Our weekend business panel discusses the latest version of the North America Free Trade Agreement, the impact of the federal carbon tax in Canada and Apple’s introduction of a credit card on your smartphone.
U.S. President Donald Trump called on the Federal Reserve to begin cutting interest rates, saying the economy will take off like a “rocketship” if the Fed begins loosening policy.
Trump, speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, said that he believes the central bank “really slowed us down” with the four rate hikes it imposed last year.
The president said those were unnecessary because there is “very little, if any inflation.”
“I think they should drop rates and I think they should get rid of quantitative tightening. You would see a rocket ship,” Trump said.
Trump has announced he intends to nominate to conservative political allies — Stephen Moore and former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain — for two current vacancies on the seven-member Fed board.
A top economics adviser to Trump says the administration is not trying to damage the independence of the Federal Reserve by appointing two of Trump’s close political allies to the Fed board.
Larry Kudlow, head of the president’s National Economic Council, says in an interview on the Fox Business Network that the administration is allowed to put people at the central bank who share the president’s views on the economy.
Kudlow was responding to criticism after Trump’s announcements that he plans to nominate conservative political allies — Stephen Moore and former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain — to the two vacancies on the seven-member Fed board.
Trump’s choices were seen as escalating an effort by the White House to exert political pressure on the central bank.
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she hasn’t ruled out a future in federal politics, saying she is “entirely committed” to public policy issues like reconciliation and climate change just as she was when she first ran for a seat in Ottawa nearly four years ago.
Despite being at the centre of the months-long SNC-Lavalin controversy, Wilson-Raybould told CBC’sThe Early Edition that she’s still “incredibly open” to being involved with decisions made in Ottawa.
“I still have a commitment to ensuring that our governments, the government politics in Ottawa, is and becomes a different way of making decisions, a different way of doing politics,” the Vancouver Granville MP said during a phone interview before boarding a flight home from Ottawa.
“And [as for] what the people of Vancouver Granville feel — and I hope that they feel at liberty to tell me how they feel — I’ll make a decision on what I do [in the fall].”
Wilson-Raybould first got involved in federal politics because Justin Trudeau, as leader of the Liberal Party, asked her to run in the 2015 federal election. She went on to become the country’s first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general.
But a scandal erupted two months ago when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on a criminal prosecution decision against SNC-Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould and her former cabinet colleague Jane Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.
Trudeau ejected both MPs from caucus on Tuesday, leaving them as back-corner independents.
On Friday, Wilson-Raybould said she still sees many of the same issues unresolved today as she did in 2015.
“I believe fundamentally that in order to transform indigenous communities, we need to, as a government and as a country, create a space for Indigenous peoples to be self-determinant. And that’s why I ran [in 2015],” she said.
“I do still see … the fundamental need to create the space for a transformative relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights.
“That is something that I am entirely committed to.”
The ousting of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from the Liberal caucus has fuelled accusations that the party has abandoned its 2015 campaign commitments to Indigenous reconciliation and gender equality — but the former attorney general, despite having fallen out of favour with the party, said she still supports many Liberal ideals.
“I was a member of the Liberal Party, I still believe in the values and the principles of equality and inclusion and justice that I feel underpin the Liberal Party, and so many Canadians signed up for the Liberal Party back in 2015 believing in the same thing — or even in doing politics differently,” she said, adding that she sees Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as a “worry” for the future of reconciliation.
“I absolutely still believe in that.”
The MP’s riding of Vancouver Granville, formed in 2013, has been in a mix of shock and support for its ousted representative. Wilson-Raybould said she’s been out door-knocking in her riding to talk to constituents in light of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
“I have to say, and this is what I said to people that I found on the doorsteps in Vancouver Granville and chat, is that I was doing my job,” she said.
“I’ll continue to speak my voice as long as I have the great fortune of being the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, in that capacity and then all other capacities I’ll be fortunate enough to fulfil,” she continued.
“I need to, of course, continue to talk to my husband and my family. I’m coming home and I’m so looking forward to getting back to Vancouver talking to my volunteers in the riding, to, particularly, constituents, and hearing what they have to say.”
The latest federal climate change report shows that Canada is warming faster than the global average which could mean more wildfires and more extreme weather.
With a federal election mere months away, what should Canadians demand from politicians to tackle this crisis?
Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute environmental think-tank, spoke with On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko to offer her thoughts on what Canadians should look for when deciding who to vote for.
What sort of checklist should voters have when they’re trying to evaluate their political representatives?
Voters should look for strong climate platforms and leaders who will be dedicated to tackling this issue with concrete action and concrete policies that will reduce our emissions and transform every sector of our economy.
How does the average voter know what is a concrete policy?
Let’s get all of our leadership hopefuls on the record saying that they are committed to meeting our Paris Agreement target and that they are also committed to increasing that target because we know that that target is not quite enough
Look for policies that reduce emissions in the transport sector. Concrete things like increasing electric vehicles on the road. Look for policies that put more renewable energy on the grid, for policies that help our industrial sector decarbonize.
Really concrete things that make our economic sectors more efficient and more economically competitive.
Well, you can have concrete evidence for a government that’s in power, but what about parties that are out of government?
A very important element is policy certainty to make sure that those industries that are making investments in the current regulatory environment where we are putting in place our climate plans and guiding investments, that they know they can be confident that this regulatory environment will be sustained and dialed up because we know we need to do more.
So seeing some policy alignment between what’s being proposed is really valuable — between what’s being proposed by leadership hopefuls and what exists is a good indicator.
Despite climate change being an issue that’s affecting all of us there are very clear partisan divides on it among provinces. Ontario and Saskatchewan are against the carbon tax vehemently. Why is this happening?
To those who oppose this measure, which we know is the lowest-cost measure to reduce our emissions, to those who oppose that approach, put forward your alternatives and let’s debate it. I think that’s what Canadians need to demand of their leaders.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. Listen to the complete interview:
Canada’s privacy watchdog is investigating leaks of confidential information about a candidate for the Supreme Court of Canada.
Conservative and NDP MPs had asked for the probe.
“Under the Privacy Act, our office is required to investigate all complaints that fall within our jurisdiction,” said Tobi Cohen, a spokesperson for the privacy commissioner’s office.
In a letter to federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, NDP MP Charlie Angus calls the leak of private information about Manitoba Superior Court Chief Justice Glenn Joyal’s application for a position on the high court “shocking.”
“It is not only an attack on the independence of the judiciary and a mark of flagrant disrespect for the importance of its work, but potentially a breach of the Privacy Act,” Angus wrote.
The request came after Mar. 25 reports by CTV and The Canadian Press revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jody Wilson-Raybould were at odds in 2017 over whether Joyal should be appointed to the Supreme Court.
The CP story said sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal discussions about a Supreme Court appointment, which typically are considered highly confidential.
The reports came out amid a growing controversy over the SNC-Lavalin affair, and suggested the Joyal appointment was a second point of conflict between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney general at the time.
The story said Joyal’s views on the Charter of Rights issues led to “significant disagreement” between the two. Trudeau’s office and Wilson-Raybould denied being the source of the leaks.
In a statement, Joyal said he withdrew his application due to his wife’s illness and decried the leak of confidential information about his candidacy.
“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong,” he said in a statement.
Sheilah Martin ultimately was appointed to the top court, and Richard Wagner was named Chief Justice.
Cohen confirmed an investigation will include organizations covered by the Privacy Act, including the Privy Council Office and the Department of Justice. The Privacy Act does not give the commissioner jurisdiction over ministerial offices, though Cohen said the commissioner has recommended in past that the Act be extended to all government institutions, including ministers’ offices and the PMO.
Conservative MP Peter Kent also asked Therrien to investigate.
“Confidentiality in the process of judicial appointments is crucial to protecting the integrity of the selection process. This confidentiality also seeks to ensure that the reputations of judges not ultimately selected are not tarnished,” he said in a letter to the commissioner.
“It is of great concern that as a result of this unauthorized disclosure, the reputation of a respected jurist may have been damaged for political purposes.”
Angus said that if a government institution was behind the breach of Joyal’s personal information, it could be a violation of the Privacy Act.
Angus noted that judicial applications go to the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. The commissioner’s privacy notice to applicants says personal information collected is used by the advisory board to assess applications and provide a list of qualified candidates to the prime minister.
Angus asked Therrien to determine if the leak came from Privy Council Office, the Office of the Commissioner of Federal Judicial Affairs, the Department of Justice or the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.
The Manitoba government will go to court over Ottawa’s imposition of a carbon tax.
Premier Brian Pallister revealed Wednesday his government will launch a legal challenge against the federal government, which imposed its new levy as promised on Manitoba, along with three other provinces, Monday.
“We’re going to court, sadly, to challenge the Ottawa carbon tax because Ottawa cannot impose a carbon tax on a province that has a credible greenhouse gas-reduction plan of its own, and we do,” he told reporters.
The federal government’s carbon tax came into effect April 1 for four provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — that didn’t meet Ottawa’s standard for a sufficient carbon pricing system.
The carbon tax is now charged on 21 different fuel inputs in those provinces, including gasoline, at a rate of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions. That will gradually rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.
Pallister said Wednesday his government has a strong legal case against the federal tax, separate from a court challenge already launched by Saskatchewan, and backed by Ontario and New Brunswick, because it originally proposed its own tax.
Manitoba backed away from that plan, which proposed a flat carbon price of $25 per tonne, when the federal Liberal government declared it didn’t go far enough.
The premier also said it wasn’t fair that the federal government had offered exceptions to other provinces, but not Manitoba.
He’s previously said Quebec’s cap-and-trade program is much less stringent than the flat $25-per-tonne price he proposed before he withdrew the Manitoba carbon tax, and has argued Manitoba isn’t given credit for the clean energy it produces.
“I’m the only Conservative premier in the country that took steps to develop a green plan, which actually involves our people here contributing somewhat to a levy.”
Pallister said his decision was influenced by discussions with government lawyers, and that Manitoba’s legal argument is more convincing now that the federal backstop is in place.
“There’s no point launching the case unless they were going to intrude on Manitoba’s jurisdiction,” he said of the federal government. “They didn’t do that until this past Monday.”
Manitoba will withdraw the court challenge, which may take two to three years to wind through the legal channels, Pallister said, if the Saskatchewan court challenge succeeds, or if the Trudeau government is defeated in the next federal election.
“My hope would be it’s resolved by previous court decisions and we don’t need to carry it further,” Pallister said. “I guess I could be accused of trying to save money, yet again.”
If Ottawa’s plan is rejected, Pallister wouldn’t say whether he would implement the carbon tax plan his government originally proposed.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is dismayed by Pallister’s thinking.
“I think it’s really ironic,” she said from Ottawa.
“The day after we release a climate report for Canada by our scientists that said that Canada’s warming is double the world average that we have the premier of Manitoba deciding to take us to court, to spend taxpayer money fighting climate action as opposed to fighting climate change,” McKenna said.
“Manitoba had an opportunity to have a plan and, unfortunately, they flip-flopped so many times.”
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew pointed out the province received a legal opinion two years ago that said the federal government has the right to impose a carbon tax.
He said this lawsuit, which he described as “frivolous,” won’t change that.
“We can debate the merits of the carbon pricing measure, but I can tell you one thing for sure: taking the federal government to court on this is just going to waste taxpayer money and it’s going to do absolutely nothing to fight climate change here.”
The legal opinion said the province could legally snub the federal carbon tax scheme if it demonstrated that its plan was equally effective at cutting emissions.
The government would be better off returning to the negotiating table with the federal government, argued Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.
“To go against the advice of a very well-respected law prof who you’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to give you advice on this matter doesn’t make any sense to me.”