The News Rundown
- After four years in power, the Liberal government still hasn't delivered on the promise of a detailed plan for developing Canada's North in a time of climate change and economic and military threats from circumpolar powers. Almost three years ago, the Liberals committed to developing an Arctic Policy Framework. The document, intended to replace past strategies designed by the previous Conservative government, was supposed to be released this summer. A recently scheduled announcement of the policy was cancelled. It's unclear whether the finished policy will be released before the election.
- Arctic economic and governance expert John Higginbotham is more blunt about the absence of a new framework, calling the cancellation a "joke". He said Canada's North has been "screaming" for federal leadership in building roads and ports, preparing for commercial traffic through the Northwest Passage, bolstering defence, and creating economic opportunities.
- Instead, he said, the government has focused its mandate in the Arctic on a progressive agenda of eco-social issues like expanding conservation and marine protected areas. Higginbotham says that previous Liberal strategies have shown that "they want as little economic development as possible up in the North."
- Data collected from NASA has shown a remarkable decline in Arctic perennial ice, or ice and snow buildup that resists melting in the summertime. Increasingly there is less ice in the summertime, and if trends continue, a mythical sea lane that early 1500s explorers called the Northwest Passage could soon be a reality.
- And if that reality happens in the current political climate, Canada will have a hard time defending its Arctic sovereignty against Russia, China, the US, and even Denmark and Norway unless it has a legitimate way to defend its economic interests in the Arctic.
- Conservative MP Erin O'Toole called the Liberals' track record on the Arctic a "colossal failure." He said if the document drops during the pre-writ period, it will become a political document instead of a non-partisan vision. O'Toole, the party's foreign affairs critic, said Canada is falling behind its circumpolar neighbours — the U.S, Denmark and Russia.
- China recently released a white paper that laid out the country's plan to establish a "Polar Silk Road" through the Northwest Passage. The much graver threat would be if Chinese corporations moved aggressively into the delicate region, looking to reap the rewards of the now rapid melt underway. Several successive announcements from 2018 have showed that Beijing had committed to a nuclear ice-breaker program. Meanwhile, our Icebreaker fleet was built in the 1960s and 1970s and is rapidly aging.
- Jessica Shadian, president of Arctic360, an organization that works to educate financial institutions about opportunities in the North, said Canada's polar region needs not partisanship but an in-depth, multi-decade plan — something she doubts the Liberal framework will deliver.
- Shadian said the North needs a plan that creates a business case for Bay Street investors who see the North as a foreign land.
- "I also work a lot with financial institutions ... They don't have a business case in front of them," Shadian said. "To see why they should be partners. Because obviously, the federal government cannot fund these projects alone."
- Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern agrees with Shadian, saying a compelling business case would lure private sector investment and attract buy-in from provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments. She also pointed to one key area where Canada's North needs investment: higher education. Although Canada has committed to opening Canada's first university in the Yukon, she said that's not enough for a region that accounts for 40 per cent of Canada's territory.
- This week we could be talking about any number of stories in Alberta: The MacKinnon panel report that confirms that yes, Alberta does have a spending problem, the Alberta Energy Regulator board being replaced, or the government winning their court case regarding Bill 9 delaying wage negotiations with Unions until after the budget.
- This past Tuesday Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi tweeted, “It’s 5:30pm. This train is so annoying. #yeg @ShayGanam”
- Sohi was on the east end of Edmonton tweeting about a train delaying cars. The train has been an issue for years and traffic concerns will eventually be dealt with by bringing in grade separation for the train and road traffic.
- Premier Kenney called out Sohi in a Tweet saying: “Minister, those are oil cars. They are moving oil that could have been shipped more safely by the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines that were killed by your government.”
- Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall chimed in saying: “Um … those look like oil cars Minister. But maybe they’re hauling irony.”
- Alberta went to the drastic step of leasing tanker cars to move the oil to market as there is currently a lack of pipeline capacity.
- While some have preferred to link this to the infrastructure problem in the city of Edmonton (which many other ones exist), we can’t ignore what the Minister said.
- The National Post headline is calling it ‘Jason Kenney’s Twitter spat over a train in Edmonton’
- Here we don’t normally wade into the Twitter world but it’s 2019 and unfortunately, government statements and policy, are sometimes made on Twitter.
