The News Rundown
- Mention Buzzfeed top story RE: Donald Trump telling his attorney to lie to Congress.
- A 28 year old Saudi man charged with sexually assaulting a Cape Breton woman has disappeared.
- Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi had $37,500 of his bail posted by the Saudi Arabian embassy last year in relation to the alleged sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of the woman between Aug. 1, 2015, and March 26, 2017
- He was also charged in December 2015 for dangerous driving and assault with a car.
- The first indication that he disappeared was when he missed his court appearance last Monday.
- According to a court document dated December 8, his lawyer noted that he, “fled the country some time ago”
- The police seized his passport in an attempt to make sure that he wouldn’t flee the country but what likely happened is that the Saudi embassy provided travel documents for him to use at the departing airport.
- Recently Canada granted asylum to a Saudi teen who was reportedly fleeing the country to get away from her abusive family.
- We also had the issue of the Saudi Crown Prince expelling Canada’s ambassador and withdrawing his envoy after foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland called for the release of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
- Back in October journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was a columnist for the Washington Post was murdered by the regime in what began as a missing person story with brutal details of the murder slowly trickling out.
- It is not a new phenomena for Saudi nationals to disappear from the country in which they are being held awaiting criminal charges.
- A Saudi national residing in Portland Oregon who was attending community college was charged with the hit and run death of a 15 year old Portland girl.
- He was being monitored via GPS bracelet, the bracelet was found cut, and he fled the country two weeks before trial.
- The Oregonian, a newspaper based out of Oregon, last week reported that it found criminal cases of at least five other Saudis who vanished.
- They included two rapists, a pair of hit and run drivers, and one man charged with having child pornography on his computer.
- The bail for these cases was in the thousands of dollars ranging all the way up to $100,000 for the Saudi student who was charged in the hit and run death of the 15 year old girl.
- Returning to our original story, Azoabi has been issued with a new arrest warrant for his failure to appear for his trial.
- Huawei executive and China, our citizens imprisoned there.
- Yet there is comparatively little coverage of what appears to be a recurring trend for Saudi Arabia to pay for the bail of their nationals to have them return home.
- This is all happening under a roof when North America and Canada in particular continues to import oil from the Saudi regime.
- The media complex of this country and the west certainly does have a tendency to allow the mispasses of Saudi Arabia to pass while focusing on others such as China and Donald Trump heavily.
- Back on episode 59, I covered the BC NDP's introduction of a speculation tax on real estate, a tax that was meant to cool the rapidly rising housing market. Originally the tax was intended for foreign and Non-BC Canadian residents who don't pay income tax in BC and who leave their properties vacant either from long term living or rentals. The speculation tax would function more like an empty homes tax, because it provides exemptions for owners who put their second properties on the long-term rental market.
- However, as we've seen, the housing market has significantly cooled just with the addition of the foreign buyers tax, and as the NDP gets set to introduce the speculation tax for this tax year, it has people wondering exactly who it will affect and how much more they will have to pay.
- The government calculates it will only affect 1% of homeowners – or about 32,000 people. The rate for 2019 is 0.5 per cent of the assessed value of all properties. So for a $1-million home in Greater Vancouver that would amount to about $5,000. For foreign owners the rate is 2%, or $20,000 every 1 million.
- But here's the kicker - even though it will only affect 32,000 people, the government's method to get down to that number is so convoluted and bureaucratic, it's leaving many scratching their heads.
- 1.6 million homeowners will be required to file a declaration that will determine if they have to pay the tax. Anyone who doesn’t apply for the exemption will be declared a speculator and will be hit with the tax. And people will have to make this declaration year after year after year.
- Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail doesn't mince words describing the situation: "Without question, this is the stupidest thing that the NDP has done since gaining power. It’s even worse than its terribly bungled effort to bring in a form of proportional representation, a plan that went up in flames because of a deeply flawed rollout. But the speculation tax redefines inept."
- Shirley Bond, the Liberal finance critic, said the new details of how the tax will be collected will likely shock many homeowners: “I don’t think anyone expected a negative-billing option would be used,” she said in an interview. “If you are a resident of Nanaimo, or Abbotsford, or West Kelowna, you have to register or you are going to get a tax bill. I think there will be a great deal of confusion.”
- On episode 59, I covered how this new tax would disproportionately hit elderly seniors, especially living in homes that have been in the family for years, and now with the addition of an opt-out tax, this will cause even more problems.
- Even Andrew Weaver, the man whose party is propping up the government, and voted yes on this issue, has distanced himself from the tax, and is calling on Premier John Horgan to reconsider it. “The NDP can wear this. It’s not our tax. We hate this tax … This is a horrible tax.”
- As for asking homeowners to apply for the exemption and threatening to tax them as speculators if they fail to do so, Weaver said he tried to alert the government to the potential backlash during last fall’s debate on the enabling legislation.
