The (Right) News Rundown
- Last Saturday just hours after we finished production on Right Side episode 36 we were made aware of the horrible news that a police officer was struck by a speeding car in downtown Edmonton. The officer struck was Constable Mike Chernyk, a veteran of the Edmonton Police Service. Chernyk fought the attacker off while being stabbed and protecting his gun. Chernyk is expected to make a full recovery and was honoured at the Edmonton Oilers season opener earlier this week. Later the attacker was stopped at an Edmonton Police Check Stop in a U-Haul van. A pursuit ensued running through the downtown core. As the pursuit went on the attacker in the U-Haul van deliberately tried to hit pedestrians on the street. He hit 4 pedestrians, some of which are still in hospital under critical condition. The attacker was arrested. This attack marks the first terror attack in Western Canada.
- CTV News first reported that an ISIS flag was spotted in the vehicle used in the first part of the attack. Later at a news conference Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht confirmed that it was an ISIS flag. The motive for these attacks was clear. The attack clearly was an act of radical islamic terrorism. We'll have more details on the warning signs and actions of the attacker as we progress through this story, but the story takes an even more disturbing turn at this point.
- Later in the week it was revealed that the attacker came to the United States in 2011 and was ordered deported back to Somalia by an American immigration judge. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that the attacker was transferred into custody at San Diego's Otay Mesa Detention Centre on July 15, 2011 after he was taken to that department by U.S. customs and border protection. Two months after this at his deportation hearing he was ordered back to Somalia. He didn't go back.
- On November 23, 2011 he was released, "due to a lack of likelihood of his removal in the reasonably foreseeable future". This meant that the attacker was free in the U.S. He was supposed to report to ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations in January 2012 but did not. U.S. sources said he had no known criminal record but at the same time he was lacking any kind of information since he was given a birth date of January 1, 1987.
- How did he get to Canada? He came to Canada in 2012 as a Somalian refugee. He entered Canada through an official port of entry, declaring asylum and then was granted refugee status later that year. The immigration minister at the time was Jason Kenney of the former Conservative government. Today Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale repeatedly insisted that our screening was "thorough". Obviously not thorough enough to catch the signs that one could eventually become radicalized.
- Upon investigation by CBC it's been revealed that a former co-worker realized that the attacker was an ISIS supporter years before the attack and advocated "genocidal beliefs." The co-worker provided a detailed account:
- "It was very incoherent. He would just bounce from idea to idea, tangent to tangent, just about what he believed in and he definitely had genocidal beliefs, you could say.
- "He had major issues with polytheists. He said they need to die. That sort of thing. I only had a handful of conversations with him about it; those only occurred when there were just two of us in the work room."
- His co-worker reported the attacker to the Edmonton police who then passed the case onto the RCMP. The attacker was interviewed by the RCMP in Edmonton but given the nature of the threats there was not enough evidence at the time to arrest the attacker. This will obviously raise some questions in the future about what we need to do to both secure our borders and immigration system as well as combating radicalization in our communities.
- The Trudeau government must be commended for calling this attack terrorism from the beginning. Andrew Scheer also released a statement condemning the attacks and putting focus on the victims and families. Both leaders have wisely left the discussion of anti-terror policy and immigration reform to another date. But let it be known, when the time arrives we must be able to have a candid discussion on immigration without the term "racist" being thrown around. Jagmeet Singh issued a tweet saying, "My thoughts are with the injured and all those impacted by the violence in Edmonton. Grateful for the courage of the first responders."
- Hours after the attack though Trudeau went back to his campaign roots. On Sunday he shared a post on Facebook from former democratic reform minister Maryam Monsef that featured an image saying, "Love Lives Here! End White Supremacy" The text of the post said, "Well said, Minister. Canadians' resolve has been tested this weekend, but I know as always, we will come through united. Our diversity is our strength." What's truly bizarre though is that Monsef's post had nothing to do with the Edmonton attack yet Trudeau tried to link the post to Edmonton.
- Two weeks ago, I talked about how the BC government's solution to banning corporate and union donations was to get taxpayers to directly subsidise political parties through taxes. Now, it appears they are moving quickly on the other two major policy goals they promised when they took power this past summer, opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and an electoral reform referendum on proportional representation.
- This week let's talk about electoral reform. Legislation introduced on Wednesday will have voters submit their referendum ballot by mail. The ballots will be sent out in fall 2018, for a vote completed before the end of November. Approval for a change will need 50 per cent plus one vote province-wide and if the referendum passes, the new system would be enacted before the next provincial election, scheduled for 2021.
- In the meantime, Attorney General David Eby says the government hopes to engage voters with debate and discussion about the potential change to how they elect MLAs. "All British Columbians will be encouraged to engage in this process," said a release from Eby's office. All feedback received through the engagement process will be summarized and put in a report that will include a recommendation of suggested questions for the referendum ballot.
- The CBC news article about the story mentions all that is happening, but it doesn't mention WHY it's happening, as the why makes the NDP and the Green Party look bad.
- During the election campaign, the NDP promised to hold a referendum, saying the current system, "gives all of the power to make decisions to a party that doesn't even get 50 per cent of the votes." It's interesting how the NDP are now making sure a major decision when they themselves not only did not get 50% of the votes but also weren't even the party with the most votes.
- The Greens campaigned on a promise to introduce a system of proportional representation. Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the exact form of electoral change would be a matter of negotiation. It appears that negotiation was what led to the Green agreement to support the NDP minority government in exchange for concession on a few major policy platforms, electoral reform to benefit them being one of them.
- On Wednesday, the province also introduced legislation to amend the Constitution Act to reduce the number of seats required for recognized political party status from four to two. This is also curiously to the benefit of the Greens, as they have 3 seats it would allow them to hold official party status.
- The legislation will also change the fixed date election to a Saturday in October from a Tuesday in May. Eby says the change will allow for a January budget to be debated and passed.
- In 2005, 57 per cent of people voted in favour of a single-transferable vote system of proportional representation, which fell short of the 60 per cent threshold established by then-premier Gordon Campbell. Four years later, voters were asked to vote on electoral reform but the provincial government actively campaigned against the proposal. The initiative received only 39 per cent support.
- Eby says regardless of the referendum results, any election called before July 1, 2021 would be conducted using the current first-past-the-post system.
- Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill MLA Karen McPherson has left the NDP caucus to sit as an independent.
- In a statement posted on Facebook McPherson said, "Alberta, in fact the world, is changing quickly and I believe our political processes need to reflect these shifts. Continuing to do politics the way it’s being done will lead to further polarization." She goes on to say that, "Health care and education are the two largest items in the provincial budget and, while they are being adequately managed, they need to be transformed. Our economy is slowly recovering from a revenue collapse, leaving deficits that Albertans have deemed unacceptable, and there’s no clear path to alleviating the deficit." This is a clear swipe at the policy that the NDP are pursuing in government at the present time.
- She also says, "there is a vibrant, burgeoning start-up culture growing in Calgary and across Alberta; it needs nurturing and support and it will help lead the way for our economy." This is a 180 degree departure from what is perceived as current NDP policy.
- This is also the biggest step away from the NDP that we have seen for any MLA since the 2015 election. We have had a few NDP MLA's removed from caucus but later reinstated. There have been no outright floor crossings or departures from the party until McPherson.
- McPherson was elected in 2015 as a part of the NDP wave. Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill was created for the 2012 election and before that was a part of the Calgary-Mackay riding which was the seat for former PC cabinet minister Gary Mar. Prior to the NDP taking this seat it was a Progressive Conservative stronghold.
- One can only wonder at this time if McPherson will later join the Alberta Party or Alberta Liberals if either of those parties can be organized to be a new centre in Alberta politics. We've discussed before that both the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberals poll somewhere between 5 and 8% support. Though there seems to be little interest in merging the centre in Alberta. It's also entirely possible that McPherson will continue to sit as an independent until the next election and run against her opponents. Though 2019 is a long time away, independent floor crossers do not usually fair well in re-election unless they have a deep connection to their constituents.
- One final note on this, this story was covered on News Talk 770 in Calgary but wasn't covered on the evening newscasts in Edmonton or Calgary. It was covered in the papers and editorial segments. When you read McPherson's statement it doesn't outright cite the NDP policies as reason for the floor crossing but upon analysis there are clear issues raised that are related to the NDP government program. She's no Derek Fildebrandt.
- Well, we now have a new leader of the Federal NDP, and unlike the Conservative race last May it only took one ballot to find out who would win. And if you listened to the media this past week, probably the only things you'd know about the new leader is that he's East Indian, a practicing Sikh, not in Parliament (he will run for MP in the 2019 election, and in the meantime he will travel across Canada to meet with Canadians, and build the NDP brand), likeable and that he's 7 years younger than Trudeau. (The new CPC Leader Andrew Scheer is 5 months younger than Singh, but the media tends to forget about him, of course)
- Because of the media's coverage of Jagmeet Singh, who won on the first ballot with a staggering 54% over Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, and Guy Caron, it's not surprising that not many people know who he is. A new Angus Reid poll showed that about one-third of respondents said they hadn’t heard of him before, while 36 per cent said they knew his name but nothing else about the politician. It's almost as if by design that Singh's policies are unknown to the majority of Canadians.
- That's because while focusing on Singh's religion and fresh faced appearance (beard notwithstanding), the media is forgetting about his policies. For a quick refresher, I invite you all to revisit The Right Side Episode 29 from 2 months ago when we profiled each candidate, and outlined their policies on how they would shape Canada if they won the election.
- Since Singh's triumph I feel it's necessary to revisit some of the more salient points from that episode, as the mainstream media clearly won't talk about what he wants to do. Singh’s policies are based around a drastic shift in taxation, environmental policy, and social justice, with most of his efforts being put into climate change and the environment. Even since his victory, his policy website still reads like it was designed by a lawyer as well, with some translation needed to put it into everyday English. Some highlights include:
- Phasing out the coal industry by 2030, and retraining coal industry worker into “greener” industries
- A “Zero Emission Vehicle” strategy to increase affordability and availability of electric cars by taxing high emission vehicle owners and companies
- A cancellation of all subsidies to natural resource companies, and to use “tax incentives and rebates on goods, services, and investments to help us collectively meet our climate goals”, as well as implementing a carbon tax
- Singh also pledges a “Canadians with Disabilities Guarantee”, which would provide those living with disabilities with a non-taxable living income. Singh also wants to combine Old Age Security into other seniors benefits, which would actually end up lower the amount of money that seniors would get from OAS.
- He also wants to increase the taxable benefit for low income full time workers, which would basically do the same as increasing the minimum wage.
- Singh also wants to cancel unpaid internships, and make temp workers into permanent workers after 6 months. This would impact tourism, agriculture and other temp based industries dramatically.
- He also would immediately implement a $15 per hour minimum wage for federal employees, and have it keep pace with inflation
- He wants to introduce new tax brackets for high incomes earners, including two new tax brackets for Canadians earning $350,000 and $500,000 respectively that are 2% and 4% higher than the existing marginal rate respectively
- Increase Capital Gains Tax from 50% to 75%
- A 40% estate tax on assets in surplus of $4 million dollars exempting primary residences
- Reverse the corporate tax cuts of the last 20 years and increase the Corporate Income Tax to 19.5% from 15%
- Singh in the July debate has advocated for income redistribution. He states, “people have wealth and they need to transfer that wealth to those living in poverty now.” He feels that wealth transfers are different than social programs and should play a place in Canada.
- Based on this, we can tell that Singh’s policies would change the economy of Canada and impact how companies would do business in Canada. What the media is missing in their coverage could have a major impact in the next election when people go to the polls thinking only about Singh's charming demeanour and sharp fashion skills as a better alternative to Trudeau, and not knowing about what the NDP want to actually accomplish in Parliament if they won.
- TransCanada has terminated the Energy East pipeline. Estimates say that this project was worth $15.7b and will cost TransCanada $1b to get out of it. On the surface it may appear as though TransCanada just felt that maybe the pipeline wasn't needed due to lower energy demand or TransCanada may not have the capacity to fulfill Energy East due to working on Keystone XL that is not the case.
- So before we get too far into the nuts and bolts of Energy East let's just explain what was being approved and what won't happen. A huge portion of the Energy East pipeline already exists from the Alberta/Saskatchewan border through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec with branches off down to the United States in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. What was being approved was an expansion from Hardisty Alberta to the Saskatchewan border and an expansion from Montreal through Quebec to refineries in New Brunswick.
- While some will brush off the cancellation of Energy East as a simple business decision and not a decision related to the economic and regulatory climate in Canada, all one really needs to do is look at TransCanada's recent actions. Last month the corporation sought a 30-day suspension of the project applications for more time to review environmental assessment factors.
- Back in August the National Energy Board (NEB) allowed the inclusion of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions from increased production and consumption of oil resulting from future projects. This means that the environmental impact of not only construction but the extraction, production, and consumption of the product would be considered. It is these extra regulations put on by the government overseen NEB that contributed to the death of the project. The NEB has been on a constant course of expansion this year with even attempts to move the NEB head office from Calgary to Ottawa which we have discussed before on The Right Side.
- We need to be 100% realistic here and look at where our fuel products come from. We import gasoline from the US, from Venezuela, and the middle east. Any person with the basics of cognitive reasoning can ask themselves, would these countries really reduce their competitive effectiveness on the world stage at the expense of emissions in Canada? Probably not. That's not to say we should be careless with the environment but regulators and the government in Canada must be mindful that we live in a global economy and if we want the business of large energy companies we must be competitive with those other countries. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela don't care about our carbon emissions nor do they care about theirs, this means we must be mindful when finding our competitive edge.
- Rachel Notley issued a statement on Thursday morning saying that her government was "deeply disappointed by the recent decision from TransCanada." She further expanded on this by saying, "Our government has supported Energy East since the project was proposed. We believe this nation-building project would have benefited all of Canada through new jobs, investment, energy security and the ability to displace oil being imported into Canada from overseas and the United States." It was estimated that in addition to the revenue brought into Canada, Energy East would create 14,000 full time jobs yearly.
- Jason Kenney, running for the leadership of the United Conservative Party said that the province should hold a referendum asking for a fair discussion on equalization if the regulatory regimes or the government in Ottawa continues to be hostile to Alberta energy. This referendum would force the federal government to re-negotiate the equalization formula ensuring that Alberta doesn't have to send as much money eastward given that provinces like Quebec are hostile to energy projects.
- Montreal mayor Denis Coderre didn't waste time claiming victory. He said, "I've been saying since day 1 that [TransCanada was] arrogant and condescending. It's an enormous victory." Keep in mind that energy and natural resources are a federal jurisdiction. Provinces gain from resource revenue and can develop their resources. Municipal governments have ZERO sway in national energy projects. If anything this case, Denis Coderre is the one who is arrogant and condescending. First and foremost because it is Denis Coderre himself who has used pipelines to dump raw sewage from Montreal into the St. Lawrence, so while he preaches about keeping emissions low from oil, he is dumping raw sewage into his own river. Secondly, Denis Coderre and politicians in Quebec should be activists for pipeline construction, oil by pipeline is much safer than oil by rail and it was only a couple of days ago that the trial in the Lac Megantic disaster began. And on this note when it comes to safety of oil by rail, there was a derailment of six rail cars on Friday in southern Alberta near Coalhurst of a train carrying oil. In many ways Denis Coderre was the front face on the anti-Energy East front, as far back as January 2016 Denis Coderre lead a coalition representing 80 cities and towns in Quebec.
- We must also of course look to the market. Some will say it all comes down to the price of oil, that's not true. We have to remember that the NDP in Alberta brought in a carbon tax that increased the price of doing business in Alberta. Trudeau is also bringing in a carbon tax. Together both of these taxes will increase over time and act as a cooling factor on our natural resource economy. There's also the fact that Alberta has capped emissions of the oil sands at 100MT which we will reach somewhere in the 2025-2027 range. As we've discussed before on The Right Side, it's entirely possible that a company exploring a new project in 2017, to begin construction in the 2020s doesn't see a future in their project as well. Overall there have been signals saying that governments support pipelines and energy development but their actions do not. This can further be seen in that Rachel Notley simply released a statement on this cancellation while Jason Kenney held a televised press conference in Calgary.
- One final note, Quebec was also in the news this week with Bombardier. Last week the US put a 220% tariff on Bombardier planes, this was added to today with another 80% duty on the CSeries jet. This brings the total tariff to almost 300%. It will be interesting to watch in the coming days what action the Quebec government and federal government take in response to these tariffs. Will the governments in Quebec and Ottawa move to get a Canadian product, Airplanes, to market? Or will they just accept the decision as they are doing with TransCanada and Energy East?
- The federal Liberal government has spent more than $110,000 between January 2016 and April 2017 fighting a First Nations girl in court to block payment for orthodontic treatment that cost just $6,000, according to documents released under the Access to Information Act and shared with CBC News. The final cost will likely be higher, as a decision on this case was not handed down until May.
- Josey Willier, a Cree teen living in Calgary, had ongoing problems with her teeth that resulted in chronic aching pain in her lower gums. She took over-the-counter pain medication daily for two years because of extreme discomfort associated with impacted teeth and a severe overbite, among other ailments. A Calgary-based orthodontist, Mark Antosz, recommended braces to avoid invasive jaw surgery in the future.
- Stacey Shiner, the child's mother, sought payment for the braces under the First Nations and Inuit health benefit program, but was denied by Health Canada, the department that administers the insurance plan. She appealed three times to no avail, and ultimately took the case to Federal Court.
- Last fall, the Liberals voted to support an NDP motion that called on the government to stop fighting Indigenous families who are seeking access to services covered by Ottawa, but only two days after that vote, government lawyers were back in court fighting Shiner.
- Willier is not the first child to be repeatedly denied coverage. In 2015-16, nearly all applications, at all three levels of appeals pertaining to the orthodontics program, were denied by administrators of the benefits program: 99 per cent of first-level appeals, 100 per cent of second-level appeals and 100 per cent of all third-level appeals.
- In a statement Thursday, Health Canada defended its decision to deny care, adding in 2014-15 it funded approximately $5 million in orthodontic treatment for other kids.
- "In this case, the issue is not about the monetary value or affordability of the claim," the statement said. "The issue is that there is no clinical evidence to support approval of the claim under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB)." Health Canada also said the program for First Nations children is more generous than what is available to others. "The NIHB program covers the full cost of orthodontic treatment when it is medically necessary ... whereas private plans typically cover only one-quarter to one-third of costs."
- Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and an advocate for equal treatment of Indigenous children, was an intervener in Shiner's case. "I think it's atrocious," she told CBC News. "As a human being, I think it's immoral that Canada would not fund services where two concurring pediatric orthodontists agree that without treatment this girl will experience chronic pain and will have difficulty eating and talking. As a taxpayer, I'm absolutely floored that Canada would spend $110,000 defending [against] a $6,000 investment to help a child. They could have used that money to buy 18 children in medical need the orthodontic services they needed."
- It's another case where the Liberal government is spending money where they shouldn't be, in fighting this case. The whole point of Canada's public healthcare system is to take care of people with maladies that threaten their quality of life, and to support those who would not be able to pay for the treatment themselves. For them to pay such an exorbitant amount in legal fees just to get out of an in comparison paltry amount is ridiculous. The fact that it's treatment being denied for a First Nations girl, when the Liberals are so smug in Parliament defending their Indigenous record against the previous Harper government is also very hypocritical.
The Firing Line
- Our firing line has become known for showcasing the most absurd antics of Canadian media from the truth on Omar Khadr, refugee problems at West Edmonton Mall, and kayaks... This week we take it one step further.
- A new Holocaust memorial recently opened in Ottawa. It was commissioned by the former Harper government and was inaugurated by Justin Trudeau's government on September 27th. The National Holocaust Monument as its called, "commemorates the millions of men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust and honours the survivors who persevered and were able to make their way to Canada after one of the darkest chapters in history."
- There was no mention of the word "Jew" or "Jewish". Now this might seem as though it's being blown a bit out of proportion but on September 27th it was also covered in the national media that Canada was going to apologize for refusing entry to Jewish refugees in 1939. The national media had zero coverage of this omission, none on Global, CTV, or CBC. The Rebel did talk about it initially, but who else had the story on their front page? CNN? No. Fox News? No. The BBC over in the UK!
- The story from the BBC has the headline, "Canada forgets to mention Jewish people at Holocaust memorial." it also mentions that the plaque has been removed and will be updated accordingly. The BBC article also rightly states that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and they were the primary group to be persecuted by the Nazis. The BBC mentions that the Conservative opposition and Conservative senators brought up the issue in Ottawa and highlights their tweets and reactions. Also included in the BBC article is a statement from Heritage Minister Melanie Joly stating that the plaque would be replaced one that, "reflects the horrors experienced by the Jewish people."
- Here at The Right Side we don't only watch one side of the story in Canada. We also pay attention to our sources and friends abroad who read news and bring to us mentions of Canada for good or for bad. So next time someone mentions that the Canadian media is great and never skips a beat, remember this story.
Word of the Week
terrorism | ˈterəˌrizəm |
the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims: the fight against terrorism | international terrorism.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Reflection on Terrorism and Policy
Teaser: Terrorism comes to Edmonton. Also, electoral reform in BC, an AB NDP MLA leaves caucus, Jagmeet Singh wins the federal NDP race, Energy East is now dead, Ottawa spends too much on legal fees, and the BBC notes our Holocaust memorial’s Jewish omission.
Recorded Date: October 7, 2017
Release Date: October 7, 2017
Edit Notes: Energy east nuts and bolts, word of the week.