The expression “he’s earned his retirement” could have been written for Preston Manning. The party-founding Canadian political original, onetime Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, prolific author and tireless public affairs commentator has accomplished enough for any five regular folks. He’s nearly 78, has grandchildren, a ranch and loves to ride horses. But with distant echoes of the early Roman republican Cincinnatus or the late Roman emperor Diocletian, crises of the state and confusion among the citizenry press upon him. So Manning finds himself doing double-duty as the most politically experienced member of Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel and, today in Toronto, launching a nationwide tour to promote his new book aimed at the current problems of democracy and conservatism in Canada. Paul Stanway reviews.
Conservatives, centrists – heck, just about anyone not on the far “progressive” end of the spectrum – probably think too many people are claiming victim status. Many of us do seem nauseated by the never-ending official apologies and constant picking on the country. Yet self-professions of victimhood by ever-more atomized groups and dubious claimants seemingly march ever-onward. What to actually do about it? How to even confront it? Veteran journalist Paul Stanway peers into a new book and discovers what might be an answer.
When Justin Trudeau pined for autocracy in 2013 he was thinking of China and climate change. He has a far more pressing reason to wish for it today, writes Paul Stanway, as the pesky rule of law keeps interfering with his government’s best-laid plans in the SNC-Lavalin affair. The distinctly unhelpful election-year allegation is that first they bent the rule to spare the Montreal firm prosecution for corruption; when that failed they tried to break it. But former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould got in the way, and another Quebec Liberal scandale was born.
One of the sillier narratives competing for traction in the Alberta election is that Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney are modern incarnations of, respectively, Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein. This ignores the fact that Alberta boomed under Lougheed and has been a bust under Notley, and that Kenney is a philosophical conservative while Klein was flexible populist. Paul Stanway sorted much of this out in his review of Mark Milke’s timely book Ralph vs Rachel.
Oh man, what a movie this is going to be. It’s got money, power, and political intrigue. The central characters include a top-rank naval commander facing de facto treason charges and a criminal defence lawyer who’s so good she even got Jian Gomeshi off. They’re up against some big dogs in the Liberal cabinet, including PMJT himself, over a scandal about procuring…a ship. And the climax is set to occur in the middle of next year’s election campaign! Paul Stanway reports.
Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley has little hope of winning the next provincial election unless voters buy her counterintuitive argument that her government’s onerous carbon taxes and emission regulations are creating a more sustainable petroleum industry. It’s a very hard sell amid collapsing capital investment, rising public deficits and debt, high unemployment, and empty Calgary office towers. To prove her point, Notley desperately needs the Kinder Morgan oilsands pipeline expansion to proceed. But it’s opposed by her old comrade John Horgan, now Premier of British Columbia’s minority NDP-Green coalition government. It is between this rock and hard place, writes Paul Stanway, that Notley is likely to be entombed.
Paul Stanway’s long career in journalism has been almost entirely in the newspaper business. He was there in 1980, when the first Trudeau government sought to rescue the industry from “concentration of ownership,” even though it was actually the start of a golden age of competition, innovation and money-making in the print media. With newspapers now in irreversible decline due to the proliferation of online media, the second Trudeau government has launched a new rescue mission for Canadian journalism. It will be no more successful than the first, Stanway writes, and journalism will survive the transition from paper to digital because of the innate human desire for knowledge and understanding, not government intervention.
It is estimated that there are 3.5 million kilometres of pipelines in the world today. This vast network has expanded rapidly in recent years, driven by demand for hydrocarbons used in power generation, transportation, heating and cooling, and manufacturing. But in Canada, four big pipelines that could increase our energy self-sufficiency and exports have been stalled by environmental protests and politics. Without them Canadian energy will be landlocked in a continental market that is awash in U.S. oil. The economic consequences of that, writes Paul Stanway, should be much more frightening than our present pipeline phobia.
The 2015 federal election campaign battle for the hearts and minds of British Columbians is, at bottom, a contest between environmental protection and economic security. If it plays out like the 2013 provincial election, the latter will trump the former and the Conservatives will retain their hegemony. But if fear of pipelines, fatigue with the Harper Tories, and full turnout of progressive voters rules the day, Paul Stanway predicts October 19th will be a good day for the NDP – and to a lesser extent the Liberals – and B.C. may well decide who gets to form the next government.
Long before the writ dropped August 2, election planners for all the parties began drafting their messaging strategies and scripting the daily campaign events and policy announcements. At the very top of their agenda was the job of “framing the ballot” – the subtle and sophisticated art and science of trying to define the choice voters will make on election day. Over a long career of covering elections as a journalist and planning them as a senior political staffer, Paul Stanway has developed a deep understanding of how this process works. His analysis of where the Conservative, NDP and Liberal parties are currently positioned in their quest to frame the ballot kicks off C2C Journal’s comprehensive coverage of Campaign ’15.