The News Rundown
- Canadians have a national spy agency known as CSIS or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
- CSIS is broadly responsible for gathering, analyzing, reporting, and disseminating intelligence on perceived national security threats.
- So when CSIS speaks you’d think we’d take it seriously.
- This week CSIS warned that we should be taking China a lot more seriously.
- They say that China’s operation ‘Fox Hunt’ is targeting Canada’s Chinese community.
- Why? To silence critics of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- The report lays out some very chilling actions of the Chinese Community Party.
- The report says that the CCP routinely uses undercover state security officials and “trusted agents” or proxies to target members of Canada’s Chinese community.
- There has also been said threats of retribution against families back in China.
- Operation “Fox Hunt” has been underway since 2014, directed by Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security.
- The official stance from China is that “Fox Hunt” is an anti-corruption operation that targeted wealthy citizens and corrupt CCP members who fled overseas.
- This summer the FBI in the United States said that the current objective of “Fox Hunt” is to suppress dissent among the Chinese diaspora otherwise known as Chinese nationals in foreign countries.
- The United States is taking action on this to the tune of charging 8 people in October, 3 of which Chinese citizens, with conspiring to act as “illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China.”
- The charges stem from a foiled plot beginning in 2016 to coerce an American resident and Chinese citizen identified only as John Doe to return to China with his family – by threatening his wife and daughter in the United States and other relatives still in China, the U.S. government said.
- Speaking to the Globe and Mail CSIS now says that similar operations are being undertaken by China in Canada.
- CSIS urges any Chinese nationals or Chinese-Canadians to report any threats or intimidation to the Canadian authorities.
- CSIS didn’t say how many people in Canada may be being harassed but in the US the number is thought to be in the hundreds.
- A Vancouver based immigration lawyer, Richard Kurland, said that the practices described are “standard operating procedure now”
- “In British Columbia, siblings are fair targets and they’re not even shy about it. It’s literally in your face. The proxy from China will have a face-to-face conversation … to explain either subtly or not subtly what they expect in terms of the family member’s behaviour in Canada and next steps that will be taken if people don’t cooperate.”
- Chinese authorities have dispatched people to Canada to try to put pressure on people to return. In other cases, relatives in China were detained to force them to come back.
- Former CSIS director Richard Fadden, said that it’s noteworthy that CSIS is publicly acknowledging what has been known as a national security threat for years.
- Fadden also said that “Fox Hunt” agents come to Canada either under diplomatic cover or covertly on tourist visas as business people and students to bully Chinese expatriates.
- Several Chinese-Canadian groups are now urging the government to set up a hotline for reporting intimidation by these Chinese agents.
- The Office, not the Minister himself of Public Safety, Bill Blair said that such a hotline already exists but the website lists national security threats including: terrorism, espionage, and foreign interference.
- The website does not list personal attacks, intimidation or harassment.
- The point is that ordinary Chinese Canadians wouldn’t know to call this number, they’d likely call local police or the RCMP.
- MPs who sit on the House of Commons Canada-China relations committee, including Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos, Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong and NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris, said they would like Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu to appear before parliament to explain his government’s conduct on this and other matters.
- Let’s use Justin Trudeau’s catch-phrase from 2015, “A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.” Those who hold dual Canadian/Chinese citizenship in Canada should be protected.
- This issue marks one of the biggest that Canada has seen since the return for foreign fighters from ISIL.
- Now of course this is all but one peg of the China issue and there are a number of concerns with how this government has handled diplomatic relations with China as well as lobbying by the Communist Party of China of government officials.
- It has been the position of this podcast for a long time that a full investigation of how much influence China has on the Government of Canada is needed.
- Now ask yourself, where have you heard about this at all this week? You haven’t.
- The media is still enamoured with the disputed election in the United States and isn’t holding our government to account when it faces one of the biggest national security questions in years.
- Our government and media establishment need to get serious about China, and fast.
- It's been almost 3 months since Trudeau's jack of all trades cabinet minister, Chrystia Freeland was placed into the Minister of Finance portfolio. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about Canada's finances, debt and deficit, and the continuing spending on pandemic relief, both for Canadians, as well as struggling small businesses trying to keep their doors open.
- In that almost 3 months, there's been no hint of a deficit update or spending forecast, no budget since March 2019 (only a fiscal 'snapshot' that gave no real information), and no more bi-weekly pandemic spending reports since the Liberals filibustered committees to stop opposition parties from looking into the WE Charity scandal. Rather than focus on getting the economy back on track, the Liberals have been attempting to still cover up their involvement in WE Charity.
