By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 41 Comments
With the government announcing new funding for Pratt & Whitney yesterday, Greg Weston posted a series of questions and concerns last night about the loans involved and the jobs promised.
The government announcement also claims the deal will “create and maintain an average of more than 700 highly skilled jobs during the project work phase, and more than 2,000 jobs during the 15-year benefits phase.” The company later explained that it hopes to hire about 200 new staff for the research and development project, expected to take about five years. At $300 million from taxpayers, that works out to $300,000 a year per job.
As for the rest of the jobs, Clement’s press secretary, Lynn Meahan, explained that “hypothetically, without the project, the workforce would have shrunk.” She said the promised 2,000 long-term jobs would come from manufacturing the new engines yet to be developed, and it is not clear how many of those positions, if any, would be new.
Economist Stephen Gordon and our own Andrew Coyne duly tweeted their criticisms. And it was soon thereafter, perhaps inevitably, that Industry Minister Tony Clement attempted again, 140 precious characters at a time, to explain and defend himself.
To wit. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 1, 2010 at 11:19 AM - 0 Comments
No political commentator working in Canada today is read with as much anticipation as Chantal Hébert. She’s obviously the class of the field, and I’m belabouring the point only because her column today is rather spectacularly beneath her usual standards.
In early 2009 I spoke to a pretty conservative audience in Toronto. (OK, it was a Fraser Institute event, an error of youth I won’t repeat.) I was in a fair snit about the Harper government at that time, and I uncorked a long list of critiques of the way the prime minister was going about his business: arbitrary, contradictory, yadda yadda. Frosty applause when I finally stopped. The question-and-answer period began, and a dotty matron dressed, approximately, like Milburn Drysdale drew herself up to her full height and said, as one might to an idiot: “Yes, well, that’s all very good, but what would you prefer? Would you prefer that… that… Michael Ignatieff and his gang govern the country?” She awaited my response with the grand satisfaction of somebody who had shut a troublemaker up but good.
Well, no, I replied, or at least not necessarily. There is another option: the government we already have could govern better. Continue…
By Stephanie Findlay - Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 8:58 PM - 0 Comments
Policing the Playboy bunnies, Big Boi’s tame set, and the secret to TIFF partying from George S.
I couldn’t resist, the chance was too great to pass up. I had to check out the Playboy Party. It was held at Muzik, a huge Miami-style club at Exhibition Place. At 41, 000 square-feet, the club can hold a capacity of 3,000 people and there are nine bars. After flying solo last night and feeling like a loner, I decided to bring a friend. So around 11 pm my pal Vic and I set off to the event. When we arrived there was already a frenzy of cabs at the entrance, all of which was red carpet. There were a group of scantily clad women who were wearing fur coats that welcomed you at the door. Inside there were other groups of scantily dressed women, sans fur coats, in Playboy uniform sporting bunny tails, ears, corsets, and nylon stockings with black heels.
After getting into the party, we walked through a huge red cavernous hall before getting to the main bar in the middle of the club. There were Playboy bunnies everywhere. Four were dancing on the bar, others were posing in groups, still others were mingling with the crowd. The energy was high and the music was pumping. There were some serious Jersey-shore types. You could just sense the fist pumping in the air. Big Boi was dj-ing, he was at the booth dressed in a white tux. He was texting on his phone. Oddly enough, he was playing a generic mix of top 40, Katy Perry and even some Journey thrown in. Was this really the mastermind from Outkast?
By Paul Wells - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 3:39 PM - 38 Comments
“Your article is malicious, ludicrous, and possibly libelous as well. For all intents and purposes, it calls Brian Mulroney a perjurer. Is Andrew Coyne’s bias and venom so uncontrollable that he couldn’t wait to pass his judgment until Justice Oliphant’s report?… This type of persistent public witch hunt is reminiscent of the McCarthy era. It is unworthy of your standards.”
— Peter Munk, letter to the editor of Maclean’s, June 22, 09
“Having carefully considered the evidence respecting the amount of cash paid by Mr. Schreiber to Mr. Mulroney, I have decided not to accept the evidence of either of them unless there is independent evidence to support one of the two positions taken.”
— Statement by the Hon. Jeffrey J. Oliphant, today
It’s sad that Mr. Munk couldn’t wait to pass his judgment until Justice Oliphant’s report, but now that it’s out, I’m sure he’ll agree with me that Andrew’s column from a year ago stands up a lot better than does Munk’s letter in response to it.
By Andrew Coyne - Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 9:23 AM - 40 Comments
Andrew Coyne talks with Mark Carney
Born of the Great Depression, the Bank of Canada has found new relevance, 75 years later, in averting another. As Canada emerges, surprisingly strong, from what many had feared would be at least a Great Recession, the governor of the bank, Mark Carney, credits its interventions in large part for sparing us the worst of the financial crisis.
In an interview to celebrate the bank’s 75th birthday, Carney said one of the lessons of the near-collapse of global finance was the crucial part that central banks play in the smooth running of financial markets, especially in a panic. “The need for a lender of last resort, and not just a lender but a liquidity supplier of last resort, was made absolutely clear by the crisis.”
The corollary lesson: markets are not always self-correcting. Having worked in capital markets for many years at Goldman Sachs, Carney says he acquired “both a respect for [markets] and a skepticism of them. You know, I’m not a market fundamentalist. There are periods of excess in both directions in financial markets and it’s important to recognize that.”
By Paul Wells - Monday, March 22, 2010 at 7:49 PM - 29 Comments
Colleague Coyne explains where I went astray.
UPDATE, Tuesday: I won’t be responding to Andrew at length. I put some time and effort into describing what the Harper government is doing. Andrew put considerable ingenuity into thinking of all the things it isn’t doing but, in his view, could or should. The second thing is not like the first and I don’t see how I could improve the world by adding a third thing.
By Paul Wells - Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 465 Comments
Social conservatism is on the rise in Ottawa, and across Canada
It says in all the papers the well has run dry. The commentators keep writing that Canadian conservatism has died on the vine, that four years into his reign of tactical obsession and fiscal profligacy, Stephen Harper has forgotten why he ever went into politics.
“Where’s the big, strategic agenda for the next election?” John Ivison quoted a senior Conservative in the National Post. “I haven’t found one yet.” In the same paper, Terence Corcoran ran a string of columns identifying programs the feds should cut, because Harper seems unwilling to do the work himself. And Andrew Coyne delivered his annual post-budget verdict of despair and mourning. “Those Conservative faithfuls who have been hanging on all these years, in the hopes that, eventually, someday, with one of these budgets, this government would start to act like conservatives, must now understand that that is not going to happen. Conservatism is not just dead but, it appears, forgotten.”
But it’s a funny thing. If Canadian conservatism is dead, somebody forgot to tell Canadian conservatives.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:38 AM - 48 Comments
Own the Podium was more than just good sport. It was a picture of our country as it was always supposed to be.
For God’s sake don’t change the name.
Whether the Own the Podium program makes sense in overall policy terms can still be debated. The case for governments paying athletes to play games is far from clear, and it is easy to imagine all of the other uses that might have been made of the program’s $117-million budget.
But in terms of athletic excellence—winning medals—the program is an indisputable triumph. Do I need to rehearse the results? The most medals ever for Canada at a Winter Games, good for third place overall. The most gold medals of any country in these Games—indeed, more than any country has ever won at a Winter Games in their history.
As impressive was the breadth of the Canadian achievement. We medalled in nine different sports, spread amongst two dozen different athletes or teams. And lurking just off the podium, 23 fourth- or fifth-place finishers. All told, Canadians placed in the top five in 37 of the 86 events at these Games. Can any country match that?
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM - 121 Comments
Parliament’s first week back will see a war of narratives as Harper fires up his big guns: the budget and the Throne Speech
Parliament returns, to a changed political landscape. As late as mid-December, the Conservatives were still leading the Liberals by eight to 10 points. Two months and one prorogation later, the parties are statistically tied.
Yet the Conservative lead had begun to slip even before the disastrous decision to prorogue Parliament. At their mid-October peak, in the aftermath of the Liberals’ equally disastrous attempt to force an election, the Tories stood as much as 15 points in front. Prorogation, indeed, was supposed to arrest that decline.
And while the Conservatives may hope to put the prorogation debacle behind them, the fundamental reasons for their four-month tailspin have not changed. One of these is an improved showing by the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, for whom prorogation has proved something of a gift: a chance to shuck off the persona of the scheming politician he had adopted, in favour of the high-minded wonk within.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 15 Comments
ANDREW COYNE: We have all, to a greater or lesser extent, undergone a change in national temperament
People are talking about a wave of patriotism washing across the country as Canadians cheer on their Olympic athletes. I’m sure this is true, but why? What is it based on? Why exactly should we get excited because a Canadian athlete wins a medal—because our guy slid on a piece of wood down a snowy incline faster than their guys did? It’s clear why the athlete himself might be excited. But how is that a measure of our collective self-worth?
These are more than philosophical questions. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, including $117 million targeted at elite athletes through the “Own the Podium” program, on the premise that we should get excited about our athletes’ achievements. Of course that implicates us in a simplistic sense: our dollars, we hope, will buy more medals than theirs will. But—leaving aside whether that’s the highest and best use of scarce public dollars—is there anything more to it than that? Why should we care whether “we” win any medals? What’s it got to do with us?
The answer, I think, is that the success of any one individual, in sports as in other fields, is not wholly attributable to that individual. It is also a collective endeavour. It emerges from a culture, and while the talent and effort of each individual are plainly of supreme importance to their success, the likelihood of such individual successes, on average and in the aggregate, will be the greater or lesser depending on the culture that surrounds them, and the cultural attributes with which they are imbued.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, February 22, 2010 at 1:39 PM - 40 Comments
Whenever a scandal arises, the same debate is replayed: does the public have a right to know about a politician’s private affairs?
The hypocrite in our times is not, as of old, the libertine posing as moralist—Tartuffe, or Angelo in Measure for Measure—but moralists posing as libertines. Today we are most keen to advertise not our virtue but our worldly indifference to others’ faults, fearing not that we might be accused of the same so much as that we might be thought of as prigs. Judge not lest ye be judgmental.
This is particularly so when it comes to the political arena. On those not infrequent occasions when a politician is found to have behaved badly in his private life, there is always a crush of apologists racing to the nearest rooftop to shout how little they care. Cheats on his wife? Yawn. Drunk every night? Big deal. Takes hundreds of thousands in cash from fugitive international arms dealers? Doesn’t everyone?
From Adam Giambrone to Maxime Bernier, from Bill Clinton to Brian Mulroney, whenever the issue arises the same debate is replayed. Does the public have a right to know about a politician’s private affairs? How much? How far?
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:30 PM - 74 Comments
Can the West shape the national agenda? A Maclean’s debate.
The rise of Western Canada was the topic of a round table discussion last week in Calgary, broadcast live by CPAC. Joining Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne were Fort McMurray’s Mayor Melissa Blake, Alberta’s Minister of Culture Lindsay Blackett, Saskatchewan’s Environment Minister Nancy Heppner, Lloyd Axworthy, the University of Winnipeg’s president, and the Wildrose Alliance’s Rob Anderson. CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen moderated the event.
Coyne: How do we define the West beyond geography? Is there such a thing as a kind of western agenda, a western political culture?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 4:48 PM - 35 Comments
Jack Layton, Sept. 1, 2006. “A comprehensive peace process has to bring all the combatants to the table.”
New York Times, today. Afghanistan’s president declared Thursday that reaching out to the Taliban’s leaders should be a centerpiece of efforts to end the eight-year-old war there, setting in motion a delicate diplomatic process that will carry great risks for both Afghanistan and the United States.
By Andrew Coyne - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 10:51 AM - 48 Comments
ANDREW COYNE: The government has a choice. It can either break its promise not to raise taxes. Or it can break its promise not to cut transfers.
The Great and the Good have come down from on high, and delivered their decree: there shall be tax hikes. The deficit that was once our friend is now our enemy, no longer “stimulative” but “structural.” The spending spree that gave us that deficit cannot be reversed, or not altogether. If the deficit is to be slain, it must therefore be by raising taxes. Thus sayeth the elders, including former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge, two former deputy ministers of finance, and Jeffrey Simpson.
Well, maybe. What is certainly true is that the fiscal forecast, once an unbroken line of surpluses as far as the eye could see, has darkened considerably. Not only is the deficit headed for $56 billion this fiscal year, but it will still exceed $11 billion even four years from now. And that’s on the government’s cheery numbers. The parliamentary budget officer forecasts the 2014 deficit at $19 billion—after four years of (assumed) steady economic growth. Just in time for the next recession to blow it sky-high again.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:46 AM - 104 Comments
Q. How did this all begin?
“It was the day I got back to Edmonton from the Christmas holiday. I slept in a bit. I was still in my pajamas, reading the news online, when I learned that Stephen Harper had asked for another prorogation.
“My first reaction was outrage. Here it was, happening again. It was so irresponsible, so undemocratic. And the worst part was, I could already feel the apathy starting to creep in.
“I looked at a couple other articles, and found a blog post Andrew Coyne had written on Maclean’s. He brought up this idea of the Long Parliament of 1640 in England, when the Parliamentarians defied the King and kept the Parliament going when he was out of the country.
“And I started wondering, ‘What if our Parliamentarians sat anyway?’ It just seemed like a really great idea.”
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:40 AM - 10 Comments
Welcome to the Tuesday Mailbag on Wednesday, where humourless religious reactionaries are encouraged to react to the reference to God herein by ensuring their response is wildly out of proportion, that it misses the point entirely and that it wishes upon the author an eternity of hellfire and damnation. (A question of my own: Could I request a recurring loop of The Nanny in hell, or do I have to actually sit next to Fran Drescher?)
Remember – there are no stupid questions, except for the question of whether Barack Obama is boned.
Pat Robertson’s been in the news for saying that stuff about Haiti and the devil and whatever. It reminded me: Don’t you usually tell us about Pat Robertson’s annual conversation with God. Did God stand him up this year? I NEED TO KNOW. – Darren V.
I was a little disappointed by Robertson’s most recent chitchat with The Man Upstairs. Usually, Pat’s God can be relied upon for at least one high-impact, attention-grabbing, pants-wettingly terrifying prediction: a high-casualty terrorist attack on American soil, a devastating hurricane conjured as payback for letting some gays have spouses, a reboot of the Rambo franchise starring Andy Dick.
But not this year. This year, during His annual Christmastime chinwag with Pat, the Big Guy apparently said only that “there is a Continue…
By Coyne VS Wells - Monday, January 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM - 45 Comments
How much clout do the western provinces have? And to what end?
On Jan. 20, Maclean’s will present a round table discussion on “The West is in. Now what?” at Calgary’s Theatre Junction Grand, the third in a series of national debates. Broadcast live on CPAC, it will feature Nancy Heppner, Saskatchewan’s minister of environment, Lloyd Axworthy, the University of Winnipeg’s president, Lindsay Blackett, Alberta’s minister of culture and community spirit, and Melissa Blake, mayor of Fort McMurray, Alta. The event will be moderated by CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen, and include Maclean’s columnists Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne as panellists. Tickets can be bought at macleans.ca/inconversation. This week, Wells and Coyne kick off the debate.
Andrew Coyne: Paul, I’ll start by softening you up with a barrage of statistics. In 1896, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier laid the foundation for a century of Liberal dominance with his first of four election wins, Quebec held 30 per cent of the population of Canada. The whole of the territory of Canada west of Ontario accounted for less than 10 per cent. As late as 1980, when the National Energy Program was launched, Quebec held nearly as many people as the four western provinces combined. Half the seats in Pierre Trudeau’s majority government that year came from Quebec.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, January 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM - 144 Comments
The Liberal ads are an appeal to the reptile part of our brains, the ‘fight or flight’ part, where panic, rage and fear reside
Even the words are creepy. “Cover-up. A description far more familiar to other countries. Until now.” But as we all know, it’s the sounds and imagery that make an attack ad. “When questions arose [ominous, metallic hum; barbed wire graphic] about what he and his government knew about torture in Afghanistan [clanging noise; more barbed wire], Stephen Harper shut down Parliament. Why doesn’t he want to face Parliament? [Militaristic snare drum; bell tolls.] What does Stephen Harper know that he doesn’t want other Canadians to know?”
I give up. His age? The combination to his gym locker? We’re never told. But we’re plainly invited to assume the worst. All is insinuation, right down to the sneer in the announcer’s voice.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 11:01 AM - 12 Comments
Revealing moment in the new CoyneWellsCast: A.C. calls for an American-style “I’m Joe McGraft and I approve this message” rule for Canadian political campaigning. That’s certainly what he seems to be doing about ten minutes in, anyway. But isn’t “Stand By Your Ad” regulation already a canonical instance of failure in trying to meliorate political discourse by means of a procedural tweak?