The News Rundown
- With the election coming up on Monday October 21st, fake news has been flying every which way these past few weeks. It's been difficult for us to figure out what's the real news and what's just election blather.
- After accusing Conservatives of fear mongering in Chinese-language election ads, the Liberals are now facing questions about whether they’re guilty of doing the same thing.
- A Liberal party ad posted on Facebook this week features a prominent picture of a rifle and a tagline that says “The Conservative Party wants looser gun regulation.” An accompanying caption says: “Once the Conservative Party takes power, these assault rifles will spread through the streets. The Liberal Party will strengthen gun control, and crack down on gun crime.”
- Asked Thursday by a reporter if the Liberals were engaged in the spread of disinformation just like they had accused the Conservatives of doing, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said: “We have made the commitment to ban military-style assault weapons across this country. (Conservative Leader) Andrew Scheer has clearly said he will not. Indeed, he wants to reverse some of the changes we made to render it easier for people to access weapons. Will he ban assault weapons? If he does, we are happy to withdraw any ads to point out that he doesn’t want to ban assault weapons.”
- We know this is another lie and misdirection from actual issues.
- Conservative party spokesman Simon Jefferies said the ad was “nothing but more lies.” He went on to outline Scheer’s plans to tackle violent crime and gun crime, including ending automatic bail for gang members, ensuring prison time for possessing a smuggled firearm and creating stronger background checks for gun licences. He did not, however, say anything about the party’s plans to change access to guns themselves.
- Just last week, it was the Liberals who accused the Conservatives of using scare tactics in various Chinese-language ads.
- One ad on Facebook featured an image of someone using a razor blade to cut white powder. “Previously, Trudeau legalized marijuana, and now he plans to legalize hard drugs!” the caption read. A similar ad also reportedly appeared on the popular Chinese-language messaging platform WeChat.
- A related Facebook video stated that the Liberals “intend to legalize hard drugs, just like they legalized marijuana. Only Scheer’s Conservatives can stop Trudeau’s hard drug legalization plan and protect the safety of our children.”
- Trudeau has previously stated he has no plans to pursue further decriminalization of drugs. But Jefferies cited video clips in which Trudeau states he is not considering legalizing hard drugs “right now” or “at this time.” He said: “If Justin Trudeau tells us precisely when he is going to legalize dangerous drugs we will amend our advertisements to reflect this new information.”
- It's clear that both parties are courting the growing Asian population. One of the major hurdles of news organizations and polls trying to figure out the issues are the logistical problems in canvassing a significant minority of the population that doesn't primarily communicate in English.
- After the French language debates, the Bloc recording a huge surge of support, while the Conservatives stagnated and the Liberals fell way down. People in English Canada would likely not realize that a huge shift has happened in Quebec, and pollsters are still trying to catch up, similar to the swing to the Liberals in Quebec in 2015 or to the NDP in 2011.
- Along with that, we've got ridings in Canada with a significant minority populations, mainly in the larger cities of Vancouver and Toronto, but certainly elsewhere too, where targeted ads can swing ridings.
- So as always, it's hard to tell the fake news from the real. As we run up close to the election, remember to cut through the bias and the noise, and remember to go out and vote. Remember the last 4 years. Elections have consequences, and this one will too. Make your voice be heard.
- Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg paid a visit to Alberta this week. She visited Calgary in a relatively low key affair and then proceeded to Edmonton where she marched with Climate Justice Edmonton protestors and spoke at a climate rally at the Alberta Legislature.
- This is the same Greta Thunberg who took a sail boat across the Atlantic and claims to have no plan yet on how to get home because she doesn’t fly due to its carbon footprint.
- But as reported by The Times of London, after Thunberg arrived in the US a team flew from Europe to New York to bring the yacht back to Europe.
- You don’t hear this in the media but there was indeed a flight to North America in tandem with the boat trip.
- While speaking at the rally Greta hit on all the climate talking points.
- “We are not doing this because we want to”
- “If we are to have a 67 per cent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees we had, on Jan. 1, 2018, 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left in our CO2 budget. And now that number is down to less than 360 gigatonnes, as we emit equal to 42 gigatonnes of CO2 every year”
- The abstract nature of said statement.
- Tackling issues of climate is not a black or white issue. Protestors would have us believe that the action required is to shut down the oil sands and pursue a green economy.
- Gerald Butts: Not an alternate route, but an alternate economy.
- Last month Guardian journalist George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg produced a short film that focused on “natural climate solutions”
- Thunberg said, “Right now, we are ignoring natural climate solutions… We spend 1,000 times more on global fossil fuel subsidies than on nature-based solutions. This is your money, it is your taxes, and your savings.”
- Guardian journalist Monbiot said, “Nature is a tool we can use to repair our broken climate.”
- The 2014 Global Carbon project estimated that 37% of human produced CO2 was absorbed by land.
- In a 2016 article in the Financial Post using these figures it is estimated that Canada’s carbon absorption capacity based on land area alone and the global average for carbon absorption, indicates that Canada could be absorbing 20–30% more CO2 than we already emit.
- Alberta is home to western Canada’s largest wind farm, the future home to a large solar installation, and Canada ranks 9th for wind capacity globally.
- While the Greta event was happening, Premier Kenney was announcing a new natural gas pipeline.
- The pipeline will enable the Keephills coal electricity plant to be converted from coal to natural gas.
- This will of course reduce greenhouse gas emissions as natural gas burns cleaner than coal.
- The pipeline is 120km long and will deliver 130m cubic feet of natural gas per day, expanding to 440 million cubic feet once generating stations are converted to natural gas.
- The conversions are expected to be complete by 2021 with two additional units repowered by 2023–2024.
- Climate strikers and those aligned with Greta see issues with nuclear, carbon capture and storage, and new technologies to reduce emissions over time such as this natural gas project.
- The solution to climate isn’t a switch off of key economic sectors, it is through technology and progress made moving forward.
- Finally two bits on the climate march in Edmonton.
- First the Indian Resource Council Chiefs issued a response to the Edmonton Climate Strike, in particular saying, “Climate Justice Edmonton claims to fight for ‘Indigenous rights’. However the IRC Chiefs and leaders have long argued that Indigenous rights include economic rights, including the right to economic development, self-determination and a livelihood.”
- Samson Band Councillor Vincent Saddleback said, “We care deeply about the Earth and we understand the threat posed by climate change. But as long as there is a demand for oil and gas products, we would prefer if our resources are brought to market, as we know they are ethically and responsibly developed.”
- This marks once again the case of a cause and the media ignoring the minutiae of the actual news and focusing on the bright and shiny.
- And in a note of irony, oil and gas supporters and a pro pipeline truck convoy from Red Deer arrived first at the Alberta Legislature on Friday morning.
- The convoy and counter protest was organized by United We Roll, the same group that organized the cross country convoy to Ottawa this past February.
- "About a year ago on episode 95, I covered a story where two key officers of the BC Legislature, Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, were placed on indefinite leave, who were accused of "flagrant overspending" of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both James and Lenz have since resigned after a lengthy investigation by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Beverly McLachlin to determine any wrongdoing. The BC Legislature corruption scandal was one of the bigger BC stories of the past year, and now it's being concluded. Neither James nor Lenz have been charged with any crime.
- As the investigation wraps up, former Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard has released his report on the findings, and B.C. Premier John Horgan and his chief of staff Geoff Meggs are under fire over findings that the premier’s office shredded a document associated with the legislative spending scandal.
- The report by Doug LePard, released on Tuesday, concluded that Meggs met with Speaker Darryl Plecas, his chief of staff Alan Mullen and NDP MLA Raj Chouhan on July 30, 2018. James and Lenz were not removed from the legislature until the end of November.
- “I asked my chief of staff to take the meeting. He did. When he saw the information he said it should immediately go to the police. My office is not an investigatory body,” Horgan said.
- Plecas offered Premier John Horgan details of alleged wrongdoing. He declined to be briefed, leaving the file in the hands of his chief of staff with instructions to keep him out of it.
- Plecas brought multiple copies of a draft of his report containing various allegations against James. That report was left behind and later shredded by Meggs.
- “As we later learned, many of the allegations turned out to be unsubstantiated,” Meggs wrote in a statement. “I was in no position to verify the allegations, and the Premier’s Office is rightly not involved in administration of the Legislative Assembly. For those reasons, and because of the seriousness of the allegations, I urged the Speaker to provide his information to the police. I was later advised by Deputy Speaker Raj Choujan that the Speaker had done so.”
- Instead of directly handing in the evidence to police, Meggs was relying on others to do it instead.
- Horgan, for his part, defended Meggs Tuesday, claiming the document was “his to shred.” He also characterized it as being of “unknown origin,” though it had been hand delivered to the premier’s office by the Speaker himself.
- He accused reporters of making “good careers out of spreading rumours.” and that reporters were splitting hairs and "making mountains out of molehills".