- However, Weaver was still standing next to Finance Minister Carole James when the tax was announced, and it's clear that he and the other two members of the Green caucus worked on the tax. As well as helping to shape the legislation, Weaver and the other two Green MLAs joined the New Democrats in voting to pass the tax into law.
- The supporting vote, coupled with the Green-authored amendments, had the Liberals joking Friday that DNA testing on the speculation tax had determined that “Andrew Weaver is the father.”
- When challenged this week about his apparent hypocrisy on the tax, Weaver rationalized Green support for the bill on several grounds.
- “We made it better so the unforeseen consequences were severely mitigated. People have no idea how much crap we got out of that speculation tax. Now my job is to get the NDP to recognize it’s a stupid tax and get rid of it.”
- Even more debatable was Weaver’s claim the Greens had to vote in favour of the tax because the New Democrats had framed it as a matter of confidence, meaning defeat would force an election.
- “What we’re very clear about — is this was obviously a confidence measure. I was willing to take it to the line on the confidence measure if Canadians were not treated the same.”
- There is no record of Mike Farnworth, the NDP house leader, declaring the vote on the speculation tax to be a matter of confidence. Had he done so, it would have violated the terms of the power-sharing agreement between the two parties.
- So as much as Weaver wants to distance himself from this tax, it's clear that it was made with his blessing anyway. And if this negative option taxation is what we get from Weaver "getting the crap out", then clearly he didn't clear enough out.
- Shannon Phillips, NDP Environment Minister, who we talked about last week for her mis-steps that created the fiasco around the Bighorn provincial Park consultation process is making news again.
- While in Lethbridge on Thursday, she said, that we are on track for one of the “nastiest” elections in our history.
- The campaign hasn’t even begun yet but we’ll see who is taking it in that direction.
- When criticizing the UCP she mentioned the tax cuts that the UCP wants to bring in, including the scrapping of the carbon tax.
- But here’s the full transcript, "And that has resulted in an offer to Albertans that goes something like this: tax cuts for millionaires and healthcare cuts for the rest of us; minimum wage increases for working moms are a bad thing; debates on women’s choice aren’t even worthwhile to show up to work for; rural crime is bad, but spending money on RMCP to fight rural crime, they voted against that; white supremacists make great campaigners, and racists make good candidates; LGBT people don’t matter, and certainly not the kids who want to support each other and end bullying.”
- What we are seeing in Alberta is more than the traditional 4-year election cycle. We are seeing a movement.
- According to the United Conservative Party they have over 150,000 members. The NDP has around 10 to 15 thousand members. The Alberta Party is hovering at around 6,000 members.
- This makes it one of the largest political parties in all of Canada.
- By choosing to use the language that the Minister used she is indirectly painting supporters and members of the party as racists and white supremacists.
- In particular, the line “white supremacists make great campaigners” implies that if you campaign for the UCP you must be a white supremacist.
- The election campaign doesn’t need to be one of the ‘nastiest’
- Minister Shannon Phillips in this case was the first to move the election in the ‘nasty’ direction.
- On the side of the UCP this week we saw two new ads unveiled showcasing the party’s pledge to build an “Alberta Strong & Free” heralding of course from our provincial motto displayed on the coat of arms detailed in latin as “fortis et liber” and Canada’s national anthem.
- We here at Western Context hope for a positive campaign focused on ideas and policy, it’s clear that the UCP is already headed in that direction.
- It's been very interesting to watch the story of the Burnaby South federal by-election unfold over the past week, since it first entered the news cycle on Tuesday.
- We should start off by mentioning that this is NDP leader Jagmeet Singh's attempt to get into parliament to desperately raise his profile and that of his party after polling incredibly low numbers and having the left wing in Canada hijacked by Trudeau and the Liberals.
- Originally, it was Singh's intention to wait until the general election in the fall later this year, but due to whatever reason, most likely party pressure, he decided to run in a risky by-election in Burnaby scheduled for Feb 25th. It was triggered by the resignation of NDP MP and Trans Mountain Pipeline arrestee-turned Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart. Stewart only won the riding by 547 votes over the Liberal candidate Adam Pankratz, so Singh's decision to run in a riding far from his home province and town of Brampton Ontario is puzzling.
- Singh's image has not been very good lately. Before this week, he was being slammed for his appearance in an interview with CTV's Evan Solomon when asked about the latest news story out of China on the Canadian detainees being held there.
- At the end of the interview, Solomon asked Jagmeet Singh about the latest development in China with an editorial in The Hill Times by the Chinese ambassador accusing Canada of white supremacy.
- “Sorry, who, uh, who accused who of white supremacy,” a flummoxed Singh asked in response.
- Solomon re-asked the question and Singh launched into a stock answer that started it with “I don’t know if there is any evidence of that suggestion,” which drew mockery, given that there's proof.
- Singh continued on and inexplicably focused on a tirade on Trump rather than the Chinese government. Solomon steered him back to the question at hand saying, “I know you’re criticizing the Trump administration but China has detained two Canadians, I just wonder if you've got your eye on the ball here.”
- Singh, flummoxed again, stumbled through a response that didn't touch upon the white supremacy accusation. Saying, “right… right, so with China’s detention of Canadians that is deeply concerning. We need to make sure that anyone being detained, it’s being done in the appropriate manner, it's being done in the right manner, there is full due process, laws are being followed.”
- “Their protection is paramount, we’re concerned right now with the detention of Canadians, that is something all Canadians are concerned with and we want to see our country make sure that those folks are safe and they’re returned safely and that the intention is being done not as a backlash to Canada following the rule of law.”
- The fact that Singh, or his handlers, aren’t up on this news story—one of the bigger and wilder ones currently cycling Canadian news—heading into a national television interview is embarrassing.
- One would think that would leave an opening for Trudeau's Liberal team and specifically the Liberal candidate for Burnaby South Karen Wang, who's ethnically Chinese, to open with pointed attacks about Singh's lack of knowledge on major Canadian issues and poor public speaking skills.
- Instead, on Tuesday, news was released that Karen Wang was using the Chinese social media app WeChat to convince Chinese voters to vote for her, “the only Chinese candidate” in the riding, rather than NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who she identified as “of Indian descent.” The other candidates are Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party of Canada’s Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.
- Translated from Chinese, part of Wang’s post read: “[Ethnic] Chinese people account for more than 20,000 votes [in Burnaby South] and the ballot proportion is 40% of the voting rate. If we can increase the voting rate, as the only (ethnic) Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the by-election, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this by-election is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”
- The use of WeChat in political campaigns is becoming more common in Metro Vancouver, particularly after October’s civic elections, when a post from Richmond-based Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society offered people “transportation subsidies” if WeChat users voted for their suggested candidates. We covered this vote-buying scandal back in October on episode 90.
- Indira-Natasha Prahst, a Langara College sociology professor who has studied Metro Vancouver’s South Asian community since the 80s, hasn’t seen this kind of “racial play” before. “It is inter-racism between Chinese and South Asians,” Prahst said. “I’m actually very disturbed by the language that’s used, the reason being is that the issue of race is not even concealed — it’s blatant.”
- 68% of the riding identifies as a visible minority, with Chinese making up the largest proportion of that. Technically, Chinese people make up a small plurality in the riding, at 39%.
- The next day, Karen Wang resigned as a candidate, and Trudeau accepted her resignation. She released a statement: "In trying to speak about my own story and the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important byelection, I made comments online that also referenced Jagmeet Singh's cultural background. My choice of words wasn't well-considered and didn't reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh."
- Karen Wang also ran unsuccessfully for the BC Liberals in the 2017 election. She was also rejected from being a Conservative candidate in the upcoming election, said Michelle Rempel. She said “The Conservative Party of Canada said no to this candidate over a year ago. There was a reason for that.” Rempel would not specify what that reason was, but referred to the post as "racism plain and simple".
- Wang actually tried to retract her resignation to the Liberals a few days later, but was told the Liberals had already moved on with another candidate. It shows she doesn't see anything wrong with what she did. She's now considering running as an independent.
- She tried to announce this at a Burnaby Library, but was kicked out of the library and instead held a press conference to dozens of reporters and photographers in a crowded parking lot. It was a bizarre turn of events.
- It was such a change for a woman whose Twitter profile bragged about being the Team Trudeau candidate in the Burnaby South by-election. The party itself had just the evening before tweeted its support of her.
- The official Liberal Party account tweeted “Add Women Change Politics” and called Wang an incredible candidate just hours before this story broke. Now she’s out, brought down by a crass attempt to use race and tribal politics to win the by-election.
- Brian Lilley summed it up: "Her statement and apology are weak and she needs to say more. If this were a white candidate, especially a white male candidate, the fury over these comments about not voting for Singh because he is of Indian descent would be deafening. Wang cannot be allowed an easy escape, nor can the Liberal Party be let off the hook, simply because she is an Asian woman. This kind of politics has no place in Canada. I’d like to say I hope we never see it again, but that is wishful thinking. The best we can do is call it out when we see it."
Word of the Week
Racism - prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Politics of Racism
Teaser: A criminally accused Saudi national disappears from Canada, the BC government forces 1.6M homeowners to opt out of a new tax, the Alberta NDP predicts a nasty election, and a Chinese Liberal candidate uses WeChat to ethnically discount Jagmeet Singh.
Recorded Date: January 19, 2019
Release Date: January 20, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes