration laws and building a wall is the best negotiations tools left to the President to fulfill a campaign promise.

Of course Trump will be opposed by both the right and the left, who ironically have been the culprits in kicking the can down the road on both these issues. The world cannot wait for a reckless North Korean idiot to start a nuclear war; pre-emptive action must be taken. As for DACA it must be resolved to eliminate the growing globalists view that we should live in a world without borders.
Given the current circumstances I would rather see the ‘art of the deal’ instead of another punting of a political football.