Friday, 27 December 2019

Rebuttal to George Brookman Herald Column Dec 19 , 2919

With due respect to Mr. Brookman, an entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, while I agree with his wishes for optimism, I cannot disagree more with his assessment of the current situation at Calgary’s City Hall.

Mr. Brookman’s idea that we should compensate Councillors in a way that would entice more people to stand for office is totally out of sync with what politicians tell you when they enter the race for office. When they knock on your door to solicit your votes it is always about how they will serve you, never is the subject of compensation mentioned. However once elected, we have seen that they will approve salary increases and huge pensions for themselves, despite the fact that their own appointed citizens panel disagree with them., His other argument against limited terms is also wrong when he believes that individuals must be given at least 12 years to learn on the job and that they would be more knowledgeable as time goes by.  People get elected because they are supposed to be more knowledgeable than ordinary citizens. That they have ideas to make things better and that is why they seek to represent them

The Institute for Public Sector Accountability (IPSA) has always advocated a two term limit of eight years with the possibility of being re-elected after sitting out one term of four years. A two term limit of eight years is ample to make your mark if you are so qualified to represent the citizens, It is not the place to learn and be paid by the taxpayer; especially when the salaries, pensions and transition allowances are tied to the number of years on Council.

 Given his view that ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’; in Calgary this is debatable. We have seen hundreds of thousands of dollar in salaries, and pensions and yet what we have is a ‘zoo’. The talent that he supports has been vastly lacking in recent years. The results and tax increases clearly supports this assertion.
Mr. Brookman has in the past advocated for a 1% tax to finance arenas, and other huge expenditures. Perhaps he should look at IPSA’s proposed policies to change the Market Value Assessment system, change the disparity in business and residential taxes. It is suggested that instead of continuously trying to take money from the taxpayer to make the City better, he may look at alternative ways to finance these projects, like the proposed IPSA use of Tax Free Municipal Bonds which would give citizens an opportunity to really own these arenas and other facilities, instead of paying higher taxes.
I agree that we have to be optimistic, but it is hard for most Calgarians to feel that way when the roof is falling on many people’s heads. While not entirely Council’s fault, much of it could have been avoided with new ideas. As his friend says: “Same old George, always toeing the party line, always trying to sugar-coat the facts. Why can’t he admit that he’s living in the past and that he should just stop trying to tell us all how good things are.”
Not speculating that Mr. Brookman may be running for office at the next election, what worries me is that people trying to select candidates for the next elections may harbor Mr. Brookmans’ 20th century views - that is not optimistic.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Conservatives Moving Forward

After a failed federal election and a departing leader, it is time for the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to look inwardly and decide how to proceed in the future. For too long conservatives have fought against themselves and failed to win the last election which was handed to them on a platter. Let the reflection begin.
When Stephen Harper left the party, although he had lost the elections to a vacuous Trudeau, the party itself was in good shape. However the choice of a new leader was hampered by the division between small ‘c’ conservatives and social conservatives. The party in a very narrow vote gave the leadership to Andrew Scheer. In my opinion, Scheer never had the leadership qualities required to lead the party. Given his role as the Speaker of the House he did not have the qualities of a front bench Minister who had the opportunity to fight against the opposition in the House. He continued his role of House conciliator in the campaign and allowed Trudeau to define him instead of the other way round.
The current CPC is still too embroiled in a definition of conservatism. For those who still lament the ‘progressive’ side, they should get over it. Progressive has nothing to do with progress. Instead we should look at defining conservatism as being pragmatic and embrace what many see as a new approach to conservatism.
New conservatism is to embrace economic policies that reflect the new realities of the 21st century, as well as new mores in society. This means that we must embrace pragmatic environmental policies that address real environmental solutions and not focus on taxes and the redistribution of wealth. The economic policies should focus more on making family life more affordable; help make employment more accessible through a focus on training and apprentices rather than expensive education at Universities who have become bastions of indoctrination. Reduce the exploding costs of the welfare state and instead focus on reducing and eventually eliminating subsidies to corporations as well as placing caps on deductions and eliminating boutique tax policies while lowering tax rates.
As for Canadian values they should be reflected in our immigration policies, and move away from the disastrous approach to multiculturalism. More importantly, let us address the elephant in the room in a pragmatic way that will allow for a bigger tent party. Social values must not be the center piece of the new conservatism. Instead we must value freedom of speech and association. We can accommodate both sides. Conservatives, by nature, are law abiding citizens, we therefore will guarantee that existing laws will be respected and supported. By the same token we must understand that there are others in the party who have religious beliefs that must be respected. In a big tent party we can have both beliefs. While recognizing that we have a duty to protect the LBGTQ community, we can also respect the religious values of others. That also means that attending a parade is not a prerequisite to lead a country.
Furthermore the CPC must recognize that Canada is a vast country with a diverse population with different views and economic goals. The Liberal government has succeeded in dividing the country between East and West, and the CPC should focus in dismantling these barriers. One of the failures of the party was the inability to make a breakthrough in the GTA, and Quebec, Cities have become bastions of liberalism, because they are populated by the liberal elite. The movement of population from rural to urban is rising, and it will continue to affect the vote in large cities. The party must also attract more women.
The next leader will have to address these issues in a very short time, because with a minority government, an election could be called within the next two years. The CPC must ensure that a new leader reflects the new realities of the political environment. While I do not have any one in mind, I will venture to seek for a bi-lingual female candidate, who can embrace new conservatism ideas, while uniting the party. The leader must be able to stand up for pragmatic conservative ideas, and not cower to the liberal media desires of making conservatives look like Liberals. There are differences in ideology, and a leader should clearly articulate them without fear.
Offense is the best form of defense. The last election was lost because the CPC was unable to capitalize on the governments many mistakes. Despite the possible problems experienced by Trump -impeachment, and Boris - a Scottish separation, it would be wise to follow their example, because their style and policies seem to be winning conservative support. It is imperative that the next CPC leader ensures that there are no skeletons in her closet, because ‘those who live in glass houses cannot throw stones’ and the next election will be decided on how and who can throw the bigger stones.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A ‘Scheer’ conservative conundrum

Despite the fact that the Conservative party under Andrew Scheer won more seats and the popular vote, they were unable to form a majority government. Do we need a new leader or a change in policies?
The last election was devoid of debate on the real issues. All parties had their agenda defined by a climate change narrative which has become the basis for economic as well as social debates. The left has used rhetoric branding every conservative policy as far right and therefore against Canadian values. Identity politics has become the main starting point for any debate. Political correctness defines what and how governments should create and implement policies. In that environment it is very difficult for a conservative leader to express himself without being seen as being a bigot, a xenophobe and be branded by other disparaging epithets.
Well before the last election, the Liberals helped by the media and the education system have been able to fashion the Conservative party to their image. Increasingly conservatives have been forced to move further to the left. For a long time the party was known as the Progressive Conservative party. Progressive means moving to the left, adopting many of the principles opposite to true conservative principles. A small ‘c’ conservative used to believe in limited government, the free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility an empowerment to solve problems. In this election, none of these principles were articulated and supported in the campaign.
I did not support Andrew Scheer in the leadership race. Not because I disliked him but because of his previous position in government. In Canada it is the Speaker's responsibility to manage the House of Commons and supervise its staff. It is also the Speaker's duty to act as a liaison with the Senate and the Crown. His role was to be fair and impartial and therefore, in my view this position did not prepare him to be a leader but rather one of conciliator, and his campaign style proved that he was unable to put forward the party’s right to govern, In a climate where the previous government and its leader had been found to be deficient in many areas, Scheer was unable or perhaps unwilling to attack his opponents. In fact he allowed himself to be attacked on his social views and his citizenship.
Under Scheer’s leadership the party did not differentiate itself enough to win the large cities electorate and more women voters. Economic policies were not articulated properly and used the old boutique taxation policies. Climate change which was a main electoral issue was not addressed properly with clearly defined policies and was left to a Swedish juvenile to dictate how adults should vote. There was no attack on the Prime Minister’s ethical and contemptuous behavior.
Scheer never addressed Quebec’s Bill 21, which banned religious symbols. This Bill which many found to be of a racist nature was never contrasted with attacks on his religious belief. He was attacked for not attending a Pride Parade, by no other than a former Conservative operative. The question is when did attending a parade become a prerequisite to be Prime Minister? Especially when the organizers of such a parade have banned organizations from taking part when they wanted to do so. Freedom of speech today is defined only by the left, and Scheer did not protect this right. Hate speech should never be condoned, but we should not allow others to define us through accusations of bias and bigotry when no such thing is being imposed. The Conservative Party of Canada abides by past laws and has never stopped defending them. In a democracy we still have the right to have beliefs without infringing on other people’s beliefs.
The conundrum for the Conservative Party is not whether they should choose a new leader, but rather what it stands for in the future.  A change in leadership does not require a change in individual or personality, but rather requires a change in beliefs and policies. Does the party believe in progressive ideas or does it go back to true conservative principles as mentioned above? More importantly once that determination has been made, does the party find someone who can articulate and defend these principles?
The party has some months to ponder these questions, the membership should clearly think about the country as a whole and decide whether the Conservative party is prepared to unite the country or leave it to the left to continue their policies of division to get re-elected.

Friday, 25 October 2019

2019 Canadian Elections- Post Mortem

On October 21, 2019, Canadians decided to elect a minority Liberal government, despite the failures of four years under a Trudeau leadership. The Liberal Party got fewer votes and seats than when they started the campaign. They have but one seat in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and yet in his first speech Trudeau said that he had a mandate. It is time to evaluate where the country goes from here.
For the past four years the country has been mired in a political division created by a vacuous and arrogant Prime Minister. He chose to lecture us about his ideology and went around the world dressed as a peacock to garner votes for a seat at the United Nations. All the while he ignored some basic principles of government, working for the good of the country. His policies based on a desire to placate environmentalist helped to destroy the main industry of two provinces –Alberta and Saskatchewan. Pandering to a constituency, too often misinformed and misguided, Trudeau proceeded in imposing a carbon tax that was unpopular, and costs jobs while doing everything possible to prevent the construction of a pipeline that would see the export of oil to Asia. The climate change policies of the government created massive unemployment in Alberta and alienated a whole population that was already aggrieved by his father’s policy of the National Energy Program. He succeeded to nationalize the Trans Mountain pipeline by purchasing it, and thus gaining full control.
The whole electoral campaign was a dud. All parties had no real policies but produced some of the worst rhetoric based around the so-called climate change. Economic and social policies were all based on a desire to limit Green House Gases. In fact the politicians may have produced more hot air than anything else. The Conservatives who had the wind behind their backs never got the electorate enthused about their platform. Andrew Scheer never used an attack strategy but in fact found himself defending some of his positions on social issues and his citizenship. He never defended his religious beliefs and values. When challenged; he never asked Canadians when and how attending a pride parade became a prerequisite to be a Prime Minister?
The combined left made up of the Liberals, Greens, the Bloc and NDP, campaign around the environmental issues, mainly the opposition to fossil fuel and in fact against the West, excluding British Columbia. Based on the campaign it is no surprise that the results were what they are. – a minority Liberal government. Despite claims that the first past the post system is to blame, the fact remains that the Liberals won because of the votes in Ontario, and the rise of the Bloc in Quebec.  It seems that Ontarians are shallow in their voting choices, albeit perhaps that they are misinformed or totally oblivious about economic principles, and the fact that Trudeau was found guilty of ethics breaches, and obstruction of justice. Quebec voters, on the other hand, are in my view the savviest electorate in the country. Quebec does not vote for the country they vote for what is best for them, and them alone. They benefit from and equalization system which is outdated and claim that they should receive more or they will separate from Canada. This separation sword of Damocles is now being touted to be the strategy that should be employed by the Western provinces; Wexit is in the making.   
Personally, I am not a separatist, because it does not make sense. The population of Canada is too small and a western nation will not have the economic base to sustain prosperity. We are a land locked region, and will require access for our trade. But given the first statement made by Trudeau I can see western alienation growing. His idea that he is going to reach to Mayors to represent him in the west is a preposterous and arrogant one. He must have forgotten that municipalities are the responsibility of provinces. To name Mayor Nenshi of Calgary as one of his possible helpers ignores the fact that the Mayor has become one of the most unpopular politicians in Calgary. While they share the same characteristics of arrogance and entitlement, in my opinion if Trudeau wants to offer an olive branch, he may have just made another mistake. For Nenshi, who has been searching for an exit to higher status, this may be what he is looking for, and to Calgarians it will be a fortuitous deliverance.
The country is about to see a move to the left never seen before, even under Pierre Trudeau. Conservatives need a leader that can articulate the needs of a Nation not that of provinces. Climate change is a reality, but it should not be used for wealth redistribution. If we want to reduce GHG by means of a carbon tax, the policy must be based on a change in behavior and the use of revenues not to penalize but to incentivize people towards a greener future.
Conservatives as the official opposition, must be very vigilant about coalitions between the NDP, Greens and Bloc. Just like eight years of Obama left the country deeply divided. Trudeau has done the same in four years. His rhetoric continues despite his loss. His arrogance will determine his policies; therefore the opposition must focus on attack instead of defense. The next election may not be too far. To be effective the CPC must go back to small ‘c’ conservative principles. That is the only winning strategy.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Climate zealots: How dare you?

