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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Where was Canada’s Governor General on D-Day?

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Colin Alexander

There really are non-partisan functions that need to be done by the representative of all Canadians, the Governor General, and not that of a self serving, partisan and narcissist politician in pursuit of photo-ops.

On D-Day June 6 Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon should have taken her rightful place. At ceremonies in France. But she wasn’t there. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed her aside. As usual.

The D-Day landings may seem like ancient history even as June 6, 1944 was a defining day for Canada. But it’s important to recall that over 14,000 Canadians stormed Juno Beach, as part of the largest amphibious landing in history. More than 5,000 Canadian troops were killed and thousands more injured in the Battle of Normandy. While we celebrate the eventual defeat of Germany, we may also recall Winston Churchill’s saying we need to remember that there was a Germany before Hitler.

The military historian Basil Liddell Hart had a view of history that’s largely gone missing in the western democracies. Essential reading is his book, Why don’t we learn from history? He quoted the Roman historian Polybius: “There are two roads to the reformation of mankind—one through the misfortunes of their own, the other through the misfortunes of others; the former is the most unmistakable, the latter the less painful…we should always look out for the latter, for thereby we can, without hurt to ourselves, gain a clearer view of the best course to pursue… the knowledge gained from the study of true history is the best of all education for practical life.”

Arguably, the conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza could have been averted or could have evolved less disastrously by heeding the lessons of history—and, specifically, from history of the two World Wars. Undoubtedly, the mismanaged exit from Kabul emboldened President Putin. Disaster in Ukraine since the invasion of Crimea represents failure to heed the ancient principle, also from Roman times, If you want peace, prepare for war. There was no deterrent to the invasion of Ukraine. And the western democracies have consistently delivered far too little materiel and far too late.

There’s abject disrespect at the highest levels for truth and tradition, and the values that made of Canada a great country. I came across a phrase in news  reports that made me shudder. The Governor General was relieved of her duties when it was she who should have hosted a state dinner for President Joe Biden in 2023. Prime Minister Trudeau had no business relieving her of her duties. He usurped her constitutional role.

The Governor General was also relieved of her duty to attend the D-Day ceremonies in France. Arguably, it was her job to unveil unveiled a statue commemorating Canada’s participation. In her capacity as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regina Rifles, Princess Anne performed that ceremony. Fair enough. But as a minimum, the Governor General should have been there too. Instead, of course, Trudeau traveled to France after shunting the Governor General off to perform a token ceremony in New Brunswick.

My point is, there really are non-partisan functions that need to be done by the representative of all Canadians, the Governor General, and not that of a self serving, partisan and narcissist politician in pursuit of photo-ops.

Canadians don’t normally need to know that the British North America Act vests in the Governor General an ultimate duty to override political abuse. But that’s why King Charles’s representative signs legislation into law as well as other proclamations. That function, and the power to withhold it, is the last resort for maintaining the free and democratic society that Canada purports to be.

History tells of ultimate leaders who failed that duty to their people. In 1921, under pressure of riots, Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III refused to declare a state of emergency and impose martial law. Instead he dissolved the parliament and asked Mussolini to take the power that evolved into his dictatorship. Similarly, in 1933 Germany’s ailing President Paul von Hindenburg signed into law the Enabling Act that empowered Hitler’s unbridled exercise of power.

D-Day reinforces this lesson from history, from two thousand years ago. The Roman political philosopher Cicero warned: “Though liberty is established by law, we must be vigilant, for liberty to enslave us is always present under that very liberty. Our constitution speaks of the people’s general welfare. Under that phrase all manner of excesses can be employed by lusting tyrants …”

In sum, it’s important to learn history and to maintain traditions. That includes having Governors General who insist on taking the lead role as Canada’s functional head of state—and, most importantly, not having politicians usurping the vice-regal role.

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.  

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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

‘Hottest Year in History’ Alarms are False

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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

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Energy

Trump and Energy

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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.

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