The News Rundown
- The contempt for Alberta’s COVID strategy is coming from all corners nationally.
- This week Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced that as of Thursday this week anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result must still isolate but their close contacts will no longer be required to isolate, it will only be recommended.
- On August 16, isolation following a positive test will no longer be necessary but strongly recommended. The existing mask mandate will also end in most places including public transit with the exception of healthcare facilities and some seniors home on August 16th.
- By later in the month testing will be scaled back to only those with severe symptoms.
- Presently 75.7% of the population over 12 has received one dose and 64.6% of the population over 12 has received two doses. Those getting sick and currently needing the healthcare system are largely unvaccinated.
- The live data suggests that vaccines work. The vaccines are 91% effective against the UK variant and 85% effective against the India variant for those who are double dosed. For those who are single dosed the number goes down to 76% and 57%. The vaccine, even one dose, will still prevent serious illness and death.
- These numbers represent the effectiveness at preventing symptomatic infection. The numbers will be higher for preventing hospitalization and death.
- In fielding media questions this week the Doctor was asked why now, the answer is that with other viruses like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, these viruses will cause a lot of illness and the system needs to be ready to handle those. And, the province won’t be able to test everyone with a mild respiratory illness because there will be so many more viruses out there this year.
- When asked about not notifying close contacts and the Delta (India) variant, she said that the risk needs to be weighed between COVID-19 with high vaccine levels and other public health issues. And, since July 1, 95% of the cases have been in those who are not fully vaccinated.
- When asked about mask mandates in schools vs. what resorts like Disney World are doing, Dr. Hinshaw pointed out that in the last 2019-2020 flu season, children had a higher ICU rate from the flu than COVID-19.
- So called “experts” from Ontario are weighing in saying the Alberta government is “bury[ing] their heads away from the evidence and the science”.
- Doctors in Calgary held a rally in Calgary over their lunch hour at the McDougall Centre in Calgary and at the Edmonton legislature protesting the move.
- One of the doctors was surprised because she thought there’d be an announcement with new restrictions because, “I thought we would have more measures announced because we have now numbers shooting up, we have more than 2,000 daily cases. The speed is growing, we might have hospitals full either at the end of August or September.”
- We had 228 cases reported Wednesday. The last time we had 2000+ daily cases was in May. This quote was published in CTV Calgary and it’s downright irresponsible to be spreading fake news about case numbers that are clearly not true.
- Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, chimed in on Friday criticizing the move as well. We need to remember that this is the same Dr. Tam who resisted closing borders and suggested doing so would be racist or xenophobic.
- Health is a provincial jurisdiction and any positive outcomes during the pandemic are due to the provinces, not the federal government.
- The federal government ordered the vaccines and the provinces distributed and administered them.
- Alberta has been compared to Florida who dropped public health restrictions early and has largely weathered the storm. The pandemic has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
- While yes, those immunized can still have a chance at getting infected, the risk of mortality is much lower.
- The pandemic is likely to end with a combination of vaccination and herd immunity. Herd immunity because natural immunity so far when combined with vaccination seems to be the ultimate form of protection.
- In two other COVID related notes for Alberta that are bound to ruffle feathers, Alberta’s post secondary institutions are not allowed to require proof of vaccination which is a win for personal freedom and liberty.
- And in terms of COVID outcome from the Calgary Stampede, 84 people caught COVID at the Stampede representing 0.02% of all attendees.
- Alberta has put COVID-19 on the same level as the seasonal flu with relatively the same measures for containment.
- So far the data for all variants of concern is that a double dosed population will be protected from hospitalization and death. Alberta has put its faith in vaccines.
- It’s time to walk, chew gum, and confront COVID.
- Those who are suggesting we do otherwise are either spreading fear for the sake of fake news or are this generation's anti-vaxxers. Because if you can’t trust the vaccine to get the job done, why get a vaccine?
- As BC moves through one of the hottest summers in recent memory as well as recorded history, many areas of the province are undergoing drought conditions. Along with this, many areas of the Interior are experiencing wildfires, and a blanket of smoke has stretched from central BC all the way across the prairies and even south into the American Midwest.
- Temperatures across the Interior exceeded those in famously hot Death Valley, California during the “heat dome” event at the end of June. One satellite recorded isolated ground temperatures just across the border in Washington state at 63C. That’s the temperature at which a steak on the barbecue is cooked to medium rare.