For over two decades there has been a growing environmental movement, mostly used by leftist politicians to create and agenda of wealth redistribution. Today we have reached the point where 16 year olds and other juveniles have come to the United Nations to lecture us about the upcoming end of the world. How did we get to this point?
Believe it or not climate is in constant flux. However when the narrative changed to the abolition of carbon, some people saw an opportunity to make a change to the way the world operates. Politicians backed by certain scientists, who may or may not be experts in climatology, pushed the idea that the world would end if we do not curb carbon emissions. Canada, who in my view suffers from an inferiority complex, was very glad to support Dr. David Suzuki, because it placed one of its citizens on the world stage.  In 1992, Pierre Trudeau and his friend Maurice Strong pushed the notion of ‘sustainable development’. Subsequently there were several conferences and agreements  including the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, all these conferences produced very little in terms of real environmental results, and Governments saw an excuse to raise taxes on carbon products, mainly oil. However some opportunists, including Strong, Al Gore and others, made millions through the stupid ‘Cap and Trade’, a system which never reduced emissions but created wealth for the very few; the same people who travel by private jets and gas guzzling limousine, and may have the largest carbon footprint than  the rest of us.
Every level of government has been involved in the creation of environmental policies. While there have been many advances in technology and cleaner emissions, politicians have seized on the public’s demand for cleaner air and pollution reduction to increase taxes and redistribute wealth as well as enriching their supporters. On the other side of the equation there has been the silence and acquiescence of industries, which paid lip service to NGOs such as Greenpeace because they were afraid of a backlash. The oil industry in Alberta is in a virtual standstill because the export of its main product has been blocked by regulations and law suits by environmental groups.
The most troubling result of all this focus on global warming and climate change has been the indoctrination of a whole generation, which has produced a movement made of kids who are traumatised by the constant bombardment of the existential threat of climate change. Many of these kids are now marching the streets and even suing governments for their inactions. We have reached a state of mass hysteria among an upcoming generation, because adults have failed to address the real environmental issues, since they placed so much faith in the reports produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) while ignoring the solutions created by new technology.
Enter the product of this world wide indoctrination of our youth: Greta Thunberg of Sweden, the latest environment activist. She is a sixteen year old who may be suffering from OCD and other mental afflictions. She is now travelling the industrialized world to lecture politicians. She is sometimes accompanied by a group of kids and adults, and her coach Luisa Neubauer of which is funded by, Bill Gates, Bono, Soros, Opensociety among others. With a number of other kids Thunberg came to address the U.N’s Climate Action Summit where some of their statements and threats are downright scary, and smack of the type of language used by youths belonging to authoritarian cultures. For example: Kamal Karishma Kumar of Fiji said:  “We will mobilize to get you out”, Greta Thunberg Of Sweden stated that the movement was unstoppable.  Canadian Marina Melanidis added “Young people deserve to co-design their own futures – and honestly, you can’t do that without us.” What is disturbing is that these kids are not well informed, but are ready to recite the mantra of environmentalists and leftist politicians, as lectured to them by an increasingly activist education system.
It is very disturbing to see how these kids were received by leaders like Merkel and Macron who believe that it suits their agenda to support these kids. While some people were sounding the alarm on what happened at the U.N, by contrast I like activism even by young kids, because I once was like them. The difference is I was taught to see both sides of the issue, I may have been on the wrong side of the argument but I never threatened anybody. All of us should be very concerned about this new manifestation. In my opinion these kids are being used by adults to justify the agenda that they have been unable or unwilling to get implemented. It is not so easy to attack kids, who are doing the dirty work of adults. To me this is mental abuse of a whole generation.  Increase in suicide and mental anguish among young people can be attributable in part to this mass hysteria of the world ending very soon, perhaps in 12 years, while politicians are making promises with policies to rectify the situation in 20 or 30 years. To show their support do not be surprised to see Thunberg being nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, just like the IPCC, after all the Nobel Peace Prize is now given to any leftist who has accomplished nothing.
There are solutions out there which are being ignored, and kids are being used to do the bidding of feckless politicians and we should be reminded of the words of George Orwell:” Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” and  “A generation of the unteachable is hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses.”