The (Right) News Rundown
- Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is back in the news again this week, and we know from previous stories it's usually because she's said or done something controversial in regards to industry, business or energy, and how that impacts the environment. Over the past few weeks she was in Bonn, Germany at the 2017 UN Climate Change conference, where she allied with her British Counterpart Claire Perry to launch an international alliance to phase out coal-fired electricity, signalling a sharp contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump's promotion of coal as an important global energy source.
- While rebuking U.S. President Donald Trump's push to revive the coal power industry, McKenna said the federal government has no plans to shutter Canada's coal exports. "They have got it wrong," McKenna said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period, of America’s commitment to fossil fuels. "We share a border with the U.S. but air doesn’t know any boundaries, water doesn’t know any boundaries," she said.
- In Canada, four provinces still depend on coal for electricity: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. McKenna said she is working with these provinces to wean them off, though there are still approximately 42,000 Canadian jobs in the coal industry. When asked by Evan Solomon if her department had a plan to help those workers, McKenna swiftly changed the subject by saying there are more workers in renewable energy, that there'll be a transition, and to the environmental impacts of coal and how those communities "want cleaner air". She mentioned that when Ontario switched to clean electricity, they went from 40 smog days in Toronto to 0. When Solomon questioned further, saying that when the transition happened, thousands of workers lost their jobs and energy prices spiked, and if there was a plan to mitigate that, McKenna deflected some more, saying Canada "has a great opportunity".
- In an interview in her Parliament Hill office, Ms. McKenna said the Liberal government is not only committed to meeting its Paris target of cutting GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. It will go further and adopt a more ambitious target in the coming years under a "ratcheting" provision set out in the Paris accord. Since concluding a federal-provincial climate deal last December, Ottawa has announced a ream of planned policies to reduce GHG emissions, but it has yet to introduce the legislation or regulations to implement them, while the bulk of planned spending won't come for another year or two.
- Carbon pricing legislation will be introduced early in the new year and will require all provinces to meet a minimum federal standard or see Ottawa implement its own carbon tax in their jurisdiction. The federal plan to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industry is due to be released soon, even as Alberta is expected to release its own draft regulations in the coming days.
- Conservative Party MP Ed Fast argues the Liberals are piling on climate-related costs, including carbon taxes, at the risk of the country's industrial competitiveness. He said Canada cannot get too far out of line with its major trading partners such as the United States, particularly at a time when Mr. Trump is pursuing a pro-business agenda.
- Also related, Nicaragua and Syria joined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Nicaragua and Syria were the final two countries to sign on to the climate accord, leaving the U.S. as the only United Nations-member state not supporting the agreement. McKenna's official department twitter tweeted out a congratulations that read "Canada Salutes Nicaragua and Syria for joining on to the Paris Agreement! Global #ClimateAction." The tweet was soon deleted, and McKenna took responsibility saying that the tweet was "completely unacceptable".
- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the Syria tweet "Unfortunate. I don't think it reflects well on the department. Certainly not something I think Canadians want to see, government officials congratulating countries led by dictators."
- Alberta has a carbon tax and it's going up on January 1.
- The carbon tax is set to increase by 50% per tonne from $20 to $30.
- This then trickles down to various forms of fuel. Diesel is increasing by 2.68c per litre, gas by 2.24c a litre for a grand total of 6.73c per litre, natural gas is increasing by 50c per gigajoule.
- That's where our story begins. The total cost of the carbon tax on natural gas prior to January 1, 2018 is 1.01 per gigajoule. The January 1, 2018 hike brings it up to $1.50 per gigajoule.
- The PAC known as Alberta Can't Wait (as discussed in previous episodes), tweeted an infographic highlighting a "75% tax on natural gas."
- The infographic further goes on to highlight that anyone who uses natural gas will see their heating bill go up by 75%.
- The current price for natural gas before the carbon tax is currently about $2 per gigajoule. Factoring in the new carbon tax this will bring the price up to $3.50 per gigajoule. And there you have it, a 75% increase on natural gas prices due to the carbon tax from the base price.
- For the record, the current carbon tax on gas means that gas comes in at roughly $3 per gigajoule, this is a 50% increase on natural gas due to the carbon tax.
- The media and government went into full damage control mode on this.
- The government calls these claims "patently false."
- The media has engaged in what I call pretzel twisting, twisting themselves into a position to make their claims true.
- The story in the Edmonton Journal outright admits that natural gas prices are going up. They also highlight the dollar amounts and even admit that it's a 75% increase on natural gas.
- But no, the infographic is wrong. Dead wrong.
- The technicality that the media and government in lock step are highlighting is that the carbon tax on natural gas is fixed. It will be roughly $1.50 if natural gas prices are $2 or $15 per gigajoule.
- So while Alberta Can't Wait and the United Conservative Party have a valid point that makes sense, the government calls it "patently false" and the media has gone out of their way to defend the government on this by a round of pretzel twisting or obtuse circular logic.
- A shocking story making the rounds on national media came from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Lindsay Shepherd, who is a grad student and teaching assistant showed a video in a communications class on the debate surrounding the use of gender neutral pronouns. The video showed was an episode of the TVOntario current affairs program The Agenda, which showed a panel discussion that included two University of Toronto instructors — controversial psychology professor Jordan Peterson and Nicholas Matte, a lecturer in the sexual diversity studies program. Peterson has become infamous for his opposition to being required to use such pronouns, describing them as an expression of a radical left-wing ideology.
- Shepherd was then sanctioned by her supervising professor for showing the video. She covertly recorded her meeting with her supervising professor Dr. Nathan Rambukkana as well as another professor, Herbert Pimlott, and the manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support, Adria Joel. This week, that audio was released to media outlets.
- Shepherd was told one or more students complained about the video and Rambukkana told Shepherd showing the video without denouncing Peterson's views was like "neutrally playing a speech by Hitler." She was also told that by showing the video it was "creating an unsafe learning environment and toxic climate for her students". Rambukkana then said that the topic is not up for intellectual debate as they were protected by the Charter (which is false).
- Joel then mentioned that Shepherd had violated the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy of the campus. When questioned as to how she violated it, Joel said Shepherd was "causing harm to trans students by bringing their identities as invalid or their pronouns as potentially invalid". Shepherd, who was quite distraught at this point rightly said "So me showing a youtube video for a debate makes me transphobic and I caused harm and violence? I can't do anything about that". Rambukkana then asked "So that's not something you see an issue with?" He also mentioned that this shouldn't be talked about or debated because the students were "too young to have the critical toolkit to pick it apart"
- On Wednesday, the issue was raised in the House of Commons as Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer made it the first question of the day. "Will the prime minister join me in condemning the egregious crackdown on free speech at Laurier University?" he asked. Scheer has been known for his stance on defending free speech in post-secondary institutions, including taking away funding for those who don't defend free speech.
- Scheer called the meeting Shepherd had with her professor an "inquisition" and said he couldn't believe what he heard. Debate is not only supposed to be allowed at university, it's to be encouraged, he said. "I think that's extremely disappointing that the administration at that university would proceed in that way. I believe it's part of a larger concern that I've witnessed and seen and heard feedback from from students and faculty from around the country that there are more and more impediments to free speech on campus."
- The prime minister was in Toronto at that time, so Scheer's question was answered in the House by Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan. "Our government is committed to creating open spaces for Canadians to debate and express their views. In a free society, we may disagree with people's views, but we must defend their right to hold them, unless those views promote hate. Intolerance and hate have no place in Canadian society or in our post-secondary institutions," Duncan said.
- On Tuesday, Laurier's president Deborah MacLatchy issued an apology on behalf of the school to Shepherd. "After listening to this recording, an apology is in order. The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires. I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd."
- In his apology, Rambukkana acknowledges he mishandled the meeting, and said his main concern was “finding out why a lesson on writing skills had become a political discussion, and making sure harm didn’t befall students.” He said he failed to provide Shepherd the support she deserved in such a meeting with faculty members. “I should have seen how meeting with a panel of three people would be an intimidating situation and not invite a productive discussion,” he said.
- Rambukkana also apologized for his choice of words during the meeting. “Perhaps instead of the route I took I should have added further discussion in lecture, or supplementary readings,” he wrote. “But instead I tried to make a point about the need to contextualize difficult material, and drew on the example of playing a speech by Hitler to do it. This was, obviously, a poorly chosen example. I meant to use it to drive home a point about context by saying here was material that would definitely need to be contextualized rather than presented neutrally, and instead I implied that Dr. Peterson is like Hitler, which is untrue and was never my intention.”
- I don't know about you, but that doesn't really sound like someone that's sorry.
- Shepherd told CBC News she didn't see where the university had any other option but to apologize. "This was their only option," she said, adding, "I didn't expect their apology to be sincere. I don't think that they are sincere." Shepherd said the issue is far from over considering Laurier is continuing with its third-party investigation into what happened and a task force to look into how the university can foster "important discussions in a thoughtful and determined way." Shepherd said she's not clear what that means. "While they did do damage control because they were profoundly embarrassed, it doesn't really guarantee anything for the future if anyone ever finds themselves in my situation. It's kind of unfortunate that they didn't make any long-term commitment to protecting the ability to debate topics in the classroom in the future."
- She also said the outpouring of support — including offers to crowdfund her, which she’s turned down — has been heartening and shows how much people care about freedom of speech, even if much of the support came from people with different political views than her own. “Obviously the vast majority are right wing, and that’s fine,” she said. “But my question is, why doesn’t it matter for people like me who are left wing, or left-leaning, but still believe in being reasonable?”
- As she’s noted multiple times, she doesn’t even agree with Peterson’s stance on pronouns. “If someone told me that they have a pronoun that they like to use, I would just use it,” she said.
- You'd think this would be the end of the story, but there's something even wackier going on at Wilfrid Laurier.
- A Tuesday statement by Wilfrid Laurier University's Rainbow Centre appears to endorse a policy of silencing all mention of the debate on gender neutral pronouns. “In the face of recent media attention, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out against the climate of transphobia that is being fostered at Laurier,” reads a statement released Tuesday by the Rainbow Centre, a service within the school’s diversity and equity office that offers support to queer and trans students.
- “The discourse of freedom of speech, is being used to cover over the underlying reality of transphobia that is so deeply ingrained in our contemporary political context,” reads the Rainbow Centre’s statement. Articles and columns written in support of Shepherd, meanwhile, were said to be “defending and perpetuating transphobic beliefs and attitudes.” The statement suggests that the debate of gendered pronouns is “disallowable speech” that constitutes “a form of epistemic violence that dehumanizes trans people by denying the validity of trans experience.”
The Firing Line
- Start plain and simple with the facts for this story.
- 180 Canadians have gone to fight for ISIS. These are Canadians that have rejected the peaceful western life that Canada provides for a radical islamic ideology bent on taking over the world.
- The Prime Minister speaking from a script answering a question from Andrew Scheer offered up that the government "takes the protection of Canadians very seriously."
- "One returned individual may have national security implications."
- "The government will be there to help them let go of their terrorist ideology."
- Following this it took repeated questioning from the Conservative opposition bench. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale eventually revealed that 60 fighters have returned to Canada and they are under "very careful" investigation.
- The government's response today is that when it comes to safety of Canada our intelligence agencies and RCMP do an adequate job in protecting Canada from terrorist threats. And when possible for cases to be made, those ISIS criminals are "prosecuted within the fullest extent of the law."
- The issue at hand is not that 60 ISIS fighters have returned to Canada, it is that rather than sending these people to prison, the Prime Minister is setting up a program that "helps to ensure that resources are in place to facilitate disengagement from violent ideologies.” The question being asked by many and one that many Canadians will have is, why do we want them as a part of our common society after they rejected what we stand for?
- We must remember that ISIS is a group that regularly beheads its prisoners. They've also taken their barbarism one step further by drowning and burning prisoners in cages and throwing gays off of buildings for being gay.
- Ask yourself, ask your family, ask those around you, would you want people who support this ideology in your community?
- Trudeau's plan works in theory but that relies on one big assumption. That assumption is that we know who these people are and where they are. If we don't know who they are and where they are, there's no way to check their progress and they will have received a free pass into Canada.
- Unfortunately for all of Canada, this worst case scenario has come to fruition. Public Safety Canada says that it can't provide any statistics on the success of Trudeau's program because it doesn't directly intervene with radicalized Canadians who have returned.
- Public Safety Canada's "Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence" currently is undertaking 6 "action-oriented research" projects. There are four more planned under the category of "Direct intervention/prevention programming" but no details are given on what this means. Of these 4 projects two are training programs for the Ontario Provincial Police, a third backs a series of expert roundtables on the use of social media, and the fourth, called Project SOMEONE takes place in Montreal at Concordia University, which "promotes the use of social media and art in schools to build awareness and resilience." Project SOMEONE received $367,000 in September.
- So while research projects are underway with where there appears to be zero potential for direct intervention with the returning ISIS fighters. Former CSIS officer Phil Gurski is troubled by the mixing counter-terrorism and deradicalization. This government has a serious problem combating returning ISIS fighters as even the CBC has called it, "Deradicalization through poetry [and] podcasts".
Word of the Week
percent | pərˈsent | (also chiefly British per cent)
by a specified amount in or for every hundred: new car sales may be down nineteen percent | staff rejected a 1.8 percent increase.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Problem with Priorities
Teaser: McKenna defends export of coal while condemning the US, Alberta’s carbon tax adds 75% to the cost of natural gas, a university debate on pronouns leaves free speech in jeopardy, and the federal government wants to reintegrate ISIS fighters into Canada.
Recorded Date: November 25, 2017
Release Date: November 26, 2017
Edit Notes: Internet hickup @ black Friday. Carbon tax drop out.