The (Right) News Rundown
- On January 1, Alberta's carbon tax went up 50% to $30/tonne. This translates to roughly 2.5c per litre of gas and about 50 cents more per giga-joule of natural gas.
- As we've discussed before this affects all Albertans...
- Along with this reaction has been almost universal. The government says that the "newly raised provincial carbon tax will help economy"
- This headline was talked about thoroughly by the Canadian Press.
- Their linking is tangential at best, saying that the carbon tax helped gain approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Though recall from our Year In Review episode, Northern Gateway and Energy East met their unfortunate demise.
- The reaction to the increase in the carbon tax was swift.
- A Tempo gas station in Spruce Grove put up a note on their electronic billboard about the carbon tax.
- The billboard initially said, "F**K NDP/TRUDEAU". It was later changed to "NDP CARBON TAX HURTS ALL".
- The initial sign was called a, "profane anti-NDP sign". Granted yes the words used are profanity but following the placement of the sign the gas station saw a surge of support with some customers driving hours to fill up there.
- Numerous media outlets reported on this.
- All of the local residents that Global Edmonton talked to on camera were in support of the modified sign if not the original sign!
- Global's report then cites two tweets condemning the sign as an "absurdity" in one and in the other goes a step further and cites a tweet that calls the sign "juvenile and weak".
- It should also be noted that should anyone want to view the tweets that Global highlighted, they will have difficulty. Global managed to typo the twitter account names for both users.
- Further media outlets such as the Edmonton Journal also took to Twitter to find support against the sign, citing once again Tweets.
- Twitter may be a driving force in modern conversation but the weight of an on camera or on recording interview still carries massive weight over a tweet.
- The fact that the media had to go to Twitter to find those willing to speak out who don't support the sign says volumes.
- In a final note on this story, the Edmonton Journal piece was published internally under a different headline.
- The headline as published today reads, "Spruce Grove gas station takes down ‘profane’ anti-NDP sign, replaces it with anti-carbon tax message"
- It was published internally as "Salty Spruce Grove Tempo Gas Station Sign Takes Aim at Notley/Trudeau".
- Now anyone who has been around on the internet will see that the term "salty" has often been used to define people who are overly angry at something or someone for a reason that may not be all it's made out to be.
- This is a perfect summation for this story in that the Edmonton Journal feels the need to throw the "salty" word around, which isn't a professional standard for journalism and that all references to those who didn't support the sign were only shown in tweets and not actual interviews.
- Victoria mayor Lisa Helps will be running for re-election, which will be occurring in late October 2018. She made the announcement on January 1st, saying that though there have been successes over the past year, there is "still work to do to bring more sustainability and affordability to the city".
- Helps, who ran a grassroots campaign encouraging people to vote for her to replace mayor Dean Fortin back in 2014, was previously a one term Victoria councilor. At the time, she described herself as being neither left wing or right wing, and endeared herself to younger voters who were wanting a change in direction in city hall. The campaign worked, as Helps won over Fortin by just 89 votes. But that election was as much about the Johnson Street Bridge project as it was anything else. Fortin’s opponents hammered away at the project’s rising costs and missed deadlines as failures of his leadership, and it ultimately costed him the election, as voters wanted a change.
- 4 years later, and it appears that voters have gotten that change, though if that change is good is certainly debatable. Helps has attempted to make the city more environmentally friendly, and has done so by raising taxes to pay for projects such cutting out car lanes to create two way bike lanes in the ever crowded downtown core. Ever since the first leg of the bicycling network opened — a 1.2-kilometre stretch on Pandora between Cook and Wharf streets — it has stirred controversy. Some find the two-way bike route on a one-way street to be counter-intuitive and confusing to motorists with its separate signals and no right turns on red lights. Others are dismayed at the loss of parking and narrowing of the roadway.
- And costs are ballooning as the project scope expands. The cost of the 5.4-kilometre downtown network has grown to an estimated $14.5 million — almost $2.7 million per kilometre — about double the $7.75 million the city initially set aside. The results of the bike lanes project have been polarizing. Political experts think that the issue could hamper Helps in October. Says Michael Prince, UVIC professor of political science, "That could be a real knock against her, and it's something physical, concrete that people could talk around,"
- This is just one of the projects Helps is attempting to complete. She says that combating climate change will have to take centre stage this year and throughout the next term: “Our job is to make sure that in 2050 Victoria is sustainable and Victoria is affordable. Part of that is bike lanes. Part of that is affordable housing, even when people feel it is hard to have that in their neighbourhood. Part of that is taking really bold action, and this is a lot of what the next term is going to be about, on climate action,”
- Speaking of affordable housing, that was another major issue of Helps' term as mayor. Despite her considering it a priority, median household prices continue to skyrocket, and though more buildings are being constructed to keep up with the demand, prices are still sky high. Homeless numbers have increased as well, which gave rise to a tent city on the courthouse lawn in November 2015 and that stayed almost an entire year until mid-August 2016. Perceived special treatment given to residents of the tent city encampment and what some thought was indifference to neighbourhood concerns gave birth to a Mad As Hell neighbourhood group. Some from that group are actively campaigning against Helps and her entire council.
- Transportation is also a major issue in Victoria, and with the focus and money on bike lanes, there hasn't been any left over for rapid transit. Currently there is no rapid transit linking downtown to the increasingly populated West Shore communities of Langford, Colwood and Metchosin. Daily congestion slows the Trans Canada highway to a crawl daily, and affordable light rapid transit would be expensive, but it might just be what the South Island needs as Victoria gets bigger and bigger.
- Helps' announcement has sparked early opposition in Victoria from a group known as NewCouncil.ca, which is counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until election day. Members are actively searching for candidates to oppose Helps and other councillors. We'll have to keep following this story and see if any frontrunners emerge and what ideas candidates will have to help fix the problems that past mayors have not addressed.
- If there's one thing 2017 taught us, the Trudeau government isn't afraid of normalizing Omar Khadr.
- Why Khadr again? Joshua Boyle. Joshua Boyle was once married to the sister of Omar Khadr who has links to terror in Pakistan. Even the CTV call Khadr's sister "jihad-supporting."
- A week before Christmas on December 18, 2017 Trudeau had a secret meeting with Boyle and his family. Why was it secret? It wasn't listed on the Prime Minister's official schedule, when events are left out, especially of this magnitude, something is not right.
- Who is Joshua Boyle then? Joshua Boyle is the father and husband who took his family to Afghanistan as missionaries. Following this they were captured by ISIL linked hostage takers, the whole ordeal lasted 5 years and ended this past October.
- Once the family was freed it was immediately clear that something wasn't right, Boyle would not take a flight back to Canada by way of the US under the fear that the US hold him under some unknown criminal charges.
- This week on January 2nd, it was revealed that he was facing 15 serious criminal charges. These, apparently unlinked with past behaviour before returning to Canada, are said to have taken place between October 14th and December 30th 2017.
- The charges are: 8 counts of assault, 2 counts of sexual assault, 2 counts of unlawful confinement and 1 count of misleading police to "divert suspicion from himself."
- The question now rightfully being asked in print is, why did the Prime Minister meet with such a person and who exactly should be able to meet with the Prime Minister?
- As asked by CTV's Don Martin, "[The] meeting never officially happened. That could signal political discomfort with a man who showed telltale early signs of being odd, bordering on bizarre."
- The CTV piece then highlights that the photos of Trudeau and Boyle can lead to many conclusions because a picture is worth a thousand words, but "many of them are questions of bad judgement."
- These sentiments are echoed by the CBC and Global in that there's more questions coming out of this meeting than could possibly be answered. A former CSIS agent named Phill Gurski, said that, "going into the meeting with Trudeau there were enough unanswered questions to have given pause to the staff at the Prime Minister's Office, including Boyle's decision to take his pregnant wife backpacking to Afghanistan in the first place."
- Given the recent ruling of the ethics commissioner in regards to Trudeau's Christmas 2016 trip we must ask why the decision was made to have this meeting!
The Firing Line
- Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 per cent in December, down from 5.9 per cent the month before, to reach its lowest mark since comparable data became available in 1976.
- Statistics Canada’s survey found that the biggest gains over the last year were seen in retail and wholesale trade, which boasted 26,500 jobs in December, up from 24,000 the year previous. The finance, insurance and real estate sector added 2,300 new positions and the accommodation and food-services sector added 3,500 positions.
- Those gains were offset by a decline in the business, building and support-services sector, shedding 4,600 positions since December 2016, and information, culture and recreation sector, losing 2,000 positions.
- It's being touted as a good thing, but what's being missed in the media is that only 1/3 of new jobs created are full time. Out of 78,600 net new positions, only 23,700 are full-time jobs, and with so many new jobs created being part time, that gives a lot more leverage to the companies.
- With minimum wage hikes in Ontario on January 1st from $11.60 to $14, and Quebec, PEI and Alberta later in the year, and probably BC in the future, it could lead to a lot of part time workers' hours being cut, or paid breaks or benefits slashed, with little recourse.
- Alberta’s unemployment rate contributes to this reduced figure on the national unemployment rate. As we have talked about previously the Alberta unemployment rate can go down but it’s ultimately an issue of labour force participation, especially in Edmonton and Calgary. The unemployment rate in those two cities is still at 7.5%, this is only lower than St. John’s and Saskatoon. As with the part time positions nationally the employment recovery in Alberta has been in the service industry primarily with the natural resources/energy sector to follow. The market has not fully recovered to pre-recession levels since during the phase from 2015 through today Alberta’s population has also increased.
- Also troubling is that in BC, where unemployment especially in Vancouver and Victoria is the lowest in Canada, businesses are finding it harder than ever to find workers. Frank Bourree, principal of Chemistry Consulting in Victoria, said inaction is not an option as businesses scramble to attract workers. “This can only be solved through immigration, workforce housing and better transportation and daycare, or it’s only going to get worse, because I don’t see the economy going south anytime soon,” said Bourree. BC is also not getting migrant workers from within Canada, probably due to the high housing costs and lack of childcare and transportation infrastructure. Quite simply, it's too expensive to live in a city without a full time job.
- The tech sector has seen the biggest demand, as it is one of the fastest growing industries in Canada. Said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council: “I would say [the lack of skilled workers] isn’t a 2017 or 2018 problem, but it’s been an ongoing challenge for the growing tech companies in Victoria. To find skilled and experienced talent has been difficult and it’s probably the biggest thing holding back growth.”
- Gunn said while the city — and tech sector in particular — has never focused as much attention on the problem as now, it still has to compete with a strong national economy that demands workers.
- Locally, the tech sector has seen steady demand for workers. The VIATEC job board has posted more than 1,100 jobs over the last year and has consistently had about 100 jobs on its board each month.
- Tim Hortons controversy - "Multiple Tim Hortons franchises, other businesses cut pay, benefits, citing minimum wage hike"
Word of the Week
Salty - tasting of, containing, or preserved with salt.
(of language or humor) down-to-earth; coarse.
synonyms: earthy, colorful, spicy, racy, risqué, naughty, vulgar, rude; More
Urban dictionary: Somebody who contains large quantities of sodium chloride,thus causing them to be upset.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Help
Teaser: We begin 2018 with a supposedly salty Spruce Grove gas station, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ plan to combat climate change with bike lanes, and Trudeau’s questionable meeting with Joshua Boyle. We end with unemployment drops and minimum wage increases.
Recorded Date: January 6, 2017
Release Date: January 7, 2017
Edit Notes: Internet cut outs