The News Rundown
- On Tuesday this past week Danielle Smith became Premier and wasted no time getting to work.
- The priorities: expand frontline healthcare workers by fast tracking international applicants and thinning out AHS management, reduce emergency room wait times, move towards implementing the sovereignty act, and ensuring no Albertan can get fired from their job for being unvaccinated.
- On that last point in her press conference the new Premier said, “they are the most discriminated group that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime, ” when referring to the unvaccinated.
- This set the media landscape on fire this week from social media to mainstream media in Alberta and across the country.
- It’s important to note that she said this statement is not to take anything away from anyone who has experienced discrimination and upon being pressed, she clarified her comments.
- On Wednesday in a released statement, she wrote, “I want to be clear that I did not intend to trivialize in any way the discrimination faced by minority communities and other persecuted groups here in Canada and around the world or to create any false equivalencies to the terrible historical discrimination and persecution suffered by so many minority groups over the last decades and centuries.”
- She then re-iterated her commitment to listening, learning, and addressing issues affecting minority communities.
- Let’s parse this out.
- Were the unvaccinated the most discriminated group over the last couple years? Yes.
- Were people outright fired for not being vaccinated? Probably not directly, though they were probably laid off temporarily or until they were needed to fill the worker shortage.
- Is there a choice to be vaccinated? Yes. Is there a choice to be Indigenous, Black, Jewish, gay, or another minority? No.
- While the statement is factually true given the wonderful and expansive list of rights that minorities and so many others enjoy here in Canada, it is nothing but ammunition for the mainstream media and opposition NDP who are looking to form government in May.
- The coming entrenchment of bodily rights through the Alberta legislature is something that is a campaign promise for those who elected Smith and ultimately those who were instrumental in the downfall of Premier Kenney.
- What we are seeing is merely a sample of what can be expected in the next election. The 2019 election was one where the UCP used an extreme vetting process on most of the candidates and yet there were still a few questionable cases that rose up and were repeated either online or by the mainstream media and some of the more egregious cases we covered were cases of outright fake news.
- Media messaging and discipline should be one of the first priorities for the new premier and her team.
- It’s not entirely unlikely that the approach that Danielle Smith is applying is where one controversy will be covered up by an even bigger or more extreme controversy.
- It was at this time last week the talk was about the implementation of the sovereignty act and why a by-election was called for Brooks-Medicine Hat but not Calgary Elbow.
- Intended or not, the comments on vaccine discrimination effectively turned the channel from last weekends controversy.
- We head down a dangerous path if a bigger controversy is going to be needed to move the media along from the current comments about vaccines and the dark times of the past two years.
- Though if Danielle Smith and her team are not employing this approach, all that’s happening is a series of ammunition piles are being created for the opposition, whoever they may be, political or media based.
- It requires a very particular skill set in communications and persuasion to pull this off and only one or two, maybe three people in all of history have been able to do this successfully.
- At the end of the day the wider focus and pivot should be to the economy, the price of everything.
- Before he left office, in an interview with Global’s West Block, Jason Kenney said, “I believe that a Conservative Party focused on the ordinary concerns of regular people, a mainstream Conservative Party, will defeat the NDP. I think a Conservative Party or government that is focused on a campaign of recrimination over COVID, politicizing science, entertaining conspiracy theories, campaigning with QAnon is a party that can’t form government and shouldn’t.”
- The NDP is watching and is planning to do everything they can to form government in the spring and that includes tailoring messaging to the true issue of the day.
- This week NDP Leader Rachel Notley said, “Beating a dead horse over COVID is not what mainstream Albertans want their government to focus on. They want them to focus on the problems in front of us right now. How do I pay my bills at the end of the month?”
- Those who saw where Danielle Smith was going knew this earlier in the week before both Kenney and Notley said this. It’s also very important to note how similar the messaging is between both Premier Kenney and the NDP.
- Opinion polls largely show that the people are ready to move on from COVID even if the disease is still here. That means probably no restrictions but it also means not focusing on the dark times of the past two years.
- This week in the Edmonton Journal, David Staples said, “the vast majority of Albertans, including a great many UCP voters, supported restrictions on the unvaccinated a year ago. I can’t imagine this huge group of voters is happy about Smith now implying they went along with a historic and discriminatory wrong.”
- And he’s entirely right, remember that those UCP voters are needed in Calgary since there’s 41 seats outside of Edmonton and Calgary, the UCP has 39. That means that there needs to be a comfortable UCP base in Calgary if the UCP intends to win re-election.
- If the UCP does not win Calgary, there’s a very real possibility that COVID policies could cause the fall of another Premier just as happened with Jason Kenney.
- Albertans and UCP supporters need to question if this is what they want.
- After a decade-long procurement drama involving false starts and accusations of rigging the outcome, Canadian soldiers should expect replacements for their second world war-vintage sidearms by the middle of next year.
- A Department of National Defence press release issued early Friday morning announced the signing of a US $3.2 million (CAD $4.3 million) contract with Victoria, B.C.-based armourer M.D. Charlton to purchase Sig Sauer P320 handguns and holsters as part of its C22 full-frame modular pistol procurement program.
- The military says the C22 will use the same ammunition as the Browning handgun and will have similar ballistic performance. However, the new gun is lighter, more ergonomic and features an expanded magazine capacity, according to the department. The C22 also allows for ambidextrous controls to accommodate both left- and right-handed shooters. Unlike the Browning, the new Sig Sauer also features an indicator that's visible from several angles to identify whether or not the weapon is loaded.
- The program will initially purchase 7,000 pistols for use by the Canadian Army, with options for up to 9,500 additional weapons for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy and military police services. If all options are exercised the contract value will grow to $7.6 million.
- Delivery is expected to begin in the middle of next year. The new pistols will replace CAF’s current sidearm — second world war era 9mm Browning Hi-Powers, a firearm whose number of working samples in CAF’s inventory is dwindling due to a lack of spare parts. The new pistol will use the same ammunition as the previous guns.
- The Victoria-based armament distributor was chosen through a competitive bid process, which Helena Jaczek, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, categorized as open and fair in a statement Friday. Jaczek said: "This contract will provide our troops with modern, reliable pistols and holsters to carry out their work, while supporting economic opportunities for the Canadian defence industry."
- The Sig Sauer P320 is currently in use with other militaries, including those of the United States, France and Denmark. In 2018, Sig Sauer beat out fellow firearms giant Glock in securing a deal with the United States government to supply nearly half a million P320s to replace their aging Beretta M9 pistols — the U.S. Armed Forces’ standard-issue military sidearm since 1984.
- One week ago, Australia announced an AUS $500 million (CAD $437.6 million) deal to upgrade small arms used by the Australian Defence Force (ADF,) including Sig Sauer’s P320 handguns and MCX carbines.
- In 2013, Great Britain spent around CAD $14 million CAD replacing their second world war era 9mm Brownings with 25,000 brand-new Glock pistols, a process that took less than three years.
- Launched in 2011, Canada’s 11-year journey to replace the elderly 9mm Browning sidearm was one fraught with delays, intrigue and accusations of favouritism by prospective vendors.
- The Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese previously reported last year that the federal government was ordered to restart its pistol procurement from scratch by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) after allegations of bid rigging by one of the competing vendors.
- Defence analyst and senior Macdonald-Laurier Institute Fellow Richard Shimooka said Canada’s defence procurement process has become choked with layer upon layer of bureaucracy without any single point of oversight. The problem, he said, is magnified by the involvement of as many as six separate agencies and groups, all with a say in procurement. Shimooka said: “There’s been an over-reliance on bureaucratization and process instead of good management techniques in order to undertake defence procurement. There’s no real single leader that can go and crack heads, no single point of accountability.”
- The Americans, Shimooka said, have made significant progress in fixing similar problems with their procurement system: “Congress has the ability to change budgets laws, and will often zero budgets if they don’t feel the United States government is getting value for its money. Canada doesn’t have that.”
- During the 2019 federal election campaign and subsequently referenced in the Prime Minister’s 2019 mandate letter to former Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, the federal Liberals promised to streamline defence procurement by creating a dedicated agency. Despite Sajjan saying in 2020 that much of the work on that front had already commenced, no such agency ever materialized.
- Many problems exist within the Canadian military, including staffing issues, problems with aging equipment, and a lack of progress on changing the culture to be more welcoming to women in the service. A new pistol won't fix all the problems, but it at least fixes one of them, and hopefully the rest can get solved soon.
- The discussion surrounding the Alberta Sovereignty Act started as one questioning whether or not a province can say no to Ottawa and it’s now become a question of how many will and what will they say no to?
- Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have already said no to enforcing the federal government’s gun ban through the RCMP.
- This week the Saskatchewan government released a policy paper highlighting a potential loss of $111b over 12 years due to federal environment policies.
- The paper called "Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan's Economic Autonomy" says that “the situation has been exacerbated in recent years by the current federal government's continued interference in the province's jurisdiction over natural resources under the guise of federal environmental regulation.”
- The paper suggests a number of steps that the province could take:
- Provincial legislation to clarify and protect constitutional rights belonging to the province;
- Pursue greater autonomy over immigration policy to ensure Saskatchewan has the people it needs;
- Better recognize Saskatchewan industry contributions to sustainable growth - for example, develop a carbon credit market to support our natural resource industries;
- Prepare to take legal actions, legislative or otherwise, to maintain control of electricity, fertilizer emission/use targets and oil and gas emissions/production; and
- Explore greater autonomy in tax collection.
- These policies are the same ones that the Fair Deal Panel reached and Premier Kenney started implementing, for Alberta, it will be interesting to see if Premier Smith sees any more progress now that Saskatchewan and Premier Scott Moe are pursuing a similar path.
- This is just a starting point for Saskatchewan as the analysis does not include the impact of the federal government’s clean energy standard which requires Saskatchewan to eliminate fossil fuel produced electricity by 2025.
- Removing media bias and sensationalism is our primary goal here at Western Context, which we do by telling the other side of the story, with context. The CBC article on the matter says that maybe Saskatchewan would be revenue neutral if they accounted for subsidies to green energy industries or carbon tax money sent back to people via income tax rebates.
- The only way this could be remotely true is if the federal government decided to subsidize a province wide nuclear program to generate power.
- The CBC also interviewed Premier Moe on the white paper with their typical vicarious nature that in effect challenged every part of the document in a confrontational way.
- It was a series of questions, inferring that the policy would not work or would cost more in the long run, such as: “The International Monetary Fund has said that we need progress toward climate change policies that will mitigate that or it will cost us far more in the long run, premier.”
- Moe’s answer: Saskatchewan industries are doing that. Saskatchewan has an industry that has reduced its methane emissions by 60 per cent relative to 2015. I'm not aware of any other industry in the world that has a record like that, and that's our oil industry.
- People aren't aware of the investments that are already being made and what we are raising here today … is there are a number of policies that are in place that may restrict those investments into the future.
- That's what the white paper lays out, and really what we're going to see in the months ahead, is a government that is going to make decisions. And all of these decisions will be inside the confines of what the Constitution says.
- But we are going to reassert our provincial jurisdiction in that document, so that we can achieve what we know we can achieve in the province. We're on the cusp of something that I'm not sure we've ever experienced before.
- We’ve posted the full interview transcript in our supplementals but what we see here is the typical relationship that happens between a free market leading Premier and the opposition or the CBC.
- The interview highlights a problem in modern journalism where news and interviews masquerade as opinion.
- The responses that Premier Moe gave were what we would expect from a Premier of a province whose primary industry is the natural resources sector and what all premiers who deal with natural resources should be emulating at this time.
- The biggest problem for individuals and probably you, listening to this podcast, is how expensive things have become.
- Things aren’t going to become less expensive by focusing on the shiny object in the room that the political base of your political party are interested in.
- Nor will they become less expensive by going green without concurrently developing our natural resources smartly and cleanly and sustainably.
- This needs to be the message of Western Canada and Scott Moe has telegraphed it beautifully this week. The federal government, mainstream and independent media, and other provincial leaders should take note of what the true priorities are today.
- Amid the ongoing coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, news about China has dropped sharply. But it's important to note that while life goes on, China is still there, and there are stories to talk about regarding China, and how they relate to Canada and Canadians.
- On Thursday a group of MPs, Liberals Judy Sgro and Angelo Iacono, Conservative MPs Richard Martel and Chris Lewis and Bloc Quebecois MP Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay visited Taiwan, in what was being called the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group. The trip was meant to expand and diversify trade, attracting global investment and creating new opportunities for the two nations, according to Sgro's Twitter.
- Sgro is the chair of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group and chair of the international trade committee. No NDP MPs were part of the delegation, which the party said in a statement was “due to other responsibilities.” NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said: “We will be working with members of the Canada China Committee to propose potential future opportunities to visit Taiwan as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region.” The fact that the NDP didn't send at least an MP along with the rest just shows how irrelevant they have become under Jagmeet Singh.
- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said: “I…want to take this opportunity to thank Canada for supporting Taiwan and recognizing its importance. The Canadian government has also spoken up for Taiwan in the global arena and backed Taiwan’s international participation. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I express our sincerest appreciation for this support.”
- Of course, because China claims Taiwan as part of their territory despite Taiwan in almost all respects acting as an independent country for the past 70+ years, Chinese officials have strongly condemned the visit. A statement from the Chinese embassy in Canada reads: "Despite China's stern position, Judy Sgro and [four] other Canadian Parliament members persist in visiting the Taiwan region of China, which blatantly violates the one-China principle, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and sends a seriously wrong signal to the Taiwan independence separatist forces."
- The Canadian MPs’ visit comes less than two months after a high-profile visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan incensed China in August.
- Questions began circulating at that time about Canada’s MPs potentially planning a trip to the island — even as China deployed an aggressive response to Pelosi’s visit. In response to her mid-August appearance in Taiwan, China launched ballistic missiles and staged blockades of the island. Pelosi, meanwhile, vowed China would not be allowed to “isolate” Taiwan.
- Speaking in Taipei during the friendship group's visit to Taiwan this week, Sgro said Taiwan should be given membership in the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
- Conservative MP Chris Lewis, who represents the Ontario riding of Essex, said the automotive industry in Ontario is struggling with a shortage of some electronic goods produced in Taiwan. While visiting the country, he said, he spoke to manufacturers directly to ask for increased supplies: "We've got parking lots full of cars, finished product cars, that sit in the parking lot, can't be sold, because we don't have semiconductors."
- Lewis said he and other MPs met with senior executives at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd., the world's largest contract chipmaker, and asked them to "put Canada at the top of the list." Lewis said MPs were assured that Taiwan is working "very diligently" to build more chips.
- Meanwhile, BC is having its municipal elections all over the province this weekend, and one UBC graduate says that he believes that China may be trying to influence the elections in Vancouver in particular.
- Billy Fung said: “From my research I’ve realized that the media (is) one of the tools that’s employed by the Chinese Communist Party to influence places for the elections.”
- Fung said incumbent Vancouver Mayor Kennedy has aroused Beijing’s anger by talking about a “friendship city” arrangement with Taiwan, and earlier this summer reports CSIS was briefing local politicians about China made headlines.
- Former Richmond-Steveston East Conservative MP Kenny Chiu says that he believes his loss in the 2021 federal election was in part because of positions he took that displeased Beijing, resulting in attacks against him in influential local Chinese-language media. “It’s easy to sway a very small percentage of electors, just using false information and misinformation. For [those positions], I’ve been branded as a traitor, sellout, and also anti-Chinese, a Chinese hater.”
- Earlier this month, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre, told MPs that Russia and China consider themselves to be at war with the West and Canada must rise to meet this challenge. Eyre was meeting with MPs at the Commons standing committee on national security to talk about the threat Russia poses to Canada. He said Russia and China don’t differentiate between peace and war and are actively seeking to challenge the West.
- Eyre said: “Russia and China are not just looking at regime survival but regime expansion. They consider themselves to be at war with the West. They strive to destroy the social cohesion of liberal democracies and the credibility of our own institutions to ensure our model of government is seen as a failure.”
- Caroline Xavier, chief of the Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s cyber spy agency, told MPs that there is a growing concern about cybercrime, but state actors are also threatening the country. Xavier said Russian-backed actors are trying to sow doubts and division about the war in Ukraine.
- “The state-sponsored cyber programs of China, North Korea, Iran and Russia pose the greatest threat, strategic threat to Canada. Foreign cyber threat activities including Russian-backed actors are attempting to target Canadian critical infrastructure operators. CSC noted that we had continued to observe numerous Russian-backed disinformation campaigns online aimed at supporting Russia’s brutal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine.”
- We are aware of China trying to meddle in Canada, setting up businesses that are little more than Chinese police stations trying to police the actions of the Chinese diaspora in Canada. In China, the high-profile TV drama In The Name Of The People has become a smash hit. In that show, Chinese agents enter the U.S. posing as businessmen so they can repatriate a factory manager who had fled abroad with huge ill-gotten wealth.
- But a new study by the European non-governmental agency Safeguard Defenders suggests that there might be some truth to the fiction. According to the NGO, the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau has established more than 50 “overseas police service centres” in cities around the world – including three publicly documented ones in Toronto, home to Canada’s largest Chinese diaspora.
- This is an outrage. Chinese police setting up offices in Canada, then “persuading” alleged criminals to return to the motherland to face “justice” – while our own government and security services apparently choose to look the other way – represents a gross violation of Canada’s national sovereignty, international law and the norms of diplomacy. China is extending the grip of its Orwellian police state into this country, with seemingly no worry about being confronted by our own national security agencies.
- The RCMP and politicians of all stripes routinely condemn Chinese state harassment of people in Canada, but what action has been taken? There have been no arrests or any expulsion of any Chinese diplomats who might be coordinating this kind of thuggery.
- Beijing describes these global police outposts as administrative centres to help Chinese nationals renew driver’s licences and other domestic banalities back home. But the Safeguard Defenders study found that they also hunt down political dissidents, corrupt officials or rogue Chinese alleged criminals and urge them to return home.
- While the news routinely ignores China, just as China ignores Canadian sovereignty, the stories are still there, just uncovered. While big news items may be happening in the US, Ukraine or elsewhere around the world, it's important to note that the long goals of China are still being achieved, a slow insidious creep into Canadian society that is still unchecked.
Quote of the Week
“Russia and China are not just looking at regime survival but regime expansion. They consider themselves to be at war with the West. They strive to destroy the social cohesion of liberal democracies and the credibility of our own institutions to ensure our model of government is seen as a failure.” - Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre on the dangers of 21st century geopolitics
Word of the Week
Friendship - a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy, and trust between two people
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Friends and Foes
Teaser: Danielle Smith takes a trip to the recent past, Canada finally replaces the army’s WW2-era sidearms, and Saskatchewan asserts its economic autonomy. Also, MPs visit Taiwan while China continues to infiltrate Canadian society.
Recorded Date: October 15, 2022
Release Date: October 16, 2022
Edit Notes: Taiwan edit point
Podcast Summary Notes