Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Trump’s trial defines justice in disrepute – A Canadian perspective

Published

5 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Colin Alexander

Canada and the US both have a problem with rogue judges

Whatever one thinks of former President Donald Trump, his criminal trial violates the jurisprudence established  by England’s Lord Chief Justice Hewart: “It is… of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

Judges too often preside over cases despite having a conflict of interest. Trump’s argument had merit, that having the Democrat stronghold of Manhattan as the venue for his trial was unfair. And the assignment of Acting Justice Juan Merchan for the trial may reasonably be said to be corrupt. The US Judicial Code says: “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik says Justice Merchan contributed to the Democrat campaign in 2020. And his daughter, Loren Merchan, is heavily involved in Democrat politics. Stefanik says her firm stood to profit from Trump’s conviction. So, one may presume the judge’s bias against Trump.

The charge against Trump was that money was paid to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet and not undermine his presidential election prospects in 2016. Paying money to suppress prurient assertions is not illegal. But, it was said to violate US election law if intended to influence the outcome of the election—and not merely to protect Trump’s reputation. Given what everyone knows, how could publication of Daniels’s assertions influence a single voter’s intentions?

Many other wandering public figures come to mind. Certainly, Presidents Kennedy and Clinton. Said to be expert on the bedroom ceilings of rich men, Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman was Clinton’s ambassador to France.

Textbooks and case law forbid judges to hear cases where there could be a perception of bias. A landmark case involved an application by the Spanish government to extradite former President Pinochet of Chile from England. Lord Hoffmann was the swing vote in the decision that immunity did not prevent extradition. The House of Lords set aside that judgment because Lord Hoffmann had been chairman of Amnesty International, which had campaigned for Pinochet’s prosecution. The judges said that the Amnesty link was an automatic disqualification for sitting on the case.

During the 2022 truckers’ protest in Ottawa, Chief Justice Richard Wagner made outlandish comments about an incipient revolution. The Canadian Judicial Council, of which he is head,  exonerated him. By contrast, Justice Thomas Berger of the BC Supreme Court resigned gracefully after being scolded for non-partisan comment on the entrenchment of Indigenous rights in the Charter.

A typical case of conflicted judging is MediaTube v. Bell Canada, discussed at length in my book Justice on Trial. The plaintiff asserting that Bell stole the technology for FibeTV. The Federal Court’s trial judge, Justice George Locke, had been a partner in the firm of Norton Fulbright that acted for Bell. His decision in favour of Bell is gobbledygook. He acknowledged that Bell had constantly changed the description of how their system worked, as if they didn’t know that. Arguably, Bell and their lawyers McCarthy Tétrault committed the criminal offences of perjury and obstruction of justice. Justice David Stratas spoke for the appellate judges despite having previously represented Bell before the Supreme Court. In 130 words, he justified the exclusion of new evidence by citing a case that had analyzed the purported new evidence in 9,000 words.

Trump’s case follows ones described in Christie Blatchford’s book, Life Sentence: Stories from four decades of court reporting—Or how I fell out of love with the Canadian justice system (Especially judges). “The judiciary,” she wrote, “is much like the Senate. Like senators they are unelected, unaccountable, entitled, expensive to maintain and remarkably smug.”

Canadians as well as Americans need outside accountability for lawyers and judges. As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”

Colin Alexander’s degrees include Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Oxford. His latest book is Justice on Trial: Jordan Peterson’s case shows we need to fix the broken system.

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

Energy

Trump and Energy

Published on

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Terry Etam

Did you know that the United States Secret Service has a Chief of Communications? Does that not seem a little odd? To excel at his job, would he be perfectly silent?

Well, he’s not…Over the weekend the Chief of Communications of the United States Secret Service took to Twitter to start acting not very secret at all. How is this for a tweet: “…three charter flights filed with @SecretService agents, technicians, officers & mission support personnel safely arrived in Milwaukee.” He included a picture of one of the planes and all the debarked people standing on the tarmac.

I guess my definition of “Secret Service” is not that of the government’s, but then again, I’m not caught up in the same civil war-esque brouhaha over just what sort of curtain of madness would have descended over the world if Trump hadn’t turned his head that instant. Indeed, the past few days have been astonishing, watching players from across the spectrum and around the world reorient to accommodate what has happened.

Things are so complex, tense, and volatile that even the secret service feels the need to point out what it is doing, in great detail (though I’m sure the Director is muzzled re: the juicy stuff). In this environment predictions seem unwise, but hey that issue has never stopped me before, so here goes with a few observations of relevance to the energy industry.

As a building block of discussion, it is now highly probable that Trump will win the upcoming election. That ridiculously iconic photo of his bloody self with fist raised in front of the US flag is creating new Trump supporters out of not-insignificant online commentators that have spent years bashing him. Even Trump’s vice-presidential nominee, J.D. Vance, once expressed dislike for the big goofball (yes, he is: Exhibit A would be his tweet of a photo-shopped Trump tower in a Greenland village with the plea: “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” Of course he was many other things as well, but who could forget that…).

On the energy front, we know where Trump stands – drill baby drill. He wants to unleash American energy to drive down prices for consumers and increase competitiveness for US business. One aspect that goes unnoticed in this general discussion though is that there are material differences in what this means to the oil business/market versus the natural gas business/market.

He will focus on oil first. It will be symbolically important at a minimum for Trump to lower gasoline prices; they are a flashpoint because of the incessant visibility, the constant updating to a fraction of a cent in huge neon font as one drives down the road. Lowering gasoline prices will not be as easy as many think; for example, opening federal lands to drilling activity will not have any influence on gasoline prices for a long time, if at all.  Trump could lower some forms of taxes in a bid to lower prices, but the effect of that would not be huge.

His main goal would be to expand oil production in a bid to lower prices, but this is where things get complicated in the modern age. The US is now a net exporter of oil, some 1.6 million b/d in 2023, a reversal of the situation of prior years. Now, the US still imports significant quantities of oil because its refineries require certain grades in greater quantities than it produces, and exports the grades it cannot utilize (mostly light oil).

This dynamic will make it tough for the US to drive down global prices on its own (oil is very much priced on the global stage), no matter what Trump does in the short term. A drilling frenzy, even if he could orchestrate one, would simply result in more oil exports until the quantity was large enough that it made a new global impact. But at that point, OPEC would be involved and pulling whatever strings it wanted to get the price where it wanted.

So, under Trump we should expect a flurry of feel-good vibes for the oil sector, with more friendly legislation, rules, and land leasing opportunities, but the impact on oil production will take time to achieve any price reductions. All other potential levers to reduce gasoline prices will be on the table, including existing federal regulations that are negatively impacting any downstream activity.

Natural gas is going to be more interesting. It is the unsung hero of industry; a vital cog that is critical to many industries and real estate ventures, but one that gets scant attention until something weird happens, like a shortage.

Natural gas shortages have historically been short term phenomena related to extreme weather events, and the price mechanism fixed the problem in a big hurry. Gas drillers are very good at what they do.

What has made natural gas so beneficial tot he US economy over the last decade is the fact that producers have reliably glutted the market, giving the US (and Canada) the lowest sustained natural gas prices on the planet. The economic benefit of that is hard to overestimate, since cheap natural gas enables so many beneficial industrial processes and keeps power and heating bills reasonable for consumers.

But if all that LNG export capacity is built, and if all the proposed AI data centres are built as planned, there will be significant strain on North American producers to meet that surge in demand. New LNG capacity and expected data center demand could, by 2030, add 20-30 bcf/d of new demand, in a 100 bcf/d market. Adding those volumes will be an enormous challenge and will require higher prices to incentivize producers to make it happen.

But higher prices will be exactly what Trump does not want. So, one can safely assume he will be pushing hard on US producers to expand output and will make it much easier to build infrastructure. That will help, but it is going to be a tough balancing act to ensure production increases sufficiently while at the same time keeping the cost of the vital fuel low. Natural gas markets would most certainly benefit from the relative stability of oil prices, however that is much harder to do in a “just in time” market which natural gas essentially is.

And then on top of it all, despite the importance of energy prices and availability, all will be background noise compared to the circus that will accompany his second run at presidency. The world is becoming more bifurcated and the US’ position in it is changing. There are enough active wars to make any human sick, and the US has to balance where to be involved and where not, which is as far from simple as can be. Additionally, the world is tectonically drifting into the wealthy west, the golden billion, and the ‘rest of the world’, the 7 billion that aspire to live like the west does.

On top of that, the people that hate Trump really, really hate Trump. One reason the west is in such turmoil is because of the polarizing nature of not just Trump, but of the reaction to Trump.

We will see though – at time of writing, Trump, in a post-shooting interview, said that he had ripped up his planned speech for the Republican National Convention. It was going to be a “humdinger” (his word, or course) attacking Biden’s record. However, his latest version will focus on unifying the nation. Let’s hope it works, rooting for you my American friends. No one will be better off if the US does not regain its footing.

Terry Etam is a columnist with the BOE Report, a leading energy industry newsletter based in Calgary.  He is the author of The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity.  You can watch his Policy on the Frontier session from May 5, 2022 here.

Continue Reading

Frontier Centre for Public Policy

‘Hottest Year in History’ Alarms are False

Published on

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ian Madsen

It’s that time of year for breathless reports about planetary heating. Multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, recently made worldwide headlines, proclaiming 2023 as the hottest year in history.

The increase in average temperature, versus the longer-term average from 1850 to 1900, was a rise of 1.48 degrees Celsius. However, with the considerable difficulty of having truly comparable sets of measurements (from different sites in different years), one should treat such claims carefully.  Interested parties use them to promote ‘solutions’ that could do more harm than good. It is notable that this new ‘high’ temperature was only 0.17 degree Celsius higher than in 2016.

NASA notes five factors explaining higher temperatures.  Only one is the ‘usual suspect,’ greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide, ‘CO2’). The other four are:  the El Niño Southern Oscillation, ‘ENSO’, cycle; aerosol levels (such as smoke, dust and air pollution); volcanic eruptions; and general ocean temperature level and trends. NASA says the first and last of these affect current overall temperature.

The world has been in what meteorologists call an El Niño phase, which brings much higher temperatures to most of the world when it prevails.  The oceans have also been gradually warming for decades, with occasional pauses, as  in the period 1998-2013.

There are other major reasons to make an observer skeptical of extreme claims. The first is that this is a ‘history’ that is relatively short; i.e., the past 150 years (or even, in practice, much less).  A second reason is that wide-scale, reliable global satellite temperature measurement has only been possible since the 1970’s. Before that, temperature monitoring was not systematic.

Until the 1880’s, temperature recordings were mostly in either North America or Europe, and hence show major data biases.  Another crucial bias was that many weather stations are in or close to cities, which grew and warmed as they burned more coal (and, later on, more oil and natural gas), causing the heat island effect.  The cities, growing gently warmer, also grew toward the weather stations, usually located on the outskirts of cities, especially the stations at airports.

For example, there are two weather stations in Winnipeg – one at the wind-swept airport and the other in the heart of downtown at the Forks.  An analysis back in 2007 showed the temperature difference between the two locations to be 1.57 degrees warmer at the Forks.  So closing or ignoring the airport temperature measurement location would “on paper” show warming in Winnipeg. It will be the same with most major Canadian airports.

Another valid way to challenge an assertion that 2023 was history’s hottest year, is to examine other time periods to see if one was hotter. The most well known such period came in the 1930’s, which was hotter and drier than the decades before or after. High temperatures set many new records that remain unbroken. The 1970’s were cool, despite rising COemissions.

The Medieval Warm Period, approximately AD 750-1350, was much warmer than today. Farming was commonplace in Greenland, and vineyards grew in Britain.  Industrialization began in the 1750’s, so, increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions could not and did not cause ancient warming.  Nor did lower CO2 emissions cause the subsequent cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere, which culminated in what is now called the Little Ice Age, AD 1350-1850, from which we are still emerging.

According to interested parties the past year may have set records, but  there is no evidence that it was the ‘hottest’.

Its summer time. Enjoy the hot weather.  Ignore the climate doomsters.

Ian Madsen is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Continue Reading

Trending

X