Deposited into my bank account this week was a payment of $150, my “Alberta climate leadership adjustment rebate”. The rebate covers the period of January to June of this year, which is a rebate for money I haven’t spent yet (or, as I call it, a prebate). The prebate is part of the “climate leadership plan” which give a rebate for “lower and middle income” Albertans like me to compensate us for Rachael Notley’s carbon tax on fuel and natural gas. Who gets the rebate? Well, just about everybody. According to the government website, “60% of households will get a full rebate: $200 for an adult, $100 for a spouse and $30 for each child under 18 (up to four children). Single parents can claim the spouse amount for one child, and the child amount for up to 4 more children.

“Full rebates will be provided to single Albertans who earn $47,500 or less, and couples and families who earn $95,000 or less. Additional households will receive a partial rebate.”

Yep … full rebates for families who earn up to NINETY-FIVE THOUSAND a year, and partial rebates for others over that amount. So, if even families taking in $95,000 a year are getting $300 a year, and people making even more than that are getting some kind of rebate (I assume that means Darrel Katz is getting a rebate), then where is the incentive to cut back on your consumption, which is allegedly the whole point of the carbon tax?  The website goes on to say “the rebate is solely tied to income and not energy use, so eligible recipients have a financial incentive to reduce household emissions.”

Huh? If the rebate was tied to energy use and not just your income, wouldn’t you be more inclined to reduce household emissions?

The fact is that the whole carbon tax plan is a giant PR scam, designed to convince the world (or the Trudeau government) that we’re “serious” about reducing our carbon output, without causing the “average” Albertan any undue hardship. Even the title is clearly the product of public relations: it’s not a carbon tax rebate, but a “climate leadership adjustment rebate”. What’s not to like about leadership? And the climate?

jane-fonda-was-at-the-pea-012The “leadership” plan clearly did not impress the taut-faced actress Jane Fonda, who made one of those publicity-seeking trips to the oil sands courtesy Greenpeace, then held a press conference in Edmonton to decry the actions of “good looking liberal” Justin Trudeau. Rachael Notley simply said Fonda doesn’t know what she’s talking about, which pretty much sums it up. Frankly, people stopped caring what Jane Fonda thinks back around 1972 when she was known as ‘Hanoi Jane’ for her support of the North Vietnamese soldiers, depicted in this infamous photo of Fonda getting all chummy with North Vietnamese. (To be fair, she has apologized profusely for the photo and her actions.)

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse …

… it gets worse.

This week, reports emerged that president-elect Donald Trump was the target of a campaign by the Russians to accumulate damaging intelligence about the bilious billionaire, apparently in the hopes of blackmailing him at some point. The report, released in full by the website Buzzfeed, is entirely unsubstantiated and unverified, and riddled with errors. Still, intelligence people briefed Trump and Barack Obama on the findings, apparently as a heads up about its contents. (The one allegation in the report that is causing much merriment is that Trump, while in Russia, hired two prostitutes to urinate on the bed that Hillary and Bill Clinton had slept on in a previous visit to Moscow – and that is might have been videotaped.) The suggestion in the report is that the Russians were gathering damaging info on Trump to hold some kind of sway over him, in case he became president. Frankly, I think the whole thing is questionable. It could explain to a degree Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin, but Trump is basically impervious to shame. I can almost believe anything about the fat fingered vulgarian that is Donald Trump, but the guy is coated in Teflon. Nothing sticks to him, and unless the report (produced on orders of Republican opponents to Trump) is found to be substantially true, this will be just another unbelievable moment in the career of the world’s most unbelievable politician.

Trudeau tour hits some speed bumps

Prime Minister Trudeau, facing some heat for his fundraising actions and high-end holidays, decided to skip next week’s Trump inauguration to go on a cross-country “listening tour” to hear from Canadians. Some media types (OK, almost all media types, particularly anyone in the solidly anti-Trudeau Postmedia group) have decried this tour as a cynical publicity gimmick. Personally, I think its pretty gutsy to go out to public forums to listen to average Canadians. He could have stayed in his Ottawa cocoon, but he chose to go across the country, where he heard a story like this heartbreaking one from an Ontario woman. My guess is that while this woman was talking, Trudeau was thinking, “Maybe it’s not too late to go to the inauguration.”

Things would get worse for the boy prime minister. In a rambling talk about climate change, etc. Trudeau said: “We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off our dependence on fossil fuels.” Any suggestion of phasing our the oil sands is red meat to Alberta conservatives, setting off the expected hyperbole. Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who represents Fort McMurray, was practically apoplectic. Trudeau should know better than to put the words “phase out” and “oil sands” in the same sentence. In the foreseeable future, there will be no phasing out of the oil sands. Love them or hate them, the oil sands fuel the Alberta economy, pouring billions into provincial and federal coffers. And after approving pipelines, how much sense does it make to talk about phasing out the oil sands? There are times when I think Trudeau is a pretty smart guy, and other times when I think he is an empty-headed pretty boy. This is one of those pretty-boy moments.

Pure Canadiana II

Continuing with my weekly series of historical tidbits (not Timbits) about Canada in honour of hour 150th year,  let’s pause to reflect on the contributions of Canadians to American comedy.

Canadians have made an impression on all sectors of the entertainment industry, but we have arguably had the biggest impact on comedy. Here is an incomplete list of Canadian comics, actors or comic creators who rose to stardom in the U.S. (and therefore the world, since the one things Americans can still do better than anyone is entertain): Dan Akyroyd, John Candy, Jim Carrey, Michael Cera, Mike Myers, Leslie Nielsen, Catherine O’Hara, Seth Rogan, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Samantha Bee, Russell Peters, Lorne Michaels, Norm MacDonald, Howie Mandel, David Steinberg, Colin Mochrie, Dave Thomas, Dave Foley, Rich Little, The Kids in the Hall, Will Arnett, Nathan Fielder, Tom Green. OK, there’s not all great, but all that matters in entertainment is success, right?

RIP

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, 146, legendary form of family entertainment, closing down in May. Declining ticket sales got even worse when the circus announced it would no longer use elephants … The San Diego Chargers, 53, NFL team that has decamped to Los Angeles because the city of San Diego wouldn’t build a new stadium for the team … Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snooka, 73, longtime pro wrestler … Dick Gauthier, 83, handsome actor best known as Hymie the Robot from Get Smart … Anthony Armstrong-Jones, 86, photographer and first husband of the late Princess Margaret, younger sister of the Queen … William Peter Blatty, 89, author of The Exorcist which was adapted for the screen as one of the scariest movies in history …   Clare Hollingsworth, 105, the British journalist who had the greatest scoop of all time – she broke the news of the German invasion of Poland in 1939, signalling the start of World War II … Larry Langley, 83, former CBC weatherman and Edmonton city councillor … Tony Rosato, 62, one of only three performers (along with Martin Short and Robin Duke) to appear on both SCTV and Saturday Night Live, although he made little impression on either show. Rosato’s story is a tragic one. In 2005, Rosato went to police in his wife’s hometown of Kingston to report wife and baby daughter had gone missing, replaced by impostors, the result of a rare mental condition known as Capgras delusion. Police charged him with criminal harassment and threw him in jail for almost 800 days, until his trial last summer. A judge handed Rosato a conditional discharge (with no conviction) and a probation order under the Criminal Code requiring Rosato to “reside” at Kingston’s Providence Care Mental Health Services for a maximum of three years … Kenny Wharram, 83, who played 14 seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks … Ulf Dinkelspiel, 77, Swedish politician included on this list because I love the name Ulf Dinkelspiel.

 

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