The News Rundown
- The RCMP is investigating the potentiality of obstruction of justice within the PMO.
- The RCMP has interviewed Jody Wilson-Raybould to discuss potential interference in the SNC-Lavalin case.
- On Tuesday she had her formal interview in Vancouver and following that issued a statement saying, “I have had a meeting and I have been interviewed by the RCMP, and that meeting happened [Tuesday], and I am not going to comment any further on the nature of those conversations… “Of course I am concerned about the government’s decision to deny [the RCMP’s] request for access to other witnesses. As a matter of principle, the RCMP should be able to conduct thorough and necessary investigations.”
- The story continues and grows now that Justin Trudeau has not waived cabinet confidence to allow the RCMP to investigate.
- The Globe and Mail who broke the initial SNC-Lavalin story continues to break new details in regards to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
- A source from the RCMP told The Globe that RCMP investigators are looking into possible obstruction of justice.
- As per the Criminal Code, obstruction of justice occurs when someone attempts to “obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding.”
- Liberal political operatives and media allies are saying that this is not an investigation. But as Brian Lilley writes in the Toronto Sun, “We know this because the justice department confirmed to the Globe that the waiver would not be expanded. We also have confirmation from Trudeau himself and his officials that the decision not to grant that wider waiver of cabinet confidence was made by the Clerk of the Privy Council and he backs up that decision. [We] also know that Jody Wilson-Raybould was interviewed by the Mounties on Tuesday… When the RCMP is looking into potential criminal wrongdoing, when they are interviewing witnesses and seeking documents, that is an investigation.”
- Justin Trudeau in response to this says that he already has given the “most expansive waiver of cabinet confidence” but Global News went through this and found that both Prime Minister’s Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney both released larger waivers of cabinet confidence for the sponsorship scandal and airbus affair respectively.
- Justin Trudeau also has been painting the narrative that it’s the clerk of the privy council that can waive cabinet confidence. Law experts have clarified this week that it is ultimately the responsibility of the Prime Minister or Premier to waive cabinet confidence.
- Justin Trudeau is wrong and he and his political team are hoping that Canadians will believe him blindly.
- We then get into the more sinister matter of this case.
- Trudeau called the election on September 11th. September 11th is a day that is always commemorated and mourned.
- Why September 11th? Well it could be that he was waiting for the Manitoba election to conclude as it did on the evening of September 10th.
- But perhaps more concerning is the role of the RCMP.
- Trudeau and company knew the report was coming from the Globe on Tuesday evening.
- What is being overlooked days into the campaign is that the RCMP pauses politically sensitive operations during a national campaign.
- So while we have this report that the RCMP was looking into obstruction with regards to SNC, Trudeau had a perfectly legal yet slimy way to shut down the investigation and he did.
- The fact remains and most listeners are probably aware of this, no one is above the law. Trudeau prevented the Ethics Commissioner from getting a full picture and is now doing the same to the RCMP. The investigation should continue if we want to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the RCMP is a politically independent body.
- In BC we've seen an important economical story fly completely under the radar other than one columnist at the Vancouver Sun keeping track of it. At the beginning of the fiscal year in April, BC Finance Minister Carole James released her budget for the year, and had a rosy prediction of a 2.4% growth for this year and 2.3% for 2020. Now, James has cautiously revised her predictions, now with just a targeted 1.7% and 1.9% growth respectively. The question remains, why exactly has the economy in BC slowed down to such a large extent?
- James believes it's to do with a huge drop in home sales, a decline in exports, and a decline in retail. The finance minister acknowledged that another factor in the slower-than-expected growth figures was the succession of bad news in the forest sector.
- “Top of mind, certainly, for all of us in government — and I think all of us in B.C. — are the mill closures and the challenges we’re seeing in the forest industry. We know the forest industry is struggling.”
- The impact of all those closures wasn't fully reflected in her latest update. There were about six dozen announcements of closures and reduced operations at B.C. mills before the June 30 end of the first financial quarter. But there have been another three dozen or so since then, including the shutdown announcement Tuesday by the Surrey-based Teal Jones Group. The news means the immediate layoff of some 300 logging contractors on Vancouver Island. Once inventories are exhausted, some 500 mill workers at two mills in Surrey will be affected as well.
- While James blamed the decline in the forest sector on international markets, the pine beetle infestation and neglect under the B.C. Liberals, Teal Jones also singled actions under the NDP.
- “Teal-Jones’ economics have been further negatively impacted by high stumpage rates and higher harvesting costs. Current stumpage rates remain high relative to lumber prices, and harvesting costs have been adversely impacted by new regulations to bring out more residual waste fibre. These negative factors have made it impossible for the company to continue operating its forest licenses economically.”
- Still, for all the revisions, risks and concerns, James managed to keep the budget on track to end in a modest projected surplus of $179 million. She did it by siphoning $300 million from the unused contingency fund. That left almost $1 billion in untapped funds in contingencies and an accompanying forecast allowance.
- “We have a very careful, prudent approach to budget managing,” said the finance minister. “You’ll see that that will help us weather some of the economic storms that are coming.”
- On the other hand, James' "careful and prudent budget approach" has led to several billions more in capital spending on hospitals, schools, housing, and other large scale construction projects.
- James took the wraps off the expanded plan Tuesday, all the while insisting that the additions were affordable within the NDP budget and the province’s vaunted triple A credit rating: “This is the largest capital plan that we’ve seen in B.C.’s history. We know the difference that it’s making in communities that haven’t seen this kind of investment.”
- The changes added 19 projects with a combined price tag of $2.66 billion to the plan. Heading the list of approvals were three new hospital redevelopments for Terrace, Williams Lake and Burnaby with a combined price tag of $1.21 billion. There were also $273 million worth of school projects for Coquitlam, Quesnel, Victoria and Langford.
- The finance minister also confirmed approval for four new transportation ministry projects — three highways and one ferry improvement — at $497 million. Then came three new affordable housing projects for Vancouver and Burnaby at $238 million and the replacement of the Nanaimo correctional centre, budgeted at $157 million. B.C. Hydro has been green-lighted to add $283 million worth of upgrades and refurbishing to four separate facilities.
- With the less active growth in the economy of BC, James actually said that the government had to dial back its plans, despite almost 3 billion in new spending.
- “We’re continuing our key investments because they will help us, in fact, weather the storms that we’re facing,” she told reporters by way of justifying the several billion dollars worth of additions to the plan. “So the investments that we are putting in are helping communities and helping with jobs in every corner of British Columbia.”
- About half of the three-year capital plan will be financed internally, the rest through increased borrowing. But James insisted that the extra borrowing could be undertaken without damaging the province’s top-ranked credit rating.
- “We continue to be on solid footing, with being the only province that has a AAA credit rating, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, a balanced budget and zero operating debt.”
- She noted that the taxpayer-supported debt, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, remains at a relatively low 15 per cent. It's among the best in the country, and one of the reasons for B.C. earning the highest credit ratings under both the previous B.C. Liberal and current NDP government.
- But if the approaching storms turn into a full-blown recession, it could lead to a significant drop in GDP and revenues. If that were to happen, James and her colleagues might have to choose between reining in the borrowing, or living with a downgrade to the credit rating. We'll have to keep a close eye on the government's finances, because certainly the media won't be.
- Meanwhile, the other piece of important news for BC was that more than 223,000 people filled out an BC government online survey aimed at finding out British Columbians thoughts on seasonal time changes, otherwise known as daylight savings time. On Monday, Premier John Horgan said that 93% of British Columbians that participated in the public consultation are in favour of getting rid of seasonal time changes and sticking to DST year round.
- Horgan added: “I believe this is something British Columbians want to see happen and it’s long overdue. There are groups that have been advocating for this for a long, long time and the time is now right. Overwhelming support, you don’t see that on many issues. I think I would be ill-advised not to listen to the public on this one.”
- Horgan is set to meet with Yukon premier Sandy Silver later this month to discuss the territory also moving to permanent DST. One of the issues B.C. is grappling with is whether to make the change even if California, Oregon and Washington do not. Horgan spoke to Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Monday and informed him about the feedback in B.C.
- “Their congressional delegation, led by Senator Patty Murray, is going to push to get the initiative passed this fall. But they can’t get it passed without congressional approval. We don’t need Ottawa to make the change. I advised Governor Inslee today about the magnitude of support. He kind of chuckled. You will remember he got one per cent support in the Democratic primary. He said whenever you see 93 per cent at anything you are on the right track.” Inslee of course, has since suspended his campaign for president and is instead looking to be re-elected as governor of Washington state.
- Horgan says it was a “coin flip” in the public survey over whether B.C. should wait for the US states or go at it alone. There is no date set on when the U.S. Congress could vote. Washington, Oregon and California have all approved moving to permanent DST at the state level. The B.C. government will give the delegation three or four weeks to see if the decision can get pushed through Congress before making a final decision on when B.C. will change. The clocks are scheduled to fall back on Nov. 3.
- That said, 93% wanting to stay on DST year round is pretty noteworthy. It appears that a change to our clocks is only a matter of time.
- Amnesty International has taken issue with Alberta’s fight against anti-oil and gas lobbyists.
- This was one of the UCP’s election promises, the creation of a task force that would respond to inaccurate false claims from media and third party groups regarding the Alberta energy industry.
- The “war room” as it’s been called has $30m in provincial funding.
- Amnesty International feels that the “initiatives undermine and violate a range of Alberta’s human rights obligations, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, the rights of Indigenous peoples and gender equality.”
- Freedom of expression, freedom of association, the rights of Indigenous peoples, and gender equality: Realize that Canada is second to none in all of these and the alternative sources for oil of either Saudi Arabia or Venezuela are severely lacking on human rights.
- Premier Jason Kenney issued a lengthy response which highlighted many atrocities in the world from authoritarian governments, civil wars, human trafficking, and genocide and said that “it must be a tall order to find something, anything to denounce here in our gelid but placid Dominion.”
- The Premier also highlights regimes such as Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran amongst others that Amnesty International could focus on.
- Bringing things back to home, he highlights the UCP platform promise to take steps to “partner with First Nations in defense of our shared economic interests through the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC). This $1 billion commitment, backed with the full faith and credit of the Alberta government, will encourage First Nations participation in resource development.”
- Finally in the response to Amnesty International the Premier said, “Demand for oil is not going away soon… Every credible estimate shows several more decades of strong oil demand, and the world is going to get it from somewhere. Shutting down Alberta’s oil industry means more global supply – including much of the oil imported to Canada’s East Coast – will be sourced from the world’s worst human rights abusers, instead of from the most ethical and best-regulated industry in one of the freest countries in the world”
- Alex Neve, the secretary general for Amnesty International Canada responded on Friday highlighting that yes, Amnesty International, does focus on regimes like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
- Neve brought it back saying the “three grim human rights realities that Premier Kenney fails to acknowledge” are the global climate crisis, the rights of indigenous people when it comes to pipeline construction, and third, in recent years a “staggering upsurge in the frequency and severity in attacks against human rights defenders around the world.”
- So while those other countries have abuses, we have abuses too except for us, climate change is an abuse since indigenous peoples concerns are pledged to be looked after by the UCP and the UCP isn’t threatening the safety of any human rights defenders.
- The last number of years have seen the rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, and other so called “populist” leaders and political parties.
- The battle has increasingly become not one of the past free markets versus more government control. It has become one of the interests of the people versus those of large international bodies and political organizations (such as Amnesty International).
- The Alberta government is standing up for local interests while Amnesty International is looking to make a stink about something at home even though there are far more egregious concerns than in Canada on its own.
- On September 11th, Justin Trudeau finally decided to call the election. As longtime listeners will know, we've been looking for Trudeau to officially call the election for weeks now, but he decided that September 11th was the best time to do it.
- Lots of Canadians disagreed with that decision, calling the decision's timing "disrespectful" to our neighbours to the south, who were going through a tough day 18 years after the most horrific terrorist attack the modern world has ever seen.
- The election call also coincided with a report that the Federal Government has blocked the RCMP from fully investigating any obstruction of justice during the SNC-Lavalin case.
- The first debate of the election campaign was held on Thursday night hosted by Macleans and broadcast by CityTv. Liberal leader Trudeau, Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May were all invited to the debate. Scheer, Singh and May accepted their invitation, but Trudeau refused to show up.
- While Trudeau was at a campaign event in Edmonton where he's trying desperately to hold onto his few Alberta MPs, the other 3 took a lively debate in Toronto where Trudeau's record of the past 4 years was mercilessly torn down. Macleans' moderator Paul Wells was generally unsuccessful in trying to keep the debate on topic and the contestants from shouting over each other.
- At times the debate was a sort of "greatest hit" list of the prime minister's perceived failings in his first term: the SNC-Lavalin debacle, unbalanced budgets, a major pipeline purchase, troubled Crown-Indigenous relations, a fractious relationship with China and a much-mocked trip to India.
- Trudeau refused an invitation to this televised exchange, saying he'd only commit to the two debates organized by the debates commission. Later, he decided he'd show up to another one in French on the widely watched Quebec network TVA. Quebec of course, is where the Liberals (and all the other parties) are looking to pick up seats in a hotly contested battleground.
- Elizabeth May called out Justin Trudeau on Twitter for being a no-show in the debate hosted by Maclean’s and Citytv, the first of this election cycle: “In 2015, Justin Trudeau said more debates were healthier for democracy. Why isn’t he showing up tonight? In 2015 he also said he wanted his daughter to see a woman on stage, so I should always be included. Yet he’s attending the TVA debate knowing full well I was not invited.”
- Maclean's made the gutsy, but hilarious decision to leave Trudeau's podium empty, which you will see in our picture of the week. What viewers at home didn’t see was May’s arrival on set: she walked up to the podium left empty in Trudeau’s absence and pretend-shook his hand.
- British network ITV gave former prime minister Theresa May the "empty chair" treatment in 2017 when she declined an invitation to participate in a debate. Current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced similar treatment by another network, Channel 4, this summer during the Conservative leadership race.
- With Trudeau absent, much of the debate was on the stark differences in ideology between the left wing progressives in May and Singh and the more fiscally prudent Scheer. The issues discussed at hand were the economy, foreign affairs, indigenous issues, and environment and energy issues.
- One might have expected Singh and May to focus on one another, since they’re duelling for votes like never before. One would be wrong. The Green and NDP leaders both wanted to show their bases how great they were at battering conservatives. Despite some pointed attacks designed to paint him as similar to Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, and even "Donald Trump's puppet", while accusing him (without much evidence) of wanting to slash taxes for the rich, Scheer proved reluctant to engage with his two progressive opponents except to deny obvious complete falsehoods. Instead, Scheer mostly pivoted to Trudeau's economic failings over the past 4 years.
- Singh and May promised the world to Canadians, 100s of billions of dollars of spending to fund universal dental care, pharmacare, universal income, and what Singh called "massively increased funding for services". Where that money was coming from no one knows. At every turn, the Greens and NDP tried to show voters that they would give more and go further than the Liberals when it comes to spending on social programs and on social issues.
- Singh immediately set the tone that he would follow for the rest of the debate: personal anecdotes of people he had met, combined with attacks on both the absent Mr. Trudeau and the present Mr. Scheer for their preferential treatment of the wealthy, all while interrupting other speakers and then telling them not to interrupt him while he was interrupting them.
- Scheer instead talked about Trudeau's overspending on pet projects that has put Canada further into debt, promising to balance the budget and lower taxes for Canadians.
- Was the debate useful or important? Yes, because it showcased just how different the Conservative approach is to the spend heavy leftist parties. A question of a debate's usefulness should only be answered in the affirmative.
- Rosemary Barton, CBC host of The National, took to Twitter to ask "At Issue will talk debates tonight. Does it matter if someone is there or not? And in case something happens tonight between the 3 who are there. See you later" It should be noted that Barton will be one of the moderators of the 2 debate commission debates. For her to ask about a debate's importance is astounding.
- Surely the moderators aren't all bad. Let's look at what Susan Delacourt, another official debate commission moderator was doing. She wrote an article about what Canadians were Googling during the debate, with such heavy hitting questions as "How old is Justin Trudeau" and "Is Jagmeet Singh married?". Instead of talking about the debate, we get a useless article instead. Ironic from a woman who just a few days earlier wrote about "Why election campaigns matter".
- Another CBC pundit wrote an article entitled "Was Canada’s first election debate ‘real’, and does it even really matter?". Time and time we've seen this in the media. The debates are one of the few times we get to see our party leaders let loose on each other and find out the main differences in ideology. It's one of the core tenets of our democracy. For Trudeau to skip out is deplorable.
- Since the debate, lots of articles have been made fact checking the costs of Scheer's promises during the debate. However, none have been made about the fantastical costs promised by Singh or May for their universal everything plan. For the media to be that one sided on this is very telling. As Scheer said, “Who do you trust so that you can get ahead?” Our version of that would be "Who do you trust to tell you the truth?"
Word of the Week
Investigation: the act or process of examining a statement, problem or crime etc. especially to discover the truth.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Disappearing Act
Teaser: The RCMP’s obstruction of justice case into SNC is blocked by Trudeau, the BC economy is slowing down but spending remains up, and Alberta’s war room on oil misinformation gains enemies. Also, Trudeau no shows the first debate, which matters a great deal.
Recorded Date: September 14, 2019
Release Date: September 15, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes