Canada beer wins for free trade

May 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Cato writes:

Last year, I mentioned a Canadian court case that could help promote free trade within Canada. Well, a lower court has now ruled for free trade, finding that the Canadian constitution does, in fact, guarantee free trade among the provinces. …

The possible impact:

Canada is rife with protectionist laws and regulations that prevent the free flow of goods from one province to another. These laws affect Canadians’ ability to buy and sell milk, chickens, eggs, cheese and many other things, including some that neither you nor I have ever even thought about. And that is the beauty of this decision. It will open up a national market in everything. Yes, the CCF, Comeau and Comeau’s pro bono defence lawyers Mikael Bernard, Arnold Schwisberg and Ian Blue can all be proud that we have “freed the beer.” But we’ve done more than that — we’ve revived the idea that Canada should have free trade within its borders, which is what the framers of our Constitution intended. That means that the Supreme Court will likely have to revisit the constitutionality of this country’s marketing boards and other internal trade restrictions. In other words, this is a big deal.

I think one of the great strengths of New Zealand is that we don’t have states, meaning we are one market, and have one set of laws.

Trudeau assaults MPs

May 21st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Globe and Mail reports:

The House of Commons erupted in chaos Wednesday as a New Democrat MP and her opposition colleagues accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of elbowing her in the chest during a confrontation prior to a key vote.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau said she was shocked by the encounter and had to leave the chamber as mayhem descended on the Commons floor, with Trudeau at one point in a face-to-face encounter with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

The incident, which took place amid the superheated atmosphere of a debate about doctor-assisted death, had MPs in an uproar as they shouted and pounded their desks in a display of antipathy rarely seen in the parliamentary chamber.

Footage from the Commons television feed shows Trudeau wading into a clutch of MPs, mostly New Democrats, and pulling Opposition whip Gordon Brown through the crowd in order to get the vote started.

As Trudeau turns around to pull Brown through, Brosseau can be seen reacting with discomfort.

“I was standing in the centre talking to some colleagues,” Brosseau told the House after calm was restored. “I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister and then I had to leave.”

Outrageous behaviour. He grabbed an Opposition MP by the arm because he wanted a vote to start. The elbowing of Brosseau may have been accidental but what the hell was he thinking by doing what he did?

Will Canada legalise cannabis use?

December 7th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The new Liberal government has promised to act quickly to legalize marijuana for general use, which would make Canada the first G-20 country to end cannabis prohibition on a national level.

Personally I would to see the results of the impacts of legalisation in those US states which have done so. It will almost be a controlled experiment as we will be able to compare any changes in the crime rates and health data in those states which have legalised cannabis to those which have not.

For police forces across Canada, the month of August is harvest time.

Cops slip on their coveralls, grab thick gardening gloves, shoulder machetes and begin the annual ritual of chopping down marijuana plants hidden in cornfields, remote mountain valleys and forest clearings.

If the grower is unlucky enough to be caught red-handed, he is cuffed and taken off to court. Each police unit hits two or three of these hidden marijuana plantations, with the confiscated pot taken to incinerators. The destruction of marijuana plants goes on for about two weeks and then it’s back to normal police work.

Has this war on marijuana worked?

“No, it hasn’t,” said Clive Weighill, chief of the Saskatoon police force, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and a veteran of the August raids.

Taxing it might be a better option.

The Liberals point out that more than 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for simple possession of marijuana and the number continues to grow. They claim this is a needless destruction of lives.

Each year the federal government spends as much as 500 million Canadian dollars (roughly $375 million U.S.) on drug enforcement and prosecution, according to the auditor general. About 50 million Canadian dollars goes to raiding marijuana plantations. These figures do not include the money spent by provincial and municipal authorities.

Yet a large number of people still use cannabis. For about a decade now, studies have shown that past-year use among Canadians age 15 to 24 is the highest in the developed world, with a recent study putting the rate at 24.6 percent. For adults 25 and over the figure drops to 8 percent.

A lot of money for little results.

The Trudeaumetre

November 19th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A group of Canadians have set up the Trudeaumetre website which lists the 184 promises made by new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and monitors if they have been implemented, are in progress, or have been broken.

It’s a good initiative, and would be nice to see in other countries, such as New Zealand.

The key is that the people doing it should be non-partisan.

So far Trudeau has implemented three promises:

  1. Revoke rules and regulations that muzzle government scientists and allow them to speak freely about their work (with only limited and publicly stated exceptions).
  2. Restore mandatory long-form census.
  3. Include an equal number of women and men in the Cabinet.

Canada celebrates an openly ginger Minister!

November 13th, 2015 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar


They’re behind Australia which has had an openly ginger Prime Minister!

Prime Minister Trudeau

October 21st, 2015 at 2:43 am by David Farrar

Once again Canada has a Prime Minister Trudeau.

The results of the election are:

  • Liberals 39.5% (+20.6%) 184 (+150) seats
  • Conservatives 31.9% (-7.7%) 99 (-67) seats
  • NDP 19.7% (-10.9%) 44 (-59) seats
  • Bloc Quebecois 4.7% (-1.3%) 10 (+6) seats
  • Greens 3.5% (-0.4%0 1 seat (nc)

170 seats is a majority so the Liberals have made it. When you consider they came a distant third in 2011, this is a massive victory for them. Meanwhile the Conservatives and NDP have been slaughtered, both losing important figures such as the Conservative Finance Minister and NDP Deputy Leader.

The polls were pretty accurate, even if the seat projections were less so. The differences between the result and the average of the final polls was:

  • Liberals 2.2% better
  • Conservatives 1.0% better
  • NDP 2.0% worse

I think there was a bit of last minute tactical voting from NDP to Liberals.

Harper has resigned as Conservative Leader, so they will have an Acting Leader for almost a year as their primary style elections take a long time.

Canada goes to the polls

October 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


Projection from CBC.

The long campaign in Canada has made a difference – but not for the Conservatives. It started with the hard left NDP leading and looking to maybe form Government for the first time ever and the Liberals (sort of like NZ Labour, but more business friendly and  more corrupt) in third place.

But the Liberals are projected to win the most seats and if so they will form Government. Getting a majority is unlikely but not impossible.

If the Conservatives do better than expected then it could be a fascinating constitutional issue, with the Governor-General playing a role.

The cultural history of Canada is that the largest party has been allowed to form Government, even if opposition parties could defeat them. So even though the NDP could have in the past put the Liberals into Government, they have not as Conservatives won the most seats.

But this tradition may end. The NDP have said they will not support a Conservative minority Government, even if they win the most seats. However neither have they said they would support a Liberal Government if the Liberals win fewer seats than the Conservatives. So you could have Harper ask the Governor-General to allow him to test the confidence of the House.

The Globe and Mail have forecast:

  • 81% probability Liberals get most seats
  • 19% probability Conservatives get most seats
  • 0% probability NDP get most seats
  • 98% chance Liberals and NDP have a majority

So not looking for Stephen Harper, but the polls have been wrong in other races recently so we’ll see the results as they come in!

Labour defending Canadian dairy industry

May 21st, 2015 at 9:15 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says he is not bothered that his name has apparently become a byword for undiplomatic behaviour.

The Labour Party today accused him in Parliament of insulting Canadian diplomats by comparing the country’s dairy industry to the Soviet Union.

Are the Soviets upset?

The description, while harsh, is not inaccurate. The Government limits the amount of domestic dairy production and has huge tariffs on imports. Farms have quotas and a single dairy cow quota is worth around $30,000. Tariffs are around 300% and they also have import quotas so that only say 1% of yoghurt can be imported.

I’d say it is an apt comparison.

Trade spokesman David Parker cited a scathing article by an American policy analyst, which said Mr Groser’s behaviour had led to a new slang term in Washington: “Grossing”.

The article said the Canadian Embassy in Washington was “privately bristling” at the minister’s “counter-productive, undiplomatic sledging”.

Oh no, the Canadian Embassy in Washington is upset. This could form an episode of Southpark!

He said that Canada’s dairy interests had been “diametrically opposed” to New Zealand’s interests for 30 years, and it took “just a little bit of spine to stand up to it”.

Mr Parker said Mr Groser’s comments were “abrasive and arrogant”.

“How does he think slagging off the Canadians using derogatory terms is going to result in a good outcome for those negotiations?” Mr Parker asked.

Mr Groser stood firm: “It’s called a negotiation. And to use one of Tana Umaga’s memorable phrases, ‘We ain’t here to play tiddlywinks’.”

So Labour is attacking the Minister for criticizing the Canadian Government’s dairy policy. Nice to know they’re focusing on the big issues.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives Leadership election

April 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I don’t normally focus on provincial politics in Canada, but I’m following with interest the leadership election for the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario, as a mate of mine is a contender.

Unlike in NZ, Canadian parties are not restricted to choosing their leaders from their caucus, and have lengthy election contests where every member can vote. It is not uncommon for a leader to not be an MP when they get elected.

The Leader of the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario resigned in June 2014, after losing the provincial election. They got only 28 seats to 58 for the Liberals and 21 for the NDP. They lost nine seats despite being their third term in opposition.

The election will be on 9 May 2015 – almost 11 months later.

Every member of the party in Ontario gets a vote. The votes are weighted so each of the 107 ridings has equal weight. So signing up 5,000 members in one riding won’t help you much – you need to work on getting votes from the entire province.

The front-runner for the leadership has been Christine Elliott. She has been deputy leader since 2009 and has support of 19 of the 28 provincial MPs.

A total of five candidates went forward. Elliott, Vic Fedeli (shadow finance), Lisa MacLeod (shadow treasury), Monte McNaughton (shadow trade) and Patrick Brown.

Patrick is not a provincial MP, but a federal backbench MP. I’ve known him for over a dozen years, after we went to Sri Lanka together to do democracy training. We’re good mates, despite him nicknaming me Uncle Fester. I happened to be in Canada when their 2006 election was on, so helped him out a bit. He won his federal seat that year, off an incumbent Cabinet Minister.

He won the marginal seats by 1,500 votes in 2006. Then after two years increased it to 15,000 in 2008 and 21,000 in 2011.

Patrick is one of the most impressive retail politicians I’ve seen. He gets involved in every community event there is. He leads and champions fundraisers for local causes. He turns up to almost every meeting and forum. That’s how a seat goes from marginal to getting three times the votes of your opponent.

When I was there in 2006, Patrick was door knocking in -30 degree temperatures and snow every day. Volunteers who were only door knocking once or twice a week were wanting to stop after a couple of hours, but Patrick would always be the one saying let’s do one more block – despite being out every day.

When Patrick first announced his candidacy, he was seen as having no chance. He wasn’t even a provincial MP. He scored barely 5% in the opinion polls.

But Patrick got to work. He and his team started signing up members. Not 500 or 1,000, but around 30,000. He didn’t just sign them up in the areas that normally vote PC. He went to areas often hostile in the past. He worked with ethnic communities, and has been so good at pushing Canadian-Indian links, he’s a personal friend now of the Indian Prime Minister.

He couldn’t get as many endorsements from MPPs as Elliott, but he got endorsements from legendary ice hockey players. Brown organises an annual ice hockey charity event for his local area, and gets many stars along – and even takes part himself.

It’s now two weeks to go, and a poll has him now in the lead. Ahead 54 to 46. No guarantee he will win, but an amazing turn-around. If he wins, polls show they are slightly ahead of the Liberals, so he could become Premier at the next election. But one step at a time.

The lesson here, if Patrick does win, is sheer hard work and endless energy can make a difference.

A moving standing ovation

October 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Canadian Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers receiving a standing ovation in the Canadian House of Commons.

A terrorist attack in Canada?

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least 30 shots are fired inside the main building of Canada’s Parliament Hill, after a gunman shot and wounded a soldier at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Ottawa police are hunting multiple gunmen in the shooting incidents near the Canadian war memorial and nearby Parliament Hill.

A Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa early today (NZ time) and a gunman was shot dead in a nearby parliament building, media and witnesses reported. Buildings remained locked down.

At least 30 shots were fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital, starting around 10am local time (3am NZT).

Canadian media outlets are reporting the soldier was Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist serving in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment.

Officials have named the gunman shot dead as 32-year-old, Canadian-born, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Reuters has reported Mr Zehaf-Bibeau was was a Canadian convert to Islam, according to US officials. He is from Quebec and has criminal convictions for drug possession and parole violations.

Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attacks. 

Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a ”dynamic, unfolding situation.”

Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.

“Condolences to family of the soldier killed, and prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded. Canada will not be terrorised or intimidated,” cabinet minister Jason Kenney said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting in parliament when gunfire erupted in the building, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun.

Harper was later safely removed from the building, and parliament was locked down.

Fantino said parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), had shot a suspect dead.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said. “He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.”

The Sergeant-at-Arms should him dead personally! Wow. One always thinks of those roles of nominally being in charge of maintaining order – not active duty. He is being feted justifiably as a hero. Mr Vickers is 58 years old.

It is somewhat sickening that these attacks are spreading to countries like Canada and Australia, and being done by people born in those countries.

Canada claiming a Kiwi

October 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Canada has claimed Eleanor Catton as its own after she won the Man Booker prize yesterday.

Canadian media, which has reported widely on her success, noted Catton was born in Ontario.

The National Post described her as “the first Canadian author to win one of the world’s foremost literary awards in over a decade”. The paper’s review of the novel described it as stylistically “as solid as the brick it physically resembles”.

The Globe and Mail went with the more diplomatic “Canadian-born author”, and said: “Despite its length, there isn’t a sentence that feels weak or lazy, and by all objective criteria, The Luminaries is a remarkable accomplishment.”

Canadian-born is more correct than Canadian.

But we can’t take the moral high ground here. New Zealanders lead the world in claiming someone is a Kiwi because they may have been born here, lived here for a couple of years or even once made a fleeting visit and said something nice about us.

A more fun political party

March 7th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A much more fun political party than the one I just blogged on below is the Canadian Rhino Party.

Operating within the tradition of political satire, the Rhinoceros Party’s basic credo, their so-called primal promise, was “a promise to keep none of our promises.”[1] They then promised outlandishly impossible schemes designed to amuse and entertain the voting public.


The party claimed to be the spiritual descendants of Cacareco, a Brazilian rhinoceros who was elected member of São Paulo‘s city council in 1958, and listed Cornelius the First, a rhinoceros from the Granby Zoo, east of Montreal, as its leader.[4] It declared that the rhinoceros was an appropriate symbol for a political party since politicians, by nature, are “thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted, can move fast as hell when in danger, and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces.”

I like their abortion policy:

A candidate named Ted “not too” Sharp ran in Flora MacDonald‘s Kingston and the Islands riding with the campaign slogan “Fauna, not flora“, promising to give fauna equal representation.[8] He also took a stand on abortion (promising, if elected, never to have an abortion) and capital punishment: “If it was good enough for my grandfather, then it’s good enough for me.”

And defence policy:

To strengthen Canada’s military, Sharp planned to tow Antarctica north to the Arctic Circle. “Once we have Antarctica, we’ll control all of the world’s cold. If another Cold War starts, we’ll be unbeatable.”

And best of all:

Rather than awarding money as prizes in the lottery, the winners would be appointed to the Canadian Senate.

And kudos to Belgium:

Offering to call off the proposed Belgium-Canada war if Belgium delivered a case of mussels and a case of Belgian beer to Rhinoceros “Hindquarters” in Montreal (the Belgian Embassy in Ottawa did, in fact, do this)

The war was due to Tintin having shot a rhinoceros!

Copyright in Canada

July 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

In another of the rulings Thursday, the justices said online music stores will not have to pay royalties on song previews to publishers and songwriters.

The high court ruled song previews what a customer would listen to before purchasing digital music from online retailers such as an iTune constitutes research under copyright legislation and thus the consumer should not pay a royalty.

“Short, low-quality previews do not compete with, or adversely affect, the downloading of the works themselves. Instead, their effect is to increase the sale and dissemination of copyrighted musical works,” said the ruling.

I’m not sure what is more scary – the stupidity or the greed of the music studios in trying to get people to pay for previews. I often listen to a song preview before buying it – it helps me decide whether to buy it. The previews are never the entire song, and I’ve never heard of anyone copying the previews, as they are incomplete.

The fifth ruling found that photocopying textbooks for classroom use in public schools does not infringe copyright laws, and should not be subject to a tariff

I’m not sure if this means entire textbooks can be copied, but it should allow chapters to be photocopied for academic use.

Canada repeals hate speech laws

June 11th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Montreal Gazette reports:

The Conservative government voted late Wednesday to repeal controversial sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act banning hate speech over the telephone or Internet.

 In a vote of 153 to 136, the majority Harper government supported a private member’s bill from Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth that would scrap Section 13 of the human rights code, which deals with complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet.”

This is a good thing, and the excesses of what happened in Canada should be top of mind if we consider any initiatives to “control” speech on the Internet here. People should face consequences for speech that causes actual harm such as economic or reputation loss (defamation), violence (Crimes Act) but trying too regulate political opinions – even extreme ones, is not good.

Storseth said the current human rights code allows too many frivolous cases to proceed against citizens, when the Criminal Code already covers hate speech that could generate harm against an individual or group.

Exactly – the focus should be on speech that generates actual harm.

Acts of hate speech are serious crimes that should be investigated by police officers, not civil servants, he said, and the cases should be handled by “real judges and real lawyers,” instead of a quasi-judicial body such as the human rights commission.

I’m not quite so sangine about the Police investigating. In the UK there have been some horrendous cases where school kids are prosecuted for using racially insensitive language.

New Democrat public-safety critic Randall Garrison said Wednesday that, due to the large number of hate crimes, the human-rights commission needs to have the power to combat the issue online and force individuals and groups to remove websites containing hateful speech.

I’m against this, even a ban on “hate speech” would see certain left blogs be banned 🙂

Barbarism in NZ and Canada

January 31st, 2012 at 4:18 pm by David Farrar

In my blog at Stuff I blog:

I doubt I was the only person upset and angered at the story of the 17-year-old girl in Wellington whose parents tricked her into a forced marriage. She was imprisoned at home for several months, until she escaped.

Her parents have gone back to Pakistan, but the father is reported to have said he would kill her if he saw her again.

Sadly this can’t just be dismissed as hyperbole. Canada has just had a conclusion to a trial in which a father, with help from other family members, killed his three daughters and one of his wives. This was a so-called “honour” killing. Of course honour had nothing to so with it. Secret wiretaps revealed the father saying “God curse their generation, they were filthy and rotten children,” and “To hell with them and their boyfriends, may the devil s**t on their graves.”

The 17-year-old girl in Wellington may be lucky she escaped such a fate. As New Zealanders, we need to ask ourselves what we can do to minimise this occuring in New Zealand.

You can comment over at Stuff on my thoughts on how we can minimise this.


Jack Layton RIP

August 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This week saw the death of the Jack Layton, the Leader of the Opposition in Canada. He died from cancer after taking leave on 28 July from his duties.

Layton was Leader of the left wing New Democratic Party since 2003. In 2000 they won just 13 seats out of 301 with 9% of the popular vote. Layton in 2004 lifted the vote to 16% and 19 seats. In 2006 the vote went up marginally to 17% but the seats to 29 as the Liberals got thrown out.

The 2008 election saw further gains with the popular vote at 18% and seats to 37. Then just over three months ago a landmark election saw the Liberals (the natural party of Government for most of the last 100 years) fall to third place and the NDP soar to 31% of the vote and 103 out of 308 seats.

If he had lived, Layton may have become Prime Minister one day. He has always been a popular politician, beyond the support for the NDP.

The political ramifications of his death will take some time to become apparent. Canadian parties take months to elect a new leader, sometimes over a year. So the Liberal Party has no permanent leader yet and now neither does the NDP. The interim leader is 68 years old and is unlikely to become the permanent leader.

This means that PM Steven Harper will have no strong opposition until at least 2012. It also means that the Liberals may have a chance to regain support from the NDP, if the new leader doesn’t fire.

Conservatives gain a majority in Canada

May 3rd, 2011 at 5:58 pm by David Farrar

Conservative PM Steven Harper has pulled off what some said was the impossible, and has not only been re-elected, but as a majority Government.

There are five “major” parties in Canadian politics. they are:

  1. Conservatives (a merger of predecessor parties that often fought each other)
  2. Liberals – traditional centre-left party, but business-friendly. Been in Govt most of the time.
  3. New Democratic Party – a hard left party, mainly with support in Vancouver and Toronto
  4. Bloc Québécois – the separatists in Quebec
  5. Greens – support has ranged up to 10%, but no seats in Parliament yet

So what happened:

  1. Conservatives went from 143 seats (38%) to 166 (40%)
  2. Liberals went from 77 seats (26%) to 35 (19%)
  3. BQ went from 49 seats (10%) to 4 (6%)
  4. NDP went from 37 seats (18%) to 102 (31%)
  5. Greens went from 0 seats (7%) to 1 (4%)

The Liberals have gone from being the natural party of Government to a minor party. The only consolation is the Conservatives have been there and done that previously. Their leader, Michael Ignatieff, is a former academic and never came across as a strong leader. He has lost his actual seat in Parliament, as has the BQ leader. It is not unknown for PMs to lose seats as they get swept from office, but almost unheard of for an Opposition Leader to lose his seat. I suspect Ignatieff now regrets forcing an early election.

The BQ are basically wiped out, and this is a huge blow to the separatists – but good for Canada.

Harper is the big winner. He has been pilloried by the left since he became leader. They said he was unelectable. But he has now won three elections, and increased his number of seats at each election.

Jack Layton is a big winner, and at the age of 60 is now the Leader of the Opposition. He may be the next Prime Minister also. But he will need to watch out for the Libs and BQ who will target him as much as the Conservatives.

The NDP are pretty hard left. They wish to ban private healthcare for example.

Key counsels Harper on sex scandals

April 17th, 2010 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

Amused to read this by Audrey Young:

How did you feel about being caught up in the middle of an incredible scandal in Canada?

Well, given that it dominated all the questions on the Canadian side [of the press conference], it shows that universally sex sells. I don’t even claim to understand it nor could I even understand the question, given that it was in French. But it sounds interesting.

Perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked for your advice because you sacked a minister, Richard Worth, last year and didn’t tell the media why?

It wasn’t lost on me that there were similarities.

Did you pass that on to Mr Harper?

I did actually.

I always wondered with Prime Ministers talked about when thet got together. It seems is it something like this:

NZ PM: Well I had one Minister who had this thing for Asian women – he even tried sleeping with a Labour Party candidate.

Canadian PM: Ha – I can beat that. I had a female Minister who was arranging threesomes with prostitutes for her and her husband.

NZ PM: But my one used taxpayer money to fly his girls to Wellington

Canadian PM: Well my one used her own money, but to buy cocaine

NZ PM: Okay, you win

Back to Audrey’s story:

The King of Jordan came over and saw me. He has absolutely perfect English. Obviously educated in England, in one of those public schools I’d say.

A very English accent. He said to me he’s keen to come to New Zealand. He wants to bring his motorbike and drive down the South Island. He’s apparently famous for it. He apparently drives his protection people absolutely crazy.

Heh I can just imagine it – the King of Jordan hooning along the South Island. And with diplomatic immunity I’m guessing he’ll be doing 200 km/hr on the Canterbury Plains.

Canadian Dairy Industry

April 16th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

New Zealand does not want Canada joining negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement because Canada wants dairy products exempted from any deal, Prime Minister John Key said in Ottawa last night.

“The sticking point is Canada wants to exclude dairy, and that would be unacceptable to us,” Mr Key told the Herald.

I did not realise how protected Canadian dairy is until I read:

Canada, which has about 13,000 dairy farmers, runs what is called a supply management framework to control supply and demand and it even runs a quota system for cows. Farmers cannot just increase their herds if they want.

Good God. Canada runs it dairy system, like NZ runs it schools!!

Electoral Reform in Canada

April 8th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Conservative Government in Canada is proposing electoral reform for the House of Commons and the Senate.

At the moment, the House of Commons has vastly different sized seats. This is because the Canadian Constitution guarantees provinces a minimum number of seats, being the greater of their number of Senators or the number of seats they had in 1985.

What this means is the electoral quota in each province varies greatly. Currently:

  1. British Columbia 108.548
  2. Ontario 107.642
  3. Alberta 106,243
  4. Quebec 96,500
  5. Nova Scotia 82,546
  6. Manitoba 79,970
  7. Newfoundland and Labrador 73,276
  8. New Brunswick 72,950
  9. Saskatchewan 69,924
  10. Prince Edward Island 33,824

The Government can;t amend the constitution, so what they are doing is passing a law to effectively increase the size of Parliament,  This will see the House increase from 308 seats to 338 seats.

The three provinces that gain extra seats are 14 for Ontario, 4 for Alberta and 5 for British Columbia. Ontario.

Alberta is heavily Conservative, while British Columbia is a stronghold for the hard left NDP and Ontario tends to vote Liberal, so the changes do not favour the Conservatives at all. It is a good example of principled electoral reform.

The other major change is to the Canadian Senate. At present Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister, effectively for life (they retire at 75). The Conservatives are proposing a term limit of eight years, so a Senator retires after eight years in the Senate.

Another step in the right direction.

Compulsory Medical Insurance

March 25th, 2010 at 1:01 am by David Farrar

One of the things that many may not realise around Obama’s Healthcare Reform, is that it does not in fact create a public health system. To increase health insurance coverage, it has made it illegal not to have health insurance, with limited exceptions such as hardship or religious belief.

If a Republican President had tried to make private health insurance compulsory, I suspect the left would have decried the reform, instead of supported it. And i guess the right would have supported it, instead of opposed it.

13 states have filed lawsuits claiming it is unconstitutional to force people to take our private health insurance. I suspect this issue will get to the Supreme Court, and you do have to think there is a reasonable chance that may breach the Bill of Rights.

What I find ironic, is that Obama’s reforms have now made the US system almost the polar opposite of the Canadian system.

You see in Canada, it is illegal in some provinces to even have private health insurance. And federally there are laws that forbid hospitals from charging private rates (even if a private clinic).

So effectively in Canada it is illegal to have private health insurance, and now in the US it will effectively be illegal NOT to have private health insurance.

The accidental flag

February 9th, 2010 at 7:28 am by David Farrar

Fascinating history in the NZ Herald of how Canada chose its flag:

One day historian George Stanley was walking with John Matheson, a Liberal MP on the committee, when he looked up and saw the Royal Military College flag and its vertical panels of red-white-red, with the college crest of a fist in the middle.

“There, John, is your flag,” he said.

Mr Matheson recalls the moment: “I remarked that Canadians would not accept a mailed fist symbol. He said, ‘No, I mean with a red maple leaf in the place of the college crest’.”

Mr Matheson was immediately taken with it, but had to sneak it into the committee room to add it to the wall alongside the other proposals.

The committee firstly rejected the red ensign 10 votes to four.

They then had to vote on Pearson’s Pennant, the red maple leaf ensign and the Union Jack or fleur-de-lis. When the latter was voted out, it was clear that the new flag would not have a Union Jack.

The Conservatives assumed the Liberals would vote for the Prime Minister’s design, and they wanted the vote to be as inconclusive as possible, so they voted for the red maple leaf ensign which, to their horror, was the unanimous choice.

The quirks of history.

Eskimos cause war with Canada

April 25th, 2009 at 8:17 am by David Farrar

This is like an episode of Southpark. Reaction to the call by a visiting Canadian Inuit for NZ to ban or change the iconic Eskimo lollies, has now become a diplomatic issue with the NZ High Commissioner in Ottawa having to wade into the row and talk down NZ reaction.

I am looking forward to a NZ Blame Canada campaign, as shown above, leading to the eventual cessation of diplomatic relations, and then of course war.

The crisis in Canada

December 3rd, 2008 at 3:21 pm by David Farrar

Extraordinary things have been happening in Canada. Just two months ago they had a general election, and as I blogged at the time it was very sucessful for the incumbent minority Conservative Government of Stephen Harper. They missed out on winning a majority in Parliament (something very hard to do) but they gained 19 seats, the Liberals lost 27.

It was such a trouncing that the Leader of the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion, announced he was resigning as Leader, and elections are underway to select his replacement. These take several months as they involve party members. Anyway next week Dion may become the 23rd Prime Minister of Cabinet. How? Well it’s an intriguing story.

First of all you need to understand that the tradition in Canada is that the largest party gets to form the Government, even as a minority. They may not last the full term, but they usually get a couple of years at least of governing. On top of the the two main parties you have the New Democratic Party which is like the Alliance in NZ and generally wins seats in British Colombia in the west, plus the Bloc Québécois who win most of the seats in Quebec and are a separatist party.

Generally after every election these two smaller parties will give confidence and supply to the largest party, even though NDP is a lot closer to Liberals than Conservatives. They do not guarantee it for the full term, but if they change their mind, normally it triggers a new election.

After the October election, the Conservatives had support from both the NDP and the Bloc. It was business as normal. But the credit crisis hit, and the response from the Conservatives was to trim Government spending such as no pay incraeses for Judges, restrictions on MPs travel, cancellign Xmas bonus for publuic servants. This was bad enough for the leftwing parties, but even worse Harper’s Government announced it would save money by trimming the $27 million of taxpayer state funding for political parties.

This threat to the other parties funding base (since state funding they had become very dependent on it) was intolerable, so they got together to roll the Government on the grounds of an inadequate response to the credit crisis.

Now what they have done is not force a new election, but they have formed a Government in waiting. The Liberal, NDP and Bloc parties have written to the Governor-General announcing they wish to form a new Government being a Liberal-NDP coalition, with support from the Bloc.

The Liberal and NDP parties are usually fiercious rivals, but have put that aside to agree NDP get one quarter of the Cabinet seats in the first ever coalition between them.

But the extraordinary thing is that they have agreed to make Stéphane Dion Prime Minister despite Dion getting the worst result in history for the Liberals – just 26%. He will be PM for half a year or so until the Liberals elect a new leader.

Now this is all constitutional – Parliament can form whatever Government it wants. But is it what the Canadian people wanted or voted for? There was no pre-election possibility of NDP and the Bloc supporting the Liberals if they came second.

It also creates a headache for the Governor-General (who is flying home urgently from an overseas trip) as she has to decide what to do given the following scenarios:

  1. PM Harper asks the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament until next year. The Governor-General has the legal right to refuse a request from the prime minister to prorogue, and in NZ would arguably refuse such a request as the PM can no longer demonstrate the confidence of the House. But most experts in Canada say the GG would grant the request. The prorogue would mean that the no confidence vote scheduled for Monday would never be put. Parliament only has to meet once a year, so it could be prorogued until late next year in theory.
  2. PM Harper asks the Governor-General to call a new election. Again the same dilemma – does the GG follow the advice of a PM that no longer has the confidence of the House?
  3. Parliament is prorogued but the Opposition Leader demands the GG appoint him Prime Minister as he has a majority of MPs supporting him. Does the GG have to wait for a confidence vote to determine that the House has lost confidence? In NZ I would say they do not, but in Canada this is new territory.

In 1926 the Canadian Governor-General, Lord Byng refused a request by Prime Minister King for a general election as Byng did not have the confidence of the House.

The bigger question is what will the public make of it. The Conservatives already have ads playing quoting a speech from Dion during the last election campaign in which he ruled out a coalition with the NDP. “You cannot have a coalition with a party that has a platform that would be damaging for the economy, period,” he says in the clip.

The Conservatives are using the lines that Dion has done a deal with the socialist and the separatists to seize power. Now that is emotive but little things can matter to people. When the three opposition leaders announced their agreement to change the Government, the Canadian flag backdrop was removed from the room of their press conference because the separatists don’t believe in Canada existing in its current form.

It is not impossible that this deal could see other provinces such as Alberta threaten to leave Canada. Also the Bloc have only promised support to the new Government in waiting until June 2010, so more elections are likely at some stage.

Also in a twist to the crisis, the NDP accidentially sent details of one of their conference calls to a Conservative MP and he taped the call and released it to the media. It revealed that the NDP had been trying to get the Bloc to agree to support a new Government for longer than previously though. The NDP are asking for Police to prosecute the Conservatives over the recording.

It is going to be fascinating to see what the PM does, what the Governor-General does and also what the Canadian public do.