The (Right) News Rundown
- For those not aware, Trudeau visited my hometown of Victoria on Friday, and one would think that it would have a lot to do with the very serious and real crises that we are facing this summer so far in BC. I could count them off on my fingers, such as the wildfires that have the province in an extended state of emergency, the smoke clouds from those wildfires creating an air quality hazard in some places as bad as Beijing, the fentanyl drug overdoses that have claimed almost 2500 people's lives in BC alone, rising homelessness and skyrocketing house prices, and the issue of our energy independence with the Site C dam project now being stalled and the Trans Mountain Pipeline maybe being delayed as well.
- So what did local media decide to focus on? What hard hitting issue was profiled in the newspapers that needed fixing? I'll give you a hint, it's none of those that I listed.
- It was that while Trudeau was taking a trip to the Gulf Islands National Park, he accidentally slipped into the water when trying to get into a kayak. Seriously.
- Here's a quote from the front page Times Colonist article: "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to a park near Victoria didn't quite follow the script today as he accidentally fell into the water while trying to get into a kayak. A dampened Trudeau joked that he was, in his words, "happy the national media was there to capture that."
- The prime minister's kayak voyage at the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve became even more eventful when a bride and groom sailed up beside his kayak to pose for a selfie with Trudeau. Michelle Gruetzner was wearing her white wedding dress. She said she and her husband, Heiner Gruetzner, were holding their wedding reception on nearby Sidney Spit when they approached the prime minister — Trudeau kissed the bride, twice."
- You might think, isn't there more to the story? What about what he was in town for? What about the meeting with new Premier Horgan? Well, that was almost the entire article right there.
- Another front page Times Colonist article also noted Trudeau's kayak slip up in an article entitled "Trudeaus dazzle crowd in Victoria, and PM delves into local issues":
- "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau lit up the stage and faces of federal Liberal Party supporters at a gathering Friday in Victoria. Introduced by his wife as “your prime minister and my hubby,” Trudeau recalled one of their past visits to Victoria, when the couple paddled kayaks in the Inner Harbour and later got under each other’s skins. “I think we had a fight that day,” said Trudeau, grinning. “I just never have liked the fact that she is faster in a kayak than me.”
- Trudeau reached out to locals in the audience and touched on Victoria issues directly, including the recent opening of a supervised consumption site for drug users in downtown Victoria. He said it was part of his government’s effort to work with the province to improve the opioid crisis in which hundreds of people have died of illicit-drug overdoses.
- He also spoke of some of the things he considers his government’s successes over the past two years — a tax cut for the middle class and a richer Canada Child Benefit going to more families.
- And he committed his government to seeking reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and to putting a price on carbon pollution to better protect the environment.
- He did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump and the American move away from the Paris Accord on climate change, but Trudeau specifically committed Canada.
- “We are standing by the climate change commitment we made in Paris,” he said. “We can’t walk away from the reality of climate change, and we won’t walk away from a global plan that has a realistic chance of fighting it.”
- The problem with the media covering the Trudeau visit from one very slanted angle, is that it does a disservice to Victorians who might only get their news from a few sources. By covering what Trudeau says with such glowing praise and by front paging the inconsequential accidental dip into the ocean, they stop people from learning about the news that actually impacts all our lives meaningfully. By praising Trudeau and focusing on non-eventful issues and reducing him to someone akin to what is featured in the trashy celebrity gossip magazines in your local grocery stores, the media is actually telling us practically outright that they don't intend on telling us what the real news is.
- Jason Kenney who is running to lead the United Conservatives said that his government, “would not respond passively” to Premier Horgan’s commitment to block the already approved Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The pipeline expansion is worth $7.4 billion.
- Jason Kenney also said that Premier Horgan can’t veto a natural resources project that has received regulatory approval by the federal government and National Energy Board. For those who are unaware, it is the federal government’s responsibility to green light natural resource based projects.
- Kenney clarified that, “trade is a two-way street” and that if “the government of British Columbia were blocking one of our prime exports, we would find ways to respond in kind that would be an economic response.”
- What we’re hearing here has the potential to set up some tense negotiations between Alberta and BC. It is within the right of each province to determine what they feel is beneficial to their people and their economic development. But, with that being said, these decisions should not come at a cost to our neighbours.
- One must also wonder what the actual threat and response would look like from both the BC NDP government and a potential UCP government in Alberta. While campaign promises and slogan are often geared towards extreme language, governing demands modesty. We have already seen a potential de-escalation in the mandate letter to BC Environment Minister George Heyman, saying that the government should, “employ every tool to defend B.C. interests.” Whether or not B.C. interests include preventing pipelines is yet to be determined.
- Here at the Right Side, we always strive to highlight the bias and sensationalism that is present in the mainstream media, and that shapes our thinking and perceptions in ways that we probably don't even realize. But sometimes, it is also important to highlight a piece of that same mainstream media that DOES cut out the bias and sensationalism that we do here. With that in mind, I have highlighted a quirky, and seemingly ridiculous story that actually has grave implications for our society and state of being.
- Christie Blatchford of the National Post wrote an article this past Tuesday that takes a look back at story that had developed over the past year of a man who had a Star Trek themed vanity license plate overturned, based on the fact that the phrase used was deemed "offensive". I remember reading about it at the time, and it struck me as the very definition of frivolous. However, the fact that it happened at all highlights a very worrying trend in today's society that "being offended" is now allowed to take the place of freedom of speech, one of the founding principles of our democracy.
- From the article: "It is, as the delightful John Carpay says, “a full frontal assault on the English language”.
- The plate in question belonged to Nicholas Troller, a Winnipeg resident and Star Trek devotee who in 2015 applied for a plate that read “ASIMIL8”, in honour of the iconic movie and TV series, paid the $100 fee, and proudly framed it in a border that used two famous Star Trek phrases, “We are The Borg” and “Resistance is futile”.It was crystal clear by how Troller displayed the plate that his context was Star Trek and his use of assimilate was only in that sense.
- He displayed it for almost two years and renewed it in 2016 with no issues. Then in April of this year, Troller got a letter from MPI telling him his plate “is considered offensive”. MPI didn’t say who found it so, why it was offensive, or if there had been complaints. Troller was ordered to surrender the plate by May 1, and, being offered no course of appeal or recourse, did.
- In late May, by which time Carpay and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms he founded in 2010 had found him a lawyer, the lawyer wrote to request the plate be re-instated. More than a month later, a time span that suggests a considered response, MPI told the lawyer it wouldn’t.
- The JCCF has now launched a court action seeking a declaration that MPI breached Troller’s Charter right to freedom of expression – under Section 2 (b), in the category of fundamental freedoms, Canadians are guaranteed “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” — and an order reinstating the plate. As the JCCF lawyer, Jay Cameron, notes in his notice of application, not only is the Manitoba government required to uphold these basic freedoms, but also, as of 2015, it particularly invites Manitobans to express themselves via personalized plates.
- As the MPI website says, “…many people prefer to let their personalized licence plates speak for them…(they) can make a statement about a profession, favourite hobby, status in life or pride in vehicle ownership.” And what is being a Star Trek fan if not a hobby?"
- So why was this issue raised? Blatchford has some ideas on that: "It is because of Jack Hauen, the Postmedia reporter who wrote about this subject Monday, that I can say this with some confidence.
- He sought comment from the Indigenous community, and quoted at length a University of Manitoba assistant professor, Niigaan Sinclair, who called the free speech argument bogus.
- “If Indigenous peoples feel triggered by a licence plate or a sports logo or the name of an historical figure on a building,” Sinclair said, “Canadians would be best served to listen to why Indigenous peoples are triggered, and show some care and sensitivity when they express themselves.
- “You can’t just say whatever you want to say without any worries of consequence or responsibility.”
- This fascinatingly interesting stance is also explored by Blatchford:
- "To this, I’d suggest that if being “triggered” by a licence plate that clearly refers to Star Trek is a genuine concern for Indigenous Canadians, then they are approaching that lucky state where life is sufficiently easy that you can worry deeply about words and feelings. And that can’t be true, given the shameful number of Indigenous citizens who must still boil their water before drinking it, or who live in substandard housing, or whose families continue to suffer the effects of residential schools.
- As John Carpay said in a phone interview Tuesday, in this country we live pretty agreeably with certain constraints upon freedom of expression; one can’t expect to have a four-letter word on a licence plate, or to be able to use a plate to denigrate certain protected groups.
- But “ASIMIL8” is not that. Yes, the word can have a negative connotation. It can even be offensive. But the proper response to such concerns must be, “So what?”, because freedom of expression pretty much is about saying whatever you want to say."
The Firing Line
- 150 cots have been set up in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to house the “asylum seekers”.
- Recall that through the winter and spring the number of illegal border crossers into Canada increased dramatically. We heard that the government was handling the situation but no concrete legal actions were taken. The Canadian government could have overhauled the safe third country treaty which states that anyone seeking asylum in Canada or the US must request it in the first country in which they land, the US. There’s also the issue that the US is a safe country compared to many others. The story has largely faded from the media over the summer.
- This past Wednesday the stadium began housing those who have crossed the border illegal. Right now a good majority of those being housed are Haitians who were displaced by the 2010 earthquake and are afraid that they may be deported come 2018 when the deal that allowed them to stay in the US expires. The article from CTV states that, “As many as 60,000 Haitians could be forced out of the U.S. if the program is not extended into 2018.” It is worth noting that Canada's similar exemption expired last year in 2016.
- This is an issue and it needs to be dealt with by our national government. Since January 4,345 people have entered Canada illegally and requested asylum. 77% of these are entering into Quebec. The alarming part is that of these, 781 enters in June and 576 the previous month alone.
- The CTV story gives coverage to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre on President Trump’s immigration policy. The mayor further complicates the figure by saying that there were 2,500 new arrivals into Quebec in the month of July alone! Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the union representing Canada Border Services Agency border guards, said 500 people crossed illegally on Tuesday. The numbers provided by the RCMP only include up to June, if the number the mayor cited is correct we have a major problem.
- While Prime Minister Trudeau was at a function in Victoria this weekend a handful of reporters attempted to ask about the border crossings, no answer as given.
Word of the Week
Offensive - from Urban Dictionary
A highly subjective interpretation of something real, imagined, or interpreted as being demeaning; very often the use of complaint to attack someone while paradoxically assuming both authority and victimhood; the use of complaint as a sociopolitical weapon or vehicle to often unmerited benefit, privilege, or compensation.
“Their being offended is deeply and inherently offensive to me! I demand you recognize my victimhood and give me what I want now!”
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Perils of Kayaking
Teaser: In BC, Trudeau falling into the ocean gets covered more than real news, does Kenney actually “vow repercussions” against BC on pipelines, a license plate dispute highlights being offended vs charter rights, and an update on the illegal border crossers.
Recorded Date: August 5, 2017
Release Date: August 5, 2017
Edit Notes: None