The (Right) News Rundown
- The Green Party is defending leader Elizabeth May amid allegations of bullying from former employees, arguing that she wouldn't be criticized for similar behaviour if she were a man. The allegations come from three former employees who accuse May of creating a hostile work environment by yelling at employees and putting them down in front of colleagues.
- Rob Rainer, one of the accusers who spoke to The Canadian Press, was an interim executive director at the party for seven months in 2014. He said coming forward with his experience was important because he continued to hear that other staffers were being bullied. Rainer said the timing also seemed right, as the #MeToo movement highlights workplace misconduct of a sexual nature.
- The Green Party was swift to defend May just hours after the story was published, saying the 63-year-old was being "held to a different standard" than male leaders. "A man with these qualities is admired for his leadership," read the party's statement. "A woman is portrayed as overbearing and bullying. These outdated gender stereotypes have no place in 21st century Canada."
- As Scott Thompson of Global News writes, "Does anyone else find this smug, especially considering the climate of late surrounding behaviour accountability? “A man with these qualities is admired for his leadership”? Since when? What rock are they under? Have they not seen the news in the last year? Bullying is bad, no matter the gender."
- A few days after the story hit national media, the Green Party hired an outside lawyer, Sheila Block of the Toronto-based law firm Torys LLP, to investigate the allegations, an inquiry that May requested herself.
- May also brushed off the complaints as being from people who just didn't like her as a person. "These three individuals have created a caricature of me that bears no resemblance to reality. I don’t want to be standing in front of a microphone and talking about individuals and whether or not I remembered to bring them flowers." She later stated, "Although it grieves me to say it, of the hundreds of people who have worked for me over the years and the thousands of people I've met, in my work both at Sierra Club and in the Green Party, not everybody likes me. And that's OK, I accept that, it's life."
- May said she expects the probe to take two to four weeks, and that Block’s findings will be publicly released. But one of May’s accusers questioned whether the investigation would be truly independent, given that the lawyer was hired by the Green Party, or whether the report will be released to the public in its entirety.
- Now as we said on last week's episode, an allegation is unproven. And certainly it is possible that May is innocent of these actions. Fine. But the bigger issue here is not the allegation itself, it's how the party defended May by playing the gender card and saying that she was innocent simply because as a woman she is being held to a higher standard.
- As Emma Teitel of The Star writes, "The [Green Party's] statement above reads to me like a political party’s attempt to co-opt feminist ideology in order to make excuses for its leader’s allegedly cruel behaviour...May, a woman accused of workplace misconduct, is in the unique position of being able to use sexism to her advantage to deflect blame."
- The BC government has raised the level of rhetoric in the ongoing BC/Alberta pipeline dispute.
- As we all know Kinder Morgan's Trans-Mountain pipeline project was given approval.
- This week the BC government said that if the pipeline is complete they will place a limit on the amount of diluted bitumen that can be transported until the province "can better understand the ability to manage spills."
- BC Environment Minister George Heyman said, “British Columbians rightfully expect their government to defend B.C.’s coastline and our inland waterways, and the economic and environmental interests that are so important to the people in our province, and we are working hard to do just that."
- This would effectively make the project economically infeasible.
- Andrew Weaver jumped on the Twitter machine and commended the move.
- This spurred Alberta premier Rachel Notley to spring into action in defence of the project. She said, "the [government] of BC is now grasping at straws." She rightly states that the BC government could cost thousands of jobs by delaying the project.
- We also know that cancellation is possible given TransCanada already pulling the plug on Energy East.
- This has the potential to ignite an all out trade war between Alberta and BC. Last summer it was said by Jason Kenney that there could be consequences for BC if they unfairly delay any project that's already been approved. At the time the media and the NDP laughed at him. And here we are today with Rachel Notley considering possibly taking the province of BC to court.
- So far a court case has been suggested and the suspension of negotiations with BC over electricity sales.
- The province could ultimately go further and limit the amount of gas shipped to BC, anyone who lives in BC will know what this will do to gas prices...
- At his town halls in Edmonton and Nanaimo in the latter half of this week Trudeau confirmed his commitment to the project saying, "We're just going to reiterate that the decision we made was in the national interest and we're going to move forward with that decision, which means we're going to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built."
- This drew the ire of those at the Nanaimo town hall having Trudeau being booed and two environmentalists having to be removed from the room by the police.
- At this town hall Trudeau lost his composure which is extremely rare for the PM, in an angry tone he said, "Come on. Come on. Really? Really This is it? Will you respect the people in this room?"
- Trudeau detailed the compromise in question, build the pipeline but both a focus on climate change (with the carbon tax) and spill protection programs are dependent on the pipeline being built, there's no ducking out of any of the three conditions of compromise.
- So while Trudeau is taking the diplomatic approach today the battle lines for 2019 are already being drawn.
- Those who are opposed to Trans Mountain will not vote for Trudeau. The federal NDP sought to capitalize on this by issuing a shadow cabinet shuffle. This sees the NDP shift westward to a focus on BC and that's where they think the 2019 battle will be drawn.
- Pretty big deal: BC MP Nathan Cullen, previously ethics critic, will effectively become the BC lieutenant for the party.
- At this point given Jagmeet Singh's recent performance the federal NDP needs all the help they can get.
- And on one final note, any delays or the unlikely cancellation of the project by Kinder Morgan could see the BC NDP causing the defeat of the Alberta NDP in the next election.
- Rachel Notley is doing all she can, taking from Jason Kenney's summer 2017 playbook, and implementing it but if the pipeline faces delays or is not built, she will feel the repercussions because after all the carbon tax was supposed to get us "social license" for pipelines and this all comes back to the "strong stable minority" government in BC.
- Back in late August 2017 on Episode 33, I briefly mentioned a story about ICBC, the crown corporation that covers all basic insurance coverage for drivers, and how it was in financial trouble. It was suggested back then that the crown corporation would need to raise car insurance rates on everyone by $130 to balance the booksheets. Just over 7 months later, and we get the news that ICBC lost over 1.3B in just the previous fiscal year alone. So now, on top of the previous rate hike, rates will have to be raised by another $400 per year just to break even. The average cost to drivers per year in 2017 was around $1450 already, higher than all other provinces, as BC leaped over Ontario to take the top spot on the list.
- It should be noted at this point that ICBC was originally created in 1973 by the brief 3 year NDP government of 1972-1975, in order to keep car insurance costs low. However, over time, rates have slowly crept up and up until we've gotten to this point today.
- Back in the summer, Attorney General David Eby had this to say: “ICBC is one of British Columbia’s most important assets. That said, there are deep and profound issues at our public insurer that need to be addressed immediately in order to keep rates affordable for British Columbians in the long term. We need to take drastic action to fix ICBC’s devastating current financial situation.”
- A July 2017 report from Ernst & Young painted a dire picture at the Crown corporation, concluding that rates must increase by 30 per cent by 2019 to cover costs. A separate forecast released last November by ICBC indicated rates would need to increase by 42 per cent over the next five years to make up for expenses.
- However it appears that they have not fixed the problem yet. The shocking losses are much higher than what was projected just three months ago, when the fiscal year-end loss was pegged at around $200 million. The briefing note by ICBC to Eby says that “The dramatic increase in losses has been driven by the emergence of many large, extremely costly claims,” Many claims originally classified by ICBC as “minor” have emerged as more complex and costly files known as “large-loss claims,” a category that has grown 80 per cent in the past year, and which cost an average of $450,000 each to settle.
- The report called on the government to impose a cap on large court-ordered financial awards paid to victims who suffer “minor” soft-tissue injuries like whiplash in auto crashes. British Columbia is the only province in Canada where such awards are still unlimited.
- When asked if privatization of ICBC was a possible solution to the financial troubles, Eby brushed aside the notion that operating efficiencies and cheaper rates might emerge from competition with private insurers.
- A cash bailout from the upcoming budget is apparently also off the table, thankfully, as Eby believes it would be a short term solution and wouldn't fix the problem. However, the massive ICBC losses have left Finance Ministry officials scrambling ahead of the provincial budget, to be presented on Feb. 20 by Finance Minister Carole James. James had originally promised a balanced budget, but apparently officials are now studying the “implications” of the ICBC losses on the commitment.
- What is apparently going to happen is a crackdown on distracted driving, a higher use of red-light cameras, and merit based rates where drivers with a bad record will face higher basic premiums.
- With higher insurance rates on the horizon and ever more expensive gas rates, it seems that operating a car is becoming more and more of a luxury every day. If you factor in the insane housing prices, well. That's just seen as a very expensive tradeoff to living in beautiful British Columbia.
The Firing Line
- 400 bottles of wine on the plane
- Over the span of one year from December 2016 through December 2017 those aboard government aircraft consumed 401 bottles of wine, 584 cans of beer and five 250ml bottles of vodka.
- The total cost to taxpayers? $8,179
- During the recent government trip to China this past December $2,200 worth of alcohol was consumed, this was 121 bottles of wine and 241 cans of beer. There were 56 passengers on these flights. That's roughly 2 bottles of wine and four cans of beer for each passenger.
- Limitless alcohol has been available on government flights since the 1970s
- During the trip to Vietnam in November 50 people drank 76 bottles of wine and 79 cans of beer worth $1,685.
- A relatively low amount of consumption occurred when Governor General David Johnston travelled to China in july. There were 40 passengers and they drank "just" 33 bottles of wine and 27 cans of beer, for those keeping tab that's less than one per person. This came in at $632.
- While these numbers may seem high, they go even higher.
- In 2013, $13,605 was spent on in flight alcohol.
- In 2014, $12,696 was spent on in flight alcohol.
- We could keep detailing the spending account of the federal government on its alcohol but I think we get the point.
- The government has a drinking problem.
Word of the Week
Rhetoric - language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. "all we have from the opposition is empty rhetoric"
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Governments Flying Drunk
Teaser: Elizabeth May is accused of bullying; her party says she wouldn’t be if she were a man, the BC and Alberta governments spar over Trans Mountain, ICBC losing 1.3B will cost drivers more in insurance, and we detail the federal government’s drinking problem.
Recorded Date: February 3, 2018
Release Date: February 4, 2018
Edit Notes: None