The News Rundown
- The new portfolios created with this cabinet shuffle include: Seniors, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Border Security
- Mary Ng became minister for Small Business and Export Promotion
- Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
- Trudeau’s childhood friend Dominic LeBlanc moves from Fisheries to Intergovernmental Affairs.
- Amarjeet Sohi becomes Alberta’s sole cabinet member and moves from Infrastructure to Natural Resources.
- Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair becomes Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, will also serve as minister responsible for irregular migration.
- This is a snapshot of what the cabinet will look like heading into the 2019 election.
- What can we take away from this?
- For Alberta, Trudeau is doing literally all he can to reassure the province that he’s as serious as he’s ever been about getting pipelines built.
- He has also decided to shore up the Lower Mainland since the Trans Mountain Pipeline will probably hurt him in districts such as Burnaby.
- Trudeau also assigned one of his most trusted ministers, Dominic LeBlanc, to be in charge of the relationships between the provinces which has been changing greatly since now there is not a Liberal government west of Quebec. And, yes, there are even disagreements between the NDP governments in Alberta and BC.
- The biggest admission: we have a problem with the southern border and have since 2017.
- When asked about the appointment of Bill Blair, Trudeau said, “I think one of the things that we’ve seen, uh, in terms of, of, uh, what conservatives have been saying, is that, uh, they are playing not just here in Canada, but around the world, uh, a very dangerous game around the politics of fear, the politics of division, of pitting Canadians against each other, and, uh, raising the kinds of anxieties that, uh, quite frankly, don’t help solve problems but actually hinder them... And when conservatives across the country are playing the fear card, uh, we need, uh, strong, reassuring voices, uh, to counter that and to demonstrate that the safety and security of Canadians in their communities is something, uh, that we will never flinch on, that we will continue to deliver, and we will deliver in a way that pulls Canadians together.”
- There’s nothing fearful about wanting to ensure our border is secure and people come into Canada legally.
- Meanwhile, while the media reports that illegal crossings are down, they are still up year over year.
- Last June 884 people were taken in who crossed illegally, this June that rose to 1,263. For the calendar year of 2018, 10,744 people have crossed into Canada illegally and even intercepted by the RCMP.
- What’s being done?
- The City of Toronto has issued a public request for more money as there are illegal border crossers taking space reserved for Toronto’s homeless.
- The federal government also issued a statement saying that more money would be on the way but no timeframe or details were given.
- Ontario Social Services Minister, Lisa MacLeod, had a confrontation with federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
- She made the assertion that those crossing illegally were queue jumping and the minister proceeded to argue semantics calling anyone who sees this as queue jumping “not Canadian”
- This comes about as Ontario has already provided $177m in total to deal with the illegal border crossers in what is clearly a federal jurisdiction.
- Also on this issue, it came to light that the federal government spent $770k on meals for those in processing.
- These meals are reported to have been “much better” than those receive in the US. The meals include sandwiches, granola bars, juice boxes, and frozen meals that offer both vegetarian options and options that satisfy religious dietary requirements.
- All in all this suggests a 2019 campaign playing the “conservative fear card” while asking questions about pipelines and border crossers straddling the fine line the media lays out between racism and valid lines of questioning.
- This week, the Council of the Federation is meeting in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. This is significant because this group is made up of the 13 premiers of Canada's provinces and territories, and it's a great chance to see the priorities of the premiers and what they feel are the most pressing issues of the day for Canadians. Host Brian Gallant, the Liberal Premier of New Brunswick wished to focus on trade during the meeting, particularly inter-provincial as well as with the US. Gallant, who is the youngest current premier, also faces an election in a few months, and holds a super slim 1 seat majority, so surely he's wanting to be known for hosting a successful cooperative meeting, and largely it has been.
- One of the most publicized topics in the media about the meeting has been about the Premiers' coming to an agreement to reduce the restrictions on bringing alcohol across provincial borders, in effect doubling the amount able to be transported. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister made the initial call for the complete elimination of restrictions, while it didn't go that far, the other premiers decided to come to an agreement, with Gallant saying that "premiers are expecting to receive recommendations from a group of trade ministers about how to make the cross-border sale of alcohol work".
- The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled in April that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and transport alcohol across provincial borders without impediments, which came about from a series of appeals from Gerald Comeau, a New Brunswick man who was arrested for buying cheaper beer in Quebec and then transporting it back into New Brunswick.
- Gallant recently said he wanted to explore the freer movement of alcohol across borders, however, he's been called out for his hypocrisy on the matter by Howard Anglin, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, as it was Gallant's government who fought against Comeau in the battle for almost 5 years, and now after the court win he wants to change the laws.
- However, probably the biggest news out of the meeting was that it was the first meeting for both Doug Ford and Scott Moe, currently Canada's most conservative Premiers. Both have joined forces against the federal government on not just the illegal border crossers, but also Trudeau's imposed carbon tax.
