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By-election Bombshell! Justin Trudeau’s Liberals lose safe Toronto riding

Published on

JUN 25, 2024

Benefit of hindsight

Feel free to start coming back any time, big guy

Well, of course I saw it coming all along. What kind of fool could have imagined the Liberal in Toronto — St. Paul’s had any chance?

Hang on. I’m just getting word that I didn’t see it coming. In fact, as recently as Monday night I wrote a post I’ll be hearing about until the cows come home. Sorry about that!

Here are the actual final results, barring any recounts, which may not happen because Conservative Don Stewart’s margin of victory, while slim, is too large to trigger an automatic recount.

Congratulations, Don Stewart! I never doubted you’d win. Hang on. I’m just getting word that I doubted you’d win as recently as last night.

Things will now start to happen quickly. Expect Liberals to work their way through four of the five Kübler-Ross stages of grief before lunch. Denial will come easily, benefiting as it does from long practice. Acceptance may take longer.

The Paul Wells newsletter is fun reading even when I’m calling the results of a by-election wrong! Imagine how much you’ll enjoy it when I’m right about something!

In part this is because on paper there isn’t that much to accept. The day’s news is not earth-shaking and, in isolation, should not be taken as definitive. It’s true that by-elections are strange events, though if you add them together they do have some predictive power. It’s true that Leslie Church’s long service as Chrystia Freeland’s chief of staff turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help, a data point whose implications the Deputy Prime Minister won’t want to think much about today. It’s true the Liberals didn’t even try all that hard, if by “didn’t try all that hard” you mean “they tried as hard as they possibly could, my God they tried so hard, my God.”

But a single off-season defeat in a riding the Liberals have, in fact, previously lost during the Paleozoic era is not a larger thing to accept than, say, a punishing loss to Ireland and Norway in a Security Council vote at the UN. Or the loss of two senior cabinet ministers in a controversy in which the ministers who quit were radiantly, obviously in the right. Don’t take my word on that, incidentally: ask David Lametti, who agreed with Jody Wilson-Raybould but managed to keep his job anyway. For a while.

A single by-election defeat is not a larger thing to accept than the prime minister’s documented history of slapping on dark makeup for social occasions, a habit that stretched from junior college to young adulthood. It’s not a bigger deal than firing your finance minister during a global fiscal calamity so you can replace him with somebody who knows less about money. It’s not evidence of poorer strategic thinking than the choice of Parliament as the venue for dismantling a new Conservative leader, given that Parliament has long been where Justin Trudeau and most of his government perform worst.

It’s not a bigger deal than mocking monetary policy during an election campaign. It’s not a big new development, compared to the Prime Minister’s reluctance to meet his own cabinet ministers to discuss business, an oddity of his management style that’s been documented in a growing number of books (look out for Marc Garneau’s this fall!).


The prime minister has been on the ropes before, so to speak, and all those trials have made him the man he is today. Or rather, I suppose, his response to them has. I have no particular advice for Justin Trudeau today, or to the party he leads with the unstinting consent of its members. I screwed up last night by sending a column before the facts were in, so I’m feeling a little sheepish this morning. I’ll let Liberals decide what to do next.

As recently as two summers ago, I used to give them advice. It amounted to this: Notice when something you’re doing isn’t working. Change it. Make sure people see you changing it, so you don’t look quite so full of yourself. Rinse and repeat.

That post from 2022 ends:

“Don’t worry. He won’t take this advice either. Whatever the Liberal leader does on his return from the sunless south, it probably won’t resemble anything we’ve mentioned today. He’ll probably keep doing what he’s been doing. With the same results.”

Let me read to you

My excellent short bestselling book, Justin Trudeau on the Ropes: Governing in Troubled Times, is now an audiobook, narrated by the author, who is me. Here it is on Audible. Other platforms soon.

Here’s the story of the book, if you’re just catching up. Here’s an episode of my podcast with guest host Vassy Kapelos interviewing me about the book. Paper and ebook editions remain easy to find and buy, for yourself or friends.

We decided to make the audiobook some time after we published the, uh, more booky formats. It’s a response to surprising and gratifying demand. It’s also a promissory note: If this belated audiobook edition finds an audience, it won’t be my last.

There’s a school of thought that says there’s not much demand for nonfiction Canadian audiobooks. Here’s your chance to confound the skeptics. Thanks as always for your support.

For the full experience subscribe to Paul Wells.


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Wall Street’s planned theft of America’s lands and waters

Published on

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Elizabeth Nickson

When we are issued carbon allowances, owners of said lands will be able to claim tax deductions and will be able to sell carbon allowances to businesses, families and townships. In the simplest of terms, that’s where the money will be made. WE peons will be renting air from the richest people on earth.

Everything will be monetized and measured and traded, even you.

Up next on Wall Street’s exploitation list.

If not stopped, on November 17th, the U.S. government will pass a rule that allows for America’s protected lands, including parks and wildlife refuges, to be listed on the N.Y. Stock Exchange. Natural Asset Companies (NACs) will be owned, managed, and traded by companies like BlackRock, Vanguard, and even China.

Since the early 2000’s, outfits like Goldman Sachs have been trying to trade air, or specifically carbon without much success. Their 2005 carbon exchange staggered along until it was quietly discontinued, and their Climate Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) is now facing delisting. “ESG” was the next attempt to monetize the un-monetizable, with the “E” part of that acronym standing for Environment, ill-defined as that was. Now ESG is failing. Market leaders say it is facing “a perfect storm of negative sentiment” and its U.S. investments fell by $163 billion in the first quarter of 2023 alone.

Its stepchild, Net-Zero, is so loathed, it looks like it might blow up the entire carbon scam. Says Australian senator Matt Canavan, “Net-Zero has absolutely carked it. It is a soundbite and totally insane. Almost everything we grow, we make, we do in our society relies on the use of fossil fuels.” Vanguard has pulled out of Net-Zero funds. The British government too is backing out of Net-Zero, saying “we won’t save the planet by bankrupting the British people.” New Zealand’s new government revised the country’s Net-Zero plans in its first week in office. In the hard hit Netherlands, the Farmer-Citizen movement is now the dominant party in the Dutch senate and every provincial assembly. Sweden has abandoned its 100 percent Net-Zero plans and Norway has announced another $18 billion in oil and gas investments.

Not going to happen.

Even in the submissive E.U. voters are turning from the “green” parties toward anti-E.U. parties. Renewables funds are seeing massive outflows because of rising interest rates and declining subsidies. Of course, the massive subsidies taxpayers have already given both “renewables” investors and “renewables” companies will never be clawed back. All we will get is a shrug as they move onto the next kill. Which is so obvious it is a wonder no one predicted it.

The entire universe envies the lush interior of the U.S. Increasingly empty, it is filled with a cornucopia of minerals, fiber, food, waters, extraordinarily fertile soil as well as well-ordered, educated, mostly docile people. Worth in the quadrillions, if one could monetize and trade it, financialize it, the way the market has financialized the future labor of Americans, well, it would be like golden coins raining from the sky.

On October 4th, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a proposed rule to create Natural Asset Companies (NACs). A twenty-one day comment period was allowed, which is half the minimum number of days generally required. NACs will allow BlackRock, Bill Gates, and possibly even China to hold the ecosystem rights to the land, water, air, and natural processes of the properties enrolled in NACs. Each NAC will hold “management authority” over the land. When we are issued carbon allowances, owners of said lands will be able to claim tax deductions and will be able to sell carbon allowances to businesses, families and townships. In the simplest of terms, that’s where the money will be made. WE peons will be renting air from the richest people on earth.

The following are eligible for NACs: National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Conservation Areas on Private and Federal Lands, Endangered Species Critical Habitat, and the Conservation Reserve Program. Lest you think that any conserved land is conserved in your name, the largest Conservation organization in the U.S., is called The Nature Conservancy, or TNC, which, while being a 501(c)3, also holds six billion dollars of land on its books. Those lands have been taken using your money via donations and government grants, and transferred to the Nature Conservancy, which can do with those lands what it wills.

If this rule passes, America’s conserved lands and parks will move onto the balance sheets of the richest people in the world. Management of those lands will be decided by them and their operations, to say the least, will be opaque.

μολὼν λαβέ, buddy.

Farm country is fighting back. American Stewards of Liberty, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Kansas Natural Resource Coalition, Financial Fairness Alliance and Blue Ribbon Coalition have filed comments, Republican senators Pete Ricketts, James Risch and Mike Crapo have sent pointed queries to the SEC. This week, Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) offered an amendment that would defund the SEC proposed rule to approve listing “NACs.”

Most of us ill-understand “financialization.” It is a complex set of maneuvers best explained by the behavior that crashed the economy in 2008 which bundled up questionable mortgages and brokered off the risk to dozens of different funds in order to share that risk. NACs are asset grabs. From ’09-’20, funds asset-stripped America’s manufacturing via debt obligations, buying the company, selling off the equipment, firing the most expensive employees, and gutting, if they could, pension funds. Then they upped the price and sold on the assets. Which were bundled and brokered off. These are called collateralized debt obligations and they thunder doom underneath the debt-fueled economy.

Natural Asset Companies are an attempt to grab hard assets to make up for an inevitable collapse. But taking more land out of production makes it certain that collapse moves ever closer. Land needs to be used, cared for, and maintained by the people who live on and use the land. Otherwise, it runs to desert and invasive species. The mad push to “green” and net-zero has triggered financialization, or a brokering of the future, because only energy spurs real growth — and energy has been increasingly restricted over the past twenty years. NACs are another destroyer of America’s heartland.

Elizabeth Nickson is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. Her studies and commentaries at the Frontier Centre can be accessed here.   Follow her on Substack here.  Her best-selling book Eco-Fascists can be purchased here.

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