The News Rundown
- One of Trudeau's closest friends and most visible cabinet ministers, Seamus O'Regan the former Minister of Veterans Affairs who is now Minister of Natural Resources has spent over $180,000 fighting a veteran in court.
- The amount was found out after the Conservative party's veterans affairs critic, Phil McColeman, had submitted a written request in the House of Commons to determine how much the government has spent on the case involving veterans advocate Sean Bruyea and Seamus O’Regan, calling it an "outrageous amount".
- Bruyea is seeking $25,000 in compensation for damage he says was done to his reputation in a 2018 column written by Mr. O’Regan when he held the veterans portfolio that was published in The Hill Times, an Ottawa-based newspaper that covers Parliament.
- The minister’s 2018 column followed an article by Mr. Bruyea in the same newspaper in which Mr. Bruyea wrote that changes to the pension system for disabled Armed Forces staff would pay some veterans who apply for benefits after March 2019, less than the previous system.
- O’Regan accused the veteran of “stating mistruths” and suggested he made numerous other errors, prompting Bruyea to sue for defamation. Bruyea said that Mr. O’Regan’s “personal attacks” forced him into court to defend his honour and reputation along with “defending the right of all Canadians to speak freely.”
- He said: “Government claims it honours veterans and then bullies and intimidates them through expensive and vindictive court motions. I fought in uniform and paid a heavy price to defend our constitutional rights. Now I have to defend my dignity against the very government I sacrificed to protect, merely for exercising our right to freedom of expression.”
- Bruyea’s Ottawa-based lawyer Paul Champ said one of the most outrageous things about litigating against the federal government is that it is always prepared to fight vigorously, regardless of whether it has a strong case or the value of the case.
- Champ says: “Mr. O’Regan did have some pretty blunt, critical remarks about Mr. Bruyea that he put in a newspaper. Does it rise to the level of defamation? We think it does, but they should understand that there’s definitely a risk there so why would they spend almost $200,000 on a case that they should know there’s a good chance they may lose?”
- McColeman agrees the government and O’Regan could have conducted themselves differently, adding the minister shouldn’t have “forced a veteran to have to take him to court over his comments.” The matter could have been resolved without legal costs far greater than the compensation being sought, he said, adding that a “simple apology would have been nice."
- The Bruyea debacle is not the only court case the Liberals have incurred outrageous costs to fight because of their own incompetence. The federal government rang up more than $1.4 million in legal costs during the failed prosecution of retired vice-admiral Mark Norman.
- Justice Minister David Lametti, when prompted for the legal cost figures (which he then was forced to give), also did not respond to questions about how much the RCMP spent on the original investigation into allegations Norman leaked cabinet secrets about a $700-million federal shipbuilding contract.
- That investigation prompted chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance to suspend Norman as the military's second-in-command in January 2017. The popular vice-admiral was charged with breach of trust in March 2018.
- The Mounties and Crown prosecutors alleged Norman leaked information about the contract to pressure the new Liberal government in 2015 to move ahead with the project to convert a civilian ship into a temporary support vessel for the navy, rather than cancel it.
- Norman pleaded not guilty before his lawyers spent months in court fighting the Crown and government for access to thousands of documents they said were essential for ensuring their client received a fair trial.
- Throughout the process, Norman's lawyers alleged the case against their client was politically motivated and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government were interfering in it, a charge that was picked up by the Conservatives and that the Liberals denied.
- Crown prosecutors eventually stayed the charge in May 2019, telling the judge that new evidence they'd received from Norman's defence team had led them to conclude there was no reasonable chance of a conviction.
- Following the failed prosecution, Norman asserted that he wanted to return to duty. But he and the government instead reached a financial settlement, the details of which have not been made public, before the vice-admiral retired last year.
- When the Liberal government claims that they've improved veteran's affairs and support the military, and on the other hand pay high priced Bay Street Lawyers millions of dollars to fight veterans in court just to defend their own mistakes, there's definitely some cognitive dissonance there. Thankfully with just a minority government, Trudeau will have a harder time keeping his government's skeletons buried.
- A report released by an “independent panel” called for more Canadian streaming content and for the CBC to stop selling ads.
- Splitting this apart: independent panel, streaming services and tax, and the CBC.
- First: Independent panel.
- The panel was set up by the Liberal party so it is naturally going to reflect the government of the day’s opinions.
- The media reporting on this report was shoddy at best since key points were missed in favour of the media's own interests.
- Second: Streaming services.
- Streaming services or “media curators” like Netflix need to invest in Canadian programming.
- The report made clear that it is not suggesting a “Netflix Tax” as was suggested in 2015 by the Liberal party but they did suggest that GST or HST should be applied to foreign services like Netflix.
- Netflix, Apple, Amazon Prime Video, and any other foreign service would need to devote a portion of their budget to Canadian programs.
- The panel calls on themselves to consider the implications of this, which putting two and two together could mean service costs could go up if the companies are forced to provide Canadian programming.
- Third: The CBC
- The report says that the CBC should stop selling ads and become a fully funded public network.
- Recall our various segments on the programming of Rosemary Barton who is now CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent after being moved from The National.
- This report is calling for the CBC to become a true state broadcaster in that it is entirely publicly funded.
- With the CBCs current slate of programming we should all be heavily worried.
- The CBC is losing money now and without a major shake up, (read: not more government money) it will continue to suck in more taxpayer money.
- Most media reporting on this missed other huge issues and focused primarily on streaming and the CBC while the suggestions for mobile telecom operators were largely glossed over.
- As outlined by Shadow Minister for Industry and Economic Development Michelle Rempel and Shadow Minister for Heritage Steven Blaney many many other huge issues were left behind.
- The Conservatives took a stance on privacy to ensure that there is a legal means to protect the “data dignity” of Canadians. Meaning, ensure that every bit of data generated when you go online is guarded safely. The EU does this with their privacy laws, this should have been top news that the opposition was calling for this.
- They also want fewer regulations that prevent the construction of new broadband connections, especially in rural Canada.
- Huawei and 5G technology. As Michelle Rempel points out, “5G will create multiple entry points for bad actors to access data and even disrupt networks.” This means that any company that provides technology to 5G networks in Canada would have this capability.
- Rogers = Ericsson. Telus/Bell = Huawei.
- Rempel calls on the government to ensure their data will be secure from 5G operators and as 5G devices become ubiquitous.
- The Conservative response also calls for the democratization of choice and access to Canadian content funding meaning that Canadians should have a say through technology in what services or outlets get the funding and that the government should not employ a top down approach choosing winners.
- And finally, the Conservatives highlight the importance to protect free speech on the internet and social media. Steven Guilbeault, Heritage Minister who would ultimately be in charge of these changes to the broadcasting landscape has also been asked to look for ways to combat hate speech online.
- From everything from the panel composition to the media's focus on themselves to the complete lack of mentioning Huawei in all of this, the media needs to put people first instead of themselves.
- After all, it was only last week we covered the fake Huawei protests.
- On last week's episode, when talking about Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing and the fake protests outside the courthouse, I could have mentioned another problem that has exited China in the last few weeks, that being the respiratory disease known as novel coronavirus, more colloquially known as coronavirus.
- The coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, one of China's largest cities. Although Huanan Market is known as a seafood market, it was primarily known for the sale of bushmeat and other exotic animals due to the demand for such animals for consumption. The South China Morning Post reported on 29 January 2020, that the market had a section selling around "120 wildlife animals across 75 species", including badgers, bats, camel, crocodile, dogs, foxes, salamanders, otters, porcupines, rats, turtles, snakes and wolf puppies.
- Because of this, the coronavirus strain is believed to come from animals, though given the nature of the market, it's hard to know for sure which species. In a pursuit to discover the origin, samples from the market's animals were taken between 1 January and 12 January 2020. In late January 2020, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the virus was found in 33 out of 585 of those animal specimens, 31 of which came from the area of the market where wildlife was particularly found.
- As the coronavirus spread further, people started dying from it in China, as it spread to every Chinese province and other countries.
- At 2am on Jan 23rd, authorities issued a notice informing residents of Wuhan that from 10am, all public transport, including buses, railways, flights, and ferry services would be suspended. The notice caused an exodus from Wuhan. An estimated 300,000 people were reported to have left Wuhan by train alone before the 10am lockdown. By the afternoon, the authorities began shutting down some of the major highways leaving Wuhan. The lockdown came two days before the Chinese New Year, the most important festival in the country, and traditionally the peak traveling season, when millions of Chinese travel across the country, which exacerbated the spread of the disease.
- The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Canada was announced on January 25th, and currently there are 4 cases in Canada that authorities know about. All cases are either people who returned to Canada in the past few weeks, or are family members of those infected.
- Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario’s public health system has shown “remarkable” responsiveness to the new virus: “As we learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, related tools and procedures are getting more precise and more effective. Every Ontarian should have full confidence that these efforts by our dedicated public health professionals are keeping them safe. Because of their hard work, the risk to Ontarians remains low.”
- Despite testing samples from 114 people, the B.C. government said Friday that there is still just the one confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus in the province, the 3rd in the country.
- That confirmed case, in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, is a man in his 40s who travelled to Wuhan, the centre of the disease. He is said to be recovering at home.
- Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said health officials are at a critical phase in the response to the coronavirus after China took restrictive measures to try to control the outbreak.
- “That will help protect us as well as help protect other parts of China,” she said. “Those measures were taken really about 10 days ago and we are now at the point where people have travelled here to B.C. and to Canada who are incubating this disease may start showing symptoms.”
- Social media panic and media misinformation has led to a number of bizarre responses to the outbreak. Recently pictured was a woman and her child wearing facemasks and waterjugs over their heads at YVR airport in Vancouver. Airlines have cancelled flights to China as well, but have not cancelled flights from China, adding to the headlines and perceived fear.
- Canada's chief health officer has also cautioned the public about "racism against Chinese-Canadians": "I am concerned about the growing number of reports of racism and stigmatizing comments on social media directed to people of Chinese and Asian descent related to 2019-nCoV coronavirus," Dr. Theresa Tam wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.
- Chinese-Canadian businesses are suffering as well. Tonny Louie, the chair of Toronto's Chinatown Business Improvement Association, said Thursday that he was seeing far more empty parking spots in the area than normal.
- The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention does not advise wearing containers on your head to prevent a coronavirus infection. And while there are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection, the CDC advises that you may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Last week MasterCard announced a $500m cyber security centre in Vancouver.
- This project will receive $49m from the federal government.
- The Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre will “accelerate innovation in digital and cyber security, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.”
- CTV and Global ran with this story last week making passing mention of the almost $50m from the federal government.
- Last year in one of our worst government expenses we highlighted the governments $12m for Loblaws to buy new energy efficient refrigerators.
- Thankfully the government was asked about this in Question Period by Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer: “Why did the prime minister make taxpayers so sad by giving $50 million to a company that made $16 billion last year off the backs of hard-working Canadians who can’t afford to pay their full balances?”
- The exchange went back and forth and the Prime Minister went to his standard fallback of growing the middle class.
- The NDP even took issue with this with Jagmeet Singh asking why money was being invested in an already profitable company instead of investing in health care for Canadians.
- MasterCard is of course known for their ‘Priceless’ ad campaign and this is where the Conservative leader went next: “Having a wasteful government that believes in corporate welfare isn’t priceless, turns out it’s worth $50 million!”
- Where next and why is this on Western Context?
- Revealed by The Post Millennial just yesterday it turns out that MasterCard lobbyist Jennifer M. Sloan worked as the Liberal appointed chief of staff and chief of media relations for two cabinet ministers under Jean Chretien.
- The Post Millennial also used the national Follow the Money Database to track a donation from the same Jennifer M. Sloan who contributed $1,500 to the Liberals in 2016.
- Another 18 donations to just Jennifer Sloan, without the M, were found totalling $11,675.
- Calls, messages, and emails to the Liberals and MasterCard went unanswered.
- Money in politics should be transparent. The population deserves to know where their public officials get their money.
- Lobbying is not new but when a person donates thousands of dollars to a party, it’s found by an online publication (TPM) using a Post Media database, you have to ask what the media is up to.
Word of the Week
Stigma - a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Stigma and Defamation
Teaser: Trudeau’s government spends millions fighting veterans in court, a panel calls for more Canadian content on streaming services, and stigma surrounds the coronavirus outbreak in Canada. Also, Trudeau gives $50m to Mastercard amid a household debt crisis.
Recorded Date: January 31, 2019
Release Date: February 2, 2019
Edit Notes: Cough at FL start
Podcast Summary Notes