The News Rundown
- Well, this news story has probably been talked about the most over the past week. A one hour period on Wednesday night saw US President Donald Trump banning flights from Europe, the NBA indefinitely suspended their season, and later that evening, it was found that Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife was found to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The next morning, the NHL and most sports leagues have suspended or cancelled their seasons, arenas and events have shut down, and "self-isolation" has become the word on everyone's lips lately. This is all a result of the rapidly spreading disease known as coronavirus, known as strain "COVID-19" scientifically, that This has been an unprecedented change in news coverage, which has almost drowned out every other story.
- First let's talk about Trudeau. In a statement Thursday night, Trudeau’s office said: “Following medical recommendations, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was tested for COVID-19 today. The test came back positive.” She will remain in isolation, as will the Prime Minister. She was tested for the new coronavirus after she experienced symptoms upon her return from a trip to the U.K., where she had been carrying out speaking engagements.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is advising Canadians to curtail all non-essential international travel, on account of the still rapidly spreading pandemic, as both the House of Commons and Senate have been suspended for five weeks.
- Speaking to Canadians from outside Rideau Cottage, Trudeau said that additional screening measures are being implemented at airports, and a “significant” fiscal stimulus package will be coming within days, in addition to the $1 billion in health and economic measures announced earlier this week.
- He said his biggest preoccupation at the moment is ensuring that Canadians take public health advice seriously, but not panic: "I know that you're worried. You're worried about your health, about your families' health, about your job, your savings, about paying rent, about the kids not being in school. I know that you're concerned about uncertainty in the global economy. The steps being taken to keep you safe, have an economic impact. We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they're going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they're going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe."
- As of March 12, Canada has seen 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Globally, it has resulted in more than 125,000 infections and more than 5000 deaths, with the number probably much higher.
- Quebec City-based Medicago says it has made a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, claiming to have developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that could begin human testing as early as this summer.
- Medicago said it has produced a virus-like particle of the novel coronavirus, a first step towards producing a vaccine, which will now undergo pre-clinical testing for safety and efficacy. Medicago said it could begin human trials as soon as July or August if approved by Health Canada and other agencies. However if successful, a vaccine would only be developed by November 2021 at the earliest.
- The coronavirus originally spread from Wuhan, a city in Hubei province in China, in early December, with the very first known infected from November 17th. By January the city was quarantined, but not before millions had already escaped the city. Thanks to the globalist system we live in, it has spread around the world from China through tourism, and then from people visiting areas that were later showing signs of the infections.
- China has now put the blame on the US, with the Chinese based English language paper "Global Times" saying on Twitter: "As the US #COVID19 situation becomes increasingly obscure, the Chinese public shares the suspicion raised by Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian that the US might be the source of the virus and that the US is subject questioning and is obliged to explain the world."
- It further puts the blame on the Chinese government that they are now trying to blame the US for a disease that broke out in their own backyard, and it's insulting to the hundreds of thousands of victims across the globe that their measures did not work well enough to contain the coronavirus. Now it is worldwide.
- While the Canadian government still calls the risk level "low" for Canadians, it can be worrying for a lot of people. While it's good to be prepared, perhaps going out to every grocery store in search of a year's worth of supplies is not the best idea. Let's just practice good health practices, and hopefully we'll be able to get back to watching sports soon when it hopefully blows over.
- Last Saturday we got news of an impending collapse of world oil prices.
- In particular Saudi Arabia announced it would increase oil output beyond 10 million barrels a day.
- It also announced that it would slash prices on the oil that it sells to the lowest value in 20 years.
- This all happened because talks within the OPEC+ alliance, representing OPEC and Russia, broke down.
- Saudi Arabia did this to hurt Russia since Russia didn’t want to comply with OPECs order to restrict output.
- The idea being that OPEC would restrict output causing prices to go up and Russia would reap the benefit.
- West Texas Intermediate oil dropped to below $30/barrel but has stabilized to about $32/barrel at end of day trading on Friday.
- Western Canada Select dropped to below $15/barrel last weekend and has been hovering below $20/barrel and is at $18.10 on Friday at close of trading. The lowest during the 2014/15 price shock was about $23/barrel.
- Saudi Arabia was producing 9.7m barrels a month, production is likely to rise to 10m and could potentially rise to 12m barrels.
- These shocks hit the Canadian and American oil industries hard. The US shale mines are not viable when prices fall below $40US/barrel.
- Break even prices for oil sands projects hover at around the mid $40 WTI oil price.
- Alberta is in crisis. Canada is in crisis.
- Jason Kenney held a news conference earlier this week stating that “Alberta will consider all options on the table” as a response to the “global economic shock.”
- He also announced that Dr. Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy will be heading a panel to examine what should be done to ensure Alberta makes the appropriate decisions in what is likely to be an economic recession on the horizon.
- The Premier also re-assured Albertans that he’s working with Finance Minister Bill Morneau federally and that investments in infrastructure, red tape reduction, and the effort to create a low tax business environment will continue.
- There is also the option in the months ahead to introduce additional spending on infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy.
- Messaging from the front runners for the Conservative party have been muted this week, whether due to the ongoing reactions to the Wuhan virus or that it’s not a national issue isn’t known.
- This would have been a perfect opportunity for any of the candidates to differentiate themselves and make a splash.
- A good message would be focus on doing the easy first:
- Underscore the importance of the Canadian energy industry to the rest of the country.
- Suggest refiners stop buying oil from all foreign powers except the US.
- Cut corporate taxes to be competitive with the US and payroll taxes to help small businesses.
- Finally, tariff the imports of all foreign conflict oil to the point of bringing the value up to $60/barrel WTI.
- Before rising for recess until April 20th the House of Commons and Senate passed third reading of the Bill to ratify the NAFTA replacement in Canada, it has since received Royal Assent. This is a good step forward for the Canadian economy.
- Unfortunately for the sake of Alberta and Canada going forward, the media focus has been on the Wuhan virus instead of an issue that will continue to pose problems even after the virus has run its course in Canada.
- This particular story flew under the radar, what with the other big stories on this week. While much of the world is scrambling to deploy countermeasures to the coronavirus invasion since spreading from China into most countries around the world, a lot of news coverage has been dedicated solely to that.
- Amidst all the panic, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said there are already “rigorous screens” in place for immigrants coming to Canada when asked what steps he’s taking to curb the spreading of coronavirus at the border.
- Mendicino spoke to reporters on Parliament Hill after he tabled the government’s 2020‒2022 Immigration Levels Plan in the House of Commons on Thursday. Mendicino said his plan, which would increase the number of permanent residents in Canada year-over-year, "sends the message that Canada understands immigration is an economic driver", citing a need to address the country’s aging population and workforce.
- The proposed plan would grow the number of permanent residents admitted to Canada each year, from 341,000 in 2020 to 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.
- Even as coronavirus spreads and large gatherings are being curtailed amongst much of Canada, immigration is still moving forward, and Trudeau's government has come up with a plan that will bring in over 1 million immigrants over the next 3 years, straining services and housing while pushing down wages even further due to increased competition among workers.
- But that's just the government approved migrants, what about illegal ones? Apparently, even illegal border crossers who have come into Canada and haven't had their cases heard by overworked courts are still being given multi-decade access to Canada's healthcare system.
- A whistleblower working for a medical clinic in Ontario has seen 30-40 migrants per week come into the clinic with government issued permits that allow for full healthcare access for those who haven't even had immigration paperwork done. These permits provide access to every medical procedure available under the Canada Health Act, as well as full dental coverage and tax-payer funded prescription drugs.
- According to the whistleblower, migrants walk into the clinic and provide a government-issued identification number. When the number is inputted into the Ontario Health Insurance Plan computer system, it shows what services the person is qualified to receive.
- “They are eligible for everything. Everything. For 20 years,” said the medical assistant, who sent an example of a government certificate dated Feb. 13, 2020 that appears to provide health care until Feb. 12, 2040.
- The source sent a client profile page from Blue Cross, a medical insurance company that provides supplemental coverage that Canadians pay for out of pocket, which shows 20 years of coverage. The documents, issued to an Iranian woman in her 70s, make it clear that she is an asylum claimant and has not yet been granted refugee status in Canada.
- The certificate was issued by the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and it outlines the basis for providing free, unlimited, all-access healthcare to people who are not Canadian citizens or even permanent residents as follows: “The above named individual is eligible for the coverage of health-care costs under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). This coverage can be cancelled without notice if the individual’s immigration status changes.”
- Under the Government of Canada's own website, the Interim Federal Health Program is described as being for "protected people, including resettled refugees, refugee claimants, and certain other groups" and includes basic health-care services (such as doctor visits, hospital care, lab tests), supplemental services (such as limited vision care, urgent dental care), as well as prescription drug coverage.
- In most cases, the supplemental and prescription drug coverage will be valid for 12 months from the date you arrive in Canada, according to the government website, or until your refugee status changes. So why are migrants getting 20 year permits?
- The previous Conservative government cancelled the program for migrants coming from safe countries and for bogus asylum seekers whose refugee claim had been rejected by an immigration judge.
- In a head-scratching ruling, a Liberal-appointed federal judge struck down the changes, stating it was “cruel and unusual” for the government to withhold free healthcare from illegal immigrants.
- The Trudeau Liberals and much of the media doubled down on this twisted line of reasoning, insisting that the Conservatives had cut healthcare for refugees – even though the cuts only applied to individuals who were explicitly found not to be refugees.
- Trudeau has made significant changes to the refugee determination program, including eliminating a process that fast-tracked hearings and deportations for asylum claimants coming from safe countries. He also pledged to keep the IFHP in place, even for bogus refugees and illegal migrants.
- But for 20 years? While the program claims to be temporary, 20 years is not temporary.
- “I truly believe the general public is unaware of this.” said the whistleblower. “I was shocked when I learned about it, that we as taxpayers are paying for this kind of coverage, and for that amount of time. Our veterans, indigenous communities, single mothers, homeless and elderly do not receive such benefits. We all pay out of pocket for a lot of this stuff.”
- After finding out about this, there's certainly a lot more questions raised, and one would wonder why only one reporter in one publication, the Toronto Sun, is asking them.
- SNC-Lavalin and the idea that the government would interfere to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to the company occupied news in Canada for the first half of 2019.
- The deferred prosecution agreement would have allowed the company to not face charges in the corruption case.
- The times have since changed, Canada now has a minority government and the Liberals no longer can use a majority government to control committees.
- This is important because now, in theory, the opposition could control what happens in the ethics committee.
- On Monday a motion put forward by the Conservatives to call Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to testify to the conclusions of the “Trudeau II” report before the ethics committee.
- The document from last August blames the Prime Minister for his behaviour in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
- Last parliament the Conservatives wanted to summon the ethics commissioner but were shut down by the Liberal majority.
- This time The Bloc Quebecois voted with the Liberals to prevent Dion from testifying.
- Recall that the report concluded that Trudeau "used his position of authority" to influence then Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould.
- Bloc MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau said that it was partisan politics at play and that for the Bloc, “this case is over, SNC-Lavalin has been punished, now it’s time to move on and study other cases, like how we can protect Canadians’ and Quebecers’ personal data.”
- Now with the Wuhan Virus making its rounds and the collective energy of the country focused on that fight in concert with the oil price collapse, no Canadian is going to be concerned about what happens in a parliamentary committee seeing as now the house and senate have been suspended until April 20th.
- But also this week the Globe and Mail reported that the RCMP are determining whether there is enough evidence to launch a criminal investigation into obstruction of justice by senior members of the Prime Minister’s Office.
- Before the committee was suspended, NDP MP Charlie Angus asked lobbying commissioner Nancy Bélanger if progress had been made on his 2019 request to investigate SNC Lavalin and its representatives under Section 6 of the Code of Conduct for Lobbyists.
- She said, “I cannot confirm anything in relationship to investigations that I conduct and it is really because I need to ensure the integrity of all investigations, including that of the RCMP… I cannot be talking to all the witnesses at the same time as the RCMP.”
- This means that the RCMP is definitely looking into something.
- Bélanger also clarified to the MPs that when she has reasonable grounds to believe someone she is investigating has committed an offence, she must stop the case at that point and refer the matter to a “peace officer, most often the RCMP.”
- Because of the nature of the investigation she can’t divulge what is being investigated but it’s clear from her testimony that there is an ongoing investigation, likely with the RCMP, and her very lack of an update to the committee proves this since she can’t talk about cases under investigation.
- This story broke two days before the election call resulting in a bizarre choice to dissolve parliament on 9/11. And we speculated then that it might be because the RCMP were investigating and anytime the RCMP investigates a political matter they must stop during a campaign period.
- We now know without a doubt that the RCMP is investigating something. Canadians need to know this. But with the media hype over the Wuhan Virus they largely under-covered the oil price crash and totally missed this story about the 2019 newsmaker of the year.
Word of the Week
Self-isolation - the act of separating oneself from others ie: quarantine
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Isolating the Problem
Teaser: The coronavirus arrives at Trudeau’s house, Saudi Arabia begins an oil price war, and illegal migrants receive free 20 year healthcare coverage from the government. Also, a study of the SNC Lavalin scandal gets quashed while the RCMP may be investigating.
Recorded Date: March 13, 2020
Release Date: March 15, 2020
Edit Notes: Lots of internet cut outs
Podcast Summary Notes