The News Rundown
- The war in Ukraine is edging closer and closer to its year milestone and with that comes renewed calls for allies to provide military hardware.
- Some hardware that Canada is considering providing are our Leopard 2 tanks.
- It is unlikely though that our tanks will be sent: it’s very possible (not confirmed) that our tanks have been neglected to a point where they are inoperable.
- The tanks last served in Afghanistan and came home in 2011.
- We’re going to send armoured personnel carriers and light armoured vehicles made by Ukrainian refugees here in Canada but that doesn’t begin to answer the question of heavy weapon support.
- Alongside pledges in aid come the requirements of logistics and the idea is that if the Europeans are now providing Leopard tanks, that would make sense for us to do so as well.
- No decision has been made yet as to whether or not the Leopard tanks will be sent, Germany and other allies will have to come to a consensus if this is the right move at this time.
- Germany has a significant amount of input in the decision since it would mean their designed hardware would be fighting on the battlefield.
- Back at home the question becomes more murky.
- We have 82 Leopard 2’s in total, 20 have been modified with additional armour, digital fire control, and modern sighting systems, they are ready for service but it’s likely we’d keep these in our column should they need to serve NATO in Latvia.
- Another 20 have been modified with additional armour and longer barrels, these could be used in Ukraine with a few upgrades.
- But the other 40 or so have been sitting and use old analog technology.
- The Department of Defence did not provide an answer to the National Post on this story and as such we don’t know the exact number of tanks we have that are able to fight.
- It’s probably about 20 but could be as high as 40.
- This raises the question of what happens to the other vehicles.
- We purchased these tanks in 2007 with the purpose of using them in Afghanistan but the bulk have remained in storage.
- As the tanks aren’t being used and they’re getting old (pushing 40 years), they might be slated to be decommissioned which means gutted and used for target practice.
- Two papers published in the Canadian Forces College in 2018 and 2022 say that the entire fleet is probably barely usable and that the maintenance and repair costs exceed the budgets we have allocated and even if we wanted to, they couldn’t be deployed.
- To recap, we don’t know the number of vehicles that can be deployed, which is fine, that can be seen as a national security protection mechanism.
- But the information we do have suggests that we haven’t been taking care of our military hardware and at the very least investment is lacking.
- The research papers are well documented and at the very least after all the discussion on Leopard 2 tanks, someone has to ask the government what our armour stockpile looks like.
- The National Post claims to have asked and no one has responded.
- Time will tell if the tanks go to Europe and if they don’t, Canadians and the media will need to ask more questions of their government.
- The justice system in BC has been long decried as a 'catch and release' system, where police will arrest criminals, crown prosecutors will bring cases against the criminals, and then the judges either let them go, or the case gets dismissed due to a lack of resources. Oftentimes the criminal is let out onto the streets again on bail, as they wait for a court appearance that never actually happens.
- Sadly this is not just a BC problem, it's also happening elsewhere in Canada too, as overall crime rates have been going up since Justin Trudeau took office back in 2016. Even in NDP-run British Columbia, justice officials have begun publicly acknowledging that Canada’s system of “catch and release” justice has caused a public safety crisis.
- It’s hard to get all 10 Canadian provinces to agree on much, but last week they agreed that the state of the country’s bail system is a disaster. In a Friday letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the premiers of all 13 provinces and territories urged “immediate action” to “strengthen Canada’s bail system.”
- The appeal was prompted by a string of incidents in recent months in which innocent Canadians — including first responders — have been seriously injured or killed by an offender who was out on bail for an earlier violent charge. The National Post has a comprehensive list that we will link in our supplemental articles of incidents in Canada just over the last few weeks where repeat offenders, or people arrested for crimes multiple times, have caused trouble in various communities across the country.
- While Trudeau is focusing on meaningless and costly gun bans that only take guns out of lawfully registered gun owners, instead the focus should be on Canada's bail system which gives too much power to those who do not abide by Canada's gun laws in the first place.
- In particular, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique called for changes following the death of Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala. Randall McKenzie, who was out on bail and had a lifetime ban from owning a firearm, has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting. McKenzie had been initially denied bail in a separate case involving assault and weapons charges but was released after a review, court documents show.
- The premiers specifically call for the creation of a "reverse onus" for those charged under Section 95 of the Criminal Code, which includes offences for being in possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm. This means people charged with those offences would have to show why their detention before a trial is not justified. In most cases, the burden is on the prosecution to show why detention is justified. Canadians have a right under the Charter "not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause."
- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the premiers sent the letter to have the federal government “look at bail reform.” He said something that should be obvious to us all: “I would say that catch and release works well when you’re fishing. It doesn’t work so well when you’re dealing with serious offenders.”
- In Saskatchewan, approximately 5,500 people are out on bail and have violated the conditions of their bail, according to Moe: “We have some numbers that I think are just simply too high. We have, I think, about 5,500 folks that are out on bail and have violated the conditions of their bail and there’s an active warrant for their arrest. Now, not all of those are dangerous by any stretch, [but we] have about 1,300 to 1,500 that are serious offenders and have violated their bail.”
- Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in late December that Trudeau's government should "reverse its catch-and-release bail policy," referring to a Bill C-75 the Liberals passed in 2019 that updated bail provisions in the Criminal Code.
- The law codified a "principle of restraint" that had been reaffirmed in a 2017 Supreme Court case, which directs police and courts to prioritize releasing detainees at the "earliest reasonable opportunity" and "on the least onerous conditions," even in cases where they have repeatedly committed crimes or are considered a danger to the public.
- It also gave police more power to impose conditions on accused people in the community to streamline the bail process and reduce the number of unnecessary hearings, and it required judges to consider at bail the circumstances of people who are Indigenous or come from vulnerable populations.
- Poilievre said this lead to a 32% increase in violent crime and a 92% increase in gang-related crime in 2020. He said instead of addressing the issue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "fear mongered" against law-abiding firearms owners by trying to pass legislation that would ban certain hunting rifles.
- Poilievre believes repeat offenders pose the biggest risk to public safety. He argued that the system should be reformed so that those who are facing serious charges and have multiple convictions on their records should have to prove that it is in fact safe for them to re-enter society. He said: “It’s not that we have lots of criminals. It’s that we have a very small number of repeat offenders that continue to do more and more crime. ”
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking “carefully” and “quickly” at a letter Canada’s premiers sent him last week that called for reforms to the country’s bail system, acknowledging that “There’s a real concern out there.” but declined to comment further.
- Back to BC, the Globe and Mail has a story that details the long list of 38 crimes that one man named Mohammed Majidpour has committed since 2014, and details how each time, Majidpour went straight back to committing crimes almost immediately after being released from jail. For instance, he was arrested in November for allegedly stealing $300 worth of leggings from H&M just 148 minutes after being released from jail, where he was being held for allegedly committing a hate-motivated assault against a 19-year-old student.
- The Globe and Mail article argues that Majidpour’s long criminal history offers a case study in the way B.C.’s courts treat the tiny number of people who repeatedly assault strangers – often people they encounter on the street, or retail workers trying to stop them from shoplifting. These offenders – most of whom are battling homelessness, mental-health issues, addictions or all three personal crises at once – routinely spend a few weeks or months in provincial jail before being released. Often, they are arrested again within days or weeks.
- In October, Kevin Falcon, the leader of the BC Liberal Party, continued a campaign to ratchet up political pressure on the province’s ruling New Democrats by rising in the legislature to recount Mr. Majidpour’s latest alleged offences. He said they were evidence that “the crisis on our streets is going from bad to worse.”
- B.C.’s new Premier, David Eby, pledged during his first days on the job in November to put a stop to this revolving door of catch and release, which he said is eroding the public’s confidence in the courts. But to do so he will have to contend with systemic problems that are deeply entrenched.
- There is a lot that needs to be done, but clearly the issues that Canada has faced over the past year since the problem of repeat offenders was originally brought up have shown that the system as it stands clearly isn't working. While promises have been made by the BC government, it may be up to the federal government to decide if they want to actually tackle the problem, or just make it worse.
- In Alberta this week we go back to the core fundamentals of Western Context, media bias in reporting based on hearsay at best. We’ll see if this can be labeled as fake news.
- On Friday Global Edmonton reported a story that someone in the Premier’s office had sent emails to prosecutors regarding the Coutts border blockade and protest and questioned their judgement.
- The Crown says they have no recollection of receiving such emails.
- At this point Danielle Smith’s office said that they don’t know if the allegations are true and if they are, appropriate action would be taken.
- Why don’t they know? The original reporters from CBC Calgary don’t know either.
- According to the CBC the emails were sent last fall and CBC has agreed to not identify the source and CBC has also not seen the emails in question.
- Yet here we are, the narrative has changed from the “just transition” legislation as talked about last week and the discussion is on government ethics as of Thursday in the NDP’s corner.
- NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi said, “This UCP chaos is completely unacceptable in a democracy. The public must have confidence that prosecutions are not influenced by whether the accused have friends in the premier’s office.”
- Analysts on Global are suggesting that this is another black mark on the UCP government with another going even as far as suggesting that since Danielle Smith was sympathetic to the people at Coutts they might have decided to do this.
- One analyst even suggested going to the UCP caucus and seeing if they are ok with it since Danielle Smith needs to command the confidence of the Legislature.
- Unwinding this all, we need to realize that this entire story across at least two news outlets has been spawned by allegations where the original outlet has not even seen the emails in question.
- CBCs reporting then moved on to discussing the email that they do have a copy of, an email sent by Assistant Deputy Minister Kim Goddard, of the Justice Department to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service.
- On this note, Smith has since said that it’s now not possible to have pardons as that is not a mechanism that exists in Canadian law and has dropped the idea of pursuing pardons for those who might have broken COVID rules.
- We could stop at two but as the saying goes, things, good or bad, come in threes.
- The Star is also running with this story, again admitting that there are no details and no one has seen the emails.
- The Star also made it a point to go back and highlight Danielle Smith’s controversial, in their words, opinions from her time as an opinion talk show host.
- The difference is that it was clear that Smith was running an opinion show while most news we see, including these stories are news masquerading as opinion.
- Their headline ends with “critics say” but at this point it has just been the NDP opposition based off of the CBC Calgary story without actual evidence.
- This is what the opposition is literally paid to do.
- The UCP held an emergency caucus meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the allegations.
- The Premier also announced that throughout the weekend the public service in coordination with the government IT teams that examinations of emails sent from the Premier’s office will be undertaken.
- This showcases again that even the government themselves have no idea what’s going on or what emails were in question. That’s where the matter of trust comes in.
- Media organizations count on the trust of their readers and listeners that trust has continually been eroding and was part of the core reason we started this podcast.
- At this point it is impossible to trust the media on this story without being able to verify the context behind the claims. We will let you know if and when this changes.
- Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen’s office admitted Thursday night that his senior staffer is the sister of the director of a foodie communications firm that received $93,050 in constituency funds. Hussen’s office confirmed that his director of policy, Tia Tariq, is sisters with Hiba Tariq, the director of Munch More Media, the company that has been receiving lucrative contracts to help the York South—Weston MP reach out to constituents.
- However, Hussen’s office said the arrangement was disclosed to the federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Spokesperson Brittany Hendrych said “(Tia Tariq) has not been involved at all in any of the ways that Munch More Media assists Minister Hussen as a member of Parliament to his constituents. We take these obligations very seriously when it comes to this … Everything — it was disclosed and the rules were followed in this case.”
- Lobbying records show Tia Tariq has been working with Hussen since at least 2017, when he was minister of immigration, and has held a number of positions with Hussen’s office since. She now serves as Hussen’s director of policy. Hiba Tariq, her sister, is the director of PR firm Munch More Media Inc., a foodie communications firm in Toronto. In a December 2015 Instagram post, Hiba tagged a fellow Instagram user, identifying them as siblings.
- Munch More Media has received at least $93,050 in communications work for Hussen’s York South—Weston constituency office since Jan. 2021. The contracts coincide with Tia Tariq’s time as a senior adviser to Hussen.
- Hussen declined Global’s interview request Tuesday. When asked directly if Hussen had any personal relationship with anyone at Munch More Media, the minister’s office did not address the question — only saying that Hussen followed House of Commons rules in awarding the contracts. After additional questions were asked about relation between the sisters, only then did Hussen’s office admit to the familial connection between his director of policy and the firm handling his constituency communications.
- When initially asked if she had a personal relationship with Hussen prior to the contracts, Hiba Tariq responded that she did not. After follow-up questions, she confirmed that she knew Hussen’s former director of policy, Abdikhier Ahmed. Ahmed confirmed he’s also the co-director of “Empire of Goodness,” a non-profit organization, with Hiba Tariq.
- Global News asked the ethics commissioner’s office whether it did in fact sign off on the decision by Minister Hussen’s office to award contracts to Munch More Media and whether the commissioner was aware of the familial connection between Tia and Hiba Tariq. A spokesperson for the office said it could not answer our questions, explaining that any advice that it provides is confidential, as are any requests for advice received by the office.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office also refused to answer specific questions about the contracts between Hussen and Munch More Media, including when they were made aware of the arrangements and if the office is comfortable with a minister using constituency funds for contracts with a senior staffer’s family.
- Marci Ien, the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, also gave $10,000 in constituency contracts to Munch More Media. Before Tia Tariq was director of policy for Hussen, she was working as Ien's director of policy. Clearly there was a reason why these funds went to Munch More Media.
- But in a statement, a spokesperson for Ien said the lobbying registry incorrectly identified Tariq as Ien’s director of policy. Johise Namwira, Ien’s press secretary said “Marci Ien has not met nor interacted with Hiba Tariq both now as a Minister, or in her capacity as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre. She was also not privy to any existing personal relationships between staff of Munch More Media to the office of (Minister Hussen).”
- This is just a pattern of behaviour from Trudeau's Liberals and his cabinet ministers. In December, Trade Minister Mary Ng apologized for breaking ethics rules in relation to $17,000 in contracts awarded to the firm of her friend, Liberal commentator Amanda Alvaro. Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said at the time: “There is simply no excuse for contracting with a friend’s company.”
- In 2020, then-Toronto MP Yasmin Ratansi resigned from the Liberal caucus after it came to light that she had hired her sister to work in her constituency office. At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “deeply disappointed” by the revelations, describing them as “unacceptable.”
- The only way that these ethics violations will stop is if there's an actual penalty for politicians who break the rules set in place, or if those politicians are replaced. If the public feels that these issues are not worthy of electing different politicians, then the system will just continue as is.
Quote of the Week
“I would say that catch and release works well when you’re fishing. It doesn’t work so well when you’re dealing with serious offenders.” Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe on the differences between fish and criminals.
Word of the Week
Foodie - some think it's a compliment, an acknowledgment of a passionate interest in food. Others consider it a pejorative, where a foodie is frivolous and trend-following and not to be taken seriously.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Foodies, Fishing and Fearmongering
Teaser: Canada could send tanks to Ukraine, but are they operational? We detail the problems with Canada’s catch and release criminal justice system, and phantom emails from the UCP create controversy. Also, yet another Liberal minister has ethics problems.
Recorded Date: January 21, 2023
Release Date: January 22, 2023
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes