The country would become more reliant on foreign gas to generate electricity as European Union pollution laws meant the dirtiest coal-fired stations had to shut, said Alistair Buchanan, the regulator’s outgoing head.
He pointed out that gas was already 60 per cent more expensive in countries such as Japan that relied on imports. It was impossible to predict how high bills could go for British households, he said.
Ministers admitted that Britain faced a “looming energy gap” but blamed the previous government for agreeing to shut coal plants too quickly.
Rae, who took on the difficult job of interim leader following the Liberal’s devastating defeat in the May 2011 general election, will be replaced in April.
“I think it’s really important for the next leader to know you are not going to have some crazy uncle who is going to come down from the attic every once in a while and start screaming at everybody,” Rae told a meeting with the Cape Breton Post editorial board on Tuesday.
Hmmm. I take it that the Globe & Mail has stopped returning his calls.
In fairness, and we are occasionally fair to the second worst Premier in Ontario's history, the Bob has the most thankless job in Canadian politics. Worse even than the poor sucker who has to keep Rob Ford from tripping over his feet. The interim Liberal leader has to walk in the shadow of Justin Trudeau. Last week I explained Martha Hall Findlay's little outburst at Justin as a product of deep frustration.
Now Bob Rae is a professional pol down to his manicured finger tips. He would never have said anything so crass as suggesting that Justin is a spoiled brat. He is likely thinking it though. Being in politics is sort of like having dinner with the in-laws, after awhile you learn what not to say. Instead just smile, nod and say nice things about the gravy. The interim leader, therefore, has maintained absolute neutrality in public. If he's plotting something internally, we'll find out at the convention.
The Bob is now the political equivalent of the walking dead. The Zombie Leader of the Zombie Party. His career is over. If by some miracle the Liberals form a government in 2015 he'll be given a prestigious, though not very important, cabinet position. Something to assuage his ego without putting him too much in the way. But does the Bob want that? Not so long ago he was plotting to become Prime Minister. It was assumed he would be fighting to drop the interim from his job title. Then Justin appeared. If Justin's machine could spook Bob Rae, it should spook anyone.
It's unlikely that anyone as ambitious and shrewd as Rae is going to want to play glorified nanny to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Too much hassle and he's getting too old to change diapers. A nice send off and then a quiet though profitable retirement. That leaves Justin with one less experienced hand on his team, a team with a very weak bench strength. In losing Rae the next Liberal Leader will be losing one of the most effective scrappers in modern Canadian history.
So who does that leave Justin with? Scanning the House of Commons Grit caucus we meet a collection of never-heard-of and might-have-beens that would frighten a Socred meeting in the 1980s. There is Scott Brison, who used to be a PC, and knows something about economics. Unfortunately he is too Blue Liberal for the modern Liberal party. There is David McGuinty whose last name is radioactive in much of Ontario. The rest are Chretien-era hacks well past their best before date in politics.
While some opinion polls suggest that Justin might have traction in the country, they mean very little. We are two years from a general election. The Dauphin's support is concentrated in areas, mostly Central Canada, where he is in a three-way fight with the NDP and Tories. Most importantly of all the Son of Pierre has yet to face a real political fight. Tommy and Stephen are aching for the convention to be over so they can begin pounding the new Grit leader. They will seek to define Justin as a rich dilettante in way over his head. This is the moment both men have dreamed of for years, a witless Grit chieftain leading a forlorn crusade of the halt, lame and the politically crippled.
Weird things can still happen. A massive economic or political crisis could destroy the credibility of both Mulcair and Harper, leaving a desperate public looking for a Messiah. If Justin can control his latent shallowness for the length of the writ period, the boy might just have a chance. It's not likely, but it is possible. If in 1963 someone had said that in five years time a middle aged hippie with a million dollar inheritance would become Prime Minister, the suggestion would have been meet with derision. But then Diefenbaker imploded, Pearson failed to catch on and the grey men in the grey suits who surrounded both leaders got sideswiped by the pastel garishness of the decade.
You know what happened next.
Let us all pray, if that's the word, that the Tory war room is up to its usual tricks.
On a closing note, both for this post and his career, Bob Rae ended his talk with this observation about a possible NDP-Liberal Coalition:
“We don’t elect governments on that basis. You can’t run a country on that basis. You can’t run a country and be anti-business.”
It took you twenty-three years to figure that out, eh?
Mamma Mia! The word “pasta” is a little too Italian for Quebec’s language cops.
They’d prefer something more in the language of Moliere than Michaelangelo when it comes to menus, even in Italian restaurants.
“Pasta” wasn’t the only word that left a sour taste when they recently chewed over the menu at Buonanotte, a trendy Italian restaurant in Montreal. There were several other words that didn’t have enough of a French flavour for the Office Québécois de la langue française.
Justin Trudeau is one of just three MPs - all of them Liberals - to report extra income from speaking engagements in the last five years.
And, in Trudeau's case, it appears he missed debates, votes and possibly one of his party's caucus meetings so he could earn tens of thousands on the speaking circuit.
Trudeau, speaking to supporters in Bracebrige, Ont., Friday, declined to provide any more details about the issue.
But in documents he provided to the Ottawa Citizen, he said he had been paid $277,000 for 17 speaking engagements since becoming an MP in the 2008 general election.
A QMI agency examination of those engagements founds that nine events for which he earned $147,000 were held on days the House of Commons was sitting.
There is a seemingly paradox about the modern Left. They simultaneously hate capitalism but are extremely avaricious. Think of George Soros. Think of The New York Times' blatant crony capitalism. Think of Jean Chretien's lobbying efforts for oil companies. Their motto is simple and brazen: Capitalism is a very, very bad thing, unless I'm doing it. This would sound like hypocrisy from most people, but the Leftist political elite are not most people.
Politicians are different from you and me. They have lots of power and few scruples.
It is important to stop thinking of much of the political class as elected officials. This conjures up images of the American Founding Fathers, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and John A Macdonald. These historical figures were certainly very ambitious men, but they were ambitious within the ambit of a constitutionally limited state. Americans have their constitutional republic and we have our constitutional monarchy. The underlying principle of both is very old and very English: A government of laws and not men.
Progressivism, one of the great misnomers of political history, has slowly dissolved the constitutional state. After centuries of moving toward constitutional liberty we began to regress slowly back into a government of men and not laws. This is the ultimate Leftist ideal. Whatever the labels the goal is always the same: Give me the power and I'll figure out what's best for everyone. You could compare them to the absolute monarchies of old but that would be rather unfair. Louis XIV said he was the state, he never said he was the whole of society. King Canute knew he could not command the waves, Barack Obama lacks such modesty.
Instead think of the political class, especially though not exclusively on the Left, as a kind of neo-feudalistic class. They aspire to the power and prestige of the old continental landed aristocracies, while formally denouncing the excesses and crimes of the actual ancien regimes. They are officially meritocratic, being products of the standardized testing craze of the last half century, but are hardly immune to nepotism when feasible. Think of the Canadian Leftist dynasty of David Lewis, Stephen Lewis and Avi Lewis. A family history that charts Leftism's arc from plausibly misguided idealism to grubby featherbedding quite well.
By viewing the Left as aspiring quasi-hereditary aristocrats, their self-interest becomes perfectly logically. They despise capitalism because it is a threat to their power and influence. They like money because it reinforces their privilege, power and comfort. The old landed aristocrats despised the merchant class because it was a relatively dynamic source of capital. Even in the highly regulated economies of pre-18th century Europe there were still elements of Schumpeter's creative destruction. There was no guarantee that a merchant, unless he had very good political connections, could not meet financial ruin.
The landed aristocracy represented static capital. A man who inherited thousands of acres of arable land, especially land that was entailed, would face very little risk of financial disaster. Excepting the usual vagaries of health, warfare and dueling the life of a landed aristocrat in much of continental Europe was largely riskless. Their power and position could be reasonably transmitted from father to son, allowing them to indulge in their personal preferences. Some would drink themselves stupid, others become great patrons of the arts and a few became genuine statesmen. Yet all lived lives cut-off from the reality of having to earn a living.
In a modern economy rural land is a very marginal source of wealth. Urban real estate, while at times a source of great wealth, requires a measure of skill and luck that tends to be missing from those with a neo-feudal mindset. The primary source of wealth in modern economies is the service industry and to a decreasing extent manufacturing. Even the vagaries of electoral politics seem less terrifying than an actual free market economy.
The free marketer envisions man as a self reliant and enterprising individual, someone who spends his life coping and managing risk. The neo-feudal ideal, which has been given the pretty labels of progressivism, socialism and social democracy, is terrified of risk. The whole of the neo-feudal project is to legislate risk out of existence. It is why we have a vast and very expanding welfare state. The welfare state is the democratic version of the riskless existence of the old aristocracies. The mathematical problem with such an arrangement is that traditional feudalism relied on the few exploiting the many. Neo-feudalism rests on the many exploiting the few. The end result is the fiscal crisis the West is currently facing.
But for a pretty boy who came first in the genetic lottery, that's just so many stars in the sky. David Dingwall was entitled to his entitlements for having loyally served the Liberal Party machine. Justin Trudeau is entitled to his entitlements, including being paid a small fortune to give vapid speeches to organizations that survive at the behest of the federal establishment, because he was to the manor born. As time passes the neo-feudalists become more and more like the traditional feudalists.
Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Trudeau, Le Marquis de Papineau.
Dan Albas, Member of Parliament for Okanagan—Coquihalla, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced federal funding that has been provided for upgrades to the Logan Lake Recreation Centre under the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).
“Modernization of the Logan Lake Recreation Centre will improve the safety of the facility and enhance local community services,” said MP Albas. “With today’s investment, our Government is demonstrating our commitment to creating jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity.”
The Harper Government’s investment of $138,300 will enhance the services provided by the District of Logan Lake’s Recreation Centre, and will make it safer and easier to access for people of all physical abilities. Specifically, the funding will construct new entry ways and install an elevator to the second floor.
Please keep in mind that the federal government spends about $276 billion dollars a year. This is the tinniest of tiny examples of micro-pork, a political habit the Tories did not invent but seem to be raising into an artform. The town of Logan Lake has a population of about 2160 as of the 2006 census. The Harper government's "investment" of $138,300 works out to about $64 per resident. Or to put it another way, had Dan Albas kicked in his yearly salary of $157,731, the taxpayers of the nation might have been sparred the expense.
Mr Albas carried the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, where Lake Logan is situated, by 29 points in the previous election. We can reasonably describe this as a safe Tory seat. It was previously represented by Stockwell Day from 2000 until his retirement in 2011. Day was parachuted into the riding after winning the Canadian Alliance leadership. If there is one riding in the Dominion the Tories don't have to bribe to win, it would likely be this one.
Yet they did it anyway.
Could not the local municipality have tacked an extra $64 onto the property taxes to fund the construction of an elevator to the second floor? Assuming this is something the community actually wanted. Getting a bit more particular you might ask why this recreation centre doesn't charge user fees. Why should people who never use this centre have to pay for it? I'm having to pay for it and I had to look up Lake Logan on a map.
You're yelling at the screen right now, as you so often do when reading this blog, telling me that I'm being cruel and heartless. What about the disabled people who will use that elevator? Isn't it a good thing that people who can't climb stairs get to the second floor? Assuming there is something of value on the second floor, yes it would be. But that's not the real question. The question is why the government has to build elevators in recreation centres. Even assuming that it is a proper function of the government to run and maintain such centres, why is it the role of the federal government to do so? What do they know of Lake Logan, who only Ottawa know?
Identifying a need, like elevators to the second floor, does not automatically require a government funded solution. There is no end to human needs and wants. Once it was considered sufficient to just keep the criminals, both foreign and domestic, away from the peaceful and law abiding. At some point further down the line it became imperative that the government guarantee that no one starved. A few years after that it was decided that the state should ensure provision for old age. Then for higher levels of education. Then health care. Now recreation centres. In the Netherlands a few years back there was a pilot project providing tax financed whores.
A government that sets out to protect us from every risk, failing and misfortune ceases to be in any sense a free government. When the state does everything for you it stops being a government at all and morphs into father, mother and rich uncle to the nation. Since no organization, no matter how large and well financed, can be all things to all people, the security the all encompassing state provides is rather tattered. Despite the billions spent on health care we still have waiting lists. Despite the billions spent on education we have no shortage of illiterates. Despite the billions spent on building recreation and community centres most people, if given half a chance, would prefer to hang out at the local mall.
This is the logical end point of the all encompassing state. The federal government subsidizing elevator construction in a small town in the BC interior. The next step, if it's feasible, is to have Stephen Harper, or an actor playing him, show up every night at the bedroom door ready to tuck us in. Perhaps he could even install an elevator while he's there.
Efforts by Quebec's sovereignist government to build ties with the province's anglophone population are failing, a new poll commissioned by the CBC suggests.
The EKOS research poll suggests that Quebec anglophones don't trust the Parti Québécois government, and 84 per cent believe the PQ would put further limits on the English language if it won a majority in the National Assembly.