The News Rundown
- Canada has added 289,600 jobs in May as part of our reopening of the economy.
- These numbers were in large part driven by increases in Quebec but they were spread across most industries and provinces.
- Despite this the national unemployment rate ticked up to 13.7% from 13%.
- Unemployment rates dropped in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba. The rates ticked up elsewhere.
- The unemployment rate rose 1.9% in British Columbia to 13.4% and 2.1% in Alberta to 15.5%.
- Effective unemployment rates factoring in official unemployment and the drop in hours and labour force participation suggests that the rates in BC and Alberta are 23.5% and 24.9% respectively with Canada averaging 24% effective unemployment.
- Effective unemployment is calculated by holding hours and participation factors fixed.
- Overall the data suggests that the bleeding has stopped and we could be on the edge of a recovery but there’s a lot of work still to be done.
- The labour force has grown in all provinces and employment has increased everywhere except Ontario.
- Employment growth was generally spread across full and part time work with part time taking the bulk of growth in Alberta.
- The takeaway at the end of the day is that with things reopening more people are looking for work causing unemployment to rise but overall jobs have been created.
- Now for interest sake let’s compare the United States. The US is in general an economy of about 10x time the size of our own. Their country saw job growth of 2.5 million which barring error is about proportionally the same as our own.
- The difference being that the US unemployment rate began to already tick down to 13.3% from 14.7% in April.
- Recall that going in, the US was experiencing one of its strongest periods of economic growth with record low unemployment.
- Canada’s unemployment really hasn’t ticked down to a beautiful number since the energy collapse of 2015.
- We can attribute the stronger numbers in the US to having a stronger base to build from and the fact that the US has a better business climate than Canada.
- Throw in Canada’s huge debt load that the IMF (or international monetary fund) only estimates at 26% debt to GDP but is probably quite higher, and the problem showing Canada’s slow recovery becomes clear.
- Dr. Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary estimates that Canada’s debt to GDP is probably closer to 166% of GDP when you factor in Canada’s assets like the government employee pension plan, Canada and Quebec Pension Plan, and our public capital assets like roads, bridges, and other pieces of public capital.
- If Canada doesn’t show that we have a plan to reduce our deficits and to slow our continuing rate to take on debt, we could see interest rates rise if bond agencies reduce our credit rating.
- This would mean more money spent on debt repayment and less investment further slowing economic growth.
- We are in a position where being an economy based on natural resources and because our currency is not seen as a safe haven and traded like the US dollar or Japanese yen we can’t continue to take on more debt like the United States.
- While our job data gives us reason to be cautiously optimistic in the short to medium term we must still be very concerned about the long term economic viability of our country.
- There needs to be a debate about when the programs and benefits should start receding and when we should start reducing our deficit. But as we covered last week, Parliament won’t convene until at least September.
- Canadians will eventually need to decide if they want to breathe fire into the economy or continue on a path of tepid recovery over the next few years.
- So while the jobs numbers may be reported in a positive light, there’s nothing to get excited about yet here in Canada.
- 2020 started out with dry tinder erupting in flames with the devastating wildfires in Australia, and while it seems like most of the year has been on metaphorical fire, it took the tinderbox of a horrific and unnecessary police brutality incident in Minnesota to set off a veritable firestorm of protests, rioting and looting all across North America.
- The tragic and senseless death of George Floyd while in US police custody ended up being the spark for calls for change in the US, and being neighbours, some Canadians have also co-opted the cause as well. While many protests in many Canadian cities have been peaceful, some have gotten out of control, with despicable rioters and looters sullying the work of the protesters in Floyd's name to destroy businesses in the wake of one of the largest economic downfalls in our country's history.
- In Montreal last Sunday, vandals broke into a music store and stole guitars, while others defaced buildings with graffiti. Prime Minister Trudeau condemned the violence, saying it distracts from calls for an end to institutional racism. "They do not represent the peaceful protesters who are standing up for very real issues in Canada," he said.
- Whilst condemning the looters, Trudeau spent more of his time lecturing Canadians on their morals. Trudeau says racism is not a uniquely American problem and more must be done in Canada to address systemic inequalities that have long plagued black and Indigenous communities: "We need to be better in Canada. Even though we've made strides forward in the fight against racism and discrimination, racism still exists in Canada. To young black Canadians, I hear you when you say you are anxious and angry."
- Trudeau said his government has funded black community groups, supported anti-racism programming and bolstered the collection of racial data at Statistics Canada to fight against discrimination, but he promised to do more.
- Asked whether his own history of wearing blackface diminishes his ability to provide moral leadership on the problem of anti-black racism, Trudeau said he has "spoken many times about how deeply I regret my actions hurt many, many people."
- "We need to focus on doing better every single day, regardless of what we did or hadn't done in our past," he added.
- Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, originally from Somalia, said in a tweet Sunday that he has "heard from people who have said that we should not worry about what is happening in the U.S. because that is not our problem."
- But he said racism is "a lived reality for black Canadians," and he asked other Canadians to "step up" and "raise your voices and ensure that real inclusion accompanies the diversity of our country. Check the unconscious bias around you and within you,"
- He said black Canadians are disproportionately followed in stores by shop owners fearing theft, while black drivers have every reason to be anxious when they're pulled over by a police officer.
- That tweet received an angry response from Ed Ammar, a former chairperson of Alberta's United Conservative Party, who tweeted at Hussen: "Don't bring this to Canada you f---ing loser."
- Tweeting a video of the destruction in Montreal, Ammar, a Lebanese-Canadian immigrant, said: "Don't bring what's happening in the U.S. across the borders."
- This topic is troubling to discuss, as are many sensitive social issues. But it's clear that the problems that America has are not the same as those in Canada, and while Canadians can always strive to improve and better their country, co-opting other country's problems as their own is unhelpful and revisionist to how our country has evolved over the past century and a half since Confederation.
- Over the years, Canada and the US have had very different immigration and cultural practices. While the US prefers a melting pot style, where every immigrant becomes American, shedding off their previous identity in favour of a homogenized "American" one, Canada practices multiculturalism, and as a point of pride to many, have successfully integrated many people from many varying backgrounds.
- Canada also has a constitution that guarantees Canadian's rights to be treated equally under the law, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is such wide of scope, that some provisions apply to people in Canada even if they aren't Canadian. Section 27 of the Charter even states that the entire charter "shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians".
- So with multiculturalism enshrined in law, and protected by the constitution, how much more do we need to expect our government to do? For one, people broadly expect their leaders to say the right words at the right time. On Tuesday night, that was a difficult thing for Trudeau to do. In response to a question from a reporter asking about the unrest in the US.
- “You’ve been reluctant to comment on the words and actions of the U.S. President. But we do have Donald Trump now calling for military action against protesters. We saw protesters tear gassed yesterday to make way for a presidential photo op. I’d like to ask you what you think about that. And if you don’t want to comment, what message do you think you’re sending?”
- In response to this question, Trudeau went silent for 21 seconds, jaw twitching and staring straight at the camera as he figured out what to say. In the end, he turned it into a lecture on how Canadians can do better, despite progress over the past few decades.
- The media has been covering this story for some time, and in the end, it's not up to the politicians or government to combat or stop racism, it's up to ordinary Canadians to do so. As Brian Lilley writes, "We are not the saints some would make us out to be, neither are we all the devil. Racism is an evil that lives in the heart, something that is taught, something that we can all do without. Of course we can all do better, but hearing that from a politician with his own racist past who heads a party with their own history of racism, it all rings hollow. Let’s do our best to leave the politicians out of it and treat each other as we should, as equal members of the human race."
- 2019 saw the culmination of the SNC Lavalin scandal and the ejection of Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott from cabinet. Two very distinguished women who served in Trudeau’s cabinet.
- This week the Progressive Conservative government in Ontario appointed the former federal health minister, Jane Philpott, to lead its pandemic data effort.
- In addition to leading the pandemic data effort she will chair a roundtable of 15 health experts, lawyers, and others who will provide input to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy.
- On this new data initiative, Dr. Philpott had to say, “There are real challenges in health data. There are real challenges with a health care system that for as long as I’ve known it has had … silos. There are huge amounts of information that have to be brought together in order to understand the pandemic better.”
- Ontario’s goal is to break down the barriers of understanding COVID-19 and aiming to better detect the virus as well as discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations. They also aim to predict when and where outbreaks might happen.
- Christine Elliott called Dr. Philpott the obvious choice given her past experience.
- This is a headline and a story that we would be overjoyed to cover if this was at the federal level. This story illustrates what has happened over the last 16 months or so on numerous levels.
- First this is the Doug Ford government who has appointed Dr. Philpott. A government that if you believe the media reporting was partly at fault for Andrew Scheer not being able to catch on in Ontario.
- Second, data and understanding the virus is key. Getting ahead of the virus will hopefully limit future outbreaks. This is something the federal government could’ve pressed on for their strategy.
- Instead, the federal government has been keen to follow the meandering advice of the WHO and largely let the provinces work out their own strategies.
- There is also a level of irony in that two of 2020s biggest issues of government, the illegal blockades in February and now the global pandemic, could have been competently managed by these two women. Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould.
- The optics would have been entirely different had an indigenous justice minister named Jody Wilson-Raybould been dispersing the protests led by indigenous people on our national infrastructure.
- And Canada would’ve had a different response to the pandemic had our national health minister been a doctor named Jane Philpott.
- And that’s the missing media angle.
- The horrific Nova Scotia spree killings in April have led to a month and a half of ongoing investigations to figure out how such a terrible tragedy could have occurred. The RCMP gave an update on Thursday that shed light on the murderer's profile and his methods.
- Originally, the CBC article on the matter had the headline read "RCMP confirms N.S. gunman illegally acquired all 5 guns used in mass shooting". That's a pretty telling headline right? In the midst of a Liberal gun ban, it's interesting to note that at no point was the killer a legal gun owner, nor did laws stop this man from getting what he wanted.
- A day later, and the CBC has updated the headline to read "Psychological autopsy on N.S. gunman found he was an 'injustice collector,' RCMP say". Whatever is an injustice collector? The CBC article then goes on for ages about the injustices the killer may have "collected", and the part about the illegal guns has been shunted partway down the page, and has been reduced to a few sentences.
- The RCMP confirmed that all the firearms used by the gunman during his rampage were obtained illegally. Three of the illegal guns came from the U.S., one was obtained illegally in Canada through the estate of a deceased associate, and the fifth belonged to Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was killed while trying to stop the gunman.
- Police agencies across Nova Scotia were warned in May 2011 that a denturist named Gabriel Wortman had a stash of guns and said he wanted "to kill a cop." The bulletin was subsequently purged from the RCMP databases after two years, as per protocol. Police also confirmed an RCMP officer spoke to the gunman at his home several times in the past.
- As we've seen over the past month and a half, the RCMP has made many mistakes about handling this case, going back a decade when they first learned about the man, and since then when there were complaints about him leading up to when he committed his heinous crimes.
- But for the CBC to obfuscate the part about illegal guns and not lead with that, instead talking about the "injustice collector" is crazy. Why would they do this? Well, it has to do with what the government and the RCMP are doing right now as we speak.
- The RCMP has quietly outlawed hundreds of rifles and shotguns over the past month, adding to the list of 1,500 firearms already banned by the Liberal government on May 1.
- The list has been expanded without public notifications from either the RCMP or the federal government, raising concerns among gun sellers and owners that they could have unknowingly bought, sold or transported illegal firearms in recent weeks. The recently banned firearms have all been deemed illegal retroactively, as of May 1.
- The new list also includes a number of single-shot and semi-automatic shotguns, and at least one Russian-made pump-action, despite repeated claims by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair that Ottawa’s sweeping ban would not include guns used for bird hunting.
- The RCMP did not respond to questions about how many firearms it has added retroactively to its Firearms Reference Table (FRT) since the beginning of May. The FRT serves as the official reference for what firearms are illegal under Canadian law. The RCMP designates firearms as legal or illegal based on its interpretation of Ottawa’s regulations, which were updated on May 1 in an effort to ban military platform rifles like the AR-15 and AR-10.
- A data set compiled by the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, shared with the National Post, suggests that at least 320 rifles and shotguns have been added to the original list of 1,500. The National Post independently verified 200 of the firearms included in the list, all of which appear in the updated FRT, but not in Ottawa’s initial Order in Council.
- Blair defended the sweeping prohibition in early May, after some confusion emerged over whether some 10 and 12-gauge shotguns could be included in the ban, due to a provision that outlaws any firearm with a bore diameter greater than 20 millimetres.
- Blair tweeted on May 5 that those claims were “absolutely incorrect” but did not update the terminology in the regulations. The RCMP later posted guidelines on its website that seemed to suggest shotgun bores would not be measured in a way that would outlaw them.
- The RCMP’s updated list, however, does outlaw a number of four-gauge shotguns under the 20mm provision, including the Webley & Scott Wild Fowl Gun, a bird hunting firearm; the single-shot Duck Gun made by W.W. Greener, an English manufacturer; and the obscure Russian-made TOZ, among others. A number of other 12-gauge semi-automatic shotguns are now prohibited under the new FRT.
- In a letter to Blair last week, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) warned that illegal firearms “could have been used, transported, transferred or even attempted to be imported” due to the late classification of hundreds of rifle variants. The OFAH also decried the decision by the Liberal government to publish the Order in Council at a time when Parliament was operating on a limited basis, and when the general public was focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic.
- “The fact that the government is still determining what firearms are prohibited many weeks after the amended regulations came into force is a sure signal that these changes were not given the necessary time and scrutiny required for regulatory development of this magnitude. An Order in Council (OIC) may be a legal instrument to prescribe prohibitions, but it does not exempt the Government of Canada from the due diligence and rigor of the robust regulatory process that Canadians deserve,” the letter said.
- It's clear that the Liberals banned these guns without Parliamentary review and oversight, and since they have colluded with the NDP to shut down parliament until late September, this issue will not receive the scrutiny from either the opposition or the media that it deserves. Furthermore, banning these guns in the wake of a horrific mass shooting and while parliament was being sidelined due to the pandemic, we are learning that the Liberals are increasingly creating policy based on feeling rather than fact. Now more than ever we need Parliament and democracy, and a media that holds our government to account. However, it appears that in this day and age, none of those exist.
Word of the Week
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How to Find Us
Episode Title: Governed By Feelings
Teaser: Canada’s economic stats are much worse than reported, Canadians are told we can do better on racism, and Doug Ford appoints Jane Philpott to the pandemic response team. Also, the NS shooter’s illegal guns lead to an expanded gun ban list from the RCMP.
Recorded Date: June 5, 2020
Release Date: June 7, 2020
Edit Notes: Cuts in first and second story
Podcast Summary Notes