The Trudeau government, less than a year old, has certainly adopted well to governing.
Like most governments, the Trudeau Liberals have found that there is a surprising amount of money just lying around, so they might as well use it. For example, it was revealed this week that one of Trudeau’s inner circle, Gerald Butts, charged the government (a.k.a. the taxpayer, a.k.a. you and me) a staggering $126,669 for moving expenses to relocate to Ottawa. Another close confidant, Katie Telford, charged $80,382. Between the two of them that’s more than $200,000 for moving expenses. Trudeau said he was just following the rules laid out by the previous Conservative government, but that was a half-truth. He gave Butts and Telford the absolute maximum he could give them, while it was entirely within his rights to give them a whole lot less. Once the whole embarrassment was revealed, Butts agreed to return $41,618.62, and Telford will give back $23,373.71. Butts admitted that some of the money given to him was “unreasonable”. Amazing how he only figured that out after he was caught.
Such a Canadian scandal
Still in Ottawa, an odd little scandal has emerged that could only happen in Trudeau’s Canada. It was revealed by the Globe and Mail that Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions, was not born in Afghanistan, but was actually born in Iran. Why is this a big deal? It isn’t, really, but the government made a big deal about Monsef being the first Afghan born cabinet minister; even Barack Obama mentioned her birthplace in his speech to Parliament earlier this year. Monsef says she thought she was born in Afghanistan until the Globe asked her about it. She says she then asked her mother, who told her she was born in Iran. According to another story, though, it was an open secret in her riding that she was born in Iran.
Governments fall not on the major issues, but on a series of tiny little issues, like cabinet ministers who may have fudged the truth on their birthplace, or insiders spending big money on themselves.
Canada: just here to help
Justin Trudeau was in New York this week to address the opening of the UN’s general assembly. Like pretty much everything that comes from Trudeau on the world stage, it was full of platitudes and entirely lacking in anything concrete. The best line was this one: “Listen, Canada is a modest country. We know we can’t solve these problems alone. We know we need to do this all together. We know it will be hard work. But we’re Canadian and we’re here to help.” Yes, Justin Trudeau has perfected the humble brag. A humble brag is defined as “an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud”. Trudeau is basically saying, hey, we’re great. But we’re not going to say we’re great.
Does this make sense?
A huge company named Western Feedlots announced a shutdown this week. It is one of the largest cattle feeding operations in Canada, with a capacity of 100,000 head, and it’s right here in Alberta. Why the shutdown? Well, cattle prices which were at a record high in 2014-15, have plummeted.And, says the company, with the NDP government adding to their costs with WCB payments and the upcoming carbon tax, the operation doesn’t make economic sense anymore.
My question: if cattle prices are at rock bottom, why are we not paying rock bottom prices at the supermarket?
Where have we seen this before?
In a scenario that has become depressingly familiar, a U.S. city is on edge after a black man, (armed say the police, unarmed says his family) was shot and killed in Charlotte, N.C. Last week, a white Tulsa, Okla. officer killed an unarmed black man (the officer has been charged with manslaughter). I don’t know much about policing, except that I wouldn’t want to do it, but it seems to me that the default position of American cops is to draw their gun. It should be the absolutely last resort, not the first thing they do.
In Edmonton this week, police released a report that showed that of the 128,000 cases city cops dealt with in the first six months of this year, “use of force” occurred in only 1,127 cases, down from last year. More serious uses of force, which means things like using a gun, are down 5 per cent. Cops had their guns “low, ready” 442 times, and pointed them 78 times. Apparently, no bullets were fired. Maybe American cops should look north to how we do things here. After all … we’re Canada, and we’re here to help.
And now, the main event
Finally, after months of distant sparring, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will go toe-to-toe in a debate on Monday. The audience for this first debate could be almost Super Bowl sized, not just in the U.S. but around the world. In the campaign this week, Sen. Ted Cruz – who called Trump a snivelling coward, a pathological liar, a bully and a narcissist – announced that he will vote for Trump. And in the lead up to the debate, the gamesmanship began. The Clinton campaign has invited Mark Cuban, billionaire blowhard and Trump hater, to sit in the front row of the debate audience. In response, in a Tweet Trump has threatened to invite Gennifer Flowers, a long forgotten newsmaker who was briefly famous for claiming to having had an affair with Bill Clinton. Frankly, I’m disappointed with Trump. Gennifer Flowers, when he could have used Monica Lewinsky? Donald, you’re losing it.
Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, accordionist and zydeco performer … Curtis Hanson, 71, firm director responsible for films like L.A. Confidential … Jose Fernandez, 24, all-star pitcher with the Miami Marlins. He died in a boating accident … Mylan Hicks, 24, defensive back with the Calgary Stampeders, killed in a nightclub shooting.