The News Rundown
- National media has been warning us for weeks of a potential second wave. But whether or not it has materialized depends on which reality you live in. We’ll get to what this means later.
- We’ve seen Ontario impose new restrictions in an attempt to curb the virus and the question of how much socialization is too much has been asked repeatedly since early March.
- Today Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota announced that South Dakota’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% in September.
- South Dakota had no lockdown, no advised shutdowns, and fosters a positive business environment for their energy industry at the state and federal level. This could have been us.
- The reason that we’re talking about this has something to do with a statement that came out of the WHO.
- To be clear, the group of doctors speaking doesn’t represent the official stance of the World Health Organization, they’re just a big part of it.
- Dr. David Nabarro of the WHO told world leaders, “we in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.”
- Now what they said next was telling.
- “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
- They also point out that poorer economies had been disproportionately impacted. Examples given being the tourism industry in the Caribbean or small farmer across the world.
- Melbourne’s lockdown has been hailed as one of the strictest and longest in the world. In Spain’s lockdown in March, people weren’t allowed to leave the house unless it was to walk their pet. In China, authorities welded doors shut to stop people from leaving their homes. The WHO thinks these steps were largely unnecessary.
- Here in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney says he sees the path Alberta took as one step above that of having no restrictions as was the case in South Dakota or Sweden.
- But of course we were encumbered by fear peddled by our national government and national media establishment.
- Just this week the Toronto Sun ran an editorial piece comparing the stances of Alberta and Ontario. The editorial compares the two provinces and notes the path Ontario is taking compared to that of Alberta.
- They quote the Alberta Premier in saying, “we’re not going to enforce our way out of COVID… Alberta’s approach is to focus on the broader health of society - physical, mental, social, and economic - by encouraging personal responsibility, rather than micro-managing people’s lives.”
- This stance was also backed up by Alberta’s Dr. Hinshaw who early on said that enforcement won’t work as a lone strategy.
- In addition to what Jason Kenney has been saying, and now what the doctors of the WHO are saying, a group of physicians from prestigious health institutes such as Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford, came together to create a petition called the Great Barrington Declaration.
- The declaration reads: “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection”
- As of recording 28,000+ medical practitioners, 10,000+ medical and public health scientists, and 509,000 concerned citizens have signed the petition.
- Their stance of Focused Protection is highlighted as being: “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.“
- Now if you look at our media establishment this week all you would have seen was pushback against the Great Barrington Declaration, a poll from Nanos saying that the majority of Canadians support closing non-essential businesses again (though non-essential is different for everyone), with the exception of one piece out of CTV.
- The article says, “Without the data to show how, where and why infections spots are going hot, hitting hospitality, sports and fitness sectors with widespread clampdowns are a lazy, ineffective and irresponsible response… to close hundreds of safety-enhanced gyms and other indoor venues in Toronto and Ottawa because one spin class in Hamilton triggered an outbreak is over-reaching madness… to shutter all indoor dining, even those which have taken costly precautions to make it safe, punishes an entire industry for the careless sins of a few, if indeed any are an actual source of transmission.”
- And this is the story of what lockdowns were initially meant to be used for, time to allow the healthcare system and businesses to get ready. Now, shutting down again, just seems careless.
- The pandemic has also been an exercise in defining a reality based upon which media you consume, which data you look at, and what your perspective is.
- In Alberta if we look at people aged 1 to 59, there have been 12 deaths since the virus arrived. If we add people aged 60-69 this number goes up to 35. This is a far cry from the 288 that the province lists.
- Even if you add those up to age 79, the number is only 102.
- Now I don’t have data for all of Canada since most of the data portals available nationally don’t provide a granular filtering system.
- But this shows that when factoring in the economy, what South Dakota did, what the Great Barrington doctors say, it shows that their idea isn’t far fetched and it’s actually backed up by the data we have so far.
- So then ask yourselves, why are the media fear peddling? Why are the media advocating lockdowns? And why is discussion of the Great Barrington declaration limited online?
- It’s a question that perhaps no one is brave enough to ask, but we will.
- On Tuesday, the only televised debate of the BC election campaign, set to conclude on October 24th, brought about a lively, yet mostly respectful debate about a wide range of issues. No candidate had any true knockout blows during the debate, but all three of the main party leaders raised their profile and gained publicity for their party's platforms in doing so. Incumbent BC NDP Premier John Horgan, who called a snap election a month ago, spent much of the night on the defensive from the two opposition leaders, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, and new BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau, who was elected leader just a few days before the election was called.
- Horgan calling the snap election was fiercely condemned by both Wilkinson and Furstenau, with the Greens being the former confidence and supply partners for the government taking the greatest offence at the sudden dismissal of the agreement to call an election a full year early in the midst of a pandemic.
- There were many issues debated by the 3 leaders, who were held on task by debate moderator Shachi Kurl, President of the Angus Reid polling firm. Highlights included Horgan and Wilkinson trying to pin the blame on each other for the housing crisis. The pandemic loomed in the background as well, with Horgan blaming Wilkinson for long term care staffing shortages, and Wilkinson taking Horgan to task on not building any new hospitals in the province in the last few years.
- Wilkinson drew attention to the ongoing homeless encampments in some B.C. cities, and slammed the NDP's approach to homelessness as "a colossal failure" that's led to "street disorder." Horgan argued the problem preceded his government, and that what's needed from political leaders is "compassion, not contempt" and reckoned that his strategy of purchasing hotels and moving people into them has worked to slow the increase.
- But Wilkinson said the current policies are nothing more than a Band-Aid solution, and that the problems run much deeper than just providing shelter. Wilkinson accused the NDP of chasing a failed strategy, and called on Horgan to "stop pursuing a dead end": "I have said let's treat the causes and prevent the harm. Why aren't we treating these mental illnesses? [They] don't get treated with a tent or a rundown motel."
- But the economy, healthcare, rising homeless numbers, and the housing crisis, all very important issues to all British Columbians, took a backseat to a different issue that dominated the provincial media in the days following the debate.
- During Tuesday's debate, the leaders were asked to explain how they've reckoned with their own privileged positions as white people. Horgan went first, and spoke of playing lacrosse with Indigenous young people and suggested that he "did not see colour" growing up. That answer, once widely accepted among liberals in the western world, has come under fire especially in the last year, with the idea that if you don't see colour, you don't understand the differences that people of different colours have, and the challenges they face just based on their skin colour.
- On the defensive immediately by a rash of articles posted in left-leaning publications like The Tyee, CBC, and The Globe and Mail, Horgan released a statement the very next day: “As a personification of white privilege, I misspoke. Words matter. I deeply regret it. I am also absolutely committed to making sure that every day I am reminded of the discomfort I caused to people and I will work to correct that. I'll never fully understand, as a white person, the lived reality of systemic racism. I'm listening, learning and I'll keep working every day to do better."
- That apology still didn't go far enough for some. For Genevieve Fuji Johnson, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University, that apology suggests Horgan still doesn't quite understand the issue. She said: "So often, colour blindness is synonymous for words like neutral and fair, and to make the suggestion that beliefs and behaviours and laws and policies and institutions are neutral or fair just totally glosses over the myriad of forms of oppression and indeed violence that racialized people and minorities face at the hands of supposedly neutral laws and institutions."
- Wilkinson's answer to the same question was also criticized following the debate. In his response, the Liberal leader told a story about working as a doctor in rural areas of BC and a bizarre story about delivering an Indigenous baby who was later named after him.
- Wilkinson was also quick to expand on his comments the very next day. He said he grew up fortunate as a white male and it wasn't until his teenage years that he realized he received different treatment than others, saying that it was wrong and not fair: "In medical practice, I became very much aware of the particular struggles of Indigenous people in dealing with the health-care system and in dealing with society's other structures. The idea that people in our society are somehow treated differently because of the colour of their skin or where they grew up or who their parents are is not acceptable.''
- Furstenau said at the debate she cannot comprehend that some mothers tell their children to be wary of the police. She pledged to work to end systemic racism, but admitted neither she nor the other two party leaders could ever grasp its nuances.
- Media stories about the supposed racism of the party leaders followed very quickly after the debate, despite all the other topics being discussed. Amazingly, with many other topics that could have been expanded on, the media decided that this particular part of the story was more important than all others for the public to hear.
- Missing from the media this week was the large increase of voter mail ballot requests, and the news from Elections BC that is warning voters that some people could receive their mail-in ballot after the recommended return deadline. British Columbians have been told to mail back their completed voting package by Oct 17th to ensure their ballot is counted. But Elections BC said people who requested their package late could end up receiving it after the weekend.
- With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, an unprecedented number of British Columbians have requested mail-in ballots this election – some 680,000 as of Tuesday. It's unclear how many might end up being received after the recommended return deadline. With many pandemic frightened people at the mercy of Canada Post, as they were during the electoral reform referendum in 2018 when Canada Post workers went on strike, it's clear that many people will not even bother to vote this time around, and that many people with health risks could risk being disenfranchised. But the media didn't mention all that this weekend, preferring to talk about race relations instead.
- Most of our national media this week has been focused on either the perceived arrival of a second wave of the corona virus in eastern Canada or what is happening in the US as their election is now less than 3 weeks away.
- As this was happening the stars were aligning for a rare government filibuster here in Canada.
- A filibuster is the act of the government or opposition talking at length often for hours to delay the vote or passage of a bill.
- This time it was two House of Commons committees, the finance committee and the ethics committee, that were being filibustered by the government.
- The finance committee met for 11 hours and the ethics committee for 10.
- The finance committee was seeking to reveal redacted information from the governments nearly 5,000 pages of documents they released this past summer in relation to the WE scandal.
- The ethics committee was looking to probe just what Trudeau’s wife, mother, and brother we paid by WE over the last 12 years.
- The fiasco ended early in the morning when the Bloc joined the Liberals in shutting down the voting temporarily.
- The push to investigate what actually happened with WE is still ongoing and whether or not Trudeau will be held accountable for the $40m+ paid to WE by the government and $350,000+ his family received in payments is yet to be known.
- But this story gets more interesting since of course the NDP have supported the government, preventing its fall, numerous times.
- Liberal MP Han Dong instead argued the committee (which deals with access to information and privacy issues as well) should be dealing with the impact of facial recognition technology on people of colour rather than pursuing the WE scandal.
- Opposition MPs including NDP MP Charlie Angus interrupted Dong’s question and Dong called it a micro-aggression saying, “The constant interruption I know it's not the intent of my honourable colleagues, but it just reminds me of the micro-aggressions that a lot of Canadians of colour face. I don't hear other members being interrupted.”
- Charlie Angus said that Han Dong should not be playing games and if the WE documents motion came to a vote then the committee could move on.
- Now of course the topic of discussion on this will be whether or not it’s worth delaying hours to put forward a vote on the WE scandal which the ethics commissioner is investigating.
- There may also be the question, why waste time with a filibuster when it looks childish?
- But one question that isn’t being asked is why senior NDP MPs, most notably Charlie Angus and Peter Julian are leading this charge and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is silent?
- Peter Julian commented on Twitter: “Finance committee #FINA scheduled to start in an hour has now been cancelled. 200 hours of Lib stalling since motion moved to inform House of Commons & Speaker of unprecedented censoring of 1,000+ pages of documents connected 2 #WEscandal. What is the Prime Minister hiding? #ndp”
- Jagmeet Singh has been silent online, only talking about the BC election and standing with National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations.
- In fact, since the public commons vote last week shutting down a wider push into proroguing parliament and investigating WE, Singh has been quiet on WE.
- Instead we see it’s his front bench, the future NDP leaders leading the push.
- If you intend on being Prime Minister, you have to first act the role, which means acting as an opposition leader and holding the government to account.
- This just furthers the supposition from last week that the NDP have agreed to put up token opposition against WE, at least when it counts, and other times let the government slide through.
- This is how the NDP have become neutralized and we wound up with a social democratic coalition.
- As anticipated during the last election it will be up to the Conservatives and Bloc to hold the government to account while the NDP goes along with the Liberals.
- This past summer news broke about a strange disturbance on quiet Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands located between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Salt Spring is known for being away from the big city lifestyle of Victoria and Vancouver, and from its beginnings was known as a multicultural haven of alternate lifestyles (read: left wing green hippie politics. Not even an exaggeration.)
- Resident Joe Clemente was out for a drive on the northern part of the island in March 2018 when he came across about 50 people marching in military camouflage fatigues and boots. Clemente’s 35-second video shows they were primarily women, apparently Chinese.
- Clemente, still wondering if he happened upon training for a cult, said “Not a lot of things shock me, but that shocked me. We don’t have any military bases here. If it was hippies with dreadlocks I wouldn’t even think twice about it, we have a lot of earthy people out here, I’d say oh just a bunch of hippies out on a march. This was completely different.”
- Another area resident, Kathy Weisner, was gardening when she spotted what she thought were cadets training one afternoon the week before Clemente’s experience. Their commander barked instructions in a language other than English.
- Clemente said he had heard rumours of a large group booking at Mineral Springs Resort, a secluded, seaside getaway. A joint investigation by theBreaker.news and CTV News Vancouver reveals the owners’ connections to companies and real estate in Langley and Surrey, including a crime scene in Grandview Heights.
- Bo Fan, a 41-year-old who came to Canada from China in February 2019, was the victim of murder on June 17. RCMP initially pinpointed a property on 27th Avenue, the headquarters of Create Abundance International Institute Inc., which owns Mineral Springs, the venue for the boot camps.
- Police are still baffled as to how Ms. Fan died, and are still looking for answers about her final days. Since releasing photographs of Fan on June 24, Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said clues have come in, but not enough, hoping more people come forward. Jang said Fan had clients as part of her duties, though investigators said the exact nature of her employment remains unclear, commenting that “It’s almost like a mystery novel.”
- Fan was employed by Create Abundance and its affiliate Golden Touch. The multi-level marketing organizations are based on a spiritual, psychological and financial philosophy book. Golden Touch claims to be more than a series of courses, seminars and workshops. It says it is a spiritual growth system and boasts of a network of clubs in major cities across North America, Europe and Asia. In Chinese, the .” A pamphlet released by the organization refers to Golden Touch as a global communication organization “committed to the spreading of spiritual wisdom of Chinese culture.” The pamphlet said workshop attendees gain inspiration, confidence, influence, charm and wealth: “Your income will magically increase. All your fears and limitations about money will be destroyed.”
- The group charged $200 to $300 for admission to seminars at the Richmond Sheraton Airport Hotel. A notice for the two-day course also mentions the Mineral Springs Resort. Other conferences were hosted in an amphitheatre aboard a Pacific Cruises ship. Golden Touch operates several multi-million dollar properties out of Langley and Surrey, which are described as having tour buses of people visit daily for meetings.
- It turns out the home where the murder victim worked, which corporate records indicate is Golden Touch’s B.C. headquarters, is also linked to at least five other companies, all whose names begin with the letters GT. For all five, corporate registries list the home where the source said Fan worked as the mailing address. The addresses for their directors, who could potentially have information about Golden Touch or a way to contact their corporate leadership, led CTV News to four new homes in Surrey and into Langley.
- The RCMP described 'murder mystery' is not the only intrusion into Canadian life that powerful Chinese figures seem to be doing.
- Members of the Canada-China business establishment in Beijing applauded a senior Chinese official who demanded the release of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and held Ottawa solely responsible for problems between the two countries.
- Loud clapping rang out in a ballroom at the Four Seasons hotel in the Chinese capital on Tuesday when vice-minister of commerce Wang Shouwen called for Ms. Meng to “come back to her homeland as soon as possible.” He was speaking at a dinner for the Canada-China Business Council annual general meeting.
- The room remained quiet when the Canadian government asked for equal treatment. Silence followed when Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, called for the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are being held in spartan Chinese detention centres, and requested clemency for Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges. It was silent, too, when Canadian ambassador Dominic Barton called for the same.
- Olivier Desmarais, the scion of one of Canada’s most influential corporate families who is senior vice-president of Power Corp. and chairs the business council, says “That this issue has been dragging is frustrating,” and he mentions that members of the group “very much want to see these legal cases resolved.”
- Desmarais’s comments express a sentiment that has grown among a business establishment that sees China as a place of long-term growth and an immediate salve to the pain of the pandemic. While Canada’s worldwide exports fell 16.7 per cent in the first seven months of the year, they were up 2.2 per cent to China. This contrasts with the greater public where opinions toward China has plunged to levels never before recorded, with 73 per cent now holding unfavourable views of the country.
- Canadian businesses, however, continue to press for greater ties – and the Chinese government is renewing its push for a trade deal. A “free-trade agreement is in line with our interests,” Mr. Wang, the vice-minister, said on Tuesday, adding that liberalized trade could expand flows of capital and talent and “bring more dividends to people on both sides.”
- “China is opening its door wider and wider,” he said. “Canada could open its door wider and wider to China as well.” He assigned Ottawa full blame for problems between the two countries. “The source of those difficulties and responsibility for them does not lie with the Chinese side,” he said.
- Meanwhile, Canadian businesses are ramping up the Chinese side of their businesses, including Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Canada Goose and Arc’teryx, the latter of which is now even owned by a Chinese company.
- Chinese institutions are already infiltrating into health care, as previously mentioned on Western Context, and are also filtering into education. The Confucius Institute, a controversial Chinese-backed educational organization, has taken a direct role in supporting Mandarin classes in some British Columbia schools while also asking local officials to report back on political developments.
- For years, School District No. 43 in Coquitlam, B.C., has dismissed critics of its Confucius Institute programming, which primarily delivers extracurricular Mandarin instruction and cultural programming that is backed and partly funded by the Chinese government. The institute has taken a more expansive role lately, even providing resources for core courses as well.
- China’s ambassador to Canada is also urging Ottawa to stop granting asylum to democracy activists from Hong Kong, whom he described as violent criminals, and warned that accepting these people could jeopardize the “health and safety” of 300,000 Canadians who live in the former British colony. Asked if he was issuing a threat, envoy Cong Peiwu replied: “That is your interpretation.”
- Cong used a news conference on Thursday marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries to say Beijing finds it unacceptable that Canada recently accepted two Hong Kong pro-democracy dissidents as political refugees. He also took strong exception to a call from nearly 60 MPs and senators to shelter more Hong Kong residents fleeing China’s national-security law.
- “We strongly urge the Canadian side not to grant so-called political asylum to those violent criminals in Hong Kong, because it is interference in China’s domestic affairs, and certainly it will embolden those violent criminals,” he said.
- Cong indicated any further action to shelter Hong Kong residents could have consequences for the many Canadians living in the Asian financial hub.
- “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong … you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” he said.
- Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne called the envoy’s statements inappropriate: “The reported comments by the Chinese ambassador are totally unacceptable and disturbing. I have instructed Global Affairs to call the Ambassador in to make clear in no uncertain terms that Canada will always stand up for human rights and the rights of Canadians around the world.”
- With all these stories received this week, it's clear that the Chinese government, through many different corporations has been infiltrating all levels of Canadian society, from government, down to education, healthcare, business, and even sleepy resort communities in coastal BC. It's time that the media report more on these intrusions and that our federal government actually does something to safeguard our national security.
Word of the Week
Intrusion - something that interrupts a peaceful situation, the act of becoming involved in something in a way that is not welcome
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The BC Murder Mystery
Teaser: Doctors don’t advocate lockdowns yet some provinces do, the media turns the BC election debate into a race debate, and the Trudeau Liberals continue to censor the WE scandal. Also, a BC murder mystery and secret Chinese boot camps raises questions.
Recorded Date: October 16, 2020
Release Date: October 18, 2020
Edit Notes: Patreon spot
Podcast Summary Notes