Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Are Two Sellouts Pending?

He's loved of the distracted multitude,
multitude, who like not in their
judgement, but their eyes.

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 3

As Claudius in the above states, there will always be those who suspend their deeper thinking when evaluating public figures, preferring to reflexively accept the public images the latter so carefully cultivate, often at the expense of some less attractive realities. Never has there been a more important time, however, for critical public vigilance.

For example, despite the soothing words of Justin Trudeau that his government will never accept a NAFTA agreement that is not in the best interests of Canadians, Thomas Walkom has some grave doubts amid reports that a deal is close:
In actual fact, Canada will be lucky to minimize its losses.

After having restructured its entire economy to become an integral part of the U.S. market, Canada has little appetite to walk away from even a diminished NAFTA.

I fear that the Liberal government’s brave talk about no deal being better than a bad deal is just that — talk.

Trump also needs a victory. He has called NAFTA the worst trade pact ever. He needs a deal that, to his supporters at least, plausibly seems better.

He must show that he has bested Canada and Mexico.
For example, Trump's
plan to bias government procurement in favour of U.S. companies, [is] blatantly detrimental to Canada.

There is a precedent for all of this. In January, the U.S. and South Korea began renegotiating a free trade deal that Trump claimed was unfair to the Americans. Last month, they reached an agreement in principle that gave the U.S. virtually everything it had demanded.

In return, South Korea was granted a permanent exemption from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs — tariffs that never should have been imposed in the first place.
On another front, despite all the Trudeau talk about taking action on climate change, given the EPA decision to roll back vehicle fuel efficiency, environmentalists are wary of the pressure being put on our government to "go along to get along."
The auto industry wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to go along with U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to weaken fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. Environmentalists want Trudeau to refuse, immediately, and join forces with liberal American states.
Thus far the feds has been noncommittal on the matter, and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna's office has said it will make a decision based on “careful considerations of environmental and economic impacts.”

It hardly sounds like she is on the side of the angels here, a suspicion that has prompted Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada, to observe that
“standing on the sidelines is standing with Trump” rather than with the march of history.
Stewart says it is time to take a stand.
Cutting auto emissions is a significant component of Trudeau’s plan to meet Canada’s target, under the Paris climate accord, of cutting emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. Canada is not close to being on track to hit the target, a report released last week showed.
Finally, those still besotted with the early promise the Trudeau government showed on issues crucial to our collective survival should take a few minutes to watch this recent 'performance' by Catherine McKenna:

The Russians have a saying: "Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie." Unless and until we are able to make that choice (and our time is running perilously short, cooing government reassurances notwithstanding) we can only expect more temporizing and political expedience from this and any other government.


  1. Has nobody noticed that cars are built all over the world? Nobody needs an American car: ask a Honda owner. Not only that, these companies have Canadian factories and are not attacking Canada economically.

    Here in the backwoods of Nova Scotia, two thirds of my neighbours has gone from an American model to a Japanese, Korean or German vehicle.

    Cars from all over the world can satisfy Canadian needs including economy and cleanlyness.

    1. Point well-taken, rumleyfips. As well, there is a false dichotomy being promoted by the car manufacturers, who say they can't afford to make cars built to two standards. Just make them according to one standard, the one best for the environment. Duh.

    2. Honda stands out with the Alliston ON factory churning out Civics and CR-Vs. Toyota Canada makes, but is moving Corollas to the US, some RAV4s and a couple of Lexuses. Most Subarus except the Forester are made in Lafayette IN. Mazda is resolutely Japanese except Mazda3 from Mexico. Nissan, Mercedes and BMW have existing US factories, as do Hyundai, Toyota and Honda. So, they may be "foreign" nameplates, but a lot of what we get is American. Of course, Chevy and RAM pickups tend to be Mexican, but Canada's best_selling vehicle by far is the Ford F150 from the US. VWs come from Mexico and the US. Volvo is building a factory in the US.

      The US has been hogging vehicle production since well before Trump turned up. In Canada, the big 3 produce not particularly popular models. We're getting eaten up.

      So the US industry, which includes all the well-known US names, Euro names, Japanese and Koreans are all happy that the 2025 standards are being rolled back. Obama's rules meant literally that bigger vehicles (shadow size on ground) had easier fuel economy standards to meet. Yes, that's why Porsches got bigger four years ago, among other twisted things Obama's CAFE brought in.

      I don't expect the average person to know this stuff. The car industry has been my hobby for over 50 years, and I keep up. So reflexive putdowns of the rollback from Obama's twisted CAFE rules often tell me I'm reading stuff from people who are unaware of the details. Sorry, but that's the way it is - political leanings have little to do with the reality of the current North American bloat in vehicle size. Bigger means lower statutory mpg requirement, so bigger they got.

      Now California is a weird case. Gov Brown is an unapologetic drill, baby, drill offshore oil'n fracking man, if you've kept up on your reading. But CARB is set on Obama's old rules. Hypocritical about defines California. Or Alberta's NDP government.

      In the car industry, things are always changing. It's why I enjoy keeping up with it. Trump is so amateur hour, he doesn't realize that BMW exports 120,000 expensive SUVs to China from South Carolina, Mercedes 80,000 from Alabama. If China puts extra import duty on them, how is he going to apologize to out-of-work Southerners when volume plummets? Dumb.

      But I don't expect vehicles to suddenly get worse mileage in 2022 either - the previously mandated CAFE requirements for 2025 were ridiculous from a engineering POV. Virtually impossible even for the Japanese, which is why they're happy too at the rollbacks. Just legislating mpg is the stupidest way of going about things. People with no clue mandating unreality.

      In all this, what everyone on all sides seem to miss/forget on purpose is to add another 25 cents/litre gas tax, $1 a gallon in the US. Or more. Much more. Watch everyone buy smaller cars at once while complaining like banshees. No politician here can stand the thought of being ejected from office for doing that by facing reality, so they sit around making up silly regulations for vehicles instead. Cowards. Hiding behind an "expert" committee.

      And this Liberal government is as scaredy-cat as they come. Expect them to follow the US. The Canadian market is too small for anyone to engineer special vehicles for our special selves. Here in NS, we're supposed to follow CARB, as some US states do. Watch car dealers squawk like mad if choice gets stifled by devotion to CARB.

      Raise the fuel tax if you really want economical vehicles. EVs will gradually take over anyway.


    3. As always, your expertise offers a perspective few of us have, BM. As well, your point about the political cowardice at work in our jurisdictions is an apt indictment of the leadership, or more accurately, the leadership vacuum, that is leading us down the primrose path to collective ruin.

  2. Has nobody noticed that cars are built all over the world? Nobody needs an American car: ask a Honda owner. Not only that, these companies have Canadian factories and are not attacking Canada economically.

    Here in the backwoods of Nova Scotia, two thirds of my neighbours has gone from an American model to a Japanese, Korean or German vehicle.

    Cars from all over the world can satisfy Canadian needs including economy and cleanlyness.

  3. It took her seven minutes to say the dog ate her homework. It's funny how they treat dilbit as a problem that goes away as soon as it's in the hold of a supertanker. Somebody else transports it, somebody else refines it, somebody else burns it - Not Our Problem. It's also worth noting that they are using Harper's targets stretched out another decade but that target was inadequate from the get go. What the ever growing mountain of climate research shows us is that our understanding of the problem and the metrics we apply to it have changed markedly since Harper set his target, his political number, based on already outdated projections of the IPCC so many years ago.

    I remember McKenna, just back from the Paris climate summit in 2015, hitting the road to tell the premiers what Ottawa needed from them. She got to Calgary (perhaps Edmonton) where she met with her provincial counterparts from BC and Alberta. They told her to get stuffed. That's when McKenna bleated out that it's not just about climate change, it's also a matter of "national unity." Bleat, bleat, bleat.

    Isn't it curious how, in the political debate, we never discuss how time is running out for effective action or how the goal has to be decarbonizing our economy and our society, not gestural responses such as carbon taxes or how our plan has to accommodate the new emitter in our midst, natural feedback loops that are underway, especially in the Arctic. We eliminate those from the discussion, treat them as "externalities" and then we take a double dose of cognitive dissonance to pursue meaningless political gestures.

    1. I can only infer, Mound, that people like McKenna and Trudeau are criminally counting on the ignorance/indifference of Canadians to our pending environmental and ecological collapse.

    2. Lorne I think they've certainly taken the pulse of the public on this. Tackling climate change is an undertaking that could easily be on par with the burden we assumed in fighting our last world war. It requires a wholesale restructuring of society, the economy and even our government. There are countless reasons for this, enough that it is indisputable. How else are we to rehabilitate our critical infrastructure the loss of which will be catastrophic. In Dame Cathy's remarks, adaptation isn't even mentioned. All she speaks about, in her vague manner, is greenhouse gas reduction targets. We cannot isolate one from the other, mitigation and adaptation, and yet she does. That, to me, is telling. Carbon pricing and moderate reductions in GHG emissions will not avert the climate change impacts already baked into the system so this government's approach to focus on one to the exclusion of the greater challenge is a handy measure of what awaits us.

    3. Most 'leaders,' in my view, have been treasonous in the abdication of their responsibilities to the people, Mound. But these crafty cowards know that no one will hold them to account until it is far, far too late.

  4. There is no South Korean-US Trade Deal. Treason Tribble spiked it.

    While the North American Auto Industry has been pushing Treason Tribble and others for rollbacks to the Fleet Standards inposed in the Bailout,

    Fleet Standards have been embedded in Trade agreements with the EU, FTAA and Chinese imports, so, if the North American Industry decides they want to introduce the Canyonero, and the Canyonero Sport, they will quickly find that their EV's, sportsmodels and economy cars are no longer welcome in those markets.

    And then there is CARB, which has over a dozen Supreme Court rulings, that yes, they can hold the largest automotive market in the US to higher standards. We all remember how well that worked out last time for Big Auto, which isvwhy most of us run foreign cars, or foreign cars built here, not domestic rust buckets getting 12mpg.

    1. Thanks for the reality check here, Jay. Details such as you provide have never been something Trump and his enablers are good at. I guess they think they shouldn't matter when theirs is "the greatest country on earth."

    2. Top shelf of my cubile used to have 11, roughly 350 pages each, binders that covered off NAFTA, it eventually grew to 22 binders. Below that were the binders covering off the WTO Rules, the FTAA rules, the EU rules.

      Often, a change would come down, than when you cheched the previous rule, you discovered that "where in", had been changed to "where as".

      As a result of that change, nothing would change for 6 months to two years as the various Government bureaucracies, Industries, and of course, Lawyers, argued over the actual, physical impacts of the change. Then, some common ground would be found, a position of a label on a box would be changed, and life would go on.

      In the Jounalmentalism and Opinionism that passes for media coverage these days, 28,697 pages of rules and regulations with minor changes, and Kremlinology on "what it all means", in the absence of an actual agreement, doesn't lend itself to "hot takes" and "horseracing".

    3. Thanks for putting this into perspective for us, Jay. I guess it is fair to say most modern journalism is not up to the monumental tasks at hand.