The News Rundown
- Almost at the halfway point, look at promises.
- NDP: $1.4b to expand Alberta’s road network for large and oversized loads, build a second highway out of Fort McMurray, $1.3b to upgrade and build 70 new schools.
- UCP: Open more beds for those battling opioid addiction, not open any new supervised consumption sites without extensive consultation, look at having day procedures done by private clinics under the public system, $10 million for 50 new prosecutors and a rural crime strategy, review the NDP’s curriculum overhaul, lift the cap on charter schools, and reinstate the former PC governments Education Act (with support for GSAs)
- GSA tangent
- Alberta Party: Add a lane on the QEII between Edmonton and Calgary for self driving cars, reduce the corporate tax from 12 to 10%, double the Alberta Small Business Deduction from $500,000 to $1,000,000, and cancel the carbon tax.
- Alberta Liberals: make abortion more accessible, free birth control for those who don’t have access, fund procedures for transgender people, increase funding for women’s shelters, ban union, corporate, and foreign donations to PACs, and move to a mixed member proportional system. They would also increase the tax free limit to $57,250 to eliminate personal income tax for “most” Albertans as they say, lower the corporate tax rate to 10%, and bring an 8% sales tax.
- While most of the media was focused on GSAs and the perceived and manufactured impending apocalypse for homosexuals if the UCP is elected, Toronto was lobbing bombs and support to the NDP.
- Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton, son of deceased NDP leader Jack Layton federally, proposed a motion to sue oil and gas companies over climate change.
- Mike Layton equates this to tobacco companies knowing smoking caused cancer and says the oil industry knew for decades “their products would cause climate change”
- Layton’s plan was also endorsed by Greenpeace Canada.
- Toronto Mayor John Tory also saw “no downside” in looking at “possible options to recover those costs”
- UCP leader Jason Kenney said, “Albertans are tired of being a punching bag for virtue signalling political efforts that seek to apply a higher standard to our oil than OPEC oil or other sectors in our economy… It will pour yet more gas on the flames of the growing national unity challenge.”
- Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel said, “it is a bit frustrating when you look across the country and see how people are critical of Alberta — we heard some idiot from Toronto talk about Alberta’s heavy oil but I still don’t see anybody from eastern Canada not taking the money we keep sending to them.”
- NDP leader Rachel Notley called Mike Layton “out of touch” and that Alberta’s industries are indeed world leading when it comes to environmental standard.
- The link between branches of the NDP.
- The UCP has a policy platform for this and will institute a “war room” to combat lies and myths about the oil and gas industry.
- This is the brand of the NDP, prior to election in 2015 several high profile cabinet ministers were seen at anti-oil rallies including David Eggen, environment minister Shannon Phillips (she even testified against Northern Gateway), and even Rachel Notley herself.
- As we said, most of the week has been focused on NDP organized rallies supporting the LGBT population but as happened in 2015, the media ignores and doesn’t dig into the past of those running or who have been elected for the NDP.
- Surveys show jobs, pipelines, and the economy are most important. A little bit of due diligence around the brand of the NDP would do the media wonders.
- This week in BC, there are many topics that could have been fully covered by the mainstream media. News broke this week that a number of First Nations consortiums are looking to buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a move that would bring jobs and wealth to First Nations badly needing them. It would also force the leftist governments of BC's John Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau to have to make the tough choice between reconciliation and the environment, and we would see exactly how strongly each government feels about each issue.
- There was also news that the BC government was introducing a natural gas tax credit to encourage more LNG development, a rare move for the NDP who have copied directly from the previous BC Liberal government in attempting to get development of LNG off the ground. The new tax credit would go in effect on Jan. 1, 2020, to companies that qualify for it. It would be calculated at three per cent of the cost of natural gas and could be used to reduce B.C.’s corporate income tax rate from 12 to nine per cent.
- These are both fascinating stories that have huge impacts on BC, but what does the media decide to focus on? A story that likely doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things, and a problem that could easily be solved by those complaining about it.
- That's right, I'm referring to the baffling story that's been trending across all mainstream outlets in BC right now, what a Global BC punny headline writer is calling "The right to bare arms - Women in B.C. legislature fight for changes to ‘outdated’ dress code", arms being your body's appendages.
- That's right. It's another scandal involving the sergeant at arms, but this time, it's the acting sergeant at arms, as the previous one is still currently suspended due to to the legislature expense scandal. Apparently the acting sergeant-at-arms told a legislature staffer to "cover her arms" as she was in violation of the legislature's dress code.
- Over the past few days three female legislature employees have been told by legislature staff that the sleeves on their tops were too short to be worn in the Speaker’s corridor. One government employee was told to leave the hallway. The legislature has a policy that men and women must wear “suitable business attire.”
- Acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis had this to say:“Business attire is for the men to have a suit and tie, that would translate to proper business attire for female members. Society changes as we go forward in time. But sometimes there are things that need to be kept in tradition. Proper decorum and dress in the Speaker’s corridor and within the chamber is something that is being upheld at this point.”
- The dress code requirement is only for staff in the Speaker’s corridor, which is the hallway that runs behind the legislative chamber. Acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd said the current policy dates back to 1980. (Remember, she's the acting clerk because the previous one is...you guessed it, still suspended due to the legislature expense scandal.)
- The clerk at the legislature is now looking into the rules but for now will continue to enforce the no short sleeves policy. Speaker Darryl Plecas issued a memo to all staff in the Legislature building on Thursday.
- The memo reads: “The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has consistently applied a “conservative contemporary approach” to dress codes in the Parliament Buildings, as first articulated in a decision of Deputy Speaker Davidson on July 21, 1980,”
- “Gender-neutral business attire generally constitutes layered clothing that includes covered shoulders. For example, for an individual who identifies as a man, this would typically include a collared dressed shirt and tie, dress pants or kilt, and a suit jacket. For an individual who identifies as a woman, this would typically include a business suit, dress with sleeves, or a skirt with a sweater or blouse; jackets or cardigans are not necessarily required. Individuals who do not identify as gender binary may dress pursuant to the guidelines above, as they deem appropriate.”
- After the issue was brought to light, female reporters (or as Plecas would call them, individuals identifying as female reporters) as well as some MLAs dressed in blouses that would have their arms bare. Pictures of them blew up on Twitter.
- Here's the thing though. I'm sure most of the BC populace doesn't really care about the legislature dress code. When asked, most people would probably say that they'd support modernization, and ask why it hadn't been done. BC's MLAs could just pass a vote updating a dress code if they want to. Why haven't they done so?
- So essentially the MLAs don’t like the dress code, so they blame the people who enforce it in order to curry favours from the press, rather than fix the mistake. And the media is getting mad at those who enforce the rules, rather than those who create them.
- It begs the question, why is this a story? Who exactly are they complaining about? And why did the media focus in on this story to the detriment of all other stories that could have been covered better?
- The SNC Lavalin controversy has been all but proven but more on that later with new twists and turns revealed just yesterday.
- A recap of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
- After last weeks marathon voting session in response to the Trudeau government shutting down the investigation in the Justice Committee and denying an ethics examination, there was a thought that this may die down.
- On Monday a story was published in CTV news and others saying, “Relations between Trudeau, Wilson-Raybould began to fray over her Supreme Court pick: Sources say”
- So what is this?
- Back in 2017 we covered the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin.
- It is up to the Justice Minister to provide recommendations to the Prime Minister on who to appoint.
- Her suggestion was Manitoba Justice Glenn D. Joyal.
- Trudeau was reportedly concerned that Joyal didn’t share his same interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and “particularly LGBTQ2 rights and even abortion access”
- Joyal is a conservative and was appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011.
- Jody Wilson Raybould also wanted Joyal to become Chief Justice.
- So who is the source? Justice appointments are confidential. The source could only be from the PMO or from the Chief of Staff to the Justice Minister.
- Why would they do it? A smelly channel change.
- The story got worse when Joyal issued a statement saying, “Ultimately, I had to withdraw my application for personal reasons, due to my wife’s metastatic breast cancer… I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong.”
- The PMO is stupid if they thought this story would fly. Why would Wilson-Raybould’s Chief of Staff or Deputy Minister throw her under the bus? Why would a Manitoba Justice who had to take his name out of contention due to the fact his wife had breast cancer throw her under the bus.
- The story evolved further when on Wednesday Wilson-Raybould said she would submit new testimony in writing. The Justice Committee agreed to make this public and it was released on Friday.
- Of the testimony included were emails and texts that were first alluded to on the february 27th testimony.
- Also included was a 17 minute recording of a phone call that Jody Wilson-Raybould had with then Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick on December 19, 2019.
- Michael Wernick opening clip.
- Prosecutorial independence clip.
- This is PROOF that the PMO and Trudeau wanted the DPA used and that “one way or another” is a subtle way of saying cabinet shuffle.
- Later on in the call the Clerk said, “Alright…um…well I am going to have to report back before he leaves…he is in a pretty firm frame of mind about this so… l am a bit worried…” She said, “Bit worried about what?” He continued, “Well…it is not a good idea for the prime minister and his attorney general to be at loggerheads.”
- The call ended with Jody Wilson-Raybould saying, “I am waiting for big…the other shoe to drop…so I am not under any illusion how the prime minister has and gets things that he wants… I am just stuck doing the best job that I can…”
- Over 4 times in the call the Clerk asked for Jody Wilson-Raybould to look at the case again.
- The new testimony also explains why Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet: “The prime minister stated publicly, when issues about the propriety of the government’s conduct in relation to the SNC matter arose, that my ongoing presence in cabinet spoke for itself. I resigned the next day, and I trust my resignation also speaks for itself.”
- The response from the PMO on this new testimony was that the PMO had not been briefed on the contents of the recorded call!
- The PMO then continued on that the Prime Minister wants to continue as a team and everyone has shared their perspectives and he “should have spoken directly with the former justice minister and attorney general about this matter — and wishes that she had come to him.”
- The Prime Minister then ended by saying his repeated line, “clearly an erosion of trust over the past few months between PMO, the clerk of the Privy Council, and the former justice minister and attorney general”
- The mainstream media covered today’s new material but as per usual there were attempts to diminish Jody Wilson-Raybould.
- The Globe and Mail headline read: Jody Wilson-Raybould’s decision to record phone call with Michael Wernick raises ethical questions
- CTV was also on the air with commentator Lisa Kinsella discussing the transcript and was consistently responded to with “But…” having the argument Kinsella was making torn apart.
- Ultimately the host asked if there should be “wiggle room on both sides” and a more open mind. And ultimately asked if any laws were broken and if they weren’t then everything was purely hypothetical. And CTV ultimately boiled it down to two different perspectives.
- CBC’s Rosemary Barton also raised questions if it was a “stark difference of opinion”
- Where does this leave us?
- This story is not ending anytime soon.
- The government has a budget to pass. The conservatives have said that they will use every tool that they have to get to the bottom of this.
- The government lost a confidence vote last week as we covered and the Speaker allowed the individual MPs to decide “on their own honour” if they were in the chamber.
- It is highly unlikely anything productive will come out of the budget talks.
- The Prime Minister must clear the air by either resigning or calling an election to let the people decide who is right.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has once again put his foot in his mouth and said something dumb. I know, this is hardly news as it happens all the time, but it's interesting how Trudeau would actually help to prove his critics right that he's a bad public speaker.
- Trudeau is apologizing for his smug response to protesters who hoped to draw his attention to mercury contamination in the First Nation communities of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong during a high roller Liberal fundraiser in Toronto on Wednesday night.
- To give a bit of background on the issue, Grassy Narrows is a small First Nations reserve located in Northwestern Ontario, approximately 300kms east of Winnipeg, north of Kenora. Wabaseemoong reserve is located right next to the Ontario/Manitoba border.
- Grassy Narrows continues to deal with the fallout of industrial dumping in the English-Wabigoon River system about 50 years ago and the resulting mercury contamination of the water and fish, while Cat Lake First Nation, further to the northeast is grappling with a housing crisis.
- Members of both communities have long experienced health problems linked to toxins released into the river system in the 1960s by a paper mill in Dryden, Ont. The contamination affected the local fish population − a regular source of food and commerce. The waters remain contaminated decades later.
- Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong are waiting on the federal and Ontario governments to deliver on two key promises that were both made in 2017: a provincial pledge to clean up the contamination and a federal promise to build a new health facility to treat patients affected by mercury.
- A video posted to Twitter showed Trudeau delivering a speech during the Laurier Club event at the luxury Omni King Edward Hotel, Trudeau responded to protesters by saying repeatedly, “Thank you for your donation.” Laurier Club members are considered high-end Liberal donors who must contribute a minimum of $1,500 in order to join the ranks. Have a listen to the clip:
- Protestor Clip
- The protester on Wednesday night had held up a banner calling on Trudeau to compensate people within the community. The protester could be heard saying “Mr. Trudeau, people at Grassy Narrows are suffering from mercury poisoning. You committed to addressing this crisis."
- The protester was quickly ushered away by security. That’s when Trudeau addressed her directly by saying “Thank you for being here, thank you for your donation tonight. I really appreciate it,” he said, to laughs, applause and cheers from the audience.
- The prime minister then continued: “As you know, the Liberal Party is filled with different perspectives and different opinions, and we respect them all.”
- Another protester, still in the audience, then said off-camera: “If it was your family that’s been waiting for 500 days, if your family was suffering from mercury poisoning, what would you do? If it was your family, would you accept it? Would you accept 500 days for one per cent?”
- A Facebook event promoting the protest alleged that Trudeau is “failing to help Grassy Narrows, a key test of his ‘commitment’ to meaningful relationships with First Nations and to a healthy environment.”
- The event post said that in November 2017, then-minister of Indigenous services Jane Philpott had “promised to build and operate a Mercury Survivors Home and Care Center in Grassy Narrows.”
- However, 500 days have passed since that commitment, and “only one per cent of the cost to build the facility has flowed and the project has stalled.”
- A health survey published by the Grassy Narrows First Nation last year showed that the health of people there was “significantly worse” than other First Nations in Canada.
- The community had fewer elders, and this survey suggested that people there were dying prematurely. The reserve’s children are showing troubling signs that the neurotoxin is still poisoning the community.
- Children whose mothers ate fish at least once a week while pregnant are four times more likely to have a learning disability or nervous system disorder that is slowing their efforts in school, says new research led by a leading mercury expert. Those kids were compared to Grassy Narrows children whose mothers hardly ever ate fish.
- For these Canadians to have such a low quality of life is unacceptable in this day and age, and clearly the government should be doing more to help these people.
- Trudeau was asked about the response by reporters in Halifax on Thursday morning and said he recognizes his response was not appropriate:
- “From time to time I’m in situations where people are expressing concerns or protesting a particular thing and I always try to be respectful and engage with them in a positive way. I didn’t do that last night. Last night I lacked respect towards them.”
- He continued, adding that the protesters will have the full cost of entrance to the event refunded and that he will be asking Indigenous Service Minister Seamus O’Regan’s office to make sure they are fully engaged on addressing the problem.
- Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, condemned the remarks in a statement shared with Global News following Trudeau’s apology and said the prime minister should do more to express his remorse.
- “The Prime Minister’s comments yesterday are completely unacceptable and offensive as a response to the serious issue of mercury contamination and the health of children and families in Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong. We see the Prime Minister has apologized this morning. He should apologize directly to those involved and he should visit Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong to talk to the people there and see the impacts of the mercury contamination firsthand. This incident highlights the need for action now.”
- Despite apologizing, Trudeau hasn't yet committed to visiting two First Nations in northwestern Ontario despite leaders from those communities asking that he come see the effects of ongoing issues, first hand.
- Grassy Narrows Chief Rudy Turtle says he thinks most Indigenous people have lost confidence in Justin Trudeau and is calling on the Prime Minister to back up this week’s apology by visiting his community to see the effects of mercury poisoning first hand.
- Turtle said the Prime Minister’s dismissive remarks to protesters, Ottawa’s treatment of former minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and a general sense of inaction on Indigenous issues are producing widespread disappointment with the Liberal government.
- “Looking at the whole picture … I would say that the Prime Minister has lost confidence with a majority of the native people,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail Friday.
- Turtle said the Prime Minister’s reaction to the protesters this week “felt like an insult” and he urged Mr. Trudeau to do more than apologize.
- He said “We acknowledge the apology, but that’s about it. I guess I would say actions speak louder than words. I’ve been asking him to come to Grassy Narrows to visit our community and he’s always brushed it aside, so I guess if he started showing some action, then I would be more impressed."
Word of the Week
Reserve - many definitions, the ones we’re looking at mean:
- A place set aside for a particular purpose ie: first nations reserves
- restraint, or caution in one's words and actions
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Thankful Donations
Teaser: The BC media focuses on the legislature dress code, Toronto councillor Mike Layton disparages Alberta energy, and a recording on SNC shows Trudeau’s corruption. Also, Trudeau thanks a First Nation under mercury poisoning for its donation to the Liberals.
Recorded Date: March 30, 2019
Podcast Summary Notes