The News Rundown
- This week in Alberta we could be talking about a lot of good news stories like a substantial push to diversify the economy by the government investing heavily in hydrogen, citizen initiative legislation passing third reading in the legislature, and Alberta moving on to phase 2 of the open for summer plan.
- Last weekend saw the Alberta NDP hold their yearly policy convention. The NDP were elected in 2015 with a majority government because conservative forces at the time split the right leaning vote.
- What followed was an NDP government not vetted by the media thoroughly during the campaign leading to a government enacting policies that a majority voted against.
- The media is repeating their same folly as 2015 in not paying close attention to the NDP.
- First, Rachel Notley received 98.2% support of delegates at the convention, a level of support that is unheard of except in certain undemocratic countries, when a popular political leader typically receives 80-90% support.
- Second, Notley announced plans last Friday if elected in 2023 to move Alberta’s electricity grid to net zero by 2035. At the end of the day this means higher costs for consumers.
- This means we either import more electricity from our neighbours, double down on wind and solar, or double down on nuclear.
- The NDP’s record shows that despite their environmental leanings they are not pro-nuclear. Importing electricity from BC, Saskatchewan, or the US means higher costs as does moving to solar and wind away from clean burning natural gas which currently accounts for a majority of our electrical generation.
- All of these options that the NDP would like to engage with will only increase costs for consumers.
- So far we’re talking about what happened outside the convention but coverage of what happened at the convention was horribly lacking from all media outlets from the mainstream media and right leaning outlets that claim to stand up for Alberta conservatives.
- To their credit, independent left wing outlets did report on the convention.
- The party passed resolutions including guaranteed sick leave pay, a promise to rollback the UCP’s curriculum, adopt universal child care with or without the federal government support, reinforce long term care, and remain part of the federal CPP.
- But the most eyebrow raising commitment is to enact race based data collection.
- After the horrendous terrorist attack in London Ontario there have been calls to examine whether Canada is a racist country. We also had the very sad story last week about Indigenous Children found buried at the Kamloops residential school. And last year the focus was on Black Lives Matter after the George Floyd shooting in the United States.
- Canada is founded as a country where everyone is welcome and everyone is welcome to practice their own culture within and aren’t expected to adopt a single identity.
- While we must address injustices of the past we must also not proceed down the path of using race to drive wedges between the threads that make us special, the threads that make us Albertan and Canadian.
- Race based data collection as detailed in scholarly articles aims to provide equitable outcomes rather than equal opportunities.
- At the end of the day though, race based data collection when campaigned on by the NDP and their allies is nothing more than a wedge.
- Those who use race as wedges are referred to by most as racists. The media won’t report this but the NDP has become the most racist political party in Alberta since the Social Credit’s eugenics program.
- The NDP are masquerading as an alternative to the UCP but in reality are supporting racism.
- Outside of the convention this garnered zero discussion.
- Alberta’s Justice Minister, Kaycee Madu, is Canada’s first Black Justice Minister. He’s also an immigrant from Nigeria and is in charge of a full scale review of policing in the province to ensure we don’t accidentally have racist policies enacted by the policy.
- The NDP is going in the opposite direction.
- But the most insidious part of the NDP convention came from Rachel Notley’s announcement video of why she’s running again.
- In the announcement video she said that action often starts with an injustice and the injustice was the one of the first things that Jason Kenney acted on to “rip away rights of LGBTQ kids in schools”.
- She said this was “so cruel” but let’s go back and look at what actually happened.
- Back on Western Context episode 123 we talked about Bill 8, the Education Amendment Act.
- This Bill changed the Education Act to allow principals to contact parents if it is believed their child is in danger.
- In particular we profiled a story where a student was suicidal and in order to save that student the parents had to be involved. If the legislation regarding Gay Straight Alliances remained, the parents would not have known.
- There are zero protections for LGBTQ students removed or stripped away. Parents are the sole source of responsibility when it comes to a child’s education having every right to know if the student is in danger.
- How does it work?
- The education act says that the principal shall permit the establishment of the student organization, designate a staff liaison, if a liaison can’t be found then the board and minister must immediately be informed and the minister selects a liaison, the students select a name, and the group is started. This is in the Alberta Education Act!
- The students are also protected by existing freedom of information and privacy legislation in Alberta. Student involvement is protected by default as detailed on the province’s GSA fact sheet.
- [quote from fact sheet]
- The NDP are running on a lie, a lie that raises the eyebrows of every progressive, and will continually garner media attention.
- This lie combined with a move towards racism should have garnered at least some media coverage but instead all we got was the discussion on energy which in itself was also covered poorly.
- As a final note, all of these passed resolutions were posted on social media but the text is currently absent from the NDP website. We’ll return to this story if the full resolutions are released.
- Victoria council has made the news again, and this time, like many times before, they are going against the grain. Council has voted unanimously to cancel its scheduled Canada Day programming this year following the discovery of hundreds of First Nations children's remains near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which we discussed on last week's episode.
- Originally, the city had planned virtual programming to mark the day due to COVID-19 pandemic gathering restrictions. Instead, the city said it will produce something for broadcast later this summer featuring local artists, and guided by local First Nations.
- Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said that before the council's decision she spoke with local Indigenous individuals who generally participate in Canada Day celebrations, who said they didn't feel they could do so this year.
- "They didn't feel comfortable participating this year because basically they're grief-struck and reeling, as are many Indigenous people across the country," said Helps.
- “As First Nations mourn and in light of the challenging moment we are in as a Canadian nation following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former Residential School, Council has decided to take the time to explore new possibilities, instead of the previously planned virtual Canada Day broadcast,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
- She acknowledged the Lekwungen people, on whose territory the city of Victoria was built, and the importance of ensuring the city's plans for July 1 reflected the needs of that community. Helps said residents can still acknowledge the day in their own way, but the city wants to provide an opportunity for thoughtful reflection and examination of what it truly means to be Canadian.
- Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who has helped to organize Canada Day celebrations for the past two decades, noted July 1 celebrations in the city started as an opportunity for immigrants to show their pride in calling Canada home.
- Although the City of Victoria has cancelled its virtual celebration, others on Vancouver Island are going ahead in partnership with local First Nations. In Sidney, a virtual Canada Day is ready to go working hand-in-hand with Indigenous communities, according to Brad Edgett, executive director, Mary Winspear Centre.
- Edgett said: “We’ve been able to add First Nations component to the beginning of the performance, to pay homage to what’s happened. And thought it was important to continue with what we’ve done. But to include even more first nations participation.”
- Idle No More, a group formed in 2012 to advocate for Indigenous rights, is encouraging people to disrupt Canada Day celebrations with protests. Events are planned in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
- “The recent discovery at Kamloops residential school has reminded us that Canada remains a country that has built its foundation on the erasure and genocide of Indigenous nations, including children. We refuse to sit idle while Canada’s violent history is celebrated,” the group’s website says.
- Ellis Ross, a Liberal MLA representing Skeena in northwestern B.C. and former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation, has opposed calls to cancel July 1 celebrations. He said: “Can you imagine how significant it would be for First Nations and non-First Nations to be together on this day. We need this as part of our collective healing.”
- British Columbia Premier John Horgan agrees, and said he does not support the call to cancel online celebrations on July 1, saying people were looking at that day to put COVID-19 behind them and starting the summer.
- Horgan said in a news conference: "When it comes to the issues with respect to rights and title with respect to reconciliation, I think all British Columbians stand together to mourn the issues that have emerged from Kamloops. I know on the 21st of June, National Indigenous Peoples Day, would be a more appropriate time for us to collectively focus on how we can redress the wrongs of the past and build a brighter future together."
- So far, no other major cities have followed Victoria in outright cancelling planned Canada Day events. It won't stop the media from asking if we should. Canada is a nation with an imperfect history, like many others in the world. Canada Day could be used as a way to have a discussion about all the things that went into making the great country we all live in, and to talk about the bad things in our history that we can improve upon for the future. To cancel it completely will disallow opportunities for those discussions and healing to happen.
- The Green Party made news last election when it elected 3 MPs, though some had predicted a larger break through potentially up to a dozen. Two of the three MPs came from British Columbia and one from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
- This week Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin announced she was crossing the floor and joining the Liberals.
- This marks a period of continued questions for the Green Party since the new leader, Annamie Paul, did not choose tactfully where she should run in a by-election.
- Paul decided to run in downtown Toronto competing against the Liberals and NDP. Paul came in second in the Toronto Centre by-election to replace Bill Morneau at the tail end of 2020.
- At the time there was criticism from the Greens that the Liberals and NDP did not extend “leaders courtesy” to the Greens allowing Paul to enter the House of Commons in a relatively uncontested by-election.
- The party has also been seen to have a problem with anti-semitism among its ranks with that being one of the issues that Annamie Paul sought to tackle as she herself is Jewish and this raises questions for a party that aims to have a national focus.
- Let’s unpack these problems one at a time, starting with the question of electability of the Greens…
- Fredericton as an electoral district was held by the Progressive Conservatives from the start of the Diefenbaker era in 1957 to the end of the Progressive Conservatives in 1993. Since then it has been held by the Liberals with the exception of 2008 to 2015 when the Conservative Party of Canada won the seat.
- In 2019 the Greens beat out the Conservatives by 1,629 votes and the Liberals came in behind the Conservatives by about 1,500 votes garnering 13,544.
- This is a seat the Conservatives will contest heavily in the next election and there will be renewed focus on it with Erin O’Toole as leader and this recent floor crossing.
- Elizabeth May is running again in the next election and Paul Manly will also likely be elected in BC again leaving the Greens with 2 MPs. The question becomes with Jenica Atwin gone and Annamie Paul looking for a seat, will the Greens be able to get their leader into the House of Commons?
- Jenica Atwin herself said that she wanted to work in a more “supportive and collaborative” environment and that there were too many distractions in the Green party, hence why she chose the Liberals.
- But what was most curious is that she said recent party infighting over the conflict in Israel took her away from her constituents.
- But just last month she tweeted in support of Palestine saying, “I stand with Palestine! There are no two sides to this conflict, only human rights abuses! #EndApartheid”
- Keep in mind that Israel is the freest democracy in the Middle East of those that exist and it’s the only country in the Middle East where those of Jewish decent, Muslim faith, and Christian faith can worship freely.
- The tweet in question was in response to a Twitter user asking the Green MPs to write to Annamie Paul to ask where they stand on the situation in Israel.
- Ms. Atwin also took issue with small modular reactor nuclear technology saying at a SMR roundtable held by the Greens where she felt that the memorandum of understanding on SMR nuclear technology signed by Ontario, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick should “inform the public about the economic and environmental risks to nuclear energy and SMRS.”
- We have long detailed here on Western Context that the only way to reach the established climate targets is with nuclear since wind and solar do not produce the magnitude of energy required.
- The Liberals come out ahead with this floor crossing. We already know the party has staunch support of environmentalists in the likes of Steven Guilbeault who managed to become Minister of Culture.
- And this should raise huge questions for the Liberals as now they have someone in their ranks who adamantly opposes Israel and stands with the Palestinian organization supported by Hamas.
- Had this been a member who crossed the floor to join the Conservatives and say was pro-abortion or had a questionable past around LGBTQ rights, we’d be seeing a national media spectacle over this floor crossing.
- This is similar but on the other side of the political spectrum and the media is quiet.
- With US President Joe Biden's election in November 2020, many Canadians were looking towards a less complicated relationship between Canada and the US. Relations between former President Donald Trump and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were tumultuous at best, and many times Trump got the upper hand in trade negotiations. With the election of Biden, people probably thought that Biden would be much kinder towards Canadian interests than the belligerent Trump was. Right?
- Wrong. On Day One of Biden's administration, he signed a stack of executive orders, including cancelling the permit given by Trump for Keystone XL, a pipeline that if completed, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from Hardisty, AB., to Nebraska. It would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.
- Keystone XL would have provided a much needed outlet for Albertan Oil, and boost revenues for Canada by a large margin, as well as a much needed boost for Canadian oil prices.
- Previously, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the government would work with TC Energy "to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project."
- On Wednesday, Kenney said Alberta would continue to work with its U.S. partners to ensure that the province is equipped to meet U.S. energy demands, saying "We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline's border crossing."
- Richard Masson, an executive fellow with the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, says the pipeline was viewed as an essential link between supply and market. He said: "We end up in a situation now, where those refineries are still looking to get our oil, and we have fewer ways to get it there. That can result in lower prices for Canadian oil, less investment, fewer jobs, less taxes, less royalties."
- The Alberta government agreed last year to invest about $1.5 billion as equity in the project, plus billions more in loan guarantees in order to get the pipeline moving. As a result, the Canadian leg of the project had been under construction for several months with around 1,000 workers in southeast Alberta. With the cancellation, the final cost to Albertans for Keystone XL will be about $1.3 billion as the provincial government and TC Energy announced the official termination of the project Wednesday.
- Leaders of the G7 are gathering in England, for talks that are certain to be dominated by just three topics: COVID-19, climate change and China. But it's the last topic that could end up dominating the discussion.
- There has been a chorus of Western establishment voices on both sides of the Atlantic warning of the threat posed by Chinese-style authoritarianism and describing this moment as a not-to-be-missed opportunity to unite against it.
- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed an expanded alliance of democratic nations. He already has a working title for the new alliance: the D-10. The "D" is for democracy and the 10 are the traditional Group of Seven nations plus three governments that are attending the Cornish summit as guests: India, Australia and South Korea.
- Those three countries have more in common than elective democracy, of course. They also all have serious issues with China — which is why they are presumptive allies in a world that appears to be dividing, once again, into antagonistic blocs.
- Having already hosted a successful climate summit in April, U.S. President Joe Biden has more or less cleared the decks to deal with the two topics – COVID-19 and China, which have intersected since the rise in acceptance of the theory that China's Wuhan Laboratory of Virology leaked the coronavirus which has since devastated the world.
- Former Canadian diplomat and China scholar Charles Burton said Canada faces a choice: "There's a desire for there to be more concerted action by an alliance of nations which are affected by China's behaviour in the absence of any effective UN ability to respond, because China is a permanent member of the Security Council and therefore able to veto anything significant. Is Canada prepared to stand up for the Australians who are subject to hostage diplomacy as we expect the Australians to stand up for our Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor? Are we prepared to actually engage in programming which will displease the Chinese government in concert with our allies? Or do we want to leave this to other powers and hope that if Canada stands relatively neutral, that we will be able to protect our market position in China?"
- Burton wants a more confrontational Canadian approach. He said his expectations are low.
- Ahead of the G7 meeting where Biden is expected to look for allies against China, he rescinded former President Donald Trump’s executive orders that sought to effectively ban the Chinese-owned video app TikTok, instead replacing it with new guidelines for assessing apps' potential risks to U.S. data.
- Trump signed a slew of executive orders last year aimed at forcing TikTok, WeChat and other apps linked to China to shutter their U.S. operations, citing allegations that Americans’ personal data could fall into the hands of government officials in Beijing. TikTok last year sued to block the actions, and the courtroom battle has since dragged into the Biden administration.
- The US is sending mixed signals on China, and it's also sending mixed signals to Canada. Those who hoped for a less complicated relationship and an easier path on dealing with the Chinese government's aggression will be sorely disappointed.
Word of the Week
Equity - a belief that stems from the idea that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances to overcome barriers arising from bias or systemic structures
Quote of the Week
“Is Canada prepared to stand up for the Australians who are subject to hostage diplomacy as we expect the Australians to stand up for our Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor? Are we prepared to actually engage in programming which will displease the Chinese government in concert with our allies? Or do we want to leave this to other powers and hope that if Canada stands relatively neutral, that we will be able to protect our market position in China?" - Former Canadian diplomat Charles Burton on dealing with the Chinese government.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: This Title is Cancelled
Teaser: Surprising topics arise during the Alberta NDP convention, Victoria council cancels Canada Day celebrations, and a third of Green MPs cross the floor to the Liberals. Also, Trudeau faces a complicated relationship with both the US and China.
Recorded Date: June 11, 2021
Release Date: June 13, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes