Tag: Cabinet

The Last Straw and the Pipeline

Governments have often made decisions based on impulse rather than reason. A classic example is the fallacy of “the last straw” – the straw that broke the camel’s back. Similar impulsive decisions are now being made in the assessment of a pipeline’s effects. Let’s think about that.

If a camel’s back can hold, let’s say, 1000 straws, and if one more straw will break its back, it is illogical to believe that it was only the last straw that broke its back. Each of the 1001 straws has weight. All of them together create load on the camel’s back. The first straw is no better than the last straw. They are all load. If you don’t believe me, just ask the camel!

THE LAST STRAW DIDN’T BREAK THE CAMEL’S BACK

If you remove one or more of the 1000 loaded straws, then adding that proverbial “last straw” will be harmless. The false assumption is that all of the old load is okay, but new load is not. This leads us to the wrong decision: to ban new load while preserving old load. The right question is not “Which load is good load?” but rather, “How should Canada decide who is allowed to add straws onto the camel’s back (up to the maximum load)?” The task is to allocate space rationally on the limited capacity of the camel’s back.

Canada is facing two pipeline-related issues similar to the camel’s back. The first of these is CO2 emissions, the second, underwater noise caused by increased tanker traffic.

Continue reading “The Last Straw and the Pipeline”

It’s Your Decision…

The Prime Minister‘s real message was: “You can either do what I want or you can do what you want. The decision is yours.”

 

The Prime Minister, while addressing the resignations of former Ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) and Jane Philpott on television on March 7, said that different interpretations of the same events, and miscommunication had led to an erosion of trust. But that’s not what caused the resignations. Different interpretations of the same events are ethically neutral. The resignation letters showed a disagreement about ethics.

The Resignations Were About Ethics

The resignations were spurred by ethical disagreement with what the Prime Minister and his staff were attempting to achieve in their conversations with the former Attorney General about SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution.

If what the PM was attempting to do was unethical, his motivation for doing so, and any ambiguities in the language used in the attempt, do not matter.

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The Prime Minister and the Attorney General.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble…”  Groucho Marx

Introduction

On February 7, the Globe and Mail reported:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office attempted to press Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of Montreal engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., sources say, but she refused to ask federal prosecutors to make a deal with the company that could prevent a costly trial. ….

Sources say Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney-general until she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs early this year, came under heavy pressure to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to change its mind.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to instruct the director of the public prosecution service, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, according to sources who were granted anonymity to speak directly about what went on behind-the-scenes in the matter.”  [emphasis added]

On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the Cabinet. And on February 13, the Globe and Mail reported:

“Mr. Trudeau repeated his assertion from Tuesday on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, saying that if she had a problem with how the government handled the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, she had a duty to speak up about it earlier.” [emphasis added]

 

The conversations mentioned in these news stories have become a serious problem for everyone: Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin. What may happen next?

Continue reading “The Prime Minister and the Attorney General.”

How To Amend C-69: Assess the Project, Not the Planet

“No one should see how laws or sausages are made.”  Otto von Bismarck

Note to my readers:  This post is very long for a blog.  I did not want to make it even longer,  or to present additional posts on this subject.   That is why I have posted here an abbreviated version of my ideas for C-69 amendment, providing only the recommendations that are easier to understand.  Others, which may be more complex, have been omitted for the sake of brevity. However, if you find the table below too detailed, skip past it and just read the text. I’m happy to offer more detailed insight into my recommendations if you would like to contact me directly.

Introduction

C-69 has had no shortage of critics, myself included.  However, the government’s desire to modernize what had been criticized as antiquated and inadequate environmental assessment legislation is commendable. The government could have left things as they were, thereby avoiding criticism.

Several critics of C-69 have argued that the law is so seriously flawed that it should be repealed and the government should start again from scratch. I disagree. It has taken a long time, and thousands of person hours to create C-69. This law has been through Parliament and is currently before the Senate. The government should not throw all that work away now.   Nor is it so bad as to be unfixable.  It is not the function of the Senate – an unelected body – to repeal or refuse to pass laws legally enacted by the elected representatives in Parliament.

Unfortunately, what Parliament wanted the law to accomplish — greater transparency, greater inclusiveness, greater fairness and a shorter time for completion — is unlikely to be accomplished by this law because of the way it is written.  I would strongly recommend that it be amended, as outlined below. Continue reading “How To Amend C-69: Assess the Project, Not the Planet”