The Semantic Game

Of minor note, there is a controversy in Alberta over Catholic Schools and their practice of asking Catholic teachers to sign ‘Catholicity’ Agreements as a condition of employment. The concern being that some LGBTQ teachers have expressed concerns that their employment may not be secure.[1] (Never mind that a religious school firing someone on the basis of sexual orientation was ruled illegal over 20 years ago.) Alberta Catholic schools insist they need to hire Catholic teachers. A “Catholic lifestyle” is a necessary and reasonable expectation, says the Catholic Schools, otherwise Catholic School’s existence is meaningless.*

This is a fine way to have a semantic battle, which you eventually will lose.

Some advice: do not play this semantic game. Referring to your religion as a “lifestyle”, as “Catholicity”, is playing the semantic game of the progressives. I get that you are trying to downplay any signs of oppression or intolerance, but softening your language looks like you are subordinating your faith in order to satisfy the Left. The Left’s strategy is always defect-defect, your capitulation is seen as weakness, and they will demand more, not leave you alone.

The Catholic faith is fundamental, being a connection to a higher power, providing moral guidance, and a close community. That’s not a ‘lifestyle’.  They should say so.

Señor Blanco

 

*This is a problem because Alberta (and Saskatchewan) are required to provide two school systems: one public, and one Catholic (mostly…it’s complicated). This was done on the Provinces’ creation, to make Québec happy: see section 17 of the Alberta Act, amending section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

[1] This acronym seems to change on a daily basis. How long before it’s a hate crime to use the wrong version? Kafka laughs.

Advertisements

Climate

My view on climate change: it’s been happening since Earth had a climate, so it’s not just anthropomorphic. Increases in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperature are likely caused in part by human action (with carbonic gasses being the likeliest cause) and the balance due to solar output and other factors. Our impact on climate is not neutral, but our planet is not the next Venus (need way more volcanoes.) It’s not clear if the net effects will be positive or negative. We should avoid attempts to make our climate static (meaning, no climate variance at all), as this is unachievable and undesirable. Yet, this is exactly what modern climate change ideologues advocate for (but don’t realize it, or don’t care.)

Climate change sophistry is really grinding my gears. The political mantra is that all climate change is caused by humans, and that climate change science is 100% settled and proves this is the case. The ultimate goal: to hold climate static in the same state it was around 1990. Those who do not ‘believe’ this to be true (odd, if the science is settled then they are denying facts, not lacking faith) are scum sucking Nazi alt-right Trump voting basket-of-deplorable science deniers who, by denying science, therefore by default deny gravity exists, and want to see the world consumed in fire. I’m glad they bring up gravity.

Problems

The science behind climate change is not “settled”, because no science is settled. Example: humans have considered gravity since they first fell out of a tree onto the savannah. Aristotle thought gravity was like-elements being attracted towards their natural place, and air and fire to rise to where air and fire go, and earth goes to earth. Galileo had ideas that gravity was related to mass and Newton further developed the idea of attraction between masses in his universal law of gravitation and constant gravitational attraction. Einstein took it up a notch with General Relativity (gravity is not a force over a distance between masses, but curvature in space-time caused by the presence of mass). All of this took thousands of years.

Climate change science has only been pursued with any vigour since the 1990s. If it took thousands of years to get a sufficient (not complete) understanding of gravity, then climate change cannot have been perfected in 30 to 40 years. We still do not understand if gravity is reconcilable with quantum mechanics, whether it has a force carrying boson (graviton), if it is a field (like electricity), or what happens if gravitational fields get really intense at very small scales or high densities. The LIGO results showing gravitational waves caused by merging black holes is exciting news, because gravity is not “settled” science. There is no way climate change science is either. Like every other field we will in 100 years laugh at our ignorance (as opposed to climate change zealots, who want to laugh at “ignorant” people right now, without all the discipline and rigour needed to actually learn something.)

Doubts (Dirty, dirty doubts.)

I did not doubt climate change before, and accepted whatever I was told about it. Then politicians acted as if they understood it, and since they know it, the debate is over. Any time you see a professional self-promoter saying there is no need for further inquiries…start making inquiries.

In Canada, politicians don’t understand climate change. Instead, all subscribe to the dogma that “it’s warmer: blame carbon” and promptly justify taxation (i.e. a protection racket) to address it as a ‘problem.’

