Trudeau To Eliminate MOST Western Canadian Judges from Qualifying for Supreme Court

It was a very unusual moment … especially for the bilingual-sensitive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Almost without fail, when Trudeau has held media briefings, he has delivered his announcements=du-jour in BOTH of Canada’s Official languages.

Friday he did not.

Speaking in French, Trudeau spoke at length about the importance of protecting and expanding the use of both Official languages across the country … and sang the praises of his government’s actions in particular at protecting/providing French services coast to coast.

And then he promised to go even further: make it a CONDITION that any judge considered for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada will have to be fully bilingual.

Fascinatingly, Trudeau did NOT repeat his announcement of the planned MAJOR change to the appointment criteria for Canada’s top Court in English! Just en Francais!

Why? Pourquois!

At first glance, the idea may seem laudable, especially to a bilingual Quebecois-born and educated pundit like moi, who worked very hard to learn French at a time when les Anglos never did, and who has long supported provision of federal services in both languages partout le pays.

But there’s MUCH more involved here than meets the eye … or Trudeau’s attempt to boost his popularity in Quebec and among francophones. (Did someone say election?)

English-speaking Canadians, especially in Western Canada (Maritimes too), should be VERY concerned.

We’re not talking about being bilingual enough to order “deux chien chauds et un poutine, s’il vous plait”.

The Supreme Court often hears very complex legal arguments, including highly technical issues, patents, criminal cases, historic legal precepts and concepts and parliamentary precedents.

Until now, the Court has used expert certified simultaneous translators … so that the Court could be made up of some of Canada’s best LEGAL minds … not just judges whose strongest qualification might be expertise in both English AND French.

Trudeau’s new policy will disqualify almost EVERY judge in Western Canada from being appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada …. no matter how brilliant a legal mind or extensive experience he or she offers.

Think of how few judges in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan would be so proficient in French to hear/understand/rule on complex legal arguments in French???

Maybe that’s the Trudeau/Liberal plan? Limit the only possible selection to a few politically-correct, Liberal-leaning Vancouver/urban lawyers/judicial office holders.

Stack the Court by manipulating the pre-requisites!

Western Canadians should be alarmed.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t repeat his announcement in English?

This idea came up before …way back in 2009, with an NDP Private Member’s Bill I wrote about at the time: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/ottawa-move-could-severely-limit-supreme-court-judges-from-west/.

The Liberals, in Opposition at the time, supported the NDP and the Bloc … but the Tory government under Stephen Harper, was able to fight it off.

The game … and the numbers … this time are different.

Trudeau/Liberals could push this through, even if the Conservative Opposition speak out and stand against it.

History has shown the modern federal NDP has NEVER stood up in Ottawa for BC or Western Canada against Quebec’s best interests (placing the hunt for seats over principles).

So they will no doubt support Trudeau/Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois in this latest move to control/reduce/restrict Western input on the federal scene.

Provincial Premiers, Legislatures, Law Societies of the West … and the people too … should stand up and speak out …

And maybe even make it a federal election issue.

Harv Oberfeld

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Posted in British Columbia, Media, National | 28 Comments

Canada’s TOTAL Cruise Ship Ban Retaliates for Keystone

President Joe Biden had barely assumed office when … without negotiation or even consultation with Canada or the oil industry … he cancelled the ENTIRE Keystone pipeline project.

He blamed environmental concerns.

The economic impact on Canada, and especially Alberta, will be devastating: 2,000 jobs lost immediately and Billions in investment literally left in the ground.

“This is a gut punch for the Canadian and Alberta economies. Sadly, it is an insult directed at the United States’ most important ally and trading partner on day one of a new administration,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told CTV News.

(You can read more about how badly America’s change of mind will hurt Canada/Alberta economically here: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/kenney-calls-biden-s-keystone-xl-cancellation-gut-punch-to-albertans-1.5274690.)

Two weeks later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government … without negotiation or even consultation with the United States or the cruise industry … cancelled the ENTIRE cruise ship season right up to, at least, Spring 2022.

They blamed Covid.

The impact on the United States, especially Alaska, will be devastating … affecting 23,000 jobs.

“Canada’s announcement to ban all cruise sailings carrying 100 people or more traveling through Canadian waters, without so much as a courtesy conversation with the Alaska Delegation, is not only unexpected—it is unacceptable—and was certainly not a decision made with any consideration for Alaskans or our economy.We expect more from our Canadian allies,” complained Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young.

(You can read more about how badly Canada’s cruise ship ban will hurt the US/Alaska economically here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2021/02/12/alaska-travel-tourism-cruise-covid/.

Starting to see the picture?

Canada retaliated.

Cruise ships unload $1.3 Billion a year into Alaska’s economy.

Of course, neither Trudeau nor any of his Cabinet Ministers would EVER say Canada’s TOTAL cruise ship ban … without ANY consultation or negotiation … had ANYTHING to do with the Americans’ killing Keystone … without ANY consultation or negotiations.

But look closely at what Canada did … the usually polite, considerate, often apologetic Canada.

The Trudeau government didn’t just ban cruise ships from docking in Canada: they won’t even allow them to transit to Alaska through Canadian waters … via BC’s beautiful Inside Passage, keeping them instead way out at sea, not close enough to any of our coastline for passengers to see/enjoy the shores, the inlets, the towns/villages, close up views of mountains/peaks … scenery that Alaska cruises are all about.

And then there’s the U.S. Jones Act.

The 1920 Act, originally designed to protect US shipping and jobs, prohibits foreign-flagged vessels from transporting cargo (passengers) solely between US ports: foreign vessels MUST call at a port in another country before completing a US journey.

Virtually ALL large cruise ships are registered offshore in countries where licensing, taxes, crewing regulations can be more favourable … ie cheaper.

The Jones Act has certainly benefitted Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Prince Rupert with the hundreds of summer cruise sailings up and down the US West coast from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle making stops in Canada to/from Alaska.

On the East Coast, ports in Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean satisfy Jones Act legalities.

But with this year’s ban, what is really angering the US … Canada is also banning cruise ships from even making a “technical stop” at any Canadian port … ie just dock briefly to satisfy the Jones Act requirement, without dropping off or taking on ANY goods or passengers.

Amazes me that the mainstream media have not noticed the similarities between the unilateral actions of the US on Keystone and the subsequent retaliatory exceptionally tough unilateral actions by Canada hitting Alaska-bound cruises! Waiting for a Press Release?

The Americans are now looking at whether the President could issue an Order suspending the Jones Act for cruise ships, or even have Congress amend the Act. But Uncle Sam is not happy.

Nor would that solve the cruise ship industry’s biggest problem: being totally banned from Canadian waters.

Sailing miles out in the open, rougher seas for so many days to/from US West coast ports north to Alaska … without BC scenery to admire much of the way … would no doubt hurt the cruising industry … and result it MANY complaints from American passengers.

Take that Joe Biden!

The little Canadian mouse sharing the continent with the American elephant has just bit back where it really hurts.

So I suspect we have not yet witnessed the end of this tit-for-tat conflict.

Harv Oberfeld

(Please note: this weekend marked the anniversary of the on-the-job death of my BCTV colleague Geoff Fisher, who was electrocuted Feb. 13, 1999 while setting up a microwave truck for an interview I was going to do outside Delta Secondary School with an invited guest. You can read about it and remember Geoff here: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/geoff-fisher-rip/. I never forget.

Also, Pass the Blog on! Let others know what the mainstream media are not reporting. Here’s the link: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/canadas-total-cruise-ship-ban-retaliates-for-keystone/. And follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter for free First Alerts to all new postings on this Blog. No spam … just First Alerts to new topics.)

Posted in British Columbia, International, National, Uncategorized | 58 Comments