The News Rundown
- Mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart will be calling on the federal government to decriminalize simple possession of illegal drugs in the city. If Kennedy Stewart, a former NDP MP is successful, Vancouver would become the first Canadian city to have decriminalized drug possession in Canada. Stewart says decriminalizing simple possession of drugs would go a long way to addressing the opioid overdose problem, something he says needs to be treated with a health-focused approach instead of a criminal one.
- Stewart had this to say on the matter: “My plan would see Vancouver lead the way as the first Canadian jurisdiction to decriminalize personal possession of illicit substances. Decriminalization is an urgent and necessary next step backed by Premier John Horgan, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly.”
- B.C. declared a public health emergency in the spring of 2016 due to the rising number of overdose deaths. This year, Vancouver estimates there have been 328 overdose deaths in the city alone so far, a little more than the number of Covid-19 deaths in the entire province.
- The mayor’s proposal will first go to Vancouver city council. If approved there, Stewart plans to direct the city to pen a letter to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, and Justice Minister David Lemetti to request a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
- If approved, it wouldn't be the first time Vancouver has tried a controversial method to curb overdoses and drug use. Vancouver became the first city in the country to get a Health Canada exemption to open up a supervised injection site, Insite, back in 2003.
- Stewart’s proposal has received the support of advocates from the Overdose Prevention Society, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Vancouver’s police chief, as well as the PIVOT Legal Society. It also has the support of Trudeau's former health minister, Dr. Jane Philpott, now dean of health sciences at Queen's University. Philpott says the Vancouver proposal could be used as a "dry run" to test if the method is workable in other areas, although she worries about federal reluctance due to public anxieties about decriminalization.
- Many Canadians are still frightened by the idea of drug decriminalization, Philpott said, adding it's something she's familiar with from her own time as federal health minister when Trudeau set about legalizing recreational cannabis use. At that time, many argued that legalization amounted to endorsing or encouraging its use.
- Backing from a municipal council and a provincial government is not enough to decriminalize drugs currently declared illegal by Canada. That would require action by the federal Liberal government, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not been high on the idea. When asked about decriminalization, Trudeau said “In any crisis like this, there is not one silver bullet.”
- The bigger issue that isn't being discussed with this matter is North America's tainted street drug supply, which is often laced with deadly amounts of fentanyl. Advocates are demanding pharmaceutical-grade drugs be made available to users by prescription to stop the carnage.
- While the fight over “safe” legal drugs rages on, there is a growing problem in the city of homeless drug addicts. In Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, more than 400 tents have been erected in a local park, creating the largest homeless encampment in the country.
- In Strathcona and several others, residents are complaining about increases in drug-fuelled crime. In response, the Vancouver Police Department set up a neighbourhood street-crime unit to deal with the trouble. The Neighbourhood Response Team has scooped up more than 50 illegal weapons and responded to more than 400 calls for service in the first two weeks. Welcomed by many neighbourhood residents sick of drug-driven crime, the police unit is now under attack by activists who say it unfairly targets homeless addicts.
- “Overdosing isn’t a criminal issue,” said Meenakshi Mannoe of Pivot Legal, one of the groups calling for the new street-crime unit to be shut down, as well as one of the groups that's advocating for Mayor Stewart's plan to go through.
- It all presents a difficult challenge for Vancouver, a beautiful city with an ugly underside of drug addiction and crime. The mayor may discover that calling for drug decriminalization will generate lots of news headlines, but little real progress in solving the city’s worsening crisis.
- The Alberta government has banned the controversial practice of carding.
- Carding a procedure where police can ask random individuals during street checks for ID.
- Carding has been one of the main areas that the Black Lives Matter movement has said was a major point of friction in law enforcement.
- Both the Edmonton and Calgary police services had already stopped the procedure but this new directive from the provincial government will bring consistency.
- The order of course came down from Justice Minister Kaycee Madu who is undertaking a larger review of policing in the province.
- For those listening out of Alberta this is notable for Alberta and the country because Madu is the first black Justice Minister in Canada.
- The change also goes further and protects the privacy of anyone the police talk to.
- Sometimes personal and private information would be stored in the police systems after a random individual would talk with the police.
- Madu went further calling the practice a violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights.
- In 2016 UCP MLA Mike Ellis raised the issue in the legislature but the then NDP government did not act.
- Edmonton City Councillor Aaron Paquette said that when he was younger police stopped him many times as a man of Cree and Metis descent.
- In 2017 he recalled that while it didn’t bother him at the time, looking back it was concerning.
- While most of the focus has been on the Black Lives Matter movement this is an issue for all Canadians including indigenous Canadians who also do face racism in the community that given the media coverage in this summer almost felt as though it was forgotten.
- The police will still be able to carry out street checks which are classed as a speaking to an individual only in specific circumstances such as investigating a crime.
- This is the only time the police will be able to collect personal information and the police must make it clear that those questioned during a street check have the right to not answer questions and are not obliged to provide personal identification.
- The Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a document that many Canadians are not aware of and the boundaries of both are often touched by both law and organizational forces.
- The United States has a clear Constitution outlining what a government can not do.
- Canada’s Constitution outlines what the government should do while the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (in the Constitution) spells out rights for Canadians.
- This means that we need to be extra careful when it comes to government or organizational forces pushing in on the bounds of the freedoms of Canadians.
- While most of the focus has been on the Black Lives Matter movement the media needs to see that this is a part of a larger push by the UCP to bring more rights to Albertans.
- There has also been some talk of Alberta adopting its own Constitution that would enshrine certain rights that do not exist federally or may fall into a grey area.
- After all, Alberta’s official motto is “fortis et liber” or “strong and free” and it appears as though we’re living up to this motto and given recent pushes by the media, opposition groups, and the national government this is nothing but good.
- British Columbians woke up on Friday morning with new restrictions laid out by the BC government aimed at curbing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, unveiled the orders that we will have to live with for the time being.
- From the BC government website: "By order and direction of the PHO, all individuals, places of work and businesses in B.C. must significantly reduce social interactions and travel. The order is in effect from November 19, 2020 at midnight to December 7, 2020 at midnight."
- Most of the new restrictions are not a legal order or ban, just strong discouragements. For instance, the government is strongly discouraging travel outside of your local community, anywhere in B.C. But it is not a public health order, and will not be subject to enforcement, checkpoints, ticketing or other penalties. B.C. is also asking people from other provinces to not come here unless it is necessary. However, this is also not a legal order or a ban. Travel for work or medical reasons are acceptable, said Henry.
- What is enforceable, is the new order on mandatory mask wearing in all public spaces, including stores. This is a change from B.C.’s previous policy, which was just advice to wear a mask. This new order is under B.C.’s Emergency Act and is enforceable.
- “There will be mandatory wearing of masks for all indoor public and retail spaces, not only for staff but also for customers, except when you are eating or drinking in restaurants, for example,” said Henry.
- The mandatory mask order will include common areas at workplaces, such as elevators, lobbies and corridors, she said. Masks will be mandatory in restaurants — not while you are eating, but if you get up to use the washroom or if you are travelling to or from your table for any reason, she said.
- British Columbians are also ordered to not socialize indoors with people other than household members (or one to two friends if you live alone) nor to host parties or events. This extends existing rules in Metro Vancouver to the rest of the province.
- “I’m ordering that there’ll be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household,” said Henry. “Our orders will be to socialize only with those in your immediate households and to delay inviting over friends and families for social visits for the next two weeks,” she added.
- One long-standing order bans gatherings of more than 50 people, and it remains in effect. But the new rules crack down on events with fewer than 50 people as well, such as live music at restaurants, meetings and other gatherings.
- In-person churches, temples, etc. are ordered cancelled for the next two weeks. “We have unfortunately seen transmissions happen in a number of faith communities, in churches, in gurdwaras, in temples. The exceptions are important time-limited events, like baptisms, weddings and funerals, which can proceed, but with no associated reception to celebrations and a maximum of 10 people at the service,” said Henry.
- The BC NDP government has committed tens of millions of dollars to topping up wages, increasing staffing levels and improving protections for patients in long-term care. Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix have boasted of the effort many times, contrasting it with cost-cutting, layoffs and contract stripping under the previous B.C. Liberal government. But this fall the numbers have been headed in the wrong direction.
- B.C. falls short of the level of interventionist testing that would make it easier to prevent the spread of an outbreak that began with a single staffer.Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is on record that care home staffers should be all be tested if even one positive case of COVID-19 is identified in a facility: “The key to stopping the outbreak from spreading is to quickly get in and make sure there are no staff who are shedding the virus.”
- But B.C. is one of three provinces, along with Alberta and Manitoba, that does not require routine surveillance testing of staff in long-term care. These provinces also do not require staff to be tested for the virus even after a home declares an outbreak of COVID-19. The protocol is to screen staff for symptoms at the beginning and end of their shifts. Testing is reserved for residents who have symptoms of the virus.
- Vancouver Island's chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick has lobbied Horgan for a ban on all non-essential travel to and from Vancouver Island, which has caused dozens of cases of COVID-19. Stanwick’s staff analyzed confirmed Island cases between September and November and found that more than half (86) of the 133 cases were linked to travel and 66 were cases of Islanders leaving and coming back. It’s unclear if the travel was essential, but at least 20 of those 66 were people who travelled to the Lower Mainland specifically. Those 20 passed COVID-19 to 11 people on the Island, who in turn gave the virus to another four people.
- Stanwick doesn’t have the authority to initiate a travel ban or “bubble” for Vancouver Island – that would have to come down from the province and through provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
- One thing is for sure, it's clear that the BC government is not wanting to force a total lockdown on the province, as Ontario has just done today with Toronto and Peel regions, or like Manitoba and Nunavut have done. It's clear that the economic impacts from such a lockdown would devastate the BC economy. I think we can all say that we hope that such a thing is not something that the BC government sees as necessary.
- This week a video has surfaced of Justin Trudeau speaking to the United Nations at the end of September.
- The video was talking about the economic response and rebuilding the economy up out of the wounds caused by the pandemic response.
- In the video Justin Trudeau calls for a “Great Reset” and this is similar language that was carried forward by the World Economic Forum in addition to the UN.
- This video is shocking and is from a time in which it looked like Justin Trudeau and newly minted Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland were going to radically alter Canada’s economy.
- We had Trudeau’s speech in the crosshairs for our first October show but there was bigger news on the docket that week such as the first confidence vote of the new session, a delay to a natural gas project, issues with BC mail in ballots, and highlighting the anti-semitism in the Green party.
- Trudeau was also using the catch phrase Build Back Better which was the campaign slogan for US Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
- We went into this issue a full month before Trudeau’s speech and now 3 months before this becomes an issue for the Canadian media. We covered the impending shift to a Build Back Better or Great Reset mindset on Western Context 183 in late August.
- In particular we talked about how the World Economic Forum is calling for a reinvention of capitalism that “offers a chance to shape a more resilient and sustainable world.”
- Furthermore as detailed on the World Economic Forum website it’s described as “a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons.”
- The video in question that caught traction this week was a Global News piece aired September 29th and it in itself has resulted in a response 3 months after Trudeau first started talking about doing something like this.
- Make no mistake, the Great Reset or Agenda 2030 as the UN calls it is using the pandemic to fundamentally re-orient the world.
- Justin Trudeau has gone quiet on this front recently as the perceived second wave of the pandemic has taken centre stage and opinion polls show that people want pandemic response to be front and centre.
- One has to wonder where has the media been?
- While this has received a great amount of traffic online and has been addressed by Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun, in general the media is still quiet on talking about what exactly “Build Back Better” and a “Great Reset” mean.
- Rachel Gilmore of Global News called “The Great Reset” a conspiracy theory that was supposedly debunked by the New York Times.
- The New York Times suggests that “the conspiracy alleges that a cabal of elites has long planned for the pandemic so that they could use it to impose their global economic control on the masses"
- But if you go to the World Economic Forum at weforum.org, about halfway down the page the Great Reset is mentioned.
- And everything we’ve talked about from the push for cooperation to changing the way the world works economically is detailed.
- The marketplace of ideas is one where ideas should flow freely without penalty of thought and that’s what our civilized democracy is supposed to encourage.
- But when the media outright ignores a story because it’s inconvenient or labels it as a conspiracy theory because they don’t like it, they are taking a side and not doing their job of reporting.
- A fundamental shift to the Canadian economy is not something that Justin Trudeau or any of the other political leaders ran on.
- If something like this were to be entertained, even by our informal social-democratic Liberal NDP coalition, it should receive a mandate from the people.
- If it didn’t, well then that would fall to the opposition to ensure that the true intentions of the government were broadcast to the people and as we’ve seen time and time again, the ultimate decision would rest with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
- The important thing to remember with most news is that the truth is down the middle and the media did no one any good this week by unearthing a clip from late September when in reality this should’ve been a story in late August.
Word of the Week
Reset - to set again, or to set up something differently
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Not So Great Reset
Teaser: Vancouver’s mayor advocates drug decriminalization, Alberta’s first black justice minister bans police carding, and BC orders mandatory masks for all public spaces. Also, we look into Trudeau’s Great Reset that the media has labelled a conspiracy.
Recorded Date: November 20, 2020
Release Date: November 22, 2020
Edit Notes: Pause after AB story
Podcast Summary Notes