The News Rundown
- For the longest time through the pandemic we’ve been told that physical distancing and masks were the key to protecting ourselves.
- People like Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer and Justin Trudeau are content to say that masks and physical distancing should remain after most of the population is vaccinated.
- A new study out of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that physical distancing may not matter that much at all.
- The modelling as presented in a new peer reviewed study shows that even when wearing a mask, as long as the air is mixed, there’s no difference between 6 feet and 60 feet.
- MIT professors Martin Z. Bazant, who teaches chemical engineering and applied mathematics, and John W.M. Bush, who teaches applied mathematics, developed a method of calculating exposure risk to Covid-19 in an indoor setting that factors in a variety of issues that could affect transmission, including the amount of time spent inside, air filtration and circulation, immunization, variant strains, mask use, and even respiratory activity such as breathing, eating, speaking or singing.
- The modelling also shows that without masks, 6 feet would provide some extra protection than for example 3 feet.
- The research also shows that opening windows or running fans could be as effective as installing a new filtration system.
- The study also shines light on why nursing homes and other congregate living environments were breeding grounds for the virus.
- If people are gathering together in the same room or sharing the same air supply without ventilation, exposure will be high.
- From this, if you had 25 people in a room wearing masks, exposure time would be roughly 2 days.
- Remove the masks and that time period drops to 77 minutes. It goes down even further to 51 minutes if someone is carrying a variant like the B.1.1.7 UK strain.
- This modelling can also be extended to the likes of a school classroom.
- Children in general have also shown to be far less susceptible to exposure, as a result 25 kids without masks could remain for up to 4 hours with the original strain and 2 hours with the UK variant before being infected.
- The theoretical models used to model the spread of COVID-19 are based on similar models of airborne pathogens such as tuberculosis, measles, the flu, and SARS.
- For anyone who’s familiar with fluid dynamics, you’ll know that air is a fluid, just that we can’t see it. It performs much the same way that water does, following the path of least resistance.
- What this means is that when someone is wearing a mask, the air exhaled goes straight up because warm air rises.
- This also leads to the conclusion that outside transmission is very rare. Any air exhaled outside is swept away by even a moderate wind.
- The same is true for any building with its own air current. Examples that come to mind are warehouses, shopping malls, and grocery stores.
- What can we take away from this and what should we be on the lookout for in the future?
- If you’re visiting a store that either operates with doors and windows open or has industrial ventilation and it’s similar in size to a classroom, you’re probably going to be fine.
- Even in the nursing home example modelled in this study it shows that with a 3 person occupancy in a room, it would be upwards of 17 minutes before infection occurred in a room that’s not well ventilated.
- If you’re going to any large building like a shopping mall or grocery store with well mixed air, you’ll likely be fine as well.
- And perhaps the biggest thing that we should all be happy about with the warmer weather, transmission is very very rare outside as we thought but this study provides the why.
- But the biggest thing that we learnt is that it’s not the distance that matters (the US CDC now recommends 3 feet for schools) but the time you’re in any one space.
- And the better ventilated that space is, the safer you will be.
- I know some of our listeners may not want to hear this, but the study also shows that mask wearing greatly, by a lot, increases the amount of time one can stay in a space safely.
- That doesn’t mean masks should be shoved down our throats though, people should be presented with the evidence to make their own informed decisions.
- These studies take 6-8 months to produce and review but when they land they provide profound insight into what we’ve been doing.
- The question now remains, with this information out there, will our government officials pull back from physical distancing and lockdowns, and instead focus on duration of visits, ventilation, and mask use?
- Or are they going to be content to use the pandemic as a change agent as Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden, and many others have done?
- This past week has seen a BC government with plenty of ideas, but not many answers. B.C. Premier John Horgan has stepped up to say that the BC government is ready to fill in the gaps in the federal government's sick leave program but did not say how this would occur, what it would cost, or when it will come into effect.
- Horgan did not provide details on what a made-in-B.C. program would look like, but he reiterated his disappointment that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not expand the current sick-leave program in last week’s federal budget. The province has been “aggressive” in pushing the federal government to expand their program to little avail, the premier said.
- Horgan said: “The federal government has done what they believe is enough and we’ll be left to fill the gaps. We asked them to fix it, they haven’t, and now we’re stepping up. I don’t want to sound overly whiny about this but … we didn’t get the program we needed at the time we needed it.”
- The province was working on a provincial sick-leave program last summer and they've now taken those plans off the shelf in order to not put any more strain on businesses that can ill-afford the extra expenses at a time when many are teetering on the edge.
- Asked why it has taken so long to launch a B.C. program considering the urgency created by the pandemic, Horgan said the government wants to ensure the program is delivered in a way that protects workers and doesn’t saddle businesses with additional costs.
- The current federal program, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, has been criticized by labour groups who say the $500-a-week benefit, or $450 after taxes, for anyone sick with COVID-19 is an inadequate measure that fails to replace a worker’s full wages.
- Horgan said he doesn’t think Ontario’s proposal to double the $500 federal sick leave benefit with its own funding is the most effective way to deliver money to workers. Ontario’s finance minister offered to top-up the federal government’s payment to eligible workers in the province, giving them up to $1,000 a week.
- However, Trudeau stressed that paid sick leave should be delivered directly through employers. Trudeau said Ontario should work through provincially regulated businesses to implement a sick-leave program, as his government did with federally regulated workplaces.
- The opposition B.C. Liberals say such a program should have been introduced a year ago, well before the third wave of the pandemic. The Yukon government created a paid sick-leave program in March that pays a rebate to employers that covers a maximum of 10 days of wages per employee.
- B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone said the government should have created a sick leave program a year ago. He said the government could quickly create a program using the $3-billion contingency fund in the budget.
- “When you consider that there are thousands of predominantly frontline workers in low-wage jobs who have already put themselves at risk in order to provide the services and products that the rest of us count on, to say to those people that they’re going to have to wait even more than the year they’ve already waited, it’s just simply irresponsible,” Stone said. “So we think that John Horgan needs to come out with a program that covers COVID symptoms for workers in British Columbia during the pandemic with no burden on small businesses.”
- Two days before the announcement, Stone asked Horgan in question period in the legislature why the government had not moved on its pledge for a sick pay program that it had promised back in December. At that time, Horgan said he was prepared to "go it alone" if he had to, but that he was looking for more information on the issue.
- Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C. is supportive of a paid sick leave program but said during this public health crisis, that cost should not fall onto the backs of businesses, many of which closed or operated at limited capacity to help curb transmission.
- D'Avignon said: “There is no disagreement by anyone in labour, in business or in government that if you have COVID symptoms, you should not come to work because you’re endangering fellow employees, business owners, customers and the business itself. Employers are already paying significant sums of money into health care, into WorkSafe and into unemployment insurance. So we’re doing more than our fair share despite controls and constraints of this public health crisis.”
- One thing is for sure, sick-pay is something that many workers and employees have been looking for from any government for years. The BC NDP is digging into their base's playbook on that one, but until we have further details, it's currently unknown how much this program will cost taxpayers, or if it will be put into effect early enough for it to be of any use during the pandemic.
- Last week a 14 year old was beaten outside of Rosslyn School in north Edmonton.
- The 14 year old and his mother who did not want to be identified have been traumatized throughout the entire week.
- The 14 year old was on his way to catch a bus after school when at least 7 students chased him and tackled him.
- Video of the fight was shared widely on social media. Any form of violence at school is unacceptable.
- It’s believed that the boy was punched, kicked, placed in a chokehold, dragged, and ultimately body slammed to the ground.
- The video also shows someone unidentified referring to the student using the N-word during the fight.
- The family wants the students involved to face criminal charges and believe the attack was motivated by hate.
- We live in an era where a picture or even a video online can be used to shape a narrative without crucial context.
- Social media from the outset believed this was a racially motivated hate crime.
- Last Friday and through the weekend, Edmonton Police said that they could provide no details as to what happened as there was an active investigation and privacy laws have to be observed.
- The Black Teachers Association of Alberta was quick to say that this should not be called an altercation and instead should be called “a jumping of a Black boy based on his race.”
- CBC News ran this story as part of their ongoing series, Being Black in Canada.
- Based on the video and the response from social media one would be quick to think that this is indeed a hate crime, but on Thursday, Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said that this attack was not a hate crime.
- This determination was made by interviewing students involved in the attack and consulting with the hate crimes unit.
- Put simply the police have determined that there is not sufficient evidence that the attack was motivated by hate bias or prejudice.
- The police’s official line says that the fight began as a consensual schoolyard fight and was part of an ongoing dispute amongst the male youths going back to last year.
- This doesn’t get the police off the hook. The police were very clear that it was “highly inappropriate” to use the N-word but the slur in itself did not constitute a hate crime.
- McFee said that social media didn’t help the situation.
- He pointed out that some of the students come from racialized communities and have received threats and are afraid to leave their homes, and afraid to speak as a result of being branded as committing a hate crime.
- Dale McFee said, "It's basically getting to the point where we're already convicting 12- and 14-year-old kids of hate-motivated crime, and we're prepared to put all of the wrath of the justice system on top of them to further traumatize them.”
- He added that all the youth involved need to be looked after because there’s a lot of trauma in relation to this event and that the entire community “take a breath and calm down.”
- We need to take stock of what exactly happened here and what the hyper sensualized advocacy groups have led to.
- First and foremost it is 100% indisputable that in 2021 using the N-word is inappropriate.
- Second, it is not acceptable in any universe for a student at school to be beat up.
- Third, everyone needs to realize that bias both conscious and unconscious is part of our society.
- These biases play a role based on our upbringing, environment, and what we’re primed to see as the injustices of the day by the media.
- Local activists in Edmonton are calling the use of the word ‘consensual’ appalling. And without a view on policing, it definitely seems that way.
- But when it comes to investigations, even those involving children and heinous crimes, the terminology used by investigators is clear cut and precise.
- This case needs to work its way through the justice system. If it turns out to not be a hate crime then that’s something for the justice system to decide.
- This case will be on the radar of provincial Justice Minister, Kaycee Madu, who is black himself, as he is leading a review of policing in the province.
- The citizenry in general also need to not rush out to conclusions based on what they see on social media. For their part, the social media echo chambers have the ability to amplify videos, messages, and even pictures far too easily.
- Though what happens through reporting as done by CBC in our supplementals on this story, despite what the investigation says, there’s still an opening for there to be some injustice done by law enforcement.
- And that’s precisely why this story is horrible as it is blown up on social media. The media has primed people to automatically assume whatever they see if race is involved is a hate crime.
- While the Edmonton police could have tailored their messaging better, CBC for their part, doesn’t seem to be what they contribute to the situation.
- US President Joe Biden raised eyebrows when he called January's Capitol Hill riot the 'worst attack on [American] democracy since the Civil War'. His speech garnered much coverage in the Canadian media, ironically in doing so, they swept under the rug the worst attack on Canadian democracy that there has ever been.
- The federal government has approved controversial changes to a bill that would bring videos and other content posted to social media sites under the purview of the country's broadcasting regulator, the CRTC. The changes to Bill C-10, made at the behest of Liberal MPs on the heritage committee — would allow the CRTC to regulate user-generated content uploaded to social media platforms, much as it regulates radio and TV content now.
- This means, put simply, that anything the average Canadian posts to anything on the internet, be it Youtube content creators, political podcast commentators like us at Western Context, social media influencers on Instagram or TikTok; all of it would become subject to regulation by the government, on the level of 'Canadian-ness' that the content provides.
- The government says the changes apply only to professional content and are necessary to make wildly successful online streaming services and apps contribute to Canadian culture.
- Liberal and opposition members of Parliament split along party lines Friday while discussing the public outcry sparked by the adoption of a new amendment to Bill C-10.
- The bill sponsored by Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is intended to update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect how people and companies use the internet, including social media platforms.
- The government says the legislation is designed to regulate platforms like YouTube and Facebook in the same way as conventional broadcasters if those platforms distribute video content or music to Canadians.
- Conservative MP Rachael Harder argues the heritage committee went too far by removing a section of the proposed legislation that excluded user-generated content from CRTC oversight. Harder said there's widespread fear the CRTC could undermine individual freedom of expression by regulating how internet platforms distribute content generated by ordinary users.
- Guilbeault disputed that argument later Friday, saying Bill C-10 poses no threat to individual rights that the Conservatives are using public fear to stall or kill the legislation.
- NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this week he's open to voting in favour of the bill.
- "We will take a close look at the amendments and a close look at the bill before giving our final position," Singh said, indicating that his party supports stronger regulation of misinformation and hate speech on social media platforms.
- Bloc Québécois MP Martin Champoux said the free speech concerns put forward by the Conservatives are overblown.
- Champoux said: "The Conservatives must stop spreading false fears about the bill. We must stop delaying work on C-10. The industry has been calling for a review of the law for years."
- In its original form, Bill C-10 exempted user-generated content posted to social media sites from the CRTC's authority. Guilbeault himself touted these exclusions when he introduced the bill to the House. "Our approach is balanced and we have made the choice to exclude a number of areas from the new regime," Guilbeault told MPs. "User-generated content will not be regulated."
- But the exclusion for user-generated content was removed by members of the heritage committee last Friday. Another amendment approved by the committee on Monday would grant the CRTC the power to regulate smartphone apps as well.
- J.J. McCullough, a Canadian journalist for the Washington Post has a Youtube channel where he discusses many quirks about Canadian culture and politics. He admits his channel would likely not be affected a great deal by Bill C-10 unless it was determined that his version of Canadian content was not the right kind of Canadian.
- McCullough puts it simply: "Trudeau’s latest project, seeks to dictate the sorts of online entertainment and information Canadians create and enjoy. In the name of the national good, his Liberal Party is pitching legislation that aims to ensure that Internet users in Canada consume more explicitly “Canadian” TV shows, music, movies and videos, even if that means limiting the choices of those with less parochial tastes. Bill C-10 will thus place streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube under federal authority for the first time, forcing them to comply with the Trudeau Liberals’ objectives of promoting “Canadian culture,” as they understand it.
- The CRTC’s own founding legislation obliges it to carry out its duties in a manner that will “safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada,” while C-10 adds it must now also “serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages — and reflect their circumstances and aspirations, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of Indigenous peoples within that society.”
- In practice, the CRTC’s pompous mandate has been understood to mean that any entity that broadcasts media to Canadians must also provide them with ample amounts of patriotic “Canadian content” (or “CanCon” in Ottawa jargon), thereby safeguarding the national soul, etc. It’s easy to predict what will happen once its reach is expanded to the Internet, given the CRTC’s decades of imposing heavy-handed demands on conventional media.
- It is thanks to the CRTC, for instance, that Canadian radio stations “must ensure that at least 35% of the Popular Music they broadcast each week is Canadian content” and that Canadian television stations must “devote not less than 50 per cent of the evening broadcast period to the broadcasting of Canadian programs.”
- Complex CRTC rules also come up with strange conclusions, such as films produced in Canada about Canadian subjects not considered "Canadian", but films made by Canadians made outside of Canada about subjects not evenly remotely Canadian to qualify.
- Critics say these amendments could give the CRTC the power to regulate the posts that millions of Canadians upload every day to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
- Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor and the Canada Research Chair in internet law, said those posts could be treated as "programs," which would allow the regulator to set terms and conditions associated with that content.
- Geist says: "The kind of speech that many Canadians engage in on these platforms is just basic, fundamental freedom of expression that does not require, and should not be subject to, any sort of regulation or regulatory oversight by a broadcast regulator."
- Guilbeault has told federal regulators that the enforcement of his internet censorship bill must adhere to "the government’s vision." Those who break the law could face a $15 million fine. Telling regulators what the internet bill could look like, Guilbeault suggested that Canadians would see more "indigenous storytelling" and content from "racialized community-owned media."
- A spokesperson from YouTube had this to say on the matter: "Like many, we were surprised to see the Heritage Committee extend Bill C-10 to include social media and user-upload services and apps. This potentially extends CRTC regulation to all audio and audio-visual content on the internet, which has profound implications for not just social media, but virtually all websites, podcasting, online hosting and much more."
- Geist said even if the bill means Canadian users won’t have to report to the CRTC themselves, their online videos on platforms like TikTok or YouTube “would be treated as a program subject to Canada’s broadcast regulator.”
- That is an infringement of Canadians’ rights, Geist said. “In a free, democratic society we don’t subject basic speech to regulation in this way. Of course there are limits to what people can say, but the idea that a broadcast regulator has any role to play in basic speech is, I think, anathema to free and democratic society where freedom of expression is viewed as one of the foundational freedoms.”
- This is a disgusting attack on Canadian's basic rights and freedoms in the middle of a pandemic, all in the name of trying to fit what the Liberal Party's vision of "Canadian" is. It's yet another case of Trudeau and the Liberals creating unnecessary legislation on a topic that does not need coverage with so many other problems needing attention right now. It is shameful, and I hope people take notice, because if they don't, alternative media like us won't be around to tell them the truth.
Word of the Week
Censorship - the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, a threat to security, or politically unacceptable.
Quote of the Week
“These politicians in Ottawa really have no clue at all what they are doing. They don't know what they're regulating or whose freedoms they're infringing. I noticed they didn't have any online content creators at their hearings.” - Journalist and Youtube content creator J.J. McCullough on the Liberal’s controversial Bill C-10 limiting freedom of expression
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Not ‘Canadian’ Enough
Teaser: A new study tells us what pandemic responses are helpful or not, BC establishes its own sick pay program, and a tale of school violence shows the importance of facts. Also, Trudeau’s Bill C-10 will censor content that isn’t considered Canadian enough.
Recorded Date: April 30, 2021
Release Date: May 2, 2021
Edit Notes: Steven
Podcast Summary Notes