Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


While Newfoundland and Labrador have not yet declared bankruptcy, they are on the verge.
Guess who engineered the downfall?

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down to oceanside.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you who choose to quit, the rest must bide.

And, Danny Williams, the ninth Premier of the Newfoundland and Labrador, did just that. After setting the province up for failure, he walked away as a hero.  Was Danny as a fiscal conservative? Perhaps, but rather than setting up the Province for success, he preferred, instead, to reap the benefits of power in the present. It is the failing of many governments, not just the Conservatives, but it is an extra failing for the Conservatives as they profess themselves to be the party of fiscal prudence.

(1) Newfoundland & Labrador: A case study in how to fail

For those who think I have heaped to much blame on Alberta and British Columbia Conservatives for poor resource and fiscal management, let’s take a trip to the east coast for some relief. It seems the rise of Conservatism in NFLD under the leadership of Danny Williams in 2003, is eerily similar to the Alberta experience of the last two decades.  This from a 2018 National Post article:

When Danny Williams (that vibrant, outgoing, irascible, Irish politician) came to power as the ninth premier of NFLD in 2003, he promptly held a grim news conference where he warned that the provincial debt was out of control, and threatening to bankrupt the province. Fortunately for Williams, after one unpleasant budget and a nasty public sector strike, the price of oil rocketed from around $30 when he first took office, to $50 by the early months of 2005.

By the end of Williams’ first term in office, oil was flirting with $80 a barrel and it only climbed higher in his second term. Williams cut taxes and allowed spending to explode, fuelled by windfall oil royalties, right up until he quit politics in 2010, one week after he had announced a landmark deal for a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project. 

“During those good years, a few columnists, some policy wonks, and the province’s (Newfoundland that is) auditor general fretted that the government was living beyond its means, but the electorate didn’t care. After decades of crushing societal poverty, Newfoundland and Labrador was rich for a change, and Williams got credit for the economic miracle.”

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A Letter to Jamie Hammond

Written by Harold McNeill on October 14th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke
A Letter to Jamie Hammond

October 14, 2019

Dear Jamie,

My vote in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke comes down to a choice between two of the three parties on the centre-left. Having just met and listened to you at two meetings, you present a clear and forceful message. (Photo Right)

I’m also impressed with Randall Garrison, as he comes out loud, clear and consistent in his messages. I have also watched you and Garrison on the podium. You are respectful and cheerful to one another and all other candidates. Between the two of you, you don’t hold out your political differences as being an impediment to moving forward on major issues.

There was a moment in time when you were asked a specific question about your first priority if you won. You stated something to the effect, “my first priority would be to meet with Randall Garrison over dinner where we would discuss the files he was working on that need to be continued into the future.” That is the type of politician and party we need in Ottawa. I’m also sure Randall feels the same way.

Yesterday, I heard Jagmeet Singh state unequivocally he would work with the Liberals to maintain a stable government if they ended up in a minority or even if the Conservatives won a minority. It’s a great relief knowing that whichever way I cast my ballot, my vote will not be lost if the other team wins.

Just as in my voting for David Merner the last time around (he was a Liberal then) my vote was not lost simply because Randall Garrison and the NDP won in the riding. I had worked for all three parties last time, just as I have this time around.

My difference with David Merner (I consider him a friend), is that when he jumped ship from the Liberals, he turned on them with a vengeance. He still does this on a regular basis. We don’t need parties of the centre-left beating up on one another as a means to gain votes.

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Left or Right? Is there a difference?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 9th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


This post will tackle the issue of ‘fiscal conservatism’ and whether it still lives, or more to the point, whether it ever lived in actual practice. Of specific interest, is the management of natural resources in Alberta and British Columbia. I will later write about Newfoundland and Labrador, as NFLD and Alberta have followed almost the same path over the past twenty years (boom to bust). Just where does the fault lie?

In the following discussion, it’s suggested I lean more heavily on Alberta than British Columbia and to some extent that’s true. Part of my reasoning is that over the past forty years BC has developed strong political and public opposition to the worst instincts of government when it comes to extracting value from our resources, and with protecting the environment for future generations.

With the Conservatives now back in power in Alberta, they are again in a position to spend hundreds of millions to protect the oil companies and government from any opposition in a rapidly changing world. This is not unexpected, as over the past seventy-six years, Alberta, the most conservative province in Canada, has had neither an effective opposition nor a protest movement.

It was only in 2015, with the election of the NDP, that this changed. While the NDP was defeated this year, I think the future will be far different as there will be a rapid rise in opposition strength and it seems likely public protest will also take hold.  Many articles have been written which suggest Alberta has become far more polarized (left and right) in recent years and that bodes well for the people of Alberta and Canada as the Conservatives will need to think twice about running roughshod over any opposition. (Link)

Regards,

Harold McNeill
Email: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca

Contents

1.  Introduction
2. The ABBC of economic free rein:  What happens when few controls are placed on how companies use our natural resources for a quick buck.
3. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health: life in the Alberta oilpatch (1940 – 2019).
4. British Columbia: The Scars that Bind (1952 – 2019)
5. Back to the Future
Footnotes and Charts
Appendix A (a sketch of the federal political parties)

Next Up:  How the past twenty years in NFLD almost exactly parallels the rise and fall of fortunes in Alberta with, “Oh, Danny Boy, the Pipes, the Pipes are Calling.” (Coming soon).

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How to Game an Election

Written by Harold McNeill on September 18th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


This post is written as a less provocative introduction to a nasty game being played out across the nation as we move towards the October election. Two examples of the game are provided above and both happened today (Sept 18).

One was a fake news story about the Prime Minister, and the other, the doctoring of a Rick Mercer meme. Both were discovered by CBC news. We can expect much more of this stuff over the coming weeks and most of it will emanate from the Conservative Party and their backroom social media experts.

In an election as close as the one, where every vote counts and, short of a complete disaster on the part of one party or another, social media is absolutely the best bet for gaining undecided votes.  Following, are a couple of polls showing how things stood in July 2018.

Table I  “Would you consider voting for one of these parties?”

The numbers have not changed all that much over the past year. What happens to the Greens and NDP, has a considerable impact on the Liberals – not so much on the Conservatives. Clearly, the movement of voters between the Greens, NDP, and Liberals is more likely to affect the outcome of the election.

All the Conservatives need do is develop strategies to keep the Greens and NDP focussed on the Liberals while keeping their own party members solidly attached. A large part of that strategy involves heaping as much negativity as possible on the Liberals.  If the Greens and NDP help them out, so much the better.  Next up, the change between how you would vote in 2018 and 2019.

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The King of Conservative Social Media

Written by Harold McNeill on September 16th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Jeff Ballingall cares not one iota about he posts as long as he can secure a win for the Conservatives?

This post originally followed the news articles on Mr. Ballingall with the word “shitposting” frequently used.  I originally used it on this post but it made me feel uncomfortable so I changed the title to something less controversial.  However, the use of shitposting tactics has propelled Ballingall and Associates to the top of the leaderboard in capturing voter attention and he could do again this October if the center-left of politics do not get their collective ducks in order.

In another major change and following the defeat of Rachel Notley (photo below), the provinces are once again dominated by an all-male cast of heavy-hitting Conservative males.

The above photo speaks a thousand words about the state of our country in terms of gender equity.  Rachel Notley is now a footnote in history and if Andrew Sheer is placed in the Prime Ministers office, women will all but disappear on the Federal and Provincial scene. In case you forgot, over the past few years, women have been among the toughest adversaries on the Federal stage. Think for a moment about Chrystia Freeland the woman who took on Donald Trump and won in the NAFTA negotiations. While all was not smooth, they held their own in the dog eat dog world of politics.

Over the past few months, Ballingall and Associates carried Ford, Kenny, Moe, Pallister, Higgs, and the King of PEI on their shoulders and all now sit as Premiers in an unprecedented sweep of the country.   Today, the impish, smiling face of Andrew Sheer is their poster boy, and for Sheer, the same group engineered his rise to the leadership of the Conservatives over one-time party favourite Maxime Bernier.

Some suggest a wave of populism is sweeping Canada, but I beg to differ, it’s a wave of Conservative Shitposting that makes it seem that way and it only takes a handful of populists at the core to accomplish the task.  Following is a sample of the type of comment found on Ontario Proud during the provincial election and this is mild stuff across the spectrum of their posts and tweets.

That ugly nasty greedy no good money grubbing snot faced witch”; “The ugliest human dyke who ever existed”; and “I’m surprised that no one has shot her but maybe the bullets cost to much.” (Quote from Canadaland article)

Memes of Kathleen Wynne

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Thank you Chief Constable Del Manak

Written by Harold McNeill on September 4th, 2019. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Police Notebook, Editorials


Thank-you Chief Del Manak.
Along with your administrative staff and members, you have now taken ownership of challenges faced by VicPD and our Capital City. Don’t ever underestimate how important the step you have taken is in bringing about real change. It’s been over two decades since a Victoria Chief Constable pushed back against powerful backroom forces touting amalgamation as the only solution.

Introduction

This post serves to introduce both Chief Manak’s Transformation Report, as well as the broader discussion of policing in the CRD as presented in a recent four-part series Changing the way police do business.

While the Chief must cross many hurdles, he has taken the first step by asking his members and the citizens of Victoria to look inwards by defining what must be done if the force is to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

An initial move was made in the late 1980s and 90s, when another force insider, Chief Constable Douglas Richardson, and his immediate predecessor, worked to correct some long-standing deficiencies. Moving to the new police station on Caledonia was one giant step forward. However, following Richardson’s retirement in 1999, progress stalled for one simple reason – the voices of amalgamation took over City Hall and the Police Department.

Amalgamation or Bust

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The SNC Lavalin Affair

Written by Harold McNeill on August 17th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


The Greens, NDP, and Liberals hold the keys to our fight on climate change. They can either turn those keys together or they will turn our future over to those who have no interest in making the hard decisions that must be made. 

SNC Lavalin and the Future of Canada

Opinions have flowed like water over Niagara Falls following the recent Ethics Commissioner’s ruling on the SNC Lavalin. As expected, opposition parties are rubbing their hands with glee, while the Prime Minister and Liberals consider the best course of action as we march towards the next election. Such is life in the arena of politics.

While there is plenty of room to criticize all parties and politicians, few take the time to consider the issues in the broader context of how things get done in a democracy. To those politicians, I suggest, “don’t rush to judgment,” on the SNC Lavalin affair or any other for that matter, you to could one day be sitting in the hot seat. Heaven knows, our former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, sat in that hot seat often enough and, in his own way, he was pretty good even if I didn’t like him or most of his “fight everything with harsh new laws,” stance. (1)

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Changing the way police do business (Part IV)

Written by Harold McNeill on August 15th, 2019. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Police Notebook, Editorials


Your police forces work cooperatively to provide the best service possible.  Locally, across the nation, and around the world integration is the best model to follow in terms of bringing together the disparate parts of policing in common purpose.

Introduction to Series

Part I. Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation
Part II, Comparing differing police cultures
Part III, The past as a guide to the future

Link to CBC Podcast: Policing in the CRD

Part IV: Integration vs Amalgamation

1.  Introduction

By the time you’ve reached this part, and assuming you read the first three parts, you may understand why amalgamating police forces is likely the biggest mistake that could be made in terms of addressing modern-day policing challenges in the Capital Region. While amalgamation seems intuitively reasonable, those who promote the idea do not take into account the powerful forces at play even in organizations as similar as the police agencies within the Captial Region.

Take the banking system as an example. Would anyone think it reasonable to merge banks into one as serving the best interests of the people in Greater Victoria? In terms of function, the police are no different than a bank, in that they perform an essential public service within an ever-expanding circle from local to national and international.

To function at their best, each constituent part must work at integrating their system into the whole, one that maximizes not only their ability to solve internal challenges but, at the same time, expanding their ability to work together in common purpose. That is were integration outpaces amalgamation.

Even a partial merger, say that of Victoria and Saanich, would be immensely difficult and extremely damaging to both forces. While VicPD may gain an increase in staffing levels, as they did in with Esquimalt merger, the underlying issues facing VicPD could very well be exacerbated. You might simply have a larger force with the same problems. In side-discussions with persons whose opinions I trust, I rather think that has happened in areas where moderate and large scale amalgamations have taken place.

The beautiful thing about integration is that it allows each police agency to maintain an individual identity, while at the same time fully participating and cooperating as a part of the whole.

Across the Capital Region, throughout B.C., and across Canada, integration has become the modern, forward-looking way of bringing disparate police forces, as well as other emergency service providers and community groups, together in common purpose. By doing this, no one group dominates the whole.

The contrary happens with amalgamation. First, you amalgamate, then you must try to divide the whole into equitable parts. That is what the former Victoria Chief Constable (Jamie Graham) proposed with his “Four District” plan as outlined in Part II of this series (Section 6).  The likely outcome? Only one culture would survive and that particular culture may not be the best.  Perhaps, many discerned that in the VicPD/Esquimalt merger as expressed in this article in the Victoria News on March 13, 2019: Local powers say a regionalized police force needed for Greater Victoria: VicPD, Victoria, Esquimalt, and Grumpy Taxpayer$ argue for police amalgamation

This part of the series will explore the nature of integration in the Captial Region and how that integration is changing the face of policing as it was often practiced through much of the last century.  It is a form of police merger the selects best practices and expands them to the entire region on a voluntary basis.  For those who choose to withdraw and go it alone, it’s at their peril.

2. The Methods of Integration

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold