Stuff Happens, week 43: ‘Trudeau II: The son also rises’ makes its debut; pipeline politics

It’s now official — Prime Minister Trudeau. For those of us of a certain age, that has a familiar ring.

Now, I’m not a naturally optimistic person. I see myself as more of a realist. However, I’m strangely optimistic about our new government. Maybe it’s just the residual joy of ridding the country of Stephen Harper, but I feel pretty good about the Trudeau cabinet. For now.

To be honest, I was concerned about this ‘gender parity’ silliness. At the risk of sounding like a ‘privileged white male’ (I am a white male, but I’m still waiting to be awarded  my privilege), I agree with some of my fellow men that forcing gender neutrality risks appointing less qualified people. And that applies both ways — maybe there were some highly qualified women who were passed over the for gender neutrality goal. Ever think of that, huh? The fact is, however, that cabinet posts have never been based solely on merit. Look at the gallery of sycophants, incompetents and toadies that occupied the front benches of Stephen Harper’s government. And of course, you have to appoint members, qualified or otherwise, from the regions. So meritocracy has never existed, and it doesn’t exist with Trudeau, either. But diversity? You bet. This cabinet has 15 women, two indigenous people, five visible minorities, two people with handicaps, four Sikhs (more Sikhs than there are in the government of India), one gay (that we know of, wink wink) and even a millionaire. Yes, it does look a lot like Canada. And just like Canada, some of these people will be great at their jobs, some mediocre, some flops. But Trudeau had a remarkably diverse and accomplished group of MPs to choose from, and it appears so far he chose well. The least accomplished, it seems? Justin Trudeau.

The other big story on a very newsy week was Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. This news was as expected as Edmonton’s annual property tax hike.

Millions of words have been spoken and printed on Keystone, so I won’t recap them here. The bottom line, in my view,  is that Obama came down on the side of symbolism rather than common sense. With the climate change summit coming up in Paris shortly, Obama needed something to take to the conference so he could wear the environmental champion mantel. Saying no to Keystone is low-hanging fruit for Obama, just as it was to environmentalists. It keeps the greens happy, it looks like he’s doing something, it has no real impact on the U.S. economy, and coming down against “dirty oil” is easy. Obama ignored the facts about the oil sands. Yes, they are “dirtier” than conventional oil, but the oil sands only contribute 0.1 per cent of of global greenhouse gas emissions. Moving oil by pipeline is less damaging to the environment than moving it by rail. And get this: Canada is the only major major supplier of oil to the U.S. that has greenhouse gas rules. Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Venezuala? No rules.

In Edmonton on Wednesday noon, TV newsrooms were no doubt torn as to what the top news story of the day would be: the Trudeau cabinet swearing in with an Edmonton member; or Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid breaking his clavicle. The clavicle won.

The Oiler rookie being out of action for not days, not weeks, but months cast a pall over the city as bleak at the November skies. This guy was looking like the real deal, and although the Oilers are still losing more than they’re winning, McDavid displayed the kind of skill that we haven’t seen here in years. Now, the potential rookie of the year season for McDavid is over, and the Oilers chances of making the playoffs are more remote than they were last week. Which is to say, very very remote.

The masochist in me still tuned into Question Period from the Alberta Legislature. Yeah, I know. That’s pathetic. Almost as pathetic as the performance of Wildrose leader Brian Jean.

A typical Jean question goes something like “Why won’t this government stick up for Albertans?” (actually, that was the exact wording of a question).  When a ludicrous softball question like that is tossed Rachel Notley’s way, she can barely contain her smirk. On Wednesday, Jean said Notley has “consistently campaigned against our pipelines, and our oilsands.” Here’s the problem with this kind of question: it may or may not be true, but proving it to be true takes elementary research. Perhaps the Wildrose hasn’t heard of something called Hansard, which contains every single word said in the Alberta legislature. If Notley has “consistently campaigned against our pipelines, and our oilsands” it shouldn’t be very hard to dig up some quotes from Hansard, from newspaper files, or NDP press releases. If I were running the Wildrose research, I’d have a crew of people pouring over everything Notley, Brian Mason and David Eggen have said over the years. Goodness knows, the NDP does that every day, throwing Wildrose policy back in their faces. By Thursday, the Wildrose appeared to have finally discovered that what the Dippers said in the past can come back to haunt them. The opposition scored real points against the holier-than-everyone government by blasting them for selling $250 tickets to events to meet government members — exactly what the NDP made a stink about during the Stelmach years. After Mason rose to say that wasn’t the truth, it was up to health minister Sara Hoffman — who sounds like a chipmunk on helium — to read an apology. So Mason was saying all was well, then Hoffman said no it wasn’t. It was really the first time since the Notley-ites took over that the Wildrose laid a solid hit on the government. See what happens when you do some research?

RIP: Melissa Mathison, 65, the screenwriter responsible for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial … George Barris, 89, the custom car designer who created the Batmobile for the 196os Batman TV series, and the Munster Koach from The Munsters. 

3 thoughts on “Stuff Happens, week 43: ‘Trudeau II: The son also rises’ makes its debut; pipeline politics

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