Canada Matt Gurney: This isn't about Harry or Meghan. It's about Canadians being cheapskates
Michelle & Barack Obama Are 'Not Advising, Not in Contact with' Prince Harry & Meghan Markle: Sources
Michelle, Barack Obama 'Not Advising' Prince Harry, Meghan Markle“The rumors of them having anything to do with this are totally false. The former president and first lady are not advising the couple and have not been in contact with them,” says one source close to the Obamas, who spent Christmas in Hawaii and remain there on holiday, after a busy December traveling throughout Asia as part of their Obama Foundation work on education and leadership training.
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The prospect of “Megxit” — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle stepping back from some or all of their official duties and relocating at least part-time to Canada — has revealed one of the ugliest elements of the Canadian national character. Our cheapness. It’s true, Canada. We’re a nation of cheapskates.
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There’s no hard estimate of what the cost to the Canadian taxpayer might be if the royal couple (and their young son) do indeed relocate to Canada. (Markle is here already; and visited a women’s shelter in Vancouver on Tuesday.) Nor is it clear what duties or roles, if any, they would hold while here, which would factor into the optics of any agreement to provide funds. British media had reported the annual protection costs for the royals as being approximately £1 million a year — $1.7 million Canadian, thereabouts. A former RCMP officer interviewed by the Globe and Mail pegged the figure as likely being closer to $10 million, basing that off his estimate of what it would cost to create, from scratch, security arrangements comparable to what the prime minister and his immediate family already receive.
Trudeau: ‘Lots of discussions’ left on who will cover Meghan and Harry’s security costs in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there are still a lot of discussions to be had in order to determine who will foot the security bill while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are living in Canada. Queen Elizabeth released a statement Monday saying the Royal Family has agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend time in Canada and the U.K.Trudeau says the federal government has not been involved "up until this point" about what having Harry, Meghan and their son Archie, in Canada will look like.
To which the appropriate response is: who cares? It costs what it costs, and Canada should pay it. Grown up countries cost money to operate. Some of those costs relate to the protection of high-value public targets from possible attacks or harassment. Complaining about it is all-too-typical of us — Canadian cheapness at its worst.
And cheap really is the right word. If we take the lower-end estimate of $1.7 million a year, the costs of securing the royals would work out to be roughly 4.5¢ per capita. Not quite a nickel. A year. If we take the higher-end figure cited by the Globe’s expert, the cost explodes to a whopping … 27¢ per Canadian per year, or just over two pennies per month.
Canadians don’t like to be reminded that they’re cheap. They’ll insist that the controversy around the costs of protecting the royals isn’t really about the money. It’s about a personal dislike of Harry and Meghan, we’re told — their choice in political causes, their (alleged) intention to monetize their fame, or the hurt and distress they’ve caused the Queen. Others will say it’s about an aversion to the monarchy itself, as an outdated institution, an anti-democratic relic from an earlier colonial era. Some will insist that they have no hard feelings toward the couple and their child at all, and that they’re welcome here, but as wealthy individuals, they should cover their own costs.
No assessment made on security for Prince Harry, Meghan, safety minister says
'No assessment has yet been done as to what actually may be or may not be required,' Bill Blair told reporters. "Until that work is done, those decisions remain to be made.'"No assessment has yet been done as to what actually may be or may not be required," Blair told reporters during a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg. "Until that work is done, those decisions remain to be made.
The problem with these arguments is that they’re all irrelevant, at best. Some of them are outright silly — do people really think the Queen is so miffed at her grandson that she’d like to see him left open to literal attack? And it would be a lot easier to buy into the notion that this entire matter isn’t rooted in routine Canadian miserliness if there wasn’t so much other evidence that Canadians are skinflints.
Unfortunately, there is. Too much. Political careers have been derailed by breakfast tabs. The prime minister’s official residence was allowed to become literally uninhabitable because government after government feared the political backlash of spending any money on it. The Air Force’s fleet of VIP transport jets are headed in the same direction, largely for the same reason (the broader Canadian dysfunction surrounding all matters related to military procurement doesn’t help, but that issue isn’t exactly unrelated to our national cheapness). Canada is a notorious laggard when it comes to living up to international obligations in the defence, diplomatic and foreign aid fields. Hell, we’re not even all that keen on paying for the public services we actually consume, which is why governments across the land are drowning in red ink. Given the choice between paying our own freight or fobbing the bill off on future generations, we’re sticking it to the kiddies. Thanks in advance, little ones.
Matt Gurney: The military is warning that homefront demands are stretching it thin. We need to listen
The Canadian military is too small to do all the things we need it to do. And this is only going to get worse. This is an old lament. But the problem is front-and-centre again as approximately 200 troops continue working to dig Newfoundland out after a spectacular winter storm buried the Avalon Peninsula. Lt. Gen. Wayne Eyre is the commander of the Canadian Army. In an interview with the Canadian Press, he said that the growing homefront demands on the army’s resources are putting it at risk of being unable to do its primary job — fight. And fight effectively, perhaps on short notice. The problem is training, Lt. Gen. Eyre told CP.
There’s only one real issue that matters when it comes to the potential costs Canada would incur should Harry and Meghan move here. And when you cut through all the moaning and groaning and celebrity gossip, it’s actually a very simple one. Harry, his wife and son are direct close relations to the Canadian head of state, who is a figure of global importance and high symbolic value. The Queen and her family are obvious targets in a dangerous and unpredictable world. And Harry will only draw nearer to the crown as the years pass — the next sovereign of Canada is his dad. The one after that, his only brother. Harry can step down from royal duties, but he will never not be directly and intimately associated with one of the most recognizable figures in the world, a figure who also happens to sit at the very top of Canada’s system of government. The rest — all of it, every last bit — is just noise. The core issue really is that simple.
This proximity to the sovereign does not obligate Canadians to fund any particular lifestyle for Harry and his immediate family. No one has proposed buying them an estate, a fleet of recreational vehicles, a stable full of horses or hiring a household staff of servants. That would be asking too much. We’re talking about something much more limited, and frankly, much more reasonable — guarding the safety of a high-value target, a close relation to someone vital to Canada, and even then, only while they are in Canada — half the year, at most. And the cost per Canadian, even at the high-end, is literally pocket change each year.
Ambassador to appear before new Canada-China parliamentary committee as relationship deteriorates
OTTAWA – The Liberals agreed Monday to have Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, speak before a new parliamentary committee examining the relationship between the two countries. Conservatives on the committee on the Canada-China relationship initially wanted Barton to appear next week, but Liberals instead called for a delay of a few weeks to allow the committee to receive briefings from bureaucrats. After some back and forth, the Conservatives agreed to delay Barton’s appearance, but insisted it occur before Feb. 7. Conservative MP Todd Doherty said there are urgent, pressing issues on the Canada-China relationship and waiting doesn’t make sense.
If Canada had a healthier dose of respect for its own institutions, and took itself seriously enough as a country to properly fund the trappings of said country, this wouldn’t be an issue we’re debating. But we don’t. So here we are.
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Chris Selley on Trudeau's 'Donutgate': Five people complaining on Twitter does not make a scandal .
There is no “Donutgate.” It is not a thing. At a rough guess, perhaps five real people care that Justin Trudeau went to an upmarket instead of mass-market donut shop in Winnipeg to pick up treats for the Liberal cabinet retreat. Five people does not make “scandal,” “outrage” or “controversy.” Not even close. Donutgate is just a few stupid tweets from people who might not even exist, compiled into the flimsiest brand of clickbait. It is passingThere is no “Donutgate.” It is not a thing. At a rough guess, perhaps five real people care that Justin Trudeau went to an upmarket instead of mass-market donut shop in Winnipeg to pick up treats for the Liberal cabinet retreat. Five people does not make “scandal,” “outrage” or “controversy.