- Sohi responded to Kenney saying:
- “The Premier is clearly out of touch with the traffic reality faced by residents & businesses in southeast Edmonton.
- This rail crossing has been a problem for two decades.
- While the Harper government failed to fix it, our government is getting the job done. #cdnpoli #yeg…
- As the Premier knows:
- NGP was quashed by the Court after his gov failed on consultations. Energy East didn’t move forward after KXL was back on the table. The Premier may choose to ignore these facts but our record is clear: ✔️3 major pipelines are underway.”
- Northern Gateway was approved by the previous government and its court challenges are the same that Trans Mountain is seeing. The government could have chosen to fight but they didn’t
- Energy East was cancelled by the government, they can point to Keystone XL but let’s realize that that’s only happening due to President Trump in the United States.
- The train is annoying, for multiple reasons. Oil wise, federal government. Road wise the city.
- What many of our out of Edmonton listeners may not realize is that Sohi, prior to becoming an MP, represented Southeast Edmonton at City Hall.
- The City of Edmonton and larger cities are notorious for blaming their problems on higher levels of government. The reality is that roads are a city responsibility unless they’re one of the major highways that passes through the city.
- Sohi could have pushed to have something done about the roads in this area while he was city councillor. But for the last decade and a half or so city council has been obsessed with vanity projects like the new arena, downtown core, and while LRT is good, building LRT and hoping it will spur development is risky.
- The MacKinnon panel report amongst other things suggested “Aligning funding to provincial goals priorities and fiscal capacity, and considering funding formulas that require municipalities to share more in the costs of major projects;” and “Establishing accountability mechanisms and performance measures to monitor the delivery of municipal programs and services and value for money spent, so citizens have the ability to evaluate their local government and the use of tax dollars”
- What this means is that cities need to be more responsive and consider sharing more costs in major projects and ensure the citizens are getting value for money spent.
- The road and train issue could be fixed but as we know, budgets are always tight in the City of Edmonton.
- The pipeline issue could have been fixed by this government and as Natural Resources Minister, Sohi does bear some of this responsibility.
- Any way we look at this story it either comes back to Sohi and Trudeau’s government or the City of Edmonton, its council, now and back when Sohi was a part of it.
- It is not Jason Kenney’s Twitter spat and judging from the reaction to Sohi’s Tweet, he’s going to have some trouble in Edmonton-Mill Woods in just over a months time.
- Similar to our Alberta story, this story originated on social media. A clipped video of Trudeau was provoking outrage on Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook and among conservative commentators. Let's listen to that now so we have full disclosure at what we're looking at: [Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpY9vJuLmxU]
- Now for the context: Trudeau was making what he considered a joke at the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner in May earlier this year. The Parliamentary Press Gallery event is a time where politicians get to let loose, crack some jokes at their own expense, and make fun of other politicians at the same time. Oftentimes the jokes will at best fall flat, or at worst come across as arrogant and insulting, no matter which party leader it comes from. In 2017, Andrew Scheer poked fun at the idea that he's bought and paid for by the dairy industry by drinking out of a milk carton. In 2015 Elizabeth May had a rambling drunken rant that with her stating that Omar Khadr had more class than the "whole bleeping Harper cabinet" before being escorted off the stage in disgrace.
- This past year, Trudeau made reference to his 600 million dollar media subsidy...i mean bailout, i mean bribery money, and that was the clipped video. Interestingly, it hasn't been edited, just clipped, without the rest of the so called joke. The clipped video doesn't show what Trudeau showed during the press gallery dinner, which was a handful of headlines showing Trudeau in a bad light.
- The first problem is that Trudeau's joke actually had more truth than humour to it. The second problem is that the money used to bailout the media was Canadian's tax dollars, of which Trudeau has spent so many of in the past 4 years that we are now billions in debt. And the third, and maybe the worst problem, is that the media has noticeably skewed coverage through Trudeau's many scandals and even through pre-election coverage towards the Liberals. Time and time again we've covered stories that either receive little attention in the mainstream media, or were so obviously biased in their coverage.
- Canada Proud founder Jeff Ballingall, whose organization made the clip go viral on Facebook, rejected the idea that the video had been misleadingly edited: “The point of the video is that he is being flippant about the bailout to the media that’s very dangerous to our democracy. The point of the video is to showcase that Trudeau thinks it’s funny… and his bribe of the media is something to be laughed at.”
- So something about this clip of an arrogant Trudeau has struck a chord with voters going into the election that Trudeau seems to be waiting until the last minute to call. That would be fine, if the story ended there. However, it didn't.
- CBC and Global News, both organizations having journalists acting as upcoming debate moderators, wrote pieces defending Trudeau's "joke" and decrying fake news.
- From the CBC article headlined: 'Misleading Trudeau 'joke' video demonstrates the political power of editing': "It's a small tweak that distorts the video's meaning without sophisticated editing".
- The CBC even interviewed Gordon Pennycook, an assistant professor at the University of Regina who researches disinformation, who offered that "This is an interesting example of how a tiny little cut or edit can make something that actually happened become misleading. There's been a lot of hand-wringing about 'deepfake' videos and that kind of stuff, but with selective editing you can do quite a bit to mislead people."
- The thing is, as we've said, it's not edited. Trudeau actually said what he was shown to have said. It's just missing the context. But even with the context, it's still arrogant. And that sums up Trudeau in a nutshell.
- So, while Trudeau may have thought he was joking, the reality is that his joke actually contained the truth: He’s using your tax dollars to buy off the media, and control the narrative as the election approaches.
- This past week the Liberals dropped Imam Hassan Guillet as a candidate for the riding of Saint - Léonard Saint - Michel.
- The party said he was dropped because "The insensitive comments made by Hassan Guillet are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada.”
- B’nai Brith Canada reached out to the Liberals at least a week before this story went public with the allegations that Guillet had made antisemetic comments.
- In January 2017 Guillet celebrated the release of a Hamas-aligned activist who accused Jews of staging the 9/11 attacks.
- Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist group.
- Further on in late 2017 Guillet called Israel an apartheid state when in reality Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East with Western values.
- He’s also been on record saying that “the Zionists control American politics” antisemetic keyword for saying that Jews control world governments.
- In fighting back, Guillet said that, "This is not the whole truth and it is not the end. Certainly I will not abandon the thousands of people who have believed in me and want real change… Soon the truth will be known by all. We have an appointment with history.”
- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also called on the candidate to be removed.
- Let’s note the difference now. In the Alberta race there were numerous candidates highlighted by the media for having homophobic views in the past, links to white supremacist groups, or giving questionable religious sermons. Some of these links were circumstantial at best and went away when context was provided. Some proved to be true and the candidates resigned as they should have.
- In the media though those stories dominated the news cycle for days. The media also did not hesitate to bring them up based on stories that were tangential at best.
- Here at Western Context we put antisemitism in the same bag as homophobia and white supremacism. That bag is completely unacceptable.
- We are not saying that this story or any story of a candidate being ejected should go on and on for days. That’s a waste of everyone’s time.
- What should happen is that any time a candidate is ejected or a party fails to do so, it should be covered in the same way whether it’s antisemitism, homophobia, or white supremacism.
- The fact that this did not make national headlines speaks volumes.
- It’s 2019 and the current push is an agenda of inclusion of the LGBT community and any story that goes against that community is guaranteed to generate traction. That’s why those get covered at length and are brought up time and time again.
- In reality though let’s realize that the Jewish people were the victims of the greatest race crime ever, the holocaust. And looking at the hate crime index in Canada, more Jewish people are targeted than any other group.
- In 2018 there were 347 incidents reported, the Jewish community was most targeted when it came to religion. The Black community was most targeted in 2018 when it came to race with 283 incidents.
- This should have gained more media attention than it did and speaks volumes to the double standards that we see in the media regarding all issues.
Word of the Week
Joke - a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline, or a person or thing that is ridiculously inadequate.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: No Joking Matter
Teaser: Trudeau’s government is silent on it’s plan for the Arctic, a Twitter spat over an Edmonton train shows oil hypocrisy, and Trudeau joking about his media bailout provokes outrage. Also, a Liberal candidate was dropped after anti-semetic comments surface.
Recorded Date: September 7, 2019
Release Date: September 8, 2019
Edit Notes: Insert Trudeau audio clip and Internet drop
Podcast Summary Notes