Stuff Happens, week 47: Farmers raising hell; this week’s gun atrocity

I have to say I am greatly enjoying watching the NDP government squirm over Bill 6, their farm safety bill. The bill would force farms to apply the same safety regulations that apply in other industries, something that is commonplace across the country. I don’t disagree with this at all; in fact, I think it is years overdue. But the NDP mishandled the implementation of the bill badly, with no consultation with family farmers, who are in a rage (gleefully fanned by the Wildrose and PCs)  over the initial word that rules would apply to their kids and neighbours working on the farm. Judging from the huge protests, farmers are one group you do NOT want to anger. The NDP clarified things somewhat, exempting family workers, volunteers and friends from requiring WCB coverage, but the damage has been done. The smart thing to do would be to withdraw the bill for refinement, do plenty of consultation, and introduce a more complete bill. But no, the NDP knows best, and they’re charging ahead with the bill, and they are taking a pounding. Without Rachael Notley to guide the ship (she was in Paris saving the world), the NDP has floundered under sustained attacks from the opposition. Finally on Thursday, with Notley back in the legislature, the NDP fired back with the reasonable argument that paid farm workers should be covered by worker’s compensation before another one is injured. It was a bad week for the new government — their worst by far — and another sign that this is truly a one-woman government. Without Notley to steer the ship, they’re adrift. For example, consider this quote from the spectacularly inept Energy Minister Marg McQuaid-Boyd who said this in response to a question about job losses in the oil patch: “Certainly there are always talks of about mobility of jobs between provinces so maybe they can go work in B.C. until it gets better and come back home.” Seriously. She apologized, but you know what the first question will be when the legislature sits on Monday.

When will the government end this charade that Deborah Drever is an independent? Drever is one of the accidental MLAs elected by a sleeping populace who was so embarrassing to the NDP that she was kicked out of caucus. The NDP continues to try to rehabilitate Drever by giving her puffball questions to ask government ministers. Drever got a lot of ink for a private member’s bill that was undoubtably crafted by the NDP. Can the government please just shift Drever over to the government side so this ‘independent’ farce can end?

As much as I loathed Stephen Harper (remember him? Amazing how quickly yesterday’s most newsworthy person can become today’s yesterday’s man), I can say he never made me cringe. Grind my teeth, yes. Hang my head in shame, sure. Enrage me, practically every day. But he never made me cringe, which is something Justin Trudeau is accomplishing on a daily basis.

At the climate change chinwag in Paris, Trudeau started with “Canada is back, my dear friends.” Well, Canada has never been away, just being a bit of a dick. When Trudeau used the “Canada is back” line, he seemed to pause for a millisecond, as if expecting a roaring standing ovation. Instead, he got crickets. And “dear friends”? Who says that?  Trudeau has a strangely florid, overwrought speaking style, punctuated by lots of ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ that really needs some work. And please, put that hand-over-heart gesture to bed.

Speaking of putting things to bed, Trudeau has his first public relations problem, thanks mostly to the somewhat over-the-top coverage by the National Post. Turns out that Trudeau has two nannies (gasp!) to take care of his kids, both of whom are paid for by the government (double gasp!). But before the election, Trudeau said people who make more than $200Gs a year didn’t need the Harper child tax credit. Now he’s being accused of being a hypocrite, which stings a bit. This is typically Canadian to fret over something as trivial as child care for the most important man in the country. Still, it would be wise for the PM to pay for the nannies out of his own pocket, just to keep the critics at bay. A perhaps more pertinent question: who needs two nannies for three kids?

This month’s mass killing in the U.S. came with a disturbing new twist. Whereas the standard mass killing follows a template (lone gunman with or without a grudge goes on spur-of-the-moment killing spree), the massacre in San Bernardino, Ca. is different. This time, it was clearly a planned event, and this time, it was two gunmen — or to be more precise, a gunman and a gunwoman, a husband and wife team. It seems almost certain that this was a terrorist-inspired attack; early indications are that the gunman had been radicalized by the gunwoman, whom he met in Pakistan. By Thursday afternoon, lawmakers sprung into action. An amendment before the Senate would have given the U.S. attorney general authority to “deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.” Surely, nobody would vote against an amendment designed to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, right? Wrong. Senate Republicans, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association, voted it down.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is now a daddy, which he announced via Twitter. Just joking, of course. With his birth announcement on Facebook, he also announced that he and his wife will commit 99 per cent of their Facebook stock to fighting disease, improving education and building communities. Lest you fear that the Zuckerbergs will be reduced to visiting the food bank, bear in mind that his stock is worth an estimated $45 billion, so even giving away 99 per cent, he should still be able to make ends meet. Kudos to Mr. Zuckerberg. The world needs more billionaires like him, and fewer Donald Trumps.

You know all those fears of a government-sponsored invasion of Syrians? Twenty-five thousand of them in just a few months? Turns out that we might not get quite so many RSVPs to our invites as expected. The United Nations got in touch with 28,500 Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon via text (refugees have phones?) asking if they wanted to come to Canada within weeks. More than 3,000 showed up for interviews, and only 1,800 indicated they were interested in coming to Canada. Apparently, when faced with the prospect of spending the winter in a refugee camp in Jordan or Lebanon, or moving to Regina in January, the refugee camp won.

RIP: Scott Weiland, 43, lead singer for the band Stone Temple Pilots … Willie Burden, 64, former Calgary Stampeders running back and CFL Hall of Famer. In 1975 he set a new CFL single season rushing record, running 332 times for 1896 yards. He also set a CFL record with 2,127 yards from scrimmage and led the league with 2,387 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns … Bill Bennett, 83, former premier of British Columbia … Robert Loggia, 85, longtime American character actor.

 

One thought on “Stuff Happens, week 47: Farmers raising hell; this week’s gun atrocity

  1. Thankyou Maurice.
    No question the ND’s get a “D” for the failed process in Bill 6 but it is too important to let pass us by. Amendments now clearly exempt family friends and volunteers. Mea culpas including the Premier should enable us to now ensure that the hundreds of injured employees over the next few months will be guaranteed compensation, investigations will allow us all to learn and make workplaces safer and, over the next year, consultations will inform the details of the Safety Code. Only WCB starts in January 2016…

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