The Morning Brief – 01.20.21

By Bruce Carson


Some Issues to think About

With so many vaccines ordered by the Trudeau government, the largest suite of vaccines of any country in the world, we are told, why does Canada have no vaccines to distribute? Is there a problem with our negotiations, or contracts with suppliers or does it lie with Health Canada? What is the remedy?

The Bank of Canada deals with interest rates this morning and presents its Monetary Policy Report. While no change in rates is anticipated, will Governor Macklem address possible rate hikes as inflation rises? Will the Bank forecast future fiscal growth?

Keystone XL—Should we have seen the cancellation coming? If the decision to cancel has not already been made, what can Canada do to persuade the new administration not to cancel the presidential permit?

Most importantly, will the new Biden administration succeed in healing the wounds of the past and go on to provide the government that Americans need and want?

The good thing about taking a month or so off from writing The Morning Brief is that it provides time to think and reflect as well as try to understand the various movements within our society.

Questions arise during such times of quiet reflection as to whether it is really possible to address the social and economic ills that are part of our society and if we can discern solutions for the future, either short term during the pandemic, or long term, post pandemic, will there be the political will to effect such change?

Will the changes implemented be relevant to the lives of those they are meant to help? Will the changes that will come about post pandemic address more than the ideological views of the leaders who propose them?

It is almost trite to say, we are witnessing change in real time as we watch. It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago that a mob of domestic terrorists would storm the Capital Building in Washington in order to stop or at least interfere with Congress’s carrying out the tabulation of Electoral College votes, preventing Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty. A clear threat to the democratic process and those who participate in it.

President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris have the task of trying to pull together the various threads of American society, particularly those who oppose the political views of the president and the Democratic Party.

In pulling those threads together, there has to be a realization and acceptance that there are deep divisions in society, as without acceptance and recognition of that fact there can be no attempt at healing. But over the next four years, healing must take place led by the president and vice president or 2024-25, could very well see a repeat of 2020-21.

Hopefully today’s Inaugural Address will not only recognize problems, but advance solutions. Advance them in such a way that they are at least heard by those who disagree. Heard in a way that might open minds, now closed, working together to accept new ideas.

The issues of 74 million Americans who cast votes for President Trump must be addressed by the Biden administration, they can’t simply be dismissed as musings from a cult following. Those 74 million Americans are obviously not a monolith, no doubt believing that a great number of their issues will not be addressed by the party now occupying the presidency, a majority in the House of Representatives and a one vote majority in the Senate.

Identifying and addressing those issues will require patience, time and a lot of work. It will require the Biden administration reaching out to those elected to congress, but perhaps beyond to the American people themselves.

Biden has said that his priorities upon assuming the presidency are wrestling COVID-19 to the ground, dealing with the economic plight of those savaged by the pandemic, both people and businesses, climate change, healthcare and addressing and ending systemic race based inequality and returning the United States to participation in international alliances.

In implementing his priorities he must ensure that it is done in a way that is relevant to Americans, not just those in power, the ruling class. Americans who supported the Democratic ticket and those who supported the Republican Party must be able to see themselves in the solutions proposed by the new administration.

Donald Trump in his Inaugural Address spoke of “transferring power to the people;” he called for solidarity and said that there was “no room for prejudice.” He also spoke of “healing our divisions” and made a promise to the American people that “you will never be ignored again.”

Unfortunately these promises of January 20, 2017 fell by the wayside. The point here is that the Biden message of today must go far beyond mouthing empty platitudes.

It is vitally important to Canada that democracy prevail in an America led by President Biden and Vice President Harris. Our countries are knit together in so many ways.

The late President John F. Kennedy defined our relationship in his address to the House of Commons in May, 1961. He said “geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”

More bluntly put, we may succeed, but we succeed better, when we work together and succeed together.

It is important that today, and in the days that follow, we return to these words of friendship between our two countries; the economic partnership that has not only endured but flourished with such successes as the 1988 Free Trade Agreement and in our joint international commitments to defence and freedom.

For the issues of today, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, it is vital that both countries work together, in common cause, especially in this time of COVID to find solutions which benefit our respective countries but also those seeking jobs on both sides of the border.

Surely it is not too much to ask that President Biden and his relevant officials set aside time to hear the arguments in support of building this pipeline and its importance in ensuring a supply of clean energy for Canada and the United States.

To Come

  • Presidential Inauguration ceremonies in Washington
  • Bank of Canada deals with interest rates and releases its Monetary Policy Report
  • CPI numbers for December to be released
January 22
  • Retail trade numbers for November to be released
January 25
  • House of Commons resumes sitting