The (Right) News Rundown
- There have been around 500 wildfires in British Columbia so far in 2017 and more than two-thirds of them were human caused, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
- On Thursday, crews began battling two new fires, one on Vancouver Island and another near 100 Mile House, which quickly grew to 140 hectares in size, then expanded to nearly 400 hectares just a few hours later.
- With the fire danger at extreme in some parts of the province, campfire bans are in place and officials are pleading with the public to behave responsibly and follow restrictions. "Definitely, with a certain percentage of the population, there's an air of indifference. Some are just oblivious too," said Jeff Bush, an assistant chief with West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
- "Most human-caused fires can be traced back to a recklessly discarded cigarette butt or a badly extinguished campfire, said Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service. "It's not often we see these as being done intentionally in the form of arson, just due to complacency and ignorance." Despite the late arrival of summer, much of the province is already tinder dry and at a high risk of igniting, he said.
- Last year, the province spent $122 million fighting 1,050 wildfires, 54 per cent of which were human caused. According to data from the B.C. Wildfire Service, the 2015 fire season was devastating and expensive, costing the province $287 million, more than twice the 10-year average.
- The province of British Columbia has declared a state of emergency, as wildfires burn out of control throughout most of the Interior.
- "The extended weather forecast is calling for continued hot, dry weather, with risks of thunderstorms in many parts of the province," the province said in a written statement Friday.
- Nearly 2,000 B.C. firefighters continued to fight aggressive wildfires across the province on Saturday and will be joined by hundreds more from across the country in coming days.
- John Rustad, B.C.'s minister of forests, lands and natural resources operations, said 260 firefighters are due to arrive in B.C. by Monday or Tuesday. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said his province was sending three aircraft and 30 firefighters.
- So far, around 7,000 people in the Interior and Cariboo regions have been forced from their homes. As of recording, evacuations remain in place for the entire towns of Cache Creek and Ashcroft, and places near Williams Lake, 100 Mile House as well as Princeton and Harrison Hot Springs further south. Roads are being shut down including parts of the Trans Canada Highway near Kamloops and Highway 97 going north to Williams Lake, due to the fast moving fires.
- With the province continuing to burn, it is suspected that almost all of the biggest and most devastating forest fires are caused by people. The question remains, what can we do about it to prevent it from happening in the future?
- With the Bank of Canada talking about raising interest rates, Alberta has once again come under the microscope for its borrowing practices.
- DBRS Limited says that Alberta’s rating will remain at AA-high but the long term ratings have been changed to negative from stable and downgrade could be possible within the year. The reasoning for this is that Alberta continues sustained deficit spending and shows no path to balance.
- Just as with personal credit cards the credit rating affects how much Alberta pays to borrow money. While the NDP government says that the books can be balanced by 2024, DBRS is not convinced.
- The Alberta government doesn’t see this as a problem because in their view, we’re still better than the rest. Finance Minister Joe Ceci said, “Alberta’s economy is expected to lead the country this year in economic growth, and jobs are returning. Our balance sheet remains the strongest in Canada and we continue to have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among the provinces.” He also points out that our credit rating is _among_ the highest in Canada.
- To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a speech to a cheering crowd in Ottawa on July 1st, highlighting all the provinces and territories.
- All except for one.
- From Trudeau's speech: “We may live in British Columbia, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland or Labrador…but we embrace that diversity while knowing in our hearts we are all Canadians,” he said during his speech at Rideau Hall.
- Trudeau's speechwriters had put Alberta in the list, and it may never be clear if Trudeau simply forgot to mention the province of over 4 million people or if he deliberately excluded it, but it's something that certainly created a lot of buzz over social media.
- Many either excused it as a slip of the tongue, but many viewed it as bringing up the age old criticism dating back to Trudeau's father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau that the Liberals, and Trudeau Prime Ministers in particular, don't care about the West, especially Alberta.
- Many articles mentioned that Trudeau apologized for the slip on Twitter. His apology tweet in question was: "Got too excited somewhere over the Rockies. Sorry Alberta, I love you. Happy Canada Day!"
- Soon after the gaffe, Trudeau and his wife specially went over to Peter Mansbridge and the CBC staff and did an impromptu interview, with many hugs, handshakes and smiles. Mansbridge, who is retiring, did not ask Trudeau about the slip, but then later on mentioned in his newscast that he thinks it was a "simple mistake" and that "he's apologized for it". He mentioned it quite a few further times to try and excuse away the slip.
- Mansbridge then talked to CBC political analyst Rosemary Barton and tried to get her to weigh in on the issue, and get her opinion on if he "turned it around enough". Barton then said it was an "honest mistake" and that it was "unfortunate that it was Alberta that he forgot because then the Conservatives will be able to jump all over the Prime Minister as they have in the past, suggesting he doesn't think enough about Alberta when there's an oil downturn or some sort of problem there."
- Having the senior CBC reporters brush the problem under the rug and then take jabs at the Conservatives and Alberta's economic problems is something that the media should not be doing. The media's job is to report the news, not try to get us to forget about it, and certainly to not take such an obvious partisan stance about an issue that will anger a lot of people in the West who already feel marginalized by the federal government's decisions.
The Firing Line
- “The federal government has formally apologized to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, confirming Friday a financial settlement has been reached to end ongoing legal action.
- A little bit of a history regarding Omar Khadr:
- Omar Khadr was born in Canada in 1986. In 1995 his father was arrested in connection with the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. Khadr Sr. being a Canadian citizen drew the attention of the then Chretien government. Jean Chretien raised the issue with the Pakistani government and Khadr Sr. was released. The family then returns to Canada in 1996 for a short period and then moves to Afghanistan where the live with Osama bin Laden. While this is happening the children (including Omar Khadr) receive terrorist training and the family makes annual trips to Toronto to visit family and collect money. Fast forward to 2002 the United States and Canada are in Afghanistan. On July 27, 2002 a U.S. unit assault a taliban compound containing Omar Khadr and other terrorists. U.S. forces are injured and ultimately U.S. army medic Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer is killed by a grenade that was thrown by Khadr. Khadr is then shot but remains alive and was transferred to U.S. custody. After being detained and questioned in Afghanistan he is transferred to the prisoner of war camp at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. In February 2003 still under the Chretien government Canadian intelligence forces question Khadr in Cuba. Through 2005 to 2010 we see a number of legal battles against the Canadian government levied by Khadr under the guise that his charter values were threatened. In 2010 Jurors of a military court find Khadr guilty on 5 counts of war crimes and is sentenced to 40 years in prison. A pre-trial deal limited his sentence to 8 years. Under this agreement he was also about to be repatriated (brought back to Canada) after serving 1 year in a U.S. facility. In April 2012 Khadr’s transfer orders are signed by the Obama Department of Defence. He serves a year at Millhaven institution near Kingston, ON. In 2013 he is transferred to the maximum security prison in Edmonton. In 2014 Khadr is transferred to the medium security prison in Bowden, AB (south of Red Deer). In April 2015 Khadr is granted bail in Edmonton and later on in May he is released.
- While all this was happening a U.S. civil court ordered that the Khadr family pay $102m to the widow of Sgt. Christopher Speer and the family of the other soldier injured in the 2002 attack. What’s often missing from media coverage is the fact that several were injured in the attack that Khadr took part in and there was one killed. One killed who left a widow and two children.
- "On behalf of the government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement released to reporters Friday.”
- In line with the financial settlement the federal government has paid Omar Khadr $10.5m. Khadr had initially sued the federal government for $20m for breaching his civil rights.
- The government also goes on to say:
- "It is not about previous behaviour on the battlefield in Afghanistan; it is about the acts and other decisions the Canadian government took against Mr. Khadr after he was captured and detained.”
- Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer called the deal “disgusting” and a “secret deal” that was put together by the government. Scheer also rightly states that any blame on the former Harper government is wrongly placed. It was the Chretien government who allowed Khadr’s father and family to come to Canada. It was the Chretien government who was in power when the attack happened. And, it was the Paul Martin government that allowed CSIS to interrogate Khadr in Guantanamo Bay.
- This issue even had former Prime Minister Stephen Harper jumping into the discussion via Facebook in a post which gained over 12,000 shares and 28,000 likes:
- “The government today attempted to lay blame elsewhere for their decision to conclude a secret deal with Omar Khadr. The decision to enter into this deal is theirs, and theirs alone, and it is simply wrong. Canadians deserve better than this. Today my thoughts are with Tabitha Speer and the families of all Canadian and allied soldiers who paid the ultimate price fighting to protect us.”
- The former Prime Minister makes an excellent point regarding his thoughts being with Tabitha Speer and the families of all Canadian and allied soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror. Along with this The Rebel has begun a funding campaign for the Speer family. They have launched a website at SpeerKids.com with the aim of raising $1 million. A day into their funding a total of $16,660 CAD has been raised. While the Canadian government is busy paying a former terrorist private citizens have risen and are sending money to the Speer family.
- This story sets a dangerous precedent for any potential terrorists with Canadian roots. While not all media will talk about the family involved or how massive this settlement is, there are those who are willing to talk about it. Commentator Andrew Lawton has called for Khadr to be treated as an enemy combatant and tried for treason. The reason: he picked up arms against Canada and our allies. As per our criminal code, “[anyone who] assists an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are” is guilty of high treason which carries a life sentence.
- This deal wasn’t mandated by the courts, it was the government attempting to get ahead of the issue and put it to bed. This story wreaks incomplete facts as perpetrated by the media. Khadr is often labeled a child soldier or the victim of a harsh prison sentence. It appears as though the vast majority of journalists covering Khadr aren’t aware of World War 2 and the convention of prisoners of war. Canadians are already split on the Khadr stories and could do well with some honest reporting and journalism from our media. After all, it’s not every day that an entire family revolves around terrorism, including family members that publicly praised Osama bin Laden.
Word of the Week
lack of knowledge or information: he acted in ignorance of basic procedures.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Dangers of Ignorance
Teaser: Ignorance causing forest fires in BC, the Alberta government doesn’t seem concerned about another credit rating downgrade, Trudeau forgets to mention Alberta on July 1st and the CBC sweeps it under the rug, and Trudeau pays $10.5M to Omar Khadr.
Recorded Date: July 8, 2017
Release Date: July 8, 2017
Edit Notes: None