- Just this week it's been found that legally ordered documents pertaining to speakers' fees for members of Trudeau's family have been destroyed before the Ethics committee could study them, as a direct result of Trudeau having prorogued parliament for no reason at the end of summer.
- As we said last year, the October 2019 election was going to determine whether we would find out more about the government's involvement in the scandal, and whether Trudeau and his team would be successful at sweeping their skeletons under the rug. Under the guise of helping Canadians with the pandemic, this government has seen a lack of transparency like never before.
- Freeland herself was grilled Thursday in the House of Commons by opposition members over the mounting cost of providing relief programs to help Canadians and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Freeland refused to provide any new numbers about the size of this year’s deficit, the overall federal debt or the potential ballooning cost of servicing that debt should record-low interest rates begin to rise.
- She told MPs that those projections would come in a fiscal update later this fall, not before. She declined to set a date for that update.
- Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre pointed out the lack of answers from the government: “I don’t think the minister has given a single number with regards to any of these questions. She won’t tell us the limits on the debt, she won’t tell us how much the Bank of Canada has printed to fund her government’s debt, she won’t tell us whether the debt will be paid back before interest rates rise. Is there anything mathematical or numerical that anyone on the government side can share with the Canadian taxpayers who will have to repay that debt?”
- Freeland countered with two numbers, arguing that debt servicing charges as a share of GDP “are the lowest in 100 years” and that 76 per cent of Canadians who lost their jobs due to the pandemic are back at work.
- The debate happened as part of an agreement among all parties to fast-track the government’s latest emergency aid bill, which would provide rent relief for businesses and extend the wage subsidy program. Bill C-9 would extend the federal wage subsidy until next summer, cancelling a previously planned decline in its value, as well as expand a popular business loan program.
- The legislation would also redo a rent relief program that was widely criticized because its original design needed buy-in from landlords, many of whom did not participate.
- The rent relief program replaces Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. By the time that program came to an end on Sept. 30, the federal government had promised relief, but there was still no definitive plan for business owners for when October rent came due. The original version of the program was also criticized as being too restrictive, and tenants could only qualify if their landlords agreed to the program loans. Essentially, businesses had to pay their rent before they could qualify for rent relief!
- Before the pandemic, the combined federal and provincial Canadian debt totalled $1.4 trillion. And since then, this debt has rapidly grown, with governments borrowing another $300 billion in the current year alone. This debt will be mostly repaid by our children, their children and their children’s children. This raises a moral matter of how our government is treating our young and future Canadians. Is it ethical for governments to increase spending by placing greater debts on future generations?
- Young Canadians are facing an increasingly higher debt burden, with spending on people over the age of 65 growing 4.2 times faster than those under 45, according to UBC's Paul Kershaw, a professor of public health.
- Canada’s debt burden per child aged 0–14, is growing and now totals US$279,000, the seventh highest compared to 40 other OECD nations.
- Today politicians like Trudeau and Freeland argue that record low interest rates justify massive borrowing — almost as though it’s their duty to borrow at current low interest rates. Remember, though, that central banks suppress interest rates through credit market intervention. Artificially low rates cannot be maintained indefinitely. Fundamental economic forces will eventually push rates higher based on sentiments towards risk, expected inflation and competition with private sector borrowing. And when Canada’s debt comes due, it will be rolled over at higher interest rates with a punishing effect on our future taxpayers. All of this strongly suggests that Canadian governments are failing to treat future citizens fairly. For young people who support Trudeau, this should be a consideration when going into the next election, as it will be our generation paying off these astronomical debts.
- As the Trudeau government meanders on economic issues, it's clear that they are spending billions of dollars with no oversight. With our economy in dire straits, and unemployment continuing to rise, it's clear that more transparency, something of a hallmark for Trudeau's 2015 election campaign, has been completely ignored.
- And where has the media been? Isn't it their job to shed light on transparency in government? Instead they're busy talking about the rise of Covid cases in Ontario, Quebec, and Western Canada. It's time our media covered what really mattered.
- Earlier this past week 70 doctors called for what they are calling a “circuit breaker” lockdown in Alberta.
- The term “circuit breaker” implies that this is a forced clampdown to prevent the virus spread from growing further.
- On Thursday media reporting doubled down on this with the number 70 being moved up to “hundreds of doctors” and 3 health unions.
- We are seeing similar shutdowns take place in the UK, Manitoba, and the City of Toronto.
- Let us be clear, that’s what these people are calling for, a shutdown.
- A shutdown without location tracking by GPS, bolting people in their homes as they did initially in Wuhan, or severe fines does not prevent people from gathering.
- Data that the province has outlined shows that the majority of new cases are from social gatherings and not from going to the grocery store to shop or going out to restaurants.
- The narrative has been set and the Premier has been receiving constant questions on whether or not lockdown would be imposed in Alberta.
- The Premier called the lockdown a “massive invasion of people’s fundamental rights” and highlighted that the pandemic is projected to be the 11th most common cause of death.
- Compared to Alberta’s annual death rate of somewhere between 16,000 and 17,000 people we have lost around 376 lives due to the virus.
- The Premier also noted that while the virus affects those over the age of 65 more seriously, their average death rate is down below average while those under 65 on the whole have a death rate this year above average.
- It’s speculated that the increase in deaths of those below 65 is due more to opioids than the virus.
- The Premier said that looking at these stats there will be a balanced approach.
- As of recording with 376 deaths on the whole if we look at those under the age of 80, we only see 126 deaths. If we look at those under the age of 70, we only have 43 deaths in a province of 4.4 million people where on average between 16,000 and 17,000 people die yearly.
- What’s more, based on our data since the start of the pandemic, 87% of people with no co-morbidities or 1 condition, have a non-severe outcome.
- The deaths we have seen have been drastically focused around those with 3 or more conditions, 75%. 17% had 2 conditions, 5% had 1 condition, and just 10 deaths have had no pre-existing conditions.
- Tuesday this week: The Prime Minister urged mayors and Premiers to take action to “slow the spread”
- Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said he’d do everything he can with his toolset but as a municipality, his role is limited.
- The Alberta government is bringing in restrictions on recreational sports, dance, and fitness classes.
- Restaurants, bars, lounges, and pubs need to stop serving liquor at 10pm.
- A strong recommendation has been made that people do not socialize in groups in private dwellings.
- There’s also a 50 person limit now for weddings and funerals.
- The case for Alberta is clear.
- Since 2014 we have been subject to a catastrophic collapse in revenues brought about by the actions of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other OPEC countries.
- Alberta has been kneecapped by a negative investment climate brought about by the former NDP government which the UCP has done their best effort to reverse but they haven’t been fully successful because…
- The federal government righteously picks and chooses which energy projects go forward sowing further doubt into the economic future of Alberta and Canada as a whole.
- We tried the tapered shutdown method in the spring which saw non-essential businesses shutdown for 2 months and all of the best scientific modelling, even factoring in the shutdown, didn’t come to pass in terms of how many deaths and hospitalizations we would see.
- The modelling projected 800,000 total infections by early August with 400 to 3100 deaths. We currently have had just over 8,000 detected cases with around 375 deaths.
- Early serological analysis in Alberta suggested that about 36,000 people were infected meaning the testing program found 17% of cases. If we extrapolate this, today, there have been about 47,000 cases in the province. If we say we became less effective and only were finding 10% of cases that would mean we would have 80,000 cases up to now in November.
- 80,000 cases or 10% of what was projected for late August as the probable scenario.
- With that being said, we tried the lockdown approach based on modelling and even if our testing regime got worse, we would only be at 10% the projected cases which is why when combined with the various socio-economic effects, the government is unlikely to push for another shutdown.
- This also highlights how the media has cast a narrative on the virus and with appropriate perspective and data analysis, we see that the sky isn’t actually falling and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
- Another week, another conflict of interest scandal for the Trudeau government. Yasmin Ratansi, a Toronto MP who represents Don Valley East for the Liberals, has resigned from the Liberal caucus, and says in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday night that she “made an error” by employing her sister at her constituency office using public funds. Ratansi is an accountant and became the first Muslim woman elected to the House of Commons in 2004. She has represented the Ontario riding since 2015, and previously held the riding from 2004 to 2011.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is “deeply disappointed” by how Ratansi handled her office, and that her behaviour is unacceptable and he expects a thorough follow up by the House of Commons administration.
- The issue has been referred to the ethics commissioner and Ratansi said she is waiting to hear his recommendations. She continues to sit as an independent.
- A former employee said: "I think it's horrific that a member of Parliament that's entrusted to behave honourable and ethically can get away with impunity. It really questions the integrity of the institutions."
- Several former staffers told CBC News that Ratansi tried to cover up the relationship by having her sister use a fake first name and telling some staff to keep their family connection quiet. Her sister Zeenat Khatri has worked as her constituency assistant for much of her time in office, according to six former staffers. Multiple sources said Ratansi employed her sister from at least 2005 to 2011, then hired her again in 2017. They spoke on condition of confidentiality, citing fear of retaliation from Ratansi herself and of potential harm to their careers. In 2017, said the sources, Ratansi and Khatri told staff to call her "Jenny" rather than Zeenat, in order to hide the link between her and Ratansi. This was likely because Harper's majority government passed more stringent conflict of interest rules during the time that Ratansi was out of office.
- That same former employee said "Yasmin [Ratansi] told us explicitly — my sister will be coming to work in our office. She was going to assume a different name, so she was going to be referred to as Jenny. The idea was we bring her in but try to conceal her identity, keep her hidden, keep her tucked away so that people don't find out that her sister is employed in the office."
- Chris MacDonald, a professor who teaches business ethics at the Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, says there are good reasons why the public frowns on nepotism and expects public figures to hire on merit. He said the claim that Ratansi covered up her sister's hiring is more troubling than the hiring itself. He said it suggests a guilty mind and an attempt to keep information from constituents and voters: "Once there is an attempt to cover it up, then it makes it pretty clear that even the person doing the hiring realizes there's something fishy here. If these allegations are true, it's a disturbing picture of abuse of power, of a misuse of a position that involves trust and public resources."
- MPs have their own operating budgets and are allowed to pay constituency assistants a maximum salary of $89,700 a year, according to the House of Commons. That means Ratansi could have paid her sister up to $269,100 with taxpayer funds over three years. If Khatri was employed for the entire time that Ratansi has been an MP, it could have been almost $1 million dollars.
- A member of the public, meanwhile, flagged to CBC News a new video of Ratansi talking about the case. Last Wednesday, while chairing the Standing Committee on the Environment, Ratansi's microphone accidentally went off mute while she was taking a call about the matter involving her sister. She is seen leaning over, off camera, and saying, "Hi, listen, Zeenat is my adopted sister, actually." The video also shows Conservative MP Brad Redekopp, who was in the middle of talking at the time, saying, "Hello," shortly after being interrupted. That prompted Ratansi to pop back up and stop talking.
- Similar to Governor General Julie Payette, Yasmin Ratansi has also had former employees speak out about behaviour, and allege she repeatedly made offensive comments and created a "toxic and verbally abusive" environment at her office.
- Multiple sources said that, when constituents from Indian communities called about family reunification and immigration cases, Ratansi, a Muslim, on some occasions told staff to stop working on some of their files because she felt the individuals involved were "untrustworthy" or suggested they "lied" because of their ethnicity.
- Several former staff members claim they heard Ratansi casually make comments they considered "racist" by applying stereotypes to Chinese, South Asian and Caribbean constituents and communities. One said: "She said that there are too many Chinese in [the] riding and [she did not want] any more Chinese. She also said that constituents shouldn't sell their houses to the Chinese because they don't vote."
- Another said: "There was definitely a lot of explicit as well as casual racism that I observed and heard during my time in that office. A lot of vitriol directed to certain ethnic groups, religious groups."
- It's not the first time Ratansi has come under fire for her remarks. She was accused of "victim blaming" in 2017 in response to comments she made about sexual violence during a panel discussion.
- Ratansi said "'sexual violence happens because women sexualize themselves' and that when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment, women should have thicker skin and treat the encounters 'like a water off a duck's back.'" Ratansi originally denied making the comments, then apologized.
- The Conservatives are calling on Ratansi to resign immediately. Conservative ethics critic MP Michael Barrett took the government to task: "One thing is clear — Trudeau MPs continue to believe that they are entitled to a different set of rules than average Canadians. That employing their sister with taxpayer dollars is OK, as long as they don't get caught."
- Barrett asked Speaker Anthony Rota to bring the case to the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE), the body that governs the administration and finances of the House of Commons. The party said it wants to see "appropriate remedial measures" taken. Earlier in the week, the Conservatives also called for Ratansi's immediate resignation.
Word of the Week
Error - an act or condition of ignorant or imprudent deviation from a code of behavior
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Errors and Coverups
Teaser: The Chinese government’s influence is growing in Canada, Freeland won’t release any spending numbers, and governments threaten us with unnecessary lockdowns. Also, a Toronto Liberal MP resigns after hiring her sister with public funds in conflict of interest.
Recorded Date: November 12, 2020
Release Date: November 15, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes