The (Right) News Rundown
- “Unless better prepared, Alberta 'can expect similar or worse outcomes,' government warned”
- “Last year's massive Fort McMurray wildfire caught officials off guard, and the resulting battle to save the city was disorganized because regional and provincial authorities failed to share information in the earliest, most critical days, according to a report obtained by CBC News.”
- This report was finished in March but not yet released by the government. The report leaked to the media on Thursday June 8th. Following this on Thursday evening the government released the report in full.
- Opposition Leader Brian Jean said, “It certainly makes it clear that this entire fiasco lays at the feet of the NDP government. It's absolutely disgraceful the government sat on this report since March.”
- The report goes on to detail a breakdown in communications where municipal crews reported to the Regional Emergency Operations Centre while provincial firefighters coordinated through the incident command centre.
- This resulted in the provincial side’s incident command centre realizing that the fire would enter Fort McMurray on the afternoon of May 3. This information was not shared with municipal Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo firefighters.
- The two forces were not even on the same radio frequencies.
- 2 days before the evacuation Alberta wasn’t prepared for the fire season. The province was still in what was called a “spring startup mindset”. Staff were still being organized and trained. This also includes re-tendering of water bomber contracts that were being debated in the legislature on the day the evacuation was ordered. Two fires that would later merge into one were already burning on May 1.
- “The report made 10 recommendations, including a need for a joint wildfire planning team made up of senior forestry staff and members of the oilsands, energy, forestry and utility industries.”
- “It also recommended the creation of a single incident command centre that follows national standards whenever a fire encroaches on a community in a wilderness area.”
- “The report further recommended that Alberta open its wildfire co-ordination centre on March 1 each year, and be ready to respond to wildfires by May 1 or when snow has fully melted, whichever comes first.”
- Well, we have a date as to when the BC Legislature will reconvene: June 22nd, a full 6 weeks after the election. Christy Clark, until she loses a confidence vote, is still the Premier, and she intends to continue governing until she is voted down.
- For new listeners, the NDP and Greens have formed an agreement where the 3 Green MLAs will support the NDP party to create what BC Green leader Andrew Weaver calls "a strong stable minority government" of 44 seats to the BC Liberals' 43 seats.
- However, before that all takes place, a Speaker must be elected.
- “It’s the biggest unresolved issue in this saga that has been playing out out since election night,” says political scientist Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley, referring to the May 9 vote that created the first B.C. minority government scenario in six decades. “No business can take place until that issue is resolved. We can’t get to the confidence vote on Christy Clark until we get a Speaker.”
- Gary Levy, former editor of the Canadian Parliamentary Review, said the absence of a Speaker would provoke a constitutional crisis. “Basically, you have no parliament,” he said. “Nothing can occur until a Speaker is elected, which is always the first order of business following an election.”
- Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said that no Green MLA would be available to stand for the post. He said an NDP Speaker would be a tight political arrangement, but bills would pass because the Speaker would vote with the government. He suggested Linda Reid, a BC Liberal who has been Speaker since 2013, would be terrific if she continued in the job.
- NDP Leader John Horgan, who has entered into an agreement with the Greens, also said he would be open to having a Liberal Speaker, which would put him at a 44-42 advantage. “Absolutely,” Horgan told reporters last week. “I want to make this minority parliament work.” There is no rule that a Speaker has to come from the governing party.
- But a Liberal party spokesman said their members all agreed not to take the job. Matt James, who teaches political science at the University of Victoria, said it is hard to imagine why the Liberals would willingly offer a Speaker from their ranks just so the other side could have a working majority. “Any Liberal who volunteered for the task would quickly become a pariah within Liberal circles,” he said.
- If an NDP or a Green MLA is appointed Speaker, that leaves the house at a 43-43 tie before the predicted confidence vote. Despite coming from the Opposition benches, the unwritten rules of the house would demand that the Speaker vote to prop up the government, which in that case would be the Liberals under Premier Christy Clark.
- If an impasse results, the premier could go to Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon and ask for another election, at which point Guichon could agree to dissolve the house or she could turn the premiership over to Horgan to take a crack at appointing a Speaker.
- “It’s a mess. I think we are two or three significant steps away from the NDP forming government,” said Prof. Telford, citing the resolution of the Speaker issue, defeating the government and convincing the Lieutenant-Governor to offer the NDP the opportunity to form a government. “This is an enormously, unstable situation – precarious.”
- “I have yet to find a case anywhere in the Commonwealth where a Speaker has voted in such a way that it leads to the defeat of the government,” he said. “That’s not to say there hasn’t been a case, but I haven’t found one.”
- United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for June 8th, in order to test the UK's confidence in her agenda, and she had hoped to get a strong majority to strengthen her hand in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Instead, the move backfired, and her Conservative Party lost 13 seats, leaving her 9 seats short of a majority.
- This election also is once again another great example of how our Westminster style of democracy works. There were many online who had outright claimed this as a victory for the Labour party. What's often forgotten is that in the Westminster style of parliament, which Canada also uses, the incumbent government has the first chance to try to form a government in the event of a hung parliament.
- The UK media (BBC, Telegraph, etc.) have rightly called this a "hung parliament". That of course means that no one party has enough seats to govern alone with a majority and a deal must be reached. This can be contrasted to Canadian media with the recent BC election where it was stated that the "Liberals won a minority government". As the UK election was happening Canadian media even reported that Prime Minister May had "won a minority government". The lesson to be learnt here for the Canadian media should be that it is alright and perfectly within reason to call this a "hung parliament".
- This election result will have far reaching effects on the British negotiations for leaving the EU, as well as Theresa May's own political plans. Despite calls for her resignation, she is staying on as Prime Minister.
- She did move quickly however, and formed a "confidence and supply" agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party, a conservative right wing party based out of Northern Ireland. Similar to BC's confidence and supply agreement the NDP have with the Green Party, a confidence and supply agreement is where a smaller party agrees to support a larger party through confidence motions in order to keep the government "propped up" where in exchange, the smaller party usually gets to put forward some of their own policies for consideration.
- So what does this result mean for Canada? It's hard to say. Britain and Canada share a deep rooted friendly personal history, and an amicable trading relationship. Probably most of the impact on Canada will result from the instability in the European business markets. It is something to note however, that parties calling an election early when they have a majority sometimes do not do well.
The Firing Line
- “Police allege the accused assaulted a woman with a golf club and a man with a knife.”
- “The RCMP’s Toronto-based Integrated National Security Enforcement Team is working with Toronto police on the investigation, said Corp. Louise Savard.”
- “Savard would not say why the INSET team is involved because the investigation is ongoing.”
- “The specialized teams are aimed at tracking, deterring and disrupting terrorist groups or individuals who pose a threat to Canadian national security, the RCMP website says.”
- The woman in question walked to the paint section of the store while brandishing a golf club and swung at employees and a customer. She then pulled a large knife from under he clothing where one employee sustained non life threatening injuries.
- Here is where this story takes an interesting turn. You’ll note that the Toronto Star who published this story was very careful to not identify this as what it actually was… a terrorist attack.
- Both Global and the Toronto Sun ran with headlines stating that the woman in question pledged allegiance to ISIS. She was also reported to be wearing a head covering sporting the ISIS logo. Furthermore on Tuesday in court she made reference to ISIS and to the leader of ISIS himself.
- This brings up some interesting discussion points about what role the media should play when it comes to naming terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS…
Word of the Week
Speaker - The role of the speaker is to guide Parliament through its agenda, and recognizing members of the House to speak if they wish to debate or question a decision in the house. It is a vastly important role in the Westminster system of political governance, and without one, government cannot function. Traditionally, the Speaker, after elected, feigns reluctance, and is dragged to the Speaker chair by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, dating back to a time in Britain where the Speaker had to relay news to the Monarch, and would often lose his head if the news wasn’t good!
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Speaker and The Hung Parliament
Teaser: Poor government planning led to a delayed response to the Fort McMurray wildfire, no one wants to be Speaker in BC, and a look at the UK election. Plus, how should media report terrorism at home after an attack in Toronto?
Recorded Date: June 10, 2017
Release Date: June 10, 2017
Edit Notes: Word of the week