Inside Politics

Which one is it, Minister Oliver?

There are few comedians funnier than Dave Chapelle. The Chapelle Show was gut-busting comedic genius.
 
My favourite episode was the one where Charlie Murphy - that's Eddie Murphy's brother - recounts his party days with Rick James. The skit involved a sit-down interview with the Superfreak himself. Now, believe it or not, something that happened in Canadian politics last week brought to mind one part of that addled chit-chat.
 
Charlie is recounting how Rick showed up at his brother's place late one night and started grinding his dirty cowboy boots into Eddie's new white suede couch. Here's what Rick "Jheri-Curl" James had to say about the sofa assault:
 
"I never just did things just to do them. Come on! I mean, what am I gonna do? Just... just all of a sudden just jump up and grind my feet into somebody's couch... like it's... like it's, you know, something to do? Come on! I got a little more sense that."
 
(Pause)
"Yeah, I remember grinding my feet into Eddie's couch."
 
Chapelle's editors then do an instant replay: a video double-take. It's pretty damn funny!
 
My example from Canadian politics lacks the hilarity, and the time-lapse between contradictory statements is a bit longer.
 
On April 17, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced changes to legislation governing environmental assessments. After the announcement, he took questions from reporters, including one about the federal government's authority to overturn provincial environment reviews if for some reason the federal government believes the province has made the wrong decision. 
 
Oliver said:
 
Once a decision is taken that the province has a regulatory system comparable to the federal system, that it has the capacity to do a comprehensive scientific, objective environmental review, then the authority for doing that review is transferred to the provinces and we don't second guess their conclusion.
Four days later, Evan Solomon interviewed Minister Oliver on the CBC Radio's The House:
 
Oliver said:
 
...the environment doesn't know political boundaries. But we, as I mentioned earlier, are going to only involve the provinces as a subsititute for federal review if they the same standards and intend to comply with them.
And then after a follow-up question, he said: 
We would define if they are equivalent or not... both governments have the authority to make the final decision. And if one of the two of them says no, it wouldn't go ahead.  
So which one is it? Would the federal government override the conclusions reached in a provincial review, or not?
 
We've asked the minister's office which statement reflects what he really means, and we're waiting for them to get back to us.
 
 
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