The News Rundown
- The Canada-US land border shut down at midnight on Saturday, essential travel such as trade, commerce, and food truckers will continue to be allowed forward.
- Canada has shut down international arrivals at all airports except Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver.
- This does mean that folks can still come to Canada by air from one of the many hot spots in the world.
- All travellers returning are expected to self isolate for 14 days.
- Canada is relying on the honesty of all incoming international travellers to lower infection rates.
- If Canada wanted to be truly proactive all international flights coming in would be shut down.
- Because remember, these people don’t just stay in these 4 cities. They can then transfer to any other city which these airports will fly to.
- In other border related news, remember that as mentioned in last week's podcast, the southern border that has seen tens of thousands come into Canada illegally since 2017 is being shut down.
- 600 crossed the border at Roxham Road in Quebec last weekend. The usual number was 50-60 per day.
- And upon arrival the RCMP would arrest these people and purportedly place them into isolation and check for symptoms.
- Wait times for a hearing on an asylum claim is upwards of 20 months.
- While numbers are not available for February or March, in January of this year almost 1,100 people were intercepted in Quebec. The 2019 total was about 16,000 in Quebec.
- On Friday Justin Trudeau announced that all irregular migrants (otherwise known as illegal border crossers) will now be turned around rather than allowing them into the country.
- This is a story that we have been following since the beginning here at Western Context in January 2017.
- From the #WelcomeToCanada tweet to housing migrants in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, to the fact that this didn’t become an election issue last year this has been a consistent story that the media has failed to report on properly.
- Now all it’s taken to have these people turned away is a global pandemic.
- Let’s recap before we move on: the US border shut at midnight on Saturday to all but essential travel to allow trade and commerce through, international flights from some of the biggest hot spots are still allowed through Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. And, the federal government has finally shut the door on illegal border crossers.
- The spread of the global pandemic to Canada has led most provinces and the federal government to declare either public health emergencies or state of emergencies, or something equivalent. In doing so, those jurisdictions are in essence empowering public health officials and other authorities to enforce laws under various public health acts that they would not normally do otherwise. It also means that the government is authorized to spend money on the crisis without going through usual governmental channels like the budgeting process.
- Depending on severity, this could mean enforced closures of bars, restaurants, casinos, airports, any kind of business, every kind of business, or even curfews and quarantines. These last measures would be unprecedented, however, we live in a time where unprecedented measures are unfolding every day and it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
- More unprecedented would be a federal move. A national state of emergency hasn’t been declared since the introduction of the 1988 Emergencies Act — the revamp to Canada’s War Measures Act, which was an older bit of legislation that then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau famously invoked during the FLQ crisis in October of 1970.
- To look at the Emergencies Act, we need to first know the history of its precursor, the War Measures Act, and why Trudeau invoking the Emergencies Act would be new territory for Canada.
- Upon declaration of war with Germany in WW1, The War Measures Act, 1914, was subsequently adopted on 22 August 1914 to ratify all steps taken by Canada from the declaration of war, to continue until the war was over.
- The act read as such: "The Governor in Council shall have the power to do and authorize such acts and things, and to make from time to time such orders and regulations, as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada; and for greater certainty, but not so as to restrict the generality of the foregoing terms, it is hereby declared that the powers of the Governor in Council shall extend to all matters coming within the classes of subjects hereinafter enumerated, that is to say:
- (a) censorship and the control and suppression of publications, writings, maps, plans, photographs, communications and means of communication;
- (b) arrest, detention, exclusion and deportation;
- (c) control of the harbours, ports and territorial waters of Canada and the movements of vessels;
- (d) transportation by land, air, or water and the control of the transport of persons and things;
- (e) trading, exportation, importation, production and manufacture;
- (f) appropriation, control, forfeiture and disposition of property and of the use thereof."
- This act gave wide sweeping powers to the Federal Government during a time of war, and suspension of civil liberties to many groups that had originated from the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and after the communist Russian Revolution of 1917, Russia as well.
- During WW2, A state of apprehended war was declared on 25 August 1939, and the Defence of Canada Regulations were implemented under the Act. A state of war was declared with Germany on 10 September 1939.
- The extreme security measures permitted by the Defence of Canada Regulations included the waiving of habeas corpus and the right to trial, internment, bans on political and religious groups, restrictions of free speech including the banning of certain publications, and the confiscation of property. Section 21 of the Defence of Canada Regulations allowed the Minister of Justice to detain without charge anyone who might act "in any manner prejudicial to the public safety or the safety of the state." The government soon interned fascists and Communists as well as opponents of conscription. The regulations were later used to intern Japanese Canadians on a large scale as well as some German and Italian Canadians who were viewed as enemy aliens.
- The Act was in force until 31 December 1945, after which the National Emergency Transitional Powers Act, 1945 was in force until 31 March 1947. In 1947, the Continuation of Transitional Measures Act, 1947 was enacted, maintaining certain wartime orders and regulations, and stayed in place until 30 April 1951.
- In 1960, the Act was amended by the Canadian Bill of Rights, passed by Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, in order to ensure that: actions taken under the Act were deemed not to be infringements of the latter statute, and proclamations to bring the Act into force were subject to abrogation by both the Senate and the House of Commons.
- In 1970, during the Cold War, members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross as well as Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte, who was later murdered. What is now referred to as the October Crisis raised fears in Canada of a militant faction rising up against the government. The FLQ was a separatist and Marxist-Leninist terrorist and paramilitary group in Quebec. Founded in the early 1960s, it was a militant part of the Quebec sovereignty movement. It conducted a number of attacks between 1963 and 1970, which totalled over 160 violent incidents and killed eight people and injured many more. These attacks culminated with the Montreal Stock Exchange bombing in 1969, and with the October Crisis in 1970.
- It can't be understated the surprising level of support that the FLQ, ostensibly a terrorist organization, had in Quebec. FLQ members issued declarations that called for a socialist insurrection against oppressors identified with "Anglo-Saxon" imperialism, the overthrow of the Quebec government, the independence of Quebec from Canada and the establishment of a French-speaking Quebecer "workers' society". It gained the support of many left-leaning students, teachers and academics up to 1970, who engaged in public strikes in solidarity with FLQ during the October crisis. After the kidnapping of Cross, nearly 1,000 students at Université de Montréal signed a petition supporting the FLQ manifesto. This public support largely ended after the group announced they had executed Laporte, in a public communique that ended with an insult of the victim. Nonetheless, they continued to receive the support of other far-left organizations such as the Communist Party of Canada and the League for Socialist Action. The KGB, which had established contact with the FLQ before 1970, later forged documents to portray them as a CIA false flag operation, a story that gained limited traction among academic sources before declassified Soviet archives revealed the ruse.
- Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, in his statement to the press during the October Crisis, admitted that the radicalism occurring in Quebec at this time had bred out of social unease due to imperfect legislation. "The government has pledged that it will introduce legislation which deals not only with the symptoms but with the social causes which often underlie or serve as an excuse for crime and disorder." (Pierre Trudeau, CBC interview). However, despite this admission, Trudeau declared in his statement to the press that in order to deal with the unruly radicals or "revolutionaries," the federal government would invoke the War Measures Act, the only time the country used these powers during peacetime.
- Invoking the War Measures Act was a politically risky move for Trudeau because the Act overrode fundamental rights and privileges enumerated in the common law and in the Canadian Bill of Rights; therefore, there was a strong possibility that Trudeau might have lost popular support among Quebec voters. However, this did not occur.
- In an impromptu interview with Tim Ralfe and Peter Reilly on the steps of Parliament, Pierre Trudeau, responding to a question of how extreme his implementation of the War Measures Act would be, Trudeau answered, "Well, just watch me." This line has become a part of Trudeau's legacy.
- As a result of the invocation of the War Measures Act, civil liberties were suspended. By December 29, 1970, police had arrested 453 persons with suspected ties to the FLQ. Some detainees were released within hours, while others were held for up to 21 days. Several persons who were detained were initially denied access to legal counsel. Of the 453 people who were arrested, 435 were eventually released without being charged. The murderers of Pierre Laporte were eventually found, tried, and found guilty.
- Since the October Crisis, the War Measures Act was not used again. In 1988 it was replaced by the Emergencies Act, 1988.
- The Emergencies Act differs from the War Measures Act in two important ways:
- 1) A declaration of an emergency by the Cabinet must be reviewed by Parliament
- 2) any temporary laws made under the act are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Thus any attempt by the government to suspend the civil rights in Canada, even in an emergency, will be subject to the "reasonable and justified" test under section 1 of the Charter.
- Since the Emergencies Act was passed in 1988, it has never been used, even in extraordinary events after 9/11. However, the global pandemic we are under could see the implementation in peacetime, as our current Prime Minister's father did before him.
- As things stand, federal officials view the Act as a final bridge to cross in the fight against the pandemic's rapid spread in Canada, as the measure grants "extraordinary powers" to the government. Trudeau said the Liberals are looking at ways to enact certain security and governance measures without having to bring Canada under a state of emergency.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the federal government is considering invoking the Emergencies Act to help keep the Canadian economy afloat. Trudeau said little about what those measures would specifically entail, but when asked what enacting emergency measures would do that differed from current protocol, he said the government was examining the act “to see if it will allow us to do more things that can’t be done otherwise.”
- The threat of passing the Emergencies Act already has gun enthusiasts flocking to stores to buy up guns and ammo. In the end, invoking the Emergencies Act would be a last resort. Let's hope it does not come to that.
- While most media coverage has been focused on spread and containment, we also have to look at the economic damage being done.
- The federal government unveiled a $27b aid package aimed primarily at businesses and workers.
- $55b in tax deferrals has also been promised that will allow businesses to keep cash on hand.
- The US federal reserve has cut interest rates to 0 and is looking at a $1T stimulus package including direct payments to individuals.
- Goldman Sachs in the US sees their economy’s GDP shrinking 24% in the second quarter with a growth of 12% in the third quarter meaning that losses won’t be recovered… yet.
- Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is said to be working on an aid package for the airline industry and the oil and gas industry. Details on this could be announced next week.
- The government announced two entirely new programs: The first – a $10-billion Emergency Care Benefit – will provide $450 a week for 15 weeks for workers who are quarantined or sick, or for parents who must stay at home to care for their children owing to school closings; and the second – a $5-billion Emergency Support Benefit – will provide funding to recently unemployed Canadians who do not qualify for EI.
- As WTI crude oil prices fall below $20/barrel, WCS fell to $5/barrel closing at $11/barrel.
- As stated by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney this will be the biggest economic downturn since the 1930s.
- The province also unveiled Jack Mintz’s new economic recovery panel. The panel includes prominent figures including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, WestJet co-founder Clive Beddoe, ATCO Chief Executive Nancy Southern, Mac Van Wielingen of ARC financial, Brent Blezberg, the founder of TorQuest Partners, Chris Fowler, CEO of Canadian Western Bank, Kevin Uebelein, CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corp., Bob Blakely of Canada’s Building Trades Union, Zainul Mawji, president of Telus Home Solutions, Peter Kiss, president and chief executive officer of Morgan Construction and Environmental, and Bob Dhillon, CEO of Mainstreet Equity.
- The group will examine all possible options and policy alternatives to get Alberta through this downturn.
- While the group will be tackling this economic shock, they’ll also be looking at how to insulate Alberta against future shocks to the province's economy while ensuring the energy industry prospers.
- Speaking of Jack Mintz, the chair of the panel, he believes a 6 month recession is the best case scenario.
- In this scenario there’s little lasting economic damage, the virus peaks in the spring with a short-run recession for six months. By summer the virus is contained and the benefits of lower interest rates and fiscal stimulus (tax cuts or more spending) provide robust growth in the fall. Even if the Saudi-Russian price war continues, the oil price begins to recover (already some of the Chinese demand is coming back as new cases decline and production begins to recover).
- The sluggish recovery path envisions prolonged weakness as the virus persists. Consumer spending and production fall well into the summer. Credit stresses mount as corporate cash flows shrink. Oil prices continue at US$30 per barrel going past 2020 with little recovery as inventories accumulate. Despite monetary and fiscal stimulus, risk aversion limits effectiveness.
- The pessimistic path is for a global recession with the virus disruption and oil price shock leading to a sharp downturn and a rise in corporate defaults. Less business investment, weak consumer confidence, layoffs and falling housing prices become a reality. Companies with poor liquidity find they have no market friends. Central banks undertake unconventional monetary measures including quantitative easing and negative interest rates in several countries while governments continue to blow up their budgets.
- 48% of the Canadian economy is most heavily affected by the health pandemic and oil price shock. This excludes the real estate, rental, and leasing sectors.
- For the worst case scenario 60% of the economy would be affected.
- Bailouts and infrastructure spending are all something that could be looked at but Mintz is clear in saying that it’s “a stressed main street facing lost incomes and mortgage payments that will also need help.”
- This is a different crisis as we don’t know what the economy will look like in a year's time. Most of the focus today is on providing money and funding to those who need it most, health and of course the populace.
- "The government of Canada is asking for products and services that can be used to aid in the coronavirus pandemic on buyandsell.gc.ca. This follows a large shipment of medical products and equipment to China according to the Toronto Sun. Now Canadians may need China to return the favour.
- On the main page of the website it says, “Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19? Canada wants to hear from you.”
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Perrin Beatty posted a message to social media saying, “Are you a manufacturer who can retool to manufacture critical medical equipment? “If your answer is ‘yes’, the federal government wants to hear from you ASAP. The need for ventilators and N95 safety masks is particularly acute. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
- Many businesses have used their operations to do what they can to help the country. One example is Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in Ontario where they are bottling 65 percent alcohol for disinfecting.
- According to Health Minister Patty Hadju, the country has a stockpile of medical equipment for emergencies such as this. She has not been very verbal about the amount of specific products we do have and how they will be deployed.
- Italy is seeing shortages of ventilators and has to decide which patients are most in need of the equipment. As the virus spreads in Canada, the country is doing everything it can to avoid a similar situation. But there are now doctors claiming that the health care system does not currently have the supplies we need to properly fight the growing number of cases. They are facing a shortage of equipment such as gloves for specialists and physicians and ventilators in ICUs.
- Dr. Kulvinder Gill who is President of the Concerned Ontario Doctors voiced these concerns during a National Post Radio program on Wednesday. Gill pointed out that Canada recently gave China 16 tonnes of medical equipment.
- Global Affairs Canada made an announcement on Feb. 9 saying: “To support China’s ongoing response to the outbreak, Canada has deployed approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as clothing, face shields, masks, goggles and gloves to the country since February 4, 2020.”
- On Jan. 25 the first case of coronavirus was identified in Canada and by the time there were five confirmed cases Canada had started shipping the equipment.
- China delivered equipment to Iran on Feb. 29 and on Wednesday, an announcement that China will be sending one million masks over to France was made. As the pandemic carries on in Canada, health workers may need similar shipments in order to properly handle the situation.
- On Feb 9th, Trudeau said he was sending medical supplies to China. From the Global News article: "Canada is standing by in case China asks for more help as it grapples with the novel coronavirus outbreak that originated there, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday, noting that the virus continues to pose little threat in this country. Trudeau said Canada has already responded to China’s request for medical equipment, including face masks and other protective gear, as the infection rate and death toll from the virus continues to climb.
- “We are going to continue to work with them to ensure that they have the resources to contain this virus,” he told a news conference near the end of his three-day visit to Ethiopia."
- On Feb 16th, the CBC ran an article titled "Medical supply shortage leaves groups scrambling in bid to help Chinese hospitals", in which Chinese Canadian groups were buying up medical supplies in Canada and then sending them to China, and as supplies were running out, one group described it as "very frustrating" that there wasn't more supplies they could deport, another one saying that they're "giving up on Canada" as a place to source supplies from, because there was none to be found.
- What were the feds thinking at the time? Did they believe that our contribution to China would help stop it from coming here? Did they anticipate China would use the masks, wash them off and then ship them back? Or were they not thinking at all?
- Maybe, hopefully, we will learn that one good deed begets another. On Feb. 29, China delivered the first batch of test kits and masks to Iran. On Wednesday, it was announced that China is sending one million masks to France to assist them. Let’s hope, as the weeks progress, China returns the favour to us.
- Adam Austen, press secretary at Global Affairs Canada, said in response to a media question that they “can’t speak to what other countries will do” but referred the Sun to news announced on Wednesday that Trip.com Group, a Chinese-based online travel company, is donating a combined one million surgical masks to a number of countries including Japan, Korea, France and Canada."
Word of the Week
Unprecedented - without previous instance, never before known or experienced, unexampled or unparalleled
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Unprecedented Times
Teaser: Canada’s borders are shutting down for the time being, an overview of the Emergencies Act, and a look at what might happen to the Canadian economy. Also, Trudeau gave 16 tonnes of medical equipment to China in February, and now we are in a shortage.
Recorded Date: March 20, 2020
Release Date: March 22, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes