The News Rundown
- Since Erin O'Toole's big win late on Sunday evening in the conclusion of the Conservative Party of Canada's leadership race, the mainstream media has been stumbling over themselves to try and define who the relatively unknown new leader is, and what terrible methods he benefited from to win.
- O'Toole's victory has been debated over by the media, and many different theories have cropped up as to why he won: He won a handful of votes in Quebec that put him over the top, he tapped into social conservative voters, he had strong second-choice support amongst the other three candidates, he was a safe choice, he didn't disparage a large part of the party like Peter MacKay did, or that he targeted Alberta, the CPC stronghold early on in the campaign.
- Brian Platt of Nanton News argues that O’Toole emerged victorious thanks to two key factors: he won Quebec, and he won the support of Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan voters. He profiles the rural Quebec riding of Bécancour–Nicolet–Saurel, where O'Toole had 33 votes, Mackay had 19 votes, Lewis had 1 vote and Sloan didn't receive any. Due to the methodology of the ranked ballot in the leadership race, all ridings are given the same number of points, and no matter how many votes are cast in a riding, each candidate receives a percentage of the same number of points in each riding.
- O'Toole surprisingly won the majority of Quebec's ridings over Peter MacKay with just a handful of voters in many of the ridings as Quebec is not where many CPC voters live. Lewis and Sloan were a non-factor in Quebec as both have poor French skills and are more socially conservative than MacKay and O’Toole.
- But the real reason behind O'Toole's surprising win, is that it was only a surprising win to those who weren't closely following the race. Given the fact that many in the media viewed Peter MacKay as the clear frontrunner solely because of who he is, they did not notice the changing dynamics of the campaign. The Globe and Mail even asked in January if MacKay was headed for a "coronation".
- MacKay's candidacy was plagued with poor communications and flip flopping on major issues. From epilepsy inducing campaign ads, to his flip-flop on the Israeli embassy issue, his distancing of social conservatives, and most importantly, his attack on former leader Andrew Scheer's personal views, which after last fall's election he called a "stinking albatross" around the neck of the Conservative party. Scheer was dogged during the campaign by unfair media questions about same-sex marriage and abortion, which were a complete and utter failure of the media focussing on non-issues instead of the very real Trudeau government scandals that are still ongoing to this day.
- In the end, MacKay only dominated in his native Nova Scotia, winning barely a majority of the points at stake in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and falling short of 50 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Quebec, where he was also expected to rack up points, went to O'Toole by a margin of 11 percentage points on the first ballot. He received much lower results in the Conservative heartland; third in Alberta and fourth in Saskatchewan.
- The irony of all this is that Peter MacKay has become the very thing he ridiculed in Scheer to propel his leadership bid in the first place: a politician whose campaign “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.” There is now a fairly conspicuous stinking albatross dangling from Peter MacKay’s neck.
- But back to Erin O'Toole. Rather than steal votes from the disastrous Peter MacKay campaign, which was only ahead of O'Toole by 2% on the first ballot with little to no second choice support from Lewis or Sloan, the media has taken a different route.
- Eric Grenier of the CBC, who as a poll aggregator should really be aware by now how voting intentions work, identified social conservative voters as the reason why O'Toole won. Unlike Scheer and Doug Ford which Grenier points to as moderates needing socon votes, however, it was the more 'moderate' Peter MacKay who's failures on the first ballot led to O'Toole's obvious choice on the last ballot. Lewis's surprising showing also doomed MacKay's campaign.
- The Liberals are already trying to drive the wedge between social conservatives and the rest of the Conservative and erode the big tent that Harper and Scheer had built. Liberal MP Pam Damoff of Oakville North-Burlington demanded that O'Toole remove 4th place MP Derek Sloan from the party. In her letter, Damoff said if O’Toole failed to remove Sloan from caucus, it would be akin to condoning statements Sloan made throughout the campaign that she called examples of “racism, misogyny and bigotry.” Sloan was previously pressured to apologize after asking if Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam was working for China.
- During a press conference Tuesday, O’Toole was asked about Sloan’s controversial comments, especially those directed at Dr. Tam, but declined to say whether he would expel the rookie MP from his caucus. O’Toole said pressures of a leadership race can bring forth a “contrast of ideas,” but under his leadership, the Conservative Party will be united.
- “Derek and I had some very stark differences, we had some areas of overlap with our concern about the communist party of China, I didn’t agree with some of the ways that he characterized some of those concerns, but certainly within a pandemic, within the race we were in, a lot of things were said. We’re united now, we’re going to talk together as a caucus soon.”
- For his part, Sloan called Damoff’s letter a political attack piece: “The timing was such that it was clear that it was a political attack to try to divide the party under its new leadership." Sloan said that the items Damoff published were “choice tidbits,” chosen out of context, and that he didn’t believe she made a concentrated effort to go over his leadership campaign in detail.
- O'Toole quickly swept away the distraction the Liberals tried to foist on the new leader, but the media quickly tried to bring up another political non-starter by immediately accosting O'Toole about his social views, with O'Toole quick to say that he's not a social conservative, and that he has “a track record of always voting in favour of rights, whether it’s the rights of women, with respect to choice, whether it’s the LGBT community.”
- O’Toole was expecting the question, as the media have made it a stupid rite of passage for Conservative leaders now. Answering it directly allowed O’Toole to get to his main message: that he wants a lot more people to feel they belong in his party – racialized minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, Indigenous Canadians, “and more women.”
- After all of that was said and done, O'Toole got back to his main focus: readying his party for the next election, whenever it may be. O’Toole framed the possibility of a pandemic election being a move the Liberals “may be trying to trigger,” rather than something the opposition would force, and said “If Mr. Trudeau thinks he can play some games with a new leader and force an election, we will be ready.”
- While the next election isn’t scheduled until 2023, there have been calls for Trudeau to resign amid the WE Charity controversy and threats levelled by the opposition Bloc Quebecois and Conservatives of advancing a motion of non-confidence in the government.
- As a sitting MP, O’Toole has vowed to hold the Liberals to account “on day one,” and says his focus will be on the well-being of Canadians given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rather than an election.
- The shutdown of Parliament for a month stopped a series of committee studies into the ongoing WE Charity student grant controversy, and O’Toole is imploring Trudeau to allow the committees studying the matter to get back to it in short order in the fall: “I'm here to fight for the well-being of Canadians across the country. And for better solutions, faster responses… and we will assess the government going forward on all those criteria. I will always put the interests of Canadians first and will collaborate when I can.”
- Navdeep Bains, Trudeau's Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, doesn't think that O'Toole will be collaborative at all. Bains, who is in charge of the Huawei file and still hasn't made a definitive decision one way or another on Canada's 5G infrastructure, played bogeyman and warned that an O’Toole government “may muzzle scientists" and that he was worried that Conservatives would revert to what he called "Harper-era anti-science policy" under the new leader.
- Bains is throwing stones in glass houses. A new Hill Times report shows that Bains was the 2nd highest lobbied minister of the Trudeau government in the month of July. Lobbying of the Trudeau government in total for the month of July rose 73% over last year. Is it a coincidence that on August 15th Bains sided with big telecoms companies to tank the idea of cheaper internet in Canada?
- Last August, the CRTC found that large providers had been overcharging indie ISPs by as much as 77% for wholesale Internet access since 2016, and set lower rates accordingly. Many smaller ISPs – like TekSavvy and Start.ca – immediately passed those savings directly on to customers.
- Those lower prices didn’t just benefit their subscribers – it put downward pressure on home Internet plan prices across the country, finally introducing desperately needed price competition to the market. As the Competition Bureau reported at the time, the wholesale access market was “fulfilling its promise” of increased choice and competition.
- But now that Bains has put the CRTC’s wholesale rates in jeopardy, small providers have had no choice but to start bringing rates back up again. The federal government announced that it thought the CRTC’s wholesale Internet rates were too cheap, and might “undermine investment” from telecom giants. It came as a response to Big Telecom’s petition asking the cabinet to overturn the rates – plus over 200 side conversations with their lobbyists. And as predicted, his two-faced decision is already making Canada’s Internet more expensive.
- Perhaps the Liberals should be focussing on their own sinking ship rather than demonizing the Conservatives. And perhaps the media should start asking the right questions to the right people.
- Finance Minister Travis Toews released Alberta’s fiscal update on Thursday and the news is not good. The budget deficit initially forecast to be $7.3b is on track to $24.16b.
- We’ll go over the details of this fiscal update in just a moment but first there was a minor cabinet shuffle this week.
- Doug Schweitzer was moved from Justice to jobs, economy, and innovation taking over from Tanya Fir with the focus being on the impending economic recovery.
- Kaycee Madu (the only UCP MLA from Edmonton) who was formerly Municipal Affairs Minister moves to Justice.
- Madu’s move to Justice comes as the province brings forward criminal justice reforms and reviews the Police Act.
- Kaycee Madu also has the distinction of being Canada’s first justice minister of African descent. Despite the virtue signalling of the Trudeau camp, Alberta leads the way not because of quotas or because it’s current year but because we have very talented ministers.
- Madu is not only an immigrant from Nigeria but also was a practicing lawyer before becoming an MLA.
- On this the Premier had to say: “I think it’s a powerful statement that Alberta will have the first-ever Canadian justice minister of African origin, first Black Canadian justice minister, attorney general or solicitor general, who is a man who has experienced racial prejudice firsthand and can bring that sensitivity to this important role.”
- And to underscore how big this move is for Madu, this cabinet shuffle made news on BBC’s Nigerian website, BBC Pidgin.
- Grand Prairie MLA Tracy Allard takes Madu’s place as Municipal Affairs minister.
- This was one of the biggest stories in Alberta this week but it of course has been displaced by the fiscal update that dropped on Thursday.
- With the budget deficit to hit almost $24.2b and the debt to hit $99.6b, serious questions about the future of finances in Alberta need to be asked.
- The discussion of course has shifted to whether it is a revenue problem by the NDP, those in the media, and some academics.
- But let us go back to the MacKinnon panel report that said that on average, per capita, Alberta spends more than any other province.
- This has to be the area of attack since administrations going back Ed Stelmach have continued to spend, spend, and spend.
- The sad revelation was also made by the Premier that the budget will not be balanced in the UCP’s first term of government.
- Many elected the UCP to balance the budget in the first term at any cost.
- Questions of an increase in taxes, cancelling the corporate tax cut, or bringing in a PST have already been asked in the last days since the fiscal update dropped.
- The Premier and finance minister were clear that taxes would not go up, the corporate tax cut will continue, and that discussion of a PST would be one to be had later on after the recovery has been completed.
- In Alberta it is illegal for a government to bring in a PST without holding a referendum.
- Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress - Medicine Hat, has called on the government to balance the budget by 2024.
- The province’s COVID-19 response is budgeted to cost about $4.3b, this combined with crude by rail, and a drop in income (resource revenue and taxes mainly) of almost $11b has pushed our budget deficit and debt sky high.
- As we have long said here, choices were made and now we’re about to reap the consequences in as the Premier has called it, a “fiscal reckoning”
- Spending and debt under the former PCs and NDP shook the fiscal framework, an oil collapse brought on by Saudi Arabia and Russia (which many laughed at negative prices and assumed they’d stick), and the pandemic have led us to this point.
- Choices with respect to all 3 causes were made.
- Stelmach, Redford, and Notley could’ve balanced the budget but spent.
- We could’ve had pipelines but now we have an expansion to a 50 year old pipeline and the new Keystone to the south when we could’ve also had Northern Gateway to BC’s north and Energy East to the east coast. This failure falls squarely on Justin Trudeau and his hostile nature to the resource economy.
- And for the pandemic, we made a choice. Sweden accepted more deaths and more cases but maintained a functional economy without shutting down.
- Here, cases are going up and are at what they were while our economy was shut down in part, which begs the question why did we even shut down?
- We won’t know until this is over who had the best approach. Us: Measured and cautious. The United States with a relaxed approach. Europe: Total shutdown. Or Sweden, business as usual with physical distancing. But if it’s Sweden who’s right, there are going to be serious questions to be asked about why we did what we did.
- While the media and the NDP tell you that this is all the UCP’s fault, Albertans should ensure this government quickly balances the budget, brings our spending into line, and ensures we do not shut down the economy again, ever.
- That’s the lesson of the fiscal update that the media won’t tell you about and lost in the literal shuffle was the promotion of Kaycee Madu marking a significant milestone in Canada.
- There is a health crisis sweeping across BC, but it's not one that anyone is talking about. Yes, I'm not referring to the coronavirus pandemic, but a disturbing rise in overdose deaths since the pandemic's effects hit Canada in mid March.
- The BC Coroners Service saw 175 fatalities in July. A statement said the service has detected "a sustained increase" of illicit drug toxicity deaths since the first peak of the pandemic in March, and it's now confirming five straight months with more than 100 such deaths.
- From the start of the year to the end of July, 195 people have officially died from covid-19 in BC. Over that same timeframe, 911 people have died in BC from a drug overdose, more than 4.5 times as many people.
- More people are dying of illicit drug overdoses in B.C. than due to homicides, motor vehicle incidents, suicides and COVID-19 combined. About 5,000 people in B.C. have died of illicit-drug overdoses since the public health emergency was declared in 2016.
- Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has led the response to the province's concurrent health crises of overdoses and the novel coronavirus, said the pandemic has led to more people using and dying alone: "It's dismaying to know that all of the work that we have done around responding to COVID-19 has been a contributing factor to the numbers of deaths that we're seeing from the toxic drug supply here in British Columbia and across Canada."
- Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said the pandemic has restricted access to critical harm-reduction services. Still, she urged people to go to supervised injection sites or drug overdose prevention sites to check substances for toxicity and not to use alone. No deaths have been reported at supervised injection sites or drug overdose prevention sites.
- This is the first time that we're seeing demographics on the issue, and the results are as shocking as they are predictable. Just under 80% of people who have died of an overdose in B.C. this year were men. 85% of the deaths happened indoors. Indigenous people make up 3.4% of the population in B.C., but accounted for 16% of overdoses.
- Fentanyl remains the most significant driver in the high number of deaths across all demographics. Officials have said border closures during the pandemic have disrupted the usual flow of fentanyl into B.C., leading the supply to be replaced by unstable and unpredictable substances produced locally by those who might be inexperienced.
- Just today, it was revealed by the family of well-liked Vancouver Canucks hockey journalist Jason Botchford that his unexpected death at 48 last year was caused by an accidental overdose of fentanyl. It's an example that addiction can grip even those you'd never expect.
- Dr. Dan Kalla, head of emergency medicine at St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver says that "the quality control has never obviously been there with fentanyl, but it's that much worse now, when drug traffickers and dealers are throwing the kitchen sink and whatever they have to make the product."
- Sadly, this serious issue is tied with the issue of the homeless, as governments have been largely ineffective at solving this problem as well. Last week, Victoria's mayor Lisa Helps was considering banning homeless campers from setting up in the city’s core business district, as Victoria bylaws passed while she's been mayor currently allow the homeless to shelter in certain parks, under several restrictions.
- There are four homeless encampments in the city, the largest being Beacon Hill Park. The other three are at Centennial Square, Crystal Pool and Cecelia Ravine Park. The camps have meant public perception of the downtown core has taken a hit.
- Victoria police reported a surge in property crime in the first seven months of the year, with break-and-enters nearly doubling. Weapons and bylaw calls were also up by 50 per cent. Shoplifting and theft calls were down, but Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray said he believes those numbers are under-reported by merchants who see no value in calling police when the issue won’t be resolved. Bray believes the property crime surge is related to growing homeless encampments, including one right outside city hall in Centennial Square.
- Victoria police say their resources are already stretched thinly, in part because of several growing homeless camps in the area. Officers will prioritize life-safety incidents, meaning property crime calls often fall to the bottom of the list.
- “A lot of our resources right now are deployed to the Burnside Gorge area and Beacon Hill park,” said Const. Cam MacIntyre. The Burnside Gorge area is where many hotels were bought by the BC government to house homeless people. MacIntyre reports that police “have seen an increase in property crime, violent crime, public disturbances, social disorder issues in both of those areas.”
- Victoria police also went undercover into the Centennial Square homeless camp beginning on August 11th following an increase in crime “linked to the drug trade” in the area. Just one day before the investigation launched, two stabbings took place in Centennial Square. Before that, multiple assaults were seen in the square and a window at Victoria City Hall was shot and broken by a compressed air gun.
- Undercover officers were able to buy methamphetamine, cocaine, psilocybin and fentanyl from tents in the square. Police say that they found that multiple tents were being used on a “rotating basis” to sell drugs. A tent would be emptied of bedding to use for drug deals one day, then bedding would be returned to the tent and someone would sleep there the next day. The following day, the bedding would be removed and the same tent would revert to being used for drug trafficking. Undercover officers were even robbed and faced violence when posing as customers. 5 of the 17 suspects have been arrested for drug trafficking.
- VicPD also issued a public alert after a city worker found an uncapped hypodermic needle taped to a park bench beside city hall on Tuesday. Police say the needle was reportedly placed in such a way that "someone who sat on the bench would have been harmed." Just one day before, a teenaged boy was pricked by an uncapped needle that was hidden in the grass at a park in Saanich.
- Earlier in the month, a used, uncapped needle was found secured to a railing on a heavily used path in Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria, near where another homeless camp is.
- And yet another example: last Friday, VicPD received reports of a man shouting and behaving in an unusual manner near a downtown playground. The individual had left by the time police arrived, but while the patrol officers searched the area, they came across six large knives and a hypodermic needle with no cap. They were found about 30 feet from a playground where dozens of children were playing.
- A few weeks ago, a well known landscaper in Victoria cancelled a lucrative contract with a downtown business in the Store Street neighbourhood after she was pricked by a used needle while at work.
- Kim Hall, who owns Ms. Green Thumbs’ Landscaping in Victoria, says while working she found 19 needles in 3 days on the property she was re-landscaping. She is now refusing to ever take another contract in Victoria’s downtown core.
- Victoria city council's tolerance for the homeless camps and promised free shelter and aid has also led to homeless people moving into the city from all across Canada, from as far away as the Maritimes, according to Victoria police chief Del Manak.
- Media reports have been saying for years that people moving to Victoria for community support is untrue, but Manak says that his officers regularly hear stories of newcomers looking for help in the city, "many of them are coming from as far away as Nova Scotia".
- According to the most recent homeless count in Victoria, which took place on March 11, 88% of homeless in the city reported living in the region for at least one year or longer. Manak maintains that Victoria appears to be a destination for those looking for aid: “People definitely are here from out of town, out of province, looking for a free place to stay,” he said.
- “We just talked to a couple who used their CERB money to drive their vehicle from Ontario, came out with their dog, and they’re staying at a motel. Their whole sole purpose of coming to Victoria was because they need a place to live and they heard that if they come to Victoria they’d be offered that opportunity.” Manak says similar stories are coming from people who migrate to Victoria from northern B.C., northern Vancouver, up island, or out of the province.
- With all this in mind, it's clear that the opioid epidemic is a real crisis that needs to be addressed by all levels of government. While I used many local examples, it doesn't just affect British Columbians, or even all Canadians, it affects all of North America. The fact that the national media has completely ignored a serious issue in favour of daily covid-19 counters is despicable, and it's clear that the media does not have our best interests at heart.
- Founded in the late 19th century a Canadian company by the name of Nortel or Northern Electric was known to many in Canada. They were one of Canada’s telecom giants until 2009 when they filed for bankruptcy protection..
- It was widely assumed at the time that Nortel went under because they were unable to compete with the likes of Apple, Google, or even Canada’s own Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion.
- But this week a new report in Global News rewrites that history to be much more nefarious.
- Put simply the Chinese Communist Party was responsible for the downfall of one of Canada’s giant homegrown companies.
- To understand what happened we have to go back to 2004 when Nortel discovered a serious breach in the Nortel network. At the time 70% of all internet traffic ran on Nortel’s technology, Canadian technology.
- The breach wasn’t childs play or a script kiddie’s work as it’s called, it was a far more sophisticated attack aimed at stealing Nortel’s corporate secrets.
- The attack was found to have originated from Shanghai and a server was hacked where upwards of 1,448 documents were downloaded and stolen. Those doing the hacking also controlled the account of 7 executives.
- It is said that Nortel’s executives were more concerned with balance sheets and yearly profits than whether or not the data had been stolen.
- The hacking continued until 2009 and also in 2009 after being underbid on a series of contracts by Huawei, Nortel declared bankruptcy.
- Security advisor Brian Shields who investigated the attack said that by the time it was over the Chinese Communist Party had gained complete control over Nortel’s internal systems.
- In describing the attack, Shields said, The infiltration was so insidious, Shields says, that technicians in China could send encrypted packages of stolen Nortel data to Shanghai and Beijing, by sending Internet commands to a ‘backdoor‘ buried in a Nortel computer. To visualize that in the real world — it would be similar to a foreign army constructing a hidden tunnel into Canada’s treasury vault, and marching out unimpeded with gold bars.”
- Shields also believes that it’s more than coincidence that Huawei replaced Nortel as the world’s dominant internet technology provider.
- Global News is seeking Canadian military intelligence records that will backup Shields’ story but they are currently in a delayed vetting disclosure process.
- A Canadian intelligence expert who Global agreed to not name who has knowledge of the Nortel investigation says that the federal government knows exactly what happened with the Nortel case.
- “The evidence that China compromised Nortel is indisputable,” the expert said. “It was being systematically compromised, and everything was being taken. The only question is to what extent that caused Nortel to fall”
- There was actionable evidence but the executives at Nortel saw it as an exaggerated claim that looked like something out of a spy novel. The expert claims to Global News that the Canadian intelligence eventually made the stunning discovery that the Chinese Communist Party was using Chinese organized crime gangsters, in attacks on Nortel.
- This is still happening today but on something that touches every single Canadian. In July it was revealed that the FBI accused Chinese intelligence services and organized crime groups of colluding in cyberattacks targeting COVID-19 vaccine research and intellectual property in many nations, and Chinese dissidents in Canada.
- Also while this was happening the Chinese government made the decision to not ship vaccine samples to Canada when Canada and China had agreed to work on a vaccine candidate together.
- The vaccine was supposed to begin human trials in May but that has been delayed since the samples were not shipped to Canada.
- The reason? Chinese customs never approved the samples to be sent out.
- In the end the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology wasn’t able to participate in the study because based on the time that’s gone by the study has become less relevant.
- The vaccine known as Ad5-nCoV is showing promising results in China.
- Meng Wanzhou the Huawei CFO being held in Vancouver this week lost an appeal to have CSIS reveal more information about her arrest.
- Canada’s attorney general said that certain details in the documents should be shielded from public view under provisions of the Canada Evidence Act dealing with national security and international relations. Meng wanted these details released.
- The judge said that they do not amount to "missing pieces of the puzzle". Meng Wanzhou and Huawei believe her arrest is a conspiracy between Canada and the United States.
- It seems Nortel was taken down by the Chinese government.
- The Chinese wanted to buy a majority stake in Saskatechewan’s Potash Corp but this was shot down by the previous Conservative government.
- China has a deep influence in some retirement homes of the lower mainland.
- And China is also responsible for most of the fentanyl coming into Canada and the US killing our citizens.
- Then finally the cherry on the cake is the Wu-Virus that has crippled the world China seeks to benefit yet again.
- People may deny it or laugh but China is as much our enemy now as the USSR was during the cold war.
- We must take a proactive stance against China and perhaps even going as far as boycotting Chinese companies, divesting our manufacturing and research from China, and sanctioning them for their actions when it comes to shady policies on trade, currency manipulation, industrial espionage, and not being frank with the rest of the world when it came to the Wu-Virus.
- Canada can’t act alone but with help from the United States and our G7 partners we could make a dint. Who knows, maybe CSIS and the CIA need to team up for some industrial espionage against China to take down Huawei?
Word of the Week
Reckoning - the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Plotting the Reckoning
Teaser: New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is a surprise to the media, Alberta’s first black justice minister is overshadowed by economic woes, and the opioid crisis is spiralling out of control in BC. Also, we look at China’s hostile takeover of Nortel.
Recorded Date: August 28, 2020
Release Date: August 30, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes