The News Rundown
- With 53.77% of the vote Danielle Smith has become the new Alberta UCP leader and will become Premier this coming Tuesday.
- After 6 ballots resulting in Travis Toews coming in second and Brian Jean third, there’s a lot of work to do within the party as this leadership race looks a lot like Andrew Scheer’s or Erin O’Toole’s.
- Danielle Smith narrowly lost to Alison Redford in 2012, crossed the floor to join Jim Prentice and the PCs with most of the Wildrose caucus in 2014, and many view her as one of the reasons the NDP came to power in 2015.
- With the leadership race now in the background Danielle Smith turns to taking the fight to Ottawa and pushing hard on the province’s interests.
- In her Thursday evening speech after being named leader she said, “It is time for Alberta to take its place as a senior partner in building a strong and unified Canada. No longer will Alberta ask permission from Ottawa to be prosperous and free. We will not have our voices silenced or censored. We will not be told what we must put in our bodies in order that we may work or travel. Albertans, not Ottawa, will chart our own destiny on our terms, and will work with our fellow Canadians to build the most free and prosperous country on earth.”
- Several other UCP leadership candidates spoke on Friday saying they were willing to put the race behind them and move forward as a unified party.
- Among those were Travis Toews who said that “unity is mission critical and I will do everything I can to position our party for success in 2023.”
- We’ll know how this goes once we see what the reformed cabinet looks like.
- Danielle Smith as a candidate knew how to garner media attention and whether or not she’s able to use this to pivot to issues that matter to the voters of Calgary remains to be seen.
- The reason I say Calgary will become evident soon.
- In her acceptance speech she called on Rachel Notley to distance herself from Jagmeet Singh and the policies that the federal NDP champions.
- Look for this combined with affordability to become the angle Danielle Smith takes in the coming weeks and months.
- The key to success will be presenting an argument in a persuasive way and blanketing the media with it.
- We know the second will happen and that’s where the race in Calgary comes in.
- Based on the results we can fairly safely assume that the rural areas of the province will go heavily for the UCP if nothing major changes.
- Edmonton is probably going to vote NDP.
- This makes Calgary the key battleground as to win in Alberta you need two of Edmonton, Calgary, and rural.
- Calgary needs a message focusing on inflation without going down the path of conspiracy theory or rabbid sensationalism.
- We may have seen the beginnings of this transition in Smith’s victory speech: “Canada and Alberta are in the midst of an inflation and affordability crises that has been primarily caused by the fiscally destructive policies of the NDP coalition with the Liberals in Ottawa. When you flood the money supply with hundreds of billions in new spending and pursue policies that spike the price of energy and transportation, the result is crippling inflation that’s hurting a sizeable majority of Albertans.”
- This sounds an awful lot like Pierre Poilievre. And as David Staples in the Edmonton Journal points out, if Trudeau and Singh continue to be linked and their popularity continues to drop, look for a link to emerge between them and Notley.
- Danielle Smith also pointed out that Notley has not called out Singh for voting to increase the carbon tax which decreases affordability for us normal people.
- She continued, “There is no excuse for any party leader seeking to be premier of Alberta to sacrifice the welfare of Albertans for the sake of toeing the line of her federal party … She is not putting Albertans first and that’s the difference between us. I will always, always put Albertans first, no apologies.”
- What we’re now seeing is a cocktail focused on Alberta First but rather than sovereignty we’re seeing it in the name of affordability. If this becomes the dominant message over the next 8 months, Notley, Singh, and Trudeau need to watch out.
- Premier Jason Kenney congratulated Danielle Smith and stated that there will be an orderly transition. Caucus members aside, no one has started fighting yet - and they shouldn’t.
- Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper provided the wise words of the evening, “Congratulations to Danielle Smith on her election as the next Premier of Alberta. I believe Alberta’s best days are yet ahead. Let us unite behind Danielle and her leadership to realize our incredible potential.”
- Danielle Smith opened her speech with the words, “I’m back” referring to her past ventures - we’ll have to see if it’s for a short time or a long time but based on what we’ve seen and who she is, the media and polls are probably underestimating her.
- The B.C. government has introduced legislation to permanently cap the fees companies like Uber Eats, Door Dash and Skip the Dishes can charge restaurants for food delivery. The province originally put the 20 per cent cap in place during the pandemic and will now continue the policy permanently.
- If passed, the measure will also prohibit delivery companies from reducing the amount of money a driver is paid. The 20 per cent cap will combine a 15 per cent cap on food and a 5 per cent cap on additional fees. The temporary measure was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
- Many restaurants in the province were forced to pivot to pick-up or delivery options during the dark times of the past few years. This pivot led to a surge in business for home delivery companies with many at the time increasing service fees to take advantage of the surge in demand, with fees as high as 30% being charged to restaurants.
- Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon said: “As the costs of food and labour rise worldwide, BC restaurants need to be supported to ensure prices are affordable and that delivery companies aren’t charging unfair fees. By introducing legislation allowing us to convert the delivery fee cap from temporary to permanent, we are able to provide more certainty to the sector and to delivery drivers. We’re also ensuring that food delivery drivers are protected as part of this legislation by making sure compensation for drivers doesn’t decrease as a result of this legislation."
- With the fees capped at 20%, if a business was to sell $100 worth of takeout, $20 would go to the delivery companies.
- Menu prices at many restaurants have increased as a result of high delivery fees. If delivery fees were to increase after the measure expired on Dec. 31st, menu prices could possibly climb again as well.
- The President of BC Restaurants and Food Services Association, Ian Tostenson, believes making the delivery cap fee a permanent model is a game changer for the recovery of the industry, while also setting up restaurants to thrive in the future.
- Tostenson said: “We want to thank [the] government for listening to our concerns over these fees and continuing to take action to support our industry through these challenging times.”
- Last month, several VIctoria area restaurant owners took local delivery service Tutti to court for not paying restaurants their delivery payments. Tutti started in 2017 and appealed to restaurants because it served locally owned businesses and charged lower rates than bigger delivery services.
- Under its business model, restaurants paid eight or 10 per cent to Tutti for delivery, far less than larger players in the sector. The company collects payment for the meals and is to pass on those funds to the restaurant or food outlet minus the percentage charge, along with a financial statement.
- The case against Tutti along with the higher fees that companies like UberEats, DoorDash and Skip the Dishes have been instituting may have led to backlash against delivery services and higher prices at restaurants.
- It's a very small thing for the government to intervene with, but the hope for consumers is that it will help stabilize restaurant prices amid an inflation crisis that is hurting businesses that rely on discretionary spending.
- ArriveCan, the app that was part of sowing division amongst Canadians at the border is becoming even more of a lightning rod even though it’s no longer mandatory.
- This week it was revealed that the Government spent $54m on building the app. This is more than double they initially said they paid.
- What’s more, it took 23 separate contractors and an unknown number of subcontractors.
- We’ll get back to why this is so absurd in a little bit.
- The Ottawa based company that received the main contract, GCStrategies, has less than 5 employees but they work with more than 75 subcontractors.
- According to government rules, the subcontractors can’t be revealed.
- This is the same group of companies that reportedly built the COVID Alert app which cost $20m.
- Upon pulling corporate registration info for GCStrategies, it looks like your typical holding company - a company that exists purely to funnel money elsewhere and conduct business anonymously.
- This is a practice that is used to hide the true actions of corporations and evade taxes - typically.
- As they are providing a service to Canadians using taxpayer money, there should be more transparency involved.
- Information from Canada Border Services Agency said that there were 5 companies who received contracts to work on the app but this was later updated to 27 contracts to 23 unique companies.
- This news has the software industry rolling their eyes.
- Fahd Ananta, investor at Roach Capital, who was previously involved with Snapchat and Shopify said he can’t see how an app like ArriveCan could cost more than $54m and a similar app for a major corporate client would cost no more than $1.5m.
- This has spurred a couple tech companies to engage in a hackathon over Thanksgiving weekend - a hackathon is a period of time where software developers dedicate themselves to solving one problem over a short limited amount of time.
- Canadian based companies TribalScale and Lazer Technologies are doing just this over the weekend to show Canadians how absurd it is that the government spent $54m on one app.
- Both hackathon apps will be open source meaning that the public will be able to view the code used, iterate on it, and access it completely for free.
- The tech companies are even looking to potentially collaborate with each other and in the end use this as a way to show the government what can be done in software and say, “Hey, government stop wasting our money,” according to Sheetal Jaitly, CEO of TribalScale.
- Both Conservatives and NDP MPs questioned the government heavily on where the money went.
- Conservative MP Michael Barrett asked, “If Canadian tech experts do not know why it spent this much money, what we want to know, what Canadians want to know, is which Liberal insiders got rich on these contracts?”
- Jagmeet Singh issued a statement on Twitter calling the move “beyond outrageous” and wanted to know who ultimately profited off the app’s development.
- This is the regular reminder that Jagmeet Singh has signed a deal to keep the Liberals and Trudeau in power until 2025 and by signing that agreement it makes it more difficult for him to standalone as he has to now.
- We will be following this story as it develops since it is shaping into the classic case of “follow the money” and given that we’re dealing with $54m when it should have been less than two, it raises a lot of questions.
- And before we wrap up on this story, let’s just appreciate the fact that the government is dropping this money like it’s nothing while everyone else is worrying about the day to day increases in the cost of living.
- This week we saw the usual tricks of misdirection and promotion of news that had the media focusing on other news stories instead of the main news that actually happened this week.
- A couple weeks after Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's very public press conference battle with Global News reporter David Akin, who was interrupting Poilievre's speech and heckling him, Global News ran an article analysing Poilievre's Youtube channel. In it, they say they did an analysis of his most recent videos and found that they included a hashtag #MGTOW which stands for men going their own way. It’s tied to an anti-feminist, and frankly anti-women, movement.
- Tags on Youtube help promote Poilievre’s videos among people that watch videos that also have those tags, and signals to YouTube which users might be interested in the Conservative leader’s messaging. YouTube tags work in a similar way to hashtags on other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Unlike hashtags, they are not visible to the user, but they help users to discover the videos through search and recommendations.
- It’s difficult to quantify the size of the MGTOW movement, and its overlap with other forms of misogyny both online and in the real world. But online spaces connected to the “manosphere” have proliferated in recent years.
- Global News verified the tag was used on the videos using publicly-available software and checked it against the video’s source code. Within hours of Global News sending a detailed list of questions to Poilievre’s office, the tag disappeared.
- Poilievre’s office said the Conservative leader was unaware the embedded tags existed “and therefore was unaware they were used for uploads on his YouTube channel over the last” four and a half years. Sam Lilly, a spokesperson for Poilievre said: “The embedded tags were immediately removed once his office became aware of them. Obviously, Mr. Poilievre condemns misogyny and all forms of online hate.”
- Most of the tags on Poilievre’s videos are related to Canadian politics and include phrases like “Stephen Harper,” “Justin Trudeau,” and “House of Commons.” The videos also included the tag “Rona Ambrose,” the former Conservative interim leader who retired from politics in 2017 — corroborating Poilievre’s team’s explanation that they have been deploying the same tags in their videos for years. It’s not clear who first included the #mgtow tag in Poilievre’s YouTube videos, or why the tag has been embedded in the Conservative leaders’ videos going back years.
- Hilariously, a Global News Youtube video on the story actually included the hashtag as well! For a news organization to do the very thing they are condemning just shows the double standard that exists in the Canadian media.
- Rather than spouting off on how Poilievre might be a misogynist, which he isn’t, the real story is much less inflammatory. Much of the public has little understanding of the intricacies of posting YouTube videos online, and the most likely scenario here is that some young staffer working on Poilievre’s team several years ago thought they were being smart using this hashtag and it’s been copied and pasted ever since.
- When that story failed to get much traction, Trudeau brought up the tag in Question period and tried to highlight Poilievre's apparent misogyny. Poilievre pushed back hard, and turned the tables on Trudeau’s track record with women and even funding extremists. He said: “He funded a vicious anti-Semite to spread hatred online with taxpayers’ dollars. He repeatedly, in fact, so many times he can’t even keep track, dressed up in racist costumes for which he has not ever come fully to account. And he drove many women of his own caucus, out of the party and out of Parliament all together with his mistreatment of them. We condemn all that behavior. We condemn misogyny always and everywhere, and we ask the Prime Minister to finally do the same.”
- From firing Jody Wilson-Raybould, losing Jane Philpott, and Celina Caesar-Chavannes, elbowgate or the Kokanee Grope, Trudeau has his own issues. Not to speak of policy problems like overseeing the continuing problems that women face in the military.
- Another distracting news story showed up this week, with Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner swearing in the House of Commons, as she criticized liberals for not speaking up during the third reading of the Cost of Living Relief Act. Global News showed the video, with the swear bleeped out, yet they still put a disclaimer in front of the video that it contained "graphic language".
- Rempel-Garner immediately apologized for the slip up and seemed contrite that an emotionally charged debate got out of hand. The speaker accepted the apology. Still, news outlets ran with the story everywhere even though in the grand scheme of things it did not matter a great deal.
- No, the real story of the week is that Trudeau is raising taxes on Canadians again. For the past two weeks Poilievre has been asking the Trudeau Liberal government to halt planned tax hikes due to the rising cost of living. The government has not only refused, they’ve at times denied that raising premiums on employment insurance or the Canada Pension Plan amounts to a tax hike, which will go up on January 1st.
- Three months later they will raise taxes again when the automatic annual tax increase on alcohol takes effect on April 1, the same day the carbon tax is set to rise. On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted down a Conservative motion which read: “That, in the opinion of the House, given that the government’s tax increases on gas, home heating and, indirectly, groceries will fuel inflation, and that the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported the carbon tax costs 60% of households more than they get back, the government must eliminate its plan to triple the carbon tax.”
- The Liberals, NDP and Bloc all voted against the motion, leading Poilievre to quickly claim that the Trudeau-Singh coalition voted to triple taxes on gas, heat and groceries while he and the Conservatives voted to cut taxes. Given the high cost of living, this is a message that will resonate with Canadians and it’s a message Trudeau’s Liberals will have a hard time refuting.
- A poll out Thursday from the Angus Reid Institute found that 88% of Canadians now say they’ve had to cut back on spending in one form or another to deal with inflation. Nearly half of Canadians say they are worse off financially than they were a year ago.
- Another poll out this week from Ipsos showed that affordability is the top issue for Canadians, with 40% saying it will affect their vote in the next election compared to just 19% citing climate change. Canadians may care about climate change, but right now they are more concerned with putting food on the table with a tightening budget.
- Telling voters concerned with the rising cost of living that a tax is good for them, or that you aren’t really raising taxes anyway, isn’t a winning strategy. Trudeau is sounding tone deaf on this file and could be in trouble with voters shortly.
- The previous day’s debate between Poilievre and Terry Duguid, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, focused more on whether the tax hike is a climate change effort or a cost of living problem.
- According to an analysis by the Globe and Mail’s Patrick Brethour, while both parties presented arguments and weaved narratives that omitted inconvenient bits of information, when it comes to the real cost of carbon pricing, the Conservatives prove to be “less wrong.”
- The Liberal assertion is that the average Canadian household becomes a net beneficiary from carbon pricing because of the quarterly rebates, with Duguid saying that “under our federal system, most households come out ahead, and low-income households particularly do much better.”
- What he studiously avoided talking about, according to Brethour, is that by hiking carbon pricing, spending and investment in carbon-intensive activities and industries will be less affordable and therefore discouraged. From this, larger changes in the economy would occur, and those changes will usually mean lost jobs and forgone investments. And once those changes start to happen, low-income households will have less to benefit.
- Poilievre, meanwhile, focused more on the cost of carbon pricing to households including direct and indirect charges as well as follow-on economic costs, citing data from a spring report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. What he didn’t say was that a portion of households would still be better off with carbon pricing, although it’s the smaller piece of the pie at 40%. Brethour concluded that the Conservatives “presented a broader, and more accurate, accounting of the financial and economic costs to households of federal carbon pricing.”
- While he is yet to present a plan, Poilievre claims that he can reduce the country’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions without the need for a federal carbon tax. And it’s been done. The United States has actually been more successful at doing this than Canada without a carbon tax. The two countries both aimed to reduce emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. Canada, with a federal carbon tax, was only able to reduce emissions by 9%. While the US was able to reduce emissions by 21% without one.
- So we have to ask ourselves what the real news is this week. Is it a random Youtube tag on the Conservative leader's Youtube channel that was promptly removed, or was it a Conservative MP who slipped up and swore in the House of Commons, something that several MPs from all parties, including Trudeau have done in the past? Or was it really, the fact that life is getting more unaffordable in Canada and the Trudeau Liberals are making it worse? We know what the media thinks - what the public thinks is more important.
Quote of the Week
“Canada and Alberta are in the midst of an inflation and affordability crises that has been primarily caused by the fiscally destructive policies of the NDP coalition with the Liberals in Ottawa. When you flood the money supply with hundreds of billions in new spending and pursue policies that spike the price of energy and transportation, the result is crippling inflation that’s hurting a sizeable majority of Albertans.” - Alberta UCP Leader Danielle Smith and Premier-designate on the problems Alberta faces.
Word of the Week
Misogyny - dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Taxes and Tags
Teaser: Danielle Smith becomes the new Premier of Alberta, BC is capping food delivery fees, and ArriveCan cost $54M to create. Also, a YouTube tag and MP swearing distract from Trudeau raising taxes again.
Recorded Date: October 8, 2022
Release Date: October 9, 2022
Edit Notes: Danielle Smith and ArriveCan
Podcast Summary Notes