The News Rundown
- On Monday, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was at the law courts in Vancouver, to have an extradition hearing. Outside, there were a group of students, holding up hastily made signs that all looked like they were written by the same person. At least a number of them thought they were in a movie shoot, and one was a real Vancouver actor who was duped by a third party into attending the protest.
- Julia Hackstaff, who is an actor, says she thought she was performing as an extra in a film shoot, not attending a real protest. She says it took her about half a minute to realize that the reporter asking questions was actually a real reporter. She left very quickly soon after. Hackstaff said she genuinely believed she was showing up for a film shoot – and thought it was odd that the group of young performers weren't given any directions before the cameras started rolling.
- The high-profile extradition case has increased tensions between Canada and China. After Meng was detained at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 and then arrested at the request of the United States, China detained two Canadian citizens who had been living in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
- Some Canadian commentators have called for Canada to release Meng in order to secure the release of Spavor and Kovrig.
- But speaking to reporters in Winnipeg on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Canadian government's priority is the well-being and release of the two Canadians detained by China, Kovrig and Spavor.
- "Our government has been clear that we are a rule of law country and that we honour our extradition treaty commitments. That is what we need to do and that is what we will do," she told reporters in Winnipeg.
- Amidst the media circus surrounding the extradition trial, a group of young protesters stood out. On Monday, reporters noticed a group of young people standing with hastily-made signs that read "Bring Michael home," "Trump stop bullying us" and "Free Ms. Meng – Equal Justice."
- As first reported by Bob Mackin and theBreaker.news, one young man told an independent filmmaker he'd been told he'd be paid $100 to be in a music video shoot.
- The man refused to give his name or appear on camera, but in an audio recording, he can be heard saying that when he showed up at the courthouse and saw a lot of cameras, he assumed it was for the music video shoot he'd been told about: "When there were all these cameras and stuff, for a long time I believed it was filming a scene where someone was coming out of a car...Then the reporters started showing up and I was like, I don't really feel great about this anymore."
- The man said he decided to stick around and hold a sign in hopes of getting the payment he was promised. But when he started to ask about getting the $100, "there was a merry-go-round of non-answers."
- Hackstaff's story is similar: she said she heard from an acquaintance she knows on Facebook of a Monday morning job to be a background actor at the courthouse. The offer came over Facebook from a person in the acting community she has never met. The pay would be $100, which she never received, she said.
- Another said the group was at court to call for "equal justice," then admitted he didn't know the details of the case, or that it was about the United States attempting to extradite Meng to face fraud charges.
- Another person said she was recruited by a friend promising a $150 payday just to show up at the courthouse and hold a sign. Afterwards she said she Googled Huawei and Meng Wanzhou and felt "deep regret" for showing up at the protest.
- At the same time, an unrelated group of Uyghur protesters against China’s jailing of millions of Muslims in Xinjiang were outside Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s Shaughnessy mansion on Monday morning.
- But this isn't it for this bizarre story. The court-approved security company that monitors Meng Wanzhou has also been working for the People’s Republic of China consulate, theBreaker.news has learned.
- That is “very unsettling,” according to Ivy Li, a member of a pro-Hong Kong group which has protested outside the Granville Street consular mansion.
- Video, shot Sept. 28, 2019 by documentary filmmaker Ina Mitchell and aired on CTV News Vancouver, shows two Lions Gate Risk Management Group Ltd. employees standing outside the mansion during an anti-government protest. One of them is the same bodyguard who regularly escorts Meng to her B.C. Supreme Court dates.
- “They’re hiring the same people that are supposed to be watching to ensure that Meng Wanzhou is not going to flee, but they hire the same people to observe the protesters. This is worth looking into. What kind of potential conflict of interest is there? Why the security company and the same persons are playing different roles and how are they going to balance those roles and what is the reason for doing it?” said Ivy Li.
- In December 2018, as part of Meng’s bail conditions, Justice William Ehrcke agreed to her lawyers’ recommendation and appointed Lions Gate as Meng’s round-the-clock security detail. Lions Gate’s job is to ensure Meng does not go home to China and report to court while awaiting extradition to face fraud charges in the United States. Meng is responsible for paying Lions Gate.
