Politics has been called the noblest of callings and the vilest of trades. This week we saw both sides on display in Canadian politics.
After weeks of controversy the Liberals dropped both Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from caucus and prevented them from running as Liberals again.
It was a sorry sight as the party closed ranks and, once again, we witnessed the Liberal attempt at reconciliation go up in smoke. There were no high-minded statements of regret but just naked self interest from a bunch of politicians who feared losing their jobs in the next election.
The scene is much different in Indian country. Jody Wilson-Raybould is now a household name and a hero, especially among young women.
The Liberal talking point was that Wilson-Raybould had taped a senior bureaucrat without his knowledge. The bureaucrat was Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council who had previously served for the full eight years of the Harper government as the Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
He was in that job when the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society took the federal government to court for not following the Human Rights Act in the funding of child welfare. The federal government knew it was beat, but it pressed on and the case was before the courts for close to a decade.
During that period Cindy Blackstock, the executive director and driving force behind the court action, was placed under surveillance by the Department of Indigenous Affairs. There was no warrant, but they snooped on her Facebook pages, kept track of her movements, taped her speeches and barred her from meetings with the department. All of this was done when Wernick was the department’s deputy minister.
So it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black for the Liberals to be appalled that Wilson-Raybould had the temerity to tape a senior official.
The action by the Child and Family Caring Society was widely supported in Indian Country and the Assembly of First Nations was a co-applicant. No doubt Wernick and Wilson-Raybould tangled in the past, since she was a regional vice chief from British Columbia.
So, Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were booted for trying to protect the prime minister and respect the rule of law by a scared Liberal caucus trying to protect their jobs.
Meanwhile the Conservatives are courting the right and demonizing the carbon tax in an effort to drive a wedge between Canadians. However, their opposition could backfire because the right has painted themselves into a corner where any action they put forward on climate change will not be accepted by their base.
Today climate change deniers have been replaced by climate action deniers. The looming climate change disaster has been made into a partisan issue for short term gain. Premier Scott Moe jumped on the bandwagon and spoke to a group protesting the carbon tax. Earlier, a convoy of fuel guzzling trucks drove into Regina spewing pollution and carbon dioxide as a part of the protest against the carbon tax.
Scott Moe commented that he was supporting hard working families who must pay the tax; to fact check his statement, the tax will be offset with a rebate.
While this was happening the federal government “leaked” a document that pointed out that because of Canada’s northern location we are warming at a rate that is twice the rest of the world. This means we are losing the ice cap on the Arctic Ocean; the permafrost is melting, the winters are warmer and the weather is more diverse with more dramatic weather events.
Experts have pointed out that a rebatable tax on carbon is the fairest way to cut back on emissions. According to the federal government the average family in Saskatchewan will pay an estimated $403 annually and will receive a rebate of $598, for a net gain of $195.
So it wasn’t the best of weeks. The public and especially the First Nations people will not forget the shabby treatment Wilson-Raybould received from the prime minister and the Liberal caucus.
History will remember the Conservative politicians who fought against long-term carbon reduction for their short-term political gain.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019