[Hannaford] What 'problems of public policy' look like in Montreal, and Calgary

[Nigel Hannaford] What ‘problems of public policy’ look like in Montreal, and Calgary

Opinion
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[TheChristians.com] The exquisite concern shown by former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts for the jobs of SNC Lavalin’s 9,000 Montrealers was touching. As he last week presented his version of events to the House of Commons Justice Committee considering the Liberal SNC Lavalin scandal, he reminded Canadians half a dozen times of the burden he felt – why, the burden every one of them felt, and especially the prime minister – for the hard-working people of SNC Lavalin’s head office and the families they supported.

VIDEO: [CTV] Conservative Finance critic Pierre Poilievre raises significant questions regarding the possible job-loss argument floated by the Liberals. Says SNC contract-bound to stay in Canada. [Mar. 10, 2019]


Leaning weakly upon Tiny Tim’s crutch, he tried to get the committee to understand.

“I am not a lawyer. But I have extensive experience in government. When 9,000 people’s jobs are at stake, it is a public policy problem.”

Well, here in Alberta, we completely agree. But if it’s a problem for 9,000 people in the City of Montreal, what is it for 170,000 people in the Province of Alberta whose lives have been turned upside down by the actions of the same Liberal government for which Butts worked, and in which by the nature of his office he is deeply complicit?

Judging by the government’s non-reception of the Alberta convoy of trucks that arrived in Ottawa three weeks ago, it was no problem at all. Nobody cared. Nobody met with the truckers, nobody with extensive experience in government conceded that it is a public policy problem when jobs were not merely at stake, but that 170,000 jobs had disappeared altogether… Instagram was not suddenly flooded with selfies taken on a Kenworth.

To be as fair as possible to the Liberal government, the trucks arrived more or less at the same time as the SNC Lavalin scandal. Mr. Trudeau was distracted. So was Mr. Butts. Let it also be said that few jobless Albertans would take perverse satisfaction from the idea that folks in Montreal might soon be sharing their fate. The message of the truck convoy was that Alberta’s oil industry is good for all Canadian, as indeed it was: In the glory days, 45 percent of the money invested in Alberta projects was actually spent in Central Canada.

However, none of the above alters the shocking difference between the two situations.

If jobs in Montreal are in danger, it is because SNC Lavalin is accused of breaking the law. The scandal is that the government stands accused of trying to get them off the hook. Butts put it a little differently: “It was our obligation to exhaustively consider options the law allows, and to be forthright with people in explaining the Attorney-General’s decision, in order to be able to demonstrate that the decision was taken with great care in careful consideration of their livelihoods.”

And perhaps that was the government’s obligation. No matter that

Libya’s Moammar Gadhaffi was little more than a probationary member of the Axis of Evil, and that the Government of Canada would one day join the international effort that drove him from power. In those days, he was just one more nasty little Third-World dictator with money to spend and whatever Canadian law says, to do business in the Third World one should expect to grease such palms. For most of SNC Lavalin’s people, such considerations are way above their pay grades. Thus what happens to them, and their pension plan, is indeed a public policy problem.

However, the jobs that have been lost in Alberta and thousands more that remain threatened, did not disappear because anybody did anything illegal, or was even accused of it. They were lost because of the deliberate actions of, well, Mr. Butts and Mr. Trudeau.

  • A fully permitted pipeline project – Northern Gateway – arbitrarily cancelled.
  • Another – Kinder Morgan – so weakly defended that to save face, the Liberals bought it, thereby having the taxpayers take the risk, instead of the investors.
  • One more pipeline – Energy East – ragged to death by regulation.
  • A west-coast ban on oil tankers. Though not a ban on oil tankers in the east… The Calgary Herald’s Don Braid got it right: ‘This is not a ban on tankers, just on Alberta oil.’
  • And, to remind us that their work is not yet done on this file, lurking in the Senate is the Liberals’ legislative Deathstar – Bill C-69. As the Globe and Mail put it on March 11, “If the government’s goal with Bill C-69 is to give the oil industry more certainty, it fails. If its goal is to give opponents a bigger say in the approvals process, it succeeds to a fault.” As if they didn’t have enough.

Albertan jobs were not lost. They were destroyed. And, they were destroyed by a duly elected government for no better reason than to signal their particular idea of virtue.

Looking for ‘public policy problems?’ There’s one.

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