Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

Donald Trump is Canada’s useful idiot on supply management

There are few controversial policy issues that unite Canada’s editorial boards, but when it comes to supply management, everyone is on the same page.

The National Post, Globe and Mail, Sun newspapers, and the Toronto Star have all come out in favour of abolishing the dairy and poultry cartels. The central impetus for all is the unfair burden it poses on consumers. The system implemented under Pierre Trudeau forces Canadians to pay twice as much for four litres of milk as Americans do. For Canadian families, the rigged price policy translates to $585 more doled out annually for groceries than under a fair market environment.

On this they agree, but opinions differ on the role the United States should have on getting this domestic policy abolished. The National Post’s Andrew Coyne, as one recent example, adopted the Montreal Economic Institute’s view that Donald Trump’s recent attacks on Canada are something we can milk for our own benefit. Ending supply management could be chipped in as an exchange for, say, ending the nonsensical tariff on softwood lumber. It’s a win-win, right? Supply management should be abolished regardless of what the Americans think, but there’s an opportunity to gain even more benefits now that Trump has decided to plop himself into the debate.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

All homemade booze should be legal

plan B was if Canadians continued buying cannabis from the black market. Trudeau naturally migrated towards the familiar example of booze: “currently, there is no black market for alcohol.”

While it’s true that most people won’t get solicited in the street by bootleggers in stained trench coats, an underground market does exist. There are plenty of ways to buy liquor outside the purview of our provincial monopolies if you know where to look. As just one example, there’s an active Facebook page for ordering illegal alcohol outside of the SAQ’s hours of operation at a hefty markup; it has over 61,000 members. The Quebec government estimates that it loses $90 million per year in revenue from people buying their liquor outside of its control, either illegally or otherwise.

But the next thought that came out of Trudeau’s mouth is more interesting: “you can make [alcohol] at home if you want”, Trudeau said, but added that most choose to buy it from established sources.

Hipsters can and do indeed brew beer and make wine from the comfort of their own homes, but provincial legislation across Canada prohibits the unlicensed distillation of alcohol, as does the federal Excise Act. You can ferment whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t try to heat the inebriating substance and turn the vapours into something more potent.

Moonshining typically draws up images of blind hillbillies concocting bathtub hooch in the woods, yet the anachronism isn’t appropriate for the twenty-first century. Contemporary technology removes much of the worry over homemade liquor – you can easily test for the presence of methanol and other non-potable compounds and operate an alembic safely. And far from a rickety concoction of home-welded tanks and pipes, modern distilling equipment is carefully crafted scientific equipment. Is it foolproof? Nothing is, but stills are no more dangerous – and likely safer – than pressure cookers and deep fryers, already omnipresent in the nation’s kitchens.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: Constraining personal identity is not the government’s job

Last week, Québec Solidaire Member of the National Assembly Manon Massé presented a private member’s bill that would allow minors as young as 14 to alter the sex marked on their birth certificates. This reform would bring Quebec laws in line with those in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, where such changes are already allowed. Transgender youth in Quebec already have the right to legally change their names to reflect the sex with which they identify.

The new bill seeks to remove the burden that transgender teens feel when forced to choose between their legal identity and how they truly feel. In an op-ed that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Kimberly Manning gave the example of a young student losing 20 minutes on a high school entrance exam to decide whether to check the M box or F box. This type of hardship is one that most people will never be able to comprehend, myself included.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: No, liberalization will not kill Canadian whisky

In a recent op-ed for the Toronto Star, the President and CEO of the Association of Canadian Distillers argued that the Ontario government’s plan to slightly liberalize the sale of alcohol in the province would “kill” Canadian whisky companies.

The problem, says Jan Westcott, is that selling beer and wine in grocery stores would give these products an unfair advantage over spirits. This unfair advantage means fewer people would drink hard alcohol.

He comes to this conclusion because “we have seen it happen in Quebec” when it started allowing the sale of booze outside of the government monopoly.

Well, not exactly.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: Bring Back Dominion Day

While today it is only a vestige cited in the history books, Canada is still officially  a “Dominion”. As lore has it,Dominion was chosen for our nation after Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, a Father of Confederation, read it in the Bible and found it fitting: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8).

Sir John A. Macdonald – always loyal to the Crown – preferred the Kingdom of Canada, but London believed it might annoy the Americans. Macdonald also mused over other names: Province, Dependency, Colony, and Vice-Royalty – but none caught on.

In the end, Dominion won out. It was the British Prime Minister Lord Derby who made it official on the advice of Lord Carnarvon in 1866 (side note: the Carnarvons were, and still are, the residents of Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey. Our first prime minister spent some time at the castle during his stay in London). In 1879, the already celebrated Dominion Day became an official holiday, marking the birth of the nation on July 1.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: An interview with trilingual PQ candidate Marcos Archambault

Anglophones tend to have a very one-dimensional view of the people who support the Parti Québécois. The stereotype is someone who’s not very intellectual, irrationally separatist, and xenophobic. To be fair, that’s unfair to the majority of the party’s supporters, and some of their candidates as well. To get a better understanding of the Péquiste mind, I spoke with Marcos Archambault, the twenty-one year old PQ candidate for Vaudreuil, a riding just off the island of Montreal. Archambault attended a public English elementary school and a private high school in Westmount; he is trilingual and currently studying translation at the Université de Montréal. Here is my conversation with him.

 

You’ve been with the PQ for a long time and you ran with them in the 2012 election. Why do you support the party?

Because it’s a social-democratic party. It looks out for the better needs of the citizens and supporting them with social programs that meet their needs. It’s a party of ideas and it’s a party that comes from the members: the program and the platform comes from the members. Members of the party can come up to the microphone and say whatever they want. It’s purely based on what the members want. That’s one of the reasons why I support the PQ: the structure of the party is logical and it comes from the grassroots.

Secondly, it’s a party that has a future and a vision for Quebec. I’m not a great fan of the status quo because we’re very caught up with issues like the debt and the Liberals propose no change to the status quo. We have a vision for the future, for the economy of Quebec. We want to enrich Quebec with jobs and the government has been doing well so far in that matter. Forty-seven thousand jobs have been created, and 27,000 of those jobs are full time paying jobs. If you look at the Liberal governments from 2003 to 2012, they have a horrible track record when it comes to jobs. We’re creating conditions to help entrepreneurship. And I think that’s what’s important to Quebecers in this election.

 

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: In Quebec, our political choices are uninspiring

On April 7, Quebecers will have to choose: they can go backwards, or they can go backwards faster. At least that was the impression gathered from Thursday night’s leaders’ debate.

As with every other debate ever, each party claimed that they best represented the needs of Quebecers, they claimed that they could create the most jobs, and each promised to serve the citizens with integrity. But when it comes to the real issues that divide them, voters are left with downright uninspiring choices.

Philippe Couillard, whose posture was stiff and his body language disengaged, presented his ideas without much enthusiasm during the four-way battle royale. His plans were all ones voters had heard before from previous Liberal leaders, there was not much new to be learned. On the economic side, his policies were the most fiscally responsible without being too conservative for the taste of Quebecers. And yet, successive governments have shown that this balance is always harder to accomplish in practice. He was very reserved during the debate, which is normal for the front runner since he had the most to lose. With recent polls showing the Liberals three points ahead of the PQ, his goal was just to stay on message and not cause himself necessary damage. Still, there was nothing in his performance to inspire undecided voters, let alone his own supporters. When it comes to Couillard, one has to wonder if he has the will to face the problems that would confront him as premier.

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