The News Rundown
- For years now, it's been known that academia in Canada has a liberal bias. Even liberal leaning professors themselves doing research on the political leanings of university professors have found this to be true. Neil Gross, a professor of sociology who used to teach at the University of British Columbia, or UBC, extensively researched the trend of university liberalism in the US, and he found that up to 60% of American university professors held left of centre views. Given that Canadian society is on the whole more liberal, it can be extrapolated that a much higher percentage of Canadian professors could be left of centre.
- Even Gross, who describes himself as a liberal, says that it's important to have a diverse set of opinions in universities in order to lend legitimacy to the institution, and that "...higher education institutions need bi-partisan support from politicians and voters if they are going to thrive."
- With that in mind, it's important that in universities we need a diverse set of opinions if we are to co-exist as a society and to de-radicalize our youth. Free speech must be a protected tenet in our education system so that students can hear multiple viewpoints and increase their own critical thinking on different political matters.
- Unfortunately, we are in the age of cancel culture, outrage culture, and virtue signalling, and diversity has been corrupted from meaning multiple viewpoints to meaning only one viewpoint is acceptable. We see this all the time in academia these days. UBC, where Neil Gross once taught, provided an example of this earlier this week when Michael Korenberg, the Chair of their Board of Governors was forced to resign last Saturday night, only weeks after the University of British Columbia “distanced” itself from a basketball coach who "liked" a video criticizing Black Lives Matter on social media.
- A series of tweet barrages from the UBC students group who call themselves "UBC Students Against Bigotry" were said to take credit for the ousting. UBC Students Against Bigotry is a student led organization that engages in ANTIFA style behaviour like doxing, stalking, and harassing. This group was heavily involved in the cancellation of an Andy Ngo talk at UBC as well.
- In the tweets, Korenberg was called "MAGA Mike", accused of enabling "far right extremists at UBC", and asking if he "supports the white supremacist in the White House and his calls for violence". The reason why the cancel campaign was waged by this account? Korenberg "liked" tweets that were favourable to Donald Trump, including those wishing Trump a happy birthday, and a tweet by conservative Dinesh D'Souza that called groups like Antifa and BLM a "paramilitary wing" of the Democrat Party in the US.
- Now, Korenberg could have any reason for liking these tweets, but just because someone likes something on social media does not mean they may fully ascribe to or endorse the behaviour exhibited by those people. Korenberg maintains his intention in liking the tweets was to save them to look at later.
- However, Korenberg did step down with an apology for his social media behaviour: "Today I stepped down as Chair of the Board of Governors of UBC. I owe all students, faculty and staff and all those who stand against all forms of discrimination, an apology. I do so with all my heart. Over the last two weeks some articles/statements that I ‘liked’ on Twitter supported regressive voices and took aim at thousands of brave individuals standing up against racism, discrimination and hatred. While I do not support violence of any kind, I understand how my actions created questions about who I am and what I believed in.”
- Upon Korenbergs’ resignation, Students Against Bigotry immediately celebrated and said they were not done with their cancel campaigns. The student activists have stated that their campaign will not end with Korenberg. Dr. Santa Ono, President of UBC, appears to be next on the next target of the cancellation streak.
- The CBC put out an unauthored article that said Korenberg resigned after "liking racist posts on Twitter" which is an oversimplification of what actually happened, and didn't even show what the posts were so people could judge for themselves.
- It's clear that we are at a crossroads moment in human history, and that political polarization is increasingly dangerous. It's worrying to see a trend of exclusivity amongst students at universities, and an ever growing trend of liberalism that doesn't teach these students to have diversity in their opinions. It's strange how we're at the point where looking at tweets means someone is a racist and should lose their job. There remains a middle ground between extremes on either side of the political spectrum. It's called the centre, and it's where sanity and peace remains. If academia wants to be taken seriously and legitimately, it should strive towards that centre and stop its students from drifting towards the far left.
- Following the report from the Fair Deal Panel the Alberta government has moved quickly to set the stage for the implementation of its recommendations.
- Bill 26 as it's called the Constitutional Referendum Amendment Act is a simple Bill that aims to clean up the process of holding referendums in Alberta.
- It’s really as simple as allowing referendums to be held on government led initiatives or matters of public interest. Right now they can only be held on matters related to the Canadian constitution.
- The Bill also allows the referendums to be held in conjunction with provincial or municipal elections, stand alone, or by mail-in ballot.
- On Bill 26 Premier Jason Kenney said, “Albertans continue to tell us that they want a greater say in the politics in this province – and that is what we’re doing. This legislation will help us strengthen democracy and increase accountability, giving Albertans a louder voice and a direct impact on the actions of government.”
- The opposition NDP have labeled this a power grab by the UCP in that the government would get to determine question wording, how, where, and when the referendum would be held.
- Question wording is the first part that needs to be examined when holding a referendum, this is the whole reason Canada has something called the Clarity Act brought in after the Quebec referendums.
- How: Municipal and provincial elections come around once every 4 years. This means that if a referendum is not to be held at this time, it must be held standalone. Failing that there is also the option for the mail-in ballot which worked well enough in BC’s proportional representation referendum.
- Bill 26 also legally defines what third party advertisers can do during a referendum period and caps their spending at $500,000.
- Currently if any Albertan turns on the TV they will see union based ads encouraging Albertans to tell the Premier to not cut the healthcare system.
- There’s plenty of spending that goes on regarding political causes outside of an election cycle that costs more than this $500,000 limit.
- What’s more, if an advertiser goes above $350,000 during a referendum period they will have to file audited financial statements.
- Recall that while the NDP was in power they also removed the secret ballot needed for workplace unionization. What we often see here in Alberta is that the NDP doesn’t live up to their name of being a democratic party.
- It is super rich of the NDP to claim the UCP is being undemocratic when more direct democracy is being brought to Albertans.
- Also, CBC opinion columnist Graham Thomson said in a column titled “Jason Kenney likes referendums. Here’s why you shouldn’t”. His reasoning is that all we need to do is look to the UK and see the Brexit debate or see the numerous citizen’s initiatives in California that have “reduced the rights of minorities” in his words.
- He also says that, “If too many important decisions are left up to plebiscites, we risk having politicians afraid to pass laws and a public sector bankrupted because politicians can't raise taxes.”
- And that’s just the thing, politicians should always be worried about their jobs and if their constituents will vote them out. If they’re worried they’ll be on their toes and less likely to abuse the power they have been given and over act. All we need to do is look at the excesses of former Premier Allison Redford.
- There’s also the belief that if a government operates driven by and for the people, it’s the people at the end of the day who get better government.
- The Trudeau's Liberal Party has been in the news over the past week, and not in a good way. Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary and political aid, and quite possibly current political aid, and, according to Maclean’s, the 14th most powerful Canadian of 2014, shared an anti-American map on Twitter.
- Butts tweeted the map in response to a tweet by Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group, where Butts is currently employed. Butts added the comment “Here’s a helpful guide.” to navigate around the US.
- Butts has since deleted the tweet and apologized for sharing the map without “reading it closely.” The offensive meme map refers to certain parts of the US with offensive names such as “White Congo” for Texas, "Whiter Congo" for Kentucky, and “Christian Iraq” for the Southeast. This was among other pejoratives such as "Narcotic Central" for Louisiana, "Rape Central" for Alaska "Schizophrenia" for Nebraska, and "Redneck Calgary" for Montana.
- It's typically uncharacteristic for a Canadian political figure who had key roles in both Trudeau campaigns—ones that put progressive ideals in the forefront, none the less—to tweet something so blatantly insulting of Canada's top ally and trading partner.
- Given our BC story's highlight of cancel culture, you'd have to wonder where the screaming hordes are for Butts to lose his job for sharing a racist tweet as they were for Michael Korenberg.
- Initially, Butts didn't even apologize for the tweet, only when he was called out for deleting it did he end up saying that he was "mortified" that he posted the tweet, saying it was a "mistake to post it without reading it more closely." The problem with this line is that you'd be hard pressed to not see the clear racism of the map even at a glance. It's a weak apology at best.
- However, this wasn't even the worst thing to come out of the Liberal Party this week. Two weeks ago we detailed the story of Ontario Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara, who was arrested on charges of assault, stalking, and criminal harassment. Since the news broke and we covered the story, we have found out that the Liberal Party was doing their own investigation on Tabbara before last election, and yet still allowed him to run for the Liberals. Tabbara has since resigned from the Liberal caucus and is now sitting as an Independent MP, instead of resigning as an MP completely.
- The Liberals looked into detailed allegations of misconduct made against the Kitchener South-Hespeler MP that included inappropriate touching and unwelcome sexual comments directed at a female staffer, with the allegations date back to the 2015 election campaign.
- The party's internal investigation determined that some of the allegations were substantiated, but we don't know whether or not Tabbara faced any consequences. Given he was still allowed to run for MP last October, probably not. His re-election was allowed to go through despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct in the workplace.
- The decision to clear Tabbara to run as a Liberal took the party's Greenlight Committee more than six months to make — an unusually long period of time for an incumbent. Tabbara, the past chair of the Commons committee on international human rights, stepped away from the Liberal caucus two weeks ago but is still working as an MP.
- The Liberal Party may not have been warned about the criminal charges, as Guelph police did not publicize the details, but it did know about the misconduct allegations dating back to 2015. Claims about inappropriate behaviour involving Tabbara and a female staffer were reported to the Liberal party multiple times over the past five years. Senior decision makers in both the Trudeau government and the Liberal Party knew about the claims. One of the individuals who was aware of the allegations is now working at the Prime Minister's office. The party did not take the alleged misconduct seriously until recently.
- Trudeau was pressed for answers by reporters at a press conference. He said he is continually informed of investigations into allegations against members of his party — but he wouldn't say exactly when he was told about Tabbara's case, or why Tabbara was approved to run in the last election. His answer was the usual political runaround with little substance, with so many words saying so little.
- "Whenever there are allegations against members of the Liberal Party, part of the process is for the leader to be informed," he said. "At the same time, the process that kicks in is a rigorous process that has been established to ensure that every single allegation or complaint around misconduct is appropriately dealt with, that there are conclusions and next steps and recommendations that are fulfilled."
- Trudeau said Friday his party takes “extremely seriously” any allegations of sexual harassment but didn’t say whether his previous “zero tolerance” policy remains in place. Rather than cite his “zero-tolerance” policy when questioned about Tabbara, Trudeau refused to discuss the matter on the basis that it’s confidential.
- One of the biggest problems with Trudeau is that his many slogans all turn out to be false, one after another. “Canada is back” suffered a serious embarrassment when Trudeau’s bid for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council placed third among three contenders even after he dedicated years to enthusiastic lobbying. “Because it’s 2015,” his famous touting of his feminist credentials, ran aground over his shoddy treatment of Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould, two talented female ministers who dared resist his demand for unquestioning deference. And “zero tolerance” … whoa, has that one run into trouble.
- It hit problems early on with his treatment of Newfoundland and Labrador MP Scott Andrews and Montreal MP Massimo Pacetti on the basis of complaints from a New Democratic member of Parliament about “personal misconduct.” Both denied allegations but had their political careers ended anyway. “It’s 2014,” Trudeau asserted (a variation on the theme), “the action must be fair but decisive. It must be sensitive to all affected parties but, recognizing how difficult it is to do so, it must give the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.”
- “Benefit of the doubt to those who come forward” lasted only a few years until he was accused of groping a female journalist before launching his political career. In that case the prime minister first insisted he didn’t remember the incident, then argued he didn’t feel he had “acted inappropriately,” and finally argued that “often a man experiences an interaction as being benign, or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context can experience it differently.” So, not his fault.
- Despite a House of Commons rule requiring notification if an MP is arrested, Trudeau and his public safety minister, Bill Blair, claimed they had no knowledge of the charges until two months later, which Trudeau mused that “there’s perhaps a reflection that that is something that we can look into.” This is unacceptable. If politicians are accused of crimes, and especially convicted of crimes, their constituents deserve to know. If Tabbara’s arrest and charges weren’t disclosed, how would anyone know to cover this trial if it got to that point? And if he was found to be guilty, would anyone be there to report on that?
- Now we know the party investigated allegations of inappropriate touching and unwelcome sexual comments directed at a female staffer dating back to the 2015 election campaign, but approved Tabbara to run under the Liberal banner in last year’s election anyway, and did not take the allegations seriously.
- You don’t need X-ray vision to spot that “a rigorous process” that leads to “next steps and recommendations” is a long way from zero tolerance and “(giving) the benefit of the doubt to those who come forward.” In the cases of Pacetti and Andrews, Trudeau was so keen on openness he went public with the claims without thinking to inform the victims, who had wanted them kept confidential. Now he can’t possibly comment on allegations against an elected Liberal for fear of violating confidentiality, even though the charges are already spelled out in headlines, and Tabbara has stated he’s receiving “counselling and treatment for anxiety and depression.”
- It also raises a more troubling question. How might history have unfolded if the Liberal Party had taken these allegations more seriously last year? And what became of the investigation once the election was over? If the criminal allegations are ultimately proven in court, then this whole matter could become a lot more unsettling than it already is.
- In the meantime, though, the public deserves far more in the way of answers than we’ve received so far. There has been far too much secrecy, and it creates an aura of favourable treatment and double standards.
- As with so many other “firm” positions adopted by Trudeau’s Liberals, the policy on abuse allegations has proven to be easily shifted. “I don’t have a rule book that’s been handed down by Wilfrid Laurier … on how to handle these situations,” he protested when dealing with allegations against another Liberal, Kent Hehr, accused of making lewd comments to women. “This is new for organizations to have to deal with in this way and we are doing the best that we can on a case-by-case basis.”
- It may just be coincidence that the need for compromise and understanding failed to seize the prime minister until after he realized that “zero tolerance” could be a problem for himself and other party members. Believing women is one thing, but it’s something altogether different when it impacts men you know.
- Last week we covered China’s indictment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on espionage charges. This week that story has been blown wide open following a very odd trajectory.
- First Global News and the CBC ran with stories saying that the Federal government could end the Meng Wanzhou case if they wanted to. CBC went even further and asked, “should it?”
- With this came a legal opinion from former federal Justice Minister Allan Rock and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice John Major saying that Canada could legally end the extradition process of the Huawei CFO who has been held in Vancouver since late 2018.
- Well known Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan also chimed in saying that, “It is clear, in my view, that that’s the law — that the (justice) minister may intervene at this stage.”
- Then came a letter from a group of 19 prominent Canadians urging Justin Trudeau to do just that.
- Their opinion is that we should because:
- First, they are worried about the physical, mental, and emotional health of the two Michaels held in China.
- Second, they see the Meng Wanzhou case as “making it impossible for [the government of Canada] to define and pursue an effective foreign policy towards China.”
- Third, Brian Greenspan said so and it would be in accordance with the Rule of Law.
- And finally, it’s past due for the Prime Minister to do just that as they said.
- They also say that “in normal circumstances the safer choice would be to stay close to our ally, our friend, and our principal trading partner” otherwise known as the US but these are not normal times.
- These Canadians are encouraging the Prime Minister and government to pursue a closer relationship with a dictatorship than the United States because of Huawei, the two Michaels, and what can only be read that Donald Trump is President.
- Some other Canadians on this list include Ed Broadbent, former leader of the NDP, Derek Burney a former Canadian Ambassador to the US and former Chief of Staff to Brian Mulroney, Lawrence Cannon, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to France, Robert Fowler foreign policy advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau Senior, Turner, and Mulroney, Don Newman, journalist, and Allan Rock Former Justice Minister and Attorney General.
- Now the question that first appeared is what brought this up? It turns out that the wife of one of the Michael’s sought a legal opinion and then it snowballed.
- But we shouldn’t take this at face value.
- It was also released this week that CSIS (the national spy agency) believes Canada is a “permissive target” for Chinese influence.
- They list our “foundations of our fundamental institutions, including our system of democracy itself” as prime targets for influence and also suggest that the Chinese Communist Party has won the support of some influential Canadians by using economic carrots and sticks.
- They also rightly point out that the public attention on Beijing’s influence is “almost non-existent.”
- Global News interviewed Liberal MP David McGuinty who is the chair of the national security and intelligence committee an said, “The People’s Republic of China utilizes its growing economic wealth to mobilize interference operations: ‘with deep coffers and the help of western enablers, the Chinese Communist Party uses money, rather than Communist ideology, as a powerful source of influence, creating parasitic relationships of long-term dependence.’”
- The report also names Russia along with China but intelligence officials and former diplomats believe China is the greater threat.
- David Mulroney, former ambassador to China said that China has used its economic leverage to secure “the voices” of political and business leaders in Canada with “sweetheart business deals” and “various inducements,” including lucrative board positions or honours in China.
- The report also mentions the United Front which influences the Chinese diaspora abroad which we talked about on WC 171.
- It is also thought that the United Front is aggressively lobbying many elected officials for Beijing’s policies, taking funding from Beijing, and attempting to promote covert Chinese Communist Party members for election.
- Australia has tried to combat China and has seen Chinese tariffs slapped on Australian exports.
- What is clear now is that there must be a full inquiry into Chinese influence within the Canadian government including but not limited to: how many elected officials have been lobbied, how many members of Cabinet have been influenced, how effective they have been, and most importantly, what steps can the G7 take to combat this foreign influence.
- China is not a country to be taken lightly. That is why this letter and push to free Meng Wanzhou is deeply concerning for all Canadians.
Word of the Week
Cancel culture - refers to the social media practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered controversial or objectionable.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Cancelling Diversity
Teaser: Cancel culture strikes at UBC, the Alberta NDP calls referendums undemocratic, and Trudeau allowed disgraced MP Marwan Tabbara to run in 2019 despite allegations. Also, the media wants Canada to bend to the will of the Chinese government.
Recorded Date: June 26, 2020
Release Date: June 28, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes