By Sidhartha Banerjee and Fannie Olivier, The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
The fallout from Quebec’s corruption scandals has reached the epicentre of Canada’s Parliament, with…
The fallout from Quebec’s corruption scandals has reached the epicentre of Canada’s Parliament, with the federal Opposition leader revealing Thursday he once spoke to police about someone trying to pass him a suspicious-looking envelope.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he spoke to investigators two years ago about a 1994 meeting with the then-mayor of Laval, Que., who has since resigned in scandal and been slapped with criminal charges.
A newspaper report Thursday said Mulcair was offered — and refused — an envelope he believed to have contained cash.
There have been several reports over the years about Laval’s ex-mayor Gilles Vaillancourt offering provincial politicians such envelopes — and he now faces gangsterism charges for directing a criminal organization.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
The Government House Leader’s statement on bribery allegations in La Presse
Here’s a statement from Government House Leader Peter Van Loan regarding La Presse’s revelation that former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt allegedly attempted to bribe NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair when the latter was a provincial MNA.
According to Radio-Canada [ed's note: it was actually La Presse's exclusive] Thomas Mulcair has known about corruption in Quebec politics since 1994, when the Mayor of Laval allegedly offered him “help” in the typical Liberal style: an envelope. Thomas Mulcair appears to have kept this sordid affair to himself for seventeen years. In 2010, he even denied having ever been offered a bribe. Yet after seventeen years of silence, Mulcair finally spoke up after investigations were already underway in 2011. As a result, Thomas Mulcair could be called before the Charbonneau Commission to explain his (in)action.
Mulcair kept his firsthand knowledge of corruption from the public for two more years, before choosing to dump it today, when he felt the media would be distracted by other stories.
This presents some difficult questions for Mr. Mulcair:
Why did he protect Gilles Vaillancourt and cover up this alleged criminal activity for 17 years?
Why did it take a public inquiry into the biggest corruption scandal in Canadian history for Thomas Mulcair to finally come clean with Canadians?
Why did Thomas Mulcair lie and say he was never offered any money by Gilles Vaillancourt?
Will he agree to appear if called to testify under oath before the Charbonneau Commission?
By Stephen Gordon - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 11:44 AM - 0 Comments
Tom Mulcair’s recent article for the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) raises perhaps more questions than it answers about the NDP’s positions on the economics of energy and the environment. Here are a few key passages:
An NDP government would establish a comprehensive upstream cap-and trade system to meet our international commitments to fight climate change and rigorously enforce environmental laws here in Canada.
We’ve heard this before, but we still don’t know very much about what this system would look like. Does “comprehensive” mean “applicable to all GHG emissions”? What are the estimated costs to consumers? What measures will be taken to compensate low-income households for these costs?
By Paul Wells - Friday, May 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Paul Wells on why Tom Mulcair sounds a lot like Jean Charest
Turns out the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is some guy named Tom Mulcair, and apparently his “New Democratic Party” has nearly three times as many MPs as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Who knew? You can read all about the NDP leader in the new Maclean’s ebook, Justin!: Justin Justin Trudeau Trudeau Trudeau. We’re sure there’s something about old what’s-his-name in there somewhere.
My press gallery colleagues were reminded of Mulcair’s existence this week when the NDP leader denounced the Supreme Court’s cursory investigation into its own behaviour 33 years ago. A new book by a Quebec historian, Frédéric Bastien, quotes archival documents from the United Kingdom to assert that two former Supremes, then-chief justice Bora Laskin and his colleague Willard Estey, discussed the Constitution’s repatriation with Canadian and British officials in 1980. Bastien sees this as proof of collusion across the wall that should separate judges from legislators, and therefore as proof that Canada’s Constitution is illegitimate. He notes that the paperwork he received from Canada’s government was heavily edited. More proof!
In reality, the top court’s patriation reference opinion did not say what Pierre Trudeau wanted it to say. If Laskin and Trudeau were conspiring, they were really bad at it. But details like that are not enough to shake off a dedicated conspiracy theorist.
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 6:02 PM - 0 Comments
Martin Patriquin on the NDP leader’s unexpected constitutional quest
Thomas Mulcair is supposed to be on a charm offensive.
Since taking the helm of the NDP, the bearded Beaconsfieldian has done much to make himself and his party more electable. He bled the NDP constitution of the word ‘socialism’, started saying words like “entrepreneur” and “middle class” a whole lot, and punted the party’s pesky far-left fringes. On the personal front, Mulcair has buttoned his renowned temper, something a Quebec NDP higher-up told me came as a result of a “concerted effort” from both the party and Mulcair himself.
The results have been impressive. The party maintained relatively solid PJE (Pre-Justin Era) numbers—a remarkable feat for a party that lost Jack Layton, its most successful leader, at the height of his popularity. In Quebec, where most politicos and commentators figured the orange crush would fade as quickly as it came, Mulcair has remained well ahead of the Bloc Québécois and the PJE Liberals nearly two years after the federal election. Dippers approved of him to the resounding tune of 93.2 per cent during the recent convention in Montreal. Having shed (or at least closeted) his dreaded Hulk persona, Tom is more often seen looking rested and pleasant. He has every reason to be as much.
Which is why Mulcair’s recent Supreme Court sortie is all the more perplexing. The details—I’ll be quick, so as to avoid narcolepsy—go like this: a fellow wrote a book suggesting former (and very dead) Supreme Court Justice Bora Laskin leaked details of judicial proceedings regarding the repatriation of the constitution to the Liberal government of the time. Predictably, the news caused a near-riot in certain Quebec circles, with much of the province’s politicos, commentators and the National Assembly calling for an investigation. Mulcair quickly joined in. “What we’re doing is standing up foursquare in defence of the independence of the Supreme Court,” he said. “Canadians are entitled to have a full answer to these important questions.”
Should there be an investigation? I haven’t the foggiest. Smarter people than I have wondered out loud whether such a thing is merited. What I find weird is how Mulcair’s dive into ancient constitutional matters flies in the face of his own and his party’s studied, deliberate makeover. The cliché, and it applies here, is that Quebec-related constitutional chatter seriously annoys Canadians outside of Quebec. Were this only the case, Mulcair could arguably say he’s placating his power base in Quebec. But there’s a second, not-at-all unexpected part of the equation: Quebecers themselves seemingly don’t care about constitutional matters.
Beyond the PQ government and Quebec’s cloistered nationalist set, the Laskin Affair (it barely deserves capital letters) has barely even registered in the province. “In Quebec, after one week, you’d have to do a top 200 search of the headlines to find it,” Jean-François Dumas, of the media monitoring firm Influence Communication, told me. This so irked Le Devoir’s Michel David that he penned a column lamenting Quebecer’s distinct lack of fury. “It’s springtime, the Canadiens are in the playoff, it’s time to move on to other things, no?” He asked, tongue jammed into his cheek. Mulcair should take the advice. In taking on the legitimacy of an ancient Supreme Court decision, the NDP leader has seemingly managed to find the one issue that irritates Canadians and bores Quebecers in equal measure.
And it isn’t the first time. Just this winter Mulcair challenged that other dull thud, the Clarity Act, by pushing for a 50-per-cent-plus-one threshold for Quebec separation. Mulcair was duly thumped at the time, and we haven’t heard anything on the subject since.
The question is: why does Tom Mulcair keep straying from the script of a perfectly effective makeover? Is he trying to appeal to would-be Bloc Québécois voters? If so, he shouldn’t. The Bloc is in deep trouble, even beyond its dismal poll numbers: never a fundraising powerhouse, it will arguably suffer the most once the per-vote subsidy is fully eliminated in 2015. Is he worried about hanging on to Quebec’s (inherently nationalist) lefty vote? Maybe, but with the Bloc hobbled, the NDP’s real fight in Quebec is with the Liberals. And any Quebecer reconsidering the Liberals isn’t likely going to care a hoot about the Constitution, 50-percent-plus-one or anyone named Bora Laskin.
I can’t help but think that Mulcair’s flights of fancy are a product of another aspect of his personality, the one in which he lashes out at whatever he deems a threat. If this is the case, then Hulkair clearly has his blinkered eyes on Justin Trudeau. He sees what everyone else sees: that the Constitution business—a vestige of Trudeau père—dovetailed with Justin Trudeau’s rise to the Liberal throne, making it plunderable political fodder. Hulkair must see how the Conservatives have all but dropped Mulcair from their sights—when was the last time you saw a Mulcair attack ad?—focusing instead on the inexperienced leader of a third party that was supposedly on its deathbed not two years ago. He sees how the polls suggest Justin has stunted the NDP’s ascendancy.
Hulkair sees, and Hulkair smashes. Pity that poor charm offensive.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
Tom Mulcair is simultaneously cast as a wing nut and a trusted authority figure. Mulcair was roundly condemned over the weekend, largely on Twitter, for his conspiracy-laden assertion that the Supreme Court is unfairly dismissing the concerns of those who suggest former justices of the top court acted improperly during the Patriation Reference about three decades ago. Mulcair thinks the court should dig deeper for documents that shed light on the accusations raised in historian Frederic Bastien’s new book, La bataille de Londres. Emmett Macfarlane, writing on this site, suggests both Mulcair and the court overreacted to the accusations. Writing today in the National Post, Jonathan Kay labels the NDP leader as Canada’s conspiracy-theorist-in-chief. Kay, in more than a few words, laughs off Mulcair’s case against the court, dismissing his concern as something that matters only in Quebec.
But then you pick up this morning’s Toronto Star and give Chantal Hebert’s column a read. Hebert expresses doubt that Justin Trudeau’s rocketing popularity everywhere, including in Quebec, spells the end of Mulcair’s political career. In provincial polls, Mulcair scores well on leadership numbers, Hebert writes, and he was the only politician on Readers Digest‘s poll of Quebec’s 10 most trusted public figures. Trudeau, she points out, cracked the corresponding untrustworthy list. So, as far as Quebec is concerned, Mulcair’s doing just fine.
The NDP’s delicate dance between French and English Canadian interests and audiences and values has continued unabated since May 2, 2011. Earlier this year, the party’s proposed reforms to the Clarity Act sparked polarity. Over the weekend, it was Mulcair’s judgment of the Supreme Court that had pundits chirping. Mulcair’s dance continues.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 11:01 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Tom Mulcair is pressuring the federal government to disclose documents pertaining to…
OTTAWA – Tom Mulcair is pressuring the federal government to disclose documents pertaining to alleged misconduct by two justices during Supreme Court deliberations on the patriation of Canada’s Constitution.
The NDP leader is urging other parties to join forces in demanding full disclosure after a search by the Supreme Court of its records came up empty late last week.
His quest is supported by the Bloc Quebecois but other federalist parties aren’t interested.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
It used to be that New Democrats couldn’t win enough seats to govern the country. That might still be the case. But they’re bent on achieving the ultimate victory the next time around, and aren’t afraid to say it over and over and over. Their open hatred of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, expressed without a whiff of hyperbole, energizes them. Their dismissal of the Liberals as any kind of alternative to the ruling conservatives, nothing new but certainly sweeter from the perch of official opposition, energizes them. Their kinship, embodied by those frequent utterances of “brother” and “sister,” energizes them. If these people are living in a dream world, no one’s told them—and they’d never listen, anyway.
These are the New Democrats who gathered in Montreal’s Palais des congrès for a policy conference in April 2013. They reaffirmed their faith in Tom Mulcair, their leader, by giving him approval numbers—92.3 per cent—on par with Jack Layton. They’ve turned the words of Layton, their fallen leader, into gospel: “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done” fuels the party faithful, two years out from a federal election and two years removed from the next.
Barry Weisleder wishes it weren’t so, but his voice is but a whisper among a hollering crowd of power-hungry do-gooders. Weisleder, a member of the NDP for 44 years, opposes fiercely the party’s apparent moves to the centre, and has for some time. The NDP’s decision to play down its socialist roots in the preamble to its constitution, a resolution that passed with overwhelming enthusiasm on the convention’s final morning, was a case in point. Weisleder stood at microphones all weekend long. He flexed all the procedural muscle he could muster, with increasing desperation, when he disagreed with a policy debated on the floor. Each time, he was voted down.
The thing about Weisleder, though, is he’s not going anywhere. No way, no how. The NDP is his party as much as it’s anyone else’s, and he’s happy to be a stick in the mud as long as it takes for his side to prevail. “We have plans to continue the struggle within the NDP because it’s the only labour-based party in North America,” he said. “It would be insane to abandon this party to those who want to embrace capitalism in crisis. We offer a better, more hopeful, more positive alternative.”
Weisleder’s gang of socialists nattered at the convention’s edges. They surrounded the escalator to the convention, handing out literature meant to reinforce their principled opposition. They unfurled an anti-drone banner in protest of a planned speech by Jeremy Bird, U.S. President Barack Obama’s former national field director.
They found lots of reporters willing to listen, but the militant socialists, perhaps more than ever, are on the fringe. Privately, delegates dismissed the socialists’ jeers. Publicly, they respectfully disagreed. Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers who ran to lead the Saskatchewan NDP earlier this year, was about as diplomatic as possible when I asked him about Weisleder’s tact. “[Debate] is tremendously important, because the convention needs to be about debating ideas. It’s good for people to be vigorously engaged in that debate, and putting forward different points of view,” he said. “I think it’s actually very healthy for the party to have some different perspectives, and to have some people challenging the consensus on matters.”
A policy convention certainly isn’t a place where people are going to openly say debate is a bad thing. But the floor’s collective voice, which continually voted down hardcore dissent—opposing all pipelines, nationalizing industry—did all the talking.
Meanwhile, the party’s broadened tent milled about outside the convention hall.
I spoke with Patrick Allard, a long-time Montreal civil servant who fell in love with Layton’s energy during the 2011 election. Allard, who sported a Montreal Impact windbreaker, passionately spoke about the need for strong services and social programs for Canadians. In an age of austerity, he says, the NDP is the only party worth his time.
I also spoke with Jenn Prosser, a 26-year-old staffer in MP Niki Ashton’s office. Prosser got her start in the NDP during Alberta’s most recent election campaign. She helped a candidate in Lethbridge-West, Shannon Phillips, rack up 29 per cent of the riding’s vote—good enough for second place. Prosser hasn’t looked back.
I also spoke with Manveer Sihota, a 20-year-old Sikh from Surrey, B.C. Sihota is young enough that Layton played no part in his pursuit of the NDP. Sihota said his mom, a single parent, had her rights violated by her employer (he didn’t elaborate further). Her union stepped in, he said, and got results. Naturally, as Sihota looked for a political home in the wake of all that distress, he found friends in the NDP.
Just before I left the convention, I spoke with a delegate who was lured to the party by Nathan Cullen during his leadership run last year. She didn’t want to be named or quoted, but suffice to say she’s got a keen interest in the environment and not so keen an interest in partisanship. She’s dabbling in the NDP, just the same as she’s dabbled in other parties over the past few years. Her presence in Montreal is important. The convention hall might have been mostly full of true believers, but the party’s tent is now big enough that she still has a home—even if it’s not forever.
The NDP has no intention of losing in 2015. Its polling numbers are shaky, but not terrible. Its tent is bigger than ever. Whatever its actual chances against a Conservative machine that knows how to win and a Liberal gang that’s rallying behind a new leader, only a small group led by Barry Weisleder is willing to play devil’s advocate. And that group lost a lot of ground this weekend.
Whipped up by his frenzied team of social democrats, Mulcair marches forth.
By Jennifer Ditchburn - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will be trying to position himself at home…
OTTAWA – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will be trying to position himself at home and abroad this week as Canada’s only authentic progressive option, as Liberals vote for their next leader and frontrunner Justin Trudeau continues to stake his ground.
Mulcair will first flaunt his title as Leader of the Opposition on Thursday at the Progressive Governance conference in Copenhagen, a meeting of the world’s centre-left political movements.
Then he’ll be back in Canada, overseeing his party’s policy convention next weekend in Montreal. The fact it’s happening at the same time as the new Liberal leader will be announced doesn’t seem to faze Mulcair, who says several thousand members will be at the event.
“People in the NDP are very excited,” Mulcair said in an interview. “This is our time. Now, after 50 years of hard work, we’re poised to form a government for the first time and people are energized about that, they’re excited about it.”
By Colin Campbell - Friday, March 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
In Ottawa, the leader of the NDP—the NDP—accused the Conservative finance minister, Jim Flaherty, of “banana republic behaviour” for his efforts to intervene in the economy and influence mortgage rates.
Meanwhile, Flaherty’s one-time ally in his anti-debt fight, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, has declared the household debt problem solved— apparently, a debt-to-GDP ratio of 165 per cent is no longer anything to worry about.
In Vancouver, a former prime minister, Kim Campbell, made headlines this month for filing a lawsuit in which she’s trying to get out of a 2007 condo purchase and recoup a $368,000 deposit. The Canadian housing market, it seems, has entered the twilight zone.
It’s getting harder and harder to tell what’s sensical and what’s nonsensical. Even the Tory cabinet can’t seem to agree if it should be concerned about Canadians taking on big mortgages at discount rates, with the Tories’ Small Business Minister Maxime Bernier joining Thomas Mulcair in his criticism of Flaherty.
By Paul Wells - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11:30 PM - 0 Comments
On Dec. 13, the day after the Commons rose for the Christmas break, CTV’s Don Martin met Thomas Mulcair in Stornaway to talk about the parliamentary season then ending. The big news there was the F-35 procurement audit and the CNOOC/Nexen deal. When the House sits on Monday for the first time in six weeks, I’ll be surprised if either is a big issue. Politics in Canada has moved on, and it feels like we are a lot more than six weeks closer to the next election.
We know more about two opposition figures, Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, than we did in mid-December. Mulcair spent the holidays and the first month of 2013 accelerating his efforts to moderate the NDP’s public image. Trudeau made it through the opening rounds of the woefully belated Liberal leadership campaign without showing up at a debate without pants, saying the country is run by too many Albertans — well, at least he managed not to say it again — or doing anything else to blow his reputation among Liberals. And a string of polls (the kind that ask about hypothetical situations in the future, so don’t take them as gospel) suggest he’d take a far bigger bite out of NDP and Conservative support than any of his opponents. So his lead in the Liberal leadership race holds steady.
I think Mulcair’s six weeks have been more significant. Continue…
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
Mere hours after a thousands-strong Idle No More rally filled Parliament Hill, the NDP put out a press release. But it had nothing to do with Aboriginal affairs, and instead reminded the political world of the Conservative government’s record on trade.
The Conservative government’s failure to take action to improve our trade competitiveness has resulted in Canada’s merchandise trade deficit quadrupling – from $552 million to $2 billion in November alone.
The party quoted a new report released this morning that charted Canada’s running trade deficit.
According to a Statistics Canada report released today, in November 2012 Canada’s merchandise imports rose by 2.7 per cent and exports fell by 0.9 per cent. The result is Canada’s fourth-largest merchandise trade deficit on record.
Last night, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was set to host a number of Aboriginal chiefs at his residence, Stornoway, but that meeting was cancelled when the chiefs spent the evening at an Assembly of First Nations meeting at Ottawa’s Delta Hotel. Earlier today, Mulcair’s spokesman, George Smith, defended the NDP’s visibility on the Aboriginal file over the last month.
UPDATE: The NDP’s Aboriginal affairs critic, MP Jean Crowder, released a statement saying “it’s time for the government to start listening” to Aboriginal concerns.
By Paul Wells - Monday, January 7, 2013 at 10:01 AM - 0 Comments
My last blog post of 2012 made some guesses about politics in 2013 and included a throwaway line about Tom Mulcair: “Note the lack of photos with hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence.” Today, following an orchestrated campaign of leaks of a new Deloitte audit showing that it has, for some time, been impossible to tell how federal money is spent in Attawapiskat — and the reappearance of some damning reporting a year ago by the CBC — let us note again Mulcair’s decision not to show up at Spence’s side.
Others played Chief Spence’s protest differently.
Joe Clark was quick to visit with Chief Spence, which led Keith Beardsley, who has worked for both Clark and Stephen Harper, to make the kind of amazing suggestion that
Harper should appoint Clark as his envoy to… to… to “this file.”[UPDATE: Beardsley tells me that's a misreading, and he was suggesting only that Harper ask Clark to brief him on Clark's visit with Spence. Sorry for the confusion - pw] Paul Martin, who presented himself as an improvement over Jean Chrétien in government accountability but who was prime minister during part of the Deloitte Attawapiskat audit period, visited Spence and returned to call her an inspiration, a term now open to multiple interpretations.
From Mulcair, nothing. Well, nothing visual. He did write an open letter that mentioned Spence, but reading it now what’s striking is that Mulcair did not call on Harper to meet Spence, only to “act swiftly to avoid a personal tragedy.”
This now looks like becoming prudence on the part of the Leader of the Opposition. My new suspicion is that last year’s slightly weird Conservative Party “Get to Know Mulcair’s Team” web ads were based partly on Conservative worries that Mulcair would not serve up as many gaffes as Harper might like, so he should be tied as closely as possible to his less cautious back bench. Mulcair, after all, comes from the province where this ad nearly sunk an opposition leader on the road to power:
By Stephen Gordon - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Mulcair told reporters the increasing supply of oil in the U.S., combined with soft demand, is already having an impact on the Canadian energy industry. He said while Eastern consumers pay higher prices for oil, producers in Western Canada are hit by the price differential — the discounted price they must accept for their crude as a result of surging production and jam-packed pipeline capacity in the U.S.
“It’s in the interests of everyone to try to get the best possible price for our natural resources, to add the jobs here,” Mulcair said at an NDP rally at a nightclub on 17th Avenue S.W. He said focusing on shipping oil from Western Canada to central and eastern provinces, and processing it domestically, could be a solution and a nation-building project on par with railroad construction in the 1800s. “It could be a win-win-win situation.”
- Refineries’ margins are paper-thin, and have been so for decades; that’s why North American oil companies stopped building them long ago and have been shutting them down.
- The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price set in Cushing, Oklahoma is currently trading at a significant discount from the Brent price set in the North Sea and which is used as the reference price everywhere where supplies are available by tanker, such as Eastern Canada.
- Refineries buying WTI oil are more profitable than those buying Brent oil.
RubinMulcair concludes that the path to prosperity is for Canadians to get in on the business of refining WTI-priced oil – namely, the oil produced in Canada.
This makes no sense to me:
- If refining WTI-priced crude was the path to long-term prosperity, oil companies would be building refineries without any encouragement from Ottawa (or Washington, come to that).
- The WTI-Brent spread opened up sometime around January 2011. The economics of refining have been dodgy for decades.
- The WTI-Brent spread is an opportunity for arbitrage: buying in the low-price market and selling in the high-price market. Ordinarily, arbitrage is a cheap and riskless way of making money. As long as the price differential exists, demand will increase in the low-price market, and supply will increase in the high-price market. The reason why the Brent-WTI differential has persisted is that it was difficult and costly to buy oil in Cushing and transport it to the Gulf Coast, where the Brent price prevails.
- Unsurprisingly, the private sector is falling over itself to take advantage of this arbitrage opportunity. The Seaway pipeline reversal has already begun to ship oil from Cushing to Houston, and the southern part of the Keystone XL project is under way. It makes no sense at all to make policy based on the assumption that the WTI-Brent spread is an immutable constant.
- It won’t be long — a few years — before the WTI-Brent spread is arbitraged away, and we’ll revert to a world where refining is everywhere a marginal business with razor-thin margins, and in which oil production is lucrative – which probably explains why the private sector doesn’t see much point in investing in
Jeff Rubin’sTom Mulcair’s business plan.
Diverting capital and labour away from a lucrative industry towards a marginal one isn’t creating “value-added.” It’s creating value subtraction.
I would also add that if you’re looking for nation-building projects, you might want to choose one whose foundation is more solid than the hope that no-one will notice or take advantage of a pure arbitrage opportunity.
Update: According to Cansim Table 301-0006, some 7,000 people work at oil refineries. Doubling Canadian oil refinery capacity would increase employment by about 0.05%.
By Paul Wells - Monday, May 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
You could pretty much set your clock by it: Two weeks of disdainful coverage about how Tom Mulcair just doesn’t understand how much he’s blundering into a powderkeg are followed by today’s National Post poll, featuring the largest NDP margin over other parties that I have seen since things got weird for a minute in 1988, or maybe the best poll ever for the NDP.
Polls are, of course, for dogs, and there’s three years until the next election, and so far the Conservatives have carefully run only their most listless, non-leader-focussed online-only “attack” campaign against the NDP. So everything could change, and indeed it will. Somehow. In the meantime, this National Post poll (conducted by Forum Research) is a trip. A 138-seat NDP plurality dominating a — hmm — non-existent 303-seat House of Commons! An 8-point drop in Conservative support since the election! A five-point increase in NDP support in the same period! And most intriguing, if we can stow the exclamation marks for a second, two things: Continue…
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 12:36 AM - 0 Comments
One obvious response to Tom Mulcair’s remarks about the Western premiers — apparently they are Stephen Harper’s “messengers” — is concern. If there’s, like, a messenger fight sometime, who’ll show up on Mulcair’s side? Probably not Jean Charest. He’s busy, and Mulcair quit his cabinet in a huff a few years ago. Dalton McGuinty? He seems unsteady on the matter at hand. PEI’s Rob Ghiz? Future McGuinty-in-law.
Meanwhile, Mulcair seems to believe, Harper has the premiers of the three western-most provinces waiting by the Harperphone (don’t ask; it’s black) for their instructions. “He’s not going to try to contest that,” he told Postmedia’s Peter O’Neil, in regard to Mulcair’s belief that resource exports are pushing the dollar up and ruining central Canada’s manufacturing base. “What he’s going to try to do is send in messengers to take that argument to me. I’m not responding to any of them… My argument is in the House of Commons with the federal prime minister who is failing Canadians.”
Before I make a bit more fun of Mulcair, and then try to take some of his arguments seriously, I should first stipulate that the Harper government is fully capable of childish absurdity on the energy/environment front. Indeed I think the confrontation between resource exports and environmental activism is turning into less of a slam-dunk political winner for Harper than he seemed to think in the New Year.
But we see two longstanding Mulcair traits in his remarks. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 11:28 PM - 0 Comments
Let us connect the dots. I think it’s been a damned interesting week.
It ends, or nearly, with the Chief Government Whip and designated general-purpose government hardass Gordon O’Connor shutting down a Conservative private member’s motion on abortion, or something distantly related to a motion about the circumstances within which a debate about abortion might arise (readers are invited to parse the fine print themselves.) Earlier the prime minister had said it was “unfortunate” that a parliamentary committee even deemed the thing votable, but it was, and it proceeds. But when the Chief Government Whip speaks in specific detail about his problems with a motion, the word should be considered to be out: the government has a strong preference that members not support it.
This comes a couple of days after Bev Oda, caught swanning around the finer orange-juice vendors of the old Commonwealth capital, was made to pay up, stand up and fess up in Question Period. Sure, other ministers have covered for her since. But the clip on TV will be Oda apologizing “unreservedly” for her own high living.
Taken together the two incidents suggest a marked and sudden tightening of discipline on the government benches. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Friday, March 30, 2012 at 6:30 AM - 0 Comments
Paul Wells: Get ready for Beethoven vs. Nickelback in federal politics
Tom Mulcair is the most experienced opposition leader Stephen Harper has faced. Between Quebec’s national assembly and the federal Parliament, he’s been in elected politics for 18 years. Unlike Paul Martin, who had been in Parliament for nearly as long, Mulcair has been in an opposition party, Jean Charest’s Quebec Liberals, that fought its way to government. He is an effective interrogator of witnesses in parliamentary committees, a skill he should keep using. He’s smart and hungry.
For now, he’s more a danger to Bob Rae than to Stephen Harper.
Some of my colleagues have been tut-tutting Mulcair for reading from notes in his victory speech at the NDP convention and in his ﬁrst performances in the House of Commons. Here in the Parliamentary press gallery, we like our political leaders spontaneous. It’s why so many of us thought Michael Ignatieff’s town-hall free-association sessions were the highlight of the 2011 election. It helps explain why apparently nobody in 30 years has ever taken Bob Rae aside and said, “Bob? Edit.”
By Paul Wells - Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 8:38 PM - 0 Comments
They tell me the new NDP leader is wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen the new NDP leader’s painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
By Paul Wells - Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 11:15 PM - 0 Comments
“It would be senseless,” Tom Mulcair said Sunday at the NDP debate in Montreal, “to stop developing the oil sands, but we should stop subsidizing them and we should internalize the carbon cost,” that last bit a slightly insiderish way of saying some sort of carbon-emission pricing mechanism should attach to oil sands products. This falls well short of wild-eyed extremism; as Mulcair likes to point out, the Conservatives have considered, but not implemented, ending subsidies to oil-sands development that were implemented under Jean Chrétien, and Stephen Harper spent the 2008 campaign pretending to offer a carbon cap-and-trade scheme, which it later took three successive Conservative environment ministers to bury without a trace.
But Mulcair’s rhetoric, like most politicians’, often jumps ahead of his substantive positions. In Montreal he mentioned that in 2010 he wrote the foreword to a book by veteran journalist Andrew Nikiforuk whose French title translates to English as “Oil Sands: Canada’s Shame — How Dirty Oil is Destroying the Planet.” (Skipping slightly off topic, one notes that Nikiforuk’s next opus is titled “The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude.”)
During the debate, Mulcair allowed as how he could be talked into considering either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade mechanism for, well, internalizing carbon costs, depending on circumstances. He can expect the Conservatives to start claiming he would do both. It’s important to note that Mulcair is hardly alone. A strong consensus unites the opposition parties’ leadership candidates to the effect that the oil sands’ environmental cost is unacceptable and that oil exports must be sharply curtailed. Nathan Cullen, whose riding includes Kitimat where the Northern Gateway pipeline would wind up, can hardly believe his luck. He’s calling on New Democrats to help him stop Gateway.
So that’s the NDP. Meanwhile, over on the other side, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will on Monday deliver a keynote address to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, on what a news release called “the government’s plan to streamline the approval process for major economic projects across Canada. In addition, Minister Oliver will highlight Canada’s leadership role in exploration, mining and processing, which alone employees [sic] more than 320,000 people across the county (not counting related support sectors).”
Note that the word “environmental” didn’t make it into that release before “approval.” I’m guessing Joe Oliver won’t be writing the foreword to The Energy of Slaves. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 1:22 PM - 46 Comments
“There were only two candidates on that stage who were ready for prime time,” a guy who works for Tom Mulcair’s NDP leadership campaign told me. “And one of them will never be prime minister.”
I smiled knowingly and nodded. Mulcair Guy, quickly sensing that I had no idea what he was talking about, filled in the blanks. “Nathan was on fire today. If it was maybe 10 years later…”
Ah-ha. This is how you know you’re in a leadership race: every whispered confidence comes with a healthy dose of spin. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, July 25, 2011 at 9:46 PM - 2 Comments
We interrupt DMA’s regularly scheduled vacation to get to the news about Jack Layton….
We interrupt DMA’s regularly scheduled vacation to get to the news about Jack Layton. First off, it hurt to see him today. I know cancer well; the most enraging thing about it, apart from the prognosis, is how quickly it can physically ravage a human being. It makes even the strongest among us, and Layton is certainly that, look weak. And then people treat you as such, which makes it even worse. Go and kick it in the ass again, Jack. It deserves it.
A quick word about the leadership bit. With all due respect to Tasha Kheirddin, I don’t think the appointment of Nycole Turmel as interim leader of the NDP is a slight to Tom Mulcair at all. In fact, I doubt very much that Mulcair would have wanted the job. Think about it: Layton says he is temporarily stepping down as leader. It would look pretty bad for someone with long-brewing leadership aspirations like Mulcair to jump at a job that is, for now anyway, strictly a Bob Rae deal. At best, Mulcair would come off as an opportunist—and it would be way worse should Layton not return to the party. It’s best for Mulcair to keep his powder dry and his hopes alive by leaving the job to Turmel, whose pretensions to the NDP’s helm are exactly as old as the Orange Surge that swept her to power.
By Paul Wells - Friday, November 19, 2010 at 9:21 AM - 6 Comments
I would never have thought to chronicle recent developments in Quebec-based corruption, as I do in my column in this week’s print edition, if the members of Parliament you elected and pay with your tax dollars hadn’t fallen all over themselves to use up a bit of their work day crying crocodile tears about how mean — boo-hoo! — we were with our cover story on the same topic several weeks ago.
My preference has always been to look on the bright side, where I can find one. That’s why I’ve written articles about downtown development in Montreal that were far sunnier than what most Montrealers are writing (for a particularly scathing view of the Quartier des spectacles, check out Robert Lévesque’s ferocious essay in the latest Cahiers du Théâtre français). It’s why I saluted Quebec City’s 400th anniversary and have consistently emphasized Jean Charest’s key and unusual role in promoting Canada-EU trade. It’s why I write about the province’s musicians as often as I can find an excuse.
But my colleagues and I literally cannot keep up with the avalanche of shady business unveiled lately by our counterparts in Quebec City, Montreal and elsewhere. My column details events since September, but the problem is, I wrote it on Tuesday and there is already enough material for another one. Why, you could almost say it’s a veritable festival of resignations, withdrawals and expulsions.
If you can read about all of this and continue to think that Quebec’s biggest problem is Maclean’s, then congratulations. You have what it takes to be a member of Parliament.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 7:26 AM - 0 Comments
It’s true. Well, “polling true” anyway, and that sometimes resembles real-life truth: according to today’s big CROP poll, one-quarter of supporters of Mario Dumont’s right-leaning, politically incorrect Action Démocratique party at the provincial level in Quebec would have voted for Jack Layton’s leftie, politically correct NDP at the federal level. Mind you, Continue…