The News Rundown
- Ontario MP Marwan Tabbara is facing serious criminal charges and was arrested on April 10th. These charges were not made public until June 5th when Global News and CBC reported on them.
- Tabbara was charged with assault, break and enter, and harassment.
- Tabbara has since resigned from the Liberal caucus but questions must be asked to the Guelph police who decided not to publicize the case.
- Tabbara being an MP is accountable to his constituents of Kitchener South-Hespeler and they and all Canadians have a right to know what is going on with one of our members of Parliament.
- It has been revealed that he spent a great deal of time over the span of three months watching a home that he made the occupant fear for her safety.
- He started watching on January 1st and stopped on April 9th when he was arrested.
- Justin Trudeau’s office states that they were not aware of the charges until last Friday and are further investigating the matter.
- The Parliament of Canada website now lists his party affiliation as ‘independent’.
- The Guelph police defend their decision to not say anything as the matter is before the courts.
- His next court appearance will be June 19th and that is all we have on this case.
- Members of Parliament being representatives of the people should be held to a higher standard than the rest of the population.
- Yes there are legal mechanisms to protect those undergoing court proceedings but the correct response would have been to resign from caucus or resign as an MP upon charges being laid.
- In 2018 when former Conservative MP Tony Clement was caught up in a sexting extortion scandal he immediately resigned from the Conservative caucus.
- Granted yes the situations aren’t the same but the two month long wait until he was caught is deeply unsettling and constituents of Kitchener South-Hespeler deserve better.
- One of the toughest parts of the last 3 months was the lack of distraction from the constant barrage of negative news from the mainstream media. Since mid March, where an NBA player jokingly touched reporter microphones at a press conference before he found out that he actually contracted the coronavirus, all major sports leagues have been put on hold. Wrestling has been the first to open again, due to its nature of having small numbers of competitors, but the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL and CFL have all been shuttered for the past 3 months.
- With the worst of the pandemic over for now, and some cities having fared much better than others, the NHL is looking at reopening to finish off the season with a mega 24 team "win and you're in" playoff format to replace the cancelled last part of the 2019/20 season. In order to facilitate these playoffs, they have been looking at a small number of "hub cities" where teams can be isolated from the general public and compete with no crowds.
- Last month Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league would resume its 2019-20 season at an undetermined date, using two hub cities — one for Western Conference teams and one in the Eastern Conference — to stage multiple games.
- There has been a shortlist made of these hub cities, including Canadian and American cities. Those places include Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Pittsburgh.
- Originally it was thought that the more stringent quarantine restrictions led the NHL to favour the American cities, but the events of the past month may have given the edge to Canada, with coronavirus cases continuing to rise in most American cities and the George Floyd protests and riots continuing to tarnish many of these options, notably Minneapolis where they began.
- The NHL is strongly looking at Las Vegas, which has had a very low case/population ratio, and the thinking is that they might pick one of either Vancouver or Edmonton, which outside of Winnipeg have been by far the best performing major Canadian cities when it has come to the Pandemic.
- Originally the BC government was not wanting to relent on the mandatory 2 week quarantine restriction, but Premier John Horgan has been working with the Vancouver Canucks as well as provincial health officials and a plan to protect players and the public has been approved by both the government and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has gotten widespread international praise for her role in minimizing the impact of the pandemic on what should have been one of Canada's hardest hit provinces.
- Horgan said Wednesday he has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to advance the initiative put together based on a modification of quarantine measures that would allow a team to remain together as a family or bubble. A team would stay in one hotel and travel together to Rogers Arena for games using private transportation, be responsible for any COVID-19 testing and agree to not interact with the public during a 14-day isolation period, Horgan said. He believes "that Vancouver has a very compelling case to make and supports it wholly."
- Horgan said the fact that B.C. has done a good job fighting the COVID-19 outbreak should give a boost to the province's chances and give comfort to the league and players: "I really think that British Columbia has a great deal to offer the NHL, particularly the players. If you are bringing your family somewhere in North America for the summer months to spend time while you play hockey, I can't think of a better place than British Columbia."
- Horgan said B.C.’s plan would also allow for an economic boost to Vancouver from hotel rentals and other services. British Columbia’s tourism sector is expected to make some gains this summer, he said, but added he has no illusions that domestic travel will fill the void left by American and international travellers who help local businesses thrive. The province will focus on tourism as part of its recovery plan as an industry that’s integral to B.C.’s economy, Horgan said, adding people need a sense of safety and comfort before they travel.
- "British Columbians need to get out, stretch their legs, go to other places but they’re not feeling particularly comfortable about that just yet," he said, noting the province is faring better than other parts of the country and COVID-19 cases have recently increased in neighbouring U.S. states due to large gatherings.
- "Saying no to U.S. tourists in Victoria is a very difficult pill to swallow, I absolutely understand that. But I think the public is behind me on this. We want to make sure that our reopening is safe and if that means we have to help businesses in other ways we’re absolutely prepared to do that."
- Edmonton and Toronto are the other two Canadian cities competing to become a hub for the league, with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calling Edmonton "the safest place they could find on the continent" to finish off the season.
- Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson also supports the Edmonton Oilers' bid to become one of the hub cities. Iveson released a statement that says, "Edmonton’s number-one priority is the health and safety of its residents, we recognize that the NHL has placed health and safety as a top priority for the return of the hockey season. And we understand that OEG (Oilers Entertainment Group) has been working closely with our provincial government on a detailed health framework and protocol that prescribe conditions under which games hosted by Edmonton would take place."
- On Tuesday, Kenney said during a press conference that he believes Edmonton is the safest choice for the NHL should the league opt for the hub-city setup, given how the city and the province have responded to the pandemic.
- “We continue to work very closely with the Edmonton Oilers franchise on refining Alberta’s proposal — we’re very keen on attracting the NHL playoffs for the summer shortened season. And I think we’ve got a tremendous pitch to make,” Kenney said.
- He went further, saying “First of all, in terms of Alberta being a star performer in North America on the public health response to the pandemic, particularly here in Edmonton, where the number of active cases — I think we’re down to 50 active cases in this population in greater Edmonton of 1.2 million people, and a handful of people in hospital with hundreds of acute care beds that have been set aside for COVID patients. Together with the highest per-capita testing in North America, if not the world, I think we are the safest place they could find in the continent to come and, in a very thoughtful and careful way, finish off the season with the playoffs.”
- The rivalry that the two provinces share may continue under a different flavour, with both provinces vying to be the NHL's sweetheart. It will remain to be seen if Commissioner Gary Bettman will pick one or the other, or neither, but one thing's for sure, it's clear that people want to see hockey again. Both proposals now lay in the hands of Trudeau's federal government, and if the Prime Minister has any sense, he will let the West handle its own business.
- Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, owns two apartments in London England.
- London is one of the most expensive real estate markets, but this aside more information came to light.
- The mortgages for these two apartments reside with the Bank of China in London. The estimated values of these mortgages? $1.2 million.
- Minister Champagne was first elected in 2015, the apartments were bought in 2009 and 2013 when he worked for a British construction firm.
- He says the reason for using the Bank of China was that it was one of the few banks that would provide a residential mortgage for a term of more than 20 years to people residing in the UK on temporary worker visas.
- The mortgages were declared to Canada’s Ethics Commissioner when he became a minister of the crown and they’re visible on the website.
- But that doesn’t explain how we’re only just hearing about them.
- WC is a small podcast without the resources to do deep investigative journalism on new ministers.
- This falls exclusively under the purview of the media in Canada or opposition.
- This is quite frankly something that should have raised alarm bells when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs this past November.
- Opposition leader Andrew Scheer wanted Champagne to appear before the special House of Commons committee on Canada-China relations that was recently set up.
- Andrew Scheer rightly pointed out that China could use the mortgages as leverage over the foreign affairs minister.
- Consider the media reaction to this compared to that of the media finding out that Andrew Scheer held dual US-Canadian citizenship during the last election. Two completely different responses where one (Champagne’s) is much more egregious as he is Canada’s top diplomat.
- John Ivison of the National Post points out that there’s a difference if you’re infrastructure or trade minister when comparing it to minister of foreign affairs.
- First the media didn’t uncover this disclosure and quite honestly that’s reprehensible and to be expected from the media in Canada.
- Second, the fact this didn’t raise any red flags with those vetting Champagne before he became minister is deeply concerning.
- This could all be fixed quickly if Champagne were to sell one of the apartments and use the funds from the sale to pay off the mortgage of the other. That should be possible given the expensive nature of London.
- Overall something has to be done but the media is all too busy covering news stories that stoke feelings rather than potential ethical breaches within the foreign affairs department.
- Immediately after we recorded last week's podcast, wherein I covered a story about the George Floyd protests and riots that were beginning to spread into Canada, we received news that our Prime Minister had responded in a way that left many scratching their heads.
- Trudeau made an appearance at an anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill last Friday, showing up unannounced to hear speeches from activists demanding fairer treatment from police for minorities.
- Trudeau joined the large crowd in kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds — which is how long a Minneapolis police officer held down George Floyd with his knee on his neck before he died. The African-American man died while in police custody on May 25; all four officers at the scene now face charges.
- Trudeau tried to blend into the crowd Friday — but TV cameras and the RCMP security detail made his presence known to the roughly 4,000 activists gathered around the Centennial Flame on the lawn at Parliament Hill. Trudeau told his security detail to stop pushing people as he made his way closer to the stage where the speakers were addressing the crowd.
- Trudeau initially was met with chants of "Stand up to Trump!" and "Go away!" from some in the crowd. The yelling died down as local black leaders started speaking about their calls for an end to racial injustice at home and abroad.
- Someone in the crowd handed the prime minister a T-shirt with that slogan emblazoned on the front.
- Trudeau was accompanied by Families Minister Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-Canadian who has spoken out about the racism he has faced in Canada: "I think it's powerful when you have the head of government taking a knee and clapping when people say 'black lives matter'. It's incredibly powerful for him to come and be part of this."
- Mainstream media was very kind to Trudeau on this issue. It appears that many sources have forgotten that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and that gatherings in the thousands are explicitly forbidden under provincial health orders. However, it appears that reaction outside of the sycophantic mainstream media has been much more negative towards Trudeau.
- Notably, the negative sentiments ranged on the political spectrum, with several people criticizing the prime minister for not doing enough to seek racial equality in Canada. For example, several targeted Trudeau’s mishandling of indigenous relations as prime minister.
- Many comments also pointed out the contradiction that as prime minister, he is responsible for the state of Canada’s law enforcement and race relations. Others criticized the prime minister for attending the rally while also suspending parliament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam said protests are important, but that doesn’t change the science around the risk they present: “Canadians have a right to protest and racism, anti-Black racism is a longtime in the making and is a health-equity issue,” she said. “On the other hand, mass gatherings, particularly situations where there are large crowds, where physical distancing is difficult to achieve, does create a public health risk.”
- She advised anyone who attended a large demonstration to monitor their symptoms and said health authorities would be looking for trends: “It is quite a difficult situation to control and I think public health will be looking for any increases in transmission, because it is a setting of risk.”
- Trudeau defended his hypocritical decision to attend the BLM protest, despite public health advice he has personally delivered to Canadians, about avoiding large groups to prevent the spread of COVID-19: “To look out the windows of my office and see thousand upon thousands of young people, of Canadians of all ages stand in solidarity, wanting to see change happen, I felt it was important for me to be part of that. To be able to listen, to be able to hear people and to be able to understand and to share with people how important it was to act.”
- In other words, he "wanted to be a part of that", and have a photo op proving that he was part of it, despite as the head of government for the last 5 years doing little to actually move forward race relations in this country. It's another countless example of Trudeau setting rules for Canadians, then breaking them himself.
- Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said he believes Trudeau sent a conflicting message to Canadians by attending the protests: “I can understand why people are upset and confused after months of being told that they need to stay home, after months of being told that they need to listen to the advice of public health officials. After all the hardship that people have gone through, to see the prime minister completely ignore those guidelines.”
- Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said the prime minister's protest appearance was a publicity stunt that could have been avoided: "That [Parliament Hill rally] is not the best place for the prime minister, or for me, to be. We have other occasions, opportunities to speak but it is quite characteristic of this prime minister — working with symbols, symbolic gestures."
- Even on the other side of the political spectrum, people generally sympathetic to Trudeau weren't impressed by the vacuous photo op. Trudeau’s kneeling in solidarity with anti-racism protesters in Ottawa on Friday was a “hollow gesture,” according to a Toronto lawyer and social justice lecturer who says the leader should be taking action to confront systemic racism in Canada.
- Kike Roach, Unifor National Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University, argued that raising awareness is not enough and Trudeau should be focusing his attention on how to address the underlying causes of discrimination and police violence in the country.
- While Trudeau has been grabbing the positive attention of the media with his empty gestures, provincial leaders have been working on real action to reform police oversight and end systemic racism.
- BC Premier John Horgan also wrote an Op-ed in the Vancouver Sun newspaper, condemning racism in all forms: "Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard from people in B.C. communities directly affected by recent hate crimes. The stories they shared of fear, frustration, anger, and resilience resonated deeply with me. Whether it’s racist graffiti or brazen, racially-motivated assaults on Asian people, we need to listen to the everyday experiences of people impacted by systemic racism.
- British Columbia is known for its multiculturalism and community-minded people. We are a province of immigrants from all around the world. A province that is walking the path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. But none of this erases the past.
- Racism is deeply rooted in our history and institutions. From colonization and the atrocities of residential schools, to turning away South Asian immigrants aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914 and today’s ignorant targeting of Asian communities. People of colour experience being a Canadian and a British Columbian differently and that experience is shaped by the legacy of our decisions over the last 150 years."
- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer pledged wholesale reform of police oversight, called out deniers of Alberta racism, and launched an inquiry into the violent arrest of First Nation Chief Allan Adam, who was beaten by police as he was arrested over expired license plates on his truck.
- Kenney spoke out very strongly against racism in a press conference: “I commend Albertans for speaking out against racism (and) in this current context against anti-Black prejudice in particular. And I would say to people if they deny that it exists in Alberta that they’re just wrong. Racism is, always and everywhere, an evil. It’s a sickness of the soul. It must be condemned at every turn and we must recognize a history of institutional racism here in Canada that sadly has touched us in Alberta, and that far too many Albertans continue to face racial prejudice.”
- Alberta's Fair Deal panel, still not released, recommends creation of an Alberta provincial police force to replace the RCMP. There’s a good argument that an entirely new force could be built around modern standards, with a high degree of diversity and no toxic history.
- Schweitzer said he won’t discuss specifics until the report is public. His department, meanwhile, is “doing its homework now on what an Alberta police force might look like.”
- Schweitzer adds: “One thing I want to make clear — even if we make that decision and we head down the path of an Alberta police force, that is a four- or five-year transition.
- While our federal government focuses on meaningless photo-ops that even the left condemn, our provincial governments are taking actually action on this. In the midst of a pandemic, we hope that our Prime Minister's dangerous actions in accepting protests which could spread the deadly virus will not bring more harm to our country.
Word of the Week
Vacuous - having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Empty Gestures
Teaser: An Ontario Liberal MP is criminally charged, Vancouver and Edmonton vie to be NHL hub cities, and Trudeau’s foreign affairs Minister may be compromised by the Bank of China. Also, Trudeau’s show of protest solidarity contradicts health orders as well as logic.
Recorded Date: June 12, 2020
Release Date: June 14, 2020
Edit Notes: Phone ring at FL
Podcast Summary Notes