The (Right) News Rundown
- Alberta Conservative Parties Choose Unity
- Today on July 22, 2017 both the Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of unity.
- Each party had different thresholds for the vote, 75% for the Wildrose and 50% for the PCs.
- The Wildrose opted for unity voting 95% in favour. 24,598 voted, 23,466 voted yes.
- The PCs also overwhelming voted for unity with 95% in support. They had 27,060 votes with 25,692 voting yes.
- In the coming days the Wildrose and PC parties will be dissolved and a new party, The United Conservative Party, will be registered with Elections Alberta.
- A combined caucus meeting has already been scheduled for early in the week. At that meeting the caucus will choose an interim leader to run the party before the leadership vote this October.
- Brian Jean had this to offer on the result: “We’ve seen this renewal in the past. From Peter Lougheed to Ralph Klein, a moment in history when conservatives in this province and ordinary working folk said it’s time for something new, and it’s time to have new leadership that sticks up for the regular people of our province. I am excited to get to work in supporting a new United Conservative Party.”
- On Twitter and live at the PC event in Calgary, Jason Kenney commented, “To those who voted "YES:" thank-you for putting Alberta first. You have given hope back to Albertans. You have made history.” and “To those who voted "no:" we need & want you in the United Party! If you have concerns, please express them through your active involvement.”
- Brian Jean and Jason Kenney are expected to announce their candidacy shortly. Derek Fildebrandt, Wildrose finance critic is also expected to throw his hat in the ring. Fildebrandt said he'll wait until the rules of the race are set before announcing his plans. Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer has already thrown his hat in the ring.
- Deputy Premier and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said on Twitter, “#ucp offers combination of #pcaa entitlement plus #wrp extremism & cuts. It all adds up to pain for #Alberta families.”
- "This weekend was really about the parties being ready to embrace the worst in each other," Hoffman said in an interview from Edmonton. She said the Wildrose are signing on to a PC party famous for its self-serving entitlements and the PCs are linking up with a Wildrose team determined to make life worse for Albertans by promising budget cuts estimated to run into the billions of dollars.
- It’s worthy to note that this was the only comment from the NDP caucus this afternoon. Hoffman’s tweet was re-tweeted by a couple MLAs including the Premier herself.
- Lots of coverage on newly sworn in BC NDP Premier John Horgan, who unveiled his cabinet picks this past Tuesday. Prior to that, he had promised a gender-balanced cabinet that would draw on all regions of the province, even though the NDP have only four MLAs outside Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. While the new 22 minister cabinet is indeed gender balanced, 14 are from the Metro Vancouver region, 5 are from Vancouver Island, and only 3 from other places in BC. One of the NDP’s big problems is the party’s glaring lack of representation in the rural regions of the province, which Christy Clark’s Liberals dominated in the election.
- He has also appointed visible minorities and the first First Nations woman appointed to a B.C. cabinet; with Melanie Mark named as advanced education minister. There was thought he would name Bowinn Ma and Ravi Kahlon to cabinet as both MLAs are under 40, both are from South Asian backgrounds, and both won swing ridings the NDP lost four years ago. Yet Horgan relegated both to Parliamentary Secretary positions, below cabinet status.
- There was also speculation that the MLAs who pushed Carole James out as NDP leader six years ago wouldn't be rewarded with cabinet posts. Yet of the six James' dissidents still in office, three — Katrina Conroy, Lana Popham and Claire Trevena — were named to cabinet. Horgan backed James during that period and the two have been allies since. Carole James lost the 2005 and 2009 elections to former BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell. James was named finance minister and deputy premier, and will be Horgan's right hand woman.
- Joining Carole James as former leaders who got named to cabinet is the new Minister of Health, former leader Adrian Dix, who lost the 2013 election to outgoing Premier Christy Clark. David Eby, who defeated Christy Clark in a by-election in Gordon Campbell's old riding of Vancouver-Point Grey, will serve as Attorney General.
