The News Rundown
- Two months after the federal election that resulted in a House of Commons looking largely the same, a new session of Parliament began this week.
- Due to the efforts of the opposition Anthony Rota will continue as Speaker. It’s Anthony Rota who the Trudeau government tried to take to court regarding the unveiling of documents regarding the Winnipeg lab leak.
- As is tradition with a new session comes a new throne speech.
- The throne speech was read by Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General Mary Simon in English, French, and Inuktitut.
- The throne speech lays out the government’s priorities for the upcoming session.
- The focus is on the traditional Trudeau Liberal platforms: building the economy in his own view, fighting climate change, making childcare deals, pursuing reconciliation, and ending the pandemic.
- The pandemic plank of course is predicated on vaccination at this point until the game changes significantly which it may.
- The government also sees the recent flooding in BC as an opportunity to “strengthen action to prevent and prepare for floods, wildfires, droughts, coastline erosion and other extreme weather worsened by climate change.”
- $10 a day daycare with the provinces is also on the menu.
- Along with renewed bills for gun control, banning conversion therapy, and supporting Canadian culture and creative industries.
- The point remains that everything this government has listed so far has been on the table pre-election and is being offered as new promises.
- We need to take a step back and ask ourselves if anything has really changed because, new Parliament, new session, and new MPs might mean things have changed. Right?
- Wrong. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has already said the government has “run out of ideas and run out of steam.”
- The Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-François Blanchet said, “There is just an assemblage of 24 pages of completely empty words. Even read slowly, the throne speech is short so that prompts me to conclude, unfortunately, that I have absolutely no reason to vote in favour of the throne speech. I have no reason to vote against the throne speech.”
- Early indications look as though that the Bloc will support the speech. The NDP have not indicated their support. And the Conservatives being the official opposition have a 99% chance of not supporting the document.
- This shows that no one really has changed since the election and this parliament will likely end in the same way as the last one did.
- The fact that neither the NDP or Bloc are jumping up and down to support the speech is worrying and it shows that the media in this country declares “minority governments” far too early.
- The government will likely survive but as to how productive this Parliament will be is up for debate.
- There are of course the big topics that the government and media are not talking about.
- Inflation was mentioned just one time in the document. This comes in a week when inflation hit a 20 year high and given the way it’s measured, it’s probably higher.
- The Conservatives used their time in the house to press the government on inflation but every question on the matter was redirected back to something like childcare or women in the workforce.
- Canada also of course faces a housing bubble in our large cities that’s amplified by the rising costs of living. Nothing to be seen in the document on that matter.
- The ever increasing nature of a hostile China was not mentioned, in fact China was not mentioned at all.
- And what’s to be the biggest economic pressure point, something that should have been entirely avoidable was not mentioned either: trade spats with our neighbour and ally, the United States.
- The automotive industry or forestry industry was not mentioned. Two sectors targeted by the US administration.
- The auto industry was covered last week and this week new tariffs placed on Canadian softwood hurting producers.
- It was the last Conservative government in 2006 that negotiated a new softwood lumber deal that later expired in 2015.
- If our country was an island and we were truly isolated from the rest of the world you could make an argument for this throne speech working, but that’s not the case.
- With efforts to cap and cut oil and gas emissions and pursue 100% net zero electricity while ignoring the energy industry, our economy is on a path to become even more fragile.
- The question of course becomes, when will Canadians have had enough of rising prices and general economic malaise that the government will be forced to act?
- That could’ve happened during the election but the media’s coverage of the impending inflation crisis was pitiful and only now is it an issue in their eyes.
- We’ll see if and when it becomes an issue in the eyes of Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.
- While BC has been recovering from the devastating floods that swept over the province last week, the BC NDP has unveiled their permanent paid sick leave program. All workers in B.C. will be eligible for five days of sick pay per year as of Jan. 1, the province announced Wednesday. Businesses will be legally required to provide the days to their employees.
- In May, the province gave all workers up to three days of paid sick leave to support those affected by COVID-19 until Dec. 31. At the time, Labour Minister Harry Bains said the number of sick days under a permanent program would be determined through consultation.
- Premier John Horgan said: “Beginning in the new year, workers will no longer lose pay for making the responsible choice of taking a sick day. The pandemic has highlighted that when workers don’t have paid sick leave, it’s bad for them, it’s bad for their coworkers and it’s bad for their employers.”
- The BC Federation of Labour advocated for 10 days of leave, arguing that other OECD countries like Australia, New Zealand and Sweden meet that bar or surpass it. Horgan’s government settled on five days after assessing the impacts of the province’s temporary three-day program.
- An evaluation of the temporary program, which allowed for sick days for any COVID-19 symptom, found that most workers did not need additional sick days on top of what was already provided. More than 60,000 people participated in the engagement.
- It also seems that businesses are on board with the sick day plan as well. The survey also found 98 per cent of businesses felt that workers did not abuse the temporary Covid paid sick leave program. Feedback from the workplaces that already provide paid sick leave found that most workers take between zero and five days of sick leave each year.
- Before this legislation, about half of B.C. employees did not have access to paid sick leave. During a two-month period at the height of the pandemic, workplace outbreaks led to nearly 200 businesses being shut down in the Fraser Health region alone.
- Bains said: “Many of the people who lack paid sick leave are the same workers we depended on most during the pandemic: lower-wage workers who help us get our groceries, prepare our food at restaurants, and make sure we have the services we need deserve a basic protection like paid sick leave.”
- Provincial Health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry agreed with the legislation: “We have learned in this pandemic how important it is for workers to be able to stay home if they are sick. Paid sick leave is one more way we can support workers and help prevent the transmission of disease. It gives people the means to stay away from work if they’re sick and reduces the risk to their co-workers or others they come in contact with through their jobs.”
- However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that this move will put more burdens on small businesses struggling to survive. CFIB president Dan Kelly says the decision from the BC government to implement five days of permanent paid sick days is tone-deaf to the realities small businesses are facing. Recent CFIB survey results show local businesses are in no position to afford this new program set to come into effect with only 38 days’ notice on January 1, 2022.
- Kelly said: “We are disappointed the BC government has not acknowledged or taken into consideration the challenges and realities struggling small businesses are facing and call on the government to offset these new costs immediately. All of this is coming at a time when the average BC small business is carrying $129,348 in COVID-19 related debt and estimates it will take around 21 months to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”
- However, the BC Federation of Labour was advocating for at least a minimum of 10 paid sick days per year. Its president Laird Cronk said: “This is an important achievement for public health and safer workplaces. But we’re disappointed that it’s only half the 10-day standard that science supports and that is the overwhelming preference of British Columbians.”
- So, to put it simply, the BC NDP chose the middle of the road option by going with 5 days instead. They said the decision was made with small businesses in mind, considering businesses will pick up the cost after many struggled through COVID-19 impacts.
- The legislation will include part time employees, but does not cover federally regulated sectors. The federal government has mandated 10 days of sick leave for all workers in federally regulated workplaces and has promised to pass that legislation by the end of the year.
- This legislation can be viewed as a protection for workers as well as businesses, as coming to work sick has long been viewed as a surefire way to infect everyone in the workplace. With these supports in place, fewer businesses will have to close at a time when workers are harder to find. At the same time, adding more costs to businesses struggling to stay afloat is undesirable, and we hope that the government has done its due diligence to prevent that from happening.
- Last weekend most of the media had themselves convinced that we’d see a major push into Jason Kenney’s leadership at the UCP Annual General meeting.
- That didn’t happen. While there were people there who disagreed with Kenney, with the COVID policies that had been put in place, and wanted to see Kenney gone, the convention was civil and there was no immediate push to remove Kenney.
- The most surprising thing to come out of the convention was that former Wildrose leader and floor crosser to the PCs Danielle Smith said she’d be interested in leading the party if Kenney were to leave. We’ll of course have more on that should that happen.
- But, this week there has been a perfect storm of environmental activism that seems all too coordinated but as per usual there is a dark horse that the media is missing.
- We’re not talking about David Suzuki suggesting that “pipelines will be blown up” if there’s no action on climate change.
- He later recanted but had anyone else said something similar, they’d have been cancelled at warp speed.
- Jason Kenney in particular took issue with this and a CBC reporter tried to run cover for David Suzuki but Suzuki’s actions of recanting speak volumes.
- Also this week about 100 people gathered in downtown Edmonton and marched across the high level bridge in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in opposing a pipeline project in BC.
- If this sounds familiar to you it’s because it was due to this project and the Wet’suwet’en chiefs that our railways and critical infrastructure were paralyzed in February 2020 before COVID struck.
- This spurred Alberta’s Bill 1 of the legislature session, the Critical Defence of Infrastructure Act that made it illegal to block infrastructure in the province. This Bill can also be used to prevent people from blocking access to healthcare facilities.
- This protest involved 100 people in a city of 1 million and by and large this issue has died down since February 2020 but what you may not have heard is that the Alberta NDP stand in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.
- The Alberta NDP provincial council passed a motion that read, “For the ANDP to express its solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation, denounce the violence enacted against members of Wet’suwet’en First Nation and land defenders by the RCMP and to call for the immediate withdrawal of the RCMP from Wet’suwet’en territory; and call for the halting of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project until the free, prior and informed consent of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is given."
- Media reporting if you were lucky mentioned the NDP standing with the First Nation but did not mention their support for the halting of the Coastal GasLink project.
- This resolution passed by the policy council was also endorsed by MLAs including Janis Irwin and Richard Feehan.
- People often forget that the Alberta NDP at their core membership level are incredibly hostile to the Canadian energy economy. This is because of the policies they pass and their link to the federal branch of the party.
- Prior to becoming NDP leader, Rachel Notley attended numerous anti-pipeline protests at the Alberta legislature as did the then sedan sized caucus of 4 back then.
- The act of blocking Coastal GasLink would defy an order from the BC Supreme Court but also would throw a huge number of questions into our energy economy.
- The NDP have also launched an initiative to do better in rural Alberta where they were shut out last election. It’s due to their energy policies and general administration of all things rural that saw them shut out.
- People in rural Alberta will not forget. The people of the more progressive parts of Calgary and Edmonton as a whole will vote for progressive parties but must be aware of the NDP’s anti-energy stance.
- By ignoring half of what the NDP provincial council did, the media is doing the province a disservice.
- Questions should have immediately gone out to Rachel Notley about whether she supports the council’s stance and if her policy towards the Alberta energy industry would change if elected in 2023.
- They didn’t ask that question today and didn’t in 2015. Our goal is to make sure everyone knows what the NDP stands for as the 2023 election becomes closer.
- It is said that political turmoil and social upheaval is the breeding ground for extremism. It is also important to note that even in a country as stable as Canada, this extremism has taken root in places around the country where you might least expect. It's important that we as a nation are vigilant against any threat of extremism, and not allow cults like QAnon to get rooted and established in our country.
- Our firing line has a story that so far has flown completely under the radar of the mainstream media, and has so far only appeared on social media and Vice News of all places. A Canadian adherent of the American conspiracy movement known as QAnon has attempted to mobilize her following of 70,000 members on Telegram, a chat program known for its lax rules, in a confusing collection of militarist statements, modern-day spirituality, and postings about intergalactic beings.
- Romana Didulo, who had previously called herself "Queen of the Kingdom of Canada", sent out orders to her followers that "duck hunting season" in Canada was now open. Didulo, a woman from Victoria who has convinced tens of thousands of QAnon adherents that she’s the supposed secret ruler of Canada, called for her "duck hunters" to target certain groups of people. These include health care workers administering COVID-19 vaccines to children, politicians, journalists, and others who Qanon believes make up the cabal at the heart of the crazy QAnon conspiracy. The so-called 'duck hunters' include what Didulo says are "secretive military veterans" that she's apparently planning to bring in from the US.
- Didulo demanded the mass arrests of those they consider opposition, and wanted her soldiers to take control of newspapers and seize the border: saying that her followers should “Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines.”
- Unfortunately, Didulo's following is neither small nor passive. Over the summer, the British Columbian woman mobilized her audience into sending out thousands of cease-and- desist letters across North America (some have recently popped up in Europe) demanding businesses, governments, and police forces stop all activities related to combating the pandemic.
- Threats and violence against healthcare workers have been constant since COVID-19 vaccinations started rolling out earlier this year, and have ramped up after jurisdictions greenlit the vaccine for children. Canada just approved the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11-year-olds last week.
- It’s unknown how many followers take Didulo and her tactics seriously, but experts say there’s cause for concern. Many QAnon adherents have been involved in violent acts like murders or kidnappings and the FBI has warned the violence may only increase with time.
- Alex Mendela, a researcher who works on The Q Origins Project, said that up until this point Didulo had yet to order her audience to violence directly, an that he’s concerned about “one of her followers actually taking it seriously, getting riled-up by all the urgent rhetoric and frustrated that he/she/they are not receiving clear directives, and taking matters into their own hands with self-directed violence.”
- Peter Smith, a journalist with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network who recently penned a story on Didulo said that her “real power has always been the ability to mobilize (her) following into types of real-world action.”
- Smith says: “In the time we have spent monitoring her numerous channels, that following has more than tripled and the rhetoric from Didulo has only grown more severe, culminating in calls for armed action to be taken by people from both the U.S. and Canada. We do not know how many, if any, of her audience have decided to heed the call to go ‘duck hunting’ in Canada, but with such a large and engaged base of supporters, it is extremely worrying.”
- We at Western Context expressly condemn QAnon and other cult-like conspiracy theory movements, and that it's important for our listeners to be aware of the dangers of letting this type of thinking fester in Canada. We hope that people like Didulo are brought to justice for their incitement of violence and that groups like this will be dissolved. We cannot allow these sorts of movements to spread in Canada.
Word of the Week
Cult - a system of misplaced religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object, often regarded by others as strange or sinister
Quote of the Week
“There is just an assemblage of 24 pages of completely empty words. Even read slowly, the throne speech is short so that prompts me to conclude, unfortunately, that I have absolutely no reason to vote in favour of the throne speech. I have no reason to vote against the throne speech.” - BQ leader Yves-François Blanchet on Trudeau’s Throne speech
How to Find Us
Episode Title: 24 Empty Pages
Teaser: Trudeau’s throne speech promises more of the same, BC brings in 5 days of sick leave for workers, and the Alberta NDP condemns BC’s Coastal Gaslink pipeline. Also, we discuss and condemn the infiltration of the QAnon cult into Canada.
Recorded Date: November 26, 2021
Release Date: November 28, 2021
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes