The News Rundown
- Justin Trudeau visited Alberta this week with local MP and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi.
- During his visit he attended Sohi’s nomination launch event and the Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal in Edmonton.
- This could only be described as a campaign stop paid for by taxpayer dollars.
- Trudeau brought forward his holier than thou approach by telling workers that, “The world has changed [and] we’re not in a situation where a government can decide this is where we are laying down a railroad or pipeline and it’s just going to happen.”
- The truth is though if we wanted to be a true energy superpower it could be that way. We could also have laws on the books similar to those in Texas where pipeline activists who disrupt operations or damage equipment could face up to 10 years in prison.
- Returning to the election campaign, Trudeau said, “There are folks out there across this country who are trying to divide Canadians, who are trying to scare people into voting one way or another, that’s not the path we took in 2015 and that’s not the path we’re going to take in 2019…”
- He also said, "Conservative politicians are choosing to play a high degree of politics, including bringing up threats to national unity, which we categorically reject.”
- This is the key point. The blame shifts.
- The blame for a national unity crisis is shifted back to the other side.
- The targets are of course Andrew Scheer, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford, Scott Moe, and even Stephen Harper.
- The first 4 make sense on that list but Stephen Harper is still brought up 4 years later suggesting that the Liberals care more for Alberta than Stephen Harper as Prime Minister spent more time in Ottawa than Calgary. That’s what Prime Ministers do. They govern from Ottawa.
- The small resistance is no longer just Alberta and Saskatchewan against the Liberals. We know Manitoba is onboard as is Ontario. But the fight for national unity and respect of provincial jurisdictions got an unlikely ally this week.
- While the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and The Northwest Territories were meeting this week Quebec made an unexpected announcement.
- Quebec Premier François Legault announced that Quebec will intervene on behalf of Saskatchewan to challenge the federal carbon tax at the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Quebec joins Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick challenging the carbon tax as unconstitutional.
- So while Trudeau says that conservative politicians are trying to divide and drive wedges, they are attempting to unite the country.
- Quebec still says there’s no social acceptability of an oil pipeline but they want to intervene on behalf of Saskatchewan “to ensure the legal and economic security of the Quebec emission cap and trading system (SPEDE) by ensuring the jurisdiction and jurisdictional autonomy of Quebec in this area.”
- This speaks to Quebec’s long standing desire to have more provincial autonomy and Quebec often exerts itself like this to protect their distinct Quebecois culture.
- Quebec is doing this on the grounds of the Canadian constitution.
- Standing with the other provinces, creating a force representing the two largest provinces and more than 50% of the Canadian population is true unity.
- This show of unity was missed by the mainstream media this week.
- It's often said that when thinking about what aspect of government impacts people's lives the most, a lot of the time people will say it's the federal or their provincial government. While certainly those two branches get the most attention and publicity from the media, oftentimes it's the seemingly little things from our local municipal governments that fly under the radar and end up impacting our take home pay the most. Specifically, taxes.
- We talk about taxes a lot on this show, that's for sure. When you work, no matter what it is or how much you earn, the government takes a cut. Municipal governments generate most of their revenue from property taxation, and certainly many jurisdictions have seen their municipal taxes go up and up each year as properties get valued higher and higher through the BC real estate crisis. In a lot of cases, even though your taxes may be going up, your pay isn't increasing to match. That's why when your municipal government does something idiotic with your tax dollars, it should be shouted from the rooftops, heard in all the local papers, and talked about across Canada.
- Not only do people not realize the full impact that municipal governments have, but it's unclear just how much reach they have. In Canada's constitution, municipal governments don't actually have any power, only that the provincial has full control over certain items of governance, such as "Generally all Matters of a merely local or private Nature in the Province".
- That 'merely local nature' part actually revolves around municipal governments, and the small amount of items that the provincial governments have delegated to municipal governments to handle. These can include service provision (like garbage and recycling) and local bylaws. Pretty much, the municipal governments only have power that the provincial governments have delegated to them, and that's it. Sometimes, it's hard for the municipal governments themselves to understand just what they can control.
- For that, we head back to the Victoria City Council, who seem to make the news more than most for idiotic decisions with tax money. I know, I've mentioned them a lot, but it's a slow news week for BC, and it's worth talking about.
- The City of Victoria has lost a battle in B.C.'s court of appeal over its ban of single-use plastic bags. Remember that plastic bag ban? We talked about it way back on episode 48 at the end of 2017.
- In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that because Victoria's primary aim in enacting the ban was the environment, it required approval by the provincial Minister of Environment — something it failed to receive.
- Mayor Lisa Helps argued that it came down to regulating business, which they have control over, but the court disagreed and said that the end result was regulating the environment. Helps said "The Ministry of Environment has the ability to regulate the environment, [but] we have the ability to regulate business. Waste management is very much our responsibility."
- Helps said the city didn't seek approval from the minister "because our interpretation is this is very clearly within the jurisdiction of local governments. ... If this was primarily an environmental issue, we would have chosen to go to the minister."
- In her ruling, Madam Justice Newbury wrote that wasn't the case.
- "The city did not set out to prohibit some types of checkout bags and encourage other types in order to interfere with or somehow improve business transactions. Rather, it set out to slow down and ultimately end the harm caused by plastics in waterways both local and global."
- Newbury also wrote that "while the city's intentions in passing the bylaw were no doubt reasonable, we must give effect to the clear instructions ... requiring the minister's approval. Whatever the reason for not seeking that approval in July 2018, it will now presumably be sought."
- The Ministry of the Environment said Victoria hadn't yet made a request, but didn't guarantee one would be granted if it did, a spokesperson saying that the "ministry needs to assess all aspects of today's decision. British Columbians are concerned about plastic waste in our environment and want action. To that end, the Province is currently looking at ways to prevent plastic waste in our environment at a province-wide level."
- So because the City of Victoria didn't understand their jurisdiction, and "interpreted" in their words the wrong way, now they have to go back to the drawing board. In effect, they tried to do something that they felt was important, but they went about it the wrong way, and they had to spend lots of money defending it in court battles for the last year and a half. The ironic part is that the Ministry of Environment would have most likely granted them this permit if they had asked and the case would be closed.
- But no - they do something good but in a stupid way, get sued, waste taxpayer dollars on fighting it, lose lawsuit, then instead of doing damage control, they double down by going to the supreme court and thus engaging even more expensive lawyers?
- Lots of the commentary online and in the media has been that the courts were the ones wasting everyone's time and money. But when it comes down to it, the municipal government of Victoria didn't understand what they had control over. And now, millions of dollars later, we're back at the drawing board.
- We are about 3 months away from the fall election. Candidates are being nominated and this action of nominating candidates is something the media pays far too little attention too.
- In the US there are big primary battles fought between candidates of each party. Here candidates can be appointed by the party leader or the party can choose to have open nominations similar to the US primary system.
- The US primaries draw attention to local races and allow voters to get to know all the choices before making a party choice.
- Alberta learnt the hard way in 2015 that not paying attention to nominated candidates can result in a government filled with ineptitude and ideologies far from the mainstream.
- As such we here at Western Context want to bring forward cases in which candidates are nominated for a party (any party) but the media hasn’t highlighted questionable or star nominations.
- This week we’re going to be talking about Steven Guilbeault of the Liberals. he’s running for the riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie in Montreal.
- Back in June a story surfaced touting him as a star candidate for the Liberals. At the time we were covering other news such as the Scheer climate plan, Trans Mountain Pipeline re-approval, and the passage of Bills C–48 and C–69.
- This week Guilbeault was successfully nominated.
- Guilbeault is what could only be described as an ardent environmentalist. He has even called his activism with Greenpeace, “flamboyant.”
- He completely opposes pipelines and has already expressed his displeasure to Trudeau on that decision saying, “The prime minister and I have spoken about (the pipeline). I understand why they took the decision they took, but I disagree with it. I will not help them on this project but I’ll help them on everything else.”
- In 2001 Guilbeault climbed the outside of the CN tower in Toronto to unveil a banner that read “Canada and Bush Climate Killers.”
- This wasn’t mentioned in any of the other reports. Civil disobedience. Nothing new here with Trudeau.
- The Prime Minister and governing party has just appointed a candidate that stands against one of its so called policy objectives as Trudeau said in Alberta this week, getting the Trans Mountain Pipeline built.
- Trudeau chalked the decision up to the party having a “broad range of views on a lot of different issues”
- Some commentators including Don Braid of the Calgary Herald suggests that there’s already a potential deal in place, after the election no more new pipelines.
- Guilbeault is also involved with Quebec based non profit Équiterre whose said goal is to improve organic agriculture in Quebec through consumer demand and to ensure access of citizens to locally grown organic products.
- The riding in Montreal in which he is running was a Bloc Quebecois stronghold until 2011. Gilles Duceppe, former leader of the Bloc held the seat from 1993 to 2011.
- It has since been represented by the NDP in Hélène Laverdière who is not running again.
- If current trends continue, Quebec will be a battle between the Liberals and Conservatives. With this being a Montreal seat the Liberals are favoured though the potential wild card could be a resurgent Bloc Quebecois in Quebec.
- We hope to do more of these riding profiles as we get closer to the official kickoff of the campaign.
- As tensions with China remain high, and with today's latest news that yet another Canadian is being detained in China over unknown reasons, the entire situation remains unstable. Careful diplomacy is needed to resolve the issues that have arisen since the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Immediately following Meng’s arrest, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on dubious grounds. The two, now charged with espionage, are still being held by Chinese authorities.
- Canada still does not have an official Ambassador to China, ever since the last one resigned his post. We covered John McCallum's resignation a few months back on episode 103. For a quick recap, John McCallum said that it would be very easy for Meng to win her case, and that it would be "great for Canada if the US dropped its extradition request" of Meng. McCallum's comments set off a firestorm in the media and he eventually resigned.
- Upon accepting his resignation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked McCallum for serving with honour and distinction for over two decades and acknowledged his former contributions as the Minister of Immigration and Refugees, which included fulfilling Trudeau's campaign promise of accepting over 39,000 Syrian Refugees. Justin Trudeau stated that McCallum remains an inspiration to all Canadians and an example to the world.
- Inspiration to all Canadians seems to be high praise, as McCallum is back in the news again for further seemingly Pro-China comments, and as former ambassador, it does not look good for the Liberals. Oddly enough, he said them in an interview with Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
- The longtime Liberal Party member and MP McCallum said he has warned former contacts at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that any further “punishments” imposed on Canada’s exports could lead to a change of government that is unfavourable to Beijing.
- “Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are much less friendly to China than the Liberals. I hope and I don’t see any reason why things will get worse, it would be nice if things will get better between now and [Canada’s federal] election [in October].”
- McCallum also urged Canadian government officials and business leaders to keep up relationship-building visits to China in preparation for a normalisation in ties. He noted that next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations on October 13, 1970.
- “Canada is in China for the long run … this problem will pass,” he said. “It’s important for Canadian business people not just to come to China but to come often … especially when the going is tough. This will put our companies in a good position to do well when the going improves.”
- Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada’s fired former ambassador to China “does not speak” for the government. “It is a very important issue and it is something that we, as a country, have to be prepared to defend ourselves against. In that context, I think that it is inappropriate for any Canadian to be advising any foreign government on ways it ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome in Canada.”
- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is accusing former Liberal cabinet minister John McCallum of an “invitation of foreign interference in the Canadian election”. To Scheer, this was an open appeal to the Chinese government to help Liberals get re-elected in the contest scheduled for October. In a statement he said “This invitation of foreign interference in the Canadian election — to a regime that has proven itself hostile to Canadian interests — is absolutely reprehensible."
- In an interview Wednesday evening, Scheer told the National Post he is concerned that this is “the official Liberal line” and that McCallum’s mistake was revealing it. He said he worries Liberal officials are already telling their Chinese counterparts that “Justin Trudeau is better for China than he is for Canada, that it’s in China’s best interests to re-elect Trudeau.”
- Scheer added that that kind of talk coming from someone so recently tasked with stick-handling one of Canada’s trickiest foreign relationships is a poor reflection on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ability to appoint competent diplomats. McCallum hasn’t been replaced with a new ambassador, yet. Scheer said he would put in a new person “right away.”
- The Conservative Party is asking Canada's spy agency to investigate whether recent comments by Ottawa's former ambassador to China pose a threat to the upcoming fall election. In a letter to Canadian Security Intelligence Service director David Vigneault, Conservative Party deputy leader Lisa Raitt and its public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus ask CSIS to investigate whether McCallum's "disturbing" comments pose a threat to the security of Canada.
- The letter said: "This advice was partisan in nature and encouraged the government of China to take specific actions in order to influence Canada's democratic process. This is highly inappropriate, for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the fact the Government of China continues to arbitrarily detain two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and has taken other hostile actions towards Canada."
Word of the Week
Interference - the unwanted or unnecessary intrusion into a situation
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Interfering Intrusions
Teaser: Canada’s premiers build unity against the carbon tax, Victoria’s plastic bag ban gets thrown in the trash, and Trudeau nominates an anti-pipeline candidate. Also, former Liberal minister John McCallum invites Chinese interference in our elections.
Recorded Date: July 13, 2019
Release Date: July 14, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes