The News Rundown
- This week the Federal Court ruled on another of the Trudeau government’s policies: the single use plastic ban.
- The question revolves around whether or not the government can label all “plastic manufactured items” as toxic.
- The ban for those who haven’t left the house covers straws, grocery bags, cutlery, takeout containers, stir sticks, and six pack beverage rings.
- The court ruled that the government’s classification was “too broad to be listed” as toxic and that the government "acted outside their authority”, the decision “was not supported by the evidence”, and ultimately both were declared “unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
- Last year on Western Context 299 we talked about the single use plastic ban and the context behind... plastic.
- There’s a wonderful website called Our World in Data that breaks down plastic usage.
- In general though, plastics are better for the environment. They take less water, energy, land, and are ultimately less emissive than alternatives such as paper or fabric.
- Canada has a very small amount of mismanaged plastic waste and for a country that can manage its waste, like Canada, it makes more sense for us to use plastics!
- For a country that can’t, plastic alternatives are probably better.
- Plastics are also cheaper to manufacture and cheaper for retailers to buy and give to their consumers.
- I invite anyone who is curious to hear more about this discussion to head back to Western Context 299 to hear it in its entirety.
- The unfortunate side is that with the decision being made and already being phased in, it’s unlikely that retailers will switch back since the ban technically remains in effect but this most certainly provides an opening for people to have the discussion with their retailers and municipalities.
- Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre reacted to the ruling saying, “Another humiliating defeat for Trudeau & his Environment Minister as their heavy-handed order to ban everyday plastics is ruled ‘unreasonable & unconstitutional.’ Conservatives will keep fighting dumb policies like these, take real common sense action to protect our environment & give Canadians the freedom of choice they deserve.”
- Danielle Smith claimed victory saying, “It’s time for the federal government to listen to the courts and to Canadians. We urge them to not appeal this decision, and to immediately delete ‘plastic manufactured items’ from Schedule 1 of the current Canadian Environmental Protection Act so as to avoid further need of legal action by Alberta and other provinces.”
- Feedback also came in form former Premier Jason Kenney who was at the front of the push in bringing Alberta to challenge the plastics ban saying he was “delighted” that the Federal Court sided with Alberta and made sure to mention that “the NDP and all the usual special interests opposed Alberta’s leadership in this case.”
- Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault says that the federal government is considering an appeal to the decision.
- There has also been talk that the single use ban could be brought into effect without declaring all items as toxic.
- The fact the federal government has seen two of its pieces of policy overturned by various courts should tell us something: the government has chosen virtue signalling over substantive policy.
- And when a government does that, real issues fall to the wayside.
- On Tuesday, Trudeau was in the Metro Vancouver area, and was there surprisingly to announce funding for the region, in the form of support for a lithium-ion battery cell production plant in Maple Ridge.
- Trudeau was joined by B.C. Premier David Eby to announce federal and provincial financial support for the E-One Moli battery plant, which will be the largest factory in Canada to manufacture such high-performance batteries.
- The B.C. government will contribute up to $80 million, while $970 million is set to come from the federal government, E-One Moli and private sources. E-One Moli is a Taiwanese company, and its Canadian division is the only North American high volume manufacturer of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It has been listed by the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative as a result, which is a list, maintained by the United States Department of Homeland Security, of foreign infrastructure which "if attacked or destroyed would critically impact the U.S."
- A news release from the City of Maple Ridge said the total federal-provincial investment was $280 million to support the expansion of the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. Construction will begin in 2024 with production of the batteries expected to start in 2028.
- Nelson Chang, the chairman of E-One Moli Energy, said the company has always been committed to innovation and creativity as the creator of the world’s first commercialized lithium-metal battery. He says: “We believe that human freedom is a chance for us to do good for others and appreciate life’s fleeing nature, to leave a positive impact on the world. We believe that (carbon dioxide) reduction is absolutely the key to success for all future businesses.”
- Trudeau, Eby and Chang toured the existing plant in Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver, before making the announcement. That plant has been active since 1990.
- The Parliamentary budget officer said in a report released Nov. 17 that the government’s electric vehicle battery plant projects will likely cost a lot more than expected.
- The government recently announced $37.7 billion in funding toward the plants, with $13.2 billion going toward Volkswagen AG, $15 billion toward Stellantis NV-LG Energy Solution, and $4.6 billion for Northvolt AB. But parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux said the numbers were announced in “isolation” and that the true cost had not been released to the public.
- “We estimate the total cost of government support for EV battery manufacturing by Northvolt, Volkswagen and Stellantis-LGES to be $43.6 billion over 2022-23 to 2032-33, which is $5.8 billion higher than the $37.7 billion in announced costs,” Giroux noted in a press release.
- The PBO, who provides economic and financial analyses to parliament, released the report to “increase transparency” around the EV battery plant announcements. The PBO estimated that more than half of the costs will be borne by the federal government, while the rest will fall to the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec. The government expected to make its money back on the Northvolt plant in nine years, but Giroux said the number is closer to 11.
- One wonders how much more the Maple Ridge announcement will cost taxpayers, here in BC and around the country.
- The Canadian Taxpayers Federation criticized the federal and B.C. governments for the November 14th announcement, saying in a statement the multimillion-dollar handout to the battery firm will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for each job.
- Federation director Franco Terrazzano said the Trudeau government has recently given “buckets of cash” to corporations such as Volkswagen, Stellantis, the Ford Motor Company and Northvolt.
- Under the Zero Emissions Act of BC, the goal in B.C. is for 26% of vehicle sales to be electric by 2026, 90% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.
- However, it remains to be seen if the expanded infrastructure will be available for British Columbians to be able to afford the switch to electric cars.
- J.D. Ney, director of the automotive practice lead at J.D. Power Canada says “Growing concerns about affordability and infrastructure (both from charging and electrical grid perspectives) have caused a significant decline in the number of consumers who see themselves in the market for an EV any time soon.”
- So, with almost a billion dollars being handed out for electric vehicle subsidies, will it really help Canadians afford electric vehicles, and will they want to make the switch either? There are lots of questions surrounding the industry that are unanswered.
- Earlier this year Premier Danielle Smith brought about the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel to look into the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The pandemic is done and gone but the learnings from it still need to be integrated into our decision making processes.
- The report as anticipated is a lightning rod and the majority of people are focusing on what is rightly controversial about the report.
- The lightning rod issue has of course been the reports recommendation that alongside traditional approaches policy should consider, “evidence-informed decision-making consider non-scientific evidence as well.”
- The general language of the report focuses around personal rights and freedoms as well as responsibility.
- The thought from Manning himself is that as someone gets more rights and freedoms, they have a greater responsibility in ensuring they exercise those rights responsibly.
- With that, in a perfect world, it should have been possible to have a pandemic with no restrictions if everyone acts in the interest of ensuring they don’t cause harm to others.
- Instead the decision was made that governments would make decisions regarding rights and freedoms and that the courts and decision makers needed to “pay more than lip service to rights and freedoms” according to the report.
- There were also discussions about ensuring professors, doctors, and other academics needing the ability to write freely without fear of consequence.
- This of course is referring to doctors who had opinions that were at odds with public health measures.
- This also leads to the discussion about how decisions were made regarding health restrictions where the report says that politicians would have to justify in court the need for health measures rather than the reverse.
- The report also suggests that province wide school closures shouldn’t have been done and that there should’ve been a cost-benefit review which should have been done before introducing public health measures.
- The report continues that changes to the Public Health Act should be made to ensure politicians, not medical experts, have the final say on public health measures.
- This is perhaps the biggest win for those who were against public health restrictions.
- Since at the time the cabinet was making decisions when the law required the Chief Medical Officer of Health to make the decisions, everyone who faced charges as a result of breaching public health restrictions heading to court now are seeing their charges thrown out.
- Numerous cases like this have appeared as recently as this week.
- The biggest ramifications of the report come around Alberta’s Bill of Rights.
- The report makes a number of recommendations to ensure that “the rights and freedoms of All Albertans” are protected.
- This includes “the right of every Albertan to not be coerced… into submitting to medical, psychological, or any other type of care or treatment.”
- These two recommendations effectively ask that the Alberta Bill Rights or Human Rights Act prevent vaccine mandates or prevent those who choose to be unvaccinated from being terminated from a workplace.
- Danielle Smith has at this point said that no decisions have been made with respect to what recommendations will be brought onboard and which will not.
- The political balancing question will be whether or not Danielle Smith’s government needs to bring legislation forward acting on these recommendations or if the very fact that this report was commissioned and curated for her base is enough.
- What this means is that for some, it may just be enough in the form of vindication to hear someone linked to the government say these things.
- We also need to accept the reality that we’re hopefully a long ways away from the next pandemic or emergency that requires restrictions.
- Albertans at the end of the day voted for Danielle Smith and the UCP full well knowing what her election platform as leader looked like. As such there’s little reason to be outraged today seeing this report be tabled.
- The question going forward is going to be whether or not Danielle Smith continues her establishment streak as we saw last week and just having this report made is enough or if there will be a push to make some changes for the sake of her base.
- For us here at Western Context, there was a time in late January 2022 when we pronounced the pandemic over and decided our coverage would come to a close.
- This report will hopefully be the last time we discuss public health restrictions and the pandemic.
- With that we also hope that listeners will find closure in this report allowing the COVID era to come to a close.
- This next story is a bit odd, because it's become a major story, but really only one Canadian media group is talking about it - Global News.
- It started with a huge Global News investigation into how agents of Iran's Islamic theocratic regime has been threatening Canadians, here in Canada, and how they are able to do that.
- As revealed during a lengthy investigation by Global News’ current affairs program The New Reality, the threats against the Iranian-Canadian critics of the Islamic Republic profiled in the Global News story, especially among the Iranian diaspora in Canada, are not unusual to see.
- In fact, The New Reality heard from Iranian Canadians, legal experts, and security and intelligence sources who say Canada has an especially big problem with hundreds, maybe thousands, of potentially dangerous regime-connected officials here on Canadian soil.
- Prominent Iranian American journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad tells The New Reality she was given a warning from the FBI: don’t travel to Canada, which she says is 'heartbreaking' as 'Canada should be safe’. Exiled in 2009, she has long been a thorn in the Islamic Republic’s side, calling the compulsory hijab their ‘Berlin Wall.’ Her criticism has put her in extreme danger.
- Gabriel Noronha served as special advisor on Iran to the U.S. State Department from 2019 to 2021. His assessment of the Islamic Republic’s presence in Canada is blunt. He says: “What I constantly hear from Iranian Americans, they say the problem in Canada is far, far worse than you can imagine.”
- Noronha says that threat assessment is more consistent with the preparations necessary to visit countries in the Middle East where Iranian affiliates are known to operate freely. As reported by Reuters in November 2022, Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said it was investigating reports of “credible” death threats from Iran against Canadians.
- Alinejad revealed more troubling information about the danger facing Iranian Canadian dissidents, in yet another bombshell revelation: “The FBI told me that the same group who are trying to kidnap me on U.S. soil that were the same group from Revolutionary Guards in Iran trying to harass, kidnap and kill Canadians.”
- A former senior Iranian minister, Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, is believed to have visited Canada, having been spotted in the background of a TV news report on Quebec tourism, and then caught on video visiting Casa Loma in Toronto.
- He was Iran’s health minister from 2013 to 2019 under then-president Hassan Rouhani, the head of the same administration responsible for killing numerous Canadians when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 traveling from Tehran to Kyiv on January 8th 2020.
- In late August 2023, Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller finally weighed in, saying that Hashemi’s application for temporary residence was denied under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), citing that he was barred for three years due to “Iran’s disregard for human rights.”
- Noronha calls the Canadian government's response 'unserious'. “In three years, you can go on vacation in the rest of Europe and then come back to Canada an unchanged man. The issue is, this person should be permanently blocked and every other Iranian official like him should be permanently blocked.”
- Immigration lawyer Ramin Joubin can’t figure out how Hashemi was allowed to enter in the first place: “You know, I really can’t say how that guy got in. I really can’t say. So it boggles my mind, too, how that individual got into Canada. I don’t know. I think that it’s just a slap in the face to the community here.”
- Joubin has formed a group working to identify and investigate those with close ties to the regime living in Canada. And the scope of the problem is shocking.
- He said: “We have about 700 names right now that either have temporary residence, permanent residence or citizenship that are in Canada and that are somehow regime affiliates. We are still counting. So it’s going to be closer to 1,000. They have impunity … to operate in Canada, engaging in financial and violent crimes. They will not be prosecuted. That’s just a fact.”
- Joubin claims many of the regime-connected insiders come with millions of dollars. He alleges they are often involved in financial fraud or large-scale government corruption, and settle in wealthy neighbourhoods in Canada.
- In the wake of Global's reporting, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre was unequivocal upon learning of the revelations. Poilievre has been vocal about getting tough with the Iranian regime, but said even he was startled at how widespread the problem is.
- He said: “To think that we might have terrorist-linked Iranian regime thugs operating with impunity, spending stolen money and intimidating Canadian Jews and Iranians is appalling. That reporting was shocking,” he said.
- Poilievre described the number as “staggering,” adding the situation requires “immediate action to kick them out of this country.”
- Trudeau has not responded to the reporting, on Iran but was widely criticized for stepping into the Israel-Gaza conflict by saying that said the "killing of women, of children, of babies" in the besieged Gaza Strip must end, in his sharpest criticism of Israel since war against Hamas broke out over a month ago. Iran of course, is Israel's biggest opponent, and has indirectly funded Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah, and is widely regarded to have helped to instigate the conflict.
- If Trudeau will not condemn Iran's influence in Canada, and the foreign regime's actors are allowed to operate in Canada with impunity, what does that say about Canada as a country? And what does it say when no one other than Global News is reporting on the issue?
Quote of the Week
“We have about 700 names right now that either have temporary residence, permanent residence or citizenship that are in Canada and that are somehow regime affiliates. We are still counting. So it’s going to be closer to 1,000. They have impunity … to operate in Canada, engaging in financial and violent crimes. They will not be prosecuted. That’s just a fact.” - Immigration Lawyer Ramin Joubin on potential people in Canada linked to the Iran Islamic theocratic regime.
Word of the Week
Impunity - exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Freedom and Fear
Teaser: The Federal Court overturns the single use plastics ban, Trudeau and Eby’s battery plant announcement may cost more than expected, and Alberta calls for a balance between health and rights. Also, Iranian agents are operating in Canada with impunity.
Recorded Date: November 18, 2023
Release Date: November 19, 2023
Edit Notes: Han Dong transition
Podcast Summary Notes