The News Rundown
- The average cost for each “irregular migrant” who arrived between April 2017 and March 2018 on average cost the government $14,321
- Those whose cases run through the system longer cost the country more money.
- The parliamentary budget officer (PBO) projects that costs per migrant will rise to $16,666 on average for the fiscal year ending March 2020 if nothing changes.
- This puts the new stream of arrivals into Canada costing an average of $340m per year.
- Opposition immigration critic Michelle Rempel pointed that out at this pace, from the start until next fiscal year the country will be spending $1.1 billion in total.
- Some have called the Prime Minister’s initial #WelcomeToCanada tweet the $1.1 billion Tweet or the most expensive Tweet ever.
- The migrant issue has been one we have been following since almost day 1 here at Western Context
- Bill Blair, the man in charge of the border, called it “silly” to suggest that a Tweet spurred the spike but admits that there are loopholes in the safe third country agreement that incentivizes people to cross irregularly.
- Many of the people crossing into Canada are economic migrants and not refugees.
- Economic migrant = a person who is looking for a new country that has a better outlook in terms of job prospects and generally better fiscal situation.
- Refugee = a person who is fleeing war or persecution.
- Near the end of the report a recent trend was highlighted: “CBSA officers have identified a recent phenomenon where a claimant enters Canada irregularly and acts as an anchor relative for other family members. As a result, these family members can enter at a port of entry and not be considered as irregular migrants.”
- As with most discussion on this issue, the government didn’t respond for comment. We don’t know how many times this has happened or what the government’s stance on it is.
- There’s also the United Nations Global Compact on Migration.
- In general, the agreement raises the rights of economic migrants and blurs the line that used to exist between this type of migration and the traditional refugee.
- This means that immigration based on the country’s economic needs, not the migrants are taken into account first.
- The compact among other things:
- intends to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance;
- strives to create conducive conditions that enable all migrants to enrich our societies through their human, economic and social capacities, and thus facilitate their contributions to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels.
- You would be hard pressed to have heard of this global compact before today, but it is something that the government intends to sign on to.
- Canadians deserve to know. That’s why we’re here.
- The media willing, the border and migration into Canada will become a key issue in the 2019 election campaign.
- Shortly after our show last week, both of us were stunned to learn that General Motors had announced that it was closing its plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which will eliminate almost 3000 jobs in the town of roughly 160,000 people 60 kms east of Toronto.
- There is no product allocated to be produced at the plant past December 2019 which is a likely date for the shutdown. While early reports theorized that a shift toward electric vehicle production was the cause of the Oshawa closure, as well as several plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland in the US, GM has said that it's a lack of consumer interest in cars.
- GM announced Monday it will shutter eight plants – one in Canada, four in the U.S. and three outside North America – by the end of 2019, a global restructuring that will slash 6,700 production jobs and save the company US$6 billion annually. It will invest that cash in electric vehicles and self-driving cars.
- The Oshawa plant, which made the Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS and previous generation Silverado and Sierra trucks, contributed six per cent of total Canadian auto production.
- US President Donald Trump was very critical of the GM closures, and he said on Twitter that the 25 per cent tariff placed on imported pickup trucks and commercial vans from markets outside North America in the 1960s has long boosted U.S. vehicle production. He also mentioned that he's going to be looking at new auto tariffs to further protect US industry, as well as looking at cutting subsidies for GM, saying “The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including … for electric cars,”
- This could be bad news for Ontario auto workers, as GM as well as Ford and Chrysler have a significant number of factories supported thousands of jobs in southern Ontario. If more tariffs are put on autos, we could see a further decline of the auto industry.
- The federal government has been rightly accused of not standing up for industry and Canadian jobs in the past, most notably in the oil and gas and natural resources sector. However, it appears that Trudeau is willing to go to bat for the auto sector.
- At Friday's ceremony to sign a new version of NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, Trudeau urged Trump to reassess levies imposed on Canadian imports in June. Trudeau in a speech called the plant closures a heavy blow to workers and their families, and with Donald Trump right next to him, said "Donald, it's all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries." It's doubtful that Trump will agree with that sentiment as he's already thinking of adding more tariffs, not less.
- You can make a reasonable-sounding political argument that Liberals in Ottawa and Toronto are to blame for General Motors’ announcement on Monday that it is closing its plant in Oshawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks about the middle class at every opportunity, but hasn't done much to support them. He has ignored repeated urgent calls from the business community to match Donald Trump’s cuts to the corporate tax rates. While Barack Obama was president and Stephen Harper was prime minister, Canada had lower corporate tax rates, which gave us a key competitive advantage.
- Now that we are at a disadvantage, companies making a low-margin product—like cars—need to look hard at all costs, including corporate taxes. We should not be surprised, then, if they decide to keep plants open in Michigan and close them in Ontario.
- Ontario Premier took to Twitter to assure the workers and families affected by the Oshawa closure, saying "My promise to the workers and the families impacted by GM’s decision to close their Oshawa Assembly Plant: We’re going to fight for you. We’re going to stand by you. We’re going to help you get back on your feet."
- Trudeau took a different tack, praising Unifor president Jerry Dias for his union's role with auto workers: "We’ll be supporting Canadian auto workers & their families affected by GM’s plan to close its plant in Oshawa next year. My thanks to Jerry Dias and the team from @UNIFORtheUnion for the meeting and discussion today."
- And Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer took pointed criticism to Trudeau: "Thousands of workers in Oshawa will lose their jobs when the GM plant closes. Just as he has in Western Canada, Justin Trudeau is failing to protect Canadian jobs. Canada is becoming a less attractive place for investment." Scheer met with workers outside the GM plant in Oshawa early Tuesday morning “This is an award-winning plant that has been recognized for its efficiency, its productivity. The workers here are recognized as being the best at what they do."
- A by-election in the district of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes east of Oshawa and south of Ottawa will be taking place on Monday. Though regarded as a pretty safe Conservative riding (the late Gord Brown had held the riding since the 2004 election), the margin of victory could have a telling story on the impact of Trudeau's policies on this critical area of Ontario coming into the fall 2019 election.
- On Friday, Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi was addressing the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and as with the last federal cabinet visits to Alberta, he was met by protestors.
- “We agree with them”
- “We are all supporters of the pipeline because we know that we need to get our resources to non-U.S. markets so we get proper pricing for Alberta’s oil,” Sohi said. “The amount of money that we’re losing is completely unacceptable and we understand our frustration. We share that frustration.”
- The protestors were there once again protesting Bill C–69 which overhauls the way energy projects are reviewed in Canada.
- Notorious double speak
- Meanwhile, Sohi has also ordered the NEB to study whether pipelines are being used to capacity.
- He wants the board to determine what steps should be taken.
- Economics answers this question. $80m lost a day, $40-$50 differential between the price of our oil and oil sold elsewhere.
- There is no deadline set for the NEB study.
- Also while in Edmonton, Sohi handed out $10.7m of government money for Epcor’s proposed solar farm.
- The project needs to receive approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission and the City of Edmonton.
- $1.9m of the funding for this project came from those who pay for electricity in the City of Edmonton
- Residents nearby would prefer that the project be placed on less valuable land.
- The solar farm will generate 12 megawatts of power and be used to run the water treatment plant. By comparison in 2016 Alberta’s coal producing power plants had a total capacity of 6,287MW. Wind production in Southern Alberta is seated to produce 1,467MW.
- Doublespeak. Actions speak louder than words.
- Way back on episode 38, just over a year ago, I detailed a report that unveiled the dangerous threat that organized crime from China has on BC residents, as well as our economy. In the year since that report came to light, and the government promised to do something about it, the problem has since just gotten worse.
- A recent report has been released which includes a list of more than $1-billion worth of Vancouver-area property transactions in 2016 that a confidential police intelligence study has linked to Chinese organized crime. The study of more than 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2016 found that more than 10 per cent were tied to buyers with criminal records. And 95 per cent of those transactions were believed by police intelligence to be linked to Chinese crime networks.
- While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5-billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012. At the centre of the money laundering ring is a powerful China-based gang called the Big Circle Boys. Its top level “kingpins” are the international drug traffickers who are profiting most from Canada’s deadly fentanyl crisis. The crime network, according to police intelligence sources, is a fluid coalition of hundreds of wealthy criminals in Metro Vancouver, including gangsters, industrialists, financial fugitives and corrupt officials from China.
- They are involved in drug import and production schemes, casino money laundering, real estate money laundering, prostitution, and financial crimes, the sources said. The common link among them is an underground banking scheme in which Chinese VIP gamblers and gangster associates secretly transfer money between China and Richmond, B.C., in order to fund fentanyl imports and trafficking in Canada. B.C. Lottery casinos are an important conduit in the underground transactions. But the money laundered through gambling is miniscule compared to the sums flowing through real estate.
- The findings come amid Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis, in which middle-class families have been priced out of the city. Many of these properties were left empty, and bought on paper by the spouses and children of suspected criminals. Investigators were surprised that some convicted drug trafficking criminals didn’t even conceal their property purchases. Even so, the RCMP just doesn’t have the resources to tackle so many suspected money laundering transactions in Vancouver, a source said. Meanwhile, home prices in Vancouver have tripled since 2005.
- And now, it appears that the provincial government's probe into the suspected criminal activities has been stalled. One of the biggest money laundering investigations in Canadian history won’t go to trial because the case has collapsed.
- B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he was informed that the high-profile case into suspected drug money circulating in Vancouver-area casinos had “collapsed.” The investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which began in 2015, was set to go to trial in January, according to CBC. It’s unclear to provincial officials why the federal government stayed -- or discontinued -- the criminal charges, Eby said. “Something obviously went terribly wrong,” he told reporters in Vancouver. “We have to figure out why this is happening, why it is that we appear unable to prosecute these criminal activities.”
- “This is a crisis for our province,” said Eby, who has pleaded with the federal government for resources and a coordinated national approach to combating money laundering. “It is a disturbing signal that a prosecution of this magnitude collapses.”
- The federal government didn't even let the provincial government know about the case collapsing, with Eby learning about the news through a Vancouver Sun article. Still, going forward, the province will concentrate on securing an explanation for the decision from the federal prosecution service and the RCMP, plus lessons to be learned for future money-laundering cases. Or, as Horgan put it: “David (Eby)’s working with Bill Blair, who is the federal minister responsible for gang violence and corporate crime, and we’re trying to figure out first of all, why were the charges stayed? And what steps can we take to ensure that doesn’t happen again?” To be sure, neither Horgan nor Eby completely rules out calling a public inquiry, with power to place blame for policy, regulatory and, especially, political failures.
- So why exactly is the federal government stalling on helping curb such blatant and dangerous criminal activity? Is it because of a frosty relationship between Horgan and Trudeau because of the stalling of the Trans Mountain pipeline? Is it a lack of money from Ottawa, given that they are putting us into a bigger deficit all the time? Or is it something worse - that the federal government is somehow profiting off of the money laundering itself?
- We don't really know. But one thing we do know, is that 2 high profile Brampton Liberal MPs may be under investigation by the RCMP for alleged gambling debts and corruption.
- The city of Brampton has asked the RCMP to look at a multimillion-dollar land deal after confidential information on the transaction was passed to local Liberal MPs Navdeep Bains and Raj Grewal, sources confirmed Friday.
- The information received by Bains – the economic development minister – and Grewal, who recently announced he would resign because of a gambling addiction and related debts, included the price the city had offered the Ontario government for the piece of land, about $3.3 million. After talks between the municipality and province broke down, a local company called Goreway Heaven Inc. bought the property for a similar amount and later sold it to the city for $4.4 million, according to two sources. Goreway Heaven appears to have Liberal ties, with at least one of its directors taking part in the prime minister’s ill-fated trip to India earlier this year. About half of the directors have made two or more donations each to the federal Liberal party.
- Raj Grewal later issued a lengthy statement and video, explaining that he was quitting the Liberal caucus and taking a leave of absence, but is rethinking whether to actually resign his Brampton East seat. Grewal, indicating that he had repaid millions of dollars he owed friends and family because of the gambling problem, said he had made his “ill-advised” statement about resigning while in a “highly emotional” state.
- In an 11-minute video statement, Grewal said that he began playing the card game blackjack in 2016 at Quebec’s Casino du Lac-Leamy, which is connected to the hotel where he lived when in Ottawa.
- This habit caused him to borrow millions “solely from friends and family to continue to fuel the gambling,” said Grewal, who said last week he would resign as MP for the riding of Brampton East. In his statement, he said he will put that decision off until January.
- He said every loan was in the form of a cheque, and that the debts have been repaid. He apologized to his family, saying they “bailed [him] out.” “This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction,” said Grewal, a 33-year-old lawyer.
- Grewal was a member of the House of Commons finance committee until Sept. 19. In that role he helped review the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and questioned law enforcement officials about Canada’s compliance system.
- NDP MP Peter Julian, one of the vice-chairs of the finance committee, told Global News prior to Holland’s comments that he believed the Liberals must have known about Grewal’s gambling problem when they moved him off the committee. He said “Obviously, Liberals knew months ago. They wouldn’t have moved him off without knowing this.”
- At a meeting on June 20, he asked Finance Canada’s Annette Ryan: “Would there be a scenario in which a financial institution would provide what they think is a suspicious transaction to FINTRAC, FINTRAC would launch an investigation, but the individual account holder would never know that this was taking place?” FINTRAC is the intelligence agency that counters money laundering and other financial crime.
- In his statement, Mr. Grewal said his questions were based on input from the Library of Parliament and his staff. “To infer that my motivations were unethical or that I was using a chance opportunity to figure out if FINTRAC was aware of my gambling is to stretch reality and take the situation completely out of context,” he said.
- Grewal, as of today is now no longer a member of the Liberal caucus. It is unknown if he resigned voluntarily or if he was kicked out. In his November 22 post, he said he would be resigning for "personal and medical reasons". Now we know it's because he's under investigation because of his gambling addictions.
- So here we have a Liberal MP with a gambling problem, who was in charge of a committee to investigate money laundering. Sounds like a pretty clear cut case of corruption and conflict of interest, and that he should resign immediately. And it's clear that though there is a huge problem brewing in BC over casinos, that the federal government won't help us on it. The media hasn't made the link between the BC money laundering problem and the Trudeau government's own corruption, but we here at Western Context will always connect the dots that the media won't.
Word of the Week
Doublespeak - Originating from George Orwell’s book 1984, Doublespeak refers to language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g. "downsizing" for layoffs, "servicing the target" for bombing), in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: Disruptive Doublespeak
Teaser: Economic migrants are costing us almost $400M, GM is closing its auto plant in Oshawa, and Amarjeet Sohi “agrees” with pro-pipeline protestors. Also, Trudeau’s government stalls a probe into money laundering as a Liberal MP has a gambling problem.
Recorded Date: December 1, 2018
Release Date: December 2, 2018
Edit Notes: CDA interrupt
Podcast Summary Notes