Climate change advocates at least usually try to learn about atmospheric/oceanic dynamics before deferring to climate change dogma. Politicians and zealots could not wait and went straight to espousing the climate change liturgy to get votes. They now actively discourage people from learning more about climate change. Their MO: “carbon cause climate change, it bad; solution to bad, more government; people question justification for more government, bad.” Either agree with them, or be slandered, insulted and mocked, even if you just ask questions. This is not about encouraging discussion or education, it’s about using shame to control and maintain a narrative. Whenever you see this generally, it’s a play for power.

Most climate change scientists are honest, forthright about the limitations of their work, and avoid the arrogant intractableness of politicians and science popularizers looking to justify their positions and paychecks. No debate? Settled science? Go look at any serious climate change discussion forum – even people who agree that climate change is real are at each other’s throats because the various climate models do not agree.  They argue about degrees, vectors and causes of climate change like cornered badgers. And I’m glad they fight with each other so vociferously: a phenomenon potentially leading to profound climate changes, being abused by governments to justify more power, control, and revenue taking, is worth having a knock-down fight over. Just don’t look for it where it should be happening: in your legislatures.

Indolence? Opportunism?

Legislatures lying down on this issue are a rot in Canada. Ottawa wants mandatory carbon tax implementation across Canada. They say to the provinces: “either implement your own carbon tax, or we’ll tax your populace ourselves.” The only difference: if the province does it, they keep the money; if Ottawa does it, they get the money, and then it just disappears. The taxpayer’s opinion on all this is unheeded. Therefore a provincial carbon tax is necessary as the money will be taken anyway, so best to keep the $$$ close to home (where it can be used to bribe local voters, instead.) This amounts to hostage taking by taxation by Canada, and Stockholm syndrome for the provinces.

I think I see the solution: remove miscreants from Ottawa who propose a tax by legislative gunpoint, and kick out any provincial government that acquiesces. I don’t negotiate with those using taxation in service of an ideology, and I don’t negotiate with those who negotiate with those people, either! Besides, implementing the tax on a provincial level does not oblige Ottawa to not implement a federal carbon tax later.

I expect my provincial government to protect its jurisdiction and its authority, and to tell Ottawa ‘No’ when it tries usurpation by ideology of ignorance. Laying down and acquiescing, burning your economy in effigy, are all unacceptable. If Ottawa does not take the hint, then it’s time to split.

Trolling

Applause, Premier John Horgan. You’ve proven your chops as a big stakes political troll. (He is the current leader of the New Democrat Party (NDP) which forms the British Columbia government. The NDP is socialism/communism-light in Canada.)

john-horgan

The man himself. Nice bridge work.

He’s also proven that the political left is always about chaos. Its game theory strategy is always:

 

Defect to any defection.

Defect-squared to any cooperation.

 

The troll you may ask, is saying the Canadian federal government should intervene to give British Columbia (B.C.) relief from high gas prices. This strikes a nerve that was irritated raw in the early 1980s, and has never rested since.

For non-Canuckophiles, to review: B.C. and Alberta, provinces within Canada, are currently in a fight, regarding the use of B.C.’s coastline to export Alberta oil. Alberta’s economy relies significantly on oil and natural gas, and a substantial part of that is bitumen extracted from oil sands. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta (the “Crown”; it’s a long story) owns about 81% of the oil and gas trapped underground in Alberta. All development is handled by private companies, who pay a royalty for the privilege. Government revenues rely on these royalties. The more oil and gas produced, the more money for the Crown, the more jobs, the more income, the more taxes…you get the picture.

Alberta is big in land, but small in population: less than four million people reside there, with about 35 million total living in Canada. But Alberta’s reserves are gigantic: just Alberta’s reserves (for the whole province, not just the Crown owned portion), were in 2014 the third largest reserves in the world (behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, but larger than Iran, Iraq, Russia and the U.S.) This is a lot of oil in a small market. And so, getting oil around the country and for international export is a big issue. Alberta is landlocked, so getting oil to sea involves someone else’s jurisdiction. The best way to do this is by pipeline, and this is where the current fight begins.

Laying Pipe

Pipeline companies have attempted to expand Alberta’s capacity to deliver oil to outside markets. They wanted to change an existing pipeline in eastern Canada, to get oil from Alberta to Québec and the Maritime provinces, and so the Energy East project was proposed. They wanted to get oil from near Edmonton, Alberta, to a loading facility on the B.C.’s coast near Kitimat, and so Enbridge proposed the Northern Gateway pipeline. Access already existed to terminals on the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and expansion plans were proposed (Keystone XL). Also, an expansion to an existing pipeline (Trans-Mountain) was proposed, which would result in more oil getting to an existing terminal in Burnaby, B.C. for foreign export. All of this sounds great: more Alberta oil sold, more Crown royalties, more income taxes and GST (Canada’s VAT) for Canada. Except, it’s not, because, you know…reasons.

The National Energy Board reviews applications for pipelines in Canada. If they approve an application (often, with conditions), it goes to the Governor-In-Council (GIC) for final approval. The GIC is the Prime Minister of Canada and his cabinet: that’s right, Justin Trudeau and his “’cuz it’s 2015” cabinet. They overruled the previous government’s decision to allow the Northern Gateway pipeline (2014), disallowed it in 2016, and effectively killed the project by banning tanker traffic into Kitimat. One down.

Energy East died a different death. While approved by the GIC, it was killed by the governments of Ontario and Québec, along with a somewhat dubious claim that 180 different First Nations all opposed it, and could veto the project approval under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Last year, the project was abandoned, with one side arguing it was due to political interference, and the other, claiming it was simply an economic choice.

Keystone XL was approved by the NEB back in 2007, but as it was also under U.S. jurisdiction, President Obama put it on indefinite hold. President Trump signed an executive order allowing the project to go ahead in early 2017.

So, Alberta is down 2-1 at this point (with Trump being their only ally.) Trans-Mountain pipeline, an expansion to an existing project, has been approved by the NEB and the GIC. This expansion has faced stiff resistance from protestors, First Nations, and now, the provincial government of B.C., which threatened to take steps to restrict the amount of oil (diluted bitumen, in this case) in the pipeline pending an environmental review, a step which many are calling illegal.

The B.C. NDP don’t have a choice, really. They do not have a majority of seats in the B.C. legislature. This is a problem because a minority government can always be put to a confidence vote in their legislature, and if they lose, their government is dissolved, and either some other party steps in to govern, or they go to election. They know, they used that trick to get into power, forcing the Liberals, who won the most seats in last years provincial election, out of government. The NDP then made a deal with the local Green Party, who had three seats, to form a coalition government which could survive a confidence vote.

But this comes at a price, and that is the current B.C. government must now take a hard stance on any environmental issue to satisfy the NDP voters, and must pander to the Greens as well (this won’t work: see the game theory strategy of the left, above.) This is democracy in Canada for you. The second place party is now held hostage by a party with a miniscule amount of power, and policy on major issues is now beholden to that minority.

No one thinks for a second that a majority of British Columbians are represented in this current quagmire. And with the defect-defect2 (lets call it “d/d2”) game strategy of the left, any acquiescence to the Greens will just lead to further demands. And so, B.C. is now rattling sabres and quite frankly, will block the Trans-Mountain expansion if it can. Ottawa, and Justin Trudeau, rattle off platitudes, seemingly ignorant of B.C.’s outright threats to defy the law and the decisions of the NEB and GIC, but take no steps to resolve the matter. And this puts Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta, in a bad spot.

Carbon Taxing

See, a while back, Premier Notley (another NDP government leader) put a carbon tax in place in Alberta. She claimed it was to acquire “social license” for pipeline expansions. When Justin Trudeau approved the Trans-Mountain expansion and Energy East (and killed Northern Gateway), he claimed her carbon tax helped to justify the decision. The carbon tax was highly unpopular within Alberta, however. Fast-forward a few years, and with Energy East dead, and Trans-Mountain facing an opposition determined to stop it, people in Alberta are asking: where’s the social license, and our pipelines?

On top of that, Premier Notley now faces an election in a little over a year. Alberta is notoriously a conservative voting province, with the same conservative party ruling from 1971 to 2015. She put an unpopular tax (is there any other kind?) in place in exchange for getting Alberta oil to bigger markets, and got zip for it. She looks weak and naïve, and faces a hostile electorate to boot. (Personally, I don’t think it matters. She would have put the tax in anyway, regardless of pipeline issues. However, she needed to sell it, and so made a deal with a federal government who does not need a single vote from her province to stay in power. And, predictably, it has backfired completely.)

Rachel Notley-1.jpg

Premier Notley

And so, the battle is now waging. B.C. has no choice but to oppose the pipeline bitterly to keep the Greens happy, and Alberta has no choice but to posture and fight so Premier Notley can appear she wants the pipeline to go through. And, in the d/d2 world of the left, it’s only going to get nastier.

(Man, I love watching the left eat itself.[1] You know what will be even funnier, when in five to ten years, when the current batch of leftist politicians in this mess have gone the way of the Weather Underground, and have six and seven figure incomes (with NGOs or private concerns) after wrecking ordinary people’s livelihoods with their antics, while still claiming to “fight the good fight against the 1%.” Never mind the trolling, what about the lulz!?!)

National Energy Troll

So, we arrive, at the troll. Horgan’s allusion to federal government intervention on gasoline pricing is a reference to the National Energy Program (NEP). The NEP was created by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister (and in a real life expression of universal irony, father of Justin Trudeau), in order to deal with Canada’s inability to control either oil supply or price in the 1970s. It all started with OAPEC’s embargo on oil sales to several western nations, Canada included, in 1973, as retribution for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Trudeau was in a bind because Canada was still largely dependent on foreign oil imports. The embargo hurt because it reminded all of Canada that they were beholden to OPEC, because OPEC could fuck with their economy on a whim. It was not that Canada could not get oil during an embargo, but rather that the price was driven through the roof.

Trudeau did make efforts to increase domestic production starting in the mid-70s, going so far as to allow oil and gas development on Canadian Forces Bases. The 1979 oil shock (caused by the Iranian Revolution, which reduced Iran’s oil production by 75%) made it clear: Canada was dependent on oil from abroad, and had zip to say about its price.

So, Pierre Trudeau sort-of nationalized the oil industry in Canada. Some will scream this was Trudeau the Communist who did this, which is wrong. Trudeau’s plan was Socialism (control of the means of production), not Communism (central ownership of the means of production.) His plan was more akin to what the Nazis did in Germany (that’s right, I went there), than what Stalin did in the USSR (except, way fewer thugs.) Petro-Canada was created, a national oil company which would invest in oil development, and the National Energy Program was implemented, which if I understand correctly, required oil producers to sell oil to the government for a price which would never be greater than 85% of the world oil price, and was set much lower to begin with. However, oil purchased abroad would also be sold domestically at this lower price. This was intended to lower fuel prices across Canada for all, but also, to stabilize supply and price. It failed, and ironically, it subsidized foreign oil imports and penalized local producers.

First, when it was fully rolled out on January 1, 1981, world oil prices had begun a steady 20 year decline. Second, no one seems to be able to say whether it was beneficial to Canadians as a whole (gasoline prices went up, not down, while the world oil price fell.) Third, it ruined the Alberta economy and stalled development in the province, and especially in city of Calgary, the white collar center for oil and gas development and investment for Alberta, for about 10 years. Estimates vary from 20 billion to 100 billion dollars lost or taken from the Alberta economy in the half decade or so that it ran. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney ended the program in 1985. Even today, the rhetoric around this issue is so charged and polarized I can’t find a source that’s impartial enough to actually give a good basis to start looking at these issues. 37 years later, people on both sides are still pissed-right-off on this issue. It’s not really important about the details: it remains a highly charged, emotional and divisive issue and even today prompts calls for Alberta’s secession from Canada.

download

I was in Calgary when the NEP was developed and rolled out. I was a child, and did not understand real hatred, born of frustration and helplessness, and why everyone HATED Trudeau. Hatred against the Prime Minister and Ottawa was sharp, visceral, and frightening. There were bumper stickers saying “let those eastern bastards freeze in the dark”, meaning Alberta should just cut-off the supply of oil entirely. There was a joke at that time that Petro-Canada was an acronym for “Pierre Elliot Trudeau Rips-Off Canada.” No one in Calgary laughed: it was a fact. Investment in oil and gas disappeared, people were laid-off in swaths, people lost houses (or quitclaimed them for a $1; mortgage interest rates were in double-digits at that time), and lost their fortunes and retirements. I remember my father having to move over 700 km away to find work, which precipitated the end of his marriage and my family. There are all kinds of stories like mine abound in Calgary and in Alberta writ large. We don’t forget the man who caused it and we take note of his progeny.

298d67cd8b23a39d927a480252ee713b

And this is why Premier Horgan’s reference to federal government relief on the price of gas is the ultimate form of troll: bring back the NEP is his allusion. If he was looking to make a significant part of Alberta react unfavourably, to conjure up past grievances, and to open old wounds while pouring (100% organic, orca friendly) sea salt in them, he succeeded. He’s now a gold-star leftist: he’s done the endless defect chain against Notley, taking a pot-shot at Albertans. It was a low blow, dealt out by an amateur, too childish and stupid to see some things must let lie, and that one should not place yourself and your province in subservience to a political party which knows only chaos and defection.

Applause Premier Horgan, applause.

[1] Oops, sorry, I meant “People, I love watching the left eat itself.”