- Ford's office issued a statement: "It was vitally important to discuss the issue of illegal border crossers with premiers from Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan — who are the most impacted by this issue. We agree that the federal government should compensate affected provinces for all of the costs associated with their decision to open Canadian borders. We also were able to secure broader consensus from all of Canada's premiers on the need for the federal government to compensate affected provinces. I was also proud to stand with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and join forces to fight the federal government's authority to impose a carbon tax on hard-working people and their families. Ontario taxpayers should not be subjected to a punishing carbon tax that makes our province uncompetitive and unaffordable. Canada's premiers agreed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and protect jobs during the NAFTA negotiations, and to reduce barriers on interprovincial trade."
- While Ford and Moe have been made the provincial public faces of the fight against the carbon tax, other governments are starting to oppose it as well. P.E.I.’s environment minister announced this month that his province “doesn’t require a tax to meet our targets” and so his government will instead be “fighting for Islanders” against one. That’s right: a Liberal provincial government, under P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan, is now siding with conservative premiers in fighting Trudeau’s federally imposed carbon tax.
- And in Newfoundland and Labrador another Liberal provincial government, led by Premier Dwight Ball, has yet to legislate a carbon tax. Newfoundland Minister of Environment Andrew Parsons had said in May that his government would not be rushed into passing a tax, and would do “what’s in the best interest” of Newfoundland. They wanted to wait, he said, to see what Ontario would do, first. They have their answer now.
- Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government created its own "made in Manitoba" carbon tax plan, similar to BC's that goes up as the economy goes up. But more recently, Pallister’s government has said it is willing to take the Trudeau government to court so it can follow its made-in-Manitoba tax plan, not one made in Ottawa: “I have a simple message for Ottawa today — back off or we’ll see you in court."
- That has led to NB's Gallant to even back away to the fence on the issue. Gallant suggested his province could revisit a carbon tax if his province ends up disadvantaged as a result of other provinces taking a hard line against it.
- That whittles the list of premiers firmly in support of Trudeau’s carbon tax down to as few as four: Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Nova Scotia. And by next summer, Alberta’s United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney could be successful in defeating the NDP government, Quebec has an election that could oust the Liberals in favour of the centre-right Coalition Avenir Quebec. That would leave just BC's fragile minority NDP government and Nova Scotia in favour.
- Things are looking so bleak that Ian Brodie, onetime chief of staff to former prime minister Stephen Harper, stated on Twitter recently: “The carbon tax is politically dead and won’t survive the end of (the) Trudeau prime ministership. Everyone knows this but not everyone will admit it.”
- Even some carbon-tax supporters are predicting the same. This week, Warren Kinsella, who once worked for the Chrétien Liberals (and who describes himself as being “110 per cent” in favour of a carbon tax) tweeted that with so many provinces bailing on it, “Trudeau’s dream of a carbon tax is dead, pretty much.”
- The real question is what will Trudeau do about all this division on the carbon tax. Will he accept the provincial premier's decision, or forge ahead and sow discord at a time when inter-provincial trade is set to be more necessary than ever?
- The initial draft of the new K-4 curriculum for Alberta’s schools was leaked.
- There are six references to “settlers,” along with more than 30 references to First Nations, Metis and Inuit, as well as about a dozen references to francophones.
- A directive from the kindergarten handbook mentions: “stories of First Nations, Metis, Inuit, francophone and diverse groups hold meaning.”
- There are no references to Albertans or Canadian history as one would think of it when it comes to the nation of Canada
- In jumping forward to grade 4 students will be “analyzing various actions taken to address historical injustices.”
- Everyone agrees from the residential school system to turning away boats of Jewish refugees and other questionable events were wrong to varying degrees.
- Part of history involves realizing that the past should be used as a teaching tool but not only by focusing on the negatives.
- Canada as a nation is one that has a truly unique history combining British, French, and First Nations history.
- For each and every injustice that the curriculum highlights there are any number more positive truly Canadian outcomes of our history.
- The new K-4 curriculum effectively dilutes Canadian history so that the population is split into two camps: settlers and their victims.
- The document also schools children on the ethical/political values of: equity, fairness, giving, sharing, inclusion and diversity.
- Values such as: self-reliance, fortitude, free speech, and healthy competition aren’t found. Instead you find passages such as, “Individuals within communities have a responsibility to respect diversity.”
- Jonathan Haidt, the prominent New York University social psychology professor says, “What is now sacred is victims. Victims become sacred, and sacred means no trade-offs, no criticisms... When certain ideas, such as equity and diversity, and certain groups, such as some racial minorities and the LGBTQ community, become sacred, we lose the ability to have intelligent discussions that could lead to insights that will actually address problems.”
- On Wednesday, Education Minister David Eggen said, “The suggestion that there’s anything that diminishes the description of Alberta, or the emphasis on Alberta, and the shared history that we have together is a misinterpretation at best”
- David Eggen said that the inclusion of the elements mentioned previously, including social justice, will not be at the expense of others.
- UCP leader Jason Kenney has said that if he becomes premier he will put the new curriculum through the shredder.
- Recall that previously on Western Context we talked about this curriculum and it’s goal to make students “effective agents of change” that can ultimately influence their parents.
- Meanwhile online, you can find teachers standing up for this form of education.
- Teacher Dan Scratch wrote on Twitter, “[Education] by equity and social justice speaks volume. Education and teaching will always be political. Neutrality and objectivity are myths in education that need to be confronted in order to have meaningful dialogue on curriculum.”
- A high level goal of the curriculum for grade 4 students is to teach, “how the actions of individuals and groups prior to 1905 in what is now Alberta shaped their communities”
- While on the surface this is fine, focusing on the “settlers vs. victims” mentality as outlined earlier, parents can see how curriculum is distorted.
The Firing Line
- For much of the past few months we've focussed a lot in BC on the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the surrounding controversy regarding the expansion project and the potential impacts of a potential spill have caused many protestors to get themselves arrested, and has been the fuel for an inter-provincial trade spat between the NDP governments of Alberta and BC. It's been a big issue, as the expansion could bring untold economic prosperity to both provinces, but British Columbian opponents of the pipeline argue that a spill could negatively impact the province's lush forests and sparkling clean waters. It seems that it's from a purely environmental standpoint that the BC government is struggling against the federally approved pipeline. However, as we will see, this is a very hypocritical standpoint given the frankly crappy things we are doing to our own water.
- Vancouver Coastal Health is the agency that tests the water quality in for public beaches, pools, and waterways in and around the coastal Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. They have had annual testing reports over the last few years, and test every week during the ""swimming season"" of April to September to ensure that the ocean water and rivers and streams are safe.
- According to the VCH website, The Canadian Recreational Water Quality Guidelines recommend a level of ≤ 200 E. coli bacteria per 100 ml of water for primary contact recreational activities. Primary contact activities include swimming, surfing, water skiing, in which the whole body or face and trunk are frequently immersed or wetted, and where water will likely be swallowed. E.coli is an indicator organism associated with fecal contamination from human and animal sources. This means that anything over a level of 200 is considered unsafe, as swimmers could get sick. The VCH has compiled a report for summer 2018, and the results are alarming, especially for False Creek, the body of water in and around Granville Island just between Downtown Vancouver and Vancouver proper, the heartland of Gregor Robertson's left wing Vision Vancouver Party, the BC NDP government's Vancouver pickups in the last election, as well as several Liberal and NDP held seats federally.
- Keeping in mind that the water quality recommend less than 200 E. coli bacteria per 100ml of water, it might be surprising to learn that the water quality on the week of July 13th in False Creek's easternmost part registers at an astounding 1304. That's right, almost 7 times above the maximum recommended limit.
- Vancouver's False Creek is a popular recreation spot. The city used the area to hold the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival, an event that drew boat teams and visitors from all around the world. However, there were warnings that swimming in the area was discouraged because of the risk of infection. E. coli can make a person sick with a whole host of unhealthy ailments, like cholera, norovirus, dysentery, and Hep A.
- How did it get this way? Neither the city or health authority could explain why the pollution levels were higher this year over last year.
- “The reason for contamination can vary widely,” said health authority spokesman Matt Kieltyka in an email. “Rain is often a factor contributing to beach water pollution,” because heavy rain overwhelms sewers and forces water into waterways. The lack of tidal flush in certain areas, increased human and animal activity and hot weather, which can speed up bacterial growth, are also possible causes,” he said. False Creek is home to several marinas and moored visiting boats, that sometimes pump raw sewage into the creek.
- However, what's worse is that the Province of BC allows sewage to be dumped straight into False Creek from the city as well, and given that it's a dead end, the ocean currents can't get into the area to sweep away all the raw sewage away from the area, leaving the remains of thousands of toilet flushes behind. The amount of E. coli in False Creek has actually steadily increased over the past 5 years, meaning that nothing has been done, and the problem is just getting worse.
- Despite Mayor Gregor Robertson's calls over the years to fix the problem, neither his government nor the provincial government have done anything about the issue. Last June, Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer introduced a motion to implement “measures to make high-use waterways in Trout Lake and False Creek safely accessible by swimmers in advance of summer 2018.” Reimer didn’t respond to requests for comment about the status of that goal. But in an email reply, she referred questions to a year-old city report calling for a $200,000 “hydraulic model” of the False Creek basin and “water quality performance model” to determine what’s causing the pollution.
- BC actually had a cholera outbreak a few months ago, despite cholera being a disease mostly eradicated in Canada. Dr. Shannon Waters of Island Health says as at least 4 people had been infected with vibrio cholera after eating herring eggs harvested on the coast.
- It should be unheard of for BC, led by left wing environmentalists to have such a glaring environmental disaster right in our own backyard, yet opposing pipelines based on a "potential" disaster. Before pointing fingers at other provinces, maybe our governments should be looking in the mirror.
Word of the Week
Sanitary - of or relating to health or the conditions affecting health, especially with reference to cleanliness, precautions against disease
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Cleaning Out Sewage
Teaser: Trudeau shuffles his cabinet and creates a border security minister, many provinces now oppose Trudeau’s carbon tax, and Alberta’s NDP is equalizing and diversifying K-4 education. Also, Vancouver’s False Creek is teeming with raw sewage and E coli.
Recorded Date: July 21, 2018
Release Date: July 22, 2018
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes