The News Rundown
- May 6th was the beginning of the Monday to Friday work week, but it also was the beginning of something unheard of in Canadian federal politics: a 2nd elected Green MP to join party leader Elizabeth May.
- Yes, the last by-election to the 42nd Parliament in the riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith before the federal general election in the fall produced a surprise result for many, but for some, it wasn't a surprise at all.
- Rookie MP Paul Manly, placed 4th in the 2015 election with just under 20% support in a 4 way race that was won by Sheila Malcolmson, who earlier this year resigned her seat to run in a provincial by-election for John Horgan's BC NDP. This year, Manly took a commanding lead early in the night and never relinquished it, eventually winning with almost double his 2015 support, with over 37% of the votes.
- The Conservative candidate John Hirst gained a little bit of vote share from 2015, interestingly enough. But the collapse of the NDP and especially Liberal vote share on the Vancouver Island. riding and switchover to the Green Party was the story of the night.
- In a written statement released shortly after results were announced, the Green Party of Canada said the win "hailed the dawn of a new era in federal politics," and noted the riding had traditionally been an NDP stronghold. May thanked voters, writing "it is brave to vote for real change."
- Manly said his win four years later suggests Canadians are ready for a "different kind of politics," and are focused on working across party lines. He said he believes affordable housing, homeless camps — and most importantly climate change — are the issues that led the party to victory.
- "There's so much technology available to us, there's so much we could be doing, it's just a matter of [having] the political courage to do that, and I think people saw that in me. Whether it's people dealing with floods in the east or forest fires in the west, people are seeing the threat now. Our forests are dying around us and it's time to take bold action."
- Former New Democratic MP Svend Robinson called the Green breakthrough a “wake-up call” for Jagmeet Singh’s NDP to take a more aggressive stance on climate change and the environment.
- Indeed, as May and Manly beamed for the cameras on Parliament Hill, the pair accused the NDP of being weak on climate change, and positioned the Greens as the only party that will oppose practices like “fracking” and ensure Canada shifts away from fossil fuels while helping workers find jobs in renewable energy.
- May had this to say: “What I find over and over again is that the politicians who mouth ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,’ aren’t thinking about the workers. They’re thinking about the profits of a handful of multinationals that need to wake up and smell the coffee. There is no future in fossil fuels.”
- May said she has also invited Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould—former Liberals who resigned from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin affair—to join the Greens and run for the party this fall. In separate emails Friday, Wilson-Raybould said she is still weighing her options and Philpott said she hasn’t decided on her political future.
- Meanwhile, it was the NDP that took the brunt of the criticism from the Greens on Friday, particularly from Manly, a former New Democrat whose father was an NDP MP in the 1980s. He said the NDP’s proposal to retrofit all homes in Canada by 2050 so they are more energy-efficient isn’t ambitious enough—the Greens would do it over five to 10 years.
- He accused the NDP of “abandoning” its principles by voting to support Canada’s deployment to war in Libya in 2011, and for backing a trade deal with South Korea that includes an investor-state provision that many on the left oppose. He also slammed NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for expressing support for the $40-billion LNG Canada terminal in B.C., a facility that will be fuelled by the Coastal GasLink pipeline opposed by Indigenous nations, and will export natural gas that is extracted by the controversial “fracking” process.
- While the Greens credit their by-election win to Canadians waking up to climate change problems, and an Angus Reid poll released a few days before the by-election showed that "Environment/Pollution" was the top concern for Canadians, it's clear that the NDP and Liberal vote collapse due to the ineffective leadership of Jagmeet Singh and the surrounding scandals of Justin Trudeau were what really affected the Green's rise in the polls.
- A fractured Left - Liberals and NDP having to choose between their party while worrying about vote splitting, and Greens gaining support in certain areas is going to make for an interesting election in October, that's for sure.
- Soon to be Peace River MLA Dan Williams was among more than 1,000 people who attended a March for Life rally at the Alberta legislature.
- This is the headline that the CBC ran with, “UCP MLA-elect attends anti-abortion rally to “support my friends”
- Dan Williams said, "I'm pro-life. It's been a position of value of mine, deeply held belief for a long time. And I just came out to support those folks who hold the same beliefs. I was at the mass this morning as well."
- The NDP opposition in commenting to the media on this story said, they estimate 28 of 63 members may have anti-abortion views.
- This was all it took for the CBC to run through a few candidates including Adriana Lagrange, former Red Deer Catholic School Trustee and former President of Red Deer Pro Life who is now education minister as well as Mark Smith from Drayton Valley who drew fire during the campaign.
- They also conveniently point out that Premier Jason Kenney as a “devout Roman Catholic is personally opposed to abortion” and they almost save the story by reporting the truth that he has no intention of opening the issue.
- Former Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was with the counter protestors who numbered at about 100 said, "I'm not totally shocked but I am disappointed," she said. "Knowing that (Kenney) has 28 people walking these halls that clearly want him to do something hindering my reproductive health and my bodily autonomy, I'm really disappointed."
- Full stop.
- No one is hindering anyone’s reproductive health. Women still have the choice to use birth control or abstain. And should the unfortunate be required, there are no restrictions on abortion in Canada.
- This piece from the CBC is providing a platform to the opposition NDP and raising the social media issues that lost in the election campaign.
- There is no story here. The protest was peaceful. The end. Or maybe not.
- The Edmonton Journal then said: Anti-abortion rally at Alberta legislature hints at potential political divide
- There is always a political divide in the legislature. Abortion is an issue that given the past actions by the federal Conservative government, it is very unlikely that we will see any action on abortion legislation in Alberta.
- The fact that the Edmonton Journal used the word “potential” in their story shows where they would like the narrative to go. A divide is what the media thrives upon today.
- For what it’s worth, the Edmonton Journal story has almost the same content as the CBC’s but has a headline that misrepresents what is likely to happen.
- Back in February, Jason Kenney said, “A United Conservative government will not address this issue, will not engage in this debate, will not initiate legislation.”
- Anyone who even talks about or thinks about abortion in the Canadian political sphere or media sphere is chastised. Compare this to the US.
- This past week Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the LIFE (Living Infants Fairness and Equality) Act into law.
- The Bill in Georgia bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is normally around the 6-8 week range. Abortion will still be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.
- The US Bill will likely go to the courts but at least there is discourse in the US on this contentious issue.
- Similar laws have been enacted in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Ohio.
- It would be very interesting to see what the media would say if they were reporting on the LIFE Act in Georgia.
- Money laundering and gas prices. It seems there is nothing else on the mind of newscasters when talking about news in BC lately. When they aren't talking about gas going over $1.70/litre, it's about money laundering and how that's attached so horrifically to the insane housing market jump that BC (and as an extension, the rest of Canada) over the last decade or so.
- Just this past week, two new reports were released that provided one of the first intangible proof we have that money laundering and the BC real estate crisis are inexorably linked. But the real bombshell that should trouble not just British Columbians but all Canadians, is that wide scale money laundering isn't just happening in BC, it's happening all over the country.
- According to a new expert panel report chaired by former deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney, the cost of buying a home in B.C. increased by as much as five per cent last year due to more than $5 billion in dirty money from organized crime laundered through the province’s real estate sector.
- The report concludes that "almost five per cent of the value of real estate transactions in the province result from money laundering investment" with "the estimated impact of that would be to increase housing prices by about five per cent.”
- Maloney said actual figures are difficult to calculate — at one point dubbing them “estimating the inestimable” — but that the prevalence of dirty cash and organized crime trying to avoid taxes has distorted the economy.
- Maloney also dropped this obvious piece of common sense: "The housing affordability problem cannot be solved by reducing money laundering but reducing money laundering can certainly help."
- However, her report concluded $47 billion in money laundering occurred in Canada in 2018. Of that, $7.4 billion was in B.C., making it only the fourth-highest in the country behind Ontario, Alberta and the Prairies. And of that, $5.3 of the $7.4 billion from BC was in real estate, altering the market upwards by an estimated five per cent.
- Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby both said Thursday they are moving quickly to address concerns highlighted in the reports.
- Said Eby, theatrically: “The party is over, it may be spring but winter is finally coming for those who rely on bulk cash transactions on for their business model.”
- He called the figures “shocking” and said cabinet is still considering whether to call a public inquiry on money laundering.
- Eby cited several examples of money laundering, including a self-declared “student” who bought 15 properties in the same Vancouver condo building in 2001 for $2.9 million. Those units are now worth $11 million.
- A “homemaker” bought five luxury homes worth $21 million between 2014 and 2017, with one mortgage. Another “homemaker” bought a dozen downtown town row houses for $4.1 million (now worth $15 million) between 2004 and 2007.
- Another example was a Vancouver-area luxury car reseller known to police who is the principal owner of three homes with a value of $8.6 million purchased through three numbered companies and a mortgage lender with rates that decrease for each property.
- “This looks like somebody that, theoretically, a regulator, say the Canada Revenue Agency, should be having a look at, and we have no confidence that would happen or is happening,” said Eby.
- Eby even made mention that the BC government has known about the suspicious transactions for years, but that action wasn't taken because it wasn't recognized as money laundering!
- In the press conference, Eby said "These are things people told me they believed were happening. There was one person buying multiple homes and the homes would sell frequently that nobody ever moved in. I’ll be honest, at a town hall (in his constituency) I had someone stand up and say, ‘It’s money laundering.’ And I said, ‘You know there’s a lot of wealthy people around the world … it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s money laundering. I wish I could have that answer back.”
- A second report also released Thursday by former RCMP investigator Peter German said that the proceeds of crime, the desire for large amounts of capital to flee China and other countries, and a robust underground economy trying to evade taxes were “three rivers of money (that) coalesce in Vancouver’s property market and in consumer goods.”
- An exact amount of criminal oversea owners wasn’t determined by the report due to the “poor quality” of data, as well as gatekeepers such as lawyers, accountants, notaries and other professionals that take advantage of B.C.’s opaque land title rules, according to German’s report.
- The report noted that “It is alarming to know that Greater Vancouver has also acted as a laundromat for foreign organized crime, including a Mexican cartel, Iranian and Mainland Chinese organized crime, all seeking a safe and effective locale in which to wash their proceeds of crime."
- German notes that the book Hunting El Chapo describes how the Mexican drug kingpin's "lieutenant" apparently registered at a private Vancouver business college as a cover for his illegal activities.
- It also noted that “some registered charges on property titles are being used by organized crime to enforce illegal loans and payback schemes” including private mortgages used to enforce criminal obligations, and that "what is even more troubling are attempts to enforce these illegal bargains in the civil courts, presumably on the assumption that justice is blind to what is occurring,”
- Post-secondary businesses, otherwise known as colleges and universities are also susceptible to money laundering. Peter German found some private and public post-secondary institutions accept cash for tuition and other expenses. He writes that his team received tips that some international students have been known to register at colleges in person and then, after paying their fees, "withdraw and receive an institutional cheque in reimbursement for their fees." If the cash comes from the proceeds of crime, this is a classic way of turning dirty money into funds that appear clean.
- The report also notes that a student recently appeared at an unnamed college with a duffel bag of $9,000 in cash, asking to deposit it — minus a charge of $150 the student owed — with the college. As David Eby asks, who would have thought private schools and universities would be accepting bulk cash from people and potentially acting as banks issuing cheques for bulk cash?
- So, the question remains, what will the BC government do about all this now that they know the problem is happening, and that it's huge? Impacting our economy, affecting the ability for my age group from ever owning a home? Inviting in organized crime from around the world?
- And where is the federal government in all of this? If it's such a Canada wide problem as these reports suggest, then why is Justin Trudeau not speaking up on it?
- The government has dropped its ‘breach of trust’ case against Vice Admiral Mark Norman.
- Who is Mark Norman? Until January 2017 he was the number 2 guy in the Canadian Forces and commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. He oversaw much of the implementation of the government's military policy.
- Mark Norman was charged with a single count of breach of trust for supposedly leaking cabinet secrets about the governments $668m shipbuilding deal to lease a supply ship.
- The deal in question was negotiated by the former Conservative government. The story now gets interesting.
- In November 2015 the Liberals put the deal on hold and the media finds out, allegedly from Norman.
- It is also alleged that Norman told Chantier Davie shipbuilding what the discussion was in cabinet, in particular that the government sought a 60 day delay on the project.
- The rumour is that Scott Brison, former President of the Treasury Board, was trying to shop the deal to Irving Shipbuilding, a rival company that would be more Liberal friendly. Brison denied this but the truth would have come out in court.
- It’s very likely that Norman was just trying to get the navy the ship that it needed. The project was to convert a civilian vessel into a supply ship for the navy.
- The media coverage ultimately forced the Trudeau government to go forward with the initial deal.
- Why were the charges dropped? The case was going to go to trial as the fall election was happening.
- Liberal MP Andrew Leslie announced that he wouldn’t be running again and that he would testify in favour of Norman. This would have been a major blow for the party.
- Also, former Ministers including Premier Jason Kenney, Peter MacKay, and Erin O’Toole are all have said to have spoken to the Norman defence team.
- Jason Kenney was the defence minister that would have approved the deal. Peter MacKay was justice minister and Erin O’Toole was Veterans Affairs Minister.
- It is believed that the information provided by the former minister’s influenced the decision to stay the charge.
- Back in December 2018 it was reported by the Ottawa Citizen that Stephen Harper’s approval would be needed to release the cabinet documents from the time period in question as Prime Ministers hold the key to releasing cabinet documents from their tenure even after they have left office.
- In December Harper also tweeted that, “I have indicated no objection to the release of any document relevant to the Norman case”
- It appears as though the government tried to prosecute someone for telling what effectively amounts as the truth to the company in question and the Canadian public.
- The contract was completed on time and on budget, a rarity for government project.
- What’s more is that the prosecution had identified six leaks in total to the cabinet meeting in question, so it may not have even been Mark Norman.
- In a swipe at the Trudeau government, Marie Henein, Norman’s lead defence lawyer said, “Fortunately, Vice-Admiral Norman didn’t fire the females he hired.”
- This says all it needs to, this was a case where once again Justin Trudeau tried to use the justice system to destroy an opponent but failed.
Word of the Week
- Green Politics - a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice and grassroots democracy.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Chasing the Green
Teaser: The Green Party wins a federal by-election, the Alberta media tries to drive a wedge on abortion, and we find out that money laundering is way worse than we thought. Also, the Mark Norman case reaches an end with implications for the Trudeau government.
Recorded Date: May 11, 2019
Release Date: May 12, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes