The News Rundown
- Well, Monday night was our federal election. For those who have somehow not heard yet, the election gave us a result that rather than giving Canadians answers, it just gave us more questions.
- The 2019 election was seen by many to be the most "American style" of any election we've ever had. Rather than focusing on policy and substance, the media covered style and rather meaningless parts of leader's personalities instead.
- The official results were 157 for Trudeau's Liberals, 121 for Scheer's Conservatives, a resurgent BQ under Blanchet capturing 32 Quebec seats, a falling NDP under Singh dropping to 24, and Elizabeth May increasing her caucus by a whopping 300%...from 1 seat to 3 seats. Splitaway PPC leader Maxime Bernier failed to retain his own riding, and indeed, did not win anywhere else, at all.
- It was a long night for many campaigns, filled with some surprise wins and some major upsets. Many races proved to be tight in ridings across the country and weren’t called until late into the night.
- None of the federal political parties hit the 170-seat threshold of a majority government, which the Liberal Party scored when it stormed to power in 2015. Despite winning a plurality of the 338 seats in Parliament and securing minority status this time around, the Liberals lost the popular vote to the Conservatives.
- The Liberals lost 27 seats on Monday night compared to their 2015 election results. The party won a total of 157 seats, down from 184 in 2015 and the 177 the party held at dissolution in September of this year.
- The Liberals didn’t win any seats in Alberta or Saskatchewan. All but two of the previous government’s cabinet ministers were re-elected: Ralph Goodale and Amarjeet Sohi lost their seats in Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively.
- The Conservatives, meanwhile, had a better showing than in 2015, securing 121 seats, up from the 99 the party won four years ago and the 95 it held at dissolution.
- For its part, the recently embattled Bloc Québécois had a great night, reclaiming official party status and snatching third place from the New Democrats. Reduced to just four seats in the orange wave that swept Quebec in 2011, the Bloc recovered slightly in 2015 with 10 seats and then, on Monday night, more than tripled its caucus by securing 32 seats.
- The Bloc resurgence saw the NDP lose 20 seats on Monday night and sink to fourth place. The party won 44 seats in the 2015 election, had 39 at dissolution and won only 24 on Monday evening, despite experience a mini-surge in popularity toward the end of the 2019 campaign.
- The Green Party gained one more seat in the House of Commons with a historic breakthrough in Atlantic Canada. For essentially two terms of Parliament, leader Elizabeth May has been a one-woman caucus and was joined just months before the election campaign by Paul Manly, who won a May 2019 byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. Both May and Manly were re-elected Monday night and are now joined by Jenica Atwin, who picked up the seat in Fredericton, N.B.
- Former Liberal cabinet minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was the sole Independent candidate elected on Monday night. Wilson-Raybould won the B.C. riding of Vancouver Granville for a second time in a row, beating her Liberal and Conservative rivals in the riding’s three-way race.
- Finally, although the new People’s Party of Canada ran candidates in every riding across the country, the party failed to secure a single seat in the House of Commons. Leader Maxime Bernier, who walked out on the Conservatives to found the party, lost his longtime riding of Beauce, Que., to his Tory rival Richard Lehoux.
- In 2019, voter turnout dropped slightly compared to the last federal election. Elections Canada is reporting that 65.95 per cent of eligible Canadian voters cast a ballot, a 2.35 per cent drop from the 68.3 per cent turnout in 2015. That number, however, doesn’t include electors who registered on election day. Based on a count of Elections Canada’s preliminary results, 98 women were elected or re-elected to the House of Commons on Monday night, up from 88 in 2015.
- As the election was winding down, convention says that the losing party leaders speak first, in order of who had the lowest seats. Bernier gave a short concession speech, but then Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet went next, despite being in 3rd in seats. Then Jagmeet Singh followed, and had such a long-winded speech that Andrew Scheer came out to give his speech near the tail end of Singh's before he'd stopped. Then as Scheer gave his opening remarks, Trudeau came out to undercut him by starting his speech instead. Finally, Elizabeth May gave her speech at the end.
- Christo Aivalis, who teaches Canadian politics at the University of Toronto said "it was all over the place".
- “It was unprecedented,” said Christopher Cochrane, a political professor at the University of Toronto. “To my knowledge, that has never happened before … at the provincial or federal level.”
