The News Rundown
- Despite the signing of the USMCA trade agreement at the end of September, it doesn't mean that Canada is off the hook for our southern neighbour's ire.
- Donald Trump imposed Section 232 tariffs — 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum — back in June on a number of countries including Canada, and now that USMCA is relatively handled, it has been Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's job to attempt to get those tariffs removed, with the goal of reaching a deal before the formal signing of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the end of November.
- It’s clear that the negotiations took a toll on Freeland, After more than a year of leading intense trade negotiations with the United States and Mexico, the first thing she did when the new agreement was reached was lie down on the floor of the Prime Minister’s office.
- “I did. That is true,” she said Tuesday during a talk at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto. Freeland agreed that her reaction was due to exhaustion and just the thrill of the tumultuous 14 month-long process finally being over.
- However, with talks now shifting to the metal tariffs, it appears that the process is not over yet, and there may be another meeting between Freeland and Trudeau’s floor.
- Talks have focused on Canada agreeing to a quota on exports of those metals to the United States in exchange for the Trump administration lifting the tariffs. However, Canada is not about to agree to quotas or other limits on its exports, says a source close to the ongoing talks.
- Where the two sides ultimately end up remains to be seen, but the Canadian source — speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive negotiations — described the idea of a quota system as a non-starter and a concession that Canada is not prepared to make.
- "They're trying to get us to agree to a quota system, which we're not going to do, because it's ridiculous. They know what they need to do to get a deal. The ball is entirely in their court." said the source.
- Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer discussed the matter last week at Ms. Freeland’s Toronto home, a Canadian government source said, and agreed they had to reach a resolution. The sit-down – over a roast-beef dinner cooked by Freeland – included one of Lighthizer’s deputies, C.J. Mahoney; Canada’s ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton; as well as members of Freeland’s family.
- A deal on aluminum may land sooner than one on steel: The United States imports 85 per cent of the former, compared with only a third of the latter, meaning the U.S. constituency for maintaining aluminum tariffs is relatively small compared with the companies that want the levy lifted.
- Despite the talks between Lighthizer and Freeland, it appears that at least one member of Donald Trump's economic advisory team has very clear disdain for Canada and Justin Trudeau in particular.
- Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow says a White House official called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a "little punk kid running Canada."
- In remarks Wednesday night at a dinner hosted by the conservative American Spectator magazine on Capitol Hill, Kudlow boasted about the Trump administration’s governance of the economy, saying that President Trump has ended the “war on business” and ushered in an economic boom. He defended the administration’s efforts to overhaul taxes and reduce regulations, as well as Trump’s efforts to overhaul trade deals.
- Kudlow said that Trump’s aggressive stance in negotiations with China is justified, and also boasted about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “A friend of mine in the White House, who will go unnamed, said, 'You know, I know why you’re supporting this deal Larry, it’s because we made a deal. We didn't walk away, we didn’t end it, we made a deal. Alright? 'Spite that little punk kid running Canada, we still made it,’” Kudlow said, referring to Trudeau. “And I’ve had some wonderful run-ins with him.”
- Despite USMCA agreed upon by the US, Mexico and Canada, it has yet to be ratified and implemented, and both the US and Mexican governments have said that there were certain things that still needed to be agreed upon before ratification.
- Trump hinted he might not sign the USMCA if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop Central American migrants from arriving at the U.S. border. And a representative of Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador threatened not to close the trade pact without a deal on tariffs.
- It's definitely interesting to see that despite the USMCA agreement, there are still fundamental trade priority differences between the three largest North American countries. With all the talk in the media last week under a hazy smoke cloud as marijuana was legalized on the 17th, the story about the metal tariffs slipped under the radar. As a result, I don't think that the Canadian media was focused on that story as the admittedly bigger story took over the narrative.
- Dropping the mask on his true beliefs
- Enter Jason Kenney, first elected in 1997. Serving in a multitude of cabinet posts in the Harper government including: Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, Employment, and Minister of Defence.
- Jason Kenney’s political views are nothing if not easy to interpret
- Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said that Albertans will have a “stark choice”
- “It is good that Jason Kenney is finally being honest, or beginning to be honest with Albertans about what his plans are,. Finally the mask has slipped with respect to what Jason Kenney wants to do to the people of this province.” — Shannon Phillips
- Ms. Phillips was referring to a comment made by Jason Kenney where he was mentioning Sir Roger Douglas, one of New Zealand’s former finance ministers.
- “He said the first and most important lesson is that you move quickly. You move with speed because speed creates its own momentum. It also makes it harder for the opponents of reform to obstruct it.” — Jason Kenney
- Kenney is on record as already saying that Bill 1 of a United Conservative government will be the repeal of the carbon tax and this will happen in a summer session of the legislature.
- Disrupt, obstruct, and “endless process”
- Kenney also said that the party is consulting now with Albertans and made note that the NDP’s carbon tax did not appear in the 2015 election platform.
- Kenney also wants to introduce an age-graduated minimum wage, appoint a minister who would be in charge of cutting regulations, and “roll back” the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act according to the NDP but in actuality keep the “common sense” reforms.
- Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act - unionization without a secret ballot. WC Episode 70
- Social media, headline impact, NDP bubble.
- As of recording time, voting is underway in BC to elect new municipal governments in every corner of the province, from the coastal southern Vancouver Island all the way up to the northeastern prairie towns of Fort Nelson and Fort St. John on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.
- And whenever there's an election, there's always some controversy that surfaces, but in this particular case, there's been some serious allegations coming out of the Lower Mainland on vote buying.
- Officials are investigating allegations of voter manipulation in Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver, B.C. after messages from the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society sent out on the Chinese-language social media app WeChat appeared to be offering money for voting in those three cities.
- According to the Richmond News, a WeChat post from the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society offered a $20 “transportation subsidy” and also urged chat group members to vote for certain candidates including Hong Guo, an independent mayoral candidate for Richmond; Peter Liu, a council candidate with Richmond First; and Melissa Zhang, a council candidate with Richmond Community Coalition.
- A second WeChat post that appeared to come directly from Hong Guo asked “people to treat voters to breakfast on Election Day, ‘after getting their promises,’” according to the Richmond News. Guo told the paper that post had been forged.
- Richmond RCMP announced Friday morning that it has found no evidence that merits a criminal charge in the city’s pre-election vote-buying scandal. Police are saying that, to date, no one has come forward to indicate that they are a victim in the case.
- Of course, just because no one has come forward doesn't mean that vote buying schemes don't exist.
- And media coverage of the whole event has been slanted. Because the allegations involve mainly Chinese candidates and the Chinese social media app WeChat, some outlets are quick to claim racism as a way to deflect any criticism. A Toronto Star article came out a few days before the Richmond police statement, and its headline reads as "Vote-buying allegations in Metro Vancouver elections could lead to erosion of trust, racist backlash, experts say".
- However, when looking into the article to find these so-called expert statements, all we find is one candidate, David Wong, who in the last provincial election had his signs defaced with swastikas. And yes, while that is wrong, and very serious, it has nothing to do with the vote buying allegations. And if there is a serious threat to Canadian democracy, then investigating and ensuring freedom for our most basic of voting practices is certainly not racist.
The Firing Line
- An hour long online exchange took place between Global Affairs Canada and Jihadi Jack:
- “I’m from the government of Canada. Do you want assistance from us?”
- “Yes,” Jack Letts, known in the British media as ‘Jihadi Jack’ replied.
- “If so, what kind?”
- “Please get me out of this place.”
- Jihadi Jack is being imprisoned by Kurdish forces in Syria. He’s a British 22 year old who has Canadian citizenship.
- Jihadi Jack known as Jack Letts was born in Oxford, United Kingdom, is a British citizen, caucasian, and a convert to Islam who went to Syria in 2014 to fight with ISIS. He has since denied being a member of ISIS.
- The Canadian government has remained quiet on the fate of those such as Jihadi Jack and as many as 13 other Canadian detainees in Syria who are being held in prisons.
- Canadian officials have reached out but often say there’s not much that can be done.
- The minefield.
- ISIS fighters’ Canadian wives want to return home
- “I was just a person who went with her husband.” Tricked, tried to go to Lebanon.
- Others went to Syria and married ISIS fighters as they became more devout muslims.
- “Ottawa can’t ignore them forever” — Amarnath Amarasingam, University of Waterloo professor with a PhD on social movement activism.
- Doug Ford: If you leave Canada to go fight for ISIS, you should not be welcomed back with open arms. Since Justin Trudeau doesn’t seem to take this seriously, MPP @DaveSmithPtbo is taking action to send a message that there are consequences for leaving Ontario to commit indefensible crimes.
- It gets more interesting:
- Media: Bring them home!
- The missing story…
- “A few findings: Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the fighters maintained communication with their families and friends, with some regularity, but a few families never received a call from their children once they left.” - Amarnath Amarasingam Twitter
- “All parents noticed changes in their children’s clothing, behaviour, attitudes and friends before they left, but saw these changes as largely positive. In part this was because these changes coincided with the typical struggles of adolescence.” - Amarnath Amarasingam
- Global, CTV, and the Star all covered this back in May. These issues obviously still exist today because there are still Canadians in Syria but the narrative of bringing them home and bringing their wives home is more important.
- The fact individuals on a battlefield fighting against western values likely had contact with close family and friends…
- Meanwhile the trial is set to begin for the October 1, 2017 UHaul terror attack in Edmonton. There’s very little if any coverage of this in the media and terror charges have not been laid.
Word of the Week
jihadi | jiˈhädē | (also jehadi)
noun (plural jihadis)
a person involved in a jihad; an Islamic militant.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Dropping the Mask
Teaser: Chrystia Freeland takes a break from lying on the floor to negotiate metal tariffs, the NDP hypocritically believe Kenney is dropping his mask, and allegations surface of vote buying in Vancouver. Also, Jihadi Jack wants to return to Canada.
Recorded Date: October 20, 2018
Release Date: October 21, 2018
Edit Notes: Patreon, internet drop at firing line.
Podcast Summary Notes