The News Rundown
- Entering week 4 of the campaign the media will be keen to tell you about the so-called “bozo eruptions”
- Mark Smith who was elected in 2015 for the Wildrose representing Drayton Valley-Devon is running for re-election and audio was surfaced of him giving a sermon in 2013 questioning why TV shows would be questioning homosexual love as “good love”
- UCP Candidate Roger Reid was also pointed to authoring a 2003 newsletter where he wrote a book review for a book entitled “The Homosexual Agenda”. He wrote, “The homosexual agenda has as its primary aim to ‘trump’ the rights of all other groups, especially those of people of faith.”
- UCP leader Jason Kenney condemned the comments of both candidates and both candidates also apologized saying that their views have “evolved”.
- The news of the week should’ve been a stark comparison between the NDP’s 52 page platform and the UCP’s 118 page platform filled with figures, links, and citations.
- This week also saw the leaders debate on Thursday where David Khan of the Liberals told us about his fiscal plan to bring in a HST and that he was the only lawyer on the stage. UCP leader Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley attacked each other back and forth while Kenney offered policy and a vision forward and Rachel Notley kept telling the audience what Jason Kenney would do. Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel provided comic relief when David Khan insisted he wanted to provide private healthcare.
- So how does the media wind up covering these stories consistently but none of the NDP candidates past associations?
- News sources such as Press Progress (launched by the Broadbent Institute, an NDP think tank) post stories, get them on social media, and then the big sources such as CBC and Global pick them up.
- But on the other hand we have the NDP running unchecked.
- Both Jason Kenney and Stephen Mandel brought up the story from last November that there were 2 NDP caucus members under investigation for sexual misconduct but the decision was made to keep their names private to protect the victim.
- A Calgary Herald article from 1999 also surfaced online alleging Joe Ceci, Finance Minister and candidate for Calgary-Buffalo had sexually assaulted a minor while volunteering at a juvenile detention centre in the 1970s.
- Meanwhile Anne McGrath, NDP candidate for Calgary-Varsity ran for the Communist Party of Canada in 1984 arguing that Canada “needs to bring under public ownership the United States multinational branch plants, banks, natural resource companies, auto and steel industries”
- We also need to take into account that looking at the communist ideology in Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China, it has been responsible for over 80 million deaths.
- Edmonton-Ellerslie candidate Rod Loyola has praised former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and mourned his death. Venezuela is currently a basket case of a country.
- Peter Mueller running in Cypress-Medicine Hat called Canadians idiots and equated Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Adolf Hitler.
- Deborah Drever running in Calgary-Bow gave the finger to the Canadian flag and was reprimanded from caucus for making light of sexual assault.
- Craig Coolahan running in Calgary-Klein joked about employing eugenics on one of his Twitter criticizers.
- Rachel Notley herself has been shown in the past wearing a Che Guevara watch. Che Guevara played a huge role in kicking off the Cuban revolution and was a minister in Castro’s government.
- The only place to actually shine a light on some of these NDP candidates was an opinion piece in the Herald by former Wildrose party leader and floor crosser, Danielle Smith.
- Her articles details Anne McGrath, Rod Loyola, and Rachel Notley but also talks about union donations via PACs which we have reported on before as well. $135,000 for Project Alberta funded by Unifor, $270,000 spent by the Alberta Teachers Association, Alberta Federation of Labour $60,000, and the fire-fighters of Alberta have spent $61,712.
- So while corporate and union donations are limited to $30,000 PACs can get around this and campaign for the NDP.
- If the NDP combined with their PACs and their media wing at Press Progress can look into the past of UCP candidates and the media runs with the stories to stoke the emotions of their viewers and readers to ultimately garner more views and clicks the same should happen for the NDP.
- It doesn’t. The media here this week is only providing a platform to highlight the blemishes of one party only, the NDP.
- That is the problem in this race and if not for the economy being a genuine issue for the majority of Albertans, the media would be largely successful.
- Another week goes by in BC, and as we start to get close to summer, there are two things that always hold true: warmer weather, and higher gas prices. On Thursday this past week, gas prices in BC went up by an astounding 12 cent increase on average, following a rise in the provincial carbon tax from $30 to $40 per tonne, which is double the $20 per tonne amount forced upon the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick by the federal government. Those 4 provinces were the last holdouts in Canada without a provincial carbon tax set.
- The carbon tax increase was meant to raise prices by 1.2c, but instead we got a jump 10 times that. Metro Vancouver saw the highest gas price ever in their recorded history, hitting 1.64/l.
- With another increase expected this year on the dedicated TransLink tax — from 17 cents to 18.5 cents per litre — Vancouver drivers should expect the gas taxes levied by the province to go up, not down. It's also why why gas tends to be cheaper when you leave Metro Vancouver and fill up in Abbotsford. Victoria also has a dedicated transit tax of 5.5 cents.
- Provincial taxes make up 34 cents of every litre of gas purchased in Metro Vancouver. Federal taxes, including GST, bump up the total tax to 52 cents, almost one-third of the cost of a tank with prices are around 160 cents per litre. Of that 52 cents of fuel tax, 17c is for Translink, 10c is federal, 8.8c is for the carbon tax, 7.6c is GST, 1.8c is provincial, and 6.8c is for the BC Transportation Financing Authority, the Crown corporation that owns all provincial highways and has a mandate to “plan, acquire, construct, hold, improve or operate transportation infrastructure throughout B.C.”
- Premier John Horgan says the B.C. government will consider "some relief" for those who can't afford record high gas prices. Horgan says his government will monitor prices at the pumps over the summer but he also suggested provincial taxes aren't the only factor affecting prices. He says he can't explain a 12 cent a litre increase and perhaps the industry should invest more in refineries and the federal government should invest more in supply.
- More refineries and supply? Like the Transmountain Pipeline expansion and refinery in Burnaby that the Horgan government has been against and has been spending BC taxpayer money to fight tooth and nail in the courts?
- This has probably been the largest dose of hypocrisy dealt by John Horgan since he took office as premier 2 years ago. To suggest that the reason gas prices are going up is because the federal government isn't investing in pipelines or that oil companies aren't investing in refineries is astounding.
- Just yesterday, Horgan clarified his remarks, and while he said his government would look at relief from record high gas prices, it's clear that it's an empty promise that he doesn't want to keep.
- One day after hinting that the provincial government could provide “relief” to drivers facing record-high gas prices, Premier John Horgan ruled out reducing gas taxes to do it.
- Despite Metro Vancouver having the highest pump prices in Canada, almost a third of which are taxes, Horgan said he is hopeful prices will come down without government intervention as supply pressures ease.
- “I want to be clear again, reducing the one-cent-a-litre (increase in the carbon tax) we introduced April 1 does not answer the question about high prices for consumers. The high prices for consumers are a direct result of the lack of connection between the commodity price for a barrel of oil and the retail price.”
- B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal took issue with the carbon tax, saying that when his government created it, the intention was for it to be revenue neutral. He accused the NDP of turning it into “just another tax” — although some economists have pointed out that it began to lose some of its revenue neutrality as early as 2013-14 before neutrality was abandoned altogether by the NDP after the last election.
- Johal said the increased carbon tax is becoming “a drag on the economy” as it has a trickle-down effect on the price of basic goods and services, including groceries and clothing. B.C. already leads Canada and much of the world with its carbon tax, he added.
- In the end, the taxes upon taxes on BC fuel are just going to take money out of BC wallets, and directly give that money to the government, which will impact low income earners more disproportionately. It's just another way that BC is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
- We have talked about the $10.5m payout to convicted terrorist Omar Khadr back in 2017 however new details have emerged.
- The National Post obtained an internal report detailing a federal investigation spanning six departments and agencies to hunt for who leaked information about the $10.5m payout.
- The Privy Council Office, the one embroiled in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, is refusing to say if it referred the probe to the RCMP.
- The PCO has done this before with the leak investigation into Vice Admiral Mark Norman that is scheduled to go to trial this fall.
- Mark Norman is alleged to have released sensitive government information regarding the procurement of naval supply ships which constitutes a breach of trust.
- The report on the Khadr payout says the payment was delayed by a day due to a coding error causing it to be rejected by the Bank of Canada.
- The payment then went through an account held by an unnamed third party.
- The reason for this is potentially two-fold, first the government wanted to be able to release the press release on this matter later in July 2017 and they wanted the money to not be trackable by the families in the US which are currently suing Omar Khadr.
- News of the settlement wasn’t supposed to go out but The Globe and Mail reported on the leak and made the information known to Canadians.
- The federal government sought to hide the fact they were going to pay $10.5m to Omar Khadr.
- What’s more as long as two months later, in September 2017, The Privy Council Office was still searching for who leaked to the media.
- According to the report, government officials ratified a settlement with Khadr on June 22, 2017. The next week, staff from the departments of Global Affairs, Justice, Public Safety, and the Privy Council, as well as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, began putting together a communication strategy for the settlement.
- When asked this week by the National Post, the Privy Council Office didn’t answer any questions whether if the leaker was ever found.
- When asked if referred to the RCMP, the answer was no.
- Why this is a big deal is because Norman would be the first person in Canada criminally prosecuted for a violation of Cabinet confidence.
- On one hand you have the Privy Council’s Office and the Prime Minister trying to hide a payout to a known terrorist and secondly this government is downright hostile and perhaps bordering on paranoid in terms of hunting down leaks.
- This combined with the SNC-Lavalin case creates a picture of a government bent on control. This should worry all Canadians.
- This past Tuesday, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, who resigned Trudeau's cabinet in the wake of the SNC scandal known as Lavscam that's still ongoing, were kicked out of the Liberal caucus, and now sit as independent MPs.
- The full Liberal caucus was going to hold a previously-unscheduled meeting Tuesday night at 5:45 pm to discuss whether Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott could remain as Liberal MPs.
- However, Jody Wilson Raybould made a tweet at 5:44pm, one minute earlier than the caucus meeting start that said "I have just been informed by the Prime Minister of Canada that I am removed from the Liberal caucus and as the confirmed Vancouver Granville candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election. What I can say is that I hold my head high & that I can look myself in the mirror knowing I did what I was required to do and what needed to be done based on principles & values that must always transcend party.”
- Philpott issued a statement that was scathing towards her critics, as well as Trudeau: "Tonight I was expelled from the caucus of the Liberal Party of Canada. Sadly the decision was made without me being provided any opportunity to speak to national caucus. This is profoundly disheartening for me, my staff and my family – and I know people in Markham-Stouffville will also be disappointed.
- I was accused publicly by people in caucus of not being loyal, of trying to bring down the Prime Minister, of being politically motivated, and of being motivated by my friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould. These accusations were coupled with public suggestions that I should be forced out of caucus.
- These attacks were based on inaccuracies and falsehoods. I did not initiate the crisis now facing the party or the Prime Minister. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould."
- In the wake of the dismissal, the CBC, Toronto Star and other left leaning (read: Liberal friendly) outlets were quick to point out that it was a caucus decision, however, the timings clearly point out that it was not a caucus decision, and just like the scandal itself, it all came down to Trudeau's decision.
- Last week, we discussed Wilson-Raybould's recorded testimony to the Justice Committee, in which she submitted a taped phone call between herself and Michael Wernick, the now resigned former Clerk of the Privy Council, Canada's most senior public servant.
- In that testimony, it became clear that Trudeau had directly order the political interference in the criminal proceedings of SNC Lavalin in order to get a deferred prosecution agreement that would let SNC off the hook.
- Listening to Trudeau, it's clear the most worrying thing of this whole situation is what Trudeau is concerned about. For once Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got publicly angry about Lavscam. He wasn't angry about the disregard for the rule of law though. Not angry about the fact that his former top bureaucrat Michael Wernick and former top advisor Gerald Butts persistently pushed to have criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin tossed in favour of a separate agreement.
- And not angry that his failure to address the original sin of this whole saga has brought us to this point, where – on Tuesday evening – Trudeau made the decision to boot Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus, to now sit as independents. No, he’s angry she recorded that 17-minute telephone call with Wernick that proves the constant pressure really happened.
- Trudeau said, more dramatically than usual, during a public address: “If a politician secretly records a conversation with anyone, it’s wrong. When that politician is a cabinet minister secretly recording a public servant, it’s wrong. And when that cabinet minister is the attorney general of Canada, secretly recording the clerk of the Privy Council, it’s unconscionable.”
- It's clear that public opinion is turning on Trudeau. As more and more believe the two former female cabinet ministers over the Prime Minister, who the Toronto Sun labelled as a "fake feminist", it's clear that Trudeau is out of touch with what Canadians actually want: an apology, an admission of guilt, and his resignation.
- An apology was all that Wilson-Raybould said she wanted. Sources said that after Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of her role as justice minister in January that she told the prime minister she would stay in cabinet, under certain conditions.
- They included firing Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts, Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick and senior legal adviser Mathieu Bouchard. All three were named in her testimony as involved in the sustained and inappropriate pressure she says she faced on the SNC-Lavalin file.
- None of that happened, although Butts subsequently resigned and Wernick has announced his upcoming retirement. Both have maintained that they did not act inappropriately and have offered contradicting evidence and testimony to the events as she described. Bouchard remains employed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
- Wilson-Raybould also wanted Trudeau to apologize, either publicly or before cabinet. Finally, she wanted assurances that her replacement as justice minister and attorney general, David Lametti, would be directed to not authorize a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin, something she denies.
- In a statement Thursday evening, Wilson-Raybould condemned the leaked information and said she would never interfere in the attorney general’s role.
- “I will not respond to leaked information from anonymous sources other than to note the continual and inappropriate use of this tactic,” she said. “But I can say that I have never and would never seek to interfere with the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the Attorney General of Canada.”
- Philpott echoed this denial: “I think people need to be extremely careful. I’m of course disturbed as to who these sources would be and what their motivations would be for sharing information,” she continued.
- In particular she questioned the allegation that Wilson-Raybould wanted to make sure Lametti would not be directed to pursue a DPA.
- “That’s a preposterous allegation. Why would the former attorney general spend months ensuring that there was no political interference in this very important criminal case and then turn around and do the opposite?” Philpott said.
- It's pretty clear what the sources of the leak are, and that's that they're obviously from the PMO in an attempt to discredit Wilson-Raybould, as well as Philpott. It's a last ditch attempt for Trudeau to attempt some semblance of credibility, but opinion polls have consistently registered a drop in Liberal support, but more importantly, Trudeau's support.
- As Philpott said, there's no way this could have been motivated by any perceived advantage: "This also isn’t about political advantage or strategy. It is frankly absurd to suggest that I would leave one of the most senior portfolios in government for personal advancement or merely out of friendship with Jody Wilson-Raybould."
- This story is not over yet. An interview between Vancouver Province's Mike Smyth and Wilson-Raybould is set to be released in the Sunday edition. Also, Andrew Scheer has scheduled a press release to "present new documents relating to the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal". As we reach 2 months of this scandal, it's clear it's not going away anytime soon. One has to wonder if the public will remember this spring's corruption when they go to the polls in October.
Word of the Week
Leak - an intentional disclosure of secret information, or the act of making it known.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Tuesday Night Massacre
Teaser: We look into the questionable pasts of Alberta NDP candidates, BC gas prices jump to record amounts after a carbon tax increase, and the Trudeau government aggressively pursued the Khadr payout leak. Also, Philpott and JWR are booted from the Liberals.
Recorded Date: April 6, 2019
Release Date: April 7, 2019
Edit Notes: Trudeau overspeak restart
Podcast Summary Notes