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Trump unfiltered

by Patrick Raftis

So it turns out last week’s editorial featuring pithy analysis on a variety of issues proved so popular (or at least nobody complained about it) that we thought we’d take another try.

Among the top news stories this week in Canada is U.S. President Donald Trump’s pronouncements regarding the evil empire known as the Canadian dairy industry. Somehow, a guy juggling several military situations with the potential for catastrophic escalation in a nation with a serious health care crisis and growing social and racial divides managed to find time to analyze and arrive at conclusions on a bilateral trade dispute over something called “diafiltered” or “ultra-filtered” milk, which sounds like something that would ruin a good cup of coffee if you were reduced to using it.

Demonstrating his usual deep understanding of the issue, Trump stated, “in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers.’’

This could mean any number of things, including that the Trudeau government has set up some sort of Guantanamo-style detention facility where we are beating the tar(iff) out of captured American milk producers.

Or maybe it’s just more uninformed ranting.

Either way, Canadians shouldn’t get too wound up about this or Trump’s other NAFTA-related ramblings until we see if he manages keep his own government operating past the weekend. As of this writing, despite his Republican party’s control of every level of government, it is by no means certain his administration will be able to get a basic appropriations bill through congress to allow any sort of spending to continue. This would be like a Canadian government failing to pass a budget despite enjoying a majority in the House of Commons, something that would be unthinkable and result in the defeat of the government here.

Perhaps Trump’s entire election campaign was actually based on a typo. Maybe he intended to promise to “Make America grate again.” From that perspective, he’s been a resounding success.

Speaking of Ontario (got that one from Segues ‘R’ Us), the province recently launched a pilot project offering a guaranteed basic income to low-income people in a few trial jurisdictions. Under the plan, single adults between the ages of 18 and 64 will receive up to $16,989 annually and couples will receive up to $24,027. People with disabilities will receive an additional $6,000.

While some will decry this as “money for nothing” that will de-incentivize work, it could have quite the opposite effect. Under the current regressive welfare system Ontario Works, recipients can earn up to $200 a month without having financial support reduced. After that, Ontario Works deducts fifty cents from every dollar earned from their benefits. For many who would incur considerable expenses in getting to work, such as child care or transportation, working could actually put a recipient in a worse financial situation. Under guaranteed income, people could keep half of every dollar received, in addition to their existing benefits. That sounds much more like the “hand up, not a hand out” trope that politicians often promise on the campaign trail but never seem to deliver.

More locally (and dropping any pretense at all of credible segue’s) the Township of Centre Wellington recently decided it will conduct the next municipal election in 2018 via internet/telephone voting. Mapleton meanwhile, will continue with recent practice of mail-in voting. While both methods will no doubt generate better turnout than the old system of forcing all voters to physical attend a polling place, we don’t see that as a great trade-off for the vital tradition of polling privacy. The big flaw with any non-traditional system remains the risk that a domineering individual in any household can coerce other family members to vote as directed.

Not exactly democracy in action.


April 28, 2017


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