The News Rundown
- It’s winter and we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and the cost of gas is going to go up.
- The federal government has announced that they will increase the carbon tax to $170/tonne by 2030 and presently today it sits at $30/tonne.
- In terms that real people use unlike the government’s green feel good terms, this means the price of gas for your car will go up by at least 37.5 cents per litre.
- The hope is that this tax will cause greenhouse gas emissions to fall from 732 megatons to 503 megatons which is on par with the target proposed by the former Harper government and implemented by then environment minister Catherine McKenna.
- The government also sees at least $15b in new spending on climate initiatives over the next 10 years.
- One of the most basic principles in economics is that if a substitution is freely available and cheaper, people will purchase that option.
- Carbon taxes seek to make the green alternative cheaper by making the existing fuel we use more expensive.
- One of the current problems with green alternatives today is that they just don’t produce the same amount of power in some cases as fossil fuels.
- One alternative that can meet and exceed fossil fuel power production is nuclear. We’ll have more on that
- People of course will just say, buy a hybrid electric vehicle and retrofit your house but we also need to remember that this tax isn’t only paid by you.
- It’s paid by the store where you buy your groceries. It’s paid by the trucking companies who bring the groceries in from the depot. It’s paid by the rail companies.
- This is true for every good that arrives to its final location on a truck.
- Farmers are especially hit hard by this because they pay for heating to dry their grain and they also have to keep their barns warm in the winter.
- Brian Allison, a farmer from Delburne, Alberta, has seen costs increase by 20% in the last 3 years and expects to see costs double going forward.
- He also rightly points out that his competitors in Brazil, Russia, Australia, and the US don’t face a carbon tax.
- Alberta is still pursuing the case against the federal carbon tax at the Supreme Court of Canada and many provinces and parties have intervened to testify on the defence of Alberta.
- We won’t know the outcome of this case until well into 2021 but there are even signs that the Ford government of Ontario is not pleased with what's going on.
- Ford himself said he was ‘floored’ and dispensed some of his harshest language yet saying, “God bless the environment it's very important...but is the health and well-being of your loved ones more important than some green scam?”
- He also said that people are hurting and he doesn’t understand he has “never been more disappointed in an announcement.”
- The government continued though, Trudeau is very eager to work with the incoming Biden administration on green policies.
- Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that zero emission vehicles need to arrive sooner and they’d entertain the idea of a ban on gasoline powered vehicles at some point in the future.
- I think we need to be clear in saying that no one except the truly deranged are advocating just letting the greenhouse gases run rampant.
- It’s just that there are other solutions other than a carbon tax.
- The efforts made by the Trudeau government and aided by the NDP in Alberta have resulted in record high unemployment rates, massive losses in investment, and zero new pipelines.
- Maybe we’ll get Trans Mountain and Keystone XL but nothing is certain as we’ve since Trudeau has effectively banned oil tankers off of BC’s northern coast and banned new pipelines with Bill’s C-48 and C-69.
- Countless other projects from Energy East to Teck’s Frontier mine were cancelled due to lack of investor confidence.
- Last week we talked about how peak oil demand won’t be reached until the 2040s or 2050s giving us a once in a lifetime opportunity starting today and hitting full stream by 2030 to capitalize on peak oil demand.
- We can still focus on green initiatives but there are better ways than tripling the carbon tax and banning cars.
- The cure to the climate crisis as laid out is to make green alternatives as cheap as possible. Nuclear energy can push us down that direction.
- Oftentimes we ask ourselves, what exactly determines when a story of interest will be picked up by the Canadian media after it is broken? And why is it that so many times each week there will be a piece of news that will just go uncovered by the mainstream media? The short answer is: we don't really know for sure why. For the long answer, let's take a look at Canada's energy industry.
- News broke on Reuters on Wednesday that gave news about the Trudeau government's plans to transition Canada's energy industry into a cleaner fuel industry. The federal government is calling on investors to spur growth into the hydrogen sector that the government says could be worth $50 billion, create 350,000 jobs and help the country achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
- The first five years of the plan will be spent developing new hydrogen supply and distribution infrastructure and supporting early market applications for hydrogen. The next five years will be focused on the growth and diversification of the hydrogen sector, with greater use of fuel cell electric vehicles and trucks and blending of hydrogen and natural gas for use in industry, especially in remote regions that use a lot of high-emission diesel fuel. In the long-term 2030 to 2050 timeframe of the Strategy, Canada will benefit from a hydrogen economy, with new commercial applications supported by higher supply, and greater distribution infrastructure.
- Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Canada will need $5 billion to $7 billion in near-term investments to grow its hydrogen industry, but he pledged no new federal money. However, the government announced a $1.5 billion investment fund for low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen, last week, as part of the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada.
- In justifying the plans, O'Regan gave an odd quote that probably has a lot of people in the prairies scrunching their noses and raising their eyebrows: “Energy is our family business in Canada, and this strategy shows us how to grow that business. Our first job is to let industry know we are serious.”
- If energy is indeed the 'family business' as O'Regan says, one might wonder where was the government's support over the last 5 years when the family business was struggling. Whether oil projects, mining, natural gas, or pipelines of any sort, this government has been an unmitigated failure at attracting investment. If only now are they saying that their 'first job is to let industry know [they] are serious', there's probably not that many people left that would believe them.
- Reuters notes that “blue” hydrogen derived from natural gas, with the resulting carbon emissions captured and stored, is a potentially useful pivot for companies in the struggling oil patch, and that Alberta 'welcomed the national strategy'.
- However, as is often the case, it's not enough for environmentalists to lower emissions, they want to get rid of them altogether. Julie Levin at Environmental Defence “While hydrogen is being presented as a key climate solution, that will not be the case as long as its production continues to be powered from fossil fuels rather than renewable energy.” Environmental Defence, based out of Toronto is a long-time opponent of Alberta's energy industry, and looks to cripple the oil industry completely, so for them, the federal government's plan doesn't go far enough.
- Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson thinks the investment is a good one: “As an increasing number of countries strive for net-zero emissions by 2050, they are looking to hydrogen for their clean energy needs. Canada is well positioned to be among the global leaders in hydrogen production, which will help to create thousands of jobs, grow our economy, cut pollution and put Canada on a path to exceeding our 2030 Paris Agreement target.”
- Hydrogen molecules do not exist on their own in nature, but instead must be produced from feedstocks using energy inputs. As such, the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada outlines four “production pathways” for hydrogen creation that can be explored. These pathways include steam methane reformation without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) from natural gas and gasified coal; steam methane reformation with CCS; production from water with electrolysis using renewable energy and production from water by electrolysis or high temperatures from nuclear energy. Each method has its own pros and cons, and the Strategy will pursue each pathway simultaneously, as well as other, more difficult to implement methods such as biomass gasification from organic resources.
- Two substantial hydrogen resources come in the form of crude oil and bitumen from Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as coal from Alberta and British Columbia. By combining feedstocks from these operations with steam or oxygen at a high temperature, a synthetic gas mixture can be produced that can be further separated into carbon dioxide and hydrogen monohydride. This process can take place in a processing plant with the use of CCS, or using in-situ gasification technology currently being developed in Alberta and Saskatchewan to filter out the hydrogen while leaving the carbon dioxide stored underground.
- Along with investments in hydrogen energy, O'Regan also announced support for small modular reactors, known as SMRs. SMRs are smaller in size and energy output than traditional nuclear power units, and more flexible in their deployment, oftentimes able to use spent nuclear waste as fuel. While conventional reactors produce around 800 megawatts of power, SMRs as planned would deliver up to 300 megawatts.
- Canada has more than 65 years of innovation with nuclear energy, and Canadian built reactors around the world have never had a major malfunction. It's time to put the scare tactics of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to rest. Canadian nuclear energy is safe. So what's the downside?
- Again, dozens of groups, including opposition parties (The NDP and Greens), some Indigenous organizations and environmentalists, want the government to fight climate change by investing more in renewable energy and energy efficiency rather than in the new reactors, completely missing the point that SMRs are one of the main ways that Canada can produce cleaner energy for the power grid while weaning off of fossil fuels, as well as for use in remote locations, including industrial sites and isolated northern communities. Any environmental organization that doesn't recognize the power potential of modern nuclear energy loses all credibility.
- The major issue of developing nuclear energy is the cost, but the federal government has never had an issue with spending money. At least in this case it's towards a good cause. Back to the first point, it's amazing how the announcement of hydrogen and nuclear investment was in the middle of the week, yet the mainstream media in Canada has failed to pick up on this major story. It's a failure of the media to let left wing environmental groups dominate the conversation negatively when it comes to nuclear energy investment, and not give more credit to scientists that actually work in the field. It's another example of a missed opportunity for the media, but on this particular issue, the government gets a passing grade from us at Western Context, a rarity over the past 4 years.
- One of the campaign promises the UCP made when getting elected was to either review or pull back on NDP mandated curriculum changes.
- We’ve covered these changes in the past on the podcast and the changes as planned would have diluted the culture taught in Alberta’s K-6 education program.
- This week the curriculum made news again in a CBC article suggesting that some songs that are currently suggested have racist roots.
- The draft documents allegedly provide 90 songs that teachers in grades K-2 to teach children how ideas and stories can be expressed through music.
- Aside from the usual Twitter outrage and concern expressed by the NDP MLA from Edmonton Highlands Norwood, you’d wonder what would be wrong with this approach.
- According to the CBC some of the songs have roots going back to the 1800s that mock Black people.
- Earlier in October a previous draft curriculum document was published which CBC posted to their website.
- Songs removed from that draft to the December 2020 version include Buffalo Gals, Dixie, The Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful.
- While there is a compelling argument to remove the first two songs on this list, one has to wonder what is wrong with exposing children to patriotism of a different country as long as Canadian anthems are highlighted.
- And they are.
- O Canada, Farewell to Nova Scotia, the Log Driver's Waltz, and Alouette are also featured.
- Music teacher Stephanie Schuurman-Olson feels that 1 in 5 of the remaining songs has “racially-charged content”
- Reading this story suggests that really not much has changed but Michael Forian, Press Secretary to the Minister of Education, replied back to the outrage highlighting that the songs that people were concerned about were removed and listed some songs that are on the list now.
- They include Jingle Bells, the Teensy, Weensy Spider, Frère Jacques, and Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music.
- There’s one huge problem though, this story is likely fake news. The government responded and removed songs that had racist undertones but the CBC did not publish the updated draft document so the rest of us could actually see what songs were going to be taught!
- We’re just supposed to believe the CBC that 1 in 5 remaining songs on a list we can’t see have racist undertones. At that point this story does nothing to inform and just serves as a puff piece for those who view social justice as the number one requirement for a new curriculum.
- Though this shouldn’t be the case because core competencies are important and while social justice can be mentioned, it shouldn’t have an overbearing influence in our music curriculum.
- There’s one more thing that really brings to question even if the original concern in October was actually a problem.
- If you look at the music curriculum it’s tied into the Core Knowledge Language Arts section which covers early civilizations.
- It starts with focusing on Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Native Americans in Kindergarten, then early explorers and settlers in grade 1, and in grade 2 students were to examine early histories of the United States, China, India, Japan, and Greece.
- Of course someone in grade 2 can’t make the jump of how China, India, Japan, or Greece relates to Canada and American allegories are simpler.
- What it appears we have is a government trying to teach early histories of the important nations today and doing so through music for the American comparison.
- Because also to be taught are “Kings and Queens” in Kindergarten, “Different Lands, Similar Stories” in Grade 1, and in addition to the American music many objected to, in Grade 2 we have “Early Asian Civilization”, “The Ancient Greek Civilization”, and “Greek Myths”.
- Also on the list were discussions about feudalism, Chinese dynasties and Homer's Odyssey in social studies classes.
- So while many scream racism or “racist undertones” what we have is a government trying to get an early start teaching our children about the history of the world.
- Finer nuance must come as the children move into Grade 4,5,6 and Junior High School but to shoot down a whole of school approach to history in K-3 is just wrong.
- Sure, some of the American historical songs and historical songs in general will be removed, but let’s hope as the final draft is published the government does not relent and this focus on cultures and histories continues.
- What makes a modern viral fake news story? The usual way is to start with a random person's opinion, oftentimes on Twitter, add in sensationalism from slanted news sources, add a heaping dose each of outrage culture and cancel culture, and grind an unhealthy amount of controversy on top.
- This story is one that I'm personally familiar with, having followed it straight from the beginning to the end over the past week and a half, and even though I'm not surprised it blew up the way it did, I'm surprised that it was able to receive traction in it's very beginning.
- While the NHL sits in limbo due to difficulties scheduling the next season around the ever shaping realities of the pandemic, bored hockey fans of all sorts of teams have been consuming any scrap of news they can get, like ravenous dogs over a chewed up bone.
- Fans of the Vancouver Canucks in particular, of which I count myself among the number, know that any little story can be blown up out of proportion, often to ridiculous lengths. Often on social media this crazy fan base can be very positive and turn stories into fun inside jokes or memes to help people cope with the long offseason the past year has given us. But many times, this can result in things getting out of hand very quickly.
- The story starts last Friday, with the new American goaltender for the Canucks, Braden Holtby. Holtby was signed in the offseason and will debut with the Canucks when the NHL gets underway, and a tradition for goaltenders is to design a helmet that fits in with the area. Holtby collaborated with his longtime mask artist, David Gunnarsson from Sweden on a new mask that would fit with the Pacific-Northwest culture as well as the primary Canucks colours of green and blue, signifying the ocean and trees that make up our beautiful province.
- Gunnarsson described the new design as a 'totally perfect story' for the Canucks, based “on the myth of the Thunderbird, a Canadian northwest coast Indigenous myth. The huge Thunderbird is flying over the mountains to the ocean to catch orcas with his huge claws.” Gunnarsson credited Holtby for the creative direction behind the mask.
- The mask, in my opinion, looked really cool when it debuted. But some pointed out the problematic nature of a non-indigenous artist creating art based on the indigenous culture and art traditions without consulting anyone from said culture, which could be considered First Nations cultural appropriation. It's an issue that's been raised more in 2020 than in the past, and has led to the NFL's Washington Redskins, the MLB's Cleveland Indians, and the CFL's Eskimos deciding to change their names.
- It's been a rough month for Holtby, who late in November was stuck on the American side of the Canadian/US border after he didn’t have the proper paperwork for his two tortoises, Honey and Maple, which also blew up on social media.
- As Russian Machine Never Breaks says, a well respected Washington DC based hockey blog, which extensively covered Holtby's longtime tenure as a member of the Washington Capitals, "[t]hat questionable design decision is out of step with Holtby’s long standing activism in the DC community".
- RMNB noted that Holtby helped fund and build a new gym for kids at a local DC elementary school, helped raise money for for tens of thousands of meals during the coronavirus pandemic, became the first Capitals member to march in the DC pride parade, and routinely stood up for the LGBTQ+ and Black communities, working tirelessly to give his time, energy, money, and platform to make the area a better and more inclusive place: “That’s just the way our family views the world,” Holtby said. “We believe in equality and people being treated the right way. That’s just the way we live our lives. We just want to create the best world for our children and future generations that we can.”
- Holtby, to his credit, realized the issue with the mask straight away, and resolved to educate himself further. Holtby addressed the controversy the very next day, last Saturday with CTV News and said he will not be wearing the mask next season. Gunnarsson also deleted imagery of the new bucket off his social media pages.
- Holtby said :“I wanted to make sure I apologize to anyone I had offended. It was definitely not my intent and I definitely learned a valuable lesson through this all and will make sure I’m better and moving forward, do the things that help the community the most.”
- Holtby explained that the design of his new mask ended up being rushed due to the unpredictability of next season and he will work with an Indigenous artist for his next design: “The goal was and still is to include an Indigenous artist and try and pick their brain to see how they would design a mask to best represent the history and culture around this area especially because it’s so vast.”
- Now that should have been the end of the story right there: a public figure makes a mistake, immediately apologizes and corrects it, and then everyone considers it settled. But that is not the case with social media in this day and age. The conversation on Twitter over the weekend quickly turned to the Vancouver Canucks logo itself, and whether or not the logo of Holtby's new team was the real problem all along.
- A University of Manitoba professor of Indigenous studies and history, Sean Carleton, took to twitter to say this: "In light of sports teams in Cleveland, Washington, and Edmonton getting rid of racist and appropriated Indigenous team names/logos, it's time to have a discussion about the Vancouver Canucks's Indigenous appropriated Orca logo."
- The Vancouver Canucks logo is in the shape of a C that looks like a B.C. killer whale, and was designed in 1996 by artist Brent Lynch, then unveiled a year later.
- Carleton addresses the Holtby controversy, and goes further: "Over the weekend this story - about Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby appropriating Indigenous imagery on his new mask - broke. He has since apologized. But why is Holtby getting criticized for doing what the team has done for years? The orca logo's Coast Salish-inspired imagery was designed without Indigenous consultation and has served as the team's "brand" since 1997. As a Canucks fan and an historian of Indigenous-settler relations in BC, the orca logo is, without a doubt, cultural appropriation."
- He then takes issue with the city itself: "Vancouver is located on unceded, stolen Indigenous territory, and the team makes millions from its operations and "Indigenous" branding. This is a continuation of colonization in BC. The Canucks are branding their team with appropriated Indigenous imagery while being part of the process of profiting from doing business on stolen Indigenous land - without working with Indigenous peoples in meaningful ways. That's how settler colonialism works."
- Carleton blathers for a while longer, but that's essentially his argument, that the logo was not originally consulted on in 1997 when it was created, that the Canucks are profitable, and Vancouver is stolen land, so they should change the logo. But here's the thing, Sean Carleton is an academic in Manitoba, who no doubt is very well versed in Indigenous history, but here's the problem: he's also not indigenous himself. So, a white academic 3 provinces away trying to decide what is First Nations appropriation or not is...also problematic, but it's doubtful that he sees his keyboard warrior activism as such.
- Here's the other problem with the argument that Carleton made. The Vancouver Canucks have made a lot of effort in the past decade to connect with the Indigenous community of BC, and have done consultations on a lot of their designs. A year ago on December 12th 2019, the Canucks held celebrated indigenous culture in the opening ceremonies before a game between the Canucks and the Carolina Hurricanes.
- That evening included a special pregame ceremony featuring representatives of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh Nations and former Canucks player Gino Odjick, a local fan favourite of Algonquin descent.
- At the time, Odjick had this to say: "It's amazing. everywhere I go, every First Nation community, they're all die-hard Canucks fans. We are really proud for First Nations when they do this."
- In the ceremony, The Aquilini Family, owners of the Canucks, were presented with a special Talking Stick as a thank you for their continued work with the First Nations. A Talking Stick is customarily held by the chief of a family or nation that stands with him while speaking.
- Chief Wayne Sparrow of the Musqueam Nation, Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Squamish Nation and Chief Daniel Smith of the Tseil-Waututh Nation shared the ceremonial puck drop between Canucks captain Bo Horvat and Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal.
- The Vancouver Canucks say they've received support from First Nations communities amid accusations of cultural appropriation as part of the recent backlash over the team's orca logo.
- Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in a statement Wednesday: "We consult with the First Nations on many issues around our teams and businesses, and value their wise counsel. (Most recently, we collaborated on the Vancouver Warriors lacrosse team branding)," said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini in a statement Wednesday.
- "We understand that not everyone embraces the Canucks logo but are very pleased that so many people do, including our First Nations friends. We're grateful for this show of support, and all the positive feedback we've received.”
- Brett Lynch, the creator of the logo and his team knew the look would be controversial, and acquired opinions from several First Nations chiefs and he says: “They didn’t have a problem with it, and thought it was too cartoonish to be Indigenous art. We wouldn’t have done it if it was too close to their ceremonial art.”
- Grand Chief Doug Kelly with the Stó:lō Tribal Council agrees it doesn’t look like First Nations art. He says he is not offended by the logo because in his opinion, there was no intent by the Canucks to be offensive: “Is racism an issue? Absolutely. Is it something we should work together to eradicate? Absolutely. But am I troubled by the Canucks logo? No way, nope, no way,” said Chief Kelly.
- Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars, a longtime goaltender himself with the Central Interior Hockey League’s Williams Lake Stampeders, said as a First Nations leader and as a hockey fan he is supportive of the Canucks’ trademarked, Coast Salish-nation inspired orca logo and of the team.
- “As a First Nations leader I couldn’t be more proud how much the Vancouver Canucks are celebrating First Nations culture in the NHL. They have a pretty cool logo in my opinion and, as far as I know, it was developed with the permission of the First Nation in that territory. That’s my team. That’s who I cheer for, and I’ve always taken great pride in that logo. I’m 100 per cent OK if it stays the way it is, but if they’re going to change it there should be local First Nations involved.”
- Sellars said he’s seen improvement across the country on how reconciliation is being approached, and said he thinks the City of Vancouver has done an exceptional job: “Obviously, it’s not perfect but, we’re trending in the right direction and that’s what we like to see as First Nations leaders. (Reconciliation is) happening and that’s what we have to acknowledge.”
- The Canucks and the Aquilini family also relayed a statement on behalf of Three Host Nations Chiefs of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on Wednesday, the cultural area that the Canucks operate in:
- “For over a decade we have worked side-by-side to build a long and meaningful relationship based on respect and family-to-family values. The Aquilini family has supported the communities by honouring the Nations, creating space in their organization for our people, and ensuring the nations are represented in their events Our Nations appreciate the work they do and their friendship. We will continue to strengthen this relationship and support their endeavours through the ever-changing times.”
- Khelsilem, a Squamish indigenous leader, asked members of his nation what they thought of the logo. He reports that "None thought it offensive. None thought it was cultural appropriation. Many thought that if a new logo made at some point, it would be cool if made by an Indigenous artist from MST [local Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh] Nations."
- Carleton's inaccurate ramblings should have been limited to Twitter. However, of all outlets to pick up the story, the kings of controversy, TMZ decided to blow the story up.
- Consider TMZ. This entire pandemic must be really hard on them. Their usual style of confronting celebrities face-to-face won't fly in a time of social distancing when every inane question also comes with droplets that could spread a contagious disease. With fewer crowds, it's harder to hide with a big telephoto lens. And it's even harder to recognize celebrities these days because everyone's wearing a mask.
- So, what's a sensationalistic tabloid to do? It seems they've gotten so desperate that they've turned to another source of gossip and drama: Canucks Twitter. TMZ is used to covering and sensationalizing the dregs of society, so it’s no surprise that they’ve turned to Canucks Twitter for inspiration, and they created a story out of a single Twitter thread about the Canucks orca logo and the conversation around cultural appropriation, with the predictably sensationalist headline "Vancouver Canucks PRESSURED TO CHANGE LOGO...Over Cultural Appropriation concerns".
- The substance of TMZ's story is literally just Dr. Carleton's Twitter thread. There's no evidence that anyone is actually pressuring the Canucks, but it sounds a lot more exciting if that were the case. From there, mainstream media decided that this story was worth covering to the exclusion of all else in BC, and this is all anyone has mentioned in great detail in the past week in the province, all because of a simple mistake that was corrected immediately. For the Canucks, they can sleep well knowing that they have the First Nations of the province behind them. For the media that decided to look to TMZ for inspiration, shame on you. And for the leftist white academics attempting to speak for other races, just stop.
Word of the Week
Appropriation - is the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Appropriate Energy
Teaser: Trudeau quadruples the carbon tax to $170 per tonne by 2030, invests in hydrogen and nuclear energy, while the Alberta government links K-2 music education to history. Also, concerns over appropriation with the Canucks logo can be put to rest.
Recorded Date: December 18, 2020
Release Date: December 20, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes