Friday, 19 October 2018

As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’

As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’

In September, Shannon Proudfoot revisited the tragic story of Jo Aubin, a 41-year-old sufferer of Alzheimer’s who’s struggled with the disease for three years.

I am so extremely touched by this article and cannot give enough praise to Robin Giles for caring for her husband, Joël Aubin. This story about human endurance, the support of family and friends, and the medical system in all it can and cannot do, is so well told. It also brings attention to assisted death. I, for one, would applaud this decision in such situations, but there needs to be advance consent. My heart goes out to you, Robin, in all that you are and have done.
Nesta Yeo, Little Harbour, N.S.

Robin Giles’s single-minded focus to shelter what she can of her husband Jo’s dignity amid the inevitably steep costs that come with such perseverance is inspirational.
Ellen MacLeod, Chelsea, Que.


Ready for pot?

In September, Jason Markusoff wrote our cover story about the patchwork of half-baked, absurd marijuana laws that proved Canada wasn’t ready for legal weed—even as legalization day beckoned. He asks: Did it have to be like this?

Thank you for your informative article about the coming social upheaval that will not occur on Oct. 17 due to Canadians having the freedom to enjoy pot. There will not be lineups for pot (except for those who line up for everything from popes to ice cream). There will not be hordes of drug enforcement officers asking people to touch their nose with their elbow. Cops have better things to do, they have dealt with this for years, and many partake. Seniors will not be flocking to a skater boy’s weed shop to buy marijuana because “we don’t understand the internet” (dude, we invented the internet; you’re just playing with it and don’t appreciate its potential). Teenagers will not listen to adults or MADD or any other “expert.” They are teenagers, so despite our efforts they will discover on their own that being high is more manageable than drunk driving. What will not happen is an apology to all the inmates in Canada incarcerated because of the war on drugs.
Robert Graham, Claremont, Ont.

The article on pot brought to mind the famous quote by Ogden Nash, who wrote in 1931, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,” to which he added in the 1960s, “Pot is not.” Need more be said?
Emile Therien, Ottawa

It is estimated that up to $1 billion of tax revenue will be created with the legalization of marijuana, to be shared by the various levels of government. The hypothetical benefits of legalization include lower crime rates and a medical alternative to opioid use. Our Prime Minister even states that it will protect our children and communities. But the social costs to the government and employers could well be enormous. Many users of marijuana believe that it is the cure-all for many ailments. But the long-term medical benefits remain unproven. There are serious health effects associated with the consumption of marijuana, and when people begin using it as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory and learning functions. These conditions could be present for all workers who consume. People will eventually develop a dependence and will claim disability payments. It is suspected that recreational marijuana legalization will cause workers’ compensation and disability claims to dramatically climb, as the side effects associated with marijuana consumption become more prevalent. And due to the adverse effects of marijuana use in the workplace, drug testing will now be essential. There needs to be an objective cost-benefit analysis to shed light on the gains and losses to individuals and to society from the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Roger Cyr, Victoria


Get ready to vote, Canada

In September, our editorial reminded voters the next federal election was just over a year away.

I agree it’s time to educate oneself regarding political issues and party platforms. The problem is that people believe they are informed when all they watch is U.S. news or selected YouTube videos spreading misinformation, or they rely on social-media opinions. I believe good old Canadian news channels, newspapers or magazines, where information is checked for accuracy and imparts a homegrown perspective, are important to informing oneself about issues that affect us.
Martha Hergert, Calgary


Trump hating

Your latest issue was dedicated to all things cannabis, however, almost all comments in your Letters section expressed a visceral hate for U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s someone we as Canadians do not vote for. But he is someone who can affect Canadian lives. Many described him as a bully. But let us hope he can do something useful with his bullying of Canada and get our federal government to spend more on our grossly undersized and under-resourced armed forces. Perhaps a few more new ships for our navy and some new (not used rejects from Australia) planes and a few icebreakers for our winter patrols. We depend on the United States to protect North America. We could do a lot more and be proud of Canada. Canada’s spending on our courageous armed forces is not enough and makes Canada look and act cheap. Let’s fix some of our own shortcomings before we launch more insults at America and its duly elected president.
John Bakker, Dundas, Ont.


Anti-abortion lobby

I appreciate Maclean’s and Anne Kingston bringing this alarming agenda to light. Of course, social conservatives are free to make decisions for themselves, but how dare they try to deny such fundamental autonomy for others? Anti-abortion lobbyists say they advocate for life. But why is their focus on bringing embryos created by misfortune to term and blocking people who want a dignified exit? Why aren’t so-called pro-lifers strategizing, advertising, mobilizing and fundraising for better laws and conditions for our Indigenous peoples, for all refugees, for disabled people, for veterans and fellow humans with mental health issues, for LGBTQ folks, for people trapped by poverty or crime, for victims of weather disasters or violence? These are some of the throngs within our own borders whom social conservatives’ supposed compassion excludes. What is “pro” about focusing on pre-life and those who want help to exit their pain? How about instead embracing the people who are indisputably alive and fervently hope to stay that way? I wonder if social conservatives, who no doubt see themselves as moral high-grounders, also care about the many thousands of Syrians who have been killed or drowned, or if they even know who the Rohingya are, let alone the travesty they’re enduring? I don’t imagine pro-life lobbyists are too busy adopting babies and volunteering for palliative care work to pay attention to the more than 400 million people who already exist and are on the move across this planet because their lives are intolerable. For the sake of honesty, pro-lifers should rename themselves “pro-some-lives.”
Elinor Campbell-Lawrence, Kingston, Ont.

Once again, this subject rears its ugly head and the debate gets fanned by articles like this. For once, could you all in the media use different language? These people aren’t “anti-abortion,” they are anti-choice. They want to impose their beliefs on others. If you don’t want an abortion because it isn’t for you, then don’t have one! There is no such thing as banning abortions, only banning safe abortions. I have lived in a world without safe access—not good for anyone. Those two messages need to be repeated ad nauseam so they get heard very, very clearly. Maclean’s, I expect better reporting, and that includes language that speaks the truth and doesn’t repeat the same BS rhetoric I have had to listen to my whole life.
Susan Johnston, RN, Vancouver


The next election

John Geddes discusses the issues that would be important if the election were held today. A year is a long time in politics, and the coming months will be particularly crucial for Canada because of [the renegotiated] NAFTA deal and Trump’s trade shenanigans. The election, like most elections, will be decided not by personalities, as Geddes suggests, but on what people are feeling in their pockets at that time. If trade issues are amicably resolved and Canadians are prospering, no hectoring by opposition on the carbon tax, the number and race of immigrants or pharmacare costs will matter. If the economy is tanking, these issues will make Trudeau a one-term prime minister.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary


Western rancour

Alberta and Kenney are B.C.’s worst enemy. Their dilbit is the dirtiest on the planet. They’re the sloppiest operators in the industry. No thanks. I have no interest in putting B.C.’s environment at risk for those clowns, nor any interest in seeing them get more money to play with. The rest of the country’s not much of a partner either.
John Stark, Richmond, B.C.


Smallville

I agree with Scott Gilmore, and not just because I, too, lived in Flin Flon, Man. As a farm kid growing up in Baldur, Man., and years later as the MLA for Flin Flon in northern Manitoba, I watched small, isolated communities withering around me. Gilmore’s truth is that market economies care nothing for culture, pride of place or attachment to the land. This truth is more poignant for First Nations leaders and their communities. First Nations communities are creatures of outdated treaties signed a century ago, and they are beholden to a bureaucratic system that both supports their communities and entraps their residents. There is a way out: embrace the idea of urban reserves where First Nations members can find jobs and access the health, education and social services enjoyed by growing urban populations around the world. First Nations leaders and our government must acknowledge the underlying economic reality that is creating dysfunction and suffering in many First Nations. A new approach could honour the spirit of the treaties and be a meaningful addition to our efforts at reconciliation. Not starting down that path condemns the next generation of Indigenous children to living with the flawed solutions of the past.
Jerry Storie, Winnipeg


Trans Mountain

In August, columnist Pam Palmeter wrote about the real failure of the proposedTrans Mountain pipeline expansion.

No one has ever described how, when we finally get our wish—the destruction of our own industry—life will be better environmentally. What if the opposite is true? Meanwhile, Albertan families, including First Nations, are suffering, and to what end? The stress of having to raise children in poverty leads to abuse, broken families and unhappy and unhealthy children and adults. Ironically, you are the same person who will cry for more funding for mental health, education, health care—all desperately needed. Where would you like that funding to come from? My friends who escaped Venezuela watch in horror as Canadians practically lobby to get our oil from the U.S., Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Each time Canadians fill up their tanks, they should think about where they want it to come from. Do I wish we could stop extracting oil tomorrow? Obviously, and I know that time will come. I am an environmentalist who wholeheartedly supports our Canadian industry over that of countries with no environmental standards.
Jeannette Page, Calgary

The post As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’ appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

In September, Shannon Proudfoot revisited the tragic story of Jo Aubin, a 41-year-old sufferer of Alzheimer’s who’s struggled with the disease for three years.

I am so extremely touched by this article and cannot give enough praise to Robin Giles for caring for her husband, Joël Aubin. This story about human endurance, the support of family and friends, and the medical system in all it can and cannot do, is so well told. It also brings attention to assisted death. I, for one, would applaud this decision in such situations, but there needs to be advance consent. My heart goes out to you, Robin, in all that you are and have done.
Nesta Yeo, Little Harbour, N.S.

Robin Giles’s single-minded focus to shelter what she can of her husband Jo’s dignity amid the inevitably steep costs that come with such perseverance is inspirational.
Ellen MacLeod, Chelsea, Que.


Ready for pot?

In September, Jason Markusoff wrote our cover story about the patchwork of half-baked, absurd marijuana laws that proved Canada wasn’t ready for legal weed—even as legalization day beckoned. He asks: Did it have to be like this?

Thank you for your informative article about the coming social upheaval that will not occur on Oct. 17 due to Canadians having the freedom to enjoy pot. There will not be lineups for pot (except for those who line up for everything from popes to ice cream). There will not be hordes of drug enforcement officers asking people to touch their nose with their elbow. Cops have better things to do, they have dealt with this for years, and many partake. Seniors will not be flocking to a skater boy’s weed shop to buy marijuana because “we don’t understand the internet” (dude, we invented the internet; you’re just playing with it and don’t appreciate its potential). Teenagers will not listen to adults or MADD or any other “expert.” They are teenagers, so despite our efforts they will discover on their own that being high is more manageable than drunk driving. What will not happen is an apology to all the inmates in Canada incarcerated because of the war on drugs.
Robert Graham, Claremont, Ont.

The article on pot brought to mind the famous quote by Ogden Nash, who wrote in 1931, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,” to which he added in the 1960s, “Pot is not.” Need more be said?
Emile Therien, Ottawa

It is estimated that up to $1 billion of tax revenue will be created with the legalization of marijuana, to be shared by the various levels of government. The hypothetical benefits of legalization include lower crime rates and a medical alternative to opioid use. Our Prime Minister even states that it will protect our children and communities. But the social costs to the government and employers could well be enormous. Many users of marijuana believe that it is the cure-all for many ailments. But the long-term medical benefits remain unproven. There are serious health effects associated with the consumption of marijuana, and when people begin using it as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory and learning functions. These conditions could be present for all workers who consume. People will eventually develop a dependence and will claim disability payments. It is suspected that recreational marijuana legalization will cause workers’ compensation and disability claims to dramatically climb, as the side effects associated with marijuana consumption become more prevalent. And due to the adverse effects of marijuana use in the workplace, drug testing will now be essential. There needs to be an objective cost-benefit analysis to shed light on the gains and losses to individuals and to society from the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Roger Cyr, Victoria


Get ready to vote, Canada

In September, our editorial reminded voters the next federal election was just over a year away.

I agree it’s time to educate oneself regarding political issues and party platforms. The problem is that people believe they are informed when all they watch is U.S. news or selected YouTube videos spreading misinformation, or they rely on social-media opinions. I believe good old Canadian news channels, newspapers or magazines, where information is checked for accuracy and imparts a homegrown perspective, are important to informing oneself about issues that affect us.
Martha Hergert, Calgary


Trump hating

Your latest issue was dedicated to all things cannabis, however, almost all comments in your Letters section expressed a visceral hate for U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s someone we as Canadians do not vote for. But he is someone who can affect Canadian lives. Many described him as a bully. But let us hope he can do something useful with his bullying of Canada and get our federal government to spend more on our grossly undersized and under-resourced armed forces. Perhaps a few more new ships for our navy and some new (not used rejects from Australia) planes and a few icebreakers for our winter patrols. We depend on the United States to protect North America. We could do a lot more and be proud of Canada. Canada’s spending on our courageous armed forces is not enough and makes Canada look and act cheap. Let’s fix some of our own shortcomings before we launch more insults at America and its duly elected president.
John Bakker, Dundas, Ont.


Anti-abortion lobby

I appreciate Maclean’s and Anne Kingston bringing this alarming agenda to light. Of course, social conservatives are free to make decisions for themselves, but how dare they try to deny such fundamental autonomy for others? Anti-abortion lobbyists say they advocate for life. But why is their focus on bringing embryos created by misfortune to term and blocking people who want a dignified exit? Why aren’t so-called pro-lifers strategizing, advertising, mobilizing and fundraising for better laws and conditions for our Indigenous peoples, for all refugees, for disabled people, for veterans and fellow humans with mental health issues, for LGBTQ folks, for people trapped by poverty or crime, for victims of weather disasters or violence? These are some of the throngs within our own borders whom social conservatives’ supposed compassion excludes. What is “pro” about focusing on pre-life and those who want help to exit their pain? How about instead embracing the people who are indisputably alive and fervently hope to stay that way? I wonder if social conservatives, who no doubt see themselves as moral high-grounders, also care about the many thousands of Syrians who have been killed or drowned, or if they even know who the Rohingya are, let alone the travesty they’re enduring? I don’t imagine pro-life lobbyists are too busy adopting babies and volunteering for palliative care work to pay attention to the more than 400 million people who already exist and are on the move across this planet because their lives are intolerable. For the sake of honesty, pro-lifers should rename themselves “pro-some-lives.”
Elinor Campbell-Lawrence, Kingston, Ont.

Once again, this subject rears its ugly head and the debate gets fanned by articles like this. For once, could you all in the media use different language? These people aren’t “anti-abortion,” they are anti-choice. They want to impose their beliefs on others. If you don’t want an abortion because it isn’t for you, then don’t have one! There is no such thing as banning abortions, only banning safe abortions. I have lived in a world without safe access—not good for anyone. Those two messages need to be repeated ad nauseam so they get heard very, very clearly. Maclean’s, I expect better reporting, and that includes language that speaks the truth and doesn’t repeat the same BS rhetoric I have had to listen to my whole life.
Susan Johnston, RN, Vancouver


The next election

John Geddes discusses the issues that would be important if the election were held today. A year is a long time in politics, and the coming months will be particularly crucial for Canada because of [the renegotiated] NAFTA deal and Trump’s trade shenanigans. The election, like most elections, will be decided not by personalities, as Geddes suggests, but on what people are feeling in their pockets at that time. If trade issues are amicably resolved and Canadians are prospering, no hectoring by opposition on the carbon tax, the number and race of immigrants or pharmacare costs will matter. If the economy is tanking, these issues will make Trudeau a one-term prime minister.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary


Western rancour

Alberta and Kenney are B.C.’s worst enemy. Their dilbit is the dirtiest on the planet. They’re the sloppiest operators in the industry. No thanks. I have no interest in putting B.C.’s environment at risk for those clowns, nor any interest in seeing them get more money to play with. The rest of the country’s not much of a partner either.
John Stark, Richmond, B.C.


Smallville

I agree with Scott Gilmore, and not just because I, too, lived in Flin Flon, Man. As a farm kid growing up in Baldur, Man., and years later as the MLA for Flin Flon in northern Manitoba, I watched small, isolated communities withering around me. Gilmore’s truth is that market economies care nothing for culture, pride of place or attachment to the land. This truth is more poignant for First Nations leaders and their communities. First Nations communities are creatures of outdated treaties signed a century ago, and they are beholden to a bureaucratic system that both supports their communities and entraps their residents. There is a way out: embrace the idea of urban reserves where First Nations members can find jobs and access the health, education and social services enjoyed by growing urban populations around the world. First Nations leaders and our government must acknowledge the underlying economic reality that is creating dysfunction and suffering in many First Nations. A new approach could honour the spirit of the treaties and be a meaningful addition to our efforts at reconciliation. Not starting down that path condemns the next generation of Indigenous children to living with the flawed solutions of the past.
Jerry Storie, Winnipeg


Trans Mountain

In August, columnist Pam Palmeter wrote about the real failure of the proposedTrans Mountain pipeline expansion.

No one has ever described how, when we finally get our wish—the destruction of our own industry—life will be better environmentally. What if the opposite is true? Meanwhile, Albertan families, including First Nations, are suffering, and to what end? The stress of having to raise children in poverty leads to abuse, broken families and unhappy and unhealthy children and adults. Ironically, you are the same person who will cry for more funding for mental health, education, health care—all desperately needed. Where would you like that funding to come from? My friends who escaped Venezuela watch in horror as Canadians practically lobby to get our oil from the U.S., Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Each time Canadians fill up their tanks, they should think about where they want it to come from. Do I wish we could stop extracting oil tomorrow? Obviously, and I know that time will come. I am an environmentalist who wholeheartedly supports our Canadian industry over that of countries with no environmental standards.
Jeannette Page, Calgary

The post As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’ appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

In September, Shannon Proudfoot revisited the tragic story of Jo Aubin, a 41-year-old sufferer of Alzheimer’s who’s struggled with the disease for three years.

I am so extremely touched by this article and cannot give enough praise to Robin Giles for caring for her husband, Joël Aubin. This story about human endurance, the support of family and friends, and the medical system in all it can and cannot do, is so well told. It also brings attention to assisted death. I, for one, would applaud this decision in such situations, but there needs to be advance consent. My heart goes out to you, Robin, in all that you are and have done.
Nesta Yeo, Little Harbour, N.S.

Robin Giles’s single-minded focus to shelter what she can of her husband Jo’s dignity amid the inevitably steep costs that come with such perseverance is inspirational.
Ellen MacLeod, Chelsea, Que.


Ready for pot?

In September, Jason Markusoff wrote our cover story about the patchwork of half-baked, absurd marijuana laws that proved Canada wasn’t ready for legal weed—even as legalization day beckoned. He asks: Did it have to be like this?

Thank you for your informative article about the coming social upheaval that will not occur on Oct. 17 due to Canadians having the freedom to enjoy pot. There will not be lineups for pot (except for those who line up for everything from popes to ice cream). There will not be hordes of drug enforcement officers asking people to touch their nose with their elbow. Cops have better things to do, they have dealt with this for years, and many partake. Seniors will not be flocking to a skater boy’s weed shop to buy marijuana because “we don’t understand the internet” (dude, we invented the internet; you’re just playing with it and don’t appreciate its potential). Teenagers will not listen to adults or MADD or any other “expert.” They are teenagers, so despite our efforts they will discover on their own that being high is more manageable than drunk driving. What will not happen is an apology to all the inmates in Canada incarcerated because of the war on drugs.
Robert Graham, Claremont, Ont.

The article on pot brought to mind the famous quote by Ogden Nash, who wrote in 1931, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,” to which he added in the 1960s, “Pot is not.” Need more be said?
Emile Therien, Ottawa

It is estimated that up to $1 billion of tax revenue will be created with the legalization of marijuana, to be shared by the various levels of government. The hypothetical benefits of legalization include lower crime rates and a medical alternative to opioid use. Our Prime Minister even states that it will protect our children and communities. But the social costs to the government and employers could well be enormous. Many users of marijuana believe that it is the cure-all for many ailments. But the long-term medical benefits remain unproven. There are serious health effects associated with the consumption of marijuana, and when people begin using it as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory and learning functions. These conditions could be present for all workers who consume. People will eventually develop a dependence and will claim disability payments. It is suspected that recreational marijuana legalization will cause workers’ compensation and disability claims to dramatically climb, as the side effects associated with marijuana consumption become more prevalent. And due to the adverse effects of marijuana use in the workplace, drug testing will now be essential. There needs to be an objective cost-benefit analysis to shed light on the gains and losses to individuals and to society from the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Roger Cyr, Victoria


Get ready to vote, Canada

In September, our editorial reminded voters the next federal election was just over a year away.

I agree it’s time to educate oneself regarding political issues and party platforms. The problem is that people believe they are informed when all they watch is U.S. news or selected YouTube videos spreading misinformation, or they rely on social-media opinions. I believe good old Canadian news channels, newspapers or magazines, where information is checked for accuracy and imparts a homegrown perspective, are important to informing oneself about issues that affect us.
Martha Hergert, Calgary


Trump hating

Your latest issue was dedicated to all things cannabis, however, almost all comments in your Letters section expressed a visceral hate for U.S. President Donald Trump. He’s someone we as Canadians do not vote for. But he is someone who can affect Canadian lives. Many described him as a bully. But let us hope he can do something useful with his bullying of Canada and get our federal government to spend more on our grossly undersized and under-resourced armed forces. Perhaps a few more new ships for our navy and some new (not used rejects from Australia) planes and a few icebreakers for our winter patrols. We depend on the United States to protect North America. We could do a lot more and be proud of Canada. Canada’s spending on our courageous armed forces is not enough and makes Canada look and act cheap. Let’s fix some of our own shortcomings before we launch more insults at America and its duly elected president.
John Bakker, Dundas, Ont.


Anti-abortion lobby

I appreciate Maclean’s and Anne Kingston bringing this alarming agenda to light. Of course, social conservatives are free to make decisions for themselves, but how dare they try to deny such fundamental autonomy for others? Anti-abortion lobbyists say they advocate for life. But why is their focus on bringing embryos created by misfortune to term and blocking people who want a dignified exit? Why aren’t so-called pro-lifers strategizing, advertising, mobilizing and fundraising for better laws and conditions for our Indigenous peoples, for all refugees, for disabled people, for veterans and fellow humans with mental health issues, for LGBTQ folks, for people trapped by poverty or crime, for victims of weather disasters or violence? These are some of the throngs within our own borders whom social conservatives’ supposed compassion excludes. What is “pro” about focusing on pre-life and those who want help to exit their pain? How about instead embracing the people who are indisputably alive and fervently hope to stay that way? I wonder if social conservatives, who no doubt see themselves as moral high-grounders, also care about the many thousands of Syrians who have been killed or drowned, or if they even know who the Rohingya are, let alone the travesty they’re enduring? I don’t imagine pro-life lobbyists are too busy adopting babies and volunteering for palliative care work to pay attention to the more than 400 million people who already exist and are on the move across this planet because their lives are intolerable. For the sake of honesty, pro-lifers should rename themselves “pro-some-lives.”
Elinor Campbell-Lawrence, Kingston, Ont.

Once again, this subject rears its ugly head and the debate gets fanned by articles like this. For once, could you all in the media use different language? These people aren’t “anti-abortion,” they are anti-choice. They want to impose their beliefs on others. If you don’t want an abortion because it isn’t for you, then don’t have one! There is no such thing as banning abortions, only banning safe abortions. I have lived in a world without safe access—not good for anyone. Those two messages need to be repeated ad nauseam so they get heard very, very clearly. Maclean’s, I expect better reporting, and that includes language that speaks the truth and doesn’t repeat the same BS rhetoric I have had to listen to my whole life.
Susan Johnston, RN, Vancouver


The next election

John Geddes discusses the issues that would be important if the election were held today. A year is a long time in politics, and the coming months will be particularly crucial for Canada because of [the renegotiated] NAFTA deal and Trump’s trade shenanigans. The election, like most elections, will be decided not by personalities, as Geddes suggests, but on what people are feeling in their pockets at that time. If trade issues are amicably resolved and Canadians are prospering, no hectoring by opposition on the carbon tax, the number and race of immigrants or pharmacare costs will matter. If the economy is tanking, these issues will make Trudeau a one-term prime minister.
Sudhir Jain, Calgary


Western rancour

Alberta and Kenney are B.C.’s worst enemy. Their dilbit is the dirtiest on the planet. They’re the sloppiest operators in the industry. No thanks. I have no interest in putting B.C.’s environment at risk for those clowns, nor any interest in seeing them get more money to play with. The rest of the country’s not much of a partner either.
John Stark, Richmond, B.C.


Smallville

I agree with Scott Gilmore, and not just because I, too, lived in Flin Flon, Man. As a farm kid growing up in Baldur, Man., and years later as the MLA for Flin Flon in northern Manitoba, I watched small, isolated communities withering around me. Gilmore’s truth is that market economies care nothing for culture, pride of place or attachment to the land. This truth is more poignant for First Nations leaders and their communities. First Nations communities are creatures of outdated treaties signed a century ago, and they are beholden to a bureaucratic system that both supports their communities and entraps their residents. There is a way out: embrace the idea of urban reserves where First Nations members can find jobs and access the health, education and social services enjoyed by growing urban populations around the world. First Nations leaders and our government must acknowledge the underlying economic reality that is creating dysfunction and suffering in many First Nations. A new approach could honour the spirit of the treaties and be a meaningful addition to our efforts at reconciliation. Not starting down that path condemns the next generation of Indigenous children to living with the flawed solutions of the past.
Jerry Storie, Winnipeg


Trans Mountain

In August, columnist Pam Palmeter wrote about the real failure of the proposedTrans Mountain pipeline expansion.

No one has ever described how, when we finally get our wish—the destruction of our own industry—life will be better environmentally. What if the opposite is true? Meanwhile, Albertan families, including First Nations, are suffering, and to what end? The stress of having to raise children in poverty leads to abuse, broken families and unhappy and unhealthy children and adults. Ironically, you are the same person who will cry for more funding for mental health, education, health care—all desperately needed. Where would you like that funding to come from? My friends who escaped Venezuela watch in horror as Canadians practically lobby to get our oil from the U.S., Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Each time Canadians fill up their tanks, they should think about where they want it to come from. Do I wish we could stop extracting oil tomorrow? Obviously, and I know that time will come. I am an environmentalist who wholeheartedly supports our Canadian industry over that of countries with no environmental standards.
Jeannette Page, Calgary

The post As she cares for Jo Aubin, Robin Giles’s ‘perseverance is inspirational’ appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

Andrew Scheer keeps the door open to recriminalizing pot

Andrew Scheer keeps the door open to recriminalizing pot

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

In Ontario the only place to legally buy marijuana is through the government’s own online shop. Yet illegal marijuana dispensaries continue to dominate the landscape of Ontario’s Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, with dozens of stores selling marijuana on the reserve. And if the police attempt to shut them down, it would be “an act of war,” Jamie Kunkel, owner of one cannabis dispensary, tells Kyle Edwards. “The police would not pull it off. It will take the military to pull off a raid in our community. I don’t see that happening.” (Maclean’s)

Now that pot is legal, the Federal government should turn its attention to the next logical step of decriminalizing hard drugs, writes Stephen Maher. But one thing stands in the way: America’s harsh war on drugs.

That American influence might make it harder to take the desirable next step, which would be to pursue a policy like the one in Portugal, where hard drugs have been decriminalized and the government tries to help addicts rather than throwing them in prison.

We have excellent reasons to change our approach. We are losing thousands of Canadians to accidental opiate overdoses every year, an accelerating crisis that is steadily spreading misery. (Maclean’s)

Would a Prime Minister Andrew Scheer wage war on Trudeau’s legalization of pot? The Conservative leader is refusing to commit to keeping cannabis legal if he wins the next election: “The Conservative Party will do our due diligence, examine the consequences of this decision, and we’ll examine the reality on the ground.” (CTV News)

Beijing bound: Trade Minister Jim Carr and Finance Minister Bill Morneau will visit China next month to look at “deepening and broadening our trading relationship with China, sector by sector” but they won’t be negotiating a free trade deal, because of course, if they were, they’d have to notify Washington under the terms of the new NAFTA deal. (Canadian Press)

Donald Trump‘s trade war with China has already led to a boom in exports for Canadian farmers. Now that group is urging Canada’s Senate to quickly pass the legislation to enact the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement so farmers can enjoy first-mover advantage in building out Canadian supply chains. Notes one observer: “There is huge benefit to us joining the agreement. This isn’t theoretical. It’s taking market share out of the pockets of the Americans. It simply doesn’t get any better for us on the trade front.” (CBC News)

Today in snarky Liberals #1: Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc took a run at Doug Ford after being asked about the Premier’s ambitions for national office: “You get a four-year job, and you’re 10 per cent into it, and you’re already looking to upgrade? I can’t imagine that that’s very constructive.” (Huffington Post)

Today in snarky Liberals #2: A former Liberal candidate in the riding of Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is running for a seat, says the Liberals should ditch the “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing parliamentary custom of not running candidates in a by-election when a party leader is a candidate. “If you have a chance to beat up on a federal leader, then you do it,” says UBC business prof Adam Pankratz. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Jagmeet Singh is pretty widely considered a weak federal leader.” (Toronto Star)

For several days Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has gone after the Liberals about the fate of Jack Letts, a British-Canadian convert to Islam known as Jahidi Jack who went to Syria in 2014 and has been accused of fighting alongside ISIS. Scheer demanded to know why Federal officials had “proactively reached out to try to bring this individual … to Canada.” Now Lett’s father, Canadian-born John Letts, and his wife  Sally Lane have gone after Scheer, accusing him of lying about their son. “I am writing to you because I have to do something to challenge the misinformation that has appeared in the Canadian media recently — lies repeated and exaggerated by Mr. Andrew Scheer.” (CBC News)

Ottawa announced new rules to ban asbestos which will take effect at the end of the year, but the ban has several holes in it to accommodate Quebec businesses that extract magnesium from asbestos mining waste. Earlier this year the Quebec government gave one of those companies, Alliance Magnesium, more than $30 million in assistance in the form of loans and investment. (CTV News)

The post Andrew Scheer keeps the door open to recriminalizing pot appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

In Ontario the only place to legally buy marijuana is through the government’s own online shop. Yet illegal marijuana dispensaries continue to dominate the landscape of Ontario’s Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, with dozens of stores selling marijuana on the reserve. And if the police attempt to shut them down, it would be “an act of war,” Jamie Kunkel, owner of one cannabis dispensary, tells Kyle Edwards. “The police would not pull it off. It will take the military to pull off a raid in our community. I don’t see that happening.” (Maclean’s)

Now that pot is legal, the Federal government should turn its attention to the next logical step of decriminalizing hard drugs, writes Stephen Maher. But one thing stands in the way: America’s harsh war on drugs.

That American influence might make it harder to take the desirable next step, which would be to pursue a policy like the one in Portugal, where hard drugs have been decriminalized and the government tries to help addicts rather than throwing them in prison.

We have excellent reasons to change our approach. We are losing thousands of Canadians to accidental opiate overdoses every year, an accelerating crisis that is steadily spreading misery. (Maclean’s)

Would a Prime Minister Andrew Scheer wage war on Trudeau’s legalization of pot? The Conservative leader is refusing to commit to keeping cannabis legal if he wins the next election: “The Conservative Party will do our due diligence, examine the consequences of this decision, and we’ll examine the reality on the ground.” (CTV News)

Beijing bound: Trade Minister Jim Carr and Finance Minister Bill Morneau will visit China next month to look at “deepening and broadening our trading relationship with China, sector by sector” but they won’t be negotiating a free trade deal, because of course, if they were, they’d have to notify Washington under the terms of the new NAFTA deal. (Canadian Press)

Donald Trump‘s trade war with China has already led to a boom in exports for Canadian farmers. Now that group is urging Canada’s Senate to quickly pass the legislation to enact the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement so farmers can enjoy first-mover advantage in building out Canadian supply chains. Notes one observer: “There is huge benefit to us joining the agreement. This isn’t theoretical. It’s taking market share out of the pockets of the Americans. It simply doesn’t get any better for us on the trade front.” (CBC News)

Today in snarky Liberals #1: Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc took a run at Doug Ford after being asked about the Premier’s ambitions for national office: “You get a four-year job, and you’re 10 per cent into it, and you’re already looking to upgrade? I can’t imagine that that’s very constructive.” (Huffington Post)

Today in snarky Liberals #2: A former Liberal candidate in the riding of Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is running for a seat, says the Liberals should ditch the “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing parliamentary custom of not running candidates in a by-election when a party leader is a candidate. “If you have a chance to beat up on a federal leader, then you do it,” says UBC business prof Adam Pankratz. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Jagmeet Singh is pretty widely considered a weak federal leader.” (Toronto Star)

For several days Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has gone after the Liberals about the fate of Jack Letts, a British-Canadian convert to Islam known as Jahidi Jack who went to Syria in 2014 and has been accused of fighting alongside ISIS. Scheer demanded to know why Federal officials had “proactively reached out to try to bring this individual … to Canada.” Now Lett’s father, Canadian-born John Letts, and his wife  Sally Lane have gone after Scheer, accusing him of lying about their son. “I am writing to you because I have to do something to challenge the misinformation that has appeared in the Canadian media recently — lies repeated and exaggerated by Mr. Andrew Scheer.” (CBC News)

Ottawa announced new rules to ban asbestos which will take effect at the end of the year, but the ban has several holes in it to accommodate Quebec businesses that extract magnesium from asbestos mining waste. Earlier this year the Quebec government gave one of those companies, Alliance Magnesium, more than $30 million in assistance in the form of loans and investment. (CTV News)

The post Andrew Scheer keeps the door open to recriminalizing pot appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

In Ontario the only place to legally buy marijuana is through the government’s own online shop. Yet illegal marijuana dispensaries continue to dominate the landscape of Ontario’s Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, with dozens of stores selling marijuana on the reserve. And if the police attempt to shut them down, it would be “an act of war,” Jamie Kunkel, owner of one cannabis dispensary, tells Kyle Edwards. “The police would not pull it off. It will take the military to pull off a raid in our community. I don’t see that happening.” (Maclean’s)

Now that pot is legal, the Federal government should turn its attention to the next logical step of decriminalizing hard drugs, writes Stephen Maher. But one thing stands in the way: America’s harsh war on drugs.

That American influence might make it harder to take the desirable next step, which would be to pursue a policy like the one in Portugal, where hard drugs have been decriminalized and the government tries to help addicts rather than throwing them in prison.

We have excellent reasons to change our approach. We are losing thousands of Canadians to accidental opiate overdoses every year, an accelerating crisis that is steadily spreading misery. (Maclean’s)

Would a Prime Minister Andrew Scheer wage war on Trudeau’s legalization of pot? The Conservative leader is refusing to commit to keeping cannabis legal if he wins the next election: “The Conservative Party will do our due diligence, examine the consequences of this decision, and we’ll examine the reality on the ground.” (CTV News)

Beijing bound: Trade Minister Jim Carr and Finance Minister Bill Morneau will visit China next month to look at “deepening and broadening our trading relationship with China, sector by sector” but they won’t be negotiating a free trade deal, because of course, if they were, they’d have to notify Washington under the terms of the new NAFTA deal. (Canadian Press)

Donald Trump‘s trade war with China has already led to a boom in exports for Canadian farmers. Now that group is urging Canada’s Senate to quickly pass the legislation to enact the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement so farmers can enjoy first-mover advantage in building out Canadian supply chains. Notes one observer: “There is huge benefit to us joining the agreement. This isn’t theoretical. It’s taking market share out of the pockets of the Americans. It simply doesn’t get any better for us on the trade front.” (CBC News)

Today in snarky Liberals #1: Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc took a run at Doug Ford after being asked about the Premier’s ambitions for national office: “You get a four-year job, and you’re 10 per cent into it, and you’re already looking to upgrade? I can’t imagine that that’s very constructive.” (Huffington Post)

Today in snarky Liberals #2: A former Liberal candidate in the riding of Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is running for a seat, says the Liberals should ditch the “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing parliamentary custom of not running candidates in a by-election when a party leader is a candidate. “If you have a chance to beat up on a federal leader, then you do it,” says UBC business prof Adam Pankratz. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Jagmeet Singh is pretty widely considered a weak federal leader.” (Toronto Star)

For several days Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has gone after the Liberals about the fate of Jack Letts, a British-Canadian convert to Islam known as Jahidi Jack who went to Syria in 2014 and has been accused of fighting alongside ISIS. Scheer demanded to know why Federal officials had “proactively reached out to try to bring this individual … to Canada.” Now Lett’s father, Canadian-born John Letts, and his wife  Sally Lane have gone after Scheer, accusing him of lying about their son. “I am writing to you because I have to do something to challenge the misinformation that has appeared in the Canadian media recently — lies repeated and exaggerated by Mr. Andrew Scheer.” (CBC News)

Ottawa announced new rules to ban asbestos which will take effect at the end of the year, but the ban has several holes in it to accommodate Quebec businesses that extract magnesium from asbestos mining waste. Earlier this year the Quebec government gave one of those companies, Alliance Magnesium, more than $30 million in assistance in the form of loans and investment. (CTV News)

The post Andrew Scheer keeps the door open to recriminalizing pot appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

How Monty Python’s Michael Palin became fascinated with the doomed Franklin ship

How Monty Python’s Michael Palin became fascinated with the doomed Franklin ship

In the summer of 2014, after wrapping up the latest revival of the Monty Python comedy troupe, a 10-day stage performance in London, Michael Palin was looking for a new project. He had turned his boyhood love of geography and exploration into a post-Python career as a popular travel writer, but now Palin wanted—in Python jargon—“something completely different,” preferably having to do with Joseph Hooker, the eminent Victorian botanist and traveller. That’s why, two weeks after he had “sold the last dead parrot and sang the last lumberjack song,” Palin was electrified by news of the discovery of the wreck of HMS Erebus, the command ship in John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition. Already aware—because Hooker had been aboard—of Erebus’s other polar expedition, its highly successful 18-month exploration of Antarctica, Palin dove into naval records, newspaper accounts and private correspondence. The eventual result, Erebus, is extraordinary. Part biography of a ship, from its birth two centuries ago to its contemporary resurrection, and part study in courageous folly, Erebus also thoroughly sifts through the many varied and often contradictory theories about what happened to the 129 men aboard Franklin’s two ships.

Q: Why the focus on Erebus? I always think of Franklin’s ships as a pair, and Terror also accompanied Erebus to the Antarctic.

A: It’s just the way I was led to the story. I came to it from studying Hooker, and he led me to Erebus, where he was assistant surgeon. Something about Erebus and its name—you know, the son of Chaos—caught my imagination. And it was always the command vessel of the two, with the expedition leader on board, whether [James Clark] Ross or Franklin, and the slightly bigger, slightly more modern one. What I wanted to do was, rather than talk about just the expeditions, to make the book into the life history of a ship. Also, at the time it was the only one that was discovered. Terror wasn’t located until 2016, but it is a vital part of the story.

Q: Why do you think the story resonates so much? In Canada, understandably, but outside this country too?

A: A dramatic, catastrophic failure is always a great story. People are fascinated because we’re all a bit scared and nervous about being on this earth. We like to see what can go wrong, so it won’t happen to us. The disappearance too—I think that’s something which fascinates people, not just that they were killed and that’s the end of it. No one knew what happened or where did they go, and the ice and the cold—all the sort of elements that threaten us, put together.

Q: It’s a British—and Canadian thing too, I think—that heroic failure is so much more moving.

A: It is, I’m afraid, more than success, which was the story of the first expedition, the one that nobody has heard about. We do like a failure. I think that’s not a bad thing, because if you don’t admit your failures and just repaint them for history as triumphs—as might happen in certain countries which are slightly more triumph-focused—that’s a bad thing. The fascination for me in writing the book was just how the British public dealt with the news over the years. What I saw was three stages: first, the vociferous denial when the cannibalism evidence was first cited that any British sailor would ever eat another British sailor—oh, that’s sort of a throwback to a Python sketch where we had sailors stuck in a lifeboat, rejecting suggested victims as too lean or not kosher, with one who kept piping up, “eat me, eat me.” Then the public response moved from denial to acceptance but seeing it as divine providence—they were up against nature at its most brutal and they died in a…well, in a grave way. Final stage was acceptance: they’d blown it.

Q: Erebus was a strangely modern ship by the time it went to the Arctic. It has a steam-driven propeller, a steam-heating system, even a library with bestselling novels. Which actually put it on the cusp of old and new: an able seaman could check out a copy of A Christmas Carol and he could still be flogged.

A: That’s right, and I suppose it sets you up for your own choice, really: do I want to get flogged or read Dickens? Maybe reading will take my mind off naughty thoughts. Franklin was quite a schoolmaster in a way. He tried to improve the minds of his sailors.

Q: As often happens, wartime research and expenditure pay some peacetime dividends. The Royal Navy built all these heavily reinforced little “bomb boats” with their meant-to-terrify names to carry very heavy mortars for firing over coastal defence walls. Then, in peacetime, when their budget was slashed and they were looking around for what might be best for surviving pack ice, the Admiralty’s eye falls upon Erebus and Terror.

A: Exactly. That was a marvellous sort of repositioning of ship assets, wasn’t it? But the ships themselves were quite small, really only 30 metres long. And purely sailing ships, until Erebus was retrofitted. The hulls were strong and the decks had diagonal planking to deal with recoil from the mortars, but still they don’t seem like the sort of ship you’d want in polar regions, especially in the Southern Ocean, where the gales come bombarding you all the time even before you get to Antarctica. So it was actually a great gamble that these little ships could cope. They were only 370-odd tonnes, which might not mean anything until you learn Nelson’s flagship, Victory, was 2,100 tonnes. I’m always trying to work out a size comparison. You know those little regional jets the airlines use now, kind of 120-seaters? Those are Erebus and Terror; Victory is an Airbus.

Q: One of the more striking individuals in the book is the surgeon Robert McCormick, Hooker’s boss on the Antarctic voyage. A self-described “lover of the feathered race,” he seemed to spend most of his spare time slaughtering birds in job lots. Is he your favourite character?

A: He’s pretty much up there as a wacky figure. But I quite like Sgt. William Cunningham, in command of the Royal Marines on Terror, who kept a diary where he talked about bullocks being slaughtered and so on. And he had one wonderful phrase—after the men had gone ashore and got absolutely arseholed, he described it as “a lot of men disordered in the attic,” which I think is a great description of being drunk. And there’s [Francis] Crozier, who I quite liked because there was a lot of self-doubt there, quite an interesting psychological character. But yes, McCormick. He’s in the talk I give on the book. I read a section about him killing birds and then another one, and then another one… You have to consider they were going to places no one had ever been before. They have to bring back evidence of what they find there from the natural world. They didn’t have a camera. They never had the weather to stop and do nice, neat, gentle drawings. So it was skulls and pelts and all that sort of thing.

Q: So, to the fatal journey, where again you walk a fine line. You mine the personal letters and journals from the southern voyage, which reveal the emotional toll exacted, and the letters Franklin’s men sent via the last accompanying supply vessel when it turned back to Britain. But you let Erebus and Terror sail on into silence. You don’t try to imagine your way into their final days. Why is that?

A: As long as there’s a letter or some document to back up my theories, I’ll do it. I go on at some length about the last letters back from Greenland, especially Franklin’s 14-page one to his wife, with all his worries, whether he’s good enough to do the job, whether Crozier is his friend or not. I wanted to push those so people would realize the explorers are going into the Northwest Passage with those feelings unresolved. I didn’t want to go any further than that because then you get to fiction and I didn’t want the book to be that.

Q: A lot of writers would feel obliged to say, “We can only imagine what happened as the food ran low…”

A: Oh yeah exactly. I deliberately wanted to avoid saying, “We can only imagine,” or “It must have been a grim day, probably his foot was hurting,” and so on. No, no, although I do swear there’s a story in the monkey [Lady Franklin gave the expedition]. He probably got away, scampered across the ice howling until a polar bear ate him.

Q: They remained stuck in the ice for two years, in good order as witnessed by the “All well” note left in a cairn at Victory Point. But the third winter was bad: Franklin, eight other officers and 14 crewmen had died, and in April, the remaining men head south after updating the “All well” note to record the deaths and that they were abandoning ship. Then what?

A: Hard to say. They may not have gone far as a group—there’s a lot of debate whether any of them go back to repossess the ships. And, of course, about what had happened to them. There are so many deaths between “All well” and the update to that note. Scurvy or something like that?

Q: The deaths actually make a case for the botulism-from-tinned-food theory, because of the disproportionate death toll on officers, who would have had more tinned delicacies in their private stores. As for some men returning to the ships, the Inuit said they did, and the Inuit have been right about everything.

A: That’s right, they have, so the men probably soon split up and some came back, probably to one of the ships, probably Erebus. There’s also the whole interesting area of not just what killed them—scurvy, lead poisoning, consumption they brought with them, some combination—but whether they had actually gone slightly crazy after all that time or from their illnesses. What were they thinking when they stormed off south? That was a huge distance they planned to cover while pulling a 250-kg sled with a boat on top. They were never going to get far. And why did they abandon 600 cans of food? Did someone decide the food was bad? All this is why this is such a good story, so frighteningly irresistible.

Q: You followed in Erebus’s wake all over the world—Tasmania, Rio, the Falklands, the Orkneys—but last year, when you were finally going to catch up to it in the Arctic, you couldn’t get to the wreck because of the ice. I imagine this last-mile irony has been weighing on your mind?

A: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. For some reason—I mean global warming mostly, but also being on a big Russian icebreaker—I assumed that we can now sail wherever we want. But you really can’t. The rising temperatures mean there is actually more floating ice than there once was. Someday, I’ll be back, and I’ll see my ship.

The post How Monty Python’s Michael Palin became fascinated with the doomed Franklin ship appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

In the summer of 2014, after wrapping up the latest revival of the Monty Python comedy troupe, a 10-day stage performance in London, Michael Palin was looking for a new project. He had turned his boyhood love of geography and exploration into a post-Python career as a popular travel writer, but now Palin wanted—in Python jargon—“something completely different,” preferably having to do with Joseph Hooker, the eminent Victorian botanist and traveller. That’s why, two weeks after he had “sold the last dead parrot and sang the last lumberjack song,” Palin was electrified by news of the discovery of the wreck of HMS Erebus, the command ship in John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition. Already aware—because Hooker had been aboard—of Erebus’s other polar expedition, its highly successful 18-month exploration of Antarctica, Palin dove into naval records, newspaper accounts and private correspondence. The eventual result, Erebus, is extraordinary. Part biography of a ship, from its birth two centuries ago to its contemporary resurrection, and part study in courageous folly, Erebus also thoroughly sifts through the many varied and often contradictory theories about what happened to the 129 men aboard Franklin’s two ships.

Q: Why the focus on Erebus? I always think of Franklin’s ships as a pair, and Terror also accompanied Erebus to the Antarctic.

A: It’s just the way I was led to the story. I came to it from studying Hooker, and he led me to Erebus, where he was assistant surgeon. Something about Erebus and its name—you know, the son of Chaos—caught my imagination. And it was always the command vessel of the two, with the expedition leader on board, whether [James Clark] Ross or Franklin, and the slightly bigger, slightly more modern one. What I wanted to do was, rather than talk about just the expeditions, to make the book into the life history of a ship. Also, at the time it was the only one that was discovered. Terror wasn’t located until 2016, but it is a vital part of the story.

Q: Why do you think the story resonates so much? In Canada, understandably, but outside this country too?

A: A dramatic, catastrophic failure is always a great story. People are fascinated because we’re all a bit scared and nervous about being on this earth. We like to see what can go wrong, so it won’t happen to us. The disappearance too—I think that’s something which fascinates people, not just that they were killed and that’s the end of it. No one knew what happened or where did they go, and the ice and the cold—all the sort of elements that threaten us, put together.

Q: It’s a British—and Canadian thing too, I think—that heroic failure is so much more moving.

A: It is, I’m afraid, more than success, which was the story of the first expedition, the one that nobody has heard about. We do like a failure. I think that’s not a bad thing, because if you don’t admit your failures and just repaint them for history as triumphs—as might happen in certain countries which are slightly more triumph-focused—that’s a bad thing. The fascination for me in writing the book was just how the British public dealt with the news over the years. What I saw was three stages: first, the vociferous denial when the cannibalism evidence was first cited that any British sailor would ever eat another British sailor—oh, that’s sort of a throwback to a Python sketch where we had sailors stuck in a lifeboat, rejecting suggested victims as too lean or not kosher, with one who kept piping up, “eat me, eat me.” Then the public response moved from denial to acceptance but seeing it as divine providence—they were up against nature at its most brutal and they died in a…well, in a grave way. Final stage was acceptance: they’d blown it.

Q: Erebus was a strangely modern ship by the time it went to the Arctic. It has a steam-driven propeller, a steam-heating system, even a library with bestselling novels. Which actually put it on the cusp of old and new: an able seaman could check out a copy of A Christmas Carol and he could still be flogged.

A: That’s right, and I suppose it sets you up for your own choice, really: do I want to get flogged or read Dickens? Maybe reading will take my mind off naughty thoughts. Franklin was quite a schoolmaster in a way. He tried to improve the minds of his sailors.

Q: As often happens, wartime research and expenditure pay some peacetime dividends. The Royal Navy built all these heavily reinforced little “bomb boats” with their meant-to-terrify names to carry very heavy mortars for firing over coastal defence walls. Then, in peacetime, when their budget was slashed and they were looking around for what might be best for surviving pack ice, the Admiralty’s eye falls upon Erebus and Terror.

A: Exactly. That was a marvellous sort of repositioning of ship assets, wasn’t it? But the ships themselves were quite small, really only 30 metres long. And purely sailing ships, until Erebus was retrofitted. The hulls were strong and the decks had diagonal planking to deal with recoil from the mortars, but still they don’t seem like the sort of ship you’d want in polar regions, especially in the Southern Ocean, where the gales come bombarding you all the time even before you get to Antarctica. So it was actually a great gamble that these little ships could cope. They were only 370-odd tonnes, which might not mean anything until you learn Nelson’s flagship, Victory, was 2,100 tonnes. I’m always trying to work out a size comparison. You know those little regional jets the airlines use now, kind of 120-seaters? Those are Erebus and Terror; Victory is an Airbus.

Q: One of the more striking individuals in the book is the surgeon Robert McCormick, Hooker’s boss on the Antarctic voyage. A self-described “lover of the feathered race,” he seemed to spend most of his spare time slaughtering birds in job lots. Is he your favourite character?

A: He’s pretty much up there as a wacky figure. But I quite like Sgt. William Cunningham, in command of the Royal Marines on Terror, who kept a diary where he talked about bullocks being slaughtered and so on. And he had one wonderful phrase—after the men had gone ashore and got absolutely arseholed, he described it as “a lot of men disordered in the attic,” which I think is a great description of being drunk. And there’s [Francis] Crozier, who I quite liked because there was a lot of self-doubt there, quite an interesting psychological character. But yes, McCormick. He’s in the talk I give on the book. I read a section about him killing birds and then another one, and then another one… You have to consider they were going to places no one had ever been before. They have to bring back evidence of what they find there from the natural world. They didn’t have a camera. They never had the weather to stop and do nice, neat, gentle drawings. So it was skulls and pelts and all that sort of thing.

Q: So, to the fatal journey, where again you walk a fine line. You mine the personal letters and journals from the southern voyage, which reveal the emotional toll exacted, and the letters Franklin’s men sent via the last accompanying supply vessel when it turned back to Britain. But you let Erebus and Terror sail on into silence. You don’t try to imagine your way into their final days. Why is that?

A: As long as there’s a letter or some document to back up my theories, I’ll do it. I go on at some length about the last letters back from Greenland, especially Franklin’s 14-page one to his wife, with all his worries, whether he’s good enough to do the job, whether Crozier is his friend or not. I wanted to push those so people would realize the explorers are going into the Northwest Passage with those feelings unresolved. I didn’t want to go any further than that because then you get to fiction and I didn’t want the book to be that.

Q: A lot of writers would feel obliged to say, “We can only imagine what happened as the food ran low…”

A: Oh yeah exactly. I deliberately wanted to avoid saying, “We can only imagine,” or “It must have been a grim day, probably his foot was hurting,” and so on. No, no, although I do swear there’s a story in the monkey [Lady Franklin gave the expedition]. He probably got away, scampered across the ice howling until a polar bear ate him.

Q: They remained stuck in the ice for two years, in good order as witnessed by the “All well” note left in a cairn at Victory Point. But the third winter was bad: Franklin, eight other officers and 14 crewmen had died, and in April, the remaining men head south after updating the “All well” note to record the deaths and that they were abandoning ship. Then what?

A: Hard to say. They may not have gone far as a group—there’s a lot of debate whether any of them go back to repossess the ships. And, of course, about what had happened to them. There are so many deaths between “All well” and the update to that note. Scurvy or something like that?

Q: The deaths actually make a case for the botulism-from-tinned-food theory, because of the disproportionate death toll on officers, who would have had more tinned delicacies in their private stores. As for some men returning to the ships, the Inuit said they did, and the Inuit have been right about everything.

A: That’s right, they have, so the men probably soon split up and some came back, probably to one of the ships, probably Erebus. There’s also the whole interesting area of not just what killed them—scurvy, lead poisoning, consumption they brought with them, some combination—but whether they had actually gone slightly crazy after all that time or from their illnesses. What were they thinking when they stormed off south? That was a huge distance they planned to cover while pulling a 250-kg sled with a boat on top. They were never going to get far. And why did they abandon 600 cans of food? Did someone decide the food was bad? All this is why this is such a good story, so frighteningly irresistible.

Q: You followed in Erebus’s wake all over the world—Tasmania, Rio, the Falklands, the Orkneys—but last year, when you were finally going to catch up to it in the Arctic, you couldn’t get to the wreck because of the ice. I imagine this last-mile irony has been weighing on your mind?

A: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. For some reason—I mean global warming mostly, but also being on a big Russian icebreaker—I assumed that we can now sail wherever we want. But you really can’t. The rising temperatures mean there is actually more floating ice than there once was. Someday, I’ll be back, and I’ll see my ship.

The post How Monty Python’s Michael Palin became fascinated with the doomed Franklin ship appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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In the summer of 2014, after wrapping up the latest revival of the Monty Python comedy troupe, a 10-day stage performance in London, Michael Palin was looking for a new project. He had turned his boyhood love of geography and exploration into a post-Python career as a popular travel writer, but now Palin wanted—in Python jargon—“something completely different,” preferably having to do with Joseph Hooker, the eminent Victorian botanist and traveller. That’s why, two weeks after he had “sold the last dead parrot and sang the last lumberjack song,” Palin was electrified by news of the discovery of the wreck of HMS Erebus, the command ship in John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition. Already aware—because Hooker had been aboard—of Erebus’s other polar expedition, its highly successful 18-month exploration of Antarctica, Palin dove into naval records, newspaper accounts and private correspondence. The eventual result, Erebus, is extraordinary. Part biography of a ship, from its birth two centuries ago to its contemporary resurrection, and part study in courageous folly, Erebus also thoroughly sifts through the many varied and often contradictory theories about what happened to the 129 men aboard Franklin’s two ships.

Q: Why the focus on Erebus? I always think of Franklin’s ships as a pair, and Terror also accompanied Erebus to the Antarctic.

A: It’s just the way I was led to the story. I came to it from studying Hooker, and he led me to Erebus, where he was assistant surgeon. Something about Erebus and its name—you know, the son of Chaos—caught my imagination. And it was always the command vessel of the two, with the expedition leader on board, whether [James Clark] Ross or Franklin, and the slightly bigger, slightly more modern one. What I wanted to do was, rather than talk about just the expeditions, to make the book into the life history of a ship. Also, at the time it was the only one that was discovered. Terror wasn’t located until 2016, but it is a vital part of the story.

Q: Why do you think the story resonates so much? In Canada, understandably, but outside this country too?

A: A dramatic, catastrophic failure is always a great story. People are fascinated because we’re all a bit scared and nervous about being on this earth. We like to see what can go wrong, so it won’t happen to us. The disappearance too—I think that’s something which fascinates people, not just that they were killed and that’s the end of it. No one knew what happened or where did they go, and the ice and the cold—all the sort of elements that threaten us, put together.

Q: It’s a British—and Canadian thing too, I think—that heroic failure is so much more moving.

A: It is, I’m afraid, more than success, which was the story of the first expedition, the one that nobody has heard about. We do like a failure. I think that’s not a bad thing, because if you don’t admit your failures and just repaint them for history as triumphs—as might happen in certain countries which are slightly more triumph-focused—that’s a bad thing. The fascination for me in writing the book was just how the British public dealt with the news over the years. What I saw was three stages: first, the vociferous denial when the cannibalism evidence was first cited that any British sailor would ever eat another British sailor—oh, that’s sort of a throwback to a Python sketch where we had sailors stuck in a lifeboat, rejecting suggested victims as too lean or not kosher, with one who kept piping up, “eat me, eat me.” Then the public response moved from denial to acceptance but seeing it as divine providence—they were up against nature at its most brutal and they died in a…well, in a grave way. Final stage was acceptance: they’d blown it.

Q: Erebus was a strangely modern ship by the time it went to the Arctic. It has a steam-driven propeller, a steam-heating system, even a library with bestselling novels. Which actually put it on the cusp of old and new: an able seaman could check out a copy of A Christmas Carol and he could still be flogged.

A: That’s right, and I suppose it sets you up for your own choice, really: do I want to get flogged or read Dickens? Maybe reading will take my mind off naughty thoughts. Franklin was quite a schoolmaster in a way. He tried to improve the minds of his sailors.

Q: As often happens, wartime research and expenditure pay some peacetime dividends. The Royal Navy built all these heavily reinforced little “bomb boats” with their meant-to-terrify names to carry very heavy mortars for firing over coastal defence walls. Then, in peacetime, when their budget was slashed and they were looking around for what might be best for surviving pack ice, the Admiralty’s eye falls upon Erebus and Terror.

A: Exactly. That was a marvellous sort of repositioning of ship assets, wasn’t it? But the ships themselves were quite small, really only 30 metres long. And purely sailing ships, until Erebus was retrofitted. The hulls were strong and the decks had diagonal planking to deal with recoil from the mortars, but still they don’t seem like the sort of ship you’d want in polar regions, especially in the Southern Ocean, where the gales come bombarding you all the time even before you get to Antarctica. So it was actually a great gamble that these little ships could cope. They were only 370-odd tonnes, which might not mean anything until you learn Nelson’s flagship, Victory, was 2,100 tonnes. I’m always trying to work out a size comparison. You know those little regional jets the airlines use now, kind of 120-seaters? Those are Erebus and Terror; Victory is an Airbus.

Q: One of the more striking individuals in the book is the surgeon Robert McCormick, Hooker’s boss on the Antarctic voyage. A self-described “lover of the feathered race,” he seemed to spend most of his spare time slaughtering birds in job lots. Is he your favourite character?

A: He’s pretty much up there as a wacky figure. But I quite like Sgt. William Cunningham, in command of the Royal Marines on Terror, who kept a diary where he talked about bullocks being slaughtered and so on. And he had one wonderful phrase—after the men had gone ashore and got absolutely arseholed, he described it as “a lot of men disordered in the attic,” which I think is a great description of being drunk. And there’s [Francis] Crozier, who I quite liked because there was a lot of self-doubt there, quite an interesting psychological character. But yes, McCormick. He’s in the talk I give on the book. I read a section about him killing birds and then another one, and then another one… You have to consider they were going to places no one had ever been before. They have to bring back evidence of what they find there from the natural world. They didn’t have a camera. They never had the weather to stop and do nice, neat, gentle drawings. So it was skulls and pelts and all that sort of thing.

Q: So, to the fatal journey, where again you walk a fine line. You mine the personal letters and journals from the southern voyage, which reveal the emotional toll exacted, and the letters Franklin’s men sent via the last accompanying supply vessel when it turned back to Britain. But you let Erebus and Terror sail on into silence. You don’t try to imagine your way into their final days. Why is that?

A: As long as there’s a letter or some document to back up my theories, I’ll do it. I go on at some length about the last letters back from Greenland, especially Franklin’s 14-page one to his wife, with all his worries, whether he’s good enough to do the job, whether Crozier is his friend or not. I wanted to push those so people would realize the explorers are going into the Northwest Passage with those feelings unresolved. I didn’t want to go any further than that because then you get to fiction and I didn’t want the book to be that.

Q: A lot of writers would feel obliged to say, “We can only imagine what happened as the food ran low…”

A: Oh yeah exactly. I deliberately wanted to avoid saying, “We can only imagine,” or “It must have been a grim day, probably his foot was hurting,” and so on. No, no, although I do swear there’s a story in the monkey [Lady Franklin gave the expedition]. He probably got away, scampered across the ice howling until a polar bear ate him.

Q: They remained stuck in the ice for two years, in good order as witnessed by the “All well” note left in a cairn at Victory Point. But the third winter was bad: Franklin, eight other officers and 14 crewmen had died, and in April, the remaining men head south after updating the “All well” note to record the deaths and that they were abandoning ship. Then what?

A: Hard to say. They may not have gone far as a group—there’s a lot of debate whether any of them go back to repossess the ships. And, of course, about what had happened to them. There are so many deaths between “All well” and the update to that note. Scurvy or something like that?

Q: The deaths actually make a case for the botulism-from-tinned-food theory, because of the disproportionate death toll on officers, who would have had more tinned delicacies in their private stores. As for some men returning to the ships, the Inuit said they did, and the Inuit have been right about everything.

A: That’s right, they have, so the men probably soon split up and some came back, probably to one of the ships, probably Erebus. There’s also the whole interesting area of not just what killed them—scurvy, lead poisoning, consumption they brought with them, some combination—but whether they had actually gone slightly crazy after all that time or from their illnesses. What were they thinking when they stormed off south? That was a huge distance they planned to cover while pulling a 250-kg sled with a boat on top. They were never going to get far. And why did they abandon 600 cans of food? Did someone decide the food was bad? All this is why this is such a good story, so frighteningly irresistible.

Q: You followed in Erebus’s wake all over the world—Tasmania, Rio, the Falklands, the Orkneys—but last year, when you were finally going to catch up to it in the Arctic, you couldn’t get to the wreck because of the ice. I imagine this last-mile irony has been weighing on your mind?

A: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. For some reason—I mean global warming mostly, but also being on a big Russian icebreaker—I assumed that we can now sail wherever we want. But you really can’t. The rising temperatures mean there is actually more floating ice than there once was. Someday, I’ll be back, and I’ll see my ship.

The post How Monty Python’s Michael Palin became fascinated with the doomed Franklin ship appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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Here’s what the trade war has cost the U.S. and Canada so far

Here’s what the trade war has cost the U.S. and Canada so far

The early results are in from the trade war the U.S. and Canada are waging against each other, and so far, it’s more or less a draw: each country is punching itself in the face with the same relative dunderheaded force.

On Friday Statistics Canada released a study looking at the duties Canada has applied on imports since 1988. It offers some of the first hard numbers on how much each country has collected in duties since trade hostilities broke out. To date, the Trudeau government has kept mum on that—when Finance Minister Bill Morneau appeared before the parliamentary committee on international trade earlier this week, he had rebuffed requests to disclose how much Ottawa had collected in duties, acknowledging only that the sum was “significant.”

No kidding. Since the Trudeau government retaliated to the Trump administration’s hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum with its own sweeping set of duties on steel, aluminum and a sweep of other goods, Ottawa collected a combined $371 million in July and August, the most recent month included in the StatsCan analysis.

The agency also tallied up Washington’s haul after the U.S. dubbed Canada a national security threat: From June to August the U.S. collected a combined $713 million in duties. (All figures are in Canadian dollars.)

As a share of total imports, the punitive duties have had a similar impact in each country: Canada’s duties are equal to 0.8 per cent of the dollar value of goods imported from the U.S., while the corresponding ratio in the U.S. is 0.7 per cent.

Politicians like to pitch tariffs as a form of punishment against foreign nations—President Donald Trump claims he’s punishing Canada for “decades of abuse” while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets to claim his retaliatory tariffs are an eye-for-an-eye lesson against a bullying superpower.

READ MORE: A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war

Forget all that. The ones who really pay the price when a country slaps punitive tariffs on imports are its own citizens and companies, as higher duties get passed on to the end user consumer in the form of higher prices.

In other words, the collective $1.1 billion in duties collected by Washington and Ottawa are a massive tax on their own consumers.

The news will no doubt ramp up the pressure on the Trudeau government to funnel more of that money back to Canadian companies impacted by the trade war. Last month, reports shed some light on how much Ottawa was taking in, and funnelling out, by way of tariffs and relief payments. The Canada Border Services Agency had said it collected $286 million in July and August, but paid out just $11,184.35 under the duties relief program. A second assistance measure, the duty drawback program, had paid out nothing, while a third measure, a remission of surtaxes program, requires cabinet approval for each request. In his committee appearance this week, Morneau indicated 50 companies have been approved to date. A total of 135 had applied. It’s a murky process of picking winners and losers, something government is terrible at doing in the best of times.

The new figures also serve as a reminder that the USMCA trade deal hammered out last month failed to resolve the duty dispute—and that the tariffs are not likely to go away any time soon. Canada and the U.S. negotiators are still at it, with the U.S. demanding what the Canadian side calls “ridiculous” quota limits on steel flowing into the U.S., and American officials still firing insults our way—earlier this week Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow called Trudeau “that punk little kid running Canada.”

Needless to say, this is a big backward step for consumers in both countries. From 1988, which marked Canada’s great leap forward in trade liberalization with the arrival of the initial Canada-U.S. free trade deal, until 2017, the tariffs trend had mostly gone in one direction—down. In 1988 Canada collected duties on U.S. imports equal to 2.6 per cent of the value of all American goods entering the country. After that deal and then NAFTA in 1994, the ratio of duties to imports fell to just 0.2 per cent in 2017.

That was a trajectory that benefited Canadian consumers immensely. Instead, Washington and Ottawa have decided there’s apparently more political gain in kicking themselves in the shins.

MORE ABOUT NAFTA:

The post Here’s what the trade war has cost the U.S. and Canada so far appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

The early results are in from the trade war the U.S. and Canada are waging against each other, and so far, it’s more or less a draw: each country is punching itself in the face with the same relative dunderheaded force.

On Friday Statistics Canada released a study looking at the duties Canada has applied on imports since 1988. It offers some of the first hard numbers on how much each country has collected in duties since trade hostilities broke out. To date, the Trudeau government has kept mum on that—when Finance Minister Bill Morneau appeared before the parliamentary committee on international trade earlier this week, he had rebuffed requests to disclose how much Ottawa had collected in duties, acknowledging only that the sum was “significant.”

No kidding. Since the Trudeau government retaliated to the Trump administration’s hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum with its own sweeping set of duties on steel, aluminum and a sweep of other goods, Ottawa collected a combined $371 million in July and August, the most recent month included in the StatsCan analysis.

The agency also tallied up Washington’s haul after the U.S. dubbed Canada a national security threat: From June to August the U.S. collected a combined $713 million in duties. (All figures are in Canadian dollars.)

As a share of total imports, the punitive duties have had a similar impact in each country: Canada’s duties are equal to 0.8 per cent of the dollar value of goods imported from the U.S., while the corresponding ratio in the U.S. is 0.7 per cent.

Politicians like to pitch tariffs as a form of punishment against foreign nations—President Donald Trump claims he’s punishing Canada for “decades of abuse” while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets to claim his retaliatory tariffs are an eye-for-an-eye lesson against a bullying superpower.

READ MORE: A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war

Forget all that. The ones who really pay the price when a country slaps punitive tariffs on imports are its own citizens and companies, as higher duties get passed on to the end user consumer in the form of higher prices.

In other words, the collective $1.1 billion in duties collected by Washington and Ottawa are a massive tax on their own consumers.

The news will no doubt ramp up the pressure on the Trudeau government to funnel more of that money back to Canadian companies impacted by the trade war. Last month, reports shed some light on how much Ottawa was taking in, and funnelling out, by way of tariffs and relief payments. The Canada Border Services Agency had said it collected $286 million in July and August, but paid out just $11,184.35 under the duties relief program. A second assistance measure, the duty drawback program, had paid out nothing, while a third measure, a remission of surtaxes program, requires cabinet approval for each request. In his committee appearance this week, Morneau indicated 50 companies have been approved to date. A total of 135 had applied. It’s a murky process of picking winners and losers, something government is terrible at doing in the best of times.

The new figures also serve as a reminder that the USMCA trade deal hammered out last month failed to resolve the duty dispute—and that the tariffs are not likely to go away any time soon. Canada and the U.S. negotiators are still at it, with the U.S. demanding what the Canadian side calls “ridiculous” quota limits on steel flowing into the U.S., and American officials still firing insults our way—earlier this week Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow called Trudeau “that punk little kid running Canada.”

Needless to say, this is a big backward step for consumers in both countries. From 1988, which marked Canada’s great leap forward in trade liberalization with the arrival of the initial Canada-U.S. free trade deal, until 2017, the tariffs trend had mostly gone in one direction—down. In 1988 Canada collected duties on U.S. imports equal to 2.6 per cent of the value of all American goods entering the country. After that deal and then NAFTA in 1994, the ratio of duties to imports fell to just 0.2 per cent in 2017.

That was a trajectory that benefited Canadian consumers immensely. Instead, Washington and Ottawa have decided there’s apparently more political gain in kicking themselves in the shins.

MORE ABOUT NAFTA:

The post Here’s what the trade war has cost the U.S. and Canada so far appeared first on Macleans.ca.

.

The early results are in from the trade war the U.S. and Canada are waging against each other, and so far, it’s more or less a draw: each country is punching itself in the face with the same relative dunderheaded force.

On Friday Statistics Canada released a study looking at the duties Canada has applied on imports since 1988. It offers some of the first hard numbers on how much each country has collected in duties since trade hostilities broke out. To date, the Trudeau government has kept mum on that—when Finance Minister Bill Morneau appeared before the parliamentary committee on international trade earlier this week, he had rebuffed requests to disclose how much Ottawa had collected in duties, acknowledging only that the sum was “significant.”

No kidding. Since the Trudeau government retaliated to the Trump administration’s hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum with its own sweeping set of duties on steel, aluminum and a sweep of other goods, Ottawa collected a combined $371 million in July and August, the most recent month included in the StatsCan analysis.

The agency also tallied up Washington’s haul after the U.S. dubbed Canada a national security threat: From June to August the U.S. collected a combined $713 million in duties. (All figures are in Canadian dollars.)

As a share of total imports, the punitive duties have had a similar impact in each country: Canada’s duties are equal to 0.8 per cent of the dollar value of goods imported from the U.S., while the corresponding ratio in the U.S. is 0.7 per cent.

Politicians like to pitch tariffs as a form of punishment against foreign nations—President Donald Trump claims he’s punishing Canada for “decades of abuse” while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets to claim his retaliatory tariffs are an eye-for-an-eye lesson against a bullying superpower.

READ MORE: A patriot’s guide to shopping during a Canada-U.S. trade war

Forget all that. The ones who really pay the price when a country slaps punitive tariffs on imports are its own citizens and companies, as higher duties get passed on to the end user consumer in the form of higher prices.

In other words, the collective $1.1 billion in duties collected by Washington and Ottawa are a massive tax on their own consumers.

The news will no doubt ramp up the pressure on the Trudeau government to funnel more of that money back to Canadian companies impacted by the trade war. Last month, reports shed some light on how much Ottawa was taking in, and funnelling out, by way of tariffs and relief payments. The Canada Border Services Agency had said it collected $286 million in July and August, but paid out just $11,184.35 under the duties relief program. A second assistance measure, the duty drawback program, had paid out nothing, while a third measure, a remission of surtaxes program, requires cabinet approval for each request. In his committee appearance this week, Morneau indicated 50 companies have been approved to date. A total of 135 had applied. It’s a murky process of picking winners and losers, something government is terrible at doing in the best of times.

The new figures also serve as a reminder that the USMCA trade deal hammered out last month failed to resolve the duty dispute—and that the tariffs are not likely to go away any time soon. Canada and the U.S. negotiators are still at it, with the U.S. demanding what the Canadian side calls “ridiculous” quota limits on steel flowing into the U.S., and American officials still firing insults our way—earlier this week Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow called Trudeau “that punk little kid running Canada.”

Needless to say, this is a big backward step for consumers in both countries. From 1988, which marked Canada’s great leap forward in trade liberalization with the arrival of the initial Canada-U.S. free trade deal, until 2017, the tariffs trend had mostly gone in one direction—down. In 1988 Canada collected duties on U.S. imports equal to 2.6 per cent of the value of all American goods entering the country. After that deal and then NAFTA in 1994, the ratio of duties to imports fell to just 0.2 per cent in 2017.

That was a trajectory that benefited Canadian consumers immensely. Instead, Washington and Ottawa have decided there’s apparently more political gain in kicking themselves in the shins.

MORE ABOUT NAFTA:

The post Here’s what the trade war has cost the U.S. and Canada so far appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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