The News Rundown
- "If a democracy is to function you need an educated populace, and you need to have an informed populace, ready to make judicious decisions about who to grant power to and when to take it away.”
- Prime Minister Trudeau made these remarks at a press freedom event last Sunday while in Paris.
- “But we are now in a phase where that capacity to speak truth to power, the very capacity for a citizen to engage with truth, is under attack. And not just by the powerful, but by those who would see our institutions themselves weakened.”
- The Prime Minister didn’t mention anyone specific by name but it could be anyone from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump to media agencies such as The Rebel and Infowars.
- The press freedom advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders has developed a six-page international declaration on information and democracy to establish basic principles for the “common good of mankind.”
- In another remark from Trudeau he said, “Attacks on the media are not just about getting your preferred political candidate elected. They’re about increasing the level of cynicism that citizens have toward all authorities, toward all of the institutions that are there to protect us as citizens.”
- Western Context believes that all levels of the press should be free from independent podcasts like us all the way up to media mega complexes such as CBC.
- It is refreshing to hear Trudeau speak on a matter of freedom as such he is the leader of the Liberal party. But then something happened.
- On Monday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau gave a speech in Beijing, China that was hosted by the Canada/China Business Council.
- The Minister’s office says they weren’t consulted on who would see the speech but the Business Council said it was a “misunderstanding”
- The event was closed door and media were not allowed inside.
- As said by Sarah Kutulakos, executive director of the Canada China Business Council said, “the Chinese officials speaking at the dinner have asked that it not be open to the media”
- The goals of the talks were to slowly inch forward towards free trade with China.
- It was Kutulakos who called the ban a “misunderstanding” but added that Chinese officials didn’t “directly” ask for the ban.
- No explanation was offered and this is seemingly the end of the issue at hand.
- A government that touts the free press but is willing to bend that when it comes to dealing with the largest nation on earth, China.
- Back in Canada Unifor President Jerry Dias whose union represents 12,000 journalists wants the government to deliver on their $50m commitment to journalism in small Canadian towns and cities.
- “A 2017 report by the Public Policy Forum said from 2008 to 2016, 169 local media outlets closed and another 54 reduced services, a trend that accelerated in 2017, most notably with the sale and purchase of assets by Torstar and Postmedia.”
- Post media in Alberta: Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Sun, and Calgary Sun. Similar elsewhere.
- It’s not uncommon here in Alberta to have one article cross posted across all 4 Post Media papers (Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, and the Edmonton and Calgary Sun)
- Why would people stop consuming media created by Unifor represented journalists? It’s all the same.
- Their intentions are clear: “The Resistance — Welcome to Andrew Scheer’s worst nightmare”
- This was posted in a Tweet by the main Unifor account this past Wednesday.
- Granted for certain that the Union’s views don’t represent all of their journalists in this regard but ask: should a union that represents journalists be running such a partisan campaign and should they be lobbying the government for millions of dollars?
- Recap: The Prime Minister touted a free and open media but has bent the knee to China and is currently being lobbied by Canada’s union of journalists for millions of dollars that is effectively running opposition ads for the government.
- We return to BC, where we still have a very important electoral reform referendum ongoing, until November 30th. Last week, I talked about the debate between NDP Premier John Horgan advocating for proportional representation, and BC Liberal Opposition Leader Andrew Wilkinson advocating for keeping first past the post.
- We've also had a rotating Canada Post strike affecting mail, which has probably contributed to a low voter turnout.
- As of yesterday, only 18% of ballots have been counted. If you haven't sent yours in, you have just under 2 weeks to be able to do so. The 18% is a large jump from the 7.4% from the week before, but starting yesterday, Elections B.C. began reporting the number of ballot packages waiting to be processed as well as packages it had received which hadn’t yet been processed or which were undergoing processing before screening. Previously, it had only reported ballots which had “passed initial screening,” according to the release.
- “No” side spokesman Bill Tieleman said that while Elections B.C. has since changed how it counts ballots received, his campaign hasn’t changed its view that the voting period should be extended by a week or two. “It’s still a pretty low number,” he said.
- Tieleman compared the return rate to the harmonized sales tax referendum of 2011, when 54.7% of ballots were cast after the voting period was extended by two weeks, also during a Canada Post strike. With only 10 business days left to mail in ballots, Tieleman said there is too little time to match the 1.6 million ballots cast in the HST referendum.
- It's interesting how proponents of PR call the governments elected with less than 50% of votes in elections to be a sham, but they seem perfectly fine with changing the system with less than that.
- Global BC reporter and radio host Jill Bennett put it pretty accurately on her Twitter: "So, when 40% of the electorate shows up and votes a party in with a 40% mandate, those in favour of #ProRep scream and yell that it’s unfair. But, if only 10% vote, slightly more than half of that is a clear call to change our democratic system?? UGH."
- With concerns growing over low voter engagement in B.C.’s ongoing electoral reform referendum, Premier John Horgan won’t set a turnout number that would make the process legitimate. Horgan never specifically answered when asked multiple times Thursday about setting a threshold.
- “Certainly I want to see as much participation as possible. We have seen referenda in the past that has seen turnout of 40, 50 per cent,” he said. “There were some Canada Post issues at the beginning. Now that the debate is over I am confident the votes will be flooding in.”
- No matter what the turnout, all it will take is 50% of the votes plus one to change or keep the electoral system. There are some areas with low turnout numbers — like Delta, Surrey and the Tri Cities — that just started receiving their ballots last week.
- Even if John Horgan thinks that "if you're woke, you'll know that Pro-Rep is lit" (an actual quote from the debate, detailed last week), our electoral system could change with a seriously low voter turnout, and a low threshold. And that's worse than any FPTP vote.
- Following up from Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff being kicked out of the NDP caucus the Premier’s office admits that two sitting NDP MLAs have been accused of sexual misconduct since 2015.
- This story first broke about 10 days ago on November 8th but has been slow to gain traction.
- The Premier’s spokeswoman said, “In both circumstances, the alleged behaviour took place outside the workplace, in order to respect the privacy of the complainants, further details will remain confidential.”
- “Third party investigations were undertaken in each case and the resulting recommendations were implemented.”
- What happened? The issues were ‘serious’ and “in neither case was criminal conduct alleged.”
- We get nothing. We don’t even get to know which MLAs caused the trouble.
- For thoroughness the Calgary Herald made note that one workplace complaint was also filed against a sitting UCP MLA.
- Similar happened in Ontario, except the media pressed Doug Ford for answers.
- Ford revealed that it was his economic development minister, Jim Wilson, in question.
- The CBC reported on this with the headline: How Doug Ford is handling the first scandal of his government.
- Premier Ford said the person who made the allegation requested “repeatedly” that the media not be told about the story for THEIR privacy.
- Meanwhile back in Alberta we’re into the 6th day of the media, the NDP, and LGBT allies attempting to milk a story about about Calgary lawyer John Carpay and UCP member misspoke by comparing LGBTQ pride flags with swastika’s.
- “It doesn’t matter whether it’s the hammer and sickle for communism, or the swastika for Nazi Germany, or whether it’s a rainbow flag… The underlying thing is a hostility toward individual freedoms.” — John Carpay
- Member vs. Leadership
- We saw stories with the headlines from CBC’s Graham Thomson along the lines of “GSAs, Kenney and Carpay: The tangled web of Alberta politics”
- While the media is focusing on this we don’t know which MLAs were accused of sexual misconduct and the media will just take what was said as gospel while something similar (though probably worse) was called a scandal in Doug Ford’s government.
- We also have the oil industry floating the idea of quotas for producers to deal with the lowest WCS oil price ever recorded, under $14/barrel.
- The missing story there? Large providers would be fine, small providers would not. Investment would be scared away and it doesn’t resolve the underlying problem of building our resources and and getting them to market. Both the NDP government in Alberta and the federal Liberal government has been given the license to act slow by the media.
- Back on Episode 54 "Governments Flying Drunk", which happened all the way back in early February, we outlined a story that came out that detailed all the alcohol that was consumed on government flights, and the total bill into the 10s of thousands yearly that was costing taxpayers. Back then, Shane summed it all up quite nicely in saying that "the government has a drinking problem”. More about the issue is becoming known, and it appears that aside from being an alcoholic, the government is also a chronic partier as well.
- Conservative MPs last week peppered Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan with questions about the now infamous December 2017 Canadian Forces “Team Canada” tour. The tour, with VIPs who were supposed to boost the morale of military personnel deployed overseas, turned into a fiasco. Some VIPs on the RCAF flight to Greece and Latvia were drunk and abusive to the crew, in particular the military flight attendants. The VIP civilian passengers, including former NHL player Dave “Tiger” Williams were exempt from security screening before the flight, and some — already drunk — walked on to the Canadian Forces aircraft with open alcoholic drinks in their hands.
- Two individuals were so drunk they were reported to have urinated themselves. Video taken aboard the plane showed people — including a staff member from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance’s office — dancing in the aisles of the aircraft with their drinks as a rock band played at the back of the plane. Others chewed tobacco, in violation of Canadian Forces rules, spitting the slimy juice into cups for flight attendants to clean up.
- The crew felt they couldn’t do anything to put a halt to the antics as these very important people were Vance’s guests. Some military personnel have labelled the fiasco the “party flight” while some in the RCAF refer to the Dec. 2-3 2017 incident as the “Mardi Gras at 34,000 feet.” Williams has been charged with sex assault and assault. He denies the charges. The alleged victim is a military flight attendant. The $337,000 taxpayer-funded trip was planned by Vance’s office. Vance okayed the booze on the RCAF aircraft.
- Conservative MPs James Bezan and Cheryl Gallant grilled Sajjan at the Commons defence committee last week about what he knew about the flight and when. They questioned whether his department and the Canadian Forces tried to mislead the public and the news media, namely the Ottawa Citizen, about what happened on the flight.
- Sajjan didn’t give a clear answer on when he found out about the problems on the aircraft but said his department and the Canadian Forces don’t mislead journalists. He noted that the priority for the DND and Canadian military is to ensure a harassment-free environment and helping victims of alleged sexual impropriety.
- Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister at the Department of National Defence, told parliamentarians there was no attempt to mislead journalists, and that "Information was released as it became available."
- However, there was an internal message that went through the DND and Canadian Forces when the incident happened in December 2017. It was obtained months later after the alleged sexual assault through the Access to Information law.
- It detailed the flight (SIR Team Canada Flight, CFC 3629) who was on the flight, and what happened (Two members of 437 Sqn alleged that they were sexually harassed and touched by passengers) and the actions taken. Was there support for the victims or an in depth investigation or steps taken to ensure this travesty didn't take place? According to the message, it just says that the commanding officer of the squadron will be investigating, that a "Reactive PA posture" was adopted, which means that no information will be provided to the news media unless they somehow stumble upon details of the incident, and that there was "nil media interest" but a "high potential media interest".
- So it's clear from the initial message that Canadian Forces and the Defense Ministry were less concerned about military impropriety and more concerned about the potential media impact, and that they did try to mislead the media about the flight.
- In reality, the Ottawa Citizen and Toronto Star received details about the wild antics on this flight from sources who had inside knowledge. These individuals were disgusted about what went on and they were concerned the Canadian Forces was attempting to cover up the in-flight alcohol-fueled antics.
- In fact, Assistant Deputy Minister of Public Affairs Chris Henderson informed Thomas and Vance shortly after military police charged Tiger Williams that he wanted to get to a point where the public affairs branch provided no comment, even though journalists were still asking questions.
- In total, the flight cost taxpayers $337,000, and the DND originally stated that the "Average cost for this type of flight is $15,000, which goes a long way in lifting the morale of CAF members who are away from their families for extended periods, representing their country, particularly during the holiday season". In addition, other statements made about the “party flight” defy a credible explanation. Among those is the statement by Gen. Vance, as he tried to make a case for the VIPs. “The band playing in the back of the plane, that’s some team-building for people who have never met soldiers before and are going to go into maybe a dangerous place,” Vance told reporters. “So, it’s not a Mardi Gras. It’s not a party. It’s a mission.”
- Vance’s claim the VIPs had never met soldiers before is bogus. A number of the participants had previously been on other such flights where the taxpayer-funded fun seemed to be of a similar tone. The article from the Ottawa Citizen shows a photo of Tiger Williams on one of those earlier flights, in a similar Mardi Gras tone, with beads stuck up his nose. In addition, anyone who has been to Greece or Latvia knows that those countries are not dangerous. So it's pretty clear that the Defence Ministry led by Harjit Sajjan was deliberately trying to mislead the public about this travesty of a flight. And outside of the one article in the Ottawa Citizen, the media was silent on the issue.
- This should be the end of this honestly crazy story, but no, it goes further. A facebook page for the Okanagan Conservatives made a post linking the Ottawa Citizen article where this story comes from. The post said “This is what happens when you have a cabinet based on affirmative action” and as Global News says, "linked a story to the Ottawa Citizen that featured a photo of federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan". No mention was made by the media covering this story of the fact that the article was about the aforementioned booze filled disaster of a flight, just that the article had a picture of Sajjan.
- Twitter lept afire after this, with many Liberal MP's decrying the "racism" of the Facebook post and suggested that Conservative MP's held these sorts of "racist views". Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr, said the post came across as racist. On Twitter, Fuhr said “I am not OK with what this implies" and then asked if fellow Okanagan MP, Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Conservative Dan Albas was ok with the message. He also said “I think the author was suggesting that the minister was only in this position due to the fact he was a minority.”
- Fuhr also said “It’s disappointing to see this kind of attitude continues to be just under the surface of today’s Conservative party. The comments had a lot of support from Conservative party members on their social media. You’d have to ask Andrew Scheer about that. I’m proud to be part of a party where we’ve always celebrated diversity as a strength both within our Canadian Armed Forces and our nation as a whole.”
- So you can see that the Liberals are trying to flip the page on the story, and focus in on the facebook post of a regional Conservative organization to cry racism. The funniest part of the story? The man who made the post was actually Indo-Canadian, as Sajjan is!
- The Indo Canadian poster says he’s a volunteer with the local Conservative riding. He didn’t want to be identified out of fear for his safety. He says he targeted Sajjan because he doesn’t think he’s doing a good job. The man apologized after the uproar: “I’m sorry that I did it. I’m sorry that I offended so many people and I really feel like I let my community and my party down. And I’m really ashamed that this came off as — and I can see exactly how it can — in hindsight — you know hindsight is 20/20. So it’s easy for me to see how this could come off as something racist. But it wasn’t my intent whatsoever.”
- Conservative MPs also apologized for the post, even though they didn't have anything to do with it. And now, what's left in the mind of people after media coverage from all the mainstream outlets is that the Conservatives are racist, not that the Liberals are enablers of drunken alcohol flights featuring sexual harassment and large amounts of taxpayer money being wasted.
Word of the Week
Misconduct - unacceptable or improper behavior, especially by an employee or professional person, mismanagement, especially culpable neglect of duties.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Alcoholic Corruption
Teaser: Trudeau wants a free media except with China, low turnout in BC’s referendum causes hypocrisy, and two unidentified Alberta NDP MLAs are accused of sexual misconduct. Also, a taxpayer funded government flight turns into Mardi Gras, but the media deflects.
Recorded Date: November 17, 2018
Release Date: November 18, 2018
Edit Notes: BC internet cut
Podcast Summary Notes