- Several cabinet positions got renamed, some got merged into one position, while others had duties split into two ministerial positions. There are also a few new positions, reflecting the change in priorities from the previous BC Liberal government to this new BC NDP one.
- Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
- Ministry of State for Childcare
- Ministry of Natural Gas and Housing into Ministry of Natural Gas and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
- Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Labour and Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizen's Service into Ministry of Labour; Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology; and Ministry of Citizens’ Services
- Ministry of Social Development into Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
- Ministry of Aboriginal Relations into Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
- Ministry of Energy and Mines into Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum resources
- Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations into Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development
- Ministry of Environment into Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
- Ministry of Advanced Education into Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
- Ministry of Small Business
- Ministry of Trade and Ministry of International Trade, Asia-Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
- Overall, as expected, it appears the new cabinet duties are more focused on more socially liberal ideals like climate change, social welfare, poverty reduction, mental health, childcare, indigenous reconciliation, and less on business, trade, natural resources and rural development.
- Horgan's cabinet is heavy on experience as much as a party that hasn't been in power for 16 years can be experienced. Of the 16 NDP MLAs who have served since 2005, 12 were named to cabinet. Of the 14 NDP MLAs who are new to the legislature, just four are in cabinet. And all four (Katrina Chen, Jinny Sims, George Chow and Lisa Beare) have experience in other forms of government, namely, school board, city council and federal politics.
- Experience will come into play right away in dealing with top priorities. On the wildfire file Horgan has tapped his most experienced cabinet minister, Mike Farnworth, to co-chair the cabinet committee. Farnworth, a former leadership candidate, also having served in the cabinets of former Premiers Glen Clark, Dan Miller and Ujjal Dosanjh, will be ready to speak directly to evacuees while also dealing with staff on the ground, coordinating the fire fight.
- With thousands still displaced by the province’s raging forest fires, Horgan took a break from his first cabinet meeting to announce enhanced assistance for those impacted. Horgan extended the provincial state of emergency by another two weeks, and made an additional $600 available in assistance to those forced from their homes.
- Beyond the ongoing provincial state of emergency, the government has listed the softwood lumber deal, the fentanyl crisis and education as top priorities in the short term. It's no surprise that all three politicians handling those files: Education Minister Rob Fleming, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Dracy and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson — are experienced.
- But neither Horgan nor his cabinet have any experience navigating a legislature with an NDP/Green one-seat advantage. The seat count is 44 to 43, when the new speaker is included. Manoeuvring that balance will take political skill that we still don't know if Horgan or his cabinet possess.
- It's also noted that the new NDP government’s transition to power cost taxpayers $11.3 million in severance packages for 133 fired Liberal political staffers, including ministerial assistants, public relations staffers and a few deputy ministers. If the government falls again shortly, taxpayers may not just be on the hook for another election, but a whole new round of severances as well. We'll have to see how the new government holds up when the Legislature reconvenes in September.
- In one of Africa’s poorest countries, more than $750-million (U.S.) in mining revenue disappeared before it could reach the national treasury, an investigation has found. The money from mining companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was diverted over a three-year period, with much of it siphoned off by politically connected insiders at opaque tax agencies, according to a report by Global Witness, an independent research group.
- The findings are significant for Canadian mining companies, which have been major investors in Congo and have given millions of dollars in payments to official agencies and state enterprises in the country. Under new federal laws, Canadian mining and energy companies must disclose all payments to all levels of governments at home and abroad. Those disclosures, most of them released this year for the first time, show that Canadian companies have paid many millions of dollars to Congolese agencies.
- The report reads that “testimony and documentation gathered by Global Witness indicates that at least some of the funds were distributed among corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila’s regime.”
- In a statement, Pete Jones, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said: “Congo’s mining revenues should be helping to lift its people out of poverty, but instead huge sums are being siphoned away from the public purse and into unaccountable agencies headed up by people with ties to political elites. Some of the transactions we’ve looked at paint a picture of these agencies as a cash machine for Kabila’s regime.”
- Congo, one of the biggest countries in Africa, is also among the poorest. It is ranked 176 out of 188 countries in the latest United Nations Human Development Report, with 77 per cent of its population surviving on less than $2 a day. More than 40 per cent of its children have stunted growth because of malnutrition. Roads, hospitals and schools are poorly funded and often in terrible condition.
- Yet at the same time, Congo has vast mineral resources, attracting huge investments from foreign companies because of its low production costs and high-quality minerals. It is the biggest copper producer in Africa, and it produces 60 per cent of the world’s cobalt. Up to $10-billion worth of copper and cobalt is extracted and exported from Congo every year, yet only 6 per cent of this revenue is reaching the national budget, the Global Witness report says.
- Foreign mining companies that pay multimillion-dollar amounts in Congo should use their influence to persuade the official agencies and state companies to become more transparent and publish audited annual accounts, the report says.
The Firing Line
- “The children of Canadian members of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant form part of a potentially explosive dilemma confronting federal officials. As ISIL teeters on the brink of military defeat, what should the government do when and if Canadian members of ISIL are captured?”
- Lorne Dawson, professor of Sociology and Legal studies at the University of Waterloo says, “The government has absolutely no choice but to protect the Charter rights of these Canadians.”
- Conversely, the French government has already decided that it should be Iraq’s court system who judges those who were captured and colluding with ISIL.
- As it’s fresh in everyone’s memory this story seems to have come about because of the inevitable question, could a settlement like Khadr’s pave the way for others. It was only two plus weeks ago that the Liberal government paid former terrorist and Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, $10.5m because his charter rights were violated.
- International reports and our own government estimate that around 100 Canadians have gone to fight for ISIL in the Middle East. Assuming these individuals are not killed what happens to them when detained will be a question for the Canadian government.
- Of the mentioned 100 Canadians who went to fight for ISIL, 15 to 20 were women, and most of whom have been reported to have children while away. The situation is complicated if the child in question has at least one parent who is Canadian, because in that case, that child becomes a citizen of Canada.
- Another national security lawyer, Anil Kapoor, from Toronto says that ordinarily a citizen facing a charge in a foreign country will face justice in that country but, given that Iraq and Syria are war zones, Kapoor feels that they should be repatriated to Canada.
- The National Post notes that once returned to Canada, “they could face charges under section 83 of the Criminal Code, which includes such acts as leaving Canada to join a terrorist organization, participating in or facilitating terrorist activity, or committing a crime for a terror group, with penalties up to life in prison.”
- What the National Post should have cited instead of section 46 of the Criminal Code regarding high treason. Section 46 defines high treason as anyone:
- (a) kills or attempts to kill Her Majesty, or does her any bodily harm tending to death or destruction, maims or wounds her, or imprisons or restrains her;
- (b) levies war against Canada or does any act preparatory thereto; or
- (c) 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.
- The Criminal Code further states that anyone found guilty of high treason, “is guilty of an indictable offence and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life.”
- While the piece initially continues to advocate for children of ISIL members, it loses that tone and quickly moves on to what should happen to the actual ISIL fighters themselves if captured. Given the recent case with Khadr, I think it would be hard to find sympathy among the Canadian public.
Word of the Week
practical contact with and observation of facts or events: he had already learned his lesson by painful experience | he spoke from experience.
• the knowledge or skill acquired by experience over a period of time, especially that gained in a particular profession by someone at work: older men whose experience could be called upon | candidates with the necessary experience.
• an event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone: for the younger players it has been a learning experience.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Experience of Unity
Teaser: Unity prevails as the Wildrose and PC parties vote to unite, new BC NDP Premier John Horgan unveils his “experienced” cabinet, a billion from Canadian mining firms is lost in the Congo, and experts argue for repatriating former Canadian ISIL fighters.
Recorded Date: July 22, 2017
Release Date: July 23, 2017
Edit Notes: Congo connection drop.