The News Rundown
- With the anticipation of an election on the horizon, there have been big announcements by opposition leaders in order to pre-empt the news cycle and generate interest in their party. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative leader Erin O'Toole made stops in BC in the past week, and with BC always proving to be a battleground between the three major parties, a lot of effort has been placed on winning over the hearts and minds of British Columbians.
- In a response to our Liberal train funding story from last week, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh had a huge counter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement last week of funding a high-frequency rail corridor between Toronto and Quebec City.
- Singh is promising that infrastructure projects funded by a New Democratic government would use Canadian steel and other domestic goods to help get people working.
- At a campaign style stop in Windsor, Ont, much like the other major leaders are doing, Singh had this to say: "Any time we talk about big infrastructure, there has to be a commitment that the infrastructure is made with Canadian products, Canadian steel, Canadian aluminum. The Liberals have talked about a high-speed train. They've never mentioned once that they're going to use Canadian products in a high-speed train,"
- Singh didn't call it a "Buy Canadian" strategy however, and outside of infrastructure, which seems to be the name of the game in this election, Singh jobs blueprint focuses on previous NDP policy promises, with better supports for workers through a national pharmacare program, 10 days of paid sick leave and higher minimum wages. The NDP plan on paying for these things through a much higher wealth tax, and a pandemic profiteering tax which is intended to go after large corporations.
- Meanwhile, Erin O'Toole has similarly been canvassing the population, with recent stops in Western Canada. O’Toole stopped on Vancouver Island to meet with business leaders on Tuesday, July 13, who expressed their concerns about the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and pressed O’Toole to support the tourism sector which has been battered by travel restrictions. O’Toole said that the Liberal government hasn’t had enough focus on supporting small and medium-sized businesses to help them weather the pandemic.
- His visit to the Island came on the heels of Singh’s visit. O’Toole said he believes the NDP ‘no longer stand up for working people’, whereas the Conservative Party wants to get people back to work: “On the Island, the option really has to be the Conservative Party because Mr. Trudeau gets propped up by the NDP, the Greens and the other parties. We need a real voice from the Island.”
- O’Toole added that many people spoke to him about missing tourism opportunities provided by the cruise ship industry, which the Liberals are only unbanning on November 1st, after the peak cruise season to Alaska is over with.
- “This is something the Conservatives fought for months ago — to use rapid tests and keep that business. The real worry is that it wouldn’t come back,” he said.
- In order to address the concerns of businesses, O’Toole launched a five-point recovery plan in March. That plan aims to incentivize investments in small businesses, create job opportunities for Canadians — particularly women and young Canadians who have been disproportionately impacted by pandemic job losses.
- O’Toole’s plan also includes measures to toughen conflict of interest and anti-corruption laws in Ottawa, boost funding for mental health providers across the country, create a stockpile of essential items and build domestic vaccine manufacturing facilities. O’Toole also promises to balance the federal budget over the next 10 years, but that there's a greater focus on getting people back to work: “We put on half a trillion dollars of debt, we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the G7, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there — hospitality, tourism, travel have been decimated — I think the focus needs to be the well-being of Canadians and getting people back to work.”
- In a recent stop to Richmond, O'Toole also responded to criticism from Singh that he was too overly focused on the "fringe issue" of the Chinese government. O'Toole, when asked about it, paused and said: “The foreign policy challenge of the generation — I wouldn’t call that a ‘fringe issue.’ ”
- As O’Toole emphasized in his speech this week in Richmond, “We’re very proud of immigration from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan. It makes our communities and country stronger. And we have to make it very clear that our criticism of decisions by the Communist regime is not a criticism of Chinese people.
- “I always comment on the incredible history of Chinese art and culture. But for us to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses, to international trade violations” is not acceptable, he said, reminding that the Conservatives led Ottawa to become the first western Parliament to call China’s mass detention of the Uyghur Muslim minority a “genocide.”
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has constantly been “offside” on China and it’s hurting Canada’s security and trade alliances, especially with the U.S., said O’Toole. Former U.S. president Barack Obama, O’Toole said, was among the first to notice “Canada was a weak link” in the Five Eyes Security Alliance, which consists of English-speaking countries. “In the Five Eyes Security alliance we’re the only country that has not made a decision (against) Huawei’s 5G. We’re just not seen as being reliable.”
- So while Singh and O'Toole battle in BC over priorities, supporters of either party will hope that their leaders will receive more airtime throughout the summer as the uncertainty of an election heats up.
- The Alberta UCP has brought in a new era of direct democracy in Alberta. From passing Citizen Referenda to enacting MLA recall, this government is consulting Albertans on the big questions.
- This week we learnt what two of those big topics asked about will be this fall.
- On the October 18th municipal elections, Albertans will have a chance to voice their concerns on Equalization and they will get to vote on whether we should scrap the process of moving our clocks backwards and forwards twice a year.
- Most of the discussion has centred around the Equalization referendum with people reminding the Premier that he can’t just delete equalization!
- The CBC published an article containing an angry looking photo of Jason Kenney and dedicated their article to reminding readers that the province can’t “unilaterally” change equalization nor can we elect senators, something else which is happening on October 19th.
- As we’ve detailed before on the podcast the idea behind the equalization referendum is to utilize the Clarity Act of 2000 and the cases set by the Quebec secession referendums to force the federal government to the negotiating table.
- Once at that table the ultimate end goal would be to remove equalization but Jason Kenney in his press conference is framing it as a way of making Alberta an equal partner in confederation.
- He points back to election night in 2019 when he spoke in French to Quebec asking to let Alberta be a partner in confederation by allowing us to develop our resources without obstruction.
- The argument he makes is that Quebec has utilized the Constitution to its advantage and as a result has become one of the strongest and autonomous provinces in the Canadian Federation.
- He sees no reason Alberta should not do this.
- The Premier said, “We want to say to our fellow Canadians, if you want to benefit from the wealth that is produced by the hard work of Albertans you’ve got to let us get to work. If you want to benefit from our resource wealth, you’ve got to let us develop the resource wealth. It’s a way of sending a message to our friends across the country. If you’re in Quebec and you like super low tuition rates and subsidized daycare and having a big surplus - good on you. But help us help you by getting out of the way on issues like pipelines. Let’s be partners in prosperity.”
- The Alberta Pension Plan and pulling out of the contract with the RCMP will not be on the referendum ballot at this point in time. That does not mean they can’t come up on a referendum in the future.
- If the question of pulling out of the RCMP was to be posed it’s likely that only those who are policed by the RCMP would be asked the question.
- On the senate elections, there was also discussion in the press conference if it’s worth even doing and that it may distract from municipal issues since the current government has their own process for appointing senators.
- There are currently two senate vacancies in Alberta. The Premier revealed that in his one on one meeting with the Prime Minister last week that if the people who run and are voted in by Albertans also apply via Trudeau’s senate appointment procedure, he would not close the door on appointing them!
- If the Prime Minister were to appoint Alberta’s elected senators it would be a small start in the process of smoothing over the last 6 years of division.
- Now of course the biggest question for most Albertans is whether or not we get rid of daylight savings time.
- This question will also be posed in the referendum and the exact question is forthcoming.
- The lack of specific questions means we don’t know where exactly Alberta will sit when it comes to our timezone.
- The report and survey put forward by the province initially says that Alberta would stay on summer time all year long. This means of course longer nights in the summer but darker mornings in the winter.
- Where you vote on this determines whether you want more light in the morning or more light in the evening in the summer.
- A psychology professor says that we should adopt permanent standard time rather than summer time as delaying the start of the morning can cause health problems.
- There are also of course questions from big businesses like the airlines and sports teams.
- Most of the Pacific region has voted to already stop changing their clocks.
- Saskatchewan doesn’t but there’s still questions of course what the time differential will be to our friends out east in Ontario and Quebec.
- If we stay on summer time year round this means that in the fall we could potentially only have an hour difference with eastern time.
- With BC, Washington, Oregon, and California at some point eventually deciding to stop changing their clocks this means that the time difference with the west coast would be one hour year round.
- If it does turn out that we’ll be voting on whether we should stay permanently on summer time or daylights savings, the question needs to be framed in such a way that asks do you want an extra hour of light in the summer but are you willing to have it get lighter an hour later in the winter for the price of not moving our clocks forward.
- Of course the province could surprise us and go a different direction but given the push to stay on permanent daylight savings time has passed on the west coast, we’d likely do the same.
- We’ll see what Albertans vote for come October 18th and let’s be clear, the only distraction this week was from the media trying to explain away the UCP’s senate elections and equalization referendum at the cost of not adequately talking about what a time shift could mean for Alberta.
- Green party executives have taken a first step toward suspending Annamie Paul’s membership in the party she leads, the latest development in a feud that has threatened her future in the top job.
- Dana Taylor, interim executive director of the Greens’ main governing body, has kicked off a membership review that would suspend Paul’s status and bar her from representing the party while it is underway, say three senior party sources.
- The process, as outlined in the members’ code of conduct, could ultimately result in Paul’s party membership being revoked altogether, freezing her ability to lead a political party she would no longer belong to, ahead of a likely federal election this year.
- The review emerged from a special meeting of the federal council Tuesday night, where Taylor announced the probe would go forward. Paul, who sits on the 13-member body, was not invited to the virtual meeting, the sources say.
- They say the stated reason for the review is that Paul launched legal proceedings against the party, an accusation disputed by officials close to the leader. The code of conduct says legal action against the Green Party of Canada by one of its members automatically triggers a review headed by the executive director.
- Paul's lawyer recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to a federal party council member. The letter accused a council member of defamation but no further action was taken. The nature of the alleged comments that prompted the letter are not clear.
- The membership review follows a months-long battle between party factions, in part over clashing views about how the party and its leader should respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- All this has happened while the party recovers from New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin crossing the floor to the Liberals last month, leaving the Greens with two seats in the House of Commons.
- Last month, Paul fired back against party executives in response to an earlier move to push her out, calling them out for “racist” and “sexist” accusations.. She is the first Black woman to lead a federal political party in Canada.
- Canada’s pandemic has been challenging and there has always been a question of who or what to believe.
- From the very beginning the question of whether or not borders should be closed was framed as one of what may or may not be racist.
- Questions about physical distancing and the mandatory shutdown of the economy followed and far too many provinces decided to shut down.
- Alberta’s government apologized for this and is probably one of the few to do so globally. Alberta also made it through the pandemic (with the exception of early last Spring) without shutting down retail.
- Our vaccine rollout was bungled due to a government willing to put China ahead of our friends in the United States because it was not believed that there’d be a vaccine ready in time for Christmas let alone the US election.
- The rollout started slow but now that’s a distant memory for the governing Liberals, media, and most Canadians.
- A summer where case counts are low, people have two doses, and people are getting back to work is exactly the argument that will be pushed in Trudeau’s probably late summer election.
- As a result Trudeau and the media will make the case that we managed the pandemic well and they deserve a majority. That is a simple argument to make and without pulling back the layers of the onion many will buy it.
- But we should also ask the 26,000+ Canadians who died during the pandemic how they feel about the management of the pandemic.
- Chances are they’d have a different answer as would the 5,535 more people under the age of 65 who died between March 2020 and April 2021. 1,380 of these were attributed to COVID.
- That means that according to Statistics Canada the excess mortality was in large part due to the unintentional side effects of the pandemic, such as substance abuse.
- Overdose deaths rose from 1,605 in 2019 to 2,125 in 2020. That’s an increase to 11.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
- Poisoning deaths in 2020 also shot up by about 500 with Ontario and Alberta being the hardest hit.
- The biggest though saw an increase in alcohol induced mortality among younger Canadians in particular but older folks were hit as well.
- Statistics Canada also soberingly admits that as the number of COVID infections wane we’ll learn more about the mortality dynamics that have been at play in Canada.
- While yes we may have seen lower overall death rates from traffic, accidents, and the flu but there could also have been increases in other areas as we’ve highlighted.
- Statistics Canada has pledged to provide continual information in a timely manner on excess deaths, causes of death, and comorbidities.
- In Alberta, we were the only province to list the number of people who perished as a result of COVID-19 and include the number of comorbidities.
- The media frame on this topic was that anyone talking about comorbidities is a horrible person and if someone has been dealt a bad genetic lottery or perhaps they haven’t taken care of themselves, then they deserved to die.
- Data and numbers in particular themselves are innocuous and have never hurt anyone.
- Statistics Canada and Alberta Health Services released a multitude of data relating to the pandemic and the only interpretation that happened was as a result of our media.
- A good scientist asks all the questions, not only why did the comorbidities have an effect but is there anything else we can learn from this?
- The average age of COVID death even in this later phase of the pandemic has settled around 80. If you remove those above 70 the number of deaths drops drastically. It even drops drastically if you remove long term care homes.
- If you remove those and you also correct for comorbidities the pandemic looks a whole lot less scary than it was made out to be.
- Economists by nature and simple economics are always examining the world in terms of multivariable analysis. Most other fields do not do that and that’s why our COVID response has seemed so one sided.
- Now, factoring in what we know about excess deaths among young Canadians, how substance abuse and suicide factored in, what role long term care homes played, and what role comorbidities played in the pandemic, we have a better picture of how to work around what is left of COVID-19.
- In places like Alberta and Saskatchewan the pandemic is effectively over. BC is gradually easing restrictions along with Ontario and other provinces. This raises the question of what happens next?
- The Delta variant is the topic of discussion for those in the medical field who would prefer to see us shut down until we have zero cases. They point to the UK and other European countries which are behind us on under 30 vaccinations without providing the full picture.
- But going forward we know that lockdowns and shutdowns disproportionately harm younger people as we talked about with our story today.
- We also know that vaccines make COVID-19, even the delta variant, far less lethal and far less likely to put people in the hospital.
- When you throw in what we know about long term care and comorbidities the picture of what to do about any fall uptick in cases becomes clear.
- We must rely on vaccines where possible, we must educate about comorbidities and protect vulnerable populations.
- And most importantly for the health and sanity of the bulk of our population we must let any COVID infections or uptick in cases run its course without shutting down yet again.
- We have learnt how to manage death rates and hospitalizations from COVID. What the media and chattering types have not learnt is just how destructive and heavy handed our original supposed COVID prevention techniques were.
- That combined with a constant push for shutdowns shows a gross negligence by our media establishment that is costing lives. That is why this is one of our stories this week.
Word of the Week
Advantage - a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position
Quote of the Week
"Any time we talk about big infrastructure, there has to be a commitment that the infrastructure is made with Canadian products, Canadian steel, Canadian aluminum. The Liberals have talked about a high-speed train. They've never mentioned once that they're going to use Canadian products in a high-speed train," -NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on his not quite “Buy Canadian” strategy
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Just Call the Election
Teaser: Singh and O’Toole battle for BC’s votes, Alberta will vote on equalization and DST in the fall, and the Green Party goes through a civil war. Also, we detail the untold stories of the pandemic: overdoses, comorbidities and more.
Recorded Date: July 16, 2021
Release Date: July 18, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes