Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Sunday, May 20, 2018
UK vote in the fall?
The Sunday Times reports that UK Tories are preparing for a snap election call this fall as Prime Minister Theresa May seems incapable of overcoming party divisions over the customs union as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. Maybe some Tory MPs feels this way but the analysis doesn't add up. May already seems week and taking a divided party into a general election seems like a recipe for disaster. It is virtually impossible to gloss over the differences within caucus while the Conservatives run the government, but it only gets worse when May will have to articulate a clear vision for Brexit and run on it during a campaign. Maybe there is a bluff on the party of May's strategists or the Prime Minister herself but it is hard to see how it can be anything more than a bluff. Jacob Rees-Mogg calls May's half-in Brexit plan -- customs union without a say -- as "perpetual purgatory" but that's what the party could face if it goes into an election divided as it seems to be. Both the bitter Remainers and uncompromising Brexiteers would see a general election as a way to win the Brexit debate once and for all and both sides might be willing to suffer partisan defeat for forcing the issue. I just don't see 10 Downing Street willing to pay that price at this time.

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Election headline and commentary is dumb
NationalNewsWatch's headline for a Canadian Press story on the Ontario election: "The outcome of the Ontario election no longer ‘absolutely’ certain: Experts." The CP reports:
"It's interesting because the outcome is no longer absolutely certain," even though the Tories still appear poised to win a majority, said Barry Kay, a political science professor at Wilfred Laurier University who specializes in polling and public opinion.
Three super quick points.
1. Elections are never certain because, as the cliche goes, campaigns matter.
2. Elections are never over until the voters have their say. The people still insist on having the final say.
3. The "outcome if no longer absolutely certain" is a falsehood. As a matter of logic, if it is not certain now, the previous certainty was wrong -- or in a word, uncertain.

Jacob Rees-Mogg for PM
Earlier this week, Jacob Rees-Moog lamented that the United Kingdom has fallen from 30th to 40th according to the Daily Mail's ranking of countries for freedom of the press. "Perhaps most insultingly, we are even below the French," said JRM, as colleagues try to suppress their laughter.

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Better late than never?
The (London) Times reports:
Oxfam’s chief executive is to quit after the charity’s cover-up of the Haiti sexual exploitation scandal.
Mark Goldring, 61, spoke of the “very public exposure of Oxfam’s past failings” as he said he would leave the global aid agency at the end of the year. He will not receive a severance package.
The Times disclosed this year that seven senior Oxfam staff working in Haiti had been sacked or allowed to resign after an investigation into allegations of paying young women for sex, downloading pornography, bullying and intimidation.
The Times reports that others "allowed to quit" Oxfam included: country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, who admitted trading aid for sex with a Haitian woman, and Goldring's deputy, Penny Lawrence, who admitted Oxfam knew of problems with van Hauwermeiren from a previous mission to Chad.
It is disappointing that Goldring was "allowed to quit" rather than be fired, and disturbing that Oxfam apparently has no problem with him at their helm for another seven months. At least the renewed publicity of this scandal and his continued presence at the organization will serve as a reminder to both the government and donating public of the exploitive sex scandal the aid agency was involved in.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Jamie Oliver vs. poor people
The Independent reports:
Scotland has a childhood obesity problem, and Nicola Sturgeon is – quite rightly – worried about it.
Unfortunately, rather than undertake a serious analysis of the various nuanced socioeconomic factors at play in order to create a considered multi-pronged approach to tackle it, she’s been bitten by the Jamie Oliver bug, which has manifested over and over again as a shockingly thoughtless reaction along the lines of “This looks unhealthy! Let’s make it really expensive so that stupid poor people don’t eat it!”
It was unfortunate that she unveiled her plans while meeting with Oliver, and that her quest to end two-for-one pizza deals has taken centre stage. It’s easy to see why – it’s not going down particularly well that a celebrity chef from Essex worth £400m, who owns a chain of fairly mediocre and overpriced Italian restaurants, is telling people in Scotland what sort of pizza they should and should not eat.
The National has twitter reaction to Oliver's idea, the gist of which is that Oliver hates poor people and wants to deprive them of affordable food. Here's my fave:

Monday, May 14, 2018
The Supreme Court of Canada being accessible
Means keeping their records secret. The Globe and Mail reports:
The judges of the Supreme Court of Canada have ensured that documents disclosing their secret inner workings will not be revealed during their lifetime – and possibly ever.
The court has placed a 50-year embargo on public access to files related to the deliberations of the judges, from the time they rule on a case.
The restriction took effect last June when the court and Library and Archives Canada announced it as part of an agreement to “ensure that the case files of Canada’s highest court will be preserved and accessible to future generations.” (The announcement went largely unnoticed at the time.)
What the court and the archives did not say, but the agreement makes clear, is that the Supreme Court can withdraw the files at any time, and keep the documents secret forever, without providing a justification.
To be clear, to ensure case files are accessible, SCOC files will be hidden from the public for a half century and if the justices do not want the public prying into its inner workings, they can declare them off limits for even longer. Accessible apparently means something different to the Supreme Court and Archives Canada.

Saturday, May 12, 2018
UK super rich are self-made, not inheritors of wealth
The Sunday Times reports:
Britain has been transformed into a country where the self-made can succeed, with almost all the 1,000 richest people now entrepreneurs who built their own fortunes. Inherited wealth and old money have been all but banished from the 30th annual Sunday Times Rich List.
When the Rich List was first published in 1989 just 43% of the entries had made their money themselves and the surest way to a fortune was to be a landowner — preferably with a title.
Today 94% of those in the Rich List are self-made entrepreneurs behind some of Britain’s game-changing businesses.
Labour politicians show their socialist tendencies and economic illiteracy by attacking these self-made millionaires and billionaires, because they view free market economies as zero-sum systems:
However, the success and transformation in the country that the Rich List highlights has attracted the ire of the Labour Party. In a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research tomorrow the shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett will claim that our annual ranking of Britain’s wealthiest men and women “exposes a warped system in which a super-rich elite runs rings around the rest of us”.
Trickett will say: “People have had enough of years of the elite pinching wealth from the pockets of ordinary working people. Labour will overturn the rigged economy that the Tories are obsessed with protecting.”

The UN can sod off
The (London) Times reports:
A UN inspector provoked a backlash yesterday after arguing that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union had left racial and ethnic minorities “more vulnerable to racial discrimination and intolerance”.
Tendayi Achiume, the UN’s special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia, said that hate crimes had risen starkly since the EU referendum in 2016 and that anti-migrant and anti-foreigner rhetoric had become “normalised” even among high-ranking civil servants ...
She made the comments after a 12-day tour of Britain that began when Amber Rudd resigned as home secretary over the Windrush scandal. Last year the UN asked Britain whether its experts could visit to examine the impact of Brexit on race relations.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, said: ‘These visits are completely pointless. They are politically motivated, they are inspired by the extreme left, and the idea is to kick the UK.”
The Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the influential backbench group of Brexiteers, the European Research Group, said: “The UN ought to have better things to do than issue tendentious reports about the UK.”
The UN expert said the “rotten core” of the hostile environment policy dated back to immigration reforms introduced by Tony Blair in 2006. However, it had intensified after laws introduced in 2014 and 2016 which led to the “demonisation of ethnic minorities”.
90% of the what the UN does is NGO-like social justice activist nonsense. It is shameful when leaders like Theresa May, who should know better and who do not agree with the assumptions of the SJW crowd at Turtle Bay, allow the activists to officially visit their countries.

Friday, May 11, 2018
Forest. Trees.
Globe and Mail columnist Denise Balkissoon:
Right now, only about 24 per cent of Ontario children ages 2 to 4 are in licensed daycares. That means a whole lot of kids are being taken care of by home daycare providers such as Kelly, who are self-employed.
A whole lot of kids are with home daycare providers, but Balkissoon is ignoring (obtusely or deliberately) the number of parents who care for their own children at home or have a family member watch them. According to Stats Can in 2011, about half of children four and under are in a formal or informal daycare which suggests that about half of all children are being watched by family members. Balkissoon's column doesn't mention this group at all.

The Elizabeth May Party
The Toronto Star reports that the investigation paid for by the Green Party into allegations that leader Elizabeth May was verbally abusive to party staff and volunteers and created a hostile work environment. Vanessa Brustolin, who was one of the three alleged victims, did not cooperate with the investigation. She said:
“I knew this would be the result,” Brustolin wrote Thursday. “The Green Party would never have commissioned a report, which would have been unfavourable to Elizabeth May. The Green Party of Canada is Elizabeth May.”
There was never a chance that this investigation was going to find May created a toxic work environment in the Green Party. Never. That said, perhaps modern workers complain too easily about so-called toxic work environments. The National Post's Christie Blatchford said the investigation's findings are a victory for adulthood because not every workplace interaction is rainbows and jelly beans. But that said, this incident should expose May as a not-very-pleasant person. For all her high-handed moralizing in the House of Commons, she needs to get her own house in order. According to the Star's report of the investigation, lawyer Sheila Block's findings did not exonerate May of what she was alleged to have done to employees and volunteers, merely that her actions and words "if true" did not constitute the legal definition of workplace harassment under Ontario labour law.