- But his decision to avoid the messy details of the spending scandal was not clear back in November, 2018, when he said he was shocked and had no idea of the substance of allegations that led to the resignations.
- Later Meggs himself defended the decision to shred, saying “it was the right thing to do,” and “If it had found its way to the wrong place, it could have caused problems.”
- But the copy Meggs shredded occupies a unique place in the paper trail of this complex and unresolved case. It is the document that led the premier’s office to advise the Speaker to take his allegations to the police. The advice was followed, leading to the appointment of two special prosecutors and the suspension of James and Lenz from their positions at the legislature. That makes it the founding document of the entire case against Lenz and James.
- Still, in a case with huge political implications as this one, it would have been wiser for the chief of staff to have kept his copy, against the day when he might be asked to produce it.
- BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is asking for Meggs to be terminated. In a letter to the premier, Wilkinson says he has a “serious concern” regarding Meggs’ conduct.
- Wilkinson says Meggs should have immediately brought forward evidence to the police following the meeting and to the three House Leaders who, as the elected officials, are responsible and accountable for the proper management of the legislature and are the appropriate authorities to address such a matter.
- “Mr. Meggs has admitted to shredding the evidence presented to him. This is indefensible, as it is his obligation to bring possible criminal activity to the attention of the police,” Wilkinson said.
- “Mr. Meggs’ conduct is an inexcusable obstruction of the judicial process. We are calling for you as Premier to put your friendship aside, do what is right for the people of British Columbia, and immediately terminate your Chief of Staff, Geoff Meggs.”
- Whether this issue is enough that Meggs should be fired or not, it's probable that he'll continue as Horgan's chief of staff, and that Wilkinson is just trying to score political points. For the rest of us, we can only hope that the days of rampant corruption in the legislature are over, and that our tax dollars aren't being spent by our legislature employees on lavish clothing purchases, wasteful international trips , a truckload of $10,000 worth of alcohol, or a wood splitter."
- Cutting immigration by 10%
- A values test
- A law that prevents religious minorities from wearing visible symbols of faith
- What do these have in common?
- These are policies put forward by Quebec premier Francois Legault.
- In terms of the currently ongoing federal election the most we have heard from any of the leaders is that they may intervene in the Bill 21 case that prevents religious symbols from being displayed.
- Why haven’t we heard more?
- In the Toronto Sun Brian Lilley writes, “Had Ontario Premier Doug Ford or Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggested that they wanted 10% fewer immigrants, that would have been close to the entirety of Trudeau’s campaign against federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. He would have denounced them as racists. That’s without the values test of the bigoted bill.”
- When the topic came up in a French language debate Trudeau said, “If, for example, a Conservative majority government under Doug Ford wanted to attack francophones in Ontario, they expect a federal government to be there to defend them.”
- It always comes back to Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, or Stephen Harper with Justin Trudeau.
- Justin Trudeau also has a focus on Quebec that wouldn’t pass muster for Andrew Scheer.
- During the French language debate he told listeners that Quebec’s lowering of immigration levels was good for Quebec.
- He said, “That’s a good thing because of the Quebec identity and because of the need to protect the French language and if he wants to apply a values test, well, he can do that and it’s appropriate.”
- Now, what if this were Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Ontario? Would the same rules apply? Likely not.
- This is the same story we saw with SNC-Lavalin, Justin Trudeau said that he was protecting jobs, jobs in Quebec.
- More and more we need to ask what his motivations are with this latest example now on display.
- Yesterday Trudeau tweeted, “Our Quebec team understands what matters most to people in Quebec, and shares your values and priorities. This team is strong, and will keep Quebecers at the heart of their decisions in government.”
- Shamelessly he has doubled down on Quebec values even though in the past he has called those same values racist.
- Accompanying the tweet was a photo that in French says, “we stand up for Quebec” while in english it says, “standing up for quebec”
- The one word matters all the most. We = the government and this further demonstrates the national unity issues that have risen up over the past 4 years.
- The media should be as tuned into this as they would be if this question was being asked about BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, or Newfoundland.
- The fact they haven’t and what one of the major parties has said in French is completely different to their stance in English should alarm all of us.
Word of the Week
Vote - a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands or by voice.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Foreign Fearmongering
Teaser: Misinformation in other languages distorts election messaging, Greta Thunberg visits Alberta, and Horgan’s chief of staff shreds important documents. Also, Trudeau gives Quebec control over an immigration values test, but not the other provinces.
Recorded Date: October 18, 2019
Release Date: October 20, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes