Daily Archives: January 27, 2020

The Liberal Party and the rule of law – Maclean’s

Posted: January 27, 2020 at 1:17 am

Liberals admit this much: executives at a powerful corporation may have done some bad thingsso bad, they led to criminal charges. Still, the powerful corporation is powerful, senior Liberals warn. If the justice system does not cut a deal, the corporation will make life difficult for Canada. With financial and political ties to Liberal higher-ups, the corporation could make life difficult for the party, too.

Some senior Liberals draw the inevitable conclusion: prosecutors must have made a mistake. The attorney general should intervene in the prosecution and give the corporation what it wants. That way, these Liberals say, Canada can get what it wants. And Liberalsthey do not saycan get what they want, as well.

Liberal partisans may be relieved to hear that this is not yet another summation of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. They wish to cease all mention of it. Its odd, then, that some party stalwarts seem bent on reenacting it.

Meng Wanzhou, a citizen of a powerful state and an executive of a powerful corporation, Chinas Huawei Technologies, with close ties to the Chinese state, allegedly defrauded an American bank; prosecutors in the United States Department of Justicecharged her with fraud; Canada, honouring an extradition treaty with its neighbour and ally, arrested her the December before last. Having kidnapped two Canadians and banned various Canadian agricultural products, China has demonstrated that if Canadian courts do not let her go, it will make life difficult for Canada; having ties to senior Liberals, China could make life difficult for the party, too.

READ MORE:Chrtiens China and Trudeaus

These Liberals have concluded that the prosecution of Meng must be a mistake. The attorney general, they say, should intervene to forestall her prosecution and give China what it wants so that Canada can get what it wants. And certain Liberalsthey do not saycan get what they want, as well.

There are differences between the two cases. This time it is senior party members, not senior government officials, who are petitioning the attorney general to spare an alleged criminal from going to trialindeed, the Prime Minister, who led the attempted interference in the SNC-Lavalin affair, has reportedly decided the government will not intervene in Mengs extradition.

But there are similarities, as well. What does it say about the culture of the Liberal Party that such important party higher-ups as former prime minister Jean Chretien, his former chief of staff Eddie Goldenberg, his former finance andforeign affairs minister John Manleyall of whom now work for firms and businesses with close relationships with Chinese companies, including Huaweias well as his former defence minister John McCallumwho Trudeau dispatched to China as ambassadorare so confident they will get a hearing when they argue the government should capitulate to Chinas demands? What does it say about the Liberal Partys commitment to the rule of law that their arguments bear so many striking parallels to those made in defence of Justin Trudeaus capitulation to SNCs demands?

How many parallels? Consider:

Advising politicization

Once again, senior Liberals are demanding the attorney general take the virtually unprecedented step of interfering in a criminal case for political reasons, compromising the independence of the judicial system and undermining the rule of law.

With SNC, the Liberal government, in response to the companys persistent lobbying, pressured the attorney general to override the prosecutors decision and allow the corporation to avoid a criminal trial. With China, senior Liberals are urging the current attorney general to do much the same with respect to an extradition proceeding, exercising his ministerial prerogative to refuse to surrender Meng to U.S. authorities.

In both cases, the same precedent would be set: that those with political connections and financial leverage can keep their friends out of trouble.

Relativizing rule of law

Once again, senior Liberals are implying that the rule of law is a mere preference rather than a democratic necessity. Liberals painted the SNC scandal as a policy disputesome members of cabinet preferred the independence of criminal prosecutors, while others valued jobs.

With China, senior Liberals present Chinas hostage-taking as a cultural disputesome cultures prefer impartial justice, while others do not.

McCallum, for one, thinks Canada has more in common with China than the United States now; others advise Canadians to be more understanding of China. But when Goldenberg says it is essential to understand where the Chinese are coming from in seeing the extradition request as part of an American persecution campaign against the regime and Huawei, he more than understands the Chinesehe appears to agree with them. He writes, Obtaining [our hostages] freedom should have nothing to do with how we feel about China.

How we feel. There are no facts, only a rich mosaic of perceptions and emotions. Who are we to say that protecting an impartial judiciary is better than surrendering to a dictatorship that illegally kidnaps and tortures another countrys citizens as revenge for that country having honoured its treaty responsibilities?

Blaming the prosecution

Once again, senior Liberals have scapegoated prosecutors for fulfilling their professional dutytaking a criminal case to trial when in their judgment it should go to trial. With SNC, Liberals accused the director of public prosecutions of not having made the correct judgement, while expressing rather less concern about the corporations judgment in bribing members of a brutal regime.

With China, senior Liberals are implying American prosecutors are either supine or crooked. Ostensibly, they blame Trump for the criminal charges that led to the extradition request, which is partly why McCallum advised Chinese-language state-owned media that Meng has quite a strong case.

But the charges were brought by the United States Department of Justice. To claim, as they do, that the prosecution is politically motivated is to suggest that Department of Justice attorneys allowed their independence to be utterly compromised by Trumps administrationor if Trump is left out of it, that prosecutors took it upon themselves to compromise their impartiality by using Canada for political purposes.

Either way, when Manley says The U.S. created the mess we are in, or when Chretien calls the issue, a trap that was set to us, their logic dictates it is prosecutors who must in fact be substantially to blamenot the alleged fraudster, nor the controversial multinational that employs her, and not the dictatorship that seeks to protect them both by kidnapping Canadian citizens.

Blaming the attorney general

Once again, senior Liberals have extended the blame to the attorney general for not interfering in a prosecution. With SNC, the difficult and selfish former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was said to have erred in respecting the foundational principle of prosecutorial independence and refusing to intervene. With China, Manley says the former attorney general is on the hook for failing to exercise a bit of creative incompetence and somehow just miss [Meng]; Goldenberg claims it is now the current attorney generals duty to address whether there is a way to stop the extradition.

In both cases, Liberals have called on the attorney general to betray the principles of the justice system she or he is charged with protecting in submission to the threats of a bully.

Prioritizing legal loopholes

Once again, senior Liberals argue that such a radical departure from legal norms is justified by the mere existence of legal loopholes. With SNC, they noted the attorney general had the formal authority, in exceptional circumstances, to override a prosecutors decision to go to trial, and concluded that this authority trumped her obligations to impartial justice. With China, they note that the attorney general has the formal authority to end the extradition process, and conclude that this authority trumps the same obligation even when it means setting a precedent of putting Canadas justice system at the mercy of a rogue state.

Conflating partisan interests with Canadas

Once again, senior Liberals justify violating the norms of justice in a criminal case in the name of a supposedly larger public interest, though other, distinctly private interests arein fact at stake. With SNC, the companys threat of job losses was used as public justification for interference; Wilson-Raybould testified before a Commons committee that behind closed doors Trudeau cited his own political considerations as a rationale. With China, the regimes threats to Canadian citizens and farmers are invoked as justification for interference. No one has to mention party members political considerationsthe relationship of senior Liberals to Chinese interests is well-documented. In both cases, Liberals gloss over a potential conflict of interest that could jeopardize Canadas rule of law.

Advising the attorney general to politicize a criminal prosecution; suggesting the rule of law is a relative thing; attacking prosecutors for upholding the rule of law; attacking the attorney general for upholding prosecutorial independence; claiming legal loopholes trump democratic fundamentals; advocating for an outcome that could benefit their own interests but undermine the countrys. I admit, the Liberals have a point: it would be nice if everyone could finally stop talking about SNC-Lavalin.

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The Liberal Party and the rule of law - Maclean's

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The strange new liberal attraction to the feds – The Spectator USA

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In a political era defined by abnormalities, few developments are as bizarre as the newfound liberal admiration for federal law enforcement.

Given its rich history of activism and countercultural tendencies, the left has traditionally regarded federal law enforcement with hostility. Looking back, this attitude has been largely earned.

Throughout the 20th century, radical leftists were relentlessly targeted under the guise of protecting America from seditious ideologies. For instance, from 1919 to 1920 thousands of suspected communists were arrested in sweeping raids that spanned 23 states. Subsequent attempts to combat subversives would prove no less appalling: in 1964, the FBI hatched at blackmail plot aimed at coercing Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. to commit suicide.

Given this sordid past, its unsurprising that many Democrats viewed the FBIstreatmentof Hillary Clinton in 2016 as more of the same. In the New York Times, Andrew Rosenthalaccused erstwhile FBI director James Comey of interferingon behalf of the Republican party. The Guardian went further, offering a portrait of the FBI that suggested it was Trumpland.

But the world spins in a different direction only a few years later: allegations of a partisan conspiracy come from the right, while federal investigators arehros de la rsistance. Indeed, firing the man onceblamedfor Clintons electoral demise has become an impeachable offense, and his testimony fit foryoga watch parties.

Of course, tribal loyalties easily explain these transformations investigating enemies is righteous, while investigating allies is nefarious. Once federal agents began probing Trumpworld, many of his supporters discovered the virtues of due process overnight, while Democrats began sounding like rural sheriffs, spewing platitudes about innocent people having nothing to hide.

So whose side are the feds really on? This is likely the wrong question. As Jack Goldsmith and Bob Bauer note, the problems at the FBI revealed by multiple inspector-general investigations do not cut politically in one direction. Individual political biases exist, but the overarching bias is institutional. Federal investigators fashion themselves as guardians of order and seek to defeat those they think threaten it, whether environmental activists, right-wing populists, or drug dealers. While the vast majority are patriots committed to the public good, their righteousness can manifest itself in dangerous ways, fostering an ends justify the means mentality.

One such case study is presented by DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitzs report examining the FBIs use of FISA while investigating the Trump campaign. The IG report exposes a pattern of misconduct that, in every significant instance, disadvantaged the suspect. This is all the more disturbing given that FISA applications are approved 99 percent of the time. While FISAs defenders have long claimed that this statistic is misleading, Horowitzs report compels us to ask whether the hurdles we expect the government to clear before jettisoning our liberties are, in reality, mere rubber stamps. If rules are bent in such a high-profile case, how often do run-of-the-mill suspects fall prey to such oversights?

While we romanticize ideals like innocent until proven guilty, the truth is that the scales are tipped heavily in the governments favor. In fact, they almost never lose: the DoJs conviction rate regularly exceeds 95 percent. This unsettling statistic is largely explained by a draconian federal code and the aggressiveness of prosecutors. For example, if someone accused of bribing her daughters way into USC dares mount a defense, prosecutors will likely hit Aunt Becky with charges better reserved for someone washing money for the Sinaloa cartel.

The goal? Capitulation. While we like to imagine the adjudication of truth or fair justice to be the principal motivation driving our system, the desire to swiftly dispose of cases and protect prosecutors near-perfect records more often prevails.The latest US Sentencing Commissionsreport reveals that a staggering 97.4 percent of offenders pleaded guilty, rather than being convicted in trial. The prospect of years in a hellacious federal prison reliably inspires people to leap for any deal on offer.

Some readers will surely be unmoved, confident that they are law-abiding citizens. But have they ever gotten lost in the woods? Faked a sick day? As Mike Chase hilariously demonstrates inHow to Become a Federal Criminal, federal law criminalizes a virtually infinite range of behavior, from moving a park bench to making an unreasonable gesture to a passing horse. Indeed, no oneactually knows the total number of federal crimes (allattemptsat a tally have ended in failure.) Sure, prosecutorial discretiontypically prevents the most obscure of these offenses from being charged. But the potential for abuse remains: just ask the Michigan Fish Dealer doing time for trout trafficking.

Federal investigators can devise a plausible justification to target almost anyone. And if their initial suspicions prove unfounded, they are adept, as former prosecutor Ken White notes, at turning investigations of crimesinto schemes toproduce new crimes. It is routine, he emphasizes, to convict people not for the subject of the investigation but for how they react to it.

There is no shortage of hypocrisy on either side. But our views of law enforcement cannot be governed by tribalism: overlooking injustices perpetrated against our adversaries only reinforces behavior that harms all Americans.

Our system grants federal law enforcement extraordinary power to ruin lives. The time has come for Americans of all stripes to ask how freely they should be allowed to wield it.

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Dan Gainor: In impeachment trial coverage, liberal media heap praise on Schiff and Democrats prosecuting Trump – Fox News

Posted: at 1:17 am

The nations red-blue divide means the media have gone from acting blue to feeling it.

House Democrats ended their presentation in President Trumps Senate impeachment trial Friday, and the presidents defense attorneys began laying out their case in a brief Senate session Saturday. The defense will resume its presentation Monday.

The baseless Democratic arguments for impeachment, stretching over three long days and nights, were greeted by a resounding thud of public disinterest. Ratings were down on TV and both senators and bystanders were in poor attendance.


The collapse of the whole impeachment effort looks more disastrous than the eighth season of Game of Thrones.

The anti-Trump media cant understand why America wont celebrate the epic oratory of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Mediaite said Schiffs call on the Senate to convict Trump and remove him from office was a powerful speech. The Daily Beast declared Schiff Speaks the Truth and far-left Mother Jones referred to the monologue as stirring.

Only Schiff made an embarrassing gaffe as he was closing, further depressing the anti-Trump press. He cited a CBS News report that claimed President Donald Trump had told senators, vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.

GOP senators were unified in their anger at what Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet called Schiffs unforced error. The New York Times reported Schiffs comment resulted in Enraging the Right.

CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju tweeted that Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Schiff offended every Republican senator and that no Republican had been told that.

It was a fitting end to Part I of the bogus impeachment trial. Journalists have celebrated the Democratic Party line so far like they were ready to stand up and cheer their star.

The media threw love bombs at Schiff, envisioning him as everyone from famed orator Sen. Daniel Webster to rock superstar Bruce Springsteen. By comparison, former Time editor Rick Stengel said Trump was like the late Soviet tyrannical dictator Josef Stalin.

Self-described conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin was hanging on Schiffs every word. Thank God I was alive to hear Adam Schiff speak these past few days, she tweeted.

Much of the media didnt just celebrate Trumps attackers. They had to silence his supporters, as well.

Long-time Democrat and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos gave us the memorable image of the week doing just that. He was captured on camera running his hand back and forth across his throat, telling staff to cut away from Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow answering questions.

Its worth remembering that Stephanopoulos is more openly partisan than many of his fellow journalists. He is a former White House communications director for President Bill Clinton and for Bill Clintons 1992 presidential campaign, and he gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

But all that adoration was no match for the gang at CNN. Schiff was their shining star and CNN was sure to tell viewers. The networks journalists and pundits nearly wore out the alphabet piling on the praise, terming his speech coherent, cohesive, dazzling, forceful, inspiring, powerful, and remarkable.

The folks at CNN made it clear they were very concerned by impeachment, using the word very 11 times in one segment. Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer excelled, celebrating the very, very powerful and forceful speech and noting Schiff made a very, very strong case.

New Day anchor John Berman was so very incensed that senators werent sitting with rapt attention, he whined that they could be could be thrown behind bars for leaving the floor of the Senate. Berman fantasized that 30 of them would be in the slammer right now if [Chief Justice] John Roberts actually enforced the rule.

CNN saw impeachment everywhere even when Trump was the first president to ever speak at the annual March for Life in Washington. Correspondent Kristen Holmes called the speech part of Trumps damage control efforts. It was all happening in the middle of this impeachment trial and that, of course, is very obvious why President Trump would want to speak here today, she said.

The network even stretched the truth to make Schiff more palatable. Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger pretended that Schiff had begun his career as a moderate Democrat. His lifetime score by the American Conservative Union is a 5 on a scale of 1 to 100.


President Clintons press secretary-turned-CNN analyst Joe Lockhart tried to win a creative writing award for fiction. Lockhart made up a conversation between Republican senators but didnt admit at first that the only place the conversation took place was in his vivid imagination.

In Lockharts fictional account (also known as a lie) one senator supposedly said of the Democratic accusations against Trump: I haven't heard any of this before. I thought it was all about a server. If half the stuff Schiff is saying is true, we're up s----- creek. (He wasnt referring to the Canadian sitcom.)

Lockhart was mocked for his fake tweet, but his bosses at CNN didnt seem to mind.


Now that the impeachment trial has shifted over to the Trump defense, CNN is already on the case. Fridays Reliable Sources email warned America is about to be hit with a storm of disinformation.

While intended as an attack on Trump, this reads like a description of pretty much every major anti-Trump media report on impeachment especially at CNN.


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Dan Gainor: In impeachment trial coverage, liberal media heap praise on Schiff and Democrats prosecuting Trump - Fox News

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Trudeau taps Quebec senator as Liberal governments new representative in upper chamber – The Globe and Mail

Posted: at 1:17 am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to members of caucus on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Jan. 23, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is tapping Senator Marc Gold, a constitutional law expert and former chair of the Jewish Federations of Canada, to serve as the Liberal governments representative in the Red Chamber.

The Quebec senator replaces Senator Peter Harder, who announced he was stepping down from the role in November after three years in the position to allow for some new blood. Mr. Harder remains a senator.

Mr. Gold was appointed to the Senate on the advice of Mr. Trudeau in November 2016 and has been a member of the Independent Senators Group.

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As Mr. Trudeaus representative in the Red Chamber, Mr. Gold will be responsible for advancing the Liberal governments legislative agenda in the Senate, where the majority of Canadas 105 senators are unaffiliated with any of the major parties.

Mr. Harders dual role as a nominally Independent senator who handled the Liberal governments business had come under criticism from the remaining Conservative senators.

Senator Golds long record of personal and professional achievement, together with his commitment to promoting human rights and Canadas regional diversity, will help us find common ground in the Senate as we invest in and protect our communities, create good middle-class jobs and fight climate change, Mr. Trudeau said in a statement.

I look forward to working with him to build a better Canada for all Canadians.

Mr. Trudeau still has the task of filling empty seats in the Red Chamber to reach a full complement of senators. Two Conservative senators retired in early November: New Brunswicks Paul McIntyre and British Columbias Richard Neufeld. There will be seven more retirements slated for this year.

A memo provided to Mr. Trudeau shortly after his re-election noted that overall, 24 vacancies are expected to pop up by the end of 2023. That does not include other senators who may step down prior to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

The Liberals reworked part of the Senate appointments process shortly after taking office in late 2015 by allowing people to apply for open seats.

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Ultimately, the prime minister has final say on whose name he puts forward for the Senate, which is an appointment made officially by the Governor-General. That has not changed from the previous process that existed under the Conservatives and other governments before them.

Mr. Trudeau has chosen 50 senators under the understanding they would be called upon to play their role independent of partisan influence, officials wrote in the briefing material, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

That cohort coalesced into an affiliation known as the Independent Senators Group, or ISG.

If there are no early retirements, changes in affiliation, or expulsions, the Independent Senators Group will continue to hold the majority of seats in the Senate for the duration of the next mandate, the memo reads.

The memo also notes that the Liberal platform promised to amend the Parliament of Canada Act to reflect the Senates new, non-partisan role. However, the remainder of what officials wrote has been redacted from the document because it is deemed sensitive government advice.

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Thomas Edsall elicits nuanced insights into the core belief systems of liberals and conservatives – MinnPost

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What kind of deep-down qualities and values tend to separate liberals and conservatives?

New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall (who, as usual, relies more heavily on scholars to delve into such issues than the usual pundits and politicians) takes a deep dive into that question in his weekly New York Times column, and the insights blew me away, including this one, from one of the many scholars included in the piece:

It is likely that rather less liberal democracy will ultimately make liberal democracy more secure.

The rise of Donald Trump, on a platform that included plenty of racism and nativism, led Edsall to pursue, with academics far removed from the more oft-quoted pundits on whom political reporters usually rely, this question:

What if the belief systems used to justify anti-immigrant policies and to justify race prejudice, for that matter hostility to outsiders, insularity, high sensitivity to external threat are as deeply ingrained in the American body politic as belief systems sympathetic to immigration and to racial equality openness, receptivity to new experiences, trust?

The answers he obtained were more nuanced than we hear from the usual talking heads on TV. Ill just give you one taste and then urge you to read the whole thing. Wrote Edsall:

Karen Stenner, a political psychologist and behavioral economist best known for predicting the riseof Trump-like figures under the kinds of conditions we now confront, responded to my emailed inquiries by noting the conflicting pressures at play:

I dont think I would agree that Trumpian conservative stands on immigration, race and homelessness are a more natural or default position. Communities with a good balance of people who seek out diversity, complexity, novelty, new and exciting experiences etc., and those who are disgusted by and averse to such things, avoid them, and tell others to do likewise, tend to thrive and prosper in human evolution.

Finding the right balance, Stenner said, is vital to both societal cohesion and human flourishing. But, she warned, we may have tipped the balance too far in favor of unconstrained diversity and complexity, pushing the boundary beyond many peoples capacity to tolerate it.

At this juncture, she argued, we need to tinker with that balance and get it right for everyone. So theres the paradox of our times: it is likely that rather less liberal democracy will ultimately make liberal democracy more secure.

Read the whole Edsall piece here.

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Thomas Edsall elicits nuanced insights into the core belief systems of liberals and conservatives - MinnPost

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View from The Hill: Morrison should control that temper in Liberal climate debate – The Conversation AU

Posted: at 1:17 am

Scott Morrisons Monday salvo against the NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, one of the Liberal progressives on climate change, was gratuitous and inept.

Quizzed about Keans claim that theres pressure from senior Liberals for strong climate policies, Morrison let fly on the ABC.

Matt Kean doesnt know what hes talking about. He doesnt know whats going on in the federal cabinet. Most of the federal cabinet wouldnt even know who Matt Kean was.

The put down came across as arrogant and rude. As for saying most of the federal cabinet wouldnt know who Kean was really? Given the centrality of energy and environmental issues, and the fact Kean has hardly been low profile, such alleged ignorance is not something to use as a political weapon.

On Nine Morrison said: I think Matt should focus on hazard reduction and Ill focus on emissions reduction.

The attack on Kean who had cast his remarks on Sky quite respectfully - can do little for relations with a sister Coalition government charged with the major heavy lifting in the states fire crisis. (It also fuelled tensions within that government - deputy premier John Barilaro is a critic of Kean.)

It was a flash of the Morrison temper - another example of the Prime Minister having trouble striking the right tone in responding to these devastating events.

In his Monday round of interviews to spruik the governments announcement of a package for fire-hit small businesses, Morrison seemed to dig in against any change on emissions policy, putting the emphasis on adaptation and response.

Some Liberal sources believe (or hope) this isnt so much indicating Morrison will do nothing, as showing he wants anything he does to be on his own terms a reflection of his personality, as well as the debilitating sensitivity of the climate issue within the Liberal party.

No one thinks theres any chance of the government toughening its emissions reduction target. But it is likely there will be measures over time to try to speed the achievement of the target. (Electric cars will no longer be a threat to the Australian weekend!)

Whether additional measures collectively will be significant or just at the margin is another matter.

Anything extra done on climate policy (as distinct from changes to bushfire response arrangements, such as for mobilising the army) will be, as far as Morrison is concerned, driven substantially by politics.

The prime minister is not galvanised by the importance of the climate issue itself.

For example when pressed on Monday about whether zero net emissions would be achievable by 2050 widely recognised as imperative in the battle to contain global warming Morrisons emphasis was on the downside.

We undertook to look at that through the Pacific Islands Forum, he told 3AW:

But what does that mean for jobs? I cant answer that question right now about what that would mean for jobs. But Im concerned that it wouldnt be a good thing and so I think people who make these commitments need to be able to tell people what that will cost them.

Morrison is focusing on unattainable precision. We are talking about three decades on. Decarbonising will create new jobs as well as costing some old ones. Anyway, the jobs outlook so far ahead will be affected by many factors, including some not on the radar now.

Meanwhile, the government is under increasing pressure on its earlier near-religious commitment to a surplus this financial year a commitment it is being forced to retreat from or hedge.

In the pre-Christmas budget update the projected surplus was revised from about $7 billion to $5 billion. Where the budget bottom line will now land is anybodys guess.

At the PMs joint news conference on Monday, treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged the cost to the budget this financial year of the fire relief can be expected to be above the $500 million figure the government has been using.

He refused to be pinned down on the status of the projected surplus.

Asked do you think its likely you will deliver a surplus or you wont?, Frydenberg said: Look, Im not in a position to give a firm answer to that question because the full economic impact is still uncertain.

On the other side of politics, Anthony Albanese finds himself in an awkward spot by again declining to be specific about Labors future climate policy in his Sunday remarks on the subject.

While this has left him open to criticism when the climate debate is intensifying, it is a sensible strategy for the long game.

To spell out detail now would turn the focus sharply onto Labor, when Albanese wants maximum attention on the government.

Elements in this debate can change over the next year and beyond. Although some will believe Labor should be more decisive, it make political sense for Albanese to retain flexibility until closer to the election.

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This is a slippery slope: Petition against Liberal assault rifle ban receives thousands of signatures – Edmonton Journal

Posted: at 1:17 am

Semi-automatic AR-15's are for sale at Good Guys Guns & Range on February 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah.George Frey/Getty Images

An Alberta-led federal petition opposing a ban on military-style assault rifles without first having a debate has received more than a hundred-thousand signatures in just a short period of time.

As of Saturday, the 60-day petition, known online as e-2341, has received more than 107,000 signatures since launching on Dec. 17. The petitions main problem is how the Liberal government plans to impose a ban on military-style assault rifles through an Order in Council instead of having it debated in the House of Commons.

Medicine Hats Brad Manysiak, who started the petition, said how the government is approaching this doesnt sit well with him.

Thats an egregious overreach of parliamentary power, he said. When we change laws in Canada, historically, its debated, it goes to the Senate, it has a specific path it has to take in order for something to become law. Usually, there has to a lot of public support for it. This is a slippery slope.

A spokesperson from the Minister of Public Safety in an email said a ban is coming.

Military-style assault rifles have been used in Canada to target women and students, the spokesperson said. Police chiefs in our country have been advocating for restrictions on assault weapons for more than four decades. Weve listened, and, as promised to Canadians in the recent election, we will ban military-style assault rifles.

The spokesperson said the ban would not affect rifles and shotguns designed for hunting and pest control.

Ottawa is also looking at introducing a buyback program but the cost to do so is estimated to be in the hundreds of the millions. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters months ago that there are about 250,000 semi-automatic assault rifles legally owned in Canada.

Manysiak called this a kneejerk reaction by the government, especially in light of an increased amount of handguns used in Toronto-area shootings. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised he would allow municipalities and provinces to implement handgun bans if they so choose.

Its not being directed in the proper way, Manysiak said. Its not directed at the problem.

He said owning a gun in Canada is a long and arduous process and even when someone passes, a gun owners name is constantly being run through the RCMPs database to ensure no crimes have been committed.

Medicine Hat MP Glen Motz is expected to present the petition in the House after its closed on Feb. 15. Manysiak didnt believe it would be enough to change the governments mind but will send a message to the Liberals given the amount of support and media attention the petition has received.

With files from The Canadian Press



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This is a slippery slope: Petition against Liberal assault rifle ban receives thousands of signatures - Edmonton Journal

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With Boris Johnson in control, the danger is that liberals will give up the fight – The Guardian

Posted: at 1:17 am

Historians will debate the reasons for the complacency that descended on the British in the first months of the 2020s. Had their government duped the nation into ignorant passivity? Were they really as stupid as they appeared to be? Nothing had been settled. The pain was yet to come. Yet they behaved as if they believed Boris Johnson when he said he could get Brexit done. And, as Im certain the historians of the future will say, believing Boris Johnson never ended well.

A few causes of our torpor appear obvious. The Conservatives won a handsome majority. Brexit bored the public rigid. The opposition was hopeless. Journalists werent doing their job. The prime minister was thus free to announce: Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future, and not be met with derisive laughter.

Yet the delusions that follow are anything but obvious. As the clock chimes 11 on Friday night, we can, apparently, build high-speed rail lines, reinvigorate the north, bail out a regional airline and let a thousand bus services bloom. We can tear up our economic model without having the smallest idea what to put in its place.

The listless acceptance extends to those who believe that leaving the European Union is an act of monumental folly. Brexits inevitability, the possibility that we are in for another decade of rightwing rule, is leading opponents of the status quo to retreat into private life, as the defeated so often do. Perhaps they are almost grateful for the chance to concentrate on their friendships, family and love affairs: these are in the end what matter most to everyone except obsessives.

Arent you sick of an argument about a subject no one except a handful of zealots cared about before 2016?

On this reading, the country has not been wholly deceived by Johnson and his propagandists. The British are just exhausted. In a piece for the Parisian news magazine, LExpress, the French journalist and historian Agns Poirier interviewed psychiatrists dealing with voters who had looked on appalled as Britain made a disastrous choice. They were devastated, angry, depressed, betrayed and ashamed, as a psychological study of Remain supporters put it. Brexit allowed the old to enforce their worldview on the young and broke ties between the generations. My patients talk about the impossibility of mentioning the subject in family, to avoid clashes. In extreme cases, they have cut ties, Dr Ian Martin, a London psychiatrist, said a story I have heard several times myself.

Its not the fear that kills you but the hope, runs the cliche. And now all hope of a second referendum or a change of government has gone, a kind of liberation follows. You can just sigh, move on and patch up differences. What else is there to do?

Perhaps many will be relieved. Poirier repeats the echoingly grim phrase the French socialist Lon Blum used to describe the decision by France and Britain to allow Hitler to dismember Czechoslovakia at the Munich conference of 1938: a lche soulagement a cowardly relief. Selling out Czechoslovakia was shameful, but Blum, who had campaigned for peace, could tell himself that at least it avoided war in Europe. Do you feel a lche soulagement of your own? Arent you sick of an argument about a subject no one except a handful of zealots cared about before 2016?

The millions who think they can now avoid the bitterness of 2016-19 will find that it has just been postponed

Wouldnt it be more truly British to come together, let bygones be bygones, and make the best of it? I dont see how you can if you are one of the three million EU nationals in Britain or 1.5 million Britons in the EU who have seen their sense of who they are and where they belong torn to shreds. But if you face no immediate stresses, the temptation to walk away is seductive.

The Munich agreement did not avoid war, it merely postponed it for a year. Likewise, the millions who think they can now avoid the bitterness of 2016-19 will find that it, too, has just been postponed. You may not be interested in Brexit but Brexit is interested in you.

The hard break the government is proposing as the only way to leave the EU without following EU law will be a direct attack on the pharmaceutical, chemical, aerospace, food processing, farming, fishing and car industries. Businesses that rely on the frictionless movement of goods will suffer. The absence of regulatory checks and arguments about the source of components and applicable tax rates is essential for their health, just as the absence of border checks on perishable food is essential for fresh food and fish exports. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and everyones living standards are at stake. The Food and Drink Federation said last week that the Johnson administrations policies sounded like the death knell for frictionless trade with the EU and were likely to cause food prices to rise.

You can tell we are in a state that borders on the catatonic when Sajid Javid responded by telling the Financial Times that some businesses would indeed suffer. It was a welcome outbreak of honesty from a dishonest administration. But what an admission from a chancellor of the exchequer charged with protecting the economy.

As telling was the indifference with which his dereliction of duty was greeted. The liberal elite, the chattering classes, the remoaners, call them what you will, once worried about the fate of car workers. Every serious study of the consequences of Brexit has shown that it will hit the old manufacturing regions of the north-east, Wales and Midlands hardest. London will be all right, as London always is. Yet at the moment they need support, they will be met with indifference. They will hear educated voices say that they voted for Brexit in 2016 and then voted for Johnson in 2019. They were warned and chose not to listen.

I fear that the most damaging effect of the languid complacency that has infected the national mood is the collapse of any notion of solidarity. The most characteristic gesture of Brexit Britain will be a shrug of the shoulders.

Nick Cohen is an Observer columnist

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With Boris Johnson in control, the danger is that liberals will give up the fight - The Guardian

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The myth of the liberal order is caught between shifts in domestic attitudes and the balance of global power – Observer Research Foundation

Posted: at 1:17 am

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As we approach the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is clear that the international liberal order is facing a moment of crisis. The political, economic and security fundamentals that underpinned it are invalid, with no consensus on others. Globalization is now being confronted by economic nationalism. Attempts are being made to close open borders. Strongmen politicians are leveraging multiple grievancesreal and perceived to legitimize populist rule. And international norms and institutions appear less relevant to managing the global commons. There is a sense that the global order is once again becoming more Westphalianthat the gains of interdependence are being undone. There is a visible reassertion of sovereigntyfrom democracies and otherwise. And above all, there is an uncertainty about what this century has in store for our societies.

Within the punditry that seeks to understand why the world is as it is today, the overwhelming sentiment is that popular and populist leaders have undermined what was a well-meaning and well functioning international order. We intend to correct this narrative. From our perspective, the world has fundamentally been defined by the spirit of Darwinism: the survival of the fittest. The processes of global governance merely legitimized what was otherwise coercive state diplomacy. It provided a means to amass and maintain power and wealth without the use of military force. As our book will show, the crisis of global governance is, in many ways, a comeuppance for the custodians of the post-1945 world order. The story of decline does not begin with populist leaders trampling on an existing world orderalthough they certainly are. These leaders are the product of the contradictions that have always defined the liberal order.

Before we detail this any further, it is useful to set the context. Where are we now? For one thing, the guarantors that once evangelized the liberal international order are themselves being swept away by the undercurrents of these shifts. American elites remain dismayed that the US elected Donald Trumpan individual with no interest in global partnerships or liberal posturing. European elites are mortified by the rise of the Alternative fr Deutschland (AfD), the National Rally, Viktor Orbn, and others who represent values ostensibly antithetical to those of the European Union (EU). Those who would stand for globalization and multilateral values, on the other hand, are struggling for relevance. Macron is fighting a wave of popular discontent over his business friendly policies, while Angela Merkel will have demitted office after fighting a losing battle against a populist resurgence in the EU. From the perspective of Western elites, the norms, institutions and partnerships that were so carefully crafted in the post-war period can no longer sustain their peace, freedoms or security. On the contrary, it is these very ideals that are seemingly the root cause of the problem. The wave of popular anger in the transatlantic community is directed at free movement and open borders; towards globalization and the volatility of interdependence; and towards the elites in politics, business, academia, and media that support these policies. Local identity and sovereigntyboth of which the international liberal order was thought to have subsumedare reasserting themselves everywhere.

This domestic turbulence has also shaken the security foundations of the international liberal orderthe transatlantic and transpacific partnerships of the United States. A core diplomatic mantra of the Trump administration appears to be irreverence for all that was revered. His administration has adopted economic and security policies that are bordering on hostile towards the EU and Japan. It has been relentless in compelling both to pay more for their own defence. More than this, Trump has also been willing to raise military tensions in these regionswith Iran in West Asia, and North Korea in East Asia. His willingness to use unilateral force and pressure in lieu of multilateral negotiations has caused much anguish in Europe, Japan and South Korea. More consequentially, perhaps, Trump has been more than willing to undermine the institutional frameworks of the global ordernamely the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). He sees both organizations as captured by actors inimical to American interests that infringe on the absolute sovereignty of the US.

Amidst this turbulence in the West, there is also a resurgence of the East. The old empires and civilizations of Asia, especially China and India, are beginning to impress upon the world their size and weight. China, undoubtedly, is leading this charge. While the West is thinking local, China is going global. In 2017, President Xi emerged as the unlikeliest defender of globalization, stating, in a very statesmanlike fashion, that the international community should adapt to and guide economic globalization, cushion its negative impacts and deliver its benefits for all countries. More important, the Middle Kingdom is investing in infrastructure projects across Asia and Europe in an unprecedented effort to connect the two continents. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multi-billion dollar geopolitical and geoeconomic thrust that will see China emerge as the chief arbiter of an Eurasian political, economic and security arrangement. In doing so, Beijing is steadily undermining the efficacy and legitimacy of the post-war alliance arrangements. In Europe, the China-led 17+1 arrangement is eroding the EUs influence over its eastern borders. Chinas aggressive naval build-up in the South China Sea (SCS) is displacing American military power in the Pacific, and sowing discord among the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Its investments in G7 nations like Italy have divided and derailed any potential Western response.

Equally significantly, Chinas rise is being accompanied by an alternative proposition for global governance. Remember, China bears an enduring grudge against those who profess to lead the international order. Chinas political histories are stories about humiliation, subjugation and suffering at the hands of outsiders. There is some disagreement in international affairs literature about exactly what change, and how much of it, China actually seeks. This line of thinking, however, misses the point. China is large enough that the influence of its domestic arrangements will be felt organically in other parts of the world. Beijing has only grown more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad under the presidency of Xi Jinping. And China is certainly exporting bits and pieces of this model. The most obvious manifestation is surveillance technologies that Chinas massive technology companies are selling in developing countries around the world. Chinas propositions are certainly international; they are infused, however, with Chinese characteristics. It is a proponent of globalizationbut a morphed version that prioritizes state-led capitalism with the Peoples Republic of China in command. Beijing favours international institutions, but seeks to subvert their original purpose. In the UN, for example, China has attempted to introduce human rights language that privileges and protects state interpretations, as opposed to more universal (read, in Chinese eyes, Western) international values.

The myth of the liberal order is caught between these shifts in domestic attitudes and the balance of global power. And it is crumbling under these pressures because it is unsuited to balancing internationalism and sovereignty, or to managing a more multipolar international system. Many write and speak about the international liberal order with rose-tinted glasses and a sense of nostalgia. This could not be further from the truth. It was hardly international premised as it was on Americas system of post-war alliances. While it did guarantee sovereign equality, it is difficult to argue that decision-making authority was sufficiently diffused. Instead, important institutions were run by the largest and most powerful countries. The fabled Washington Consensus, meanwhile, privileged the commercial interests of a handful of geographies, often to the detriment of emerging economies, the environment, and the blue-collar worker. Nor was this order truly orderly. If institutions could realistically impose limits on the unilateral actions of all countries, we would not have seen disastrous Western interventions in the Middle East. Perhaps, the only legitimate claim the international liberal order can truly have is to liberalism itself. It certainly helped that the victors of World War II were all open, democratic societieseven though much of the world was not. With the original guarantors of this order themselves in disarray, it is understandable why its resilience is fraying. The idea of global governance, then, was ultimately a consensus-building framework for the global political, economic and security elite. As a popular right-wing Indian commentator tweeted, The entitled elites dont believe in the survival of the fittest but the survival of the fatuous, frivolous and the feckless. In other words, pedigree, privilege and personal networks have defined who is at the high tableand more important, who isnt. This may be a Trumpian statement to makebut as our chapters on development and cyberspace will show, both twentieth and twentieth-first century debates have been monopolized by small but vocal and influential communities. The backlash we are seeing today is driven by a groundswell of grassroots opposition to many of its central tenets and philosophies.

Where, then, does the world go from here? We look to India for answers and alternatives. It is not lost on us that it might seem opportunistic for two Indians to make a case for Indian leadership. But the appeal is too strong to ignore. A soon-to-be relatively wealthy, democratic, multicultural state with an instinct that privileges multilateralism and rules-based order, is the perfect antidote to the increasingly parochial and unilateral mood defining global politics. The rules-based order is shared commitment by all countries to conduct their activities in accordance with agreed rules that evolve over time, such as international law, regional security arrangements, trade agreements, immigration protocols, and cultural arrangements. Its identity as an Asian power gives it a sense of responsibility to ideate and execute equitable global rules that protect the interests of the marginalized. And its civilizational philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakamthe whole world is one familyhave tempered its willingness to use force as a means to achieve its political interests. This is not to say that India itself is insulated from the disruptions underway around the world. We see strident nationalism increasingly defining the Indian political space as well. Nor is an Indian rise inevitableinequality remains persistent and social risks and economic mismanagement, as well as the risk of divisive politics, continue to daunt the nation. However, providing solutions for the world at large is a fine motivation for Indians to get our house in order. And Indias phenomenal transformation over the past seven decades gives us much to be optimistic about. Of course, we are conscious that Indian leadership is not an end in itself, but a means. The twenty-first century requires this new ethic in order to revive the legitimacy and efficacy of global governance. The rise of India must catalyse methods for governance that are more inclusive, democratic and equitable than before and its own national experience must temper the mercantilism embedded in todays market-led growth and development models to one where markets are made to serve humankind. It may be time for a New Delhi Consensus, which is not a metaphor for Indian exceptionalism but a call for a more inclusive and participatory world order. This is the most pressing Indian imperative.

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The myth of the liberal order is caught between shifts in domestic attitudes and the balance of global power - Observer Research Foundation

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The BBC is panicking at the publics rejection of its arrogant Left-liberal worldview – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: at 1:17 am

This is nearly over this weird disconnect between what most of us understand as reality and the world as seen through the eyes of an all pervasive Authority that was apparently appointed (although we never knew by whom) to establish the limits of public discourse. The crisis of confidence at the BBC and make no mistake, it is a full blown, all alarm bells ringing, catastrophic crisis is probably the most visible sign of the shift but it is much bigger than this.

So bear with me: I promise that the whole column is not going to be about the BBC, even though it is easily the most infuriating and useful exemplar of the problem.

But no, what could be about to implode is not just the sublime, unlimited self-regard of the broadcasters. It is nothing less than the whole interlocking set of preconceptions that are so embedded in the consciousness of those who decide what it is acceptable to think that they must ignore or traduce anything that contradicts them.

Of course, self-doubt should have begun with the Brexit referendum result but that scarcely slowed them down: if a majority of the country were benighted bigots then it was up to the enlightened ones to lead them out of the darkness. Or to bully them out of it. And believe it or not, a good many of the Enlightened actually believed they had succeeded in this hence the demand for a second referendum which would allow the masses to repent of their ignorance.

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The BBC is panicking at the publics rejection of its arrogant Left-liberal worldview - Telegraph.co.uk

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