- Retired RCMP superintendent Garry Clement, who is now a security consultant and private investigator in Ontario, said it “doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s a conflict of interest. I would think that they would have to get clearance from the court. The objectivity around ensuring she remains in the country, ensuring she appears in court, that, in my view, has to have an arm’s length from China.”
- Meanwhile, arguments wrapped up Jan. 23 in the first four-day hearing to determine whether Meng should be extradited to face fraud charges in the US.
- Canadian government lawyers, on behalf of the U.S., say there is ample evidence that Meng lied to HSBC in 2013 to hide the fact of a Huawei subsidiary doing business in Iran, in defiance of international sanctions. Meng’s lawyers say she should be freed because the Canadian fraud law is different from the U.S. and that the case is really about sanctions that no longer apply between Canada and Iran.
- Among the observers in the gallery at the Law Courts on Jan. 23 was Tong Xiaoling, the consul general in Vancouver, and Hu Qiquan, the local head of the Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence program.
- But for who the person was who hired the young people to act as protestors on Meng's behalf, no one knows. Only educated guesses at a coordinated propaganda campaign to free Meng can even scratch the surface.
- “Post-secondary funding will be tied to performance”
- In actuality, targets will determine how grants are allocated going forward.
- Each institution will have their own priorities as well as system wide targets.
- Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said, "There are, indeed, several indicators that government would like to see, which include graduation and completion rates, graduate employment, experiential learning, enrolment both domestic and international, commercialization of [intellectual property], research capacity, quality of teaching and student experience and student satisfaction.”
- Starting on April 1 Campus Alberta Grants, that provides 40% of funding, will be tied to these metrics. If an institution meets only 90% of the targets they’ll receive 90% of the funding.
- Starting in April 15% of funding will be tied to these measures with the full 40% by 2022-23.
- Council of Alberta University Students chair Sadiya Nazir said their organization is “cautiously optimistic” but that metrics in place need to make sure they don’t negatively impact students.
- Garrett Koehler with the Alberta Students’ Executive Council that represents students at colleges is also excited about the change in particular saying, "I think it's going to force institutions and admin to really start thinking a little bit more closely on what they're spending their money on, what strategic directions are gonna be going towards, which ultimately save students, institutions and taxpayers money.”
- In the past we’ve talked about University institutions having wide ranging bureaucracies rivalling government.
- When universities complain about funding, they should look inward to becoming more efficient and providing teaching and research.
- There’s also the fear of an institution getting caught in a downward spiral and making it easier to graduate to hit the targets that the government puts forward.
- For those concerned that this is some radical policy that wasn’t talked about in the campaign, it’s right there.
- In the UCP platform they promised to “Measure labour market outcomes of post-secondary programs to identify the correlation between provincial subsidies and economic returns for taxpayers”
- The platform also promised to “Establish the most effective intellectual property framework for the commercialization and entrepreneurial application of innovative research and development from Alberta’s universities and colleges”
- These changes put forward by the government tick the boxes on these two platform commitments.
- The UCP also promised to bring forward new regulations that require universities and colleges comply with free speech policies consistent with the University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression.
- By December 2019 institutions had already taken steps to make this a reality.
- The government is doing exactly what they said they would do in this case on universities and people shouldn’t be shocked.
- Elections have consequences and these reforms are one of them. No one in the media or at any of these institutions should be surprised.
- An online petition on ourcommons.ca against the ineffective and money-wasting Trudeau Liberal gun-ban has accumulated over 100,000 signatures, and is now the 2nd largest in Canadian history.
- Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is overseeing the “buyback program” which Blair estimates could cost anywhere from $400 to $600 million.
- The petition was initiated by Alberta resident, Bradley Manysiak, and sponsored by Medicine Hat's Conservative MP Glen Motz, who had this to say on the petition:
- “I am always pleased to help Canadians voice their concerns, especially on such a deeply flawed policy like the Liberals’ misguided approach on firearms policy that ignore criminals and instead focuses on law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. It is unfortunate that tens of thousands of Canadians feel ignored, maligned and even demonized by the Liberals, to the extent that this petition even necessary.”
- “Canadians expect policies that focus on stopping criminals, gangs and the flow of illegal firearms into Canada, not policies that attacking law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. Canadians want clear, honest policies based on facts and evidence. But the Liberals firearms proposals make it clear they are intent on ignoring the evidence and will pursue public safety policies that do nothing to make Canadians safer.”
- Winnipeg police constable Rob Carver calls the gun ban "nonsense": “When we seize handguns, the handguns are always almost 100% in the possession of people who have no legal right to possess them. They’re almost always stolen or illegally obtained. I simply don’t see how as a 27-year-old veteran, how adding another layer of law will make any difference, anywhere in this country.”
- Even Trudeau's own party doesn't see the point in a feel good gun ban. Thunder Bay's Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski wrote a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, dated Jan 16th that included worries about the military assault gun ban "not making sense as a coherent firearm policy", given that there is no actual definition of what an assault rifle is.
- Powlowski's letter reads: “Over the course of the past three months, I have heard a wide variety of views on this proposed ban. I believe it is my role to ensure that these views are brought to your attention for consideration.”
- The term assault rifle was created by the anti-gun lobby in the US to demonize full automatic guns, but now simply includes anything that looks scary.
- Powlowski continued: “Given that there is currently no legal definition for a ‘military assault rifle in Canada, some community members I have spoken with are skeptical that a ban based on this term would make sense as a coherent firearm policy. Such a term, as they see it, is more political than policy oriented, and seeks to target certain firearms without a rational basis. For some hunters in my riding, a ban on ‘military style’ firearms would seem to arbitrarily target one firearm over another based on their appearance.”
- Powlowski has since retracted the letter, and says that he's fully on board with the Liberals' gun policy, saying that "he's not going cowboy on this one" and that he's "not a gun enthusiast, I’m just passing on the views of my constituents, it’s part of my job as a Member of Parliament on behalf of my constituents."
- Even Bill Blair has had rapidly changing views on the matter. In a CBC interview in the summer of 2018, Blair said that most of the gun crime is committed by illegal handguns smuggled in from the U.S. and he was skeptical of a gun ban being effective in combating gun crime. His position changed drastically once he was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the public safety minister. Remember, that Bill Blair was also the architect behind one of Canada’s most infamous police brutality events: The G20 summit in Toronto. Is someone who approves of police brutality someone you want in charge of taking away guns from law-abiding citizens?
- It's true, handguns are the firearm of choice for most shootings. Semi-autos only make up a small percentage of rifles and shotguns in our country. So how does this add up to a federal ban costing $600 million in taxpayer money? Short answer: It doesn’t.
- Canada has roughly 2.2 million licensed gun owners who are monitored DAILY by RCMP for red flags. Most people don’t know that. It’s called continuous eligibility screening. If you step out of the line with the law, the cops show up and take your guns.
- If only 5 percent of Canadian gun owners were out there shooting up the streets, we’d have 110,000 deaths on our hands annually. According to StatsCan, 2018 left Canada with 249 tragic gun murders. The vast majority were by gangs fighting over drugs in urban centers.
- Now, the lives lost in those incidents are valuable. 249 Canadian families are feeling daily pain. Something needs to change. Gang warfare can’t go unchecked. But to punish millions of innocent Canadians who hold such an excellent track record will not help. There’s a very simple truth in all of this: Taking firearms away from a rural owner in the Yukon or Alberta or BC will not prevent gang homicide in Toronto, which is where by far the largest number of gun homicides occur.
- 10 years ago, before he was party leader, Justin Trudeau falsely claimed the Liberals didn’t want confiscate guns: “Nobody wants to take your guns, we just want you to register them.'' Now, he is literally pushing the largest, most authoritarian gun confiscation in Canadian history without even bothering to vote on it in the House of Commons. He’s planning to enact the ban with an order in council, which bypasses both debate and consultation as well as the parliamentary vote to put legislation into effect immediately with absolutely no public or political recourse whatsoever. No debate. No vote. No consultation. Not even from the RCMP.
- Mainstream outlets add fuel to this fire too. Global News, CTV, CBC, even the National Post and other respected outlets have been forced to print retractions after outraged gun owners forced them to respond to the misinformation. It’s hard to say if these incidents are deliberate, but there sure seems to be a pattern forming. If you set the topic itself aside (firearms), what we have on our hands here is outright media bias misinforming the public and an administration using this dynamic to pass highly authoritarian legislation under false pretenses… without even bothering to vote on it. I think it’s safe to say that’s not the Canada we want to live in. Justin Trudeau claims this is about “making Canadians safer”. Does anyone honestly see a safer society forming since he took over? I see division, fracture and growing hate.
- Justin Trudeau was holding a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg and it made international news for all the wrong reasons.
- Tim Horton’s is an institution in Canada that in the modern world doesn’t deserve its place and people often look for alternatives.
- On Tuesday the PM posted a photo of him carrying boxes of doughnuts from local Winnipeg doughnut retailer Oh Doughnuts.
- The business is a small local shop in Winnipeg employing about 30 staff who are Canadians, receive full benefits, and are paid above minimum wage.
- Their website and Twitter account highlight a living wage, something which many believe government should strive for.
- But here we have a small business, being successful, and that success is enough to pay a living wage.
- A living wage is a wage where someone has, in theory, enough money to purchase food, housing, and live a comfortable life.
- The business also uses local ingredients which in turn supports local farmers.
- The business employs a tactic seen in what could only be described as a shrinking retail market in Canada that is dominated by large corporations.
- That tactic is providing a value for all consumers but also providing a premium product experience. This is what Apple has done to find its success in the mobile phone market.
- The downside of this though is that headlines surfaced both domestically and internationally stating that Trudeau paid $47/box for his doughnuts! He bought 7 boxes.
- Media outlet True North said that he could have purchased a box of a dozen doughnuts at Tim Horton’s for 9.99.
- The story took social media by storm with Canadians expressing disgust at the thought that the Prime Minister was spending our taxpayer money on extravagant doughnuts.
- We had an opinion piece published at CNN with the headline, “Trudeau's $4 doughnuts cost him dearly” and that the PM has handed Canadians another reason to ridicule him.
- The catch in all of this though that Twitter forgot and the media forgot before they ran their stories? Trudeau got basic doughnuts.
- With an online order discount the doughnuts were $2.60 each, the cheapest regular doughnut offered is $3.25.
- So yes, while more expensive than Tim Horton’s, the doughnuts weren’t $47 for a dozen. They came out to around $31 for a box.
- The appropriateness of purchasing doughnuts at roughly $30/dozen is something that should be left to Canadians when it comes time to cast judgement on the Prime Minister.
- But that can’t happen if no one knows the exact cost and the media runs rampant with social media tweets in a rush to publish their story without getting the full context of the story.
- Recall back in 2012 when Harper government Heritage Minister Bev Oda stayed at the Savoy in London, hired a limousine, and ordered orange juice at a price of $16/glass. The media vilified her and she ultimately resigned.
- Back then the story was about Oda and the government's response but today with the focus on social media, much of the gist of the story was lost and in this case, Canadians had no idea how angry they should have been.
- This is the fault of the media but also, everyone must remember that social media is one of the biggest breeders of fake news.
Word of the Week
Buyback - A program by government to purchase privately owned firearms, to reduce the number of firearms owned by civilians.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Fake Protests and Scandals
Teaser: A fake protest at Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing raises questions, the UCP ties advanced education funding to performance, and a petition against Trudeau’s gun ban reaches 100,000. Also, Trudeau visits a local doughnut shop and social media goes crazy.
Recorded Date: January 24, 2020
Release Date: January 26, 2020
Edit Notes: Internet packet loss
Podcast Summary Notes