COLUMNS: We live in interesting times

The barrage of major news events continues.

The barrage of major news events continues.

At last count, it’s wildfires and cannabis locally. Provincially, it’s the pros and cons of changing our voting system. On the federal scene, it’s cannabis legalization, the Kinder Morgan (Trudeau?) pipeline and trade wars with the U.S. I planned to rant on each issue but recent pipeline information changed my mind.

The first is a possible game changer. Parliament recently passed Bill C 262, ensuring Canada’s laws conform with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That may give our indigenous peoples more clout.

The next comes under the “surely this can’t be true” category. Some media people have unearthed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA). There was much controversy when Stephen Harper ratified this deal in 2014, partly because Article 15 provides that investors of one country can sue the government of the other country through an international tribunal. Fast forward to 2018. Chinese companies have huge interests in Canadian energy resources, including Alberta’s oil sands. If the pipeline isn’t built, would those Chinese companies sue Canada for “interfering” with their investments? Some pundits believe this may be why the PM is so hot to trot in getting the pipeline built. It could be less costly than a tribunal decision.

I’m beginning to feel sorry for young Justin. Who knew the pipeline would stir up such a row? Now our supposed friend Donald Trump isn’t being neighbourly with his whiffling around with tariffs and NAFTA. To top it all off, there is federal auditor general Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on government operations. The AG says his recommendations “disappear down the memory hole” and he wonders if a tendency among public servants to evade responsibility is preventing government from acting on those recommendations.

We live in interesting times.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian and book author.

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