The News Rundown
- The future of Alberta and the natural resources sector across Canada could be at stake yet again.
- In a meeting with the Assembly of First Nations Justice Minister David Lametti said he would look at rescinding resources transfer agreements with the provinces.
- He said, "I obviously can't pronounce on that right now, but I do commit to looking at that. It won't be uncontroversial, is the only thing I would say with a bit of a smile.”
- This has been in place since the 1930s when the federal government transferred administration and control of natural resources to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba with the Natural Resources Transfer Act.
- This was later enshrined into the Constitution of 1982 and fought for by many including Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed.
- Chief R. Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte said, “Those resources were given to provinces without ever asking one Indian if it was okay to do that or what benefits would the First Nations expect to receive by Canada consenting to that arrangement.”
- Treaties signed would have been signed between the First Nations and the crown with the colonies taking care of administration, the colonies became provinces when Canada became its own country.
- If the federal government wants to change this, there is an avenue, through bringing on all partners into a negotiation of a modern 21st century Constitution featuring all provinces, territories, and First Nations but more on this later.
- The engagement between the Justice Minister and Chiefs can be seen via a CPAC broadcast that is linked in one of our supplementals.
- This spurred a swift reaction from Premiers Stefanson, Moe, and Smith of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta respectively.
- Their statement summarizes what the Minister said and adds the clarification that the “agreements recognized the Prairies provinces with the same rights over resources that all other provinces already had [and] those rights have been fundamental to the people and the economic authority of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta for nearly 100 years.”
- Justin Trudeau tried to put out the fire saying the statement had “no grounding in truth” and that the Minister said no such thing.
- Trudeau’s further clarification says that Lametti meant what he said in the context of UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
- Specifically, the part of UNDRIP that says that, "Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources."
- If the government were to do this it would result in multiple court challenges regarding the constitutionality of it.
- This discussion goes two ways, first is that Lametti was just playing to his base with which he was meeting.
- The second is that he was laying the groundwork for major structural changes to how the country works.
- If the second, even under the case of UNDRIP, at the minimum would require consultation with the provinces and likely a re-opening of the Constitution.
- If this is what the Trudeau government wants they should be open and upfront about it because there are groups across Canada, primarily in Alberta, Quebec, and among the First Nations community that would like to see changes to the Constitution of Canada.
- This poses many questions and highlights why we’ve seen a rise in Alberta separatist intentions and even the rise of the Bloc Quebecois since Trudeau formed government in 2015.
- This is a bigger issue than anyone in the media has reported and is an issue that should be talked about in Alberta’s upcoming election since the NDP if elected would in all likelihood not join Saskatchewan and Manitoba in their statement.
- This is yet another area as we head through May that we’ll be watching and referring back to if necessary.
- The big news out of BC this week is that the civil forfeiture office took action on Friday to seize assets belonging to the Hells Angels, including three clubhouses in Nanaimo, Vancouver and Kelowna.
- The Hells Angels is a worldwide outlaw motorcycle club founded in 1948 whose members exclusively ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Many police and international intelligence agencies, including the United States Department of Justice and Europol, consider the club an organized crime syndicate.
- A spokesperson for B.C.'s anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit said its officers would attend the clubhouses to keep the peace alongside local police while the civil forfeiture agency took control of the properties.
- In February, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the province could seize the clubhouses because the bikers would likely keep using the properties to plan or commit illegal activities. The decision from BC's highest court overturned a 2020 ruling in B.C. Supreme Court that allowed the biker gang to retain ownership of the properties because the forfeiture office failed to prove they would be used to commit crimes.
- The unanimous ruling from the three-member appellate court found the lower court's decision was "tainted" in several ways, including its failure to link the club's "penchant for secrecy" and "preoccupation with rats and snitches" with its efforts to hide criminal activity.
- The panel wrote the clubhouses provided a "safe space" for the planning and commission of crimes, and found it "inescapable that the clubhouses were likely to be used in the future as they had been in the past: to enhance and facilitate their members’ ability to commit unlawful acts."
- The court battle began after Mounties raided the gang's Nanaimo clubhouse in 2007 and the province's civil forfeiture office initiated proceedings to seize the property and its contents. The seizure was later broadened to include clubhouses in East Vancouver and Kelowna. 16 years later, that seizure has finally happened.
- The BC government has been touting this decision as a bold step towards diminishing crime in the province, yet when it comes down to it, these decisions have literally taken a decade and a half to make, and the main issues with crime in the province are not going to be solved by the seizure of 3 clubhouses.
- Mike Farnworth, the province's public safety minister and solicitor-general, said he was "extremely pleased" with the seizures underway Friday, saying the actions "send a very strong message that crime doesn’t pay."
- He said: "As we've known for a long time, the Hells Angels is a criminal organization. It doesn't matter if it's a clubhouse or other asset – a high-value car or high-value boat – if it's been obtained through organized crime, they're going to lose it."
- B.C. Premier David Eby told reporters the ruling "confirms the direction" the province is taking on organized crime, saying the decision "sends a strong message under our existing civil forfeiture regime to criminal organizations."
- Meanwhile, a search for "BC stabbing" on any search engine will come up with dozens of articles just within the last month of different incidents on transit or otherwise of innocent people, including children and teenagers, getting stabbed or violently attacked in different ways in various parts of the province. While the BC government has also said they will be creating 12 hubs around the province dedicated to target repeat violent offenders across the province, it's clear there is a lot of work still to be done on diminishing the terrible effects of crime across our province.
- Also in Alberta this week the media (and the NDP) have been making hay over the Premier’s decision to limit questions.
- Danielle Smith has said that she will limit reporters to one question with no follow-up.
- This in her words is being done to squeeze more questions in.
- The hair splitting began by saying that well first we’re not in an election - yet and secondly that the announcement was made at a government event, not a UCP event.
- This has spurred reaction from the opposition leader, Rachel Notley to journalists and former politicians like former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
- The theory by the political “experts” is that this is being done to avoid accountability.
- The articles written on this see upwards of three quarters of them having various political scientists in the province defend the media’s assertion.
- Then in those the questions of ethics, accountability, and the scheduled May vote come up.
- With all that there appears to be a shortage of memory in the Alberta media, this has been done time and time before.
- During the pandemic, all leaders limited themselves to one question and one follow-up from a journalist.
- Justin Trudeau did the same during the 2019 and 2021 election campaigns.
- Worse, as leader he did not let himself be held accountable in question period.
- The practice even goes back to the Harper era in the 2011 federal election too where the then Prime Minister took just 5 questions a day.
- Pierre Poilievre has also largely bypassed the media and taken his policies and questions and answers to the people by way of social media, YouTube, and town halls.
- What we’re seeing is not new.
- And when it comes to politicians doing their jobs, answering questions, and representing their constituents, the Alberta NDP has a big black mark on their eye.
- When the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act passed the legislature last winter, only 7 NDP MLAs were in the house to vote against it and Rachel Notley was not one of them.
- When it comes to accountability this story is a tempest in a teapot made by the Alberta media which is diverting focus from other potential stories.
- We’ve highlighted before some of the NDPs candidates in Calgary, more info will be on the way on this. There’s also the point raised by the Premier yesterday that the Alberta NDP constitution requires provincial union members to sit on their board, such as members from the Alberta Federation of Labour.
- Given the modern day independence of political parties and the unique ability for voters to hold some parties accountable in Canada you’d think this would be a bigger story, but it wasn’t.
- Perhaps it’s good that we get all the stories out of the way now that aren’t on topic so that when the writ drops in early May the focus can be on the policy and candidates from all political parties who have a chance at forming government.
- A story from the CBC has drip-fed just enough information in a story about an unnamed Canadian MP, who was allegedly warned by CSIS from talking to an unnamed country's diplomat. As you can see, it's hard to really know what to think of the information when there are so many unknowns but the way the CBC wrote it makes it sound like they're trying to discredit or at least negatively portray CSIS at a time when their information is being used to show that Canada is being impacted by foreign interference, specifically from China.
- The CBC writes that a veteran Canadian MP met three times with the ambassador of a country in the crosshairs of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, leading CSIS to warn the parliamentarian away from further interactions.
- The CBC then says that it reached out to more than 30 MPs across party lines who identify as members of ethnic or religious minorities to ask if they thought they had ever been inappropriately surveilled by Canada's intelligence agencies. This immediately makes it seem like the actions it took in warning the unnamed MP were wrong.
- The MP who spoke to CBC News said the ambassador reached out to him for a meeting and he felt he needed to oblige out of politeness — although he was well aware of Canada's issues with the government the diplomat represented. He said he was surprised when the spy agency reached out to him afterwards.
- The MP said CSIS warned him, in a face-to-face encounter, to "be careful" because the diplomat in question was "not trustworthy" and "might be seeking information." The MP added he thought it was strange a Canadian intelligence official felt the need to visit him in person. The MP said he never saw the ambassador again after hearing from CSIS.
- He said he doesn't know how CSIS learned he had met with the ambassador. "Obviously, CSIS's mandate is to protect our safety and security, and they keep an eye on foreigners who are agents of foreign states in Canada. I assumed that they were tapping his phone," he said.
- It's interesting how the CBC is referring to the unnamed MP as a "he", forgoing the use of a gender neutral term instead. In the 2021 election 30.5% of the MPs elected were women, meaning that we can at least exclude around that percentage from who this unnamed MP might be.
- Canadians can be targeted under section 12 of the CSIS Act, which gives CSIS authority to collect and analyze intelligence "on threats to the security of Canada." The MP said he does not want to fault CSIS for doing its job but believes the agency could be more tactful about it.
- Some of the more than 30 MPs contacted by CBC News serve in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet. Some ministers' offices said they would not be available for comment. International Trade Minister Mary Ng's office was the only one to provide a statement in reply. In it, Ng said she "has a great deal of respect for the job that CSIS does, and we don't want to further compromise their intelligence collection efforts."
- The issue with this story is that Canadians are grappling with how much foreign interference, specifically from China, has been influencing our elections, politicians, and even way of life. This is something that we don't know a lot about because the federal government has been very tight lipped about what's been going on. The same day this piece from the CBC was released, Trudeau's chief of staff Katie Telford was testifying in committee about what she knew about foreign interference, and dodged questions and gave non-answers about as well as Trudeau has.
- Writing a piece like this that seems to discredit CSIS, when they're the only reason we are more aware of what China is trying to do in our country is not what we should expect from a neutral media supposed to be apolitical. The anonymous nature of the article means that we should not take too much stock in it, and that similar pieces are not helpful in our understanding of what is going on in Canada today.
Quote of the Week
"As we've known for a long time, the Hells Angels is a criminal organization. It doesn't matter if it's a clubhouse or other asset – a high-value car or high-value boat – if it's been obtained through organized crime, they're going to lose it." - BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on the forfeiture of three Hells Angels clubhouses
Word of the Week
Forfeiture - the loss or giving up of something as a penalty for wrongdoing.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Forfeiting Responsibility
Teaser: The federal government wants to battle over provincial resource rights, BC seizes Hells Angels clubhouses, and Danielle Smith limits media questions ahead of the May election. Also, an unnamed MP casts aspersions on CSIS’s credibility.
Recorded Date: April 15, 2023
Release Date: April 16, 2023
Edit Notes: Eby comment
Podcast Summary Notes