The (Right) News Rundown
- The, "United Conservatives are determined to bring harm to gay children" says Premier Rachel Notley. She spoke these comments during a speech of the Alberta NDP provincial council. She was of course referring to Jason Kenney who is running for leadership of the UCP.
- This article comes from the National Post, first and foremost it doesn't actually quote Jason Kenney saying what his policies for school GSAs would be. Secondly, there's obviously some attempt being made here to generate clicks, likes, or ad views. With such an inflammatory headline you would expect that a potential UCP government is going to send these kids for shock therapy!
- Back in August Jason Kenney said that parents have a right to know if their child joins a GSA at school unless there are fears of abuse at home. For anyone who has been watching the UCP leadership race unfold will know that this is a part of Jason Kenney's education policy. Jason Kenney is a strong proponent of having educational decisions made at the local level and having parents involved in their child's education wherever possible. This was on showcase at the UCP leadership debate in Edmonton this week and it was available to be covered for free by the media.
- Following on this comment from Rachel Notley the education minister also got involved. He classed this as "dangerous political rhetoric" from Kenney and the UCP and says it's forcing the province to introduce legislation to make it illegal for schools to, "out students who join gay-straight alliances."
- Legal advisors also weighed in on the story including John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Calgary. He said that Alberta law requires parents, "be fully informed about all aspects of their children's education." This does of course include involvement in extracurricular activities. Anything that prohibits a parent from knowing what their child is up to, barring "exceptional" circumstances, would be violating a parent's legal rights and responsibilities to their children.
- The NDP government is drafting legislation for the fall sitting that would protect the right to establish a GSA in schools and ensure the privacy of the students. As illustrated by John Carpay, this could cause some legal issues if this Bill were to become law. The Bill would also include penalties, the exact penalties haven't been determined but schools that don't comply could risk funding cuts or the loss of their accreditation.
- While the NDP is claiming "dangerous political rhetoric" the media is guilty for not reporting all the facts on the Jason Kenney's education policy and giving the NDP a path to enact their own educational policy without it being thoroughly vetted either.
- “That seems to be the foundation of the B.C. Liberals’ jobs plan, every time we look at the Orders in Council, there’s a new failed candidate who has been given a sizable pay increase and is now working on the government dime,” Horgan said on July 4, 2013.
- “There are no job qualifications for them. (Were) they interviewed for the positions against other qualified candidates? We have a basement teeming with interns, young capable people who don’t profess to have a partisan stripe, working for both caucuses. Did they have an opportunity to get one of these jobs?”
- It's something that Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth also criticized heavily when he was in opposition, and running for leadership of the NDP.
- “The only thing that’s transparent and consistent is the B.C. Liberal’s abandonment of merit in favour of appointing failed candidates, friends and political insiders,” Farnworth said in a media release Jan. 16, 2014, in response to the Liberals hiring defeated candidates and party sympathizers to key jobs and boards.
- 4 years later, B.C.’s NDP government has stacked its new offices, and the province’s communications branch, with dozens of former party workers and partisan loyalists in the kind of patronage hiring spree that it used to decry under the previous Liberal government.
- Now in power, it doesn’t view those types of hires as a problem anymore. In an emailed statement, the premier’s office said: “It is both normal and necessary to hire staff who share the government’s vision and can implement its commitments. Our government has been fully transparent about its staff appointments, including salaries.”
- On Wednesday, Mike Farnworth, who decried these types of appointments under the Liberals, said that “every government that comes into office brings in their own staff,” and the NDP is doing nothing wrong. “We’ve only hired one defeated candidate,” he added.
- According to Postmedia, the government’s ministerial assistant and communications jobs are littered with young New Democrats, former Alberta NDP staff, former federal NDP staff, 11 former NDP constituency assistants and at least six former Vision Vancouver staffers.
- In one case, the NDP hired Kassandra Dycke, the party’s failed 2013 candidate in Courtenay-Comox, to an $80,000 ministerial assistant job to Health Minister Adrian Dix. The new ministerial assistants also include Caelie Frampton, an NDP digital campaigner in the 2017 election; Sarena Talbot, an NDP field organizer; Lori Ann Winstanley, a veteran NDP campaigner who most recently worked at the MoveUp union; and Christian Romulo Avendano, a canvasser and fundraiser for the party during by-elections in 2016. The salaries range between $72,000 and $94,500 for senior assistants.
- It's a practice that the BC Green Party also disagrees with, who's agreement the minority NDP government requires to stay in power. “It’s offensive actually,” Green leader Andrew Weaver said in an interview. “And this is why the taxpayer gets so disenfranchised with our political system, is that you criticize someone for doing something and you do exactly the same.”
- He said it’s “hypocritical” for the NDP to stack publicly-paid jobs with campaign officials and well-connected loyalists when, as opposition, the party explicitly promised not to commit the same mistakes. It’s similar to the NDP’s promise to ban corporate and union donations, while still holding the cash-for-access fundraisers like the Liberals, said Weaver.
- “I find it sickening and saddening in the same time that they continue to do this, because it turns people off and what we’re trying to do is get them re-engaged in our democracy, excited for a change and we see this kind of crap going on,” said Weaver. “It really hurts.”
- It's amazing how before the election the NDP worked hard to say how different they were from the NDP governments in the 1990's and how they would do politics differently than the BC Liberals, yet now that they've barely squeaked into power they are raising the amount of money spent on the public service while rewarding NDP friends and loyalists. It's even more amazing that the Greens continue to prop up the NDP when they're doing things that supposedly "sicken" them.
- We're roughly 2 years out from the next federal election, it could come sooner, it could come later. But if the law is followed our next federal election will be in October 2019. A week is a long time in politics and what we're going to be seeing two years from now is anyone's guess.
- This week a poll was released by Forum Research. The poll says that the Conservatives would receive 39% of the vote and the Liberals would receive 35% of the vote. Projections, past history, and mathematical analysis can then be applied to these numbers to forecast seat counts, people do that. These numbers would give the Conservatives a near majority minority government of 169 seats, the Liberals would receive 130, the NDP 26, the Bloc 12, and Elizabeth May would hold her seat out west.
- Here at The Right Side we're always skeptical of polls. You can look at sentiment polls to get a feeling of what a segment of the population is feeling but when that same methodology is applied to vote preference we need to think about a whole slew of other factors. There was the 2011 federal election which forecast a Conservative minority but we ended up with a Conservative majority, the Alberta election in 2012 that forecast a Wildrose majority but in reality we saw a PC majority, and Donald Trump was forecast to lose to Hillary by double digits but he's president.
- Polls can be wrong. Why are we talking about this now?
- The headline from Global reads: Poll finds Scheer's Tories ahead of Trudeau's Liberals but can we believe it? Polls need to be taken with a grain of salt as outlined above. It's interesting that the media chose this time in particular to bring this issue up. We rarely hear about the accuracy of polls in an election campaign, let alone they be outright questioned. We also tend to hear more about the accuracy of polls from the media when a conservative is ahead as is the case with this poll.
- this is ultimately a great article from Global and should be stickied, pinned, or re-run whenever an election campaign is underway. It's something that the media and voters need to be aware of, because ask yourself a question, how many people will change their vote because of a way a poll is leaning? The article says, "Rival pollsters and statistics scientists will have their own opinions but the only real answer is that we truly cannot know if this is an outlier or reality unless we had an actual general election and were able to compare Forum’s poll against actual results." This sums up nicely why polls should always be questioned and we should be more cautious of their reporting especially during an election campaign.
- The article also does something else nice where it contrasts polls taken during the same period as the Forum poll. During the same week the Nanos tracking poll had the Liberals with a 10 percent lead. Campaign Research had a poll from the previous week with a 12 point lead for the Liberals. Abacus Data was in the field on Sept 1-3 and also found a 12 point lead. So as you can see, this Forum poll was an outlier.
- The question to be asked, why don't we see this kind of analysis from media and pundits during an election period? And why isn't the accuracy of polling brought up more often?
The Firing Line
- In Canada, many like to look at the terrorism problems in Europe and say "I'm sure glad that doesn't happen here". The problem with that, is that if we're not careful, it very well could.
- An article from Kim Bolan of the Vancouver Sun profiles a 2002 Jordanian refugee called Othman Hamdan living in Fort St. John who was arrested in 2017 for terrorism charges, and later acquitted. Hamdan is now appearing before the Canadian Border Services Agency to determine if he should be allowed to stay in Canada after Facebook posts supporting the Islamic State and an admission he was once involved in an international hashish smuggling ring.
- Hamdan is neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident of Canada. A Jordanian citizen, Hamdan came to B.C. from the U.S. in 2002 and made a successful refugee claim based on his conversion to Christianity. He later rejected his new religion and went back to practicing Islam.
- Canada Border Services official Randal Hyland said the agency had grounds to believe that Hamdan was inadmissible as a security risk as well as because of his serious criminality. Hyland asked at a detention hearing Tuesday that Hamdan remain incarcerated until a full admissibility hearing can be held before the Refugee Board. The detention hearing was adjourned until next week. Hyland noted that the burden of proof to determine whether someone is inadmissible to remain in Canada is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used by criminal courts.
- Last Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler acquitted Hamdan on four terrorism charges stemming from dozens of Facebook comments he posted in 2014 and 2015 supporting ISIS and lone-wolf attacks in Canada, the U.S. and other countries. Butler said that Hamdan’s posts may be offensive to Canadians, but that doesn’t mean the Fort St. John man was encouraging or inciting acts of murder, assault and mischief as alleged by the Crown.
- Hamdan's lawyer, Erica Olmstead, argued Tuesday against his continued detention, saying it was unfair to keep him in jail given the not guilty verdict in the criminal case. She said if he is released into the community, he intends to stay at a shelter and apply for a work permit until he is “back on his feet.”
- Hyland pointed to some of the comments Hamdan made on Facebook that first caught the eye of RCMP investigators in the fall of 2014.
- One comment appeared to be suggesting a dam in Revelstoke and a bridge in Ontario would be easy targets for terrorists. “This dam supplies most of the west coast of the North American continent with power. The number of police officers in this town is between 20-30. Closest military base is 200 kilometres. Security is weak,” Hamdan wrote in September 2014.
- “There is a bridge — Nipigon River Bridge near a village Nipigon, Ont. It crosses a river and connects Eastern Canada with its West and it also carries a railroad. This bridge divides the country in the middle and its repair will take years. Security protection … zero.”
- In another post, Hamdan appeared to be inciting violence through lone-wolf attacks, Hyland said. On Feb. 25, 2015, Hamdan posted an ISIS message on his Defeat of the Alliance Facebook page, which said: “Our advice to supporters in the #US … carry your actions there … swiftly lone wolves activate all across #USA.”
- In other Facebook posts, Hamden praised Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who attacked Parliament Hill on Oct. 22, 2014, as well as Martin Couture-Rouleau, who drove a car into two Canadian soldiers in Quebec two days before. The same day as the Ottawa attack, Hamdan wrote “a Muslim brother is martyred by the Canadian police after he killed a Canadian Soldier in retaliation to Canada’s crimes in Iraq.” He said Canada is “terrified”.
- However, Justice Bruce Butler noted that “these posts are difficult for the average Canadian to read or understand. This is because Mr. Hamdan expresses support for the actions of lone wolf terrorists and the reasons he gives for saluting these actions defy logic. The suggestion that it is rational or acceptable for someone to kill unsuspecting non-combatants in a civil setting is repugnant. However, the posts do not contain statements that could be considered active inducements and encouragement for readers to go and commit similar offences.”
- What we see here is a travesty of justice, where a man who clearly openly supports terrorism and terrorist acts was acquitted. Our hope will be that the CBSA frowns upon this sort of behaviour and deports Hamdan back to Jordan to send a clear message that Canada 100% does not tolerate terrorism. What's interesting is that this should be a national news story, but was only found in a few local BC papers.
Word of the Week
Acquit - to relieve from a charge of fault or crime; declare not guilty: “The jury acquitted her, but I still think she's guilty.”
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Clickbait and Non-Coverage
Teaser: In Alberta clickbait dominates a headline about UCP education policy, the BC NDP flip-flop and conduct dozens of partisan appointments, the media questions the accuracy of polling, and an acquitted ISIS fan fights to stay in Canada. Should he be able to?
Recorded Date: September 30, 2017
Release Date: September 30, 2017
Edit Notes: None