- Cochrane, who watched the speeches Monday night, said the NDP leader’s speech was a “longer” speech and was unsure if he would call Scheer coming out during the speech “unusual. I noted it certainly,” he said. However, it was another matter altogether when Trudeau stepped out amidst Scheer’s opening remarks, which divided national audience.
- Cochrane added that he didn't know if it's “uncoordinated or intentional. If it’s intentional, it’s unfortunate. If the PM went out intentionally to interrupt the concession speech of the opposition leader, then that’s spectacularly petty.”
- Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, said it doesn’t paint a good scenario for Canadians. “Especially on people staying up really late, to have them speak at the same time, it’s certainly not the way it’s normally done.” It certainly doesn't send a good message about how the parties will work in a minority parliament.
- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he's meeting with key campaign officials to do a "thorough review" of the party's election performance. "We made some great progress but we need to do better next time," he said. "This is really the first step, the first important step, in replacing Justin Trudeau's Liberal government." Scheer said the Conservatives made "incredible gains" in reducing the Liberals to a minority and winning the popular vote. He said the "second step" is to work even harder in the coming months to ensure the Liberals are ousted next time.
- For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ruled out a governing coalition and said his minority government's new cabinet will have gender balance when it's sworn in on Nov. 20. Trudeau said he will work with other parties, including the Bloc Québécois, to advance shared goals.
- He also said his government will continue with plans to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which he said is "in Canada's best interests." The NDP opposes the pipeline expansion project. The Liberals did not elect any MPs in Alberta or Saskatchewan Monday, presenting Trudeau with a pressing problem of regional representation. Trudeau said today he has spoken already with the premiers of both provinces and will work to see the concerns of Western Canadians are addressed by his government.
- However, the damage already seems done. The election campaign, and indeed Trudeau's previous 4 years in power has served to wedge different parts of the country against one another, particularly East vs West, Quebec vs Prairies and Rural vs Urban. A divided country where national unity is under threat is something that Trudeau will have to deal with very quickly. His plans to continue on as if the election never happened will bear watching.
- With 47 of 48 seats going Conservative on Monday and the Conservatives receiving nearly 70% of the vote in Alberta and Saskatchewan, many across the west are “livid” to put it mildly.
- The Bloc Quebecois or NDP will hold the balance of power in the new parliament. Both are opposed to pipelines and the western based energy economy.
- Looking at a map you have to go from Winnipeg Manitoba to Surrey British Columbia to find a Liberal.
- The Liberals were wiped out in Saskatchewan and Alberta including age old Liberal Ralph Goodale in Saskatchewan, former Energy Minister Amarjeet Sohi, and most importantly Randy Boissonault in Edmonton Centre who shut down the justice committee hearings on SNC-Lavalin.
- The results in Edmonton weren’t even close, normally Edmonton Centre is won by a few percentage points but it was won by Conservative challenger James Cumming by nearly 10%.
- Sohi lost his Edmonton Mill Woods seat by 17% and Ralph Goodale was defeated by 16% or about 7,200 votes.
- The Liberals were also wiped out of Calgary including serial groper Kent Hehr.
- In responding to Trudeau’s party winning the most seats, Premier Kenney issued a written letter to Trudeau and held a news conference on Monday.
- In the letter he called for access to the Energy Market (i.e. pipeline growth), a resource corridor, the repeal of Bills C–48 and C–69, the federal government to not impose its carbon tax, fairness in federal transfers, a rework of equalization, lessening of the Canadian Mortgage and Home Corporation stress test for homeowners on the prairies, lowering of interprovincial trade barriers, equal distribution of health transfers and for the government to reverse the cuts to military healthcare, respecting the existing relationships with Indigenous peoples in Alberta, and for the federal government to work with provinces create a stronger federation for all Canadians.
- Previously the Premier has promised to call a referendum for October 2021 if Bill C–69 and C–48 are not repealed. Also if the carbon tax is placed on to Alberta.
- Kenney will also be appointing a panel of eminent Albertans in the next week to hold town halls and ultimately determine which way the province should go in fighting a potential Trudeau government.
- On election night Trudeau appeared to speak as though he had won a majority government, two days after in a press conference he appeared more conciliatory saying he’s aware of what happened on the prairies and already spoke to Premier Kenney and Premier Moe of Saskatchewan.
- He reassured the west that the Trans Mountain expansion will be built and he wants to move forward in solving the challenges Alberta faces of selling oil below global commodity prices.
- Time will tell what actions are taken both in terms of policy and the make up of cabinet.
- The west needs action, not promises.
- Following the election SNC-Lavalin shares spiked 13% while Husky Energy laid off employees in Calgary.
- Husky isn’t saying how many employees are affected but employees laid off believe the number is in the hundreds.
- The West wants action and wants it quickly.
- Separatist sentiments rose following the vote, the Facebook page VoteWexit.com had about 2,000 followers early Monday, its numbers have since ballooned to 250,000+
- The sentiment was expressed on Twitter as well throughout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
- H+K strategies, a public relations company out of New York suggests that bots are behind the surge in separatist sentiment.
- The day after the election Wexit Alberta says they received a notification from Facebook that the account was restricted. It stated, “Limits have been placed on Wexit Alberta. Stories from your Page are not being shown in News Feed. This could be due to activities from your Page that don’t comply with Facebook’s policies.”
- Facebook as per usual hasn’t responded to comment but to suggest bots are behind the Wexit surge is premature.
- There also appear to be some irregularities on Google. Searching for Wexit Alberta Facebook page returns results about Wexit and a smaller Alberta Fights Back Facebook page.
- On Bing, however, the first result is the VoteWexit.com Facebook page as one would expect, the second being the global news story from back in August when Wexit was founded, and the third, a Calgary Sun article entitled, “Liberal win stokes talks of ‘WEXIT’ separation for Alberta.”
- This is indeed concerning and while we have no way of knowing if Facebook is censoring Wexit or why the Wexit page does not appear on Google, we want our listeners to have all the information.
- The website wexitevents.com states that Wexit rallies will be planned in Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer on November 2, 16, and 30th respectively.
- Calgary commentator Danielle Smith suggests Alberta take a page out of Quebec’s book and become a nation in Canada, creating our own provincial police force, establishing a tax department so we collect our own taxes making it transparent how much is sent to Ottawa, and creating our own immigration protocols so we can meet the needs of our employers.
- Smith ultimately suggests many of the things that Kenney highlighted in his letter to Trudeau but goes further and suggests Alberta maybe go back in time to 1903 and form one area of administration encompassing Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. The idea being it would create an economic juggernaut that Ottawa would be forced to negotiate with, failing that, we could build pipelines and resource corridors north and use the arctic for our deep sea ports.
- These policies outline the very basis of reform conservatism that the Conservative Party of Canada was founded on and the firewall letter of the early 2000s signed by former Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton, former Premier Ralph Klein, and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
- And a note on separatism, we have room to work in Canada. There’s a lot of anger in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Canada is not a body that does not change, we are not bound by a 200 year old constitution. Canada is a young country filled with a young and growing population, especially in the West. Youthfulness brings change. Only time will tell where this country goes and the benefits of a reformed Canada will benefit all Canadians.
- Jason Kenney touched on this re-iterating that he is completely against separation, appealed to Alberta patriotism saying that Alberta, the west should not let Justin Trudeau and his policies feel unwelcome in Canada and that there are many allies in provincial governments.
- And in the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoken in 2011, “We’re proud of Canada. Canada is, and always has been, our country. And we want Canada to be a true north that is as strong and as free as it can be, in every way that matters, the best country in the world! … Canada must reflect the true character of its people. Honourable in our dealings. Faithful to our commitments. Loyal to our friends. By turns a courageous warrior and a compassionate neighbour… It is our purpose, that Canada must be great. It must be great for all Canadians. It must be a country of hope, and an example to the world. Only when it is these things, when Canada is all that it can be, only then can we say that our work is done!”
- BC has tabled a bill in the legislature that if passed would legally implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Since the province committed to the legislation more than a year ago, a team from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has been working with the First Nations Leadership Council to draft the historic bill, which Premier John Horgan called a 'real catalyst for significant change'.
- He went further: "This bill is critically important because Indigenous rights are human rights. We all want to live in a province where the standard of living for Indigenous Peoples is the same as every other human being in the province."
- Indigenous leaders from across the province and across the country filled the gallery, some invited to sit on the floor of the central aisle. Those present represented the range of political leadership among Indigenous communities — there were elected MLAs, MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and outgoing NDP MP Romeo Saganash, hereditary chiefs, elected chiefs and Elders.
- The legislation is meant to provide a framework for the province to align its laws with the standards of the UN declaration, something Indigenous groups have long been advocating for in B.C. and across the country.
- Grand Chief Ed John, who is an Indigenous rights advocate said "What this declaration does is now recognize that Indigenous Peoples have the inherent right to self-government and to make decisions and have power." John was involved with the development of the declaration as a representative for the Assembly of First Nations. He was in New York City when Canada formally opposed the declaration's adoption in the UN General Assembly in 2007, and when Canada came back to the table in 2016 and endorsed it.
- Scott Fraser, the B.C. minister of Indigenous relations, said it was about recognizing human rights of Indigenous peoples, and that "governments of all stripes have not done before despite the fact it's in the Constitution of Canada." Fraser introduced the bill for a first reading on Thursday morning. He spoke about next steps and about how the legislation provides a path forward in the government-to-government relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the province.
- In 2016, then Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced bill C-262 in Ottawa, which was described as "an act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." The bill passed in the House of Commons in 2018, but died earlier this year after getting held up in the Senate so did not become law. In 2015, Saganash sponsored Private Member's Bill C-641, the "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act", which would have required the Canadian government to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with UNDRIP but it was defeated on May 6, 2015.
- There's still a chance UNDRIP legislation will be brought forward in Ottawa again. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the newly elected Independent MP and former Liberal cabinet minister, said the country needs to create mechanisms to enable Indigenous people to be self-determining. She said it's something she will push for when she returns to Ottawa: "I'm going to continue to be a strong voice, to advocate for rights recognition in the country much like the province of British Columbia is doing today."
- In Jagmeet Singh's long winded concession speech on Monday night that sounded like a victory speech despite losing almost half of the NDP caucus, Singh mentioned Indigenous rights specifically as something he would advocate for in the new minority parliament, so that might be an opening as well.
- While the BC NDP government can boast at being first at the provincial level with UNDRIP legislation, they are venturing into an area with far-reaching implications. The declaration’s 46 articles, enshrined by the UN a dozen years ago, cover social, health, education, cultural, religious and self-government rights among others.
- But for this province, with its vast base of land and resources, mostly unceded by First Nations, the most critical is Article 32: “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources.”
- Other provisions heighten the stakes for B.C. and its more than 200 recognized First Nations. Article 28 grants Indigenous peoples “the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.”
- Given the absence of treaties over most of B.C., the lands, territories and resources that have been confiscated, taken, occupied used or damaged without free, prior and informed consent could constitute pretty much the entire province.
- Now here’s what the UN declaration has to say about remedies: “Compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress.”
- In defence of legislation, the NDP are assembling experts to validate the decision Thursday and play down the implications. Horgan is already on record as insisting that free, prior and informed consent is not the same as a veto.
- But on other occasions he has sounded two-faced on the issue. In opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, he has insisted that it is not enough that many First Nations along the route have supported the project: “I just reject the notion that this is a majority-rule situation,” he has said, implying that every Aboriginal rights and titleholder along the route has a veto. At the same time, he brushed aside the view that opposition to Site C from two of the Treaty 8 First Nations should be enough to halt construction of the hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. And certainly the BC government is trying to push ahead with Coastal GasLink's natural gas pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat BC despite a small minority of First Nations along the route being very much opposed.
- And at this critical juncture in Canadian politics, after a divisive election led to a minority parliament amid growing western alienation as well as a rise in support for the separatist Bloc Quebecois, this will throw another wrench into the plans of those who support our natural resource industry. The threat of a First Nations veto could kill any major interprovincial infrastructure project, like the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, which the newly reduced Trudeau caucus says they will still fight for.
- With BC's UNDRIP, one segment of the population is elated. Much of the rest will likely be worried about things to come.
- This Thursday the UCP government unveiled its first budget bringing spending restraint to Alberta for the first time since 2007.
- This starts the path to the province balancing the books in time for the next election in 2023.
- The budget brings in spending restraint and cuts by the order of 2.8% each year for 4 years.
- Contrary to what the opposition NDP think, this budget sees nowhere near the cuts that the infamous (or famous for some) 1993 Ralph Klein budget saw.
- The 1993 budget was cutting on the order of 18% per year. This is about 9 times as less drastic.
- The budget re-affirms the axing of the provincial carbon tax and outlines the plan to continue reducing the corporate tax rate to an eventual 8%.
- By 2022 Alberta will have a combined provincial and federal corporate tax rate of 23%. This is ranked 7th in all of North America with the lowest being 21% in Texas, Washington, South Dakota , Ohio, and Nevada.
- Economists have estimated that this tax cut will create 55,000 new jobs and grow Alberta’s economy by $13b.
- The savings will be made by cutting the public sector by 7.7% over 4 years resulting in 1,588 jobs lost across government.
- Education spending is untouched while health spending increases by 1%.
- Post secondary spending is also being cut by 5% with an additional cut of 6% in 2022–2023.
- As we’ve talked about before the provinces post secondary institutions are worried but they can trim the fat.
- 32% of the 2019 capital plan goes to cities for a total of $7.7b.
- The cities will also need to find savings as the MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) framework which funds cities is being replaced and slimmed down as they are 20% higher than Canada’s average.
- The new framework will replace MSI and the Edmonton and Calgary $500m City Charters Fiscal Framework act worth $860m in 2022–23 with $455m going to Edmonton and Calgary and $405m for other municipalities.
- The province is also delaying the funding of the new LRT projects in Edmonton and Calgary until after 2022–23.
- This caused mayor Don Iveson of Edmonton to cancel a planned trip abroad calling an emergency council meeting to plan a path forward.
- The MacKinnon report was clear, all areas of public service in Alberta, including municipalities need to look for savings.
- The very fact Don Iveson is concerned shows that the city is spending too much and relying on too much provincial funding.
- Iveson said, “I had an expectation that because it was in the platform it was secure,” Iveson said. “I’m very disappointed today to find out that without any warning whatsoever that has changed.”
- He said Edmonton residents face “falling behind” on infrastructure or paying more in municipal debt interest payments or both.
- Here at Western Context we’ve talked about waste at the city level before from bike lanes that go in only to be ripped out, LRT as an economic driver as highlighted by city councillor Tim Cartmell last year, and the ever increasing property taxes in Edmonton while our roads and sidewalks are in a state of decay.
- No one should be surprised by this budget, the media, the opposition NDP, or Albertans.
- Back while in opposition on the radio, Kenney on the radio was asked about new funding, his answer was simple, “no, we’re broke.”
- In a prime time address on Wednesday Kenney made the point that businesses and households need to balance their budget and can’t keep paying for purchases with credit cards while not paying the credit card down.
- He understands that he was elected on a mandate to reduce spending, balance the budget, and ultimately create jobs.
- As columnist Rick Bell wrote, “he [being Kenney] is not afraid of the scissors… and if things get worse, the province will need sharper scissors.”
- In a final piece of news, eclipsed by the budget, Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith introduced Bill 204 known as the “Election Recall Act”.
- Fulfilling an election promise this will allow any eligible Alberta voter to initiate a recall petition to fire their MLA.
- This can only happen after 18 months and the verified non-digital signatures of 40% of the eligible voters in a constituency will be needed.
- The petitioners will be limited to a 60 day campaign to collect the signatures, failing any of these cases will end the call drive.
- Also breaking on Friday afternoon a jury found Abdulahi Sharif guilty on all charges including 5 counts of attempted murder.
- Sharif was the terrorist who ran down several people including EPS constable Mike Chernyk on September 30, 2017.
- The attack mirrored terror attacks we have seen in Europe carried about by other ISIS sympathizers.
- Back in 2017 it was reported that the police found an ISIS flag in the car but terrorism charges were never laid and the word “terrorism” was never mentioned to the jury.
- Former Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht is on record as saying that device encryption posed a barrier.
- “If we could have accessed that device it would have pushed the investigation forward, it would have demonstrated who else was involved because in situations where it looks like there was only one person involved, often times there was someone else who helped along the journey.”
- Due to encryption, the Canadian justice system, or some combination of both terrorists can get away with attempted murder.
- This is not the outcome Canadians wanted to hear.
Word of the Week
Wexit - a play on the European term “Brexit”, in reference to Britain leaving the European Union, Wexit refers to a movement of an undetermined amount of Western Canadian provinces (usually Alberta and Saskatchewan) to separate from Canada. Also refers to a growing sense of western alienation amongst those in Western Canada.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Country Divided
Teaser: We look into the results of the election on Monday leading to a hung parliament, and the growing discontent in the West known as Wexit. Also, BC implements a bill recognizing UNDRIP, and Alberta tables it’s budget forecasting a return to balance.
Recorded Date: October 25, 2019
Release Date: October 27, 2019
Edit Notes: Internet cut outs
Podcast Summary Notes