The News Rundown
- The age old rule of politics is to follow the money and money often buys votes. It’s for that reason that tabling Bill 1 as the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act raises eyebrows.
- Much of the story this week focused on the powers that the Bill would grant. The Bill as written would allow Cabinet to amend laws without consulting the Legislature.
- The Premier by Friday has said that she’d be open to amendments to make it so that any laws changed by Cabinet or brought forward will have to come back to the Legislature for a vote.
- Issue done.
- The issue at hand for most people is affordability due to the closing and re-opening of economies after the dark times of the past few years.
- This was of course exacerbated here in Canada by a government at the federal level that spent too much money which in turn required the Bank of Canada to engage in quantitative easing.
- This effectively means that the central bank put money into the economy by purchasing of raw assets or just bonds.
- This means that throughout the better part of the last 7 years the main blocking factor for Alberta was indeed the federal government.
- And while the Sovereignty Act puts Alberta on the path of acting more like Quebec, the narrative of affordability is lost which turns out to be a loss for the provincial government.
- The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act is drawing fire for the reason above but it should also be drawing fire for what the Alberta NDP feels about the Bill.
- When answering questions to the media, the NDP leader was asked: Justin Trudeau says that he is taking o option off the table including - well he didn’t say that, specifically that - but that was the question, including revoking the act. What do you think that could create as a situation if that were the case?
- The answer should have been simple for the NDP leader. The province should be left to make its own laws.
- But instead she said, “I think if they revoke the act that would be the right thing to do because it’s a mess and they don’t know what they’re doing and yes that won’t look good for this government either but quite honestly we’re six months away from an election.”
- Under sections 55 and 56 of the Constitution Act, 1867, a federal Cabinet can disallow a provincial law. This has been used 112 times by the Government of Canada and once by the UK going back to 1867.
- The last time was 1943 when the federal government invalidated Alberta legislation preventing land sales to Hutterites and other “enemy aliens.”
- This is the leader of the Alberta NDP suggesting that the Prime Minister should use this seldom used tool to prevent the province from progressing forward at its own peril.
- At its own peril: businesses still have concerns regarding the Sovereignty Act.
- Businesses in general should be consulted and more on legislation, especially when our economy is in question.
- The conventional wisdom is that the Progressive Conservatives ran the province well from 1974-2015 having been elected and then pivoting to match the mood of the day governing from conservative standpoints and even centrist liberal standpoints.
- What they mastered was knowing where the population was and matching it.
- The UCP under Danielle Smith must hope that the voting population, specifically in Calgary, feels that the issues at hand with the Sovereignty Act are the issues of the day.
- Or else there could be trouble.
- Premier Smith summed it up by saying, “I think maybe we have a little lack of clarity… We never intended for it to apply to statutes. Statutes do have to come back to the legislature for approval. And if there is any statutory change that (we) would have to make (under this bill) coming out of these motions, we’ll make it clear that is the case.”
- This has set off a firestorm and it shows why folks who support the Premier want this piece of legislation.
- We can see it in the NDP leader’s response, in Trudeau’s response, in the media, and in particular of what can only be described as the Laurentian Elite.
- There was of course a measured opinion piece by the Globe’s Gary Mason who hails from Vancouver but that piece was shared by eastern journalists encouraging Albertans to vote out the UCP.
- There was even a CBC at-issue panel where not a single one of the columnists was from west of Ontario.
- This underscores specifically why Premier Smith and her supporters want the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act.
- We’ll have to see if the voters of Calgary are onboard come May.
- BC's deal with LNG Canada was being criticized in leftist environmental publications like The Narwhal and The Tyee this week, trying to dismiss BC's assertion that it will bring billions of dollars of revenue to the province.
- In 2018 and again in 2019, B.C. estimated it would receive around $23 billion in government revenues over the 40-year lifespan of LNG Canada. According to 2019 forecasts, those estimates include upstream revenues such as taxes, royalties and hydro payments. The province also predicted the projects would create 10,000 construction jobs and up to 950 permanent jobs at the liquefaction and export facility.
- The Narwhal's contends that net-zero pledges raise questions about whether global demand for gas will hold up over the project’s lifespan. High natural gas prices, in part fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting European energy crisis, means there’s incentive to complete Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada as quickly as possible.
- An LNG Canada spokesperson said: “As world events continue to demonstrate, a reliable supply of responsibly produced energy should never be taken for granted. Our project will provide security of supply for global markets that rely on Canada’s natural gas reserves to fuel their economies, reduce global [greenhouse gas] emissions as natural gas replaces the use of coal and bring significant economic growth and stability to northern British Columbia communities and all of Canada.”
- Some experts admit that LNG Canada would be very profitable if it were running today, but have questions if it would in 2025-26, when it's estimated to be completed. But models from the International Energy Agency that predict a huge dropoff for energy demand by the 2030s and 2040s take into account that countries will be holding to their net-zero pledges. If they do not, as is often the case, then it's pretty clear that there will still be a business case for natural gas, especially as a cheaper and environmentally friendlier option than crude oil.
- Many LNG companies have been criticized in the media recently for reaping massive profits on the backs of an inflation crisis and then not reinvesting and instead just pocketing the extra cash. On the contrary, it appears that increased demand for LNG has led both Canadian and US producers to expand their operations.
- Ian Archer, associate director of commodity insights for S&P Global said: “This year’s been a really banner year for gas development. We’ve seen very strong growth in Western Canadian production.”
- Enbridge Inc. recently announced that it plans to invest between $3.6 billion and $5.5 billion to expand its natural gas pipelines in B.C. This suggests the Montney formation in northeastern B.C. will continue to be a significant gas-producing region for decades and will continue to draw billions in investment, thanks to new LNG projects expected to come online soon in B.C. and the U.S.
- Enbridge isn’t the only midstream company with expansion plans. NorthRiver Midstream has applied to the CER for a new project, the North East B.C. Connector, which is a 215-kilometre twin pipeline that would run from B.C. to Alberta. That project is driven more by the natural gas liquids market than LNG. One pipeline would be for condensate – a type of light oil used to dilute bitumen. The other would be for other natural gas liquids.
- According to the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BOGC), there were 310 new wells drilled in B.C. in 2022, and drilling can expected to ramp up over the next couple of years, provided the B.C. government and Blueberry River First Nation can agree on land-use issues in the region.
- In fact, more of the problems from LNG in Western Canada may come from an unfriendly federal government than a lack of economic viability. At the outset of 2022, Russia was meeting roughly 50 per cent of Germany’s natural gas needs. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine left Scholz scrambling for alternative sources, he was quite open about Canadian gas being his first choice.
- Scholz told a Toronto economic conference in August: “As Germany is moving away from Russian energy at warp speed, Canada is our partner of choice. We hope that Canadian LNG will play a major role in this.”
- Nevertheless, the German leader’s entreaties were met largely with disinterest from the Canadian federal government. At a joint press conference with Scholz, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said openly that there has “never been a strong business case” for Canadian LNG exports to Europe.
- The prime minister then insisted on taking his German counterpart to Stephenville, Newfoundland, the site of a proposed facility to make hydrogen gas from wind power. With any groundbreaking still years away — and with hydrogen still a vanishingly small piece of Germany’s energy mix — the visit didn’t appear to yield any particular German enthusiasm for Canadian hydrogen.
- And now, after an energy-hungry Germany was snubbed by Canada, Berlin has instead gone all-in on a gas contract with Qatar, the small, autocratic nation currently hosting the World Cup. This week, German firms announced a 15-year contract to buy roughly two million tonnes of LNG per year of Qatari natural gas. The multi-billion-dollar deal comes just three months after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made a rare official visit to Canada for the explicit goal of securing Canadian sources of liquid natural gas.
- On Thursday, Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal energy minister, told the House of Commons natural resources committee there’s only a three-year window for Canada on natural gas, and then Europe will begin pivoting to hydrogen, “which is something that Canada is very interested in supplying to Germany.”
- Contradicting Wilkinson, Germany’s contract for Qatari gas begins in 2026, meaning that tankers of Qatari gas will be sailing into German ports until at least 2041. The scope and longevity of the contract would seem to defy Trudeau government claims that German gas demands were merely a temporary stop-gap that carried no long-term opportunity for Canada.
- In a press conference touting the German deal, Qatar’s Minister of Energy Saad al-Kaabi boasted about the “long-term” nature of the agreement, and assured the Germans that Qatar could guarantee their “long-term energy security.”
- While Canada currently has no LNG export facilities on its Atlantic coast, it would be more than feasible for Canada to fast-track at least a couple by 2026.
- Natural Resources Canada has already received applications for five proposed Atlantic Coast LNG terminals; two in Quebec and three in Nova Scotia. This includes the stalled $8-billion Goldboro LNG project, which could be completed on a particularly accelerated timeline given new plans to build the facility on a floating barge. In recent months, the owners of Saint John LNG — a New Brunswick import terminal — have similarly raised the prospect of retrofitting their facility for export by as early as 2025. In June, the idea was publicly championed by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
- As for BC's economic reality, it was noted 2 weeks ago on Western Context that BC ran a surplus, in large part due to an increase in natural gas royalties. And clearly, the world will still want LNG in the future, given Germany's deal with Qatar. Canada needs to stop shooting itself in the foot on natural resource projects, as the world will not care about our 'lead by example' approach on climate change.
- Qatar's meteoric rise to power since the 1990's, purely from LNG extraction and then reinvesting in other entities like Al-Jazeera and Qatar Airways has shown just what a country can accomplish on the world stage if they manage their resources properly. A reduced economic capacity has shown that this only reduces our influence on the world stage, and if Canada really wants to help climate change, then exporting our LNG and Oil with higher environmental standards to displace autocratic countries' supplies is a start. We have to start with fixing Canada first, and our economic reality shows that we cannot continue to rely on the world to help us out.
- Most Canadians will know that CBC is run as a crown corporation and throughout the Trudeau administration our media outlets outside TV and radio have received money from the government.
- New this week though is Corus Entertainment, parent company of Global News and many other outlets across the country is seeking government grants to subsidize employee pay.
- The news only reported in Blacklock’s Reporter and the Western Standard should raise eyebrows for not being reported and what this means for our changing media landscape.
- Not a partisan issue.
- A statement to the House of Commons Finance Committee from Corus says, “Unlike other Canadian news and broadcast content, Canadian broadcast news is not entitled to ongoing, direct financial support from the federal government. Corus urges the federal government to redress this inequity.”
- The 2019 Income Tax Act provides a 25% payroll rebate to a maximum of $13,750 per employee in a newsroom.
- Global News’ annual report shows a shrinking profit margin to 38% in TV and 15% in radio.
- Global is facing a libel lawsuit against it after Canadian Armed Forces veteran James Topp sued for an article implying he was a white supremacist.
- Discussion about Global receiving more and more money has been going back and forth since September.
- Global News Executive Vice President Troy Reeb told the Senate Transport and Communications Committee that, “News is a challenging business. Traditionally we have offset our news losses through more profitable entertainment programming but this is no longer a feasible strategy.”
- This on its own is unheard of but the ramifications if the government grants this request are striking.
- Bill C-11 otherwise known as the online streaming act that aims to regulate what websites like YouTube show in terms of Canadian content also have a role to play here.
- News organizations, Global included, publish on YouTube.
- We need to be very clear that we believe that most journalists are doing the best job they believe they can. Their producers and organizations set the angle while they themselves might all not have huge breadths of experience in associated fields.
- What this means is that while it is easy online to pick and target individual journalists, we have a problem in large part with the Canadian media establishment as entities.
- The government if they grant this request will be putting a huge weight on independent media provide independent reporting in our country.
- The reason this is important with C11 is that Canadian content, in particular news media produced in Canada by Canadian news organizations, would be favoured.
- YouTube themselves have written to the Canadian government and have even gone as far as appealing to viewers in Canada over the recent months to raise awareness of Bill C-11.
- Bill C-11’s previous incarnation was stopped in the last Parliament but it is set to pass this time.
- Combine C-11 with more government money for media, that means that independent media will be stifled.
- We don’t believe independent media will be stifled because the establishment will get their marching orders from the government and get funded in kind.
- We believe this is an issue because there is no way to compete with a government driven algorithm and government money funnelled directly to news agencies.
- The media won’t talk about this story unless it raises controversy since that’s also the main goal of their business these days and as a result it’s very likely most Canadians won’t hear about this.
- That’s why it’s here.
- Amid all the news in the media about Kanye West's meltdown and blatant anti-Semitism, which we at Western Context condemn and have stood on record in the past as having condemned all forms of anti-Semitism, it is important to note that less blatant forms of anti-Semitism do exist, and exist in Canada.
- An event was held on Tuesday called the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and was hosted by Toronto-area Liberal MP Salma Zahid, chair of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group.
- MPs photographed at the event include Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi, NDP MPs Niki Ashton, Blake Desjarlais, Lindsay Mathyssen and Matthew Green, and Bloc MPs Denis Trudel and Mario Beaulieu. Conservative MP Larry Brock said that he also attended the event.
- Also invited to the event was Nazih Khatatba, publisher at Meshwar Media. His newspaper, al-Meshwar is an Arabic language newspaper that has a history of publishing antisemitic and anti-Israel articles and opinion pieces, including celebrating last week’s Jerusalem bombing attack that killed 16-year-old Canadian-Israeli Aryeh Schupak.
- In November 2017, an article published in the al-Meshwar newspaper claimed the Holocaust was a Jewish plot, claiming banks associated with the “Zionist movement” funded Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s.
- A 2014 story published by the Canadian Jewish News documented an al-Meshwar newspaper editorial describing a Jerusalem synagogue massacre as “courageous and qualitative.” Another editorial published in the newspaper, but not written by Khatatba, referred to the Holocaust as the “Holohoax.”
- A story posted in Arabic to Meshwar Media’s website on Wednesday described the pro-Palestine event under the headline “Representatives in the Canadian Parliament stand in solidarity with Palestine and call on the Government of Canada to support the Palestinian people.”
- It read: “The speakers at the ceremony, including deputies and representatives of associations and civil organizations, affirmed their solidarity with Palestine and their condemnation of the killings that Palestinians are subjected to at the hands of the occupation forces and settlers. Member of Parliament Niki Ashton said that Canada can play a better role for peace in the Middle East and is keen on human rights in the world, especially for the Palestinians.”
- Ashton’s previous history with Khatatba includes her public disavowment of his endorsement during her 2017 NDP leadership bid, where she issued statements stating she “in no way” supports his views and “does not accept support from people who hold such views.”
- A photo of Ashton and Khatatba, taken at a 2017 fundraiser in Mississauga, Ont., hosted by the Palestine Aid Society, was used in online and in print endorsements for her leadership bid, including on the front page of Khatatba’s newspaper.
- In his statement in response, Khatatba said his newspaper is “not antisemitic, and we have never spoken badly about Jews in Canada or other countries. Rather, we criticize the Israeli occupation policy and stand by the Palestinian people.”
- In a statement, Liberal MP Salma Zahid said invitations to the reception were “circulated widely” and it was attended by nearly 150 people.
- The statement said: “We are not able to research the history of every attendee that responded. As chair of the group, I will continue to be a voice for the human rights of the Palestinian people and for a just and fair two-state solution achieved at the negotiating table.”
- In a follow-up email, Zahid maintains she has “long been a voice against antisemitism,” and provided text of a statement she delivered in the house six years ago denouncing antisemitic attacks.
- Zahid’s spokesman Jeff Jedras says neither their office or the parliamentary group invited Khatatba, but added “we will certainly review carefully how we handle future events with outside attendees.”
- A spokesperson from transport minister Omar Alghabra's office likewise denied any connection to Khatatba.
- Brock, the Conservative MP, said he was invited to the event by a constituent, and said if he had been aware of Khatatba’s attendance he wouldn’t have gone.
- “This individual has expressed their sickening and vile views publicly and made statements of support in response to the massacring of Jewish people and children. I fully condemn antisemitism and reject these disgusting views. They have no place in Canadian society.”
- A statement from the Green Party stated May was not aware Khatatba was attending the event, saying that party leaders attend “all sorts of events” and seldom have control over attendees. Her statement reads: “I wholeheartedly denounce antisemitism but let me be clear once and for all: showing solidarity with Palestine isn’t antisemitism and neither is criticism of the state of Israel’s human rights record. We denounce all forms of violence and show solidarity with civilian Israeli and Palestinian victims alike.”
- May made a bizarre speech at the event where she said "I take my marching orders from the permanent representative of Palestine to Canada". Marching orders is defined as 'instructions from a superior officer for troops to move on their command'. For May to consider a foreign power her superior and to consider following orders from a foreign power, is reprehensible for a sitting MP, regardless of how inconsequential of a party the Greens are.
- It's odd how no one in the media other than the National Post has been talking about this story. Unlike the mainstream media, we at Western Context condemn anti-Semitism in any form, and we certainly do not take marching orders from anyone, let alone a foreign Middle-Eastern psuedo-state.
Quote of the Week
"I take my marching orders from the permanent representative of Palestine to Canada" - Green Party Leader MP Elizabeth May in a bizarre speech at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Word of the Week
Marching Orders - instructions from a superior officer for troops to move on their command
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Marching Orders
Teaser: Alberta’s Sovereignty Act gets a bit more clarity, BC’s economic case for LNG has never been stronger, and Global News lobbies for more government money. Also, Elizabeth May says she takes her marching orders from Palestine leadership.
Recorded Date: December 3, 2022
Release Date: December 4, 2022
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes