How much should a by-election, or make that “buy” election cost? There is the actual cost of running the vote and then there is the cost of politicians buying votes with tax dollars.
Last Thursday, Justin Trudeau engaged in the latter. The prime minister was in Saguenay announcing a $188 million research project backed backed by Apple. The feds are putting $60 million of your tax dollars, Apple is putting in $13 million and the Quebec government $60 million.
The rest of the funds will come from aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto.
On Sunday, days after Trudeau made the announcement, he called a by-election for the region for June 18, 2018.
Brazen vote buying.
It’s bad enough that Trudeau is giving tens of millions of dollars to this private company. It’s bad enough that the feds get nothing for it (Quebec gets 3.5% for it’s $60 million.) It’s bad enough that Apple, a prime beneficiary could have funded the whole thing without missing a dime but Trudeau still gave the project money.
But now we add a by-election. It’s hard not to call this a “buy” election.
The Liberals won the riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord in 2015, stealing it away from the NDP. The last time the Liberals had won the seat was 2000 with former PC MP Andre Harvey. This is a riding that they want to keep and they will do what they can to make sure it happens.
Special treatment for a pipeline.
This is the same area where a pipeline project was proposed in 2014. The plan for Energie Sauenay is to build a 650 kilometre pipeline linking to an existing natural gas pipeline in Eastern Ontario. From there the plan is to build a liquefied natural gas facility and export gas brought in from Western Canada.
Unlike the now defunct Energy East oil pipeline, this one was not subject to upstream and downstream emissions.
It was the Trudeau government’s decision to subject Energy East to the more stringent test that killed that pipeline. In 2013, TransCanada proposed the Energy East project, a year before Energie Sauguenay. The difference is the Liberals want this seat but don’t care about Alberta.
I wrote about that angle, and confirmation of the double standard from Catherine McKenna’s office here.
Anything for the win.
In sports we appreciate a team that will do anything for the win, aside from cheating. I’d say it’s fair to say the Liberals are cheating to win this seat.
They made this big announcement just before the by-election was called. Trudeau waited until almost the deadline to call the by-election, was this to squeeze in the announcement first? And in using different rules for pipelines depending on whether they create jobs in a Quebec riding the Liberals covet is putting a big finger on the scales.
Governing parties always have certain benefits simply from being in power. Using the public treasury and changing public policy based on political calculus is the exact opposite of what we all expect from our political leaders.
I’d say that Justin Trudeau and his team should be ashamed of themselves but I’m not sure they can feel shame.