- In the Fraser Canyon, Lytton recorded the highest temperature in Canadian history at 49.6C and then was razed by an explosive wildfire a day later that ripped through the community in minutes. And across the province, communities remain in fear of wildfire. Thousands of people remain under evacuation orders or alerts. Agriculture has been under threat as well, with roughly 20% crop loss in some parts of BC's interior due to drought. With such environmental conditions causing harm across the province, there has been a call to stop practices that are perceived to be exacerbating the problem.
- First Nations and environmentalists in B.C.’s arid Interior want the provincial government to immediately stop letting private companies bottle water for export from the water-stressed region. The province says it has no plans to do any such thing.
- B.C. banned bulk water exports in 1996. But in BC laws, there exists an exemption for water in containers of less than 20 litres has inadvertently created a lucrative loophole for what’s become a global trade in the bulk export of bottled water. Under provincial rules, bottling companies are charged just $2.25 for every million litres extracted, which has led to a huge profit by bottled water companies.
- Some Interior First Nations say it’s unethical for the government to allow any water exports from a tinder-dry region struggling with prolonged drought and that include constant threat from wildfires that can help degrade water quality.
- The Canadian Bottled Water Association says licences issued to the industry by the province are based on sound science and that, in any event, bottled water permits are only a small fraction of licensed water use.
- The B.C. government’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development only grants “defensible, science-based groundwater licensing,” says Tyler Hooper, the ministry’s public affairs officer. He says 90 per cent of the water bottled in B.C. is produced by non-licensees — that is by producers connected to a third-party source such as a municipal water system, a number of which operate in the Lower Mainland.
- Annette Lutterman, an ecologist in Golden BC who works with First Nations on resource and sustainability issues, says that two years ago a private company bought a residential lot in Golden and then applied to the province for a licence to bottle water extracted from the same aquifer from which municipal drinking water is drawn. She says at least eight applications being considered by the province for water-bottling operations across B.C. are “completely unethical.”
- There are similar objections at High Bar, a First Nations community near dry Clinton BC, a semi-desert community 120km northwest of Kamloops which receives only 28cms of precipitation each year. The fears of residents, who largely get their water from wells, are largely centred around the fact that the water supply could easily dry up with so much extraction, which would kill the ranching industry that the community relies on.
- Currently in Clinton there is a proposal on review since 2015 from Clinton Hongyan Zhenghong International Investment Inc. (CHZ), which aims to draw water from an aquifer just south of the municipality.
- This proposal is a major concern for Angie Kane of the Secwépemul’ecw Restoration and Stewardship Society, which represents eight First Nations communities in the area. Kane says that there's a huge lack of information about the status of B.C. 's groundwater reserves provincewide and about the rate at which they are naturally recharged by precipitation.
- An independent study commissioned by SRSS noted that the water bottling company's assessments relied on outdated modelling of the aquifer from 2007, and didn't take into account changes to the landscape that could impact how much water is retained by the aquifer. Kane says recent wildfires have had a major impact on the soil. In 2017, the Elephant Hill fire burned 1,920 square kilometres of land, including watersheds near the proposed bottling plant. With so little vegetation left, the water is not held in place, and the water cannot absorb into the scorched ground.
- The province says it's still reviewing the Clinton bottling plant application and that it's committed to consultations with First Nations. It says it isn't considering a moratorium on licences, but that it takes public concerns seriously. It says future climate impacts on the landscape are among criteria considered during the licensing process.
- While the small interior communities battle for life giving water, it seems that the province is content to ignore the regions of the province that did not vote for them. And the media has not given much attention to a very serious issue for rural British Columbians.
- On Thursday PM Trudeau appointed 5 Senators. Three for Quebec, one for Saskatchewan, and one for Alberta.
- These appointments lower the number of empty senate seats from 15 to 10.
- The senators will sit as independents but the senate already has groups who caucus and vote together.
- The senators are Michèle Audette, Amina Gerba, Clément Gignac, David Arnot, and Karen Sorensen.
- Audette, who is from the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam in Quebec, was president of the Native Women's Association of Canada from 2012-15. She was also one of the commissioners on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- Gignac was a Liberal member of Quebec's National Assembly from 2009-12 and served in the provincial cabinet as minister of economic development, innovation and export trade, as well as minister of natural resources and wildlife.
- Gerba, an entrepreneur born in Cameroon, has worked to establish business and economic links between Canada and Africa. She has founded a number of businesses and is a member of the Canadian Council on Africa and the African Business Roundtable.
- Arnot is the chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, a position he's held since 2009. He's also worked as a senior Crown prosecutor in Saskatchewan and as a judge on the provincial court.
- And Karen Sorensen is the former mayor of Banff, Alberta who resigned upon being appointed to the senate. She’s been a municipal councillor and school board trustee, prior to that, she worked in the hotel industry.
- A number of weeks ago on the podcast we detailed the Prime Minister’s visit to Alberta where in a meeting with Jason Kenney he was informed that Alberta would be holding senate elections and the Prime Minister himself suggested that if the people elected applied through the senate appointment process, they could be considered for the senate.
- Now, Alberta has 2 senate vacancies, only one was filled this week.
- Jason Kenney called the appointments a “slap in the face to Alberta”
- In particular he said, “The Prime Minister’s decision shows contempt for democratic decision making, and for Alberta voters in particular… Sadly, the Prime Minister’s decision to snub his nose at Alberta’s democratic tradition is part of a pattern of flippantly disregarding our province’s demands for a fair deal in the Canadian federation, and the desire of Albertans for democratic accountability.”
- This response has of course spurred those members of the Laurentien Elite and Alberta’s opposition to remind the Premier that senators are appointed and not elected.
- The NDP even suggested that the true slap in the face is the Premier “abandoning Albertans and abdicating all responsibility in the midst of a pandemic.”
- Now we could talk for ages about the pandemic but it is disappearing in the rear view mirror very quickly.
- Those who are public speakers and those who speak effectively know that when someone is disagreeing with you and they nitpick at things like common truths that we all know to be true, typos, or attempt to demean the speaker, you probably have a very good point and the person disagreeing has no real counter argument.
- Delving into the history of Karen Sorensen, we know that she was a Trudeau supporter going back to 2013 and his leadership run and will likely vote with the Liberal government in the senate.
- The discussion here and in the media of course is not about the legitimacy of Alberta’s senate elections.
- Most of the media drew praise upon these appointments but ask yourself, what are they not talking about?
- They aren’t talking about the easiest opportunity the Prime Minister has had all year to make one small gesture to Alberta.
- With an election on the horizon and potentially 2-4 seats in the province being in play, a little good will for the Prime Minister could go a long way.
- Had he went out and made his appointments in Quebec and Saskatchewan but also said, “I will be appointing those to the Senate who Albertans choose on October 18th and if any other provinces wish to elect their own senators we are happy to oblige” it would have been the greatest move made by this government to increase national unity and champion democracy in Canada.
- Not only would it have been good for the provinces and democracy, but it would have also changed the channel and set forth a new media narrative.
- The lack of will for the government to make this move shows they’re in a fairly rigid playbook and would be susceptible to a party that promised innovation and to truly do things differently.
- The more likely option is that only one Alberta seat was filled so that Liberal fortunes won’t be dashed in the province while hoping residents think their wishes will be honoured after an election.
- The Prime Minister went for the traditional option and that could end up hurting him in an election while Albertans continue to be wedged and divided by this government.
- A week ago, the 2021 NHL Entry Draft was held. For the purposes of this show, the biggest reason why this is important is because the Montreal Canadiens, on the heels of a Cinderella run in the playoffs that saw them eventually lose to Tampa Bay in the finals, decided to pick with their 31st pick at the end of the 1st round, Logan Mailloux.
- Mailloux was previously condemned by the hockey world for an incident in December of 2020. While playing for a Swedish team during Ontario’s COVID lockdown, Mailloux engaged in a consensual relationship with a young woman, but also took and shared a non-consensual intimate image of her.
- In Canada this is punishable by jail time, but in Sweden, the act only receives a fine. He was charged, and received the equivalent of a $2000 fine for the matter, and he released a statement apologizing for his behaviour. He also requested that he not be picked by anyone in the upcoming draft, so he could continue to work on his maturity and personal growth. In spite of this, Montreal picked him with their first round pick anyway, which means that Mailloux has suffered little consequences for his actions.
- So why does this matter? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, himself with a controversial history around women and their consent, decided to wade into the matter personally by condemning the leadership of his favourite NHL team for the draft pick.
- Trudeau said Tuesday he's not happy with the Montreal Canadiens' draft selection of a player convicted of a sex-related offence: “As a lifelong Habs fan, I have to say I am deeply disappointed by the decision. I think it was a lack of judgment by the Canadiens organization. I think they have a lot of explaining to do, to Montrealers and to fans from right across the country.”
- This is the same Trudeau who said in a CBC interview in January 2018 that there were no incidents from his past that he should be worried about and that everyone should be held accountable for their past actions. Trudeau said at the time that “There is no context in which someone doesn’t have responsibility for things they’ve done in the past.”
- Of course, when the story broke that he had groped a woman in the early 2000s and then said that he wouldn’t have been so forward if he had known she was working for a national media outlet, Trudeau brushed it off. Much of the media wrote about Trudeau's condemnation without mentioning his own past.
- By giving Trudeau cover, not even mentioning his own problems in passing, the reporters who cover Parliament Hill full time have shown their bias. It’s hard to keep calling yourself objective when your actions prove that claim to be patently false.
- This fall, Trudeau will be asking Canadians to show the same lack of judgement to overlook his own long checkered history of indiscretions, including the groping a reporter at a music festival when he was a 28-year-old teacher in B.C.
- Throughout his young adult years, he thought nothing of dressing up in blackface while going to parties or celebrations or out on the town. He was photographed multiple times while in costume with his skin darkened. This is the son of a prime minister who had all of the advantages of public awareness, education and culture that came with his father’s title.
- He clearly did not learn from this later in life, as he play-acted on an official trip to India as prime minister, spending a fortune on cultural costumes for himself and his family, making a mockery of his hosts and embarrassing Canada on the world stage.
- The Aga Khan ethics violation feels like a lifetime ago when he was the freshly-minted, first-term leader of the country and inappropriately accepting paid vacations and trips.
- The SNC Lavalin affair blew a massive hole in his image, compounded further by his attempts to force Jody Wilson-Raybould, then minister of justice and attorney general, to find a way to help the Montreal-based engineering firm escape serious consequences for bribery charges. The Indigenous MP resigned over the pressure, spoke out about it and was then booted out of the Liberal caucus altogether. Further inquiries confirmed inappropriate actions by the PM and other staff members.
- He has left two Canadians to rot in China’s prison on trumped-up espionage charges while partnering with the communist regime on a failed vaccine venture in the early days of the pandemic. He further allowed Chinese scientists access to our national lab who then covertly shipped highly contagious Ebola and Henipah pathogens to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
- Trudeau was also forced to prorogue Parliament in an attempt to avoid further investigation into the WE Charity Scandal after he tapped the philanthropist organization to run a youth employment program worth hundreds of millions of dollars during the first year of the pandemic. It was soon revealed that his family members and other members of his cabinet, including the family of then Finance Minister Bill Morneau, had been paid handsomely over the years for appearance fees. It was one hand greasing the other.
- Trudeau most recently did his best to sweep allegations of sexual misconduct against former chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance under the rug, claiming he had no knowledge of the accusations despite mounting evidence to the contrary. As opposed to committing to rooting out sexual harassment in the military — of which there is a long sordid history — he instead went on the offensive.
- None of this is to defend Montreal's first-round pick Logan Mailloux who has been fined, claims to have apologized in writing as requested by the victim and will wear this for the rest of his life. It was a hard lesson to learn for a then 17-year-old, a bad decision made by teens around the world.
- Mailloux at least showed contrition in asking all NHL clubs to not draft him, that it was a privilege and an honour he no longer deserved despite being one of the top prospects in the class. The Montreal Canadiens showed bad judgement in ignoring that request on the weekend. Hopefully, Canadians show better judgement when they hit the polls.
Word of the Week
Aquifer - a body of permeable rock, sand, or dirt which can contain or transmit groundwater
Quote of the Week
"If we say yes to extracting some water now, what's that going to look like 10, 20, or 100 from now? If they need water, go to the places where the water exists — don't go to some of the driest places in BC. The ranchers need the water, the First Nations need the water, the animals need the water." - High Bar First Nation resource manager Greg Crookes on the Clinton bottled water plant proposal
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Unquenchable Past
Teaser: Alberta rolls back more COVID restrictions, BC’s drought conditions throw a spotlight on bottled water companies, and Trudeau ignores Alberta’s senate elections. Also, Trudeau condemns the Mailloux draft while the media ignores Trudeau’s past.
Recorded Date: July 30, 2021
Release Date: August 1, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes