- Last week, we had pre-recorded a special episode of Western Context on policies we'd like to see in Canada, and we certainly hope you enjoyed the different take on Western Context. Of course, we don't do these specials very often, mostly because there is always so much news to discuss that affects Canada and Canadians. I was heading on vacation though, and so wanted to give our listeners something enjoyable to listen to in the week that I wouldn't be here.
- Of course, 3 days after I left on a plane halfway around the world, we had a major eruption of violence in the Middle East, that I'm sure everyone has heard of by now. Armed Hamas militants broke through the Gaza-Israel barrier, and invaded many border towns, killing over a thousand innocent civilians, and taking hundreds of hostages, including children, festival-goers, peace activists, caregivers, and elderly people.
- Of course, Israel, surrounded on all sides by mostly unfriendly Islamic countries, is not going to take a threat like that flippantly. Overnight, Israel's Security Cabinet voted to undertake a series of actions to bring about the "destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad" and the Israeli Defence Force declared a "state of readiness for war" and has been methodically putting the squeeze on Gaza, with the intent of destroying Hamas forever.
- It's a complex issue that we frankly do not have the space to fully get into or go over here, much like the Russia-Ukraine war. However, we at Western Context have always stood in solidarity with Canada's allies in the only democracy in the Middle East, and wholeheartedly condemn the terrorist actions of Hamas, in the killing and kidnapping of innocent civilians.
- Unfortunately, in war there are always going to be casualties, and there have been plenty on both sides of the conflict now. This has led to a lot of demonstrations in the West, particularly in Canada, in support of Palestinians, and even Hamas. These demonstrations have helped to contribute to a terrible rise in anti-semitism in Canada, which as longtime listeners of Western Context will know, we have been chronicling for years now.
- For what it's worth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that "Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel" and called the violence "completely unacceptable." He added that the country stood with Israel and fully supported "its right to defend itself." Trudeau later put out a statement asserting "Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people nor their legitimate aspirations" and "Canada stands firmly with the Israeli and Palestinian peoples in their right to live in peace, security, with dignity and without fear."
- For once, the Canadian government is saying the right things on the matter. But let's talk more about the Canadian media response to the war, and see if they are saying the right things. For this, we head to the CBC, Canada's taxpayer funded public broadcaster for both radio and television.
- A leaked memo from the CBC tells its journalists to avoid use of the word “terrorist” when referring to Hamas fighters in its coverage of the ongoing war in Israel and the Gaza strip.
- The memo states: “Do not refer to militants, soldiers, or anyone else as ‘terrorists,'”, emphasizing “do not” with bold type. “The notion of terrorism remains heavily politicized and is part of the story. Even when quoting/clipping a government or a source referring to fighters as ‘terrorists,’ we should add context to ensure the audience understands this is opinion, not fact. That includes statements from the Canadian government and Canadian politicians.”
- The memo originated from George Achi, Director of Journalistic Standards at the public broadcaster. It also cautions CBC journalists not to refer to 2005 as “the end of the occupation” of Gaza, “as Israel has maintained control over airspace, seafront and virtually all movement into or out of the area.”
- Hamas, the organization behind the attacks on Israel, is a listed terrorist entity according to the Canadian government, which describes it as “a radical Islamist-nationalist terrorist organization.”
- The Prime Minister also used the term over the weekend in response to pro-Palestinian rallies. “Hamas terrorists aren’t a resistance, they’re not freedom fighters,” he said. “They are terrorists, and no one in Canada should be supporting them, much less celebrating them.”
- The CBC is not the only news organization to eschew “terrorist” in its coverage. In a recent interview with Jewish Insider, former Washington Post editor Marty Baron weighed in on the distinction.
- “The basic policy that we had at the Post, which I embrace, is we should talk about acts of terrorism rather than characterizing individuals, and so when it’s a terrorist act we call it a terrorist act,” he said. We did tend to use the word ‘militants.’ I mean, Hamas is the government in Gaza. But clearly, at least in my mind, this was an act of terrorism, no question. There is such a thing as state terrorism, by the way, and in my view, this qualifies as state terrorism, so that would be my take on it.”
- A similar style is espoused by The Associated Press. The most recent edition of its stylebook says to describe specific actions that are being perpetrated, and attribute the use of the word terrorism or terrorist to authorities except when talking about historical events widely acknowledged as terrorist actions.
- Recent news about the conflict from the website of Al Jazeera refers only to “fighters” in its coverage of Hamas combatants. The BBC recently defended its decision to not use the word “terrorist,” after Britain’s Defence Secretary called the policy “verging on disgraceful.” The New York Times was recently called out by an opinion piece in The Washington Times for changing a headline from “Hamas terrorists” to “Hamas gunmen.”
- A pair of Conservative MPs will try to compel a CBC executive and a journalism standards director to appear before a House of Commons committee to defend the company's language guide — which discourages the use of the words "terrorism" and "terrorists" when describing attacks and their perpetrators.
- Alberta Conservative MP Rachael Thomas, the party's Canadian heritage critic, said in a statement posted to social media that the idea is to hold the Crown corporation accountable for what she calls "its biased coverage of Hamas' attack on Israel."
- Thomas suggests the CBC is downplaying violence perpetrated by Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians and said the news organization should clearly refer to the attackers behind the "horrific, sadistic violence" as terrorists. She also took issue with CBC guidance that says its journalists should be careful about describing the past Israeli presence in Gaza.
- Thomas said the nature of Hamas's attack on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 more than justifies the use of the word "terrorism."
- She said: "What other side would you take when you have 1,400 people massacred in an evening? When you have 40 babies who are beheaded? Whose side are you on? As if there would be some other side you can take. This is a terrorist organization functioning in a sadistic manner. It is pure evil and to suggest otherwise is alarming."
- Thomas is backed by the party's deputy leader, Ontario MP Melissa Lantsman, who said she'd force the issue before the public accounts committee, which met last Tuesday. The Conservative MPs would have needed the support of at least one other party to compel the committee to launch a study of the issue. However, the Bloc Québécois, NDP and most Liberal MPs on the House of Commons public accounts committee voted to shut down debate on the Conservative motion.
- In a video posted to social media, Lantsman said the CBC doesn't have "journalistic integrity" because "if you can't call people who murder the elderly, kidnap children, rape women and kill entire families terrorists, then I don't think it's worth funding."
- Lantsman said: "Will they allow a recipient of $1.4 billion in tax dollars to give a pass to terrorists?" she said, referring to the corporation's parliamentary appropriation. CBC/Radio-Canada received roughly $1.2 billion in government funding in 2022, according to the most recent annual report. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has vowed to "defund the CBC" if elected.
- Now that this motion to call CBC executives has failed at the public accounts committee, the Conservatives will present a similar one at the heritage committee later this week.
- While CBC has been inundated with hundreds of complaints for refusing to use the word “terrorist” when referring to Hamas fighters in its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, Brodie Fenlon, the editor-in-chief of CBC News, says now is not the time to revisit that policy.
- While stating that “nothing is set in stone,” and the public broadcaster assesses its language guide “all the time,” Fenlon added that “when you are in the heat of an intense moment, that’s not the time to suddenly change course.”
- Fenlon told The Canadian Jewish News Daily podcast host Ellin Bessner: “If we were ever to get to that point, we would do it very carefully. And we would do it not in a moment of intense pressure, or hostilities.”
- It's very odd how when Hamas terrorists struck Israel, CBC executives immediately reminded their reporters not to call Hamas terrorists. It didn’t matter that Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Japan and Australia, CBC journalists were not to call Hamas terrorists.
- It didn’t matter that what Hamas was doing undoubtedly constituted terrorism – the attacks on civilian rather than military targets, the kidnapping of old ladies and young children, the indiscriminate bombing of residential neighbourhoods, the killing of hundreds and maiming of thousands of non-combatants – CBC journalists were not to call Hamas terrorists.
- Hamas was first labelled a terrorist organization in Canada back in 2002 by the Liberal government of Jean Chretien. No government, no prime minister has changed that designation over the last 21 years but to CBC, terrorism is political.
- For all their posturing, CBC is far less disciplined in avoiding the use of the word terrorism in other instances. A report earlier this year on the Air India bombing had no issue using the term terrorism freely, without attribution, as should be the case, but with Hamas, CBC issues warning not to use the term. When a man was in court this past summer on charges of being part of a neo-Nazi terrorist group, CBC was again freely using the term terrorism to describe what was happening without any attempt to downplay the significance of that word or claim that it is all very political. The only thing that is political is CBC.
- They are political in deciding when to use the word and when not to use it and Hamas, in their view, doesn’t qualify while a story about other terrorist groups does.
- Canadians deserve better from CBC, but they won’t be getting it any time soon. The CBC brain trust remains convinced of their position; they remain convinced of their moral superiority. At a time when it really counts, CBC has failed the test of neutrality, in attempting to maintain it.
The News Rundown
- Bill C-69 known as the Impact Assessment Act or the no more pipelines Act by its critics has been deemed mostly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court has ruled that it intrudes on provinces’ jurisdiction.
- This has been the law that Conservative leaders of all stripes have been fighting against, Danielle Smith, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole, and Pierre Poilievre have all fought against Bill C-69 at various stages.
- The portion of the law that applies to federal projects is constitutional and can be separated from the remainder of the law, the Supreme Court wrote, “the bulk of the measure exceeds the bounds of federal jurisdiction and intrudes more than incidentally into the province’s sphere.”
- This was the message initially from people like Premier Jason Kenney at the time and as a result those who supported Trudeau and those who wanted to see more control placed on resource development disagreed.
- Overall the law increased the complexity of the approval process, put more weight on input from parties who aren’t affected, which had the net impact of lowering investor confidence in Canada.
- Federal Ministers of Environment and Natural Resource, Steven Guilbuealt and Jonathan Wilkinson said that the legislation would be improved through Parliament but also seemingly remained firm to having some kind of federal impact assessment legislation through collaboration with the provinces.
- They aren’t giving up.
- Premier Danielle Smith was very pleased with the news and said that Wilkinson and Guilbeault “aren’t listening” since they seemingly positioned this as a win and are going to re-calibrate through Parliament. She also mentioned that Steven Guilbeault doesn’t seem to appreciate how badly the federal government lost in court.
- But in reality, Natural Rescues Minister Jonathan Wilkinson believes that the Bill can be kept but it needs small changes.
- Steven Guilbeault said that because it was a reference case, the Bill itself was not unconstitutional and that the ruling signals there is still a place for federal regulation.
- But in reality the ruling called to the federal and provincial governments to work together “exercising their respective powers” but Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner said, “There is no doubt that Parliament can enact impact assessment legislation to minimize the risks that some major projects pose to the environment. This scheme plainly overstepped the mark… It is open to Parliament and the provincial legislatures to exercise their respective powers over the environment harmoniously, in the spirit of cooperative federalism”
- The Premier also said, “We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision confirming the unconstitutionality of the federal government’s destructive Bill C-69 legislation. This legislation is already responsible for the loss of tens of billions in investment as well as thousands of jobs across many provinces and economic sectors. The ruling today represents an opportunity for all provinces to stop that bleeding and begin the process of reattracting those investments and jobs into our economies.”
- In her press conference she appealed to an international audience saying that Alberta is open for business and it’s time to get building projects in Alberta.
- She also used this as a warning to the federal government that Alberta would not be participating in the 2035 net zero electricity push that the federal government is aiming for.
- In her address, Danielle Smith also thanked Premier Jason Kenney for his work on this issue who also issued his own statement.
- He called it the most important decision on the ground rules for the federation since 1982, saying, “If the Court had not upheld the black letter law of the Constitution, it would have sent a devastating message that there are no limits to federal attacks on the provinces & their economies”, he continued, “today’s decision is also an obvious death blow to the Trudeau government’s mendacious effort to take over provincial authority on electricity production with a policy that would create chaos, massive price hikes & blackouts in several provinces.”
- From electricity to pension plans to pipelines and energy to the carbon tax, the Trudeau government has been consistently leaning into the affairs of provinces.
- Year after year and policy after policy it’s hard to remember that there could be a world where the federal government does not do that.
- So much of the policy in western Canada has become centric on combating the federal government and victories in court like with Bill C-69 illustrate what could be possible.
- A few months ago, we talked about the future of LNG, or liquified natural gas, in BC, and the broader region of Western Canada as a whole. With a major conference in downtown Vancouver in the summer that included Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, it seemed like the two very different government's of Smith's UCP and BC Premier David Eby's NDP had found some common ground: building LNG pipelines.
- This week saw a major update, with the Nisga'a Nation in northwest BC moving forward with the Ksi Lisims LNG project that would see 12 million metric tonnes of super chilled LNG prepared at a new facility north of Prince Rupert, near the Alaska border.
- The Nisga'a Nation is backed by a group of Canada’s largest natural gas producers, called the Rockies group, and has filed for environmental approval for their proposed facility. The Rockies group has also signed a deal to support Calgary-based TC Energy Corp.’s pipeline plans in northern British Columbia, leaving Enbridge Inc.’s competing route in limbo.
- The Rockies group, which accounts for a third of Canada’s natural gas output, began work on the project after other liquefied natural gas proposals in the region were scrapped, including the Pacific NorthWest LNG project near Prince Rupert, led by Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. Frustrated by delays in accessing overseas markets, some Canadian gas producers have also started shipping their gas from Western Canada all the way to LNG facilities on the US Gulf Coast.
- Now that the project has submitted its application for environmental assessment, a statutory 180-day period for review and comment by the technical advisory committee, participating Indigenous nations, regulatory agencies, and the public begins.
- Six months from now, after that period ends, Ksi Lisims will refile an amended, final application incorporating what it hears from experts, other Indigenous nations and the public. The final step after that will be for the BC Environmental Assessment Office to then take 150 days to consider the application and recommend to the government whether the project should receive an Environmental Assessment Certificate to proceed or not.
- Ksi Lisims now joins a handful of other LNG projects at various stages of development in British Columbia, with demand for the fuel surging as nations seek to replace Russian pipeline gas supplies after its invasion of Ukraine.
- The Shell Plc-backed LNG Canada project, which would produce 14 million metric tons a year, is under construction and scheduled for completion by mid decade. Work has moved ahead on Woodfibre LNG, a project backed by Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto, and Pembina Pipeline Corp.’s proposed Cedar LNG received a key environmental permit earlier this year.
- TC Energy has been hired to work on revised designs for the planned Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline, according to documents filed by Ksi Lisims this week to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. The filings are part of an application to obtain an environmental assessment certificate.
- The PRGT route was originally intended to stretch nearly 900 kilometres from northeast B.C. to Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., and supply natural gas to Pacific NorthWest LNG. But Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas cancelled the Pacific NorthWest LNG joint venture in 2017. Revisions now need to be made to shorten the route so that natural gas would be transported from northeast B.C. to a site at Wil Milit on Pearse Island on the West Coast.
- Ksi Lisims said its agreement with TC Energy calls for PRGT “to preserve the regulatory permits, prepare amendments for a potential delivery point to the site and develop work plans for the next phase.”
- The decision by Ksi Lisims to sign the contract with TC Energy means Enbridge’s proposed Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline venture faces an uncertain future. Enbridge spokesperson Jesse Semko said in a statement on Thursday that Westcoast Connector will continue to do work on its pipeline route. “That work includes discussing this proposed project with Indigenous groups, commercial partners and other stakeholders while simultaneously ensuring alignment with the B.C. government’s emission reduction, climate change and hydrogen strategy,” he said.
- Westcoast Connector and PRGT initially received their environmental assessment certificates in 2014, and won approval for five-year extensions in 2019, giving them until Nov. 25, 2024, to “substantially start” pipeline construction.
- While revised route designs will be shorter than originally planned, PRGT would still be longer than the contentious Coastal GasLink pipeline project to be operated by TC Energy. Coastal GasLink will be supplying the Shell PLC-led LNG Canada joint venture in Kitimat, B.C., where exports of natural gas in liquid form to Asia are slated to begin in mid-2025.
- Coastal GasLink’s construction is 98 per cent completed. A group of Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs has led a campaign to oppose Coastal GasLink, with 28 per cent of the route crossing the Wet’suwet’en’s unceded traditional territory. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they have jurisdiction over that territory, while the elected band council is for the project.
- Earlier this year, Cedar LNG, proposed by the Haisla Nation, received its environmental certificates to proceed from the BC and federal governments, a decision widely welcomed. Work has also moved ahead on Woodfibre LNG, a project backed by Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto.
- Meanwhile, the Nisga’a Nation led by elected president Eva Clayton, said that the proposed Ksi Lisims project will become one of the cleanest LNG projects in the world. It would also comply with the First Nations' Climate Initiative, as well as the BC NDP's new March 2023 regulations that update their Clean BC strategy to lower climate-changing emissions. Those updates earlier this year introduced new environmental standards for LNG projects in a bid to spur net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030.
- Clayton said in a statement: “We’re proud to see our net-zero project take another step forward. Ksi Lisims LNG is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our people to build prosperity and economic independence.”
- Ksi Lisims plans to use two floating facilities to produce LNG, with hydroelectricity powering motors for compressors in the liquefaction process. The project would then deploy other vessels to ship LNG to Asia, starting exports by early 2028.
- Ksi Lisims spokesperson Rebecca Scott said in a statement: “Ksi Lisims LNG will be one of the most significant Indigenous-supported industrial developments in Canadian history. The project is an example of economic reconciliation in action.”
- As with any energy project in western Canada these days, the usual suspects in the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki foundation. A neighbouring First Nation, the Lax Kw’alaams, which is also north of Prince Rupert but south of the Nisga'a Nation, expressed doubts last year that Ksi Lisims could meet its goal of net-zero emissions. The Lax Kw’alaams band council opposes the Nisga’a-backed venture.
- In the face of opposition, Clayton vouches for the Ksi Lisims project saying once in operation, it will be one of the world’s first and largest net-zero emissions LNG facilities.
- She said: “This means the facility will reduce and offset all of its emissions, similar to other projects in the province, including First Nation-led LNG projects. We believe this project can be done in a way that is sustainable environmentally, creates generational opportunities for bringing our people out of poverty and provides the cleanest LNG possible to people around the world.”
- She further said Nisga’a worked with First Nations Climate Initiative partners to come up with an approach that is compatible with Clean BC and Paris Accord commitments.
- She added that: “In fact, our project will be capable of meeting Paris Accord commitments nearly two decades ahead of time. In addition, by supplying the lowest carbon LNG to the world, we will make meaningful contribution to reducing global emissions from dirtier sources like coal or oil.”
- And that at the end of the day is what needs to be done. Canada badly needs new avenues of economic independence, especially from our First Nations, and needs to step up to provide badly needed LNG exports to countries to get them off of coal. The media should be championing this kind of First Nations' entrepreneurship, at a time when such actions are disappearing in Trudeau's Canada. Sadly, there's not much in the news about it, and hopefully we will hear about an approved application soon.
- New LNG export facilities mean thousands of jobs, millions in government tax revenue, and an opportunity for Canada to help the world decarbonize — all the while advancing economic reconciliation with First Nations.
- For the last few years, LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink have almost single-handedly saved the BC economy, certainly in the skilled trades and in the north. Those two projects, in addition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project and the Site C hydroelectric dam, make up a whopping 95% of construction jobs in BC and $100 billion in capital investment.
- Without LNG in the North, the parts of BC outside of the Island and Lower Mainland will be even harder to live and work in. Let's hope the BC NDP understands this.
- A while ago we discussed the Alberta Pension Plan and questions remained as to what share of the CPP Alberta would receive if we were to pull out.
- Since then the NDP has started a series of town halls as has the UCP by way of telephone.
- The results of these are as expected. NDP town halls report Albertans being against the idea. UCP town halls find a slightly warmer reception.
- Though actual Albertan opinion on the matter is still unclear, right now if one had to venture a guess based on sentiment, population, and recent polling, Alberta would not create an Alberta Pension Plan.
- That is of course until Justin Trudeau entered the debate making international headlines saying that the government of Canada would do “all it can to prevent Alberta from leaning the CPP” a move which Trudeau feels would cause “undeniable” harm.
- And for some Albertans, hearing Trudeau say that is all the push they’ll need to vote for the Alberta Pension Plan should it go to referendum.
- Trudeau in full said, "I have instructed my Cabinet and officials ... to do everything possible to ensure CPP remains intact. We will not stand by as anyone seeks to weaken pensions and reduce the retirement income of Canadians.”
- What was initially a matter for Alberta alone became a national issue because of the Prime Minister and because of Trudeau and the Liberals popularity in Alberta, the pro-APP side likely received a boost.
- This of course received a response from Premier Danielle Smith who wrote an open letter back to the Prime Minister’s saying, “It is disingenuous and inappropriate for you to stoke fear in the hearts and minds of Canadian retirees on this issue.”
- She also quoted the LifeWorks Report (formerly known as Morneau Sheppel) and compared the cost on consumers APP to that of the federal carbon tax.
- She also highlighted that Quebec chose to not participate in the CPP and that the CPP was designed to allow provinces to make that same decision in the future.
- She ended with a request to the Prime Minister: provide Alberta with the federal government’s analysis and interpretation of the CPP Act withdrawn formula as it would apply to Alberta.
- Reaction across the province was expected, those who support the UCP and dislike Trudeau find themselves more and more on Danielle Smith’s side.
- Those who were against the APP are now potentially re-considering if they dislike Trudeau and NDP supporters in the province are happy to see Trudeau coming to their aid.
- This is where the NDP stands, this is where Trudeau stands, and it may have just provided a wedge needed for any potential referendum to pass because of the hatred present for Trudeau in the province.
- It’s at this point we need to remember that going to referendum isn’t even guaranteed, the province could choose to scrap the idea after their first consultations.
- But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the UCP is willing to give Albertans a choice on this issue whereas the NDP and Trudeau are not.
- And Albertans would also be keen to ask, is it an issue? Why is it an issue?
- Pierre Poilevre, federal Conservative leader, inserted himself into the debate asking those questions. He took the high ground and pointed out that the whole reason Alberta is considering an APP is because of Justin Trudeau.
- He said, “The division today on the CPP is entirely the result of Justin Trudeau attacking the Alberta economy. His unconstitutional anti-development laws and painful carbon taxes have forced Albertans to look for ways to get some of their money back.”
- Pierre Poilievre ultimately encouraged Albertans to stick with the CPP saying that under a conservative government Alberta would be free from carbon taxes, unconstitutional anti-energy laws, and other unfair wealth transfers.
- Of course Alberta should be free to do as Quebec has done but the Conservative leader does have a point. It was only after Trudeau’s re-election in 2019 that the situation truly did become critical with separatism sentiments rising and distrust in the federal government ratcheting up.
- Alberta would do better under a Conservative government but Albertans will need to make the decision if the APP can and should be implemented to have more control over the fairness of the formula for the next time a federal government is hostile to the province’s interests.
- Albertans this week were reminded who the ultimate sources of their division are.
Quote of the Week
“Do not refer to militants, soldiers, or anyone else as ‘terrorists…The notion of terrorism remains heavily politicized and is part of the story. Even when quoting/clipping a government or a source referring to fighters as ‘terrorists,’ we should add context to ensure the audience understands this is opinion, not fact. That includes statements from the Canadian government and Canadian politicians.”
Word of the Week
Mendacious - not telling the truth, lying
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Mendacious Efforts
Teaser: CBC tells its journalists not to call Hamas terrorists, the Supreme Court shuts down Trudeau’s environmental law C69, and another BC LNG project files for environmental assessment. Also, Trudeau will do all he can to prevent Alberta from leaving the CPP.
Recorded Date: October 21, 2023
Release Date: October 22, 2023
Edit Notes: coughs
Podcast Summary Notes