The News Rundown
- It shouldn't be understated that the Trudeau Liberals have not had a good first week of the election campaign. After not releasing a platform, Trudeau publicly calling for "big ideas" from his candidates to help turn the tide, and numerous hard questions from the media who are finally holding his government to account for its record, another ministerial gaffe has people shaking their heads.
- While Trudeau was busy calling his election, the crisis at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan continues, with Western countries swiftly trying to evacuate their citizens and refugees, many of whom helped Canada during the war, and are now fleeing a country that has been almost totally taken over by the Taliban, the previous ruling class of Afghanistan before the US-led invasion in 2001. Due to their harsh interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, which includes brutal repression of women's rights, they have been labelled a terrorist group by the Canadian government. The war against the Taliban has cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers.
- Maryam Monsef, Trudeau's Minister for Women and Gender Equality, who was born in Iran and raised in Afghanistan – had a direct message for the terrorist group, which has swiftly taken control of most of Afghanistan since the U.S. began withdrawing its troops following a 20-year mission.
- “I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban. We call on you to ensure the safe and secure passage of any individual in Afghanistan out of the country. We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings,” she said, speaking alongside colleagues while providing an update about Canada’s efforts to evacuate Afghans from the country, adding that the government calls on the group to ensure anyone wanting to leave Afghanistan can do so safely, to honour the peace deal and to allow women and the voices of minority groups to be heard “in a meaningful way.”
- When asked later if the term “brothers” reflected a softening of the government’s approach to the Taliban, she responded: “Hardly. The Taliban are a terrorist group and yet they claim to be Muslims. The reference to brothers is a cultural reference of course but let me be very clear, we do not support the Taliban, we are horrified the hard-won gains of the past 20 years are at stake. There are terrorists taking over my beloved ancestral land. In terms of the terminology, if you go to masjids across the country, Muslims refer to each other as brothers and sisters, so, you know, rest assured I continue to believe deeply that the Taliban are a terrorist organization.”
- Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole criticized Monsef’s remarks on Wednesday: “The language used by the Trudeau government is completely unacceptable. I think of the women and girls in Afghanistan who are at risk with the Taliban regime once again coming into place. Canadians deserve a government that will always stand up for our values.”
- This is not the first time Monsef has been in hot water over stupid comments. In November last year, Monsef accidentally left her microphone on during vote in the House of Commons while participating virtually on Zoom. As result the camera showed her saying "The question they're going to ask me — how much do I make now? Like 250?" As a Cabinet Minister her annual salary at the time as $269,800.00.
- In September 2016 it was revealed that she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan as she had previously claimed, which could have led to revocation of her Canadian citizenship and potential deportation, something that the Trudeau government had frequently done to others that falsified their immigration papers.
- And this does not even begin to cover her bungling of the electoral reform portfolio as Minister of Democratic Institutions. By and large, Monsef has been a failure of a cabinet minister.
- But what of the mission in Afghanistan? Canada announced on Thursday it had halted evacuations of its citizens and vulnerable Afghans who worked for Western nations in Afghanistan, admitting it did not know how many were left behind. Just days before Kabul fell to the Taliban in a lightning advance, Canada said it had identified 6,000 Afghans for evacuation. In the end, only 3,700 Canadian citizens and Afghans were flown out.
- Advocates said Canada’s rescue effort was half-hearted, falling far short of what other allies were doing. Trudeau has been pressed on Afghanistan on every day of the campaign so far. Last Friday, a reporter read out a message from a person with relatives trapped in Afghanistan who told the prime minister that “their blood will be on your hands” if any were killed by the Taliban.
- Canada withdrew the bulk of its troops from Afghanistan in 2011, but participated in a NATO mission to train the Afghan military until 2014 and continued to have diplomats and aid workers on the ground.
- Andrew Leslie, a retired Canadian general and former head of the army who was a Liberal MP from 2015 to 2019 was also critical of the evacuation: “Canada’s poor initial response in Kabul points to an extreme of centralized political micro-management.”
- Adding to the awkwardness for Trudeau is the fact that his main rival, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole, is a decorated former Air Force helicopter navigator who served for 13 years. O’Toole stressed his military experience in his remarks, and took Trudeau to task for the bungled withdrawal: “The situation on the ground is heartbreaking … Mr. Trudeau has abandoned people there. (Trudeau) has had years to make sure that people who were at risk because they had served Canada are taken out of the country … [but] he put his political interests ahead of a crisis there.”
- The failures in Afghanistan are too many to all be discussed here, but the biggest failure of all is the total abandonment of our allies, interpreters and refugees who were counting on the Canadian government to repay their debts. Unfortunately, Trudeau has run out of time. And we can only hope that people can escape from the treatment of Monsef's 'brothers'.
- China’s influence on the western economy is something that most people take for granted but there are times when we need to ask the hard questions about China.
- The country was brought into the World Trade Organization by the Clinton administration in the 1990s and this harmed our economies greatly. China also manipulates its currency so that it is able to more easily compete in world markets.
- This is all something that should be second hand knowledge but it isn’t.
- Not only are the products made on our store shelves often from China, our ships are too.
- A state owned shipyard is building a 1,000 passenger ferry that will be used by a federal crown corporation on the east coast between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Marine Atlantic Inc. awarded a $100m 5 year ferry charter contract to Sweden’s Stena North Sea Ltd that subcontracted to the state owned China Merchants Industry’s Jinling shipyard.
- This of course comes at a time when Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been held in prison in China and another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg has been sentenced to death.
- The Chinese company was also contracted to supply the Northwest Territories with four double hulled barges worth $20m.
- These deals were of course approved by the Liberal government in Ottawa, the same government that has allowed Chinese influence to seep into our government agencies.
- Colin Cooke, president of the Canadian Marine Industries and Shipbuilding Association questioned if the “competitive” procurement process was fair since Stena North Sea can take advantage of China’s heavily subsidized shipping industry.
- There’s a huge problem with this story, and that’s that the infrastructure to build ships like these already exists in Canada.
- Tara Laing, a spokesperson for Marine Atlantic, said that the contract was open to international and domestic bidders and the fact the ship would be built by a state owned company in China was not a decision making factor.
- Not a factor. That means the government didn’t care.
- Those who can put two and two together will know that this means the government didn’t care about Canadian jobs.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said to a committee in June that, “China of 2021 isn’t the same China of 2016, and Canada’s approach needs to evolve with an evolving China.”
- The official line from the government is that they have changed how they deal with China and this contract would not have been signed today.
- When it comes to national security and ultimately the jobs of Canadians, ‘this is how we would do it now’ doesn’t cut it.
- Alex Vicefield, the chairman and CEO of Inocea Group which owns Davie Shipyard in Quebec said that there’s no reason to have the ferry built outside of Canada and that constructing the ferry “would be simpler than all the major programs which Davie has undertaken in the past nine years.”
- The argument is often made that when it comes to trade and international cooperation, what’s good for China can benefit us all, but that’s not entirely the case.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies says that China has fed $132b USD into its shipping and shipbuilding sector since 2010.
- China is also said to have a “Made in China 2025” strategy that will further develop the country’s manufacturing and shipping is one of the areas of focus.
- That’s one thing on itself but the Chinese state government provides support both directly and indirectly. These methods of support include direct cash payments, cheap financing and fundraising, tax incentives and concessions, barriers for foreign firms, state directed industrial consolidation, forced technology transfer, and intellectual property theft.
- We are not competing on an even playing field with China and buying from them on something so massive only furthers their ambitions and puts our security at stake.
- This is a story that should’ve been front and centre in week 2 of the election campaign but only got a tiny amount of coverage.
- British Columbia announced Monday that it will require proof of vaccination for people attending certain social and recreational events. One dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be required for entry as of Sept. 13. By Oct. 24, officials said entry will require people to be fully vaccinated at least seven days after receiving both doses.
- In B.C., people aged 12 and up will be required to show proof to enter indoor ticketed sporting events, movie theatres, indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres, casinos and indoor events such as conferences and weddings. The passport will not apply to indoor religious gatherings, retail, grocery stores or the health care system, but there will not be any exemptions for those who are not able to take the vaccine for medical reasons or those who do not want to take it for religious reasons.
- Human rights lawyers say they are hearing from many people who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons.
- Vancouver lawyer Laura Track says: “The people that we’re hearing from at the Human Rights Clinic are people with allergies to components of the vaccine, maybe people who received a first dose and had a reaction to the shot and have been advised by their doctor not to get the second shot.”
- Track says she expects the passport mandate to be challenged in court: “Our human rights laws in Canada protect people from discrimination on the basis of both disability and religious grounds,” she said.
- Anxiety is building for Stanley Woodvine, a man living on Vancouver’s streets about what the COVID-19 vaccine card system will mean for the homeless: “The basic concern is that very many homeless people do not have sufficient identification. They specifically do not have photo ID, and if you do not have photo ID, as I understand, you will not be able to authenticate the proof of vaccination card,” he explained.
- He worries that means people like him, without photo ID, will be excluded from a number places — places that are often sought as refuge from the weather — such as fast food restaurants and coffee shops.
- A secure weblink will be provided and publicized before Sept. 13, where people will be able to confidentially access their proof of vaccination. Individuals will be able to save a copy to their phone to show it when entering or using designated businesses and events. People who cannot access their records online will be provided with a secure alternative option, officials said.
- Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said: “This is a temporary measure that is getting us through a risky period, where we know that people who are unvaccinated are at greater risk of both contracting and spreading this virus. They will not be able to attend those events through this period of time of high risk. There are no exemptions for other reasons as well.”
- On Friday, B.C. reported 663 new cases of COVID-19. The rolling 7-day average for new cases became 543 cases per day. A month ago, the average was 74.
- The spike has been driven almost exclusively by people who are unvaccinated, and has, for now, for mostly centralized in the Kelowna area. But health officials have expressed concerns the virus is moving to surge in other parts of the province.
- Along with the vaccine passport news, B.C. has reintroduced a mask mandate for public indoor spaces across the entire province.
- Citing rising case counts in the province Henry said, "We now know that there is still a need for certain measures to be taken. The mask mandate is one of those additional layers that we're putting in place as we transition through the fall."
- On Friday, BC's rolling 7-day average for new cases became 543 cases per day. A month ago, the average was 74. The spike has been driven almost exclusively by people who are unvaccinated, mostly in the Kelowna area, with areas outside of Kelowna not experiencing much of an increase.
- Originally, BC was to move to stage 4 of reopening on September 7th. It's clear that will not be happening now, and that we will be stuck under restrictions for the foreseeable future.
- The BC government is also threatening businesses that do not comply with the order with forced closure: “We expect all relevant businesses to comply with public health orders, and the Province will be engaging with them over the next several weeks to support them with this work. If individuals or businesses do not comply, there are enforcement measures, such as closure, that can be considered.”
- The system is supposed to be in place until at least the end of January 2022. However, B.C.’s top doctor says things will be reviewed on a monthly basis. As we've seen so often this week, deadlines don't really mean anything.
- Our election is well underway and many people are asking what the gameplay from Team Trudeau is going to be.
- There seems to be little in the form of ideas that couldn’t been done with the existing mandate.
- The party has employed wedge issue after wedge issue. They’ve tried vaccinations, abortion, and now privatization of healthcare.
- Here at Western Context we’ve long said that Canada could have a Trump figure emerge at any point in time.
- Many people thought it would be the Conservatives or parties further to the right of the Conservatives, but that Trump figure emerged this week.
- That person is… Justin Trudeau himself along with his campaign.
- This past weekend Twitter Canada labeled a video posted by Chrystia Freeland, candidate for University-Rosedale in Toronto.
- Her campaign posted a video making it seem like Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives favoured private healthcare.
- That’s this week's wedge issue.
- Private health care already exists in Canada. When you go to the dentist, eye doctor, podiatrist, or for physiotherapy these are all carried out by private clinics which are for the most part covered by our existing public system.
- The Tweeted video shows the Conservative leader being asked if he would bring in “private for-profit healthcare” and in the doctored video he quickly responds yes.
- In the full video however, Erin O’Toole still says that universal access remains paramount.
- The full passage can be heard as follows: https://youtu.be/kI_H94F6mWs?t=61 to 3:00
- Media coverage on the fake news created by the Liberals in outlets showed the full clip and highlighted what was taken out of context.
- But this ignores one very important point that has defined the campaign and no one has realized this yet.
- That point is that the Liberal campaign is being based on mistruths and misinformation.
- First it was the vaccines. Will the Conservatives and Erin O’Toole require federal workers to be vaccinated? What if they aren’t? Same plan as the Conservatives.
- Trudeau suggested the Conservatives would also ban abortion or try to limit it, that also didn’t work and is nowhere in the platform or on anything when elected.
- And now today we also find out that when needling the Conservatives on whether or not their candidates are vaccinated, it also turns out that the Liberals are in the exact same boat.
- What is this at its core? It’s a collection of mistruths and misinformation spread on social media and the candidates including Justin Trudeau himself for the Liberals they refuse to admit it and refuse to apologize.
- This has been going on for years but for some reason the media now just only noticed.
- The only question left is who’s going to make the comparison that this is exactly what US President Donald Trump employed to drive the media cycle.
- The only outlet that realized that this week was a Toronto Sun opinion piece by Warren Kinsella.
- Trump style politics has arrived in Canada.
Word of the Week
Brother - a man or boy in relation to other sons and daughters of his parents, a male associate or fellow member of an organization, a male of the same religion as the speaker, a male member of a religious order
Quote of the Week
“I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban. We call on you to ensure the safe and secure passage of any individual in Afghanistan out of the country. We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings” - Liberal Minister of Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef on the crisis in Afghanistan
How to Find Us
Episode Title: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Teaser: Maryam Monsef refers to the Taliban as ‘our brothers’, A Chinese shipyard is building Canadian ships, and BC institutes a vaccine passport and mandatory masks. Also, Twitter labels a Chrystia Freeland tweet of O’Toole as being ‘manipulated media’.
Recorded Date: August 27, 2021
Release Date: August 29, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes