The News Rundown
- We've talked about China quite a bit on the podcast before, especially the communist dictatorship's influence on Canadian politics and the economy, due to its position as an economic powerhouse. The world's largest country by population is courted daily by governments and investors worldwide for access to a market with great potential.
- Prime Minister Trudeau is not immune to this courting as well. Chinese businessmen were some of the largest donors to the Trudeau Foundation in the wake of becoming prime minister, and last year he embarked on a trip to Beijing to start free trade talks. Trudeau's reliable triple standard of trade deals, climate change, gender rights, and labour rights were reportedly the non-starter stumbling block with China, who obviously don't care about any of those issues, and Trudeau and co. flew back to Ottawa in disgrace and with no trade deal.
- We've also talked about China in reference to other things such as market share on different industries. Chinese companies, who may or may not have ties to the dictatorship's leaders, have tried to muscle into the Canadian market by buying up companies. It attempted this with Aecon, Canada's largest construction company; Norsat, a Vancouver tech firm dealing with satellite communications; ITF technologies, a telecom based out of Montreal, as well as a large chain of retirement homes in Vancouver. It's something that's not likely to stop, as the leverage that China has on Canada continues to grow and grow.
- And we haven't even gotten to Huawei yet. The world's second largest smartphone company by market share in Q2 2018, the tentacles have slowly spread into Canadian life. It seems it's everywhere these days. Canadian universities have been using Huawei infrastructure, the commercials are on the TV no matter the station, and they've also hit Canadians in their cultural hearts, hockey. Huawei is the presenting sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada, which has an average nightly viewership of 2.36 million. The broadcast, hosted by Ron MacLean on Saturday nights, also airs on the CBC. As panelists discuss topics ranging from the night's games, the red Huawei logo stands out in a sea of blue to shine into our living rooms.
- Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver airport YVR last Saturday, the same day as U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Canadian police made the arrest so she could be extradited to the United States, reportedly on charges that Huawei circumvented US trade embargoes with Iran.
- Meng was in transit in Vancouver when she was detained, which indicates a well-coordinated move by the Canadian and U.S. authorities. This is unprecedented because Canada has taken a high profile Chinese senior executive on its own soil, not for violating any Canadian law, but for potentially violating U.S.-imposed sanctions.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he knew the arrest was coming a few days before it happened, but that he had no further involvement than that. The arrest has been controversial and China has blasted the move.
- Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, earlier today to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
- The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei "principal" taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of "severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen" and demands the person’s release.
- "Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility," said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.
- China has lashed out at Canada for offering no explanation of Ms. Meng’s arrest, and has called for her immediate release. Canada is preparing for possible Chinese cyberattacks in retaliation for the arrest, and U.S. firms operating in China are also fearful of retaliation.
- Canada's top security agency, CSIS earlier in the week warned about the potential state-sponsored espionage through technology such as next-generation 5G mobile networks. While not naming countries or companies, it's clear he was talking about Huawei and China.
- Huawei has begun working on advanced security technology together with the Public Security Bureau in China’s far western Xinjiang region, which is becoming a pilot zone for advanced new surveillance and population-control techniques. Chinese authorities have spent heavily to build Xinjiang into a test bed for the use of facial recognition, digital monitoring and artificial intelligence in policing.
- Chinese law requires companies in China to “support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work” as requested by Beijing. Researchers worry about how technologies developed for authoritarian purposes in China could be brought into other countries under different guises. The United States and Australia have barred Huawei 5G telecommunications, and last week New Zealand blocked the first request from one of its wireless carriers to install the Chinese company’s equipment on its 5G network, citing a “significant network security risk.” U.S. spymasters say Huawei’s smartphones and networking equipment could be used to conduct undetected espionage, especially the next, advanced generation of 5G technology.
- Speaking Tuesday in Toronto at the Economic Club of Canada, Director of CSIS David Vigneault told a business audience that hostile states are targeting large companies and universities to obtain new technologies. He refrained from naming any particular country, company or university.
- “Many of these advanced technologies are dual-use in nature in that they could advance a country’s economic, security and military interests,” he told an audience of about 100 people.
- Mr. Vigneault said there are five potential growth areas in Canada that are being specifically threatened, including 5G mobile technology where Huawei has been making inroads.
- In an interview with Fox News, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper said that he supports American efforts to persuade its western allies, including Canada, to ban Huawei from emerging 5G networks.
- Harper said in an interview: "I obviously note that the United States is encouraging western allies to essentially push Huawei out of the emerging 5G network and my personal view is that that is something western countries should be doing in terms of our own long-term security issues."
- Alberta is cutting oil production by 8.7% starting January 1.
- All producers first 10,000 barrels over the last year or exempt.
- This results in a cut of 325,000 barrels a day.
- As mentioned previously: Alberta can’t sell the oil it produces. The province has a surplus of 16 million barrels in storage.
- Even though no curtailment has taken effect yet, the reaction was immediate. The price of WCS jumped to north of $25/barrel as of this Friday.
- The province is also buying rail cars to increase shipments by 120,000 barrels per day by the end of 2019.
- This action was supported by both the Alberta Party and United Conservative Party.
- First Minister’s Meeting: Premier Notley and Premier Moe of Saskatchewan had to send a joint letter to the Prime Minister to request energy prices be discussed at the First Minister’s meeting.
- Both argued that it must be discussed as the Canadian economy is losing $80m a day.
- For comparison, Canada imports $10m per day worth of Saudi oil.
- When asked if decisive action will be taken, the Premier had to say, “not as of yet”
- Quebec Premier François Legault said after the meetings, “There’s no social acceptability (for oil) in Quebec.”
- Keep Canada Working Ads in Montreal: Montreal Gazette, Le Devoir, Star Metro Montreal. Also projecting advertisements onto the sides of 20 central Montreal buildings. Montreal sewage.
- Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi penned an opinion piece in the Calgary Herald saying, “Alberta, this government has always had your back, and always will”
- More doublespeak. Ministers saying one thing, government doing another.
- The Prime Minister has said he’d be willing to “look at” helping the province purchase rail cars.
- He also had on offer the idea of temporarily extending Employment Insurance benefits for affected workers.
- The actions taken are simple:
- Make Bill C–69 (the Bill that overhauls the National Energy Board, who is responsible for approvals) less hostile to western oil.
- Overturn Bill C–48 which is for all intents and purposes the BC tanker ban Bill.
- Declare TransMountain in the national interest using the same clause in the constitution used to declare other past projects of national interest.
- Appeal the court case now regarding TransMountain.
- Look at restarting Northern Gateway and Energy East.
- Transfer payments? BC?
- As BC's electoral reform referendum wrapped to a close on Friday afternoon, we now will have to patiently await the results, which Elections BC say could take anywhere up to a month to complete, but that they "hope to be finished by Christmas". With that in mind, we'll have to turn our thoughts to other news items, notably the new BC government's climate action plan.
- That's right, while Prime Minister Trudeau's meeting with the Premiers in Montreal at the bi-annual Premier's meeting may have been frosty due to the agenda proposed by the prime minister, at least one province will be onside with Trudeau when it comes to the carbon tax.
- BC NDP Premier John Horgan has introduced his government's carbon emissions reduction plan. The complex series of changes aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, based on 2007 levels.
- The CleanBC plan is fully funded by the provincial government and “quantifies measures” that will eliminate 18.9 megatonnes of emissions, which make up about 75 per cent of the target. The government will be rolling out further reduction initiatives over the next 18 to 24 months.
- John Horgan espoused the benefits of his plan: “The low-carbon economy we build together will bring opportunities and jobs throughout the province, so people can live and work with greater security in the communities they call home. By moving to clean, renewable energy — like our abundant supply of B.C. electricity — we can power our growing economy and make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”
- The plan focuses on four main sectors: transportation, where we live and work, industry, and waste. It was created by the government with significant input from the Green Party caucus and party leader Andrew Weaver, who before becoming a politician was a climate scientist.
- The CleanBC plan commits to a previously announced promise that every new car sold in B.C. will be a zero-emission vehicle by 2040. The province has unveiled incentive programs to make it easier to afford a zero-emission vehicle and cheaper to charge or fuel them.
- It also redirects revenue from the carbon tax into incentives like rebates for the province's biggest industries to move to cleaner operations.
- Horgan told reporters Wednesday: "We want to make shifts: shifts in our home, shifts in our vehicles and shifts in our industry away from fossil fuels and into green energy. This is an environment plan, a climate plan, but it's also an economic strategy for B.C. going forward."
- Weaver echoed Horgans words: "This isn't a plan to make people spend a bunch of taxes and hurt people's take-home pay," he said. "It is about sending a message to the broad market in B.C. and internationally that B.C. is going to rise to the challenge: 'We welcome business in B.C., but that business will be clean business.'"
- And that's the base of it. The NDP and Greens have now tied BC's economy fully with the carbon tax, and with stringent regulations that may chase business away.
- It said every building built in B.C. will have to be "net-zero-energy ready" by 2032, meaning efficient enough that their total energy needs could be met with renewable energy sources like solar panels.
- As previously announced, B.C. is also allocating $400 million to support retrofits and upgrades to existing homes and office buildings, including incentives for homeowners to pay for renovations to things like windows and heat pumps.
- For instance, the plan highlights a rebate of up to $1,200 for homeowners who replace electric heating with a heat pump and $2,000 for those who replace an oil, propane, or natural gas heating with a heat pump.
- However, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians are going to be paying more for gasoline, have to switch to electric heat and eventually buy an electric vehicle.
- Calculating the cost to a B.C. household isn’t an easy task as it involves upfront and operating costs for energy switches, rebates for which the amounts aren’t known yet. B.C. Premier John Horgan said Wednesday he thinks that most low- and moderate-income families will find themselves ahead when the cost effects are tallied. His government, however, is still in the midst of calculating those costs, numbers expected to be ready in the coming weeks, according to B.C. Environment Ministry officials.
- Horgan’s NDP government has already said there is money to pay for the promised incentives, but the public must wait for the details until next year’s budget, usually delivered in February.
- Along with this, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is shutting down oilfield fracking operations in a 72-square-kilometre area in the northeast part of the province for at least 30 days while it investigates earthquakes that occurred there on Nov. 29.
- The seismic events measuring between 3.4 and 4.5 magnitude took place near hydraulic fracturing operations being conducted about 20 kilometres southeast of Fort St. John by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
- The Calgary-based company was the only operator working in the area at the time and it immediately suspended operations, said commission spokeswoman Lannea Parfitt, adding the company has shut down its two wells there.
- Also, the federal government is going to be heading to court against both the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario on the federal carbon tax. The Trudeau government has told the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal it should not grant intervenor status to Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party and should reject an affidavit from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in a key test case on the constitutional right of the federal government to impose a national carbon tax.
- The brief, submitted to the court Wednesday by federal lawyers, argues that the Saskatchewan court should reject a request from the UCP to be an intervenor because its contribution would be “political and speculative.” It says the court should similarly reject an affidavit from the CTF because the it “has not established any special expertise in general economics or the economics of carbon pricing.”
- The federal government has consented to requests by eight other organizations to have intervenor status in the Saskatchewan case. Most notably it includes the David Suzuki Foundation.
- The Alberta government of Rachel Notley has not asked for intervenor status in the case and that drew the ire of Kenney, the leader of Alberta’s official opposition.
- “The UCP is stepping up and seeking to intervene because the current Alberta Government refuses to do so,” Kenney said in a statement emailed to Global News. “It’s telling that the Trudeau Government is happy with foreign-funded groups like the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence fighting for a carbon tax in Canadian courts, but not the Official Opposition in Alberta that represents a significant number of Albertans.
- So while BC marches on with its own environmental plan, with the ostensible support of the federal government, most of the other provinces are against Trudeau. It's truly showing the gulf of differences between the provinces, as well as the provinces and the federal government.
- The Canadian government pledged $50m to Education Cannot Wait. The group supports education for women and girls around the world in war zones.
- A noble cause for sure.
- A huge collection of hollywood stars, some overrated and some who think they’re funny and aren’t, were gathered in South Africa for a charity concert honouring Nelson Mandela.
- Present were Pharrell Williams, Trevor Noah, Beyonce, and Oprah amongst others.
- The issue at stake? How it was done.
- Justin Trudeau Tweeted: Hey @Trevornoah - thanks for everything you’re doing to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s legacy at the @GlblCtzn festival. Sorry I can’t be with you - but how about Canada pledges $50M to @EduCannotWait to support education for women & girls around the world? Work for you? Let’s do it.
- Conservative leader Andrew Scheer responded: Pledging $50 million in a tweet to impress a TV personality? Taxpayers need a defender not somebody who throws their money around to be popular with celebrities. This is how deficits become massive and permanent.
- Government officials have used the excuse that the money was already set aside for world aid in the budget and part of a larger $400m project and that the Tweet was planned as long as 3 weeks ago.
- Had this been announced without the Tweet, no one would have probably noticed and the country would have forgiven Justin Trudeau.
- This comes during a week in which two Premiers had to write a joint letter to the Prime Minister to have the issue of oil prices discussed at a Premier’s meeting.
- This comes during a week in which the government suggested more comprehensive EI benefits to deal with a structural flaw in the Canadian economy.
- Also not a good week for this as you have a former Energy Minister of Alberta (Donna Kennedy-Glans) saying that, “Dark resentments thought buried in this part of the country have been reawakened” and Lawrence Solomon writing in the Financial Post: If Alberta turns separatist, the Rest of Canada is in big trouble.
- Alberta will not go to the extreme length of officially endorsing separation but the media is ignoring the truth of reality here.
- This ignorance is what brought the UK Brexit and the US Donald Trump.
- To have what amounts to tacit approval from the Toronto Star, CBC, and Global on this issue is doing no one any good.
- Tone deaf by both the government in Ottawa and the the media complex of the country.
Word of the Week
Glut - an excessively abundant supply of something.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Glut of Ignorance
Teaser: Huawei’s CFO was arrested and we look at the further impacts on Canada’s economy and 5G networks. Alberta curtailing oil production and BC’s climate plan show the contrast of the two NDP governments. Also, Trudeau tweets away $50M to impress celebrities.
Recorded Date: December 8, 2018
Release Date: December